Pets.ca - Pet forum for dogs cats and humans 

-->

Leadership Question

pennynikkel
April 8th, 2006, 11:48 PM
Is it possible that a dog can respectful and think of you as a pack leader and still have problems with confidence and fear?

I'm wondering because of all I've learned about dog training...reading posts here, and lots of training books, and in dog teaching videos and dog classes, I think I have a handle of what it means to be a leader to my dog...yet...

unless I just unaware of my true leadership skills, I can't understand why my now 14 month old Max still has issues with being fearful in new situations and around other dogs. He has progressed alot since a pup, but from the get-go, he was frightened of most all new things.

His behavior is OK, but it has lead me to think that I need to manage his environments to avoid problems. I would much rather have him confident and happy in all situations, but am starting to think I am either out to lunch about him seeing me as a leader, or that I just have to accept that he is who he is.

When there is a behavior problem with a dog, is it always the owner's fault (i.e. not being seen as the leader), or could it just be a fact of his nature?

tenderfoot
April 9th, 2006, 09:27 AM
Max is highly sensitive and possibly reactive. I am thrilled you have been so fucused on your leadership role - he might just require more. Its like having a naturally fearful child - the parents have to work that much harder to expose the child to the world and give her confidence.
You also have to be highly aware of what you are possibly doing to undermine your leadership. If he shows any insecurity or fears do you EVER 'coo' at him to reassure him? Thats a big no-no. Sometimes you have to be a little hard hearted to do what is best for the dog.
Facing fears is what gets us over our fears. But there cannot be any question on your part about what you expect of him. For example - if he were afraid of going through doors. You put him on the leash and start to walk him through a door - he balks and pulls pack - you stop or hesitate and look at him. You just undermined your leadership. You just let him control you and showed him that you were hesitant about the door too. A leader doesn't hesitate because a leader has confidence in all things.
Are there any situations you can think of where you might be undermining yourself?

OntarioGreys
April 9th, 2006, 12:42 PM
Is it possible that a dog can respectful and think of you as a pack leader and still have problems with confidence and fear?


The answer is yes, and I have found more so if they are the omega type dog as well, and them it helps to back off the alpha role to help build their confidence level up a notch, I had to do this with my american eskimo Nikki to help curb the submissive peeing, and I used play letting help win games much of the time as way to her gain confidence and not view her herself as an omega. With visitor I ask that they ignore her and not look at until they are seated


Being a second time owner of spook greyhounds, if I want these dogs to fully trust me and respect me as leader I have to be aware of there stress/fear levels and they need to know I am not going to put them in situations they consider dangerous or very overwhelming. An alpha is also the protector of the pack, and your dog also needs to see you as that. If you are constantly putting them in situations before they are emotionally ready to handle that they view in their minds are dangerous, then they never learn to truly trust you as leader.


Right now I have a very spooky greyhound named Maya( who is well beyond shy, she literally would panic at the sight of strangers even 50 yards away and odds noises) in part to help her learn she can trust me and also to help her with her own confidence. Like Tenderfoot says she needs to face her fears,and can't be coddled when scared but I can't simply walk her into a room full of people, because terror will take over her mind she would be unable to focus on anything but the terror, so her fears need to approached is teeny, tiny doses, so as not to overwhelm her to the point of panicking. It would be like taking a child who is terrified of water and forcing them to go out neck deep into the lake, doing so would be cruel they won't see it as safe and fun because they they are in a state of terror, instead you start with wading pools and you help the make the child comfortable by making it fun and playing with them, and gradually work up to getting them in water that is slightly deeper by maintaining the fun aspect so that they learn it is safe and fun. So the same applies with dogs that are terrified in certain situations.

so for walks I drive her out to a conservation area once she developed some trust in me first as I was also a stranger to her, and on the walk if someone starts appoaching us , I will have her stand still and just let her watch them approach but I am paying special attention to her stress level as ai talk to her, once I see see is getting close to the edge of panic I then move on in a different direction usually picking a path to the right or left so she is not worrying that the person is now following her, over time she is able to let the person come closer before getting to the point of panic. The process for her because of her level of fear is very slow, but she has make great progress since the day I got her, 2 years ago, just spotting a neighbour even 4 or 5 house down would cause her to go running blindly in fear, now she is able to watch the next door neighbour right up at the fence and she will come up to stand 15' away to see what he is doing, she is now sometimes able to run around and play when she hears voices voices but can't see where to voices come from, she may stop every so often a woorry a bit about where the voices are coming from but they don't fill her with the same dread that used to make her fearful of going outside. And last summer I was able to take her to her first public event at a greyhound adoption event and she did quite well, there were others at the event who were with me the day she was brought up from Florida to Buffalo and they were impressed with how much she has changed because then all she would do is try to find a corner to curl up and hide in trying to get away from everyone, to get her from one spot to another then you had to carry her
http://www.mypetpages.net/artists/1732/0/1f82cd61dfed63ea536d7343fd6d41c9.jpg

This article can give you some ideas if you think that your shy dog and is also an omega dog. http://www.heavenlycreatures.ca/shy.htm

joanna
April 9th, 2006, 04:17 PM
Maya is so precious!!!

Yes I think the dog having respect for you as pack leader and it being fearful are somewhat connected, yet are two separate things.

Not only are we training the dog to become well adjusted, and confident, but I learned that us humans have to change our mentality in a way to accomodate our shy babies. Also even if I thought I was being a good pack leader, there was no way of knowing 100%, so continuing shy behavior really frustrated me and put myself esteem down, which was not helpful.

---This my personal story---

Our 7 months old cocker spaniel Royce was (and still is sometimes) a really really shy puppy. He was the only puppy to stay under the chairs at puppy social for 5 weeks!
He was constantly whimpering and whining at any new situations. I was afraid that I was exposing him to too much circus at such a young age, and yes I cooed him and coddled him.... :sad:

Although I've had many dogs, I've never had a shy puppy and I became worried that I might not do a good job, and even make things worse for life. So I enlisted help from professionals at our daycare center.

I left him at boarding school for 1 week at the hefty price of $420, while we went away for the holidays..
And he came back a completely different, much more confident well socialized puppy!! I honestly didn't expect him to change all that much, but what a difference. He now wants to go say hi to everyone & everdog!!

They called it the "dump the dog in the pool" effect, which as Ontariogreys mentions may not be a good method if you're just dumping your child into the middle of a deep pond....

However, I also remembered a little child dressed with those cute tubes that fit in their arms & scared of the water at the beginning. After being pulled into the kiddy pool several times, laughs and just jumps in on his own by the end of the day...

That's what happened to Royce. I feel (or would like to think :D) that it was a somewhat separate issue from me being a good pack leader. Occasional obedience classes, obedience at home, and exposure to other dogs just wasn't enough for him to overcome this fear...

This in turn gave me more confidence to work with him, and take him to even more places.

tenderfoot
April 9th, 2006, 05:25 PM
We prefer to talk about it as facing your fears. In order to get over a fear you have to go through it. So often we must help our dogs face their fears so they can experience it, see that they don't get hurt and move through it so they can have confidence in that same situation next time. It often pays off in other situations as well because they overcame one fear and now they can easily over come more. Bring it on!

joanna
April 9th, 2006, 06:06 PM
We prefer to talk about it as facing your fears. In order to get over a fear you have to go through it. So often we must help our dogs face their fears so they can experience it, see that they don't get hurt and move through it so they can have confidence in that same situation next time. It often pays off in other situations as well because thye overcame one fear and now they can easily over come more. Bring it on!


Hee hee precisely what I wanted to say more eloquently~

pennynikkel
April 13th, 2006, 08:20 AM
Thank you for all your replies. Sometimes it's tough having such a shy big boy, and I'm always wanting to try to do my best by him.

I have him enrolled in a dog class next week that is all done outdoors. We go to coffee shops, parks, downtown, public transportation, etc. Should be quite a workout for me! I think he can only get better, and he is still young enough to shape, so we'll see what happens.

Thank you!