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Guest poofmagk

I have been reading older entries on fear responses and wanted to ask for suggestions/insight into our situation. We have one social butterfly who has never met a stranger (human or canine) and pulls forward eager to meet anyone new. However, our second grey is afraid of unknown people and dogs (including greys) in some situations.

 

It has taken a while for me to understand his specific fears. In general he is a very laid back dog and he does well at meet & greets because he can curl up on a bed and kind of hang out in the back. He is also fine during off leash outings with strange people and dogs. (picture evidence :))

 

2012-09-08123938.jpg

 

 

I think he does ok because off leash is on his terms. However, on leash he is terrified of any person or dog we encounter, especially children. At this point he tenses when he sees someone as far as a block away on a walk. We live in an apt. so walking on leash is our only outlet for exercise/bathroom and we have little control over who we encounter on a given walk.

 

So far I generally have been letting him pull as far back as he can on the leash and try to stay between him and the new person/dog warning them that he is shy. But sometimes children will walk around and pet him anyways (while I'm distracted by our other grey). To his credit he never reacts aggressively in these situations, but I do not want to push his fear response. We walk him during times where there are less people out, but I would really like to work on some positive training to lessen the fear for those inevitable times we do run into strangers.

 

Tips on training to lessen the fear response on walks? From what I have read I was wondering if walking with treats at all times and giving them to him when we first see anyone in the distance, before he is overwhelmed with fear?

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I had one dog that never ever got over fear and was a fear biter we ended up fencing off different areas of our yard to keep her safe from people if they came over (we were more worried what would happen to her if she hurt someone) with us she was the most loving dog in the world, she only needed her pack and didn't want anyone else. None of our other dogs have ever been like this so we just think it must have been in her character or she was badly hurt before we got her, she was about 12 weeks.

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Others will disagree, but I think you're enforcing his fear by acting as if there IS something to be afraid of. I would just carry on with the walk.

 

If he's food motivated, perhaps as soon as you see a stranger, hand him a tiny little treat. Just keep walking. You know there is no reason to be afraid, if you act as if there is nothing to be afraid of AND he gets a little treat, perhaps he'll get the picture?

 

I did this with my dog who is leash aggressive, and it's helped a lot.


Hamish-siggy1.jpg

Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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Guest PiagetsMom

I'm currently working with a behaviorist for Maya, whose uncertainty of the unfamiliar has led to leash reactivity. I started by reading Patricia McConnell's "Feisty Fido" and working on teaching Maya a "look at me" with treats, and a quick U-turn with "this way" to avoid her triggers. The behaviorists opinion is that the most important thing to do is to manage the dog's threshold - the point at which the dog shows a reaction to a problematic stimulus, or the point at which the environment is so distracting that your dog is unable to respond to a trained behavior such as a "look at me" - in order to practice calm and controlled behavior to increase the dog's tolerance of trigger stimuli.

 

I did have to stop walking Maya and Mirage together and do separate walks to concentrate on Maya. Every walk for Maya right now is a training session, and we're always using treats and praise for good behavior. I do understand your situation of not being able to control who or what you may encounter. We have a side yard, but Maya doesn't use it consistantly so we also have to leash walk to do her business. However, the analogy was made to me that to continue to expose a dog to triggers is like trying to fix a leaking roof during a hurricane. Or, the equivalent of asking a person who'd stuck their finger in a socket and been shocked, to stick their finger back in there. I hadn't ever thought about it that way, but I'd been trying very hard to "carry on with the walk", and it wasn't working for Maya. My current goal is to set her up for success as much as possible in order to work towards carrying on with the walk.

 

Just sharing my situation in the event that it might be something that might help you with your beautiful boy. :)

Edited by PiagetsMom
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I'd definitely go the route of taking super awesome irresistible tasty treats with you, and when he tenses like that, just encourage him to walk on and give him a treat and keep going with it, or otherwise distract him/tell him something else to do. I've heard good things about the zukes treats, but something smelly and hard to ignore would be great. Then you can work on increasing the distance between the things he fears, and eventually have the things he fears give him those awesome amazing treats. Since he's fine at meet-and-greets, perhaps start having people give him those types of treats there? You could also have someone else familiar, like a husband or roommate, come from a distance too with your other dog. From that far away, he won't recognize them, but he might also realize he's being silly once he gets close enough to realize it's them. Stage it so he's given lots of tasty treats! Good luck!!!

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My boy Sailor is like that. I tell people that he doesn't like to be pet by strangers and neither do I, so I don't blame him. It makes them put it in perspective. I bring treats whenever I'm in public with him. The best thing I did was teach him "touch". I used clicker training and he lives doing it for food. When someone wants to interact with him I give then a treat and they ask him to touch. He now sneaks up on strangers and touches their hands and looks at me expecting food. He still isn't thrilled with being touched by strangers, but he has come very far.

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Guest Jacks_Human

Others will disagree, but I think you're enforcing his fear by acting as if there IS something to be afraid of. I would just carry on with the walk.

 

THIS.

Jack was quite fearful when I first got him, and had about a dozen phobias. I would reassure him in my normal speaking voice, saying something like 'it's just an umbrella' or whatever, and that helped him understand that it was OK. He's now very calm on the lead.

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I'm currently working with a behaviorist for Maya, whose uncertainty of the unfamiliar has led to leash reactivity. I started by reading Patricia McConnell's "Feisty Fido" and working on teaching Maya a "look at me" with treats, and a quick U-turn with "this way" to avoid her triggers. The behaviorists opinion is that the most important thing to do is to manage the dog's threshold - the point at which the dog shows a reaction to a problematic stimulus, or the point at which the environment is so distracting that your dog is unable to respond to a trained behavior such as a "look at me" - in order to practice calm and controlled behavior to increase the dog's tolerance of trigger stimuli.

 

I did have to stop walking Maya and Mirage together and do separate walks to concentrate on Maya. Every walk for Maya right now is a training session, and we're always using treats and praise for good behavior. I do understand your situation of not being able to control who or what you may encounter. We have a side yard, but Maya doesn't use it consistantly so we also have to leash walk to do her business. However, the analogy was made to me that to continue to expose a dog to triggers is like trying to fix a leaking roof during a hurricane. Or, the equivalent of asking a person who'd stuck their finger in a socket and been shocked, to stick their finger back in there. I hadn't ever thought about it that way, but I'd been trying very hard to "carry on with the walk", and it wasn't working for Maya. My current goal is to set her up for success as much as possible in order to work towards carrying on with the walk.

 

Just sharing my situation in the event that it might be something that might help you with your beautiful boy. :)

 

LOVE this advice and the analogy. No matter how many people told me "Just keep walking and be confident when he is scared", once he saw the trigger (dogs, certain people), he was already too fearful and resistant to take treats, keep walking, whatever... the only way he wanted to walk (more like jog at the end of the leash) was HOME.

Such a great idea to begin 'look at me' command when I see a trigger coming, rather than attempt it after he already sees it. At that point he is always past the point of listening to a command or taking a treat.

Thanks, I will try this!

siggie_zpse3afb243.jpg

 

Bri and Mike with Boo Radley (Williejohnwalker), Bubba (Carlos Danger), and the feline friends foes, Loois and Amir

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It sounds like (since he is fine off leash) he has picked up something or had bad experiences being on a leash, probably that he feels trapped combined with the fact that strangers are not reading what he is trying to tell them with his body language. I would try to work more with the people approaching. They need to TOTALLY ignore him, and not approach him (I know this is hard for some people to get). Even looking at a dog can make them nervous. If and when he is ready he will approach them and that will be his way of saying he is ready for attention.

 

Dogs often send out signals that they cleary don't want attention, and unfortunately a lot of people think that talking and reaching out their hand to pet will help them. In the doggy world this is exactly what they are telling you they DON'T want. They become confused and even more anxious because people aren't understanding their communication. If he can be redirected by smelly treats, you can use those as well. If a dog is really nervous they won't respond to food so if he does it is a good thing :)

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Guest poofmagk

 

I'm currently working with a behaviorist for Maya, whose uncertainty of the unfamiliar has led to leash reactivity. I started by reading Patricia McConnell's "Feisty Fido" and working on teaching Maya a "look at me" with treats, and a quick U-turn with "this way" to avoid her triggers. The behaviorists opinion is that the most important thing to do is to manage the dog's threshold - the point at which the dog shows a reaction to a problematic stimulus, or the point at which the environment is so distracting that your dog is unable to respond to a trained behavior such as a "look at me" - in order to practice calm and controlled behavior to increase the dog's tolerance of trigger stimuli.

 

I did have to stop walking Maya and Mirage together and do separate walks to concentrate on Maya. Every walk for Maya right now is a training session, and we're always using treats and praise for good behavior. I do understand your situation of not being able to control who or what you may encounter. We have a side yard, but Maya doesn't use it consistantly so we also have to leash walk to do her business. However, the analogy was made to me that to continue to expose a dog to triggers is like trying to fix a leaking roof during a hurricane. Or, the equivalent of asking a person who'd stuck their finger in a socket and been shocked, to stick their finger back in there. I hadn't ever thought about it that way, but I'd been trying very hard to "carry on with the walk", and it wasn't working for Maya. My current goal is to set her up for success as much as possible in order to work towards carrying on with the walk.

 

Just sharing my situation in the event that it might be something that might help you with your beautiful boy. :)

 

LOVE this advice and the analogy. No matter how many people told me "Just keep walking and be confident when he is scared", once he saw the trigger (dogs, certain people), he was already too fearful and resistant to take treats, keep walking, whatever... the only way he wanted to walk (more like jog at the end of the leash) was HOME.

Such a great idea to begin 'look at me' command when I see a trigger coming, rather than attempt it after he already sees it. At that point he is always past the point of listening to a command or taking a treat.

Thanks, I will try this!

 

Thank you everyone for the advice, lots to think about, very helpful!

 

I really liked the concept of slowly working on his threshold and the trigger analogy too, it totally fits Oliver. I'm thinking we need to kind of "reboot" our walks to turn them into a safe experience not a scary experience now that we know his personality and that he in general is a dog who is very wary of strangers.

 

It sounds like (since he is fine off leash) he has picked up something or had bad experiences being on a leash, probably that he feels trapped combined with the fact that strangers are not reading what he is trying to tell them with his body language. I would try to work more with the people approaching. They need to TOTALLY ignore him, and not approach him (I know this is hard for some people to get). Even looking at a dog can make them nervous. If and when he is ready he will approach them and that will be his way of saying he is ready for attention.

 

Dogs often send out signals that they cleary don't want attention, and unfortunately a lot of people think that talking and reaching out their hand to pet will help them. In the doggy world this is exactly what they are telling you they DON'T want. They become confused and even more anxious because people aren't understanding their communication. If he can be redirected by smelly treats, you can use those as well. If a dog is really nervous they won't respond to food so if he does it is a good thing :)

 

I think trapped is a great descriptor, and you are right that strangers are not picking up on his signals, which I'm realizing has probably reinforced his innate fear over time. In the past if someone asked we usually told people they could pet Zafira, she loves the attention, but Oliver is shy (aka don't pet him). However, that often seemed to lead them to want to reassure him by petting him. The people we encounter on these walks are strangers to us too (can't enlist them in training) so I think for Oliver's sake we need to avoid walking near strangers or stopping to let someone pet Zafira, and focus on the "look at me"/reinforcing calm behavior when strangers are sighted from a distance.

 

The other time we encounter this in a slightly different manner (fear/protecting his turf) is in our apt. He is very reactive to anyone knocking on the door, or people coming into our apt. He barks and sometimes growls at them, but will then go and sit on his bed after that. I'm wondering if he feels trapped in those situations too because our apt doesn't have separate rooms to which he can retreat. We have been rewarding him with praise/treats for any calm/prosocial behavior with house guests around, so I'm wondering if in these instances we should go ahead and ask guests to ignore him and let him initiate all contact?

 

You could also have someone else familiar, like a husband or roommate, come from a distance too with your other dog. From that far away, he won't recognize them, but he might also realize he's being silly once he gets close enough to realize it's them. Stage it so he's given lots of tasty treats! Good luck!!!

 

Haha- amazingly even from a very long distance away he seems to know its my husband and will pull like crazy towards him. He loves loves loves his dad :).

 

Thanks again for all of the suggestions!

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Henry was like this for awhile after we adopted him. We took him everywhere and used A LOT of treats. Don't make a big fuss and try to reassure him. He's gain confidence if he sees you acting normal, I just made sure strangers, especially children, asked to pet him first. I got good at reading his responses. So when he was really freaked out, I didn't force him.

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With fearful dogs I generally keep them close by my side at all times, keep moving and work on "look at me" as mentioned above. Keeping moving does not have to be in the direction of what is fearful; just moving. I had one dog that was so afraid I'd literally be dragging him along at my side. He now LOVES his walks and goes crazy when he sees the leash. Takes lots of time but is so worth the effort.

june

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Guest PiagetsMom

With fearful dogs I generally keep them close by my side at all times, keep moving and work on "look at me" as mentioned above. Keeping moving does not have to be in the direction of what is fearful; just moving.

 

Yes, this is where we use our quick U-turn and a "This Way" followed by a treat.....we're still moving, but away from the trigger, or what is fearful. We practice on this a lot, and at this point when we do have a trigger, Maya doesn't really think about it being anything out of the ordinary.

 

You want to give the "This Way" command a couple of steps before you turn, mark the turn with a "Good" or a click if your clicker training, and then treat.

 

Also, something that was suggested and I've found works very well for Maya when we do have a trigger is a "This Way", a U-Turn, and a quick sprint in the other direction, followed by a treat. Not only does it put some space between us and the problem, but it really takes Maya's mind off the trigger. Again, we practice this frequently, so it's not an unusual or panicked experience for her when we do come across that trigger.

Edited by PiagetsMom
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Guest greymama002

We have 2 greys who love greeting everyone they encounter, and then we got Misti who was very shy with strangers, especially children. She was always on hyperalert for danger. Treats really didn't help with her. She reacts fearfully in other situations, so we took a couple of training classes, and worked on the commands "Watch me" , "Touch", & "Leave it". To our boys' dismay, we practice passing by without greeting people a lot. Sometimes though ,when we'd meet one of the boys' favorite people, I would keep her behind me while the other 2 would get their scritches, and tell them that sh'es very shy and still learning to trust strangers, so please let her be. Over time, (we've had her a year and a half now) she got brave. Sometimes the humans would get to talking, and low and behold, little Miss Misti would peek out from behind me, and approach. It was always on her terms. She learned to trust by watching our boys interact from a safe distance. We just went to the Greyhound Reunion last week and she was actively approaching strangers and getting lots of pats, I was so proud of how far she's come. Best of luck with your shy guy!

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