Building Confidence

mrose_s

BusterLove
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#1
As I've mentioned before, Quinn is pretty shy. As she's maturing it doesn't seem to be improving overall. She has been well socialised and had no traumatizing experiences. Maybe a few uncomfortable ones but nothing she couldn't just step aside to remove herself from.

Bascially, she's met mountains of dogs. She's met everything from a mini shnauzer puppy to an adult great pyr. She's polite which I like even with little dogs but generally keeps out of the way of anything her size or bigger.
I do like that she isn't "OMG I'M IN YOUR FACE LOVE ME HELOOOOOOOOOO" and if a dog so much as gives her a hard look she respects it and backs off. She always approaches slowly and waits for the dog to show an interest back. If its bigger she generally says hi and then will start to shring back towards me. Should I just let her say hi and move her on right away and then build up time?

She met a few kids in puppy preschool and loved them but hasn't met any in a few months, I took her out the other day with my friend, her 3 yr old and her EB puppy. I really wanted her to have some more to do with kids. She was quite shy. She doesn't like pats straight on the head but she did warm up when I aske the kid if she wanted to give Quinn some treats. She ended up doing zoomies to go say hello and then running off again.

I've also noticed the last few weeks she's been moving away from her "I'm a puppy, I love everyone" way and now has very little interest in strangers. I don't mind this, I like reserved dogs. I have noticed her trying to duck away from a couple of people that have gone to pat her.

So I don't know if these are issues I should worry about or not, I don't want her becoming reactive, anxious or fear aggressive because I don't handle it rihgt. I try to take her everywhere with me and I can take her anywhere in the car, put her in the middle of anything and its not a problem but take her for a walk in my area and if a person starts walking behind us she thinks they are following us specifically.I've been taking her off to the side till then get past us. How should I deal with this? I live about 20 minutes from town so I've been trying to push into or close to town each day to keep her concentrating, she has improved a lot from that.

We do a lot of clicker training, she's never been trained harshly and she's had nothing traumatic happen. I just want to build up her confidence everywhere. I still carry mountians of treats wherever we go because I want to encourage anything positive I see. Should I just keep perservering? How do a make sure she feels safe with me?

Sorry for the super long post, I knew she was the shy one in the litter from the beginning. All the other puppies were jummping at me and trying to rip off the bottoms of my jeans and she was happy to sit by herself and a little unsure of us. But I figured I'd rather build up her confidence than end up with something too much to fit in here.
 

Laurelin

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#2
She sounds a lot like Mia actually, although Mia is a little reactive towards some big dogs and strangers that insist on meeting her or are acting kind of odd (like staring at her).

Really the best for Mia has been agility classes. There she has to be around other dogs and people and agility is so rewarding for her that it has really boosted her confidence level with other dogs especially. She's around other dogs but really really fun things happen and she doesn't HAVE to really interact with the other dogs. After a few weeks of classes, Mia was starting to try to initiate play with the other dogs (which is a HUGE step for her).

All in all though, it's not a big deal to me if she's a touch antisocial. I don't need a happy go lucky kind of dog (I already have Summer lol). But agility classes have really really helped her confidence. I would definitely recommend getting Quinn into a class setting. I also think the sort of team building aspect of agility really helps the dog gain a lot more confidence in you too. At least it's really helped with me and Mia.
 

mrose_s

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#3
Thats good to know. We have weekly training classes but they are honestly pretty boring for both of us. Hopefuly I'll be getting her into agility in 2011. I know the first couple of classes won't put them stress on her joints as they are mainly basic obediance and recall training so I might try to get into that soon.

I don't mind if she doesn't want to talk to anyone or be very social, I just don't want to end up with a second dog with behavioural issues.
 
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#4
Basically there are two schools when it comes to why some dogs are shy: natural vs. nurtured. The former believes that some dogs are shy due to genetic reasons and the latter the ways and the environment in which dogs are raised. Orthodoxy typically falls in between the two extremes, so I would say it's a combination of both factors.

It seems that you're already taking your dog to training classes, so that's great!

The next advice that I'd give is patience. This advice applies to nearly all situations but especially to shy dogs. Patience is displayed through at least these two things: 1) your attitude - don't get impatient with the lack of progress, and 2) don't rush your dog to socialize with other dogs or people; otherwise, you're reinforcing his fear (that being close to people is a frightening thing to do). Let him study the situation and take the initiative. Bring plenty of treats with you and reward him generously when he does get close to strangers.
 

~Tucker&Me~

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#5
I would keep doing as you are doing. Don't force anything, but JACKPOT treats for being confident, curious and friendly. If you continue to reinforce those behaviours I am positive you will see her confidence grow. Another thing to keep in mind is her age. I believe around 6-7 months they hit another 'fear period'. At that age Spy was quite nervous ad he is noticeably more confident now then at that age.

Anyway, I would continue as you are and just keep in mind she is still going through the awkward adolescent stage, which can include fear periods.
 

JacksonsMom

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#6
She totally sounds like Jackson. He's the same way and I have to agree with Laur on the agility classes. We did our first agility class which lasted for 8 weeks in October and it really boosted his confidence a lot. Also, clicker training (which you already do) is great. He's got over 40 tricks down now and we do clicker training nearly every night. If he's uncomfortable and we're with a group of people (Christmas time for example), I just bust out the high value treats (cheese) and he does his tricks for everyone, and suddenly his confidence is soaring. He's never been shy with other dogs, he really has always loved every dog he's ever met and makes doggy friends real easily, but people he is much more reserved and shy with. I've just always carried treats with me so that any strangers that ask to pet him, I ask if they can give him a treat. One year ago, he probably would have never voluntarily went up to a stranger and asked for a petting, but now he will (he turned 2 in October).

We do Petsmart or Petco once a week to get interactions from people (because most people always want to pet a dog in that store). Also in the summer, I bring him to my little cousins little league baseball games where there is lots of kids and distractions. I'm lucky in that I have a young brother (7) and a young sister (3) that Jackson has grown up around as well. But Jackson is a shy and sensitive dog in general so I just never force him into anything.
 

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