Shy Dog Talk

I am very excited to join the Life With Dogs team of fabulous bloggers and contributors. I thought I’d introduce myself so you would know what was in store in my upcoming posts.

woman sitting with a black & white dog licking her face The overriding passion in my life is learning about the most effective and humane ways to help fearful, shy, anxious and aggressive dogs feel safer in their world. I am a Certified Professional Dog Trainer with additional certification in clicker training.

I will be sharing information, suggestions and real life sagas about helping our special needs dogs have quality lives being the dogs who they are. There will be no magic bullets or amazing quick fixes, just tried and true, compassionate and kind techniques for changing emotional and behavioral responses in dogs.

I was led to this path by a dog I met while volunteering at the Humane Society of Louisiana’s Camp Katrina, where animals effected by the hurricanes in 2005 were brought. Here’s his story-

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12 thoughts on “Shy Dog Talk

  1. I, for one (of many) am looking forward to your input. I have a special needs dog named Pablo. We’ve had him for two months and are still uncovering issues and fears. I’m out of my league–the rescue had him such a short time that the things manifesting for us are things they swear they never saw (e.g. seizures, defender/protector behaviour, cowering, hiding, etc.). We’re trying to bring him out of his shell without further damaging him–I’m desperate for ideas.

  2. Perfect timing! I’m in the process of starting a Canine Rescue and Adoption Center in SE Minnesota. I have been working with another shelter and was heartbroken to learn that they received a new dog this week that has been labeled as “viscous”. I read over the intake report on this dog and see that she was picked up as a stray and listed as “very friendly and affectionate”. Her initial testing showed her to crave attention and affection and appear very loving. It was only after she had been put in a run (in a room with strange dogs and lots of noise) when she displayed nervousness around some of the shelter’s volunteers. By the second day, this lovely girl was snarling and growling and attacking the fence around her pen when ever someone she didn’t know appeared. Unfortunately, “Layla” bit one of the volunteers when her kennel was open and they were near her gate. Hence the “viscous” label and Layla’s scheduled euthanasia.

    This breaks my heart! I spent some time sitting outside Layla’s pen yesterday. At first she did nothing but bark and snarl and lung at the fence between us. I just kept calmly talking and Layla kept trying to attack me. I ignored her threats and kept talking soothingly. When Layla became slightly less aggressive, I praised her and told her what a good girl she was. For just one second, Layla wagged her tail. She then resumed the offense. It is quite apparent to me that Layla has been abused while in a cage. One of the shelter’s founding members was the one that checked Layla in when she was brought to the shelter. It was with Karla that Layla had been so friendly. On the day that I was visiting with Layla, Karla came to the shelter to meet with me (she is assisting me with the process of starting up my Canine Rescue and Adoption Center) and Layla’s transformation was incredible! Her eyes sparkled and she wiggled with joy at seeing a familiar face. Karla opened the door to Layla’s kennel and Layla bounded out and happily snuggled and cuddled with Karla. It was unbelievable. When I called to Layla, she ran over to me with kisses and wiggles galore. She was obviously overjoyed to be out of the pen and in the hands of people who loved her.

    My very first instinct was clearly right. Layla is not a viscous dog ~ rather a frightened one. Unfortunately, in her case, the end result was the same. Someone got bit and Layla will be euthanized. What a waste of a wonderful dog. ๐Ÿ™

    I will follow your blog in hopes of learning techniques to help me and my volunteers better learn how to work with shy, frightened and aggressive dogs. I hope I never see this scenario repeated.

  3. I look forward to your posts! I recently adopted a puppy (she was 3 months when I got her and is now 7 months) that has major fear issues. She was doing pretty good until last week when she injured her knee and is now afraid to go outside again. We are taking it slow and giving LOTS of LOVE! She is teaching me patience as I teach her that maybe people aren’t so bad!

  4. This looks like it’s going to be a wonderful blog! I will definitely be staying tuned.
    Bless you for all you do for dogs.

  5. My 2 1/2 yr old chihuahua mix was a wonderful puppy. She was friendly and playful. Unfortunately, she is a fearful adult dog. Not with us but with any stranger. I blame myself for this as we don’t socialize much ourselves so she is not around other people. It breaks my heart, that people don’t see this lovable, adorable dog that we adore. We have owned other dogs and they weren’t fearful. we have another dog and she is friendly and loves attention. The mother of this dog was fearful when we adopted my girl as a puppy. The owners said not to touch her as she would bite. Genetics? Any ideas how we can improve the quality of her life.

  6. I for one could not be happier to see you join the Life With Dogs team Debbie! Your voice is so much needed in the animal community. It’s nice to see you on a bigger platform. Congrats my friend! I can’t wait to read what you write!

  7. Oh I am so glad that shy dogs are getting the chance to have a good life. If we just slow down and be calm maybe these shy little dogs will come out of their shells and start enjoying life. Such a sweet dog in the video.

  8. Looking forward to reading your thoughts and wisdom about our fearful fuzzy friends!

    My little Yorkie (Abby Isabella) was bitten by fire ants as a puppy, as she was taking a potty break in the back yard. From that moment on, she refuses to place the paw that was bitten, onto the grass. Basically she balances on the other 3 legs. (btw: I was there with her when it happened and scooped her up asap; she STILL wound-up having almost a dozen bites on her paw ๐Ÿ™ )

    That ordeal took place 8 months ago and my little Abagail will STILL not place all four of her paws on the grass, regardless of where she is (ie:on vacation/dog play-park/other people’s yards, etc) or what the surface is in any location.

    Hoping to learn much from what you have to share!

  9. I have had a few dogs who came with fears, or developed them, and I was very successful in curing them. First I would say, make sure they aren’t ill in any way, that might me making them act or react negatively. I got in one who was afraid of men, and in minutes made a friend. I offered food, that I had to back up for him to come and get. on the 5th piece, I just sat holding it, and he slowly came and took it from me. I had mintutes to decide if I wanted him. I gave him a hug, he didn’t resist, and I took him. I had many other things to cure in him, and I finally was successful, when the last, but hard to figure problem became an issue.

  10. Yay! So far I’ve liked what I’ve read, can’t wait to read more!
    Glad Sunny found you! I have my own fearful problem child now 13 years, amazing how they come out of their shells.

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