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Sally G.
Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 9580
Experience:  Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
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We adopted a part Great Pyrenees and shepherd mix that is 1

Customer Question

We adopted a part Great Pyrenees and shepherd mix that is 1 year old. He is so skidish that he is he seem to afraid of everything including my husband. Has she been abused or do you think is just all so new to him? He acted that way when the people we got him from brought him over. He is just so unsure. He does well with me but still shys away at certain times. He wouldn't eat for 2 days and I stopped and got him some treats and wet dog food and he ate for me today. My husband stays at home and the dog is very shy with him. He is also a has a humping problem with my older lab. Mostly I just want to make him feel at home. I have never had a dog that acted that way.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Sally G. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I have been in the dog field for 25 years. I am a Therapy Dog & AKC Evaluator/trainer/ specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today.
It is normal for an older adopted dog to show signs of fear in general but on top of that you may have a dog with this type of personality and this may be the reason the dog was given up. Dogs with fear anxiety can become fear aggressive. Normally an adopted dog has been through much change before you ever get them so it does take time/. If you think about it there is little consistency in the dogs life or stability especially if it was in a shelter as they rely on volunteers to help them.
So the first thing I would do is to just get the dog comfortable with the immediate family and this can take some time, weeks to months. During this time start training to build the dogs bond and trust. Loving a dog is not enough to make them trust. When you train daily in a positive method , you are showing the dog consistency, not uncertainty, which most kennel dogs have had in their life.
There are three things that dogs see as challenges and shy or fearful dog's magnify these. They are eye contact, talking to , and reaching out to pet or touch. Of course to humans all of these things are what we do to make others feel better, but in a dog's world that is not the case.
Shy dogs have to be treated a bit differently. I am going to direct you to my last article on being around shy dogs and building their confidence. Again this can take weeks to months just for the family to be trusted so I do not suggest forcing the dog on others in the outside world at this point.
When you are home you want to be on the dog's level and relaxed, you want to hold a piece of hot dog in your hand and just lay your hand on the floor and allow the dog to come and take it, without any other interaction at this time. Gradually you will call the dog (don't look at him or try to touch) and lay your hand out with a treat. This gets the dog used to seeing that calling him to you does not mean a threat, it means something good is happening with nothing else expected.
If you have a resident dog that is fairly outgoing , that will help as well in time. The Pyr. will start taking its clue from the resident dog when they are together. When they are separate though you may find the Pyr. going back to old behaviors.
Please be sure that everyone in the home is on board with training and expectations of the dog because if one person is not then the dog will become confused and feel there is not structure or consistency and it may backslide.
As for humping the other dog. This is a dominant move, and this is done because probably this Pyr had more dog interaction over it's life than human interaction , so it is a normal pack thing.
This article is based on when you approach people on the street however many of the same rules apply. You can do clicker training with the dog which is based on positive behavior modification. Sometimes dogs are afraid of the click sound and in that case , use your voice as a marker rather than the clicker and use just one word as your marker such as yes or good. the clicker costs about 3 dollars in a pet store.
Clicker training/positive method training/ print off
video’s to see how clicker training is done, scroll down to videos
Shy dog training around humans
There are three things dogs see as challenges
1) eye contact
2) reaching out ( to pet or allow to smell the hand)
3) talking to
When you have a normal dog this is not a problem but when you have a fearful dog this is magnified. When a fearful dog is in any of the above situations they will bark to try and make another back away from them. If they are on a leash or feel trapped in anyway they will eventually lash out and bite. It is the flight or flee that every dog has when sensing danger, but a fearful dog is more likely to act on it.
When you work with a fearful dog it is vital to control your circumstance to start. Meaning, work with people who are going to listen to what you need them to do. Do not put a fearful dog in a situation until it has been taught another way to view what it is scared of.
Example : if you take a fearful dog to a park where there are strangers you don’t have any control over the actions of these people you may encounter a loud bold person who will approach the dog and frighten it and that is setting the dog up to fail.
If you have a controlled situation where you meet a person walking on the street, a person that you have selected who will stop to talk to you and pay no attention to the dog, no looking at, talking to or trying to pet you have more of a chance of success.
This person after stopping briefly to chat before leaving you to continue on down the street will drop a small piece of chicken or turkey dog just before they leave. Eventually the dog sees that when people approach to talk to you nothing bad happens to them and there is something good left behind for the dog. You will repeat this process several more times keeping interactions short. Then this same person when approaching you , will stop to have a brief chat and at that time will drop a piece of the meat on the ground for the dog. Let the chatting last a little longer and then before leaving again the person will drop a piece of meat on the ground for the dog. Repeat several times. Now the dog is beginning to see that people approaching you brings something special from the onset and leaves them something when they walk away all without ever paying any attention to the dog.
Gradually as you see the dog’s body language relax then without looking at the dog the person can say the dog’s name and drop the treat and continue to talk with the owner for a few minutes, then drop another treat and walk away. Repeat several times. This shows the dog that the voice is not challenging but rewarding.
Gradually you will work up to the stranger calling the dog’s name, looking briefly at the dog, then dropping the treat and continue conversing with the owner. The longer you are able to stand and chat with the person if the dog has taken that first bit of food, then continue to drop pieces of food on the ground while chatting and then again before walking away.
The last step of course will be the person saying the dogs name, look briefly at the dog, and offer the treat from the hand. If the dog backs away the dog is not ready to accept the stranger and you need to go back to where the dog last succeeded with the stranger.
It may be that the dog will never accept a stranger due to the circumstance of how or where the dog was brought up or it is just the personality of the dog. Dogs like people come with their own personalities and fears as well as pleasantries. It is up to us as humans to either accept them the way they are and love them for it but also to keep them from feeling ill at ease.
Think if you will what it would be like to toss a shy person into the middle of a party. How uncomfortable do you think that would make a human feel? It is the same for the dog.

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