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Thread: Incredibly Shy - Terrified.

  1. #1

    Unhappy Incredibly Shy - Terrified.

    Good day, all!

    I'd like to tell you about our new family member, Kali. She was rescued a while ago, from (what appears to be) an abusive owner.

    From what we can establish, she is a year old Collie. A very beautiful white, with a small patch on her eye, but this isn't important. :P

    We brought her home about 4 weeks ago, and from the moment she arrived we've had some 'problems' with her.
    They aren't exactly problems that are troublesome or anything - it's just not what we expected and is turning into a circle we can't really escape.

    She is shy around people when they move quick, and are loud. It's obvious she's scared of us because of her past, and that's not a problem for us alone, because we know it'll fade out eventually as she learns to trust us. However, she has a 'switch'. If we run around or play around, she'll instantly include herself, and begin getting excited and jumping around. But as SOON as you stop and sit down, etc - she'll carry on, jumping around on everyone in a playful manner. We tell her no, training her to stop this, and the like - but it's troublesome that this 'switch' of personality exists, and last for upto 30mins. Afterwards she instantly returns to her shy, reclusive side and resumes following us around the house.

    Now, I mentioned we was training her - which is true. I've just got a year off university (I'm 18, living with parents.) so I have plenty of time right now to train her with the family. IF we could. She is terrified of treats, toys and anything bigger than your hand (I mean, will run away to the nearest corner, etc watching and staying until we get rid of them.)
    She won't eat food out of your hand, and if she's seen it's been in your hand (i.e; throw something to her or place it on the ground), she'll sniff and then ignore it. I should also mention throwing something towards her will scare her (obviously).

    It's very difficult to praise her, when all we can do is give her a 'good girl!' and stroke - which doesn't seem to be doing much, if anything.

    When we had her stitches out last week, she was given Endep-50 by the vet after my father explained her 'rage' towards dogs (which ill explain), and shyness.

    She is a very inquisitive dog when she is happy, like on a walk. However like I said before, that 'switch' comes into effect when she sees a dog. She becomes uncontrollable verbally, and the only solution is to remove her from the scene. But also like I said before, now she has seen this dog, she won't calm down for -ages-. We can get back in the car, drive off for an hour, and she will be on the lookout for dogs, giddy and excited.

    She's also started biting through cables.

    Let me summarize;
    We can't take her out and 'waste her energy', etc because she will try to attack other dogs.
    We can't train her to stop attacking other dogs (And take her out with family dogs), because she doesn't quite know her name well enough yet (or doesn't care about it, haha) and won't accept treats.
    We can't have a good time in the backgarden instead, because her toys, balls, ropes and bones scare her - literally.

    I'm currently in a rush, haven't proof-read the above and I have probably left stuff out that you may feel important. If you have any questions to help Kali and, please ask! I'll edit this later to better explain our situation if need be, but I wanted to get this out before I go work to see what people think.

    I thank any replies whilst im gone!


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Hi David

    For the praise / good dog / reward thing - have you tried clicker training? The initial part of this is going to be difficult because you're supposed to "prime" the clicker by associating the click noise with a reward eg a food treat, but eventually the click becomes the thing that the dog works for.

    My puppy dog would not take treats or food of any sort on walks because she'd go into a "freaked out" mode and pull like a bolting cart horse. Sometimes both her front paws would be in the air. I got a soft concepts sensible training harness (after using a gentle leader nose band that worked but she hated), and I also started asserting myself when she lay down and hugged the ground - by starting to drag her - she always gets up and starts walking so I never have to actually drag her. And now she is much more confident on walks, will occasionally take a treat, and will happily sniff the smells and look around her environment. But it's taken a fair bit of persistance on my part.

    As for the aggression thing - I assume it's when on the lead - both the dog whisperer Cesar Milan and "its me or the dog" lady Victoria Stillwell suggest - walk your dog on lead, towards the problem, and as soon as it arcs up - turn around and go the other way, and as soon as the dog starts behaving - turn around and go back towards the problem, repeat many times. repeat many days, start with far away, and slowly work closer as behaviour improves. Do not scold the dog for acting up (she will interpret any yelling as you joining in and approving), do praise her "good dog" or "click" or both when she behaves how you want. Do "drag" the dog away from the problem if she won't come of her own accord. Do not talk to her while she's acting up, don't try to reassure her or tell her "it's ok" because she will interpret this as "good dog" for acting up.

    A second method - that "its me or the dog" Victoria used was - example the postman - was to continually feed the dog treats while the postman was nearby so the dog formed a new association between the postman and good things like treats. I find this works for me and my puppy and encouraging her to leave the birds in the back yard alone. But it requires patience, persistance and lots of repetition. Not sure how you'd work it if the dog won't take treats at all. Have you tried roast chicken or dried fish or kebanas or cheese? Is there something else she likes - like pats and praise or tug of war or a ball? You might need a distraction noise like a rattle to keep her attention while the postman/problem is nearby. Bark busters use a slip chain in a small zip bag to shake as a rattle. I use a tin can with tin jar lids in it - but that might be a bit too much for your dog.

    cables - keep her away from rooms with cables where she can reach them or smear small amounts of vicks vapor rub on the cables (smells and tastes bad) - note this will require repeat applications from time to time until she loses interest. Or there is specific tastes bitter/smells bad stuff you can get for stopping pets from chewing things.

    As for the being hyper when you don't want - again no yelling - because this is "joining in". You might want to consider crate training, and putting her in her crate when you need her to calm down. But a confined safe space where you can feed her and put a bed for her would do. Ie shut her in the laundry until she calms down. Don't talk to her when you put her there. When you let her out have a word for "Calm", ie and only say "Calm" when she is calm - for the first 20 times. If you say "Calm" when she isn't and nothing happens - go back a step to only saying it when she is.

    For dog training classes we have "on" and "off" words like "working" and "free" to let the dog know what we expect. I suspect for my puppy dog, the words are "heel" and "go" but we're getting there.

    Do consider getting someone like bark busters in, and/or joining a local dog obedience club because the instructors will have practical ideas to help and the classes provide an opportunity to get your dog to learn how to socialise when all the dogs are on leads. Initially you might not get very close though.

    It may be you sit on a chair while your dog goes bunta for half an hour but she's on lead so she can't actually approach any dog, and you do that once a week (or every day if you can find a dog park), until she learns that nothing will happen to her when you're around and there are other dogs around and there's no point to going bunta. (desensitization) I'd try some of the other suggestions first though.

  3. #3


    Hyacinth, your reply was spot on! Just what I needed to hear.

    I will follow your advice, and get some new things in. I was looking for a clicker the other day but didn't put much thought into it. A family friend also suggested the hardness-type lead but now I have a second opinion, i'll get onto it.

    If you want, i'll update you on our situation as we go. ;D


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Sunshine Coast, Qld


    Hi David

    I can't really add much to what Hyacinth has said but wanted to say welcome and you're in the right place. Lots of good advice on here.

    My 15 week old puppy is quite shy but I am finding the more I take her out among other dogs the better she is getting. She used to bark like crazy when she saw another dog but now she may still do a bark or 2 but nothing like before, and if I a give a little tug on the lead she stops. I try to take her to a path where I know lots of dogs are taken on walks and just sit at a bench so she gets used to them going past her. I think your pup is a bit more extreme than Jenna though, so will take more time and persistence.

    I know it is difficult but try not to get yourself worked up and 'expect' trouble when you take her out. She could sense that you're nervous and that will make her worse.

    Good luck and keep us posted
    The best things in life, aren't things

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2010


    I'm aware that this post is somewhat old, which is good because you can fill us in on how she's going?

    Our abused/rescued dog was the same when we got her. She was scared of us, the house, not so much the toys though. She needs to learn to trust you, and I think only time and patience will make it better.

    On walks, She would carry on like she was being murdered if we saw another dog she wasn't familiar with. I mean full on yelping and pulling and just totally out of control.

    I made her sit in front of the dog (generally they were behind a gate while we were walking) until she calmed down and sat quietly. Once she did that, she got praise and we moved on. It could take awhile, 15 mins, and luckily for me she is quite small so I could hold onto her lead without really hurting either of us. I persisted though. At the start it was so embarrassing, I used to drag her away. Then something in me snapped, and I thought, I am not putting up with this any longer. I just let her bark and bark, continually trying for her attention til it worked. Of course, this was in association with general obedience training at home.

    I still do it if she tries to carry on when we see a dog. The other day I took her for a walk and we saw 2 cats, one within 2 metres of us, and I really wish I was exaggerating. She leaned toward it, I told her to leave it, she was still curious though. So I made her sit, there was no noise coming from her, only a slight whine before I gave her the leave it command. I told her to stay, then slowly released the tightness of the lead (she has a choker). I released it to see if she would take the opportunity to run for it. She didn't. She sat there, silently, her eyes tearing this cat apart (and the little bugger didn't even run away, just sat there and hissed, as if to say, bring it on). I started to walk away, told her to come, and she did without fuss.

    The point of that enormous story was that her behavior changed. I would love to hear how you tackled the problem and what the outcome was.

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