Our mini Dachshund scared of just certain people and it's hard to get him to leave a certain room in the house.

Alright, I live with my boyfriend and his grandparents. His grandma was given a mini dachshund and it arrived a week before she got out of the hospital. It's about a year old. Well, the dog has gotten very attached to my boyfriend and me and unless we carry him out or he really needs to go potty, the dog will not leave our room.

Everytime we get him close to grandpa, he shakes and almost always poops on the spot. If he sees him or grandpa comes in the room he barks like crazy!

We're not sure why he's so scared of him and why we can't get him to be more social and wander the whole house instead of hibernating in the room.

He's pretty much okay with everyone else, but always barks when people knock on the door, but will stop when he tell him no.

If anyone has any advice that would be very appreciated!

Asked by Member 647381 on Jun 27th 2008 in Fears & Phobias
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Jiggs  CGC

It sounds like you are reinforcing his shy scared behavior when what you need to be doing is giving him praise when he is NOT acting scared and barking. Positive reinforcement will work but it takes time and patience. When your dog is acting scared ignore him, no petting, no soothing or telling him its ok, just ignore the behavior but when he is acting the least bit brave, sniffing grandpa, or venturing out of the room praise him and tell him what a good dog he is. Have your grandpa give the dog treats when ever possible and ignore the pup when he is barking or acting scared. By giving your dog attention when he is scared and unsure only reinforces in his mind it's ok to be like that. Whenever someone approaches your Doxie have them give him a treat. They should never look him right in the eyes or bend down over him, as that can be threatening, kneeling down to his level is a much better idea. Talking to a trainer might be a good idea too. Good Luck.

Jiggs CGC answered on 6/27/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer

Pansy *gone but not forgotten*

I agree very much with Jiggs' answer about reinforcing the dog's behavior each time it acts scared. Every time you comfort and pet him in response you're telling the dog "yes, it's right to be afraid of Grandpa" even when that's not what you're trying to do. Instead, have your grandfather do some things with the dog. Have him feed him, take him for a walk, etc. It's important that even if the dog is afraid of older men that he gets over that he learn that not all older men are created equal. I should reiterate what Jiggs said about the proper way to approach a dog: do NOT bend over the dog to pet it and do NOT stare it down. Both are considered very threatening in dog body language. Good luck!

Pansy *gone but not forgotten* answered on 6/27/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer


You cannot reinforce fear in a dog (it's a long standing myth, think about it, if you're afraid and someone holds your hand are you going to be more afraid? You might not be less afraid, but the comforting or rewarding is not going to make you want to be afraid again, same for animals). You need to understand counter conditioning, desensitization, triggers and thresholds. Your dog is terrified and ANYTHING that you can do to make him feel better is ok. The dog should not be forced to interact with things that scare him. Changing how this dog feels will take time and training. Read The Cautious Canine for a start. You can also visit Sunny's dogster page to learn more about how he is learning to feel more confident in the world.

Sunny answered on 7/2/08. Helpful? Yes/Helpful: No 0 Report this answer