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Thread: Suddenly Scared of Men/people

  1. #1

    Default Suddenly Scared of Men/people

    Hi guys, new here so dropping a hello first.

    I have a 8 year old Maltese shitzu that has suddenly become scared of people. Generally men.

    I got him 3 years ago, as an adoption, and he has been almost the perfect dog. When I got him he was house trained, could walk off lead, basic commands and loved to play. He's never been a fan of other dogs, but has always loved people.

    About a month ago he started acting scared of people. A couple of times he even ran onto the road when someone tried to pat him. He now consistently pulls away and hides behind me if someone tries to pat him. Even people at my work...where I've been taking him in for the last 1.5 years and previously fine. Once again generally men but occasionally women as well. Now I don't walk him off lead on the street anymore.

    I've taken him to the vet and he is physically all clear. The only other thing is he sorta on shared custody as neither my ex girlfriend nor I want to give him up. This started not long before his weird behaviour. He also needs knee surgery.

    So any help would be great, would love for him to be his normal happy self again.

    Thanks in advance Alex








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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
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    Adelaide
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    Default

    Hi Alex

    Sorry to hear about your dog's set back.

    All I can think of is he's had a really traumatic experience where someone tried to grab him when he wasn't ready or willing. Possibly out on a walk but could have been anywhere. Maybe his knee got hurt in the process.

    You need to do what you can to prevent a recurrence of the bad experience. Does your ex or you have any badly behaved house mates or friends that might have done something to him? A vet visit gone wrong?

    And then you need to do what you can to get him used to all the things he's scared of - at a distance where he's still comfortable enough to learn eg if he can still respond to basic commands like sit or shake hands etc - you're far enough away, if he's hiding behind you and a quivering mess and won't take a treat - you're too close. You find the edge of his comfort zone and play games and ask him for tricks - and just work him slightly closer then further then closer just varying the distance but on average sneaking closer to the scary thing...

    Make sure that you act really calm and self assured around the scary people too.

    You might find it helps if you get people to give him yummy treats but this didn't work so well for my dog - as she chained calm behaviour (what you want to reward) with acting freaked out (even when she wasn't - cos she'd stop and eat the treat)... ie act naughty then act sweet and get treat - is what she learned. So I don't use food for "counter conditioning" or "desensitizing". But food works for some people - ie food usually fills a dog with happy and calm brain chemicals.

    You might be able to get help from a trainer - but I'm not sure you will be sure of dealing with the problem if you can't find out what caused it because of the shared custody.

    Nekhbet (a professional dog trainer and member here ) is in Geelong - and she might be able to help more.
    Last edited by Hyacinth; 05-18-2015 at 11:13 PM.

  3. #3

    Default

    Thanks Hyacinth, we don't really know what has happened. But I will try your tips, he's not really food driven but loves to play and his squeaky ball.

    Will try that over the next few weeks to see if he gets better. Otherwise will get professional help. Fingers crossed




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  4. #4
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    he's not really food driven but loves to play and his squeaky ball
    You can use the squeaky ball but praise and pats for calm behaviour in the face of scary things is possibly a better option than getting him all excited with squeaky ball. Tho if he's playing with his fave toy he may not notice the scary thing as much. Just as long as he doesn't get surprised by it, ie if he looks at it, but prefers to play with the ball - that's what you want. If you get him right up to the scary thing and he hasn't noticed and then gets surprised and freaked out by it - oops.

    I find when someone says their dog is not that food driven there's usually two possibilities.
    1. The dog is a keg and has far too much food available on tap to be fussed. This can be fixed by removing all available food for at least 24 hours before training.

    2. You haven't got the right treat. My dog will work for kibble but she goes nuts for dried kangaroo. I can tempt most dogs with dried kangaroo.

  5. #5

    Default

    Thanks for tip, I'll keep that in mind about the squeaky ball.

    He does like liver treats, but is picky with food in general. Loves chicken, not interested in kibble or even porterhouse steaks.

    Will get some kangaroo as well and keep you posted how it goes.

    Thanks



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  6. #6
    Join Date
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    Hi Alex

    So you have been paying attention to what he likes. When you're trying to teach him something new - use his favourite thing... as long as he can be calm enough to pay attention - that might take some work by itself.

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