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my 10 month old sheltie will not allow anyone to touch him.

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He does not display fearfulness...
my 10 month old sheltie will not allow anyone to touch him. He does not display fearfulness as he will run to me and bring his toys to play and likes to lick my fingers and etc, but if I reach to touch him he runs away. I can't decide if it is just a game he plays or what his problem is, but he is totally untouchable. I cannot seem to find this problem addressed in any of the behavior books I have researched. Please Help.
Submitted: 6 years ago.Category: General
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Answered in 16 minutes by:
3/8/2012
Expert: Veterinarian101,
 replied 6 years ago
Veterinarian101
Category: General
Satisfied Customers: 1,083
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Veterinarian101 : When did it start? What have you done to try and fix the problem? Do you have any thoughts as to why it started?
Veterinarian101 : After you reply please be patient for my answer. It may say I am offline during this time.
JACUSTOMER-8m2jdd5r- :

We brought him to our home when he was 12 weeks old and at that time I could hold him and he was very cuddly; however, after just 1 day. we were not able to get him to allow us to pick him up or even to pet him. I am not able to get around fast enough to force the issue as I am wheelchair dependent. I would like to take him for walks, but cannot get a leash on him, and though I think he would stay right with me, I cannot take that risk. If he gets out of the yard, he goes no where except right back in.

Veterinarian101 :

What odd behaviour!

Veterinarian101 :

It is most likely to still be a fear or apprehension response

Veterinarian101 :

Many dogs find it very threatening when people lean over them or reach over them to pick them up.

Veterinarian101 :

As this is often combined with staring them in the eye this makes it even more frightening for them.

Veterinarian101 :

It may have been made worse by the fact you are in a wheelchair and may have been uncertain at times when trying to pick him up. This uncertainty makes some anxious dogs more anxious of these type of threatenng situations.

Veterinarian101 :

Are you there still?

Veterinarian101 :

As you are away I will switch modes.

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Expert: Veterinarian101,
 replied 6 years ago
Treatment is around trying to regain some 'trust' with the whole reaching for scenario and also give your dog a clear command as to what you are about to do.

It is great that he will lick your fingers and play - that indicates that he is not fearful of you as a person but rather fearful of the possibility of being picked up or sees the pats of the head as threatening.

We have two ways to go and this depends on your disability. The first is to teach him to jump up on your lap for cuddles or the 2nd is to slowly teach him to accept you picking him up.

My preference is encouraging him to jump onto your lap as this is less likely to have prob elms.

Using food rewards (eg. peanut butter on your fingers or something other tasty that he likes), getting him licking your fingers when you place them as low to the ground as possible. Do not look at him but rather look away and turn your body on the side of possible to appear less threatening. Use the word 'come' or similar when you have the food so he knows to come for the food reward. After he is responding to that well, after a week or so, then bring your fingers gradually up your leg and now say 'up' or similar. Still avoid eye contact or patting. The aim is to go slowly and only have short training sessions of 5-10min 3 times daily.

After a while he should get up on his hind legs for the the treat and then you need to encourage him to jump right up on your lap for food. Try to make sure that when he does jump up you are stable and you do not grab him but rather continue to give food rewards lavishly when he is on your lap.

Then after he has got on your lap for food for another week or so then start trying to pat him with one hand while giving food rewards with the other. Start in a non-threatening place such as under the chin or side. After a while you will regain the trust to enable to then pat him and look at him.

Hope this helps.
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