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Thread: Dog is scared of housemate

  1. #1
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    Default Dog is scared of housemate

    Roxie has always had a problem with trusting new people, but men in particular. We moved out of the family home 6 weeks ago. I have three housemates, Jane, John and Jono. Roxie has no real problem with Jane, if I'm not home she is the one she follows around. Jono pats Roxie and pays her attention, but she still isn't perfectly comfortable around him. Roxie dislikes John.

    John is over 6"6, but he really is a gentle giant. The other day Roxie got out, it was pure accident, but John was there and she bolted from him. He was distraught and didn't know what to do because I wasn't home, so he chased her. Of course she ran because he did, but he was genuinely worried and didn't want to lose sight of her. We live near a very busy main road and he thought she would get hit.

    We have tried getting him to feed her, him to give her schmackoes. She does respond to his commands of sit etc, but she refuses to take food from him, even with my permission. She does enjoy sniffing and rubbing in his hair (Roxie has a slight obsession with nice smelling shampoos and will rub on peoples heads if she can get close enough. I'm just glad it's not poo). We've tried me not being there to stop distracting her, it doesn't work. He can pick her up and cuddle her, and she does relax somewhat(eyes will start to close in a 'yeah that's good' way), but she still refuses to come when called or take food from him (Relaxing is a big improvement, it took me a year to get her to relax and not be a rock when I cuddled her).

    When she got out she ran about 2km away, with John puffing behind her. It was pure chance that he caught up with her again, but thankfully he'd called Jono who came with the car and found her practically passed out under a tree. This was last week when it was 38C so she was exhausted and had stopped running. Jono had to get out of the car and shake his keys at her to make her get in the car and she was very timid around him too. John nearly passed out himself, I felt terrible.

    We have a very quiet household, neither of the boys is loud in voice, stance or even the way they walk. There is no loud television or music played, we rarely have people over. My next move is to buy something absolutely delicious that she will hopefully not refuse and get him to feed it to her. He always gets on her level so not to intimidate her.

    We have also started NILIF again, I have had success with that in the past. We never really strayed from it, just slacked off.

    This is all particularly upsetting for John because he is genuinely a good guy. He has said that dogs and kids don't like him (the former run, the latter cry on sight of him) and I know it frustrates him. I know that this will take time, Rox took awhile to trust me and even longer to trust my family.

    I'm looking for some simple exercises that can be done at any time to get her to trust him more. There is a little bowl of schmackoes on the bench for them to feed her at any time and they know where the packets are in the cupboard. I'm thinking maybe get him to lie down and feed her? That way she can also roll on his head, that makes her happy and he gets a giggle out of it too. He already walks her when he can. She has a pug and other toys but him moving around too much to interact with her makes her scared.

    I want to keep it all light and fun and build their relationship first, so we can then start working on recall. Is it better if I'm around when they interact, or not there?

    Any advice would be much appreciated.

  2. #2
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    Jan 2012
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    if you are in Melb can you send me an email? inline_k9@yahoo.com

    it might come down to having her on lead and him leading her around, not letting her run away. Every time she runs she convinces herself it's a good thing, as in 'I got my treat, I ran, he didnt get me, I knew it was the right thing to do!'. So you show her nothing bad will happen if she cannot run away, which in turn stops bolting off etc.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jucealala View Post
    She does enjoy sniffing and rubbing in his hair (Roxie has a slight obsession with nice smelling shampoos and will rub on peoples heads if she can get close enough. I'm just glad it's not poo).
    I am sorry I can't help you on your issues. It sounds to me that you are doing all you can. But I just loved this bit that is such an interesting obsession! lol

    Was she a rescue puppy?

    There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.

  4. #4
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    I am not a trainer or a behaviourist, but personally, I wouldnt force the issue.

    She has trust issues from what you have said, and takes her time to trust people and attempting to force that trust just defeats the purpose of trust IMO. I personally would have the guy she doesnt like pretty much ignore her. eventually her natural curiosity will take over when she realises he isnt a threat and she will want to start getting to know the guy who ignores her.

    Like I said though, I am not a pro.

  5. #5
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    I am also in Melbourne, if you live in the area. Feel free to contact me also - info@thepawfectionist.com.au

    Umbilical technique (as Nekbhet suggested) could be a possible idea, however I have tried other techniques which have also worked well. One of these techniques was similar to what you suggested yourself. Lying on your back somewhere with a treat near your hand, but not in your hand, can work. Slowly building it closer to your hand, then in your hand, then slowly inching your hand closer to your head or chest for each treat. If the dog moves away after each treat, that is fine. We are showing Rox that she went to/near Jono, got a treat and left unharmed. Jono should not move during these exercises. Movement could elicit fear and Rox could go backwards in the training.

    When you aren't doing this, the best thing Jono can do is ignore Rox. Be mindful of where Rox is everytime he goes somewhere in the house. Obviously, don't be paranoid about where she is and where he's going or anything but just trying not to step directly at her when going to different rooms, as this can be quite frightening for dogs, especially with a 6ft guy.

    Other things I would suggest are, having Jono feed her, he doesn't have to hand feed her, as long as Rox knows he's providing her food each time. Jono should also walk Rox but I would suggest you and Jono doing this together but having Jono hold the lead.

    I would also be interested to know how old she was when she came to be with you. Is she a rescue?

  6. #6
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    Jucealala

    I've got a lot of respect for Nekhbet's posts and training methods. I also like Villian and Flirrt or Erny's (on that other forum) training ideas - I think they work together.

    It might be worth getting them in to help. Pick one.

    Meanwhile I would be getting the boys to hand feed your dog - all her meals. With hand feeding, it is easier if it's kibble - maybe use a spoon if it's wet. Just say the dog's name - and feed a handful until it's all gone - get the boys to do this maybe taking turns - if they're both available good. And if you can be there and just chat but you don't feed, that should help your dog be more comfortable with them.

    And maybe find some better money like roast chicken or raw beef mince ie schmackos aren't doing it for treats.

    And you can play the "call once game". Aim to do the exercise at least once a day but ideally three times - for about 10 treats. Stop while the dog is still keen to play - not when she gets bored or full and wants to do something else. Start somewhere secure like the lounge room and then maybe the back yard, and when the commercials are on the telly, call your dog by name and give her a treat, then one of the boys does the same thing and then the other one.

    Try to build up to touching her neck or collar before handing over the treat, and when she's all good with that, add more sudden movement or yells - slowly but add the kind of movement and call you might make if you were in a panic. Once it's going good in the lounge - try the back yard, the kitchen, the hall way, the front porch / yard (with lead on) ie get it going well in one place before you move to the next. And do it all different ways, sitting down on a chair, the ground, standing up, stand/sit in different places, do it through the car doors... whatever you can think of.

    Anything you can do to prevent future accidental escapes - do that too. I put a gate closer on my side gate because the lawn mower man would forget to make sure it latched. I still check it when he's been because there is a brick there too to hold it open as needed but he's been good about moving the brick to let it close.

    I usually put the lead on my dog before I open the front door too. Especially if there is someone on the other side of it. And sometimes I shut her where she can't get to the front door. If I need to get the shopping in or take stuff out, I secure my evil hound first. She's usually good but every now and again, she can't resist nicking off to visit the neighbours.

  7. #7
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    One more thing, that really helps me catch my dog when she's feeling like a game of chase me, is the "remote drop". Ie I play the remote drop game when ever I am out or sometimes in the back yard. I say "drop", she gets a treat and then I say "go play" most of the time. Sometimes I put the lead on - and give her another treat. So the drop command she does like it's conditioned, a reflex not a thinking thing. But that takes a few yummy treats and drop practice every day in lots of different places and not in emergencies.

  8. #8
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    I also think Hyacinths ideas are great. You just have to make sure you are not rushing these things. They will all take time and any rushing can back-step progress.
    Hyacinth, can you maybe elaborate on the movements and yells you were referring to when feeding Roxie, as this could possibly be a crucial part that could be done wrong and back-step the dog's progress. I would try, but it's your idea sonyou'd be the best one to do that

  9. #9
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    Hi all

    Elaborate on the pretend panic collar grab -

    you can only do this when the dog is practically throwing their collar into your hand when you say their name and have treats ready but not in your hand. Ie you only reveal the treat when the collar grab is successfully completed. Otherwise you're "luring" and the dog isn't really learning anything but to follow the treat.

    Ie you break each ideal outcome - ie being able to grab the collar in a panic while yelling the dogs name or blue murder at someone else or for help whatever - into tiny steps.

    Some dogs won't willingly let you put a hand on their collar - or they might not let your flat mate do it. So you start by touching the lead and working your way closer to the collar over a few training sessions (ten treats per session, two sessions in a set with a play break between) max two or three sets a day on one task.

    So with each of this - say the dog's name first. Always work where the dog is comfortable - don't increase the difficulty or intensity until the dog is comfortable where you're at for at least 4 out of 5 attempts.

    tiny steps.
    1. touch the lead - work gradually towards the collar.
    When that is easy 4 out of 5 times, try a bit closer... etc.

    2. touch/grab the collar - looking for success 4 out of 5 times (5 out of 5 is great) before progressing...

    3. grab collar and give it a tiny tug...

    4. grab the collar and give it a slighty bigger tug. Always work within your dog's comfort zone...

    5. grab the collar, give it a slight tug and say the dogs name a bit louder...

    start adding more noise - ie be a bit louder about saying the dog's name....
    work up to
    FROSTY !!!! NOT YOUR TOWEL.... or "C'MON" if you have a magic recall word - you can work on that separately or as well but only use the recall word if you're sure the dog is coming to you already otherwise if you use it in a *training* session when you don't think the dog will come - you break it (teach the dog it's ok to ignore it).

    So you'd be working up to

    Dog's NAME, collar GRAB and YANK, HEELLLLPPPPPP!!!!!!!!

    but do it in tiny steps lots of sessions lots of treats.

    The dog will let you know how fast you can go with it. It might be different with each of your house mates too. And if one of them has been teasing her behind your back - it will undo all the good work. Ie sometimes the dog is right.

  10. #10

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    Perhaps, dont try so hard, let her come to him. Remember she always needs a safe avenue to back off, dont block her in. Make the John zone the most fun place in the house, and show her how cool you think John is, big smiles, friendly touches, happy tone of voice...if mums body language says he's ok then he must be. Good luck

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