I have written a few posts about shy Dog training and my very slow efforts to make Daisy a much more confident Dog. It has been a long time, but she has become much more confident both in herself and when interacting with other Dogs and people.
She is by no means a super confident Dog and I doubt she ever will be, but she has come a long way and it is great to see her enjoying life so much more. Anyway, a few days ago I got an email from a reader who asked for my opinion on how to curb some unwanted behavior in her Dog. The email authors Dog ( I won’t give her name) has come an awful long way and has gained tremedous confidence since she has been under her care. Below is the email and my response. Please take a few minutes to read them and see if you can help.
We need help.
We purchased a very shy puppy from an ad on craigslist.
She is very similar and size and shape your Daisy. She is a red border collie, shepherd with some cattledog..definately a heinz 57 of farm\herding dogs.
She was 9 weeks old, the people were older and she was living with her mom in a kennel outside in a trailer house\autobody shop. She was so shy that my husband was not sure about getting her but he felt so bad for her living conditions that he could not leave her behind. I do not think the people were mean, but I do think she was completely unsocialized and her mom clearly was not well socialized either. Had all the same issues as your pup. Submissive urination, would hide behind my husband, TERRIFIED of new people.
So, we went to obedience school, have buckets of treats available so when people came over they could give her treats. Made sure she alway had an “exit”, told people to ignore her and let them approach her. Worked on confidence with the “Everything in life is free” method. Adopted a confident well adjusted year old Newfie\Golden retriever mix from a local rescue to teach her about what being a confident dog is all about.
Fast forward 9 months…We have made light years of progress she is AMAZING with our family. Loves her doggie companion. She is the smartest dog I have ever owned. Affectionate and incredibly playful, not at all shy with us. Fabulous with my 6 year old. Good with the people she knows, good with the farm animals (we are on a hobby farm with about 20 acres).
So you are asking what is the problem. Well here it is. When people come over that she does not know she barks and barks and runs in circles around them at about 15 feet out. She ceases to listen and will try and avoid getting caught by me. Sometimes even the hair on the neck goes up. I tell the people to ignore her. This will go on a good 5 minutes if I cannot catch her. She very much knows the command “leave it” and I use it to extinquish any behavior that I do not approve of and in any other situation, including chasing chickens, she responds. Not in this one though.
Normally, if people are coming over and I know it, I have control of the situation before hand. It is the people that are just dropping by that throw us.
Anyways any tips would be really helpful.
She sounds like a lovely Dog and you have defintely come a long way. Like you, we have had to take it very slowly to get Dasiy to be more confident. It does work, as you know, it just takes time.
It sounds to me like her natural herding instincts are taking over and she wants to be in control of the situation to ease her own mind. She probably is just going by her natural instincts, is a little afraid and her body is telling her to “round ’em up and get rid of ’em”.
That is just a guess mind you. Daisies puppy who is now about 10 months old, is very wary of new people and although she doesn’t run around them, her hackles go up and she barks at them. All Dogs seem to handle their wariness differently.
To be honest I think the best advice is that of simply overloading her with new people constantly. She will soon get used to it then. I have definitely found that the more you confront these type of things the quicker the Dog will simply see it as part of everday life.
I am sorry I can’t be more helpful but I think if you can get more strangers (friendly ones) who will ignore her, to pay a visit, the quicker she will get over it.
I hope this helps a little, and I wish you all the best.
If you would like, I can put your email up as a blog post and see if anyone responds with any better ideas. Just a suggestion, someone may have had the same experience.
What Can You Do?
As any regular readers know I am not a Dog trainer. I write about what I have learnt from experience or Dog related topics that interest me. I tried to answer as best I could but I know my reply was sorely lacking in any real helpful way.
If you have had a similar experience or know of a good solution then I am sure the author of the email would appreciate your help. Please leave a helpful comment if you can or just what you believe may be of some assistance.
May the Doggie Force be with you all.