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Topic Review (Newest First)
20-12-2010 08:51 PM
-Angela- When we adopted our collie years ago, who is nervous and sensitive, I did the same as Lizi has recommended.

I made sure his interactions with people were very much controlled by me for some time (ie I decided who he met and that they would do what they were told! :wink and used food to create a positive association for him.

He was nervous of men so I choose to introduce him to men who would listen to me and be gentle with him.

I will always be careful about what situations I place him in, for his sake, but he's improved so much. On walks now, he will go up to other dog walkers, even men, to say hello and see if they have a treat to offer him. He is a good judge of character and doesn't tend to like those owners who spend the walk bellowing at their dogs, but nice people, he's very comfortable with these days I'm sure Mins has helped here too, but he had improved significantly before we adopted her.

Good luck :flower: and don't be afraid to ask people not to stroke/approach him if you're concerned about how it will make him feel. He's your dog
20-12-2010 08:09 PM
aero Hi,

Thanks for that advice, I'll keep all this in mind when meeting strangers and hopefully with time and practice he will get better.
19-12-2010 06:56 PM
two-dogs
Quote:
Originally Posted by aero
I had aero neutered about a month ago, and he was displaying this behaviour beforehand (from about 6-7 months roughly)

I will take your advice on the strangers approach as most tend to approach very head on and bending over which I would guess would make it worse. Also he tends to be worse with men. He is fine though if someone walks by him without paying him any attention, aero actually seems to want to go over and say hello at that point.

Hes never been told off for this behaviour as i know he is just nervous, but i can see that strangers are a bit unsure of him once he starts growling etc. (Even though I know that aero has never once growled/barked/been aggressive to people that he knows.)

Is it worth at dog training to ask for a handling session where other owners come and handle him for a bit, or would this be stressful?
Ok, so as he is neutered and was displaying this behaviour beforehand, it's unlikely to go away on its own. I would say that he has got stuck in 'self-defense' with strangers and certain approaches and handling causes him to feel uncomfortable and rather than appease the approacher, he responds with distance-increasing and defensive behaviours. It may be that before he started to do this he was showing avoidance and/or appeasement type behaviours, but these weren't picked up on - they are very often easy to miss. You are right - people approaching head on and bending over him will make any nervous dog feel very uncomfortable, and while at present he is reacting due to nervousness, this is the type of behaviour that can so easily get reinforced and after a while the dog starts to actively use (as opposed to react with) defensive behaviours in order to make people back off. The behaviour is still essentially defensive, but the dog becomes confident about using it (hope that makes sense).

Handling sessions at dog training - tbh, if he is familiar with everyone there, this won't really help. If they are strangers he's going to be nervous anyway, which will make him more sensitive and reactive to touch. So if they are strangers, the best way to proceed would be for you to practice how to manage their approach so as to keep Aero feeling comfortable, then use food. Another idea would be to get people to approach head on, but just before they reach him to throw a treat onto the floor towards him, then continue to pass him by. It's a stranger's head-on, clumsy approach that makes him feel nervous/defensive, but when someone approaches him, ignores him and passes by, there is no threat and so his curiosity about that person is raised. Using food to overcome this type of issue is usually the best way as it helps to create a positive association with strangers because eating causes the bonding hormone, oxytocin to be produced. And the more you can encourage him to feel relaxed and comfortable and that strangers are the bearers of good things, he will be less reactive and sensitive to being touched.

I know what it is like to have a dog who is nervous of strangers. It takes time and patience, good management so as not to place the dog in a situation that it feels uncomfortable, and using every opportunity you can to create a positive association with what makes the dog nervous. Please be assured that you won't be reinforcing the nervousness by using food - rather you will be creating a positive association with what makes him feel nervous.
19-12-2010 06:56 PM
two-dogs
Quote:
Originally Posted by aero
I had aero neutered about a month ago, and he was displaying this behaviour beforehand (from about 6-7 months roughly)

I will take your advice on the strangers approach as most tend to approach very head on and bending over which I would guess would make it worse. Also he tends to be worse with men. He is fine though if someone walks by him without paying him any attention, aero actually seems to want to go over and say hello at that point.

Hes never been told off for this behaviour as i know he is just nervous, but i can see that strangers are a bit unsure of him once he starts growling etc. (Even though I know that aero has never once growled/barked/been aggressive to people that he knows.)

Is it worth at dog training to ask for a handling session where other owners come and handle him for a bit, or would this be stressful?
Ok, so as he is neutered and was displaying this behaviour beforehand, it's unlikely to go away on its own. I would say that he has got stuck in 'self-defense' with strangers and certain approaches and handling causes him to feel uncomfortable and rather than appease the approacher, he responds with distance-increasing and defensive behaviours. It may be that before he started to do this he was showing avoidance and/or appeasement type behaviours, but these weren't picked up on - they are very often easy to miss. You are right - people approaching head on and bending over him will make any nervous dog feel very uncomfortable, and while at present he is reacting due to nervousness, this is the type of behaviour that can so easily get reinforced and after a while the dog starts to actively use (as opposed to react with) defensive behaviours in order to make people back off. The behaviour is still essentially defensive, but the dog becomes confident about using it (hope that makes sense).

Handling sessions at dog training - tbh, if he is familiar with everyone there, this won't really help. If they are strangers he's going to be nervous anyway, which will make him more sensitive and reactive to touch. So if they are strangers, the best way to proceed would be for you to practice how to manage their approach so as to keep Aero feeling comfortable, then use food. Another idea would be to get people to approach head on, but just before they reach him to throw a treat onto the floor towards him, then continue to pass him by. It's a stranger's head-on, clumsy approach that makes him feel nervous/defensive, but when someone approaches him, ignores him and passes by, there is no threat and so his curiosity about that person is raised. Using food to overcome this type of issue is usually the best way as it helps to create a positive association with strangers because eating causes the bonding hormone, oxytocin to be produced. And the more you can encourage him to feel relaxed and comfortable and that strangers are the bearers of good things, he will be less reactive and sensitive to being touched.

I know what it is like to have a dog who is nervous of strangers. It takes time and patience, good management so as not to place the dog in a situation that it feels uncomfortable, and using every opportunity you can to create a positive association with what makes the dog nervous. Please be assured that you won't be reinforcing the nervousness by using food - rather you will be creating a positive association with what makes him feel nervous.
19-12-2010 04:03 PM
aero Hi,

Thanks for your advice.

I had aero neutered about a month ago, and he was displaying this behaviour beforehand (from about 6-7 months roughly)

I will take your advice on the strangers approach as most tend to approach very head on and bending over which I would guess would make it worse. Also he tends to be worse with men. He is fine though if someone walks by him without paying him any attention, aero actually seems to want to go over and say hello at that point.

Hes never been told off for this behaviour as i know he is just nervous, but i can see that strangers are a bit unsure of him once he starts growling etc. (Even though I know that aero has never once growled/barked/been aggressive to people that he knows.)

Is it worth at dog training to ask for a handling session where other owners come and handle him for a bit, or would this be stressful?

Thanks
Hannah
19-12-2010 02:29 PM
two-dogs Is Aero still entire or have you had him neutered?

Either way, this could be the reason. If you have had him neutered, this may have taken his confidence away, and if he is still entire, he is at the right age to be going through his second testosterone burst, which can make dogs very touchy and reactive. If he is entire and he is behaving like this, it is not a good time to neuter him but rather wait until this has subsided - usually a few weeks to a couple of months before testosterone levels even out again.

If strangers approaching him is causing him to become reactive, don't allow them to approach him. Tell them to keep some distance, turn their body to the side and to not look at him. You will have then created the best conditions for Aero to feel confident to approach them. Always have some treats on you so that you can give one to the stranger to give to Aero. If they hold it in their hand and let him sniff the back of their hand, they can then give him the treat and perhaps stroke him under the chin - not on top of the head as many dogs of this age and/or hormonal status feel threatened by this.

He'll come through this so long as you do not use any kind of punishment, which includes leash-checks and shouting/talking sternly at him. He is feeling unconfident, so work on building his confidence by managing the stranger's approach and using gentle, positive association/reinforcement.
19-12-2010 11:26 AM
aero
9 month old scared of strangers

Hi There,

Basically over the last couple of months my dog aero has started behaving differently with strangers.

He will now start doing little 'woof' barks and slightly growling. hiding behind me etc. but he still actually wants to say hello to the stranger as he will go close with his body lowered going to sniff them but then gets all silly about it.

I've noticed if that if a stranger approaches him, he is worse but if the person doesn't make an approach aero will go over and start sniffing etc. He has never had a bad experience with anybody before so i'm not sure where this behaviour has come from.

Does anybody have any advice on what I should do when meeting strangers out on walks etc/ or to improve this behaviour in general?

Thanks
hannah

Note: he is quite a submissive dog in general.

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