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Thread: Kelpie X - Being Snarky and Fearful

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default Kelpie X - Being Snarky and Fearful

    Hey everyone.

    I own a 8month old Kelpie x ACD who is a small girl for her age, she weighs 9kgs and is well, 8 months and very short for the normal sized breed standard and I have seen her compared next to Kelpie and ACD mix's and she is so small compared to them.


    Since a young age my girl Serenity has been fearful (which I didn't know at the time) but she ust to charge strangers (sometimes) and bark her head off, she has growled at kids before but hasn't growled at anyone since. As time passed, she got A LOT better and stopped charging/barking at people but when she meet new people, most of the time she was slow at approaching and cautious but is still willing to meet them.

    Towards dogs she gets very snarky. When she was between 3-5months she would get snarky at any dog that would come near me if she was on me or on me, she would also do this behavior when she was near my bag. She at 9 weeks actually attacked a puppy for coming near my bag.

    Fast forward to now,

    Serenity is cautious around some new people but will not charge people anymore and hasn't barked/growled at anyone again, yet anyway. when she meets new people, most of the time she will be slow at approaching and cautious but is still willing to meet them. She has gotten a lot worse though when it comes to dogs. If a dog gets in her face, if a dog is much bigger then her, if a dog is way excited but not even close to her or even if a dog is running around and no where near her. She does this behavior most of the time but this attitude is at the training club I go to. She has happily submitted to a few of the trainer dogs. In my whole time owning her I have only seen her play with my boy Sunny and a BC, that's it.

    When I take her to the dog park she will stay close to me or keep at a distance from other dogs and if a dog does come to her she submits. She will happily run around and chase dogs if they run and be friendly but wont actually get to close to them. She will growl/get snarky if she is on me and a dog comes to close to me (sometimes).

    I see and watch her body language and can tell she is fearful in most situations and I honestly work hard with her, every single day, we work a lot od 'Leave it' and 'Watch me' and she does great. I have had a few moments were she has gone to attack and was mid there and said 'Leave it' and she's stopped and focused on me.

    So can anyone please help me out and tell me what more I can do for my girl?. How can I get her more comfortable around other dogs and people?. What can I do to make her feel safe around other dogs?.

    Also, does anyone have good links to info on dog body language?.

    Even with these issues, she is very obedient. I just don't want her to get worse so I want to know things I can do NOW before she gets worse. Plus, for a Kelpie x ACD she is a darn mellow, relaxed, placid little girl!.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Turid Rugaas is the doggy body language and "calming signals" expert.
    Questions and answers from Turid Rugaas

    She has some books and dvds out that are available on the net too.

    Some dogs are brain wired "soft" or naturally anxious about everything and I'm not sure you can stop them from being that way but you can train better responses to situations that make them uncomfortable.

    A really great recall will get you out of most troublesome situations, as will avoiding dog parks when they're crowded and supervising all meetings with new dogs and people. My dog isn't snarky and she gets along well with fear aggressive dogs (the ones that attack because they're scared) because my dog crawls into a new greeting and rolls over, and a dog can pose no threat upside down. And this usually comforts the fearful dog.

    The other thing I make sure the owner of the fearful dog does, is to keep the lead loose, so their dog knows it has room to back off and escape if it feels the need, and this gives it more confidence. So I encourage dog and owner to allow a loose lead approach in their own time to my upside down dog. The fearful dog does not always approach, but we've never been attacked either. It's clear when the fearful dog is not willing or ready, it stays behind its owner. If the lead goes tight in either direction, I do not allow the fearful dog closer and encourage the owner to back off.

    And we don't push or hurry those dogs. Forcing a fearful dog to do something either by dragging it up to another dog, or another dog rushing in its face - just justifies the fear (and the attack) in the scaredy dog's head. Ie they get more anxious and attack. And are more likely to attack quicker if a dog rushes at them again.

    If the owner wants to work on the fear, they need to find a willing grovel dog (like mine) and grovel dog owner and walk in loops towards and away from the grovel dog. Reward calm behaviour with whatever is rewarding for your dog, and back off when she gets uncomfortable and then try again. If your dog will take a treat from you at 100m from the scary thing, approach until your dog just starts to refuse treats, back off until she's comfortable and try again.

    And I would limit sessions like this to 2 to 5 minutes at a time. You don't want stress building up.

    Other things the (grovel) dog owner can do to help is avoid direct eye contact, and avoid squaring shoulders up to scaredy dog, be side on and look away. Licking lips, crouching (being short and close to the ground) can also help. And you can fake this with a dog, by getting it to drop and hold a drop position, or upside down if that dog is willing. But a side on drop is way better to a face on stand with tail and hackles up or a labrador charge.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Rural Western Australia


    Another thing I used to do with my fearfull ACD was when I took her to our dog club I would work at distance to the classes and then on the edges of the classes and finally as part of the class - we would join in for short periods of time as she gradually relaxed - it took quite a period of time to achieve this. Eventually she was doing off lead sit stays.

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