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Ameteur Houdini
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey DT! As you may gather from the title, we adopted ROCKY! (http://www.dobermantalk.com/doberman-related-chat/64704-possibly-guinness.html) I think we've decided to keep this name, as it fits him and I can't think of anything better (besides Shadow or Doofus, because that's what he is!). Anyway, he is an absolute charm. Very velcro to me, calm disposition, not a resource guarder (food, toys, bed, me, anything, so far), and doesn't push Annie (my Dachshund) to play with him. They are very respectful of each other. I am so pleased with him and think we will go far together.

Anyway, he is very shy. Not fearful, just unsure. From the day we met him and took him home, I have made sure I was confident, calm, and consistent. I have really tried hard to be a good leader for him, and I can already tell he looks to me. My big question is, have you ever had a considerably shy dog, and what was your course of action with them? I know that this will most likely be a long process, but he can do it.

A little bit of background: He was found at the flea market by his foster mom at an estimated 3 months. His condition was terrible. Fleas, mange, underweight, probably more...She took him in, cared for him, socialized him nicely and basically brought him back to life. He is now 8 months old, and a happy, responsive dog who I KNOW can blossom into a gregarious and confident dog. Maybe less gregarious than not, but I all I want is for him to be comfortable, and we will achieve that, hopefully more.

I'm also considering enrolling him in these obedience classes: Paws In Progress - Home What do you guys think?

By the way, I'll post pictures when I get to the other comp ;)
 

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Hairy Dog RIP Caesar, Katana, Kip, Capri
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I think you've only had him a couple of days?
He may just need time to settle in. In fact, a lot of folks take it really easy with introductions to other family pets and strangers for a few weeks to let the new dog settle in. It will probably be 2-4 weeks before his true personality unfolds as he relaxes in his new place.

I would go a bit slow with him for a few weeks before starting classes, myself.
 

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Congrats on your new boy! I'd give him some time to settle in, but if he still exhibits a ton of shyness, have him evaluated by a professional. We just went through this with our new dober. Its so worth the peace of mind, if you get to that.. and if something IS wrong, they can help you towards a resolution or ways to comfortably live with it :) With Callie (who is just on the shy side of things) we play alot of games to build confidence, and take new situations/introductions slowly. We also exclusively use clicker training, any kind of reprimand would be too harsh on her. You might look into that!

I'd recommend going and sitting in on a class (or two!) before you pay for anything. Make sure you like how the classes are run and that the modality of training lines up with yours. Talk to a few of the clients after if you can, and just get a feel for it. I signed up for (and paid for.. blah) one that I THOUGHT was going to be great, based off watching for one night. It was a total dud. I believe there's a list on the AKC site of training places. I ended up finding one through my vet's office that was wonderful :)

Best of luck with your sweet boy! I can't wait to see those pictures!
 

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Hey DT! As you may gather from the title, we adopted ROCKY! (http://www.dobermantalk.com/doberman-related-chat/64704-possibly-guinness.html) I think we've decided to keep this name, as it fits him and I can't think of anything better (besides Shadow or Doofus, because that's what he is!). Anyway, he is an absolute charm. Very velcro to me, calm disposition, not a resource guarder (food, toys, bed, me, anything, so far), and doesn't push Annie (my Dachshund) to play with him. They are very respectful of each other. I am so pleased with him and think we will go far together.

Anyway, he is very shy. Not fearful, just unsure. From the day we met him and took him home, I have made sure I was confident, calm, and consistent. I have really tried hard to be a good leader for him, and I can already tell he looks to me. My big question is, have you ever had a considerably shy dog, and what was your course of action with them? I know that this will most likely be a long process, but he can do it.

A little bit of background: He was found at the flea market by his foster mom at an estimated 3 months. His condition was terrible. Fleas, mange, underweight, probably more...She took him in, cared for him, socialized him nicely and basically brought him back to life. He is now 8 months old, and a happy, responsive dog who I KNOW can blossom into a gregarious and confident dog. Maybe less gregarious than not, but I all I want is for him to be comfortable, and we will achieve that, hopefully more.

I'm also considering enrolling him in these obedience classes: Paws In Progress - Home What do you guys think?

By the way, I'll post pictures when I get to the other comp ;)
I would take it slow and not overwhelm him with tons of new people and activities all at once. Obedience class is great, once he's had a couple of weeks to settle in with you.

The book I like best for increasing confidence and working with dogs who are shy is Leslie McDevitt's book, "Control Unleashed." Tons of good techniques and I find it pretty easy to follow.

I would be slightly hesitant about the trainer, only because she mentions using some compulsion/correction methods. With a dog that is a little unsure, that can really cause him to shut down and increase his distrust. This is the place I start when looking at trainers: Search for Professionals
 

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Thank you MeadowCat! I was trying to dig up that link to share. I was hoping you'd be along with it :)

Thats where I found the awesome class thats at my vet's office. Something to look into for sure!
 
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Thank you MeadowCat! I was trying to dig up that link to share. I was hoping you'd be along with it :)

Thats where I found the awesome class thats at my vet's office. Something to look into for sure!
I have it bookmarked :)
 
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Ameteur Houdini
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you very guys! We are definitely taking it easy...he has done so well, I am a bit astonished. I'm not planning on enrolling him immediately, I guess I should have stated that ;) But thank you, I will definitely check that book out, and the link!

On a bit of a side note, what do you think of the book "Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor? I got it in the mail recently, but haven't started reading (who has time with a puppy around? Haha).
 

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Thank you very guys! We are definitely taking it easy...he has done so well, I am a bit astonished. I'm not planning on enrolling him immediately, I guess I should have stated that ;) But thank you, I will definitely check that book out, and the link!

On a bit of a side note, what do you think of the book "Don't Shoot the Dog" by Karen Pryor? I got it in the mail recently, but haven't started reading (who has time with a puppy around? Haha).
I like Karen Pryor. You might also check out Sue Miller's "The Power of Positive Dog Training." I also really, really like Patricia McConnell's books, especially "The Other End of the Leash." I also highly recommend Jean Donaldson's book, "The Culture Clash." I think they'd serve you very well in working with your new pup.
 

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He sounds like a great boy. BUT don't be too surprised if you see some behavior changes as he gets comfortable in his surroundings. You often don't see "true personality" for a few weeks or so.
 

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Ameteur Houdini
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for the book suggestions MeadowCat! I think I'll buy Patricia McConnell's "Family Friendly Dog Training".

Good reminder Adara. Are there any super-major things to watch for or do during the adjustment period, that I should be aware of? We are taking things easy, and I am being careful with the privileges I give him, constantly reading the threads here for advice!
 

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Congrates on your new family member, and way to go adopting. Im a fan of second hand dogs myself. :) I've fostered MANY MANY dogs. Shyness is a very common issue with dogs from rescue due in most part to lack of socialization early in life. The first few months of life are a critical time for dogs to gain their social skills and understanding of the world around them and what is safe and normal. This in no way means you cannot teach an older dog that the world around him is safe, it just means you’ll need a little more time and dedication.

Most important thing is to let the dog be, and give him time to relax and feel secure in his new home. This can take a few days for some, and months for others. just depends on the dog. Once he appears relaxed and confident in his own on goings (walking from room to room, eating, drinking, etc.) then start teaching him some simple tricks. You’d be surprised how much sit, stay, roll over taught with positive training techniques can help a dog. It’s not the learning so much that helps as the process. It offers moments to bond and to tell your dog that they have done the right thing. Be sure to make these training sessions fun for your dog, and to never get frustrated.

Next I teach them to target. This is easy. Find something long (I use a wooden spoon. Lol) and say touch, then touch the spoon to their nose and say Good! Treat them. Repeat twice or so, then say it again and give them a chance to touch the end of the spoon on their own. If they do respond with tons of enthusiasm. Most dogs pick this up REALLY quick. Then I pick a random household item that might worry them a little. Sounds strange but I use my bike and turn it upside down. Because it can be motionless at first and then move when the dog is ready to be pushed further. I walk close to the bike with the spoon and put it on the bike and say “touch” which brings them closer to the bike. After a few touches they usually are very positive about the bike and eagerly investigate... Then I turn the wheels. (this usually causes a ruckus at first. lol) but I give them treats while its turning and eventually get them to touch the bike while the wheels are moving. This whole process takes a day or two… then I move on to other things… the vacuum, umbrellas, dropping metal pots, treadmill, etc. eventually the dog begins to trust that when you ask them to “touch” a foreign object its safe. Over time touch becomes unnecessary because the dog will gain the confidence to investigate without encouragement. Its important a dog is willing to investigate strange objects that may startle him, because its the only way he can learn, and so convince himself it is safe and no longer warrents "freak outs" (He may not even need encouragement from the get go. Some dogs are fearful but retain their natural curiosity)

If a dog doesn’t trust people: Start by finding that one treat that your dog will go bonkers for. Something that doesn’t spoil… I have found chicken jerky is a commonly loved treat. I keep the bag by the front door and instruct all guests to throw a treat to the dog when they come in. Do not give this treat to the dog for any other reason. This way the dog will begin to associate his fav. Treat with the arrival of a guest. When he is comfortable enough to approach a stranger, start asking them to give him the treat, rather than throw it to him. Eventually the dog will love visitors and the treats will no longer be necessary. How long this process takes varies from dog to dog, and how often you have visitors. I averaged a visitor every other day and most of my dogs took about 5 months. This same method can be used while out for walks. Give your dog a treat every time you walk by a person, other dog, bike, car, or whatever bothers him. Eventually he will associate this “evil” with good things. If he’s not food oriented you can use a toy as well. Just remember to remove the toy when the giver of good things (guest) is gone. :)

If you have the time to teach him Agility does wonders to boost a dogs confidence and its fun for you too!

The key to gaining confidence is controlled exposure. Don’t push your dog too fast, but remember if there is no pushing then there is no progress. At times the process can be 3 steps forward, 2 steps back so don’t get frustrated or discouraged. Remaining positive is key to the dogs progression.

I am in no way an expert, nor a certified trainer. These are just the things I’ve done for my fosters that seemed to work. Best of luck to you!
 

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Ameteur Houdini
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Thank you, thank you, thank you Saheeta!!!! That is EXACTLY what I am looking for! His big issue is trusting humans. The family, we are cool (all seven of us!) but whenever strangers come over or we walk past them, he spooks. Not aggression, but he doesn't trust them, so gets very nervous, and we know where that leads.
I think using treats will definitely work with him. Some friends we hadn't seen in a while stopped by our house yesterday. I had them give him some treats I had on hand, instructed them not to make eye contact or sudden moves, etc. One boy followed all of my instructions, and with some calming signals and positive reinforcement, Rocky was sitting, letting him pet him, without getting nervous. If he got nervous, I asked the boy to give him some space. Another lad, Rocky didn't like, so we spent quite a bit of time having him ignore the dog and reaching out his hand with a treat in it. We put the treats gradually closer to the boy, resting his knees, to thighs, etc. When Rocky unhesitatingly approached him, I let him eat treats in my hand while the boy pet him. They won't be best buds, but he accepted him, and that is big. I'm trying to keep company away from the house for a few more weeks, so Rocky can settle in.
Again, thank you for the advice! We will definitely work on everything.
 

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So glad I could be of some help for you. Only other thing I have to add is that if your out for a walk and the dog barks and carries on DONT give him the treat. you wouldnt want to accidentally reinfource this protective behavior. Make him sit and focus on you, then point, watch him look at the person walking, and treat him before he gets to bothered. I continue treating until the person has passed. then say "Good JOB!" and walk on.He may never like strangers. but so long as he in comfortable (and you are able to relax and not worry about a possible fear snap) then You've reached your goal. You'll also find that sometimes its not people in general that the dog is afraid of... I once had a dog that was deathly afraid of people wearing hats! lol. So pay attention and see if theres a trend. its most likely generalized fear though, the way you discribed him with the kids. Sounds like he's in very capable, determined, and most importantly, patcient hands. ;) I'm sure he will be a wonderful boy.
 

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Ameteur Houdini
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks again. A little update, he is doing quite well! I'm pretty sure it isn't as "bad" as I first thought. His main need is to have a human he can absolutely rely on, and trust that whatever I am cool with, he can be cool with. He is a nervous dog, but not a fearful one. I have been giving visitors treats, telling them to totally ignore him and hold the treats by their side. I greet them naturally, while watching him. He isn't afraid to approach and take the treats. If he starts to get really nervous, I give him a little bop in the shoulder, offer a few calming signals, and we carry on. He has a place in the main living room where people sit, so I have him lie there and take everything in. No one is petting him on the head, but he doing much, much better now. It's amazing how fast he adjusted to us...all seven! We've had him for about 10 days now, and it seems like he's been here forever. He and Annie shared their bed last night, which I was not a little astonished to see.
Soon, I'll be able to get together and have a little playdate with a black lab girl who lives up the street! She is just a month younger than him and pretty bouncy, so we'll be monitoring them closely!
 

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I honestly wouldn't put any pressure on him to meet or trust anyone right now. He's went through some big changes and he's probably nervous about all of it. You wouldn't expect an adopted 12-year old human child to just jump right in to being part of the family, they need time to feel comfortable and learn to trust you.

When Tali first came to me I didn't force her to meet anyone right away. I actually requested that people ignore her and just let her approach them and check them out. The first few days I didn't even force her to interact with me that much. I left her crate door open and she was free to spend time in there as she pleased. And when the new environment got to be too much the first few days, she'd put herself up in her crate, sometimes for a few hours at a time, because that was her space and I think she probably felt comforted being away from the newness and being undisturbed at first.

I made sure she had plenty of time away from Fiona each day and we'd take a few short walks daily and I didn't ask anything of her. We just walked, she'd sniff and watch things, every so often I'd quietly talk to her, give her little treats along the way just because...we just moseyed along with no real purpose other than getting her out and about while spending quiet, pressure-free time with me.

As the months passed she came out of her shell and settled into her place with Fi and I but there was a definite period of time when she first came to me that she almost seemed on eggshells with uncertainty. She was super, super sweet and polite, but she was stressed out just from changing homes and leaving the dogs and people she knew, loved, trusted, and lived with to come live with a new, strange dog and person. I can tell you, she's still the same sweet and polite little girl, but she has a super silly and playful side that I really didn't see in her until after a few months with us. She would play with Fiona for a little bit each day and they were/are good together, but it took quite a bit longer for her to really open up with me. She's so much more at ease in every aspect of life now - meeting people, house rules, play time, training, exercise...everything settled naturally into place with time.

So I would recommend slowing it waaaaaay down when you see any signs of stress or uncertainty. Put yourself in his place. Imagine if you'd been taken from the only life you knew and abruptly plopped into a new home with new people and new dogs and new everything...he's been through a lot. Try not to expect too much of him for now. :)
 

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Ameteur Houdini
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
I totally agree with your advice brw, and appreciate it. I'm doing as much as possible to keep him free from stress. I have had him for about 10 days, and I was expecting to handle his first MONTH quite differently.

We were going to do the two-week shutdown, let him take everything in slowly, and introduce him to other people slowly. On the way home from the rescue he barely whined but sat calmly in the car. I introduced him to the house gradually, made it all as gradual as possible. He immediately velcro-ed to me, and while he did get alone time in the crate, he didn't like it at all. So, he has two large beds in the office and the main living room. The living room one is his safety place.

Anyway, I was not a little surprised by how quickly he took to everyone. HE acts like HE has been here forever, and has no problem approaching the family, munching his bones, playing tug or fetch, etc. I have not been pushing him, he has asked to be a larger part of our lives. We took him to the park today and I ran him with my 20 ft. long lead (on grass, of course), we played fetch and a bit of tug, and watched the kids.

Maybe I should slow things down more. I don't think I'm going too fast though. I swear, I was expecting him to be what I imagined, if I was a kid in his place! But he wasn't. Isn't. I hope you don't think I'm ruining him, I truly am desperately trying to do my best.
 
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