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Lisa, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 16475
Experience:  CVT with a special interest in behavior modification through structure, boundaries and limitations with positive reinforcement.
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How do I deal with an extremely skittish1 year old dog who

Customer Question

How do I deal with an extremely skittish1 year old dog who had a tough beginning?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Lisa replied 1 year ago.

Hi there. My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help you with your question today. Just like an in person consult, I have a few questions of my own to help ensure I give you the best advice possible....

How long have you had her?

Do you know anything about her life before you?

Is she always skittish, or better in certain situations?

How much time can you dedicate to training?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
A little over 2 months-she was a rescue from the Bahamas, never domesticated-very calm and content when in the house except for unfamiliar noises-shows fear of the outdoors early in the morning and when dark out-can dedicate an hour a day
Expert:  Lisa replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the additional information. I really appreciate it.

It sounds to me like your Bahamas dog is a dog with very low self confidence, which is why she's so timid of everything. Add to that you've only had her for a few months, and you have to realize that isn't enough time for a rescue dog to feel safe and secure in her environment, regardless of how sweet you are to her and how much you love her. It will take time for her to feel safe.

Until then, there are a couple over-the-counter products you could try to help ease her anxiety.

Melantonin is an over-the-counter drug that can be used to treat some anxiety issues in dogs. The dose you would give would be up to 3 mg given orally whenever necessary up to every 8 hours. More information can be found here: , which includes risks, warning signs to watch out for and other bits of useful information.

Try a DAP collar. These are collars that are impregnated with a man-made version of the dog appeasing pheromone, which is a pheromone that nursing bitches give off to their pups to help them feel calm and secure. It's something that humans can't smell, but it has an amazing effect on dogs with anxiety and other issues. Although you can find them at your vet's can also find them online at places like and Ebay for much cheaper. Just make sure they're DAP brand, as they seem to work better than some other versions.

I would also get her involved in a basic obedience class. Not because she needs to learn to sit and stay, but because taking her through training will improve the bond between you and she and will also help her with her self esteem because she'll know that you're going to be her pack leader and will help point her in the right direction and tell her what needs to be done. It'll also help by giving her a boost in self confidence, which all rescues really need. I know that it seems counter productive, but the longer we wait to get her into a class, the harder it will be to get her over the fear and anxiety. Obedience classes are great...and if you tell the people who run it the situation, they'll likely put her in a puppy class where the dogs will all be really non-confrontational which will make her feel less threatened being introduced to them. Also, dogs learn best from other dogs, so by being with dogs in these classes will help her understand there's nothing to be worried about.

I hope this helps.

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