Lack of Confidence

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!


Barked: Tue Nov 20, '12 7:26am PST 
I've had my puppy since she was about 12 weeks old and have been working on her ever since. She's just graduated from her second puppy class. My roommate walks her in the morning and I walk her and let her run and play fetch at night. In the house between doing things, I'll play tug with her or let her play some keep away or fetch in the kitchen. All her food she gets from puzzles and frozen kongs to keep her occupied.

We take her with us to outdoor restaurants, to the farmers markets or just to Pet Smart to do training with. But I'm still seeing signs that she's starting to become more and more anxious.

My class trainer actually mentioned looking into medications for her because of how easily aroused and anxious she is- especially with other dogs. And other dogs are her MAIN problem. The first dog she saw when I first got her at 12 weeks old didn't come within five feet of her and she started screaming. I've been doing look games and trying to follow other dogs at a distance in the neighborhood and everything, but my neighborhood is pretty empty most of the time so she barks a lot when she does see another dog there.

She gets along great with my family's dogs, but they're all old and really don't want anything to do with her. Especially because she's an insistent, obnoxious player and tries to pester them into playing. She's played with some dogs her age/size that she got along with very well, but upon first meeting a new dog she'll bare her teeth, expecting the worse (I have to let HER come to THEM, not the other way). And while she hasn't bit anyone, just given some warning snaps to dogs that get too close to her on leash, it freaks other owners out enough that most don't really want to let her meet their dogs. She did that at the dog park, too, only was more likely to run, which made a few dogs fixate on her quite badly since she was an easy target so I quit taking her. She's get over in a few moments and get along great with the dogs she liked, but would act like that every time a new dog came in so I'd have to keep an eye out and move her to the small dog section whenever anyone showed up so she wouldn't have an overly friendly dog running up to her and giving her fits.

But more than that, she used to be fine riding in the car, but is starting to seem restless and tight lipped when we go somewhere (which is 1-2 times a week with treats). I had the windows open in the house some last week and instead of being interested, she was pacing around anxiously and a little wound for days after.

My backyard isn't fenced, so when she's outside she's always supervised, but still on high alert. I'd like to find ways to help build her up while she's still young since what I'm doing just seems to be keeping her at level more than helping her grow even more. I'd hate to let her turn into an overly anxious dog if I can help her more now than I already am.

we will dance in- the ring without- words
Barked: Tue Nov 20, '12 10:16am PST 
How old is she exactly? She may be going through a fear period, which is totally a natural thing.

And your TRAINER should not be telling you to put your dog on meds, that is a discussion for you and your vet. Your trainer could suggest you TALK to your vet about meds, but where I live, that is making a DX and trainers should not do that.

Besides, there are so many other alternatives for you to try first, anxiety wraps, T-Touch, thundershirts, aromatherapy (especially lavender essential oil or a calming spray. And after that, there would be testing, thyroid, CBC, SNAP ect. And if nothing comes of all of that AND your dog is so anxious it is affecting quality of life, then it may be time for your trainer to prompt that discussion with your vet.

Barked: Tue Nov 20, '12 10:42am PST 
She's right around 11 months. So it is possibly a fear period increasing the stress, but she's never been a very at ease pup.

And my trainer didn't tell me to put her on a specific medicine, just told me to consider it with my vet. So in that, she did point me to my vet, though it seemed kind of odd to me to make that immediate jump. I had a cat on amitriptyline for a long while so I'm at least partially familiar with that route, but he was legit crazy. That might also be why I might be overreacting a bit on the prospect.


we will dance in- the ring without- words
Barked: Tue Nov 20, '12 11:06am PST 
I would try some of the alternatives before jumping to meds. I think in some cases, they can aid in learning new behaviors and making new associations, but I would exhaust other possibilities first.

Barked: Tue Nov 20, '12 11:31am PST 
This sounds like Kato.

He used to pee himself if other dogs were in sight, and if they came close, he'd let out a blood curdling scream.

For our daily walks, we just kept walking if any dogs were in their yards barking. I think it comforted Kato to know that he could get out of there, and he eventually learned that barking dogs just bark.

As for closer interaction, I did the Look at That Game. Took him to public areas/parks where people would walk their dogs. I'd find a nice bench to sit at and treat Kato whenever he'd look at another dog. Eventually worked up to going to a dog park. We didn't go in the main bit, but the small dog side was empty, so we did the same thing in there. He showed some curiosity, which was great. Slowly but surely, he gained some confidence with those experiences, and he eventually graduated to going in the dog park when there were only 1 or 2 dogs in there.

And he did show some fear. They're never going to just hop in with their head high and confidence at 100%. But the minimal positive exposure and small steps really do them wonders. The biggest safety net they have is you, so if you feel that it is just getting too overwhelming, go ahead and leave. Their confidence can really soar if they truly trust you to step in when it just gets to be too much. You can't teach them everything though, so I wouldn't be too overprotective.

Patience and time are the biggest things too. Kato used to be only able to play with one dog at a time. If another joined in, he'd hide under the table I was sitting on. But eventually, he gained confidence, and now has no issues playing with a group of dogs.

Here's his first time at the dog park. You'll see some bits of curiosity. Keep in mind that this is after doing the Look at That Game for quite a while in other circumstances. Kato really took a fancy to the brown boxer, so I went in and let him have a good play. They were doing great. Then the people with the ACD came in, and that dog was a bit too much for Kato, and I left shortly after that.

Despite the shotty camera work, you can see that Kato gets a bit overwhelmed with 2 dogs, but when they leave, he shows curiosity by following them. When he got a bit overwhelmed, he went to the gait and also to me. Despite those bumps, he found fun in the play. Enough to want to give it a go. And knowing he had a safe spot helped him branch out further and further.

Edited by author Tue Nov 20, '12 11:37am PST

Dr. Watson

Not a wiener- dawg!
Barked: Tue Nov 20, '12 12:23pm PST 
A calming spray to try is DAP (dog appearing pherononome). It also comes in a handy diffuser. My brother has had much success with this, but it can be hit or miss. You could treat her before you go out, also. Best of luck!

Fear period may be a good bet, as said.

Another confidence-building exercise is to put her through obedience exercise patterns that she knows when she shows anxiety.

Edited by author Tue Nov 20, '12 12:25pm PST