New dog is timid - how can I help her? Update Jan 15

Discussion in 'Other Pets & Livestock' started by True Grit, Dec 11, 2011.

  1. True Grit

    True Grit Songster

    I got a 4 yr old collie from her breeder as a companion for my 3.5 yr old collie. She was a former show dog and had two litters before being spayed in August. They are both females and I introduced them first to make sure they get along and they both wanted to play with each other so I brought the new girl home for a two week trial. She is really a nice well behaved playful sweet dog. [​IMG]

    She did fight a few times with my 17 yr old jack russel so I don't leave them alone together. When all the growling and snarling was going on I yelled at them to break it up as I was getting to them. I wonder if this freaked her out because when she is in the house and we are just walking around, if she thinks we are heading in her direction she avoids us and will avoid getting caught or coming to us when called unless she knows we have a treat. She also startles at many normal everyday sounds. [​IMG]

    I hate to see this sweet girl acting fearful. When we are outside she doesn't behave this way and when I first met her at the kennel she jumped all over me. I know she was mostly kennel raised and show trained except for when she was whelping and nursing but her breeder says she is used to being in the house. She is certainly well house broken.

    We are gentle with her and treat her often so I am hoping she becomes more comfortable. I am not sure what to do help me feel more calm and less fearful. We have a week left on our trial so I'm hoping to see some improvement in her fearfulness by the end of it. Any suggestions on how to help her are welcome!

    Jan 15 - We are not seeing a lot of progress, Maiwen is still fearful and avoids us most of the time and reacts to noises and sudden movements. She is smart so I think if it were not her normal nature, she would have figured out by now that nothing is going to hurt her. She is still fine when outside. We have not pressured her but unfortunately I had to go away just after Christmas for 11 days and she slid backwards with just my husband at home, ie would not eat with him present and she started doing that with me as well when I returned. She will sit when she sees me with her dish, the problem being she goes to her kennel to do it! I have started leashing her and having her come out and sit closer to her dish and now she will eat while I am a short distance away. Plan now is to keep a collar on her and keep her with me when I am home so she doesn't escalate her avoidance behaviour. I haven't enrolled in obedience yet but there is a class on socialization for fearful dogs so will likely do that first. Commanding her doesn't really work. With treats and luring, having my other collie present, she will do sits and downs but if I tell them to wait or stay and back away, she will run away.
    I tried clicker training and at first she seemed to be okay with it but then became afraid of it so I stopped using it.
    Does anybody think I should do something differently?
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2012
  2. FlaRocky

    FlaRocky Songster

    I would put a leash on her and keep her with me at all times. Talk to her in a normal voice. See if you can get her to bond with you. Hope this helps.

  3. dainerra

    dainerra Crowing

    Jun 4, 2011
    Agreed. Use your leash and tether her to you. Give her time to settle in. In can take a couple of months or more before her real personality comes out.
    The breeder should be able to give you plebty of advice, since they know her best.
  4. sounds like the poor baby lacks confidence if she is frightened , anxious or avoiding certain situations. the best way to build a dogs confidence is setting them up for success with clicker training.
    Karen pryors books were part of a veterinary course curriculum i took years ago and after reading them my world with 9 house dogs changed completely- it especially helped most of the 9 who were adopted from abusive/neglectful homes/breeders and were also jumpy , fearful and withdrawn.

    by treating her just to treat her you may accidently be rewarding the fearful behavior- which would be one reason why your not seeing improvement.

    Karen Pryor is an active, leading spokesperson and teacher for effective force-free training across the globe. Her work with dolphins in the 1960's revolutionized animal training by pioneering and popularizing force-free training methods based on operant conditioning and the conditioned reinforcer.She is the author of six books, including "Don’t Shoot the Dog! ", the "bible" of training with positive reinforcement.
    You could pick up the book "dont shoot the dog" at your local public library. after you read the book you will have a totally different understanding of dogs behavior & training and you will be able to make your new collie and your old man jack russels life 100x easier and more satisfying for all of you.

    I am so thankful that reading the book was a requirement for that semester focusing on animal behavior because I am not fond of reading and would have never read the book ( the title irked me)

    Trust me- Read It- you will not regret it!
    Good luck
    keep us posted!
  5. tethering her to you would be an example of a desensitizing method which can work if done correctly- done blind it may or may not increase her fear of you. it may even help to create a fear of the leash or walking on the leash.
  6. dainerra

    dainerra Crowing

    Jun 4, 2011
    true what you said. but the dog isn't frightened in new situations and isn't frightened of them outside the home. She also wasn't frightened of them before she was startled.
  7. Jamie_Dog_Trainer

    Jamie_Dog_Trainer Songster

    Jul 8, 2008
    Washington State
    Quote:We don't know what she was frightened of or her level of confidence really. Many people mistake the cues of a nervy dog, or just plain never see it. IMO unless there was a physical portion to the "yelling" the dog should have recovered from it and not have the lasting fearful behavior. That is not normal. She's a sensitive or "soft" dog and needs some confidence building through bonding with training and umbiliculling. She'll probably always have a tendency to be more cautious and sensitive to people.
  8. dainerra

    dainerra Crowing

    Jun 4, 2011
    that's why I told them to talk to the breeder who SHOULD have not just experience with the breed, but with the habits of this dog in particular.
  9. BookWorm243

    BookWorm243 Songster

    Oct 13, 2010
    Franklin, NC
    Take her on a walk it may sound silly but a nice walk with you will help her to bond with you. [​IMG]
  10. ruffles

    ruffles Chirping

    Jun 26, 2009
    If you have other dogs, she will learn by observing how the other dogs interact.

    Just be yourself, but, do not baby her, I think someone mentioned this, you are re enforcing her behavior.

    Keep her with you, talk to her, just your normal business. Walks if you can are great,

    She was friendly with you at her kennel, this was her home.

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