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Thread: working with timid pups

  1. #11
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    melbourne australia


    Brian is timid. Some of this will be settling in nerves, some will be what he has survived, and goodness knows what in breed faults there maybe also.

    I tend to leave him to come around, eg. walking through glass sliding doors. He has the usual amount of time to decide to come through with other dogs. Too slow and the door is shut, and he has to walk around the house to the dog flap.
    Im using my dogs innate laziness to speed him up on overcoming fear there. And its working. He rarely baulks on the thresholds now.

    With meeting people in our house, ive asked folks to ignore him, he then gets curious real fast. and within 3 mins of entering the house, he'll be sniffing them and wanting a pat. Except my daughter's boyfriend, who Brian is very fearful of.
    One factor of my family, my brother in law, is not to be trusted around dogs, women, or kids in my opinion. so when he is around, i lock the dogs behind a gate. BIL can look, but is not allowed to enter the dog pound. As i dont like him/trust him and wont let him near my dogs, having seen the mess he made of his. So i protect him from uncontrolled environments or uncontrolled people.

    I tend not to pay any attention to his fear behaviour. Just matter of fact confident handling, not buying into how scary that red plastic bag is flapping in the wind etc. One loony on the end of leash, is enough. He doesnt need me going to pieces too.

    Isnt it frustrating the amount of sodding dog whisperers there are, who believe by smiling directly at the dogs face, as they walk toward them, full eye contact, head to head approach is gonna work! aggggh

  2. #12


    finally, some understanding, really enjoy reading others experiences. my pup is one big set of smiling human teeth in her face and extended claw hands grabbing at her away from lashing out and if she does it once she will achieve her goals of reclaiming her personal space and i got a problem on my hands.

    when my older boy was a reactive pup this big moon face old lady with the big teeth saw him minding his own business on the front seat of the car next to me and luckily i spotted her as she made a bee-line straight for the car going, aw what i cutey coming straight at him - i hit the electric window to put it up yelling no don't approach the dog and she is advancing forward at a great rate of knots yelling it's OK i breed german shepherds. the dog prolly feeding off my anxiety just went nuts as i was dragging him back tru the window snarling and lunging while i am trying to get the car moblile out of there and she is just it's OK i breed german shepherds i "know" how to handle these things, dog out of his mind i pulled away in the car - i just yelled, you breed show dogs, you have never seen a german shepherd and looked back to see her in my dust looking like a kid that just dropped their ice-cream in the dirt.

  3. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    I've seen the german shepherd club in action in Victoria. Their methods are so old school I'd rate it as dog abuse.

    Sometimes I want to pat the cute dog or let my dog say hello but I always respect the owner's wishes. I figure they know their dog.

    I also try to avoid letting people without of control dogs (pulling for all they're worth on the end of the lead) come near my dog because she has started to tell off rude dogs. It's all noise but it can look bad.

  4. #14


    So good to read these posts. I've had my 9 month old for only a few days and have been trying to work my head around growing his confidence. But the suburb I live in is full of judgemental people and taking my dog for a walk is a hassle with people looking at him going 'Oh, a bit scared' and I respond with 'he's timid' for them to reply in a judgmental tone of 'Oh yeah, timid...'. It feels like people are judging me by my dog. I adopted him from a rescue shelter where he showed no sign of timidness, until I took him home. I wish people would understand and not be judgmental. I bought him a Thundershirt which has settled his nerves enough to distinguish what his main fears are - turns out he's spooked by men. Bolts as far as his leash will let him. He's still timid with new sights and sounds, but men especially are what send his nerves through the roof. As I've said in one of my other posts, my partner who is a dog's best friend, is one of Lenny's biggest fears.

  5. #15


    wkristen 9 months is a difficult time as well as many youngsters go through and established "fear period" around this age.

    One of our pups that now lives overseas startled his family by suddenly seeming to be afraid of strangers, of doors, of a whole host of things at 8-9 months old. They stuck to their guns and didn't make any fuss of his reactions, stayed happy and confident to give him a role model and thus reassure him there was nothing to worry about. They also rewarded any little confident behaviour with attention or treats. Then he returned to normal and was back to his normal in-everyone's-face self, as he has stayed ever since.

    So don't worry too much.

    An important thing to remember dealing with timid stuff and fear periods in youngsters is to remain their confident leader and role model. When people give them sympathetic attention it can lead to a reverse reinforcement. So the dog is worried about something, they see their owner get all worried (about them - but they don't realise that) and their fear is reinforced by their owner showing concern and stress.

    Does that make sense?

    My young boy can be timid around strangers, takes a while to warm up. And he does not like strange dogs at all. It didn't help when once at a dog show he was walking with me quite normally and not exhibiting any concern when a yellow Lab nearby lunged at him barking and snarling. The Lab was too strong for it's handler who was being dragged along like she was on skis. I put my dog behind me and tried not to panic. I kept walking backwards as the Lab kept coming forward - staying physically between the Lab and my boy - and told the owner to please control her dog.

    Although it upset both me and my dog, he didn't seem to freak out like I would have expected. Although he doesn't like yellow Labs at all, and took some time to warm up to my new partners' elderly Goldie who is particularly non-threatening!

  6. #16
    Join Date
    Aug 2011


    That is a great post, Margoo! Lots of helpful tips and it's great to hear a success story.

  7. #17
    Join Date
    Jan 2011


    Thanks Beloz. We actually met our dog trainer again a few months ago and she was very impressed by how good Nero has become. I was so very proud of my boy!!

    i just saw this on facebook and think it's a pretty good idea. I might get a 'caution' one for Nero actually...

    Friendly Dog Collars Australia - Collars, Leads & Harnesses for Responsible Dog Owners
    Last edited by margoo; 08-17-2013 at 07:54 AM.

  8. #18


    My 9 year old has just started getting a bit more timid (with age I guess). I am noticing I have to watch her more around the park with dogs getting in her face. These are all helpful - thanks!

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