|Barked: Fri Oct 12, '07 9:19am PST |
|I previously posted the info below regarding a dog who had a fear of men. You could use the same technique for any strangers or anyone who Mosley is shy around. The basic idea is about posturing and appearing non-threatening to the dog.
One of my in-laws' great danes was afraid of men and we worked on her issue with my husband and made great progress by using the following technique. First you just have the person offer treats from a distance without talking to, or making eye contact with the dog at all. Just have them walk by the dog (a few feet away) and gently toss the treat in the dogs direction. Once the dog starts accepting the treats you can lessen the distance. Then when the dog seems comfortable with that, you have the person sit on the floor with their back to the dog and you place a treat on the floor behind the person and encourage the dog to come get the treat. (Being on the dogs level and with your back toward them is a very non-threatening posture in the dog world.) The next step is to have the person offer the treat in their hand (still behind his back while sitting on the floor). This one might take some patience and an irresistable smelling treat, but it's worth the wait! After the dog is comfortable with that step, you can have them slowly start turning around (turn a little - offer treat - turn more - another treat, etc) until they are facing the dog (still sitting, no eye contact or talking to the dog). Then they can slowly start to get up, first on their knees, then squatting, then bending, etc. until the dog is ok with taking treats from them in a standing position.
This sounds like a lot of work and depending on the dog's level of anxiety, this process could take an hour or a month. With the dane we worked with, who always avoided men and would cower or growl when they came near, it amazingly only took about an hour to get from total fear to her willingly taking treats from my husband. The rest of the afternoon she even approached my husband a few times and allowed him to pet her. Now when we see her she is fine with him, and is much better with men in general, even though, obviously, every man she encounters doesn't go through this whole process.
Also, in general, with skittish or timid dogs it's best to bend down when paying attention to them, and to pet them under the chin or on the chest rather than reaching over their heads to pet the top of their head or scratch their ears. Approaching from the bottom rather than over the top of them is much less threatening. Also whenever you see her tail between her legs gently pull it out. For many dogs the tail is like a "switch" and changing it's position can help to accomplish the behavioral/mental goal you're trying to attain.
I hope this is helpful!
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