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When your Sheltie is frightened, what is your approach

Discussion in 'Sheltie Training' started by GlennR, Mar 4, 2019.

  1. GlennR

    GlennR Forums Enthusiast

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    We were walking the park paths and some had not yet been plowed. Eventually, the plow showed up and Willow was not too happy about it. As she was getting pretty worried about it, I picked her up and talked soothing words. That did not help all that much and she was pretty squirmy until the plow moved on to other pathways.

    This is a relatively rare occurrence so it is not really possible to habituate her to it as we did with appliances at home and regular street traffic.

    Is picking her up the right thing to do or should I have kept her on the ground or does it really matter...
     
  2. Sharon7

    Sharon7 Premium Member

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    Different schools of thought on that but I would have done the same thing. Especially because she sounds like she is typically more bold and confident. I think it's OK to reassure them that you are there for them when they are frightened. Otherwise, a distraction with commands/treat rewards can sometimes work depending on the level of her anxiety.
     
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  3. SheepOfBlue

    SheepOfBlue Premium Member

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    With something like a plow I would be a bit paranoid about panic setting in and pick her up. That is something she is more apt to slip a lead or something over.
     
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  4. GlennR

    GlennR Forums Enthusiast

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    It really has not been our day for walks. We had just finished our afternoon walk and were headed home. We had one laneway and thirty feet of sidewalk after that to our door. As we entered the lane from the park end, a chap and his enormous black mixed breed entered from the street side. There would be no way to walk by each other without the dogs engaging which I will not allow when I do not know the dog. Willow and I backed out and moved to the side of the park path. So far, so good.

    However, when the elderly chap comes out into the park his big dog is growling and lunging at Willow. He is barely able to restrain his dog who he tells me is playful but too rough. Playful my you know what. He was teeth bared growling and stiff-tailed. I do not associate that with a really playful encounter. When the guy is talking instead of moving on, Willow slips her harness, ready to run. I am thankful that I saw what was happening and told her to stay, and surprisingly she did, where I scooped her up and moved past the dog and carried her on home. She was not perturbed once I picked her up but I hate running into dogs that need professional help to become safe. That is the first time she has been able to slip her harness. I will have to attach a training collar on walks along with the harness as a second line of defense. Shelties are masters at escape.
     
    Last edited: Mar 4, 2019
  5. Ann

    Ann Moderator

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    I learned the hard way years ago that Shelties can slip out of any harness I found. I'm so glad you caught her quickly. A training collar is a great idea for security.

    I agree with Sharon...I've recently read a study debunking the theory that dogs should not be comforted, something I've always though was hinky. You were absolutely correct to pick her up and talk to her in a frightening situation, and I would have done that when the big nasty dog appeared too.

    In a training situation, when you are trying to condition her to things such as trash cans, cars, trucks etc., it's good to keep her on the leash and ask for a sit or stay and treat treat treat. That's totally different from what you described, something unexpected and scary. I would have done exactly the same thing you did.
     
  6. SheepOfBlue

    SheepOfBlue Premium Member

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    Spitfire has improved but anywhere that might scare him he goes on double leash probation. I cannot find a link but it has a bungie that I attach one end to his collar, #2 to his harness and #3 to the lead. He is NOT trusted after an escape at flyball one year that took three of us in the swamp to catch him :-(
     
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  7. Sharon7

    Sharon7 Premium Member

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    Countless stories of Shelties getting out of collars and harnesses sometimes never to be seen again, it definitely is a problem. I am SO GLAD she stayed put when you told her to and you could scoop her up. I would do exactly the same. People are so completely clueless about their dogs sometimes, I never trust an owner's reassurance, but study the dog as you did. We still walk Eli on a slip lead because he is a bit timid about stuff and I worry about him panicking. He gets an off leash walk every day when we get to the creek path, but on sidewalks etc they are all leashed.

    Hope your walks tomorrow are a bit more peaceful, Glenn!
     
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  8. Calliesmom

    Calliesmom Moderator

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    I remember that- scary times.......
     
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  9. Caro

    Caro Moderator

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    I'd be inclined to pick her up and play, so she doesn't think big noises worry you too, instead it's fun times while you wait. You can habituate to loud sounds though - download really busy road sounds (you can find some on the internet) and play it low while she is distracted (like when eating). That's how I got Deska to stop barking at every plane that went over, and to work on his truck thing.

    Just be aware that she will go through an adolescent fear period. When she hits that you're better off just leaving the area where the scary thing is and not pushing it. You'd be amazed at the things they get scared of then. Deska had a thing for plastic bags then, and Tully developed a fear of drains - 11 years later and she still will not walk over a drain!
     
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  10. Sandy in CT

    Sandy in CT Premium Member

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    Wow! Too scary about her slipping out of her harness. The owner where I will be taking Brodie for obedience told me she does not like harnesses at all - feels dogs can escape (as you experienced with Willow) - but she also feels they teach the dogs to pull. I would def be resorting to a harness AND collar combo as suggested.

    So far scary things have been the school bus, the plows, woodpeckers, the garage door opener and the the snow shovel! When he's expressed real fear, I've scooped, but nervousness I've stood still and let him check out the scary things from his comfort level. We had that maniac mini doxie puppy at Petco playgroup that was sooo mean, Brodie actually stood up to him but I scooped him because he was scared. He was barking like mad at the snow shovel, so I brought him to our gated deck that I needed to shovel. If he barked at the shovel, I stopped, let him check it out and shoveled against once he got bored and walked off. When the barking started up again, repeated the same thing until he couldn't be bothered with the shovel. I imagine the next snow will be much of the same thing until he gets that the snow shovel isn't a big deal.

    I think you go with your gut. It's much like raising your kids, you just got to run with what you feel is right at the time - whether it is or is not is anyones guess. You do what you feel is best at the time for Willow - you know her best. You can read her best.

    About when do they go through this frightened adolescent time? When mine were teens, they were anything BUT frightened - I hope Brodie gets through his stage faster and easier then my human kiddos!
     
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