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Sheltie fearful of large object

Discussion in 'Behavior' started by Sunflower77, May 22, 2019.

  1. SRW

    SRW Premium Member

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    Devon was afraid of his harness when he was a young puppy and he would run away when he saw it, and when I caught him and got it on him he would freeze in place and not move, or if I carried him outside in it he would just lay down and not move. I finally got him over it (well mostly, now when it's time to go out and I get out the harness he runs away and around the island in the kitchen and then comes to the door to have it put on), by using food. I bought some tiny ham cubes like they use in omelettes and when I got out the harness I'd give him one as I put it on him. At first I'd have to catch him like before, and then give him one after I forced the harness on him (he squirmed and tried to get away). After about a week of that he would let me catch him and put it on him for the treat, and after about 3 weeks he'd do what he does now, run around the island like he's trying to get away, but then he'd go to the door and let me put in on him without me having to chase him down.

    You might try something like that with individual things she is afraid of, like the blind or the garbage can. Make some noise with the item and then give her a high value treat that she doesn't get in any other circumstance. After a while she will hopefully start associating the sound and eventually the item itself with something good.
     
    Ann likes this.
  2. Sunflower77

    Sunflower77 Forums Regular

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    Thank you for the advice. I hadn’t thought of using treats to help her overcome the fear. This should be easy to implement. I’ll start tomorrow and take her to get mail with some treats in my pocket.
     
    Ann likes this.
  3. Caro

    Caro Moderator

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    Hi again. I had a look at a few old threads for controlled barking techniques. Also found this thread where I linked to some other threads about barking at things https://sheltieforums.com/threads/excessive-barking.25378/#post-358255

    You said she seems to bark at movement - have you had her eyes checked in case she has some blindness or sight problems? Shelties are a very sound sensitive breed so often reactions to actions start as a reaction to sound. Eg, Deska barked at me opening the venetian blinds - a soundless thing. He did this because I installed a metal curtain rod in another room that he didn't like, so suddenly he had to bark at all window coverings. A lot of Shelties bark at garbage bins - because they contain those noisy rubbish bags. Shelties are a smart dog, but really bad at generalising. So it's useful to get a dog used to sounds, because dealing with that sensitivity will usually help overcome other fears.

    It is much easier to teach a dog an alternative behaviour than try to extinguish a behaviour. So whatever you want her to stop give her an alternative, and it helps even more if you turn it into a trick. So a couple of examples: teaching a dog to go between your legs when they are fearful (this is a 'safe place). To do this just stand over the top of your dog when they are fearful and if you have treats reward them for being there. But start by teaching your dog to go through your legs as a trick. With controlled barking they can still bark, but it's limited and not all the time - you tell them when they can bark. You just put them in a sit, ask them to wait and then, say, go to the blind, put your hand on the cords and as you pull the blind up say 'ok' and let them bark at that action. It helps to teach them bark/quiet on command first. Anyway, these are the sort of things that some obedience classes will help you with too.
     
  4. Sunflower77

    Sunflower77 Forums Regular

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    Thank you. She had two physical exams by two different vets in the past three months. Neither mentioned any eye problem. So her eyes are probably fine. My dog doesn’t bark much. When she’s scared, she takes off and run. And if she’s on leash, she wiggles violently but silently and sometimes gets out of her collar. She hasn’t been able to do so since I bought the martingale collar though.
     
  5. Caro

    Caro Moderator

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    It's a normal fight or flight reaction. So best give her an alternative to running away, like letting her bark at it, give her a treat for staying calm. I think teaching her to go between your legs when she's scared (rather than wiggling out of her collar) will really help. It was an immense help for my timid girl. Atm when she's scared she runs away from you, if you give her a safe haven and build her trust that you will keep her safe if something scary happens then it gives her an alternative to 'flight'. I don't like the idea of grabbing her ruff - all you'll do is teach her you aren't a safe person, you're just as scary as the sound and it will damage your relationship. She isn't a dog that can handle rough treatment.

    In addition, I really do think she needs desensitising to sounds.

    It sounds like it would be better for you to have someone in person take you through some techniques. But you will need someone who deals with sensitive breeds and is used to Shelties. In another thread Ann mentioned the Fenzi Academy. I'm assuming if Ann recommended it they use positive reinforcement techniques (which is what you need), so maybe have a look at that if you can't get to classes.
     
  6. Sunflower77

    Sunflower77 Forums Regular

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    Thank you all for you advice. I started implementing some of the techniques. My dog is now conditioned to mail box and mini blinds. She was even able to accompany me to push out the trash can earlier today, although she still tried to maintain some distance from the trash can. She has made some great progress.
     
    SRW, Calliesmom and Ann like this.
  7. Ann

    Ann Moderator

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    That's fantastic! I'm sure your girl is much happier with her confidence growing. Congratulations to you for patience and positive training! :biggrin2:
     
    Calliesmom likes this.
  8. SRW

    SRW Premium Member

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    Wow, that was really quick! Good for you!
     
    Calliesmom likes this.

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