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skittish sheltie

Ellen R
April 13th, 2008, 10:10 PM
Just adopted 11 month Sheltie. He was sold as Show Dog at 2 months but returned to breeder because he was too timid in ring. I adopted him last week but I think he was abused. He was debarked by last owner and slinks away at any sudden movement or sound. He seems to be bonding to me but still won't come when called. He hasn't bonded to my husband as yet. How to train him to come when called? Any help with his trust issues will be appreciated.
Ellen R

April 13th, 2008, 10:26 PM
I have a sheltie that I adopted last year when she was about 4 years old. It took us at least 5 months before she trusted us. She basically stayed in one room all the time on her bed. We would bring her food and she would only eat it when we weren't looking. We just let her be, and she came around on her own! Just don't try to force yourself on her, in time she will come to trust you and know you won't hurt her. How is she doing in the bathroom department?

April 14th, 2008, 08:50 AM
Don't assume that he was abused and let that become an excuse for bad behaviour. It sounds like he might just be a very timid dog.

Find a training class and enroll. You can train him, he will learn the rules and you will both learn to read each other's body language better.

I have a dog who's socialization was neglected (well, two actually - the other is very outgoing) and spooks at sudden movements and sounds. I have a family, so avoiding sounds and sudden movements was not an option. We live our life as we have always done, correct him if he reacts with a snap (which he no longer does) and just ignore the rest. He is crated while we vacuum, it is just to hard to try to vacuum around him as he runs through the house trying to get away. He has come a very long way in a year but I am sure he will always be reactive in some situations.

April 18th, 2008, 07:41 PM
A great thing to do for a skittish dog is to keep him on a leash attached to an adult in the house as much as possible.

A fearful dog has 3 choices: fight, flight or freeze. Your dog is choosing flight and each time he runs away the behavior is reinforced. We don't want a fight response or the freeze either, but if we can help him get through his fears he can learn how to relax and breath through the scary times. Having him on the leash forces him to stay put and start to observe what is actually happening around him inside of just disappearing. In order for him to get through his fears he must face them. We don't want to throw him into scarey situations intentionally, but it sounds like life itself is a bit scarey to him.

Try not to coddle him when he is afraid. You are just reinforcing it. Try to be the confident leader he needs to emulate. If he trusts you and feels your confidence then it be easier for him to look to you for safety and confidence rather than running away.

The other side of this coin is as LavenderRott said, start working on some obedience. It doesn't have to be a group class to start - infact a great private session or two could do wonders. Every time you ask your dog to perform something - you become a leader and he is the follower. He learns to trust you and through her trust in you she can learn to trust others and new situations. The busier her mind is on you and what ever you two are working on, the less time and energy he has to spend on his fears and reactivity. The more sits and stays he can do as life passes by, he is having a release of serotonin in his brain which is a natural calming chemical and he will soften. But if he is allowed to be reactive and flee, then he gets an adrenalin rush and every goes down hill from there.

Also try not to avoid situations, but think of them as opportunities to teach her. Avoiding changes nothing. Instead of thinking "oh, darn, here comes...(fill in blank), I just know hes going to freak out" instead think " oh great, here comes... - let's help him to feel safe and learn not to run away".

Hope that helps.

Jim Hall
April 18th, 2008, 08:25 PM
does de barked mean what i think it does :sad: