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Thread: timid versus aloof versus fear?

  1. #1

    Default timid versus aloof versus fear?

    not sure if all these words mean the same thing or not. have posted before about my timid girl. i am not so sure she is that timid now, after two events, several low flying air force jets passed over with no negative reaction, caught out in the middle of a violent thunder/lightning storm, no negative reaction, obed/attitude does not change on slippery surfaces or on dodgy obstacles, friendly dogs are ignored.

    so maybe i have mislabeled what i think is timidity, the only real issue is complete non-acceptance of physical contact with people and posturing to unfriendly dogs.

    i know this is just a terminology thing perhaps but can someone explain the characteristics of timid V fear V aloof/unsocial and how your own approach training. when i get some time i will make a you tube channel dedicated to timid dogs hoping that others may share their experience.

    cheers any thoughts.

  2. #2
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    For me, i think i have owned all of these flavoured dogs lol
    Timid, is the pup that is reaching as far as it can toward you with its nose, whilst standing out of your calculated strike reach. And for this, i will encourage, lure into position. It is a healthy behaviour in unfamiliar scenarios. Moving slowly, or standing still, is a calming signal for dogs. And the dog is able to self soothe. And responds rapidly to reassurance. You said its ok, so it must be.

    Fearful, is the dog who is in a familiar scenario, where the fear response has already been learnt during a earlier exposure to the stimuli that is similar. The dog is applying learnt knowledge from situation a) to situation b) This behaviour is an already learnt, reinforced, established, habitual response. This i counter condition with. So if it is fear of swimming. I will change my dogs negative associations, to positive ones. I think you really need to be able to break down behaviours, into teeny tiny pieces, to retrain this one.

    aloof is a personality characteristic. It is also subjective. one persons 'aloof', might be another's 'regal' And you cant change personality, only behaviour. So, for certain dogs, they are known to be independant of humans, do not need cuddles, do not need to be by your side. Certain breeds who gaurd sheep, alone in a field for eg. To buy one as a pet, seems rather odd notion to me. But there's a breed out there for everyone i think.

    unsocial, and lets assume, dog was socialised as a pup, you did everything right, but its just not social.
    I have one of those now. He's not really interested in dogs, just me if im around. That's just him. My husband is not social. I am, its a personality trait, id accept it. Dogs dont HAVE to mix with dogs. They are naturally loners. Only when resources are sufficient, do you see them living in family groups (in general).

    Aggressive dogs, you have not mentioned. So standover tactics. the bullies. Those i do obedience training with, and the 2 ive had, ive done some schutzhund adn training in drive with, using animal behaviourists, Steve Courtney, and Dildei Godfried Training in Drive, over and over and over and over etc etc etc till the day they pass on. Having injured none other due to training/management.

    Ive certainly intended to have well mannered, confident dogs, that are not timid. Every dog i have bought, i have obtained from a known blood line, with none of these features, ie every pup.
    My rescued rotties often had horrendous breeding mistakes, BYB market is huge. And ive met some monsters, who have become lambs. I have met monsters, that were too screwed up, with thyroid issues. Which once addressed, you get the natural dog back. Mellow. Brilliant. So in that instance, i would address it pharmacologically.

  3. #3
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    muttboy

    are you sure the dog isn't deaf, or vision impaired?

  4. #4

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    Hyacinth, i can not rule that out now you mentioned it.

    Bernie thanks for great explanation, could you add the role that nerve strength/weakness plays in this please.

  5. #5
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    I can only offer my own, pet owners opinion.
    A strong nerve dog is one that 'bounces back' from unpleasant experiences. It rarely 'collapses' when being trained. Keen to explore and get into mischief. can be independent when it is required. Can think for itself.
    The strong nerve dog is often confident, happy go lucky, takes everything in his stride type.

    Weak nerves. Every little knock, can be perceived as massive. they are easily spooked, are often referred to as skittish. they tend to take a fair while to bounce back from unpleasant experience. Often going to ground whilst they do so.
    they can develop a whole heap! of things they are scared of: lightening, shiny floors, men in hats, thunder, strong winds, loud noises like back firing cars, cowering if corrected. Separation anxiety is seen in this type of dog often. As well as other issues.

    the thing with nerve, is it is genetic predominantly. For weak nerve, think anxiety.
    Im sure you have friends that suffer anxiety. Dogs could be said to be anxious, that are of weak nerve.
    But you can have a dog with weak nerves through exposure to severely unpleasant experience/s, come good to a strong nerved dog in the right hands.
    then there is the biochemistry of it all. animals have a lab chemist in their brain, that pumps neurotransmitters to the brain, to make shit happen. It gets stuck in tram tracks and follows same route, ends up in same destination - anxiety. this is a learnt response. The dog behaves as if, he has weak nerves. The abused dog. Who cowers when you go to stroke him for eg. So if it has been learnt, it therefore can be re-learnt.

    If these behaviours, are in a dog with weak inherited nerves, the outcome is less likely to be positive without professional assistance from a behaviorist.

    How this affects me and the choices i make in selecting my dogs.
    That apparently boisterous pup, that's the first poking his head up to check you out when you go to purchase? Well take that pup away from its litter mates, and check how confident it is. the strong nerved pup is phased briefly, then notices a leaf and pounces on it. the weak nerved pup will cry and be looking for its litter mates and be difficult to gain attention of.
    I do a "you decide" exercise, and see how many reps does it take this pup to 'get' this, to work it out. How easily frustrated is it. How long will it persevere to get what it wants. Does it get distressed, distracted etc. I want a dog that gets it real fast. And then starts throwing the learnt behaviour at me willy nilly. <that's who i take home.

    Brian has weak nerves. He collapses easily. He cant take any pressure. He is very skittish. He legs it and hides behind me at anything new. I was too strong with him last week, and he was on the floor, and couldn't get up/out of that head space. He needed assistance to move through difficult, and out other side to its ok, chill.

    I would never breed, sell, buy a weak nerved dog. I might rehome one from some rescue occasionally. But dont we all lol

  6. #6

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    'muttboy' - what breed of dog is the 7 month old that you are talking about here ?

  7. #7
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    I was also wondering this.
    Have you raised her yourself?

  8. #8
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    I've been told my dog is soft...

    If I hold her collar to prevent further naughty behaviour (like barking at crows flying over the yard), she will eventually roll over upside down and pretend to be cute. It's hard to lead a dog around by the collar when it's upside down. It's also hard not to laugh at it and let it go.

    She's terrified of traffic.

    But she will run up to a new wolfhound to say hello... and then roll over. People often say she's scared or timid and then I have to remind them which dog approached the other...

    Both those descriptive paras from Bernie's post describe her. So I don't know what to think.

  9. #9
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    Im confused muttboy if this is a discussion about your dog, or about dogs in general also lol

  10. #10

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    riley, chubb, bernie...dog in question is a whippet cross, i bred and raised myself and the thread was both about my own dog and dogs in general.

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