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Old 11-15-2007, 03:44 AM   #1
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Default Overwhelmed by other dogs?

Hi folks,

Between 9-11 weeks Nellie would approach dogs known to us carefully (i.e on her belly, tail wagging furiously) but confidently. However, since her jabs were complete at 12 weeks and she started going out and about on and off-lead, she has started to demonstrate a much more fearful response to approaching "strange" dogs.

She becomes fearful and dives between my feet, yelping and crying and scrabbling frantically at my legs to be picked up. I won't pick her up (presumably this would affirm her fears) but I do crouch down to offer gentle support as the dog comes in for a sniff.

She has only had one bad experience with a big Vizsla, whose young owner couldn't hold him and he rushed up and roughly bowled Nellie over (and me actually), but her yelping and crying response was in place before and after that incident!

She's had lots of nice meetings with gentle staffies, retrievers, spaniels, westies and so on. Will her confidence with strange dogs gradually increase? Am I offering the right kind of support? At our last puppy class she showed fear towards the other pups during the "controlled greetings" session, and the trainer frowned a bit and said he would be inclined to pick her up if she is genuinely frightened.

I disagree. What do you guys think?



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Old 11-15-2007, 03:58 AM   #2
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Now that she behaves like this do you tense up when you see other dogs approaching? If you do, she will pick up on it and she might think that there is a need for her to also be tense!

Also, if it were me I wouldn't even stroke her. I've been told that any kind of comfort is like reinforcing what she is doing and she thinks you're telling her "good" for being scared.

If it were me, I would get her to meet some trusted dogs under controlled conditions (indoors?) and totally and completely ignore any fear response, whilst also being really positive about the other dog. I read on this forum also the use of cues where you move slowly and yawn and stuff and this helps to relax your dog.

I know this works because Poppy has occasionally looked up at me when she was a little scared (outside in the yard on fireworks night!) and I made sure I looked totally calm, I yawned and I moved calmly and slowly - and she took my cue that everything was OK.

Just my ideas, I'm sure someone more experienced might give more advice.


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Old 11-15-2007, 03:58 PM   #3
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I absolutely wouldn't pick up a small dog in this situation unless there is no other option. I think it not only reinforces their fear, but sends very bad messages to the other dog and can often aggravate the situation. Instead I would be inclined to body block the approaching dog, putting yourself between the dog and Nellie. You can greet the dog if it is friendly and Nellie can choose to venture out from behind you if she feels confident, either way the dog didn't get to bowl straight up to her and she learns to rely on you.

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Old 11-15-2007, 05:05 PM   #4
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She has not forgotten her bad experience you both had. It might take time n work on your part to keep going, do not stop. When you stop with dogs coming she senses your up tight also. Just keep on going and she should get a good walk and approaching dogs will just be a daily thing she can deal with as you also. Dogs can sense our feelings, being tense, etc. Try to just keep walking no matter, carry a club and make a nice walk of it for u and dog. Then if u know the dog, let her enjoy the nice company. We socialization many times she will heal and be a brave dog. This is better than being agressive as you can work out of this behavior.

"Don't make the mistake of treating your dogs like humans, or they'll treat you like dogs."


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Old 11-15-2007, 05:42 PM   #5
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Between 9-11 weeks Nellie would approach dogs known to us carefully (i.e on her belly, tail wagging furiously) but confidently.
That's not a confident response. That's an attempt to show she's not a threat to the other dog so it won't hurt her. It's more like I'd really like to see you and play but please, please don't hurt me. While it's common for puppies to go through short phases of this I wouldn't be surprised to see a puppy that kept doing it to eventually escalate to more fearful behavior.

I would not let other dogs meet her for now. Dont let them approach. Walk past them as calmly as possible. Just the action of the other dogs approaching to sniff even calmly seems to be stressing her out. Try to keep her away from any more hyper dogs and definitely don't let any rush up to her. Give her time to see they aren't going to do anything. You can ask some people you know, or people at class if their dogs have enough training, to put their dogs in a sit and just walk her past as close as possible. After she can walk past other dogs that aren't approaching her without getting upset then start letting her approach other calm dogs. Keep the other dogs sitting and let her go sniff them. After she will confidently (not wiggling or scooting around on the ground) approach the other dogs then start letting them take a few steps toward her. Work your way up to having her greet more exciteable dogs. If she gets nervous just take her back a step and avoid those types of dogs for calmer ones until she gains confidence that other dogs aren't going to hurt her.

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