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Thread: Hand shy dog. Cure?

  1. #1
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    Default Hand shy dog. Cure?

    Pohm is now 1 yr old. and is hand shy.
    We got her at 8 weeks, she's NEVER been hit or hurt accidently by hand.

    Recently, coz ive been jolted into finishing some training with her and phasiing out food reward treats, was hoping for a rub and voice praise, yet she backs away from my hand?
    When i then call her close, she comes and is happy for a rub, but my initial reach has her backing off. >???

    any suggestions for a fast cure?

  2. #2
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    I think I have one of those dogs too. Was having discussions about grovel dogs yesterday - and the other owner said it's a genetic line. Especially in some farm dog types - koolies or kelpies but some other dogs have it too.

    One way to almost guarantee my dog will clear off, is to reach out to her like you're trying to catch her. Fastest way to get her to come in for a pat is to give some other dog a butt rub.

    You could try hand targetting. Ie sit on a chair, have a mug full of treats within reach, put one hand palm up or palm vertical and rest the back of your hand against your knee.

    When dog comes and sniffs hand (maybe put something yummy in it to start with) - say "yes" and drop a treat into it from the other hand. Eventually only reward nice nose presses in your hand. Presently putting your hand down next to your knee - palm out - will mean the same as a treat. Theoretically.

    Other alternative to treats - is tug or fetch ball in a sock... Or just say "yes" and if she doesn't come in for the treat/pat (aim for the bit above her tail - butt rub), move on to the next thing.

  3. #3
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    I'll try targeting touch to my hand. That seems fastest. I'll let you know how she goes.

  4. #4
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    My dog Tessa has been with us since 5 weeks...never been hit, but she often shies from sudden movement.

    I have never been able to train it out of her. She does touch, tricks, loves to be loved, even by strangers. But a quick movement and she dives. I really had to work at the stand of exam, because if anyone came quickly she would cringes. I blame the BC part....Quite a few of BC's at our Kennel Club do the same. Repetition, repetition, repetition got her out of the "stand" cringes, but she will still react to a sudden movement.
    She loves touch and will jump at your hand, but the unexpected move still worries her
    Pets are forever

  5. #5
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    My Saluki is a typical snotty saluki, and doesn't seek attention from strangers, however he has to have his bite checked in the ring.

    Last weekend he was at a show and for the first half of the day I gave everyone food and they drew him in gave him food and patted him, he's fine with that, typical Saluki if there's something in it for him he's fine. For the second half of the afternoon I decided to flood him and I made everyone pat him, even if they had nothing to give him until he would accept a pat under his chin.

    However he's not scared, but typical of his breed.

    In the ring often if a dog is head shy we recommend you start at the shoulder and then work to the head or rear, breaks the pattern.

    But if I was training an obedience dog in general obedience, ie not competing and doing stand for examination I would reward the dog some other way, afterall the dogs always picks the reward. For your dog I'd go the ball each and every time.

  6. #6
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    I don't really know Banjo's early history but as you know she just loves all humans and likes nothing more than to climb on people's laps and have lots of physical contact with them.

    But in certain situations, especially when she is sitting in the car, she shies away from my hand if I try to pat her on the head through the window. It happens a bit less frequently maybe compared to when I just got her, but it still happens. I do the start at the neck or back and move hand forward and she is fine with that. It is something about having that hand coming towards her from above her head that she doesn't like. It's not something I think I need to fix as I think it is her good right to choose not to like her head being touched in a particular way. But it still feels like a bit of rejection when she does that.

  7. #7
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    Something else we have to remember is it's the top of their head! who likes someone pawing at the top of your head.

    My Gordon is not frightened or hand shy of anyone, quite the opposite, she's rough ready and outgoing to anybody and everybody but she will move her head so that your hand goes under her chin, and then the eyes close and you can see the pleasure on her face, she's really enjoying it. This is a dog that will let little toddlers thump on her side and take it as pats, but still manipulates you into rubbing her under the chin not the top of the head. And everyone wants to rub her on top of her head, because if she's had a drink her jowls are wet.

    Most sighthounds don't really like the top of the head being patted, this is because of their head shape, you block their vision.

    I think it could also be similar to people who don't like their feet being touched or their hair being touched.

    But regardless rewards have to be on the dogs terms to be worthwhile to them.

  8. #8
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    Pohm has been handled and massaged all over, between her toes even. Since we got her at 8 weeks, she loves being touched. The rottie in her has her going into an upright coma if you touch and smooth the top of her head. I think perhaps it is to do with me reaching for her, as opposed to her butting your hand. She also pushes things over and out the way with her head. She headbutts walls? why? because rotties do sometimes.
    I tried the touch target, as i suspected, not a problem. Happy to oblige.
    Out on walk, and reach for her and she cowers back and away out of reach, then grovel wriggly bum with dolphin smile and comes in for a pat and scratch of her head.

  9. #9
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    Sounds like she may be relating this to physical dominance, then almost asking for forgiveness for her action.

    Some people will train their dog to accept a pat as as high a value as a treat by doing both at the same time, treating and patting.

    Also if you are out walking are you drawing her in for this pat, by this I mean pulling on the lead, she may be seeing it as discipline?

    Who knows but it's one of those quirky little actions that always puzzle me with dogs.

  10. #10
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    Hmm, all the trainers I spoke to about Sophie all told me "never pat a dog on the head" - one, it's the top of their head - would you like getting that pressure on top of your head all the time?, and two, it's quite dominating, so for a dog with anxiety issues from the outset, every single one of them all told me that it was the #1 thing to avoid - and even now, if I inadvertantly forget and go for the head rub, she will duck her head.

    Soph was quite movement shy when she first arrived, so to combat it, every time we had (and have) "silly squirrel time" I make sure that I go in to her face, her sides, her bum, gt guts, everyway with waving wiggling hands for every conceivable direction so that she free-associates stange movements with playtime, and it has worked wonders - other than her head ducking from direct-target-petting, she is pretty non-reactive to hands and feet moving unexpecedly.

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