Black Lab -Timid / Shy
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Thread: Black Lab -Timid / Shy

  1. #1
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    Black Lab -Timid / Shy

    Hello all,

    Well let me explain my problem, I have a year old female black lab, Great dog!! Everything seems to be going great, except for about 2 months now, she has been very timid /shy...

    If its just the family or neighbors, she is fine, but someone new comes to the door.. a very DEEP WOOOF.. and behind me she runs. I tell her its ok.. as we sit down on the couch and talk.. she sits and watches and watches and if the new person says anything to her like hi lucy or its ok.. she will give a grrrrrr and had towards the upstairs, but she only goes up a few steps and sits and watches...

    I have had people ignore her.... Treats.... her favorite toys... still no change same thing...

    I even had a guy, that has her sister (totally opposite dog) Owner, come over and he even got down on the floor and laid there for 5 min or so, same thing she didnt want anything to do with him. Funny part about that is that we Lucy and I have been to their house to play.. and she is fine with him there... (and that was two or three weeks prior)

    OH and she does this with other dogs of not her breed.... she seems to be a breediest. (GREAT)

    so im thinking its that she hasn't been around too many other peoples, and other dogs.

    We go to the dog park.. she has nothing to do with the people, will play with other labs just fine... but wants nothing to do with anything else.


    Thankfully really no aggression yet, so thats why i'm trying to see if anyone else has any IDEAS!

    OH one other thought on this, I had family come in town, she never met them before.. they came in round 3ish... I had them just ignore her for a while, thinking I would let her warm up to them... so we sat around the house for a few hours.. she stayed right by me, my wife and our daughter.. wouldn't go near them. Later in the evening, I got treats out and gave to them.. to see if she would come around.. Nope... wouldn't even come close...

    I just don't get it. She was fine up until about a two months ago...

    Any Ideas???

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    Senior Member TooneyDogs's Avatar
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    Re: Black Lab -Timid / Shy

    Building confidence in a shy or omega dog is a long process (months) that involves many different approaches. Some of the things you are doing are right...sitting/laying on the floor, not making eye contact and letting her approach in her own good time is perfect. However, YOU need to sit on the floor. You're going to raise her a notch on the ladder by showing her that she is on the same level as an Alpha (almost, but not quite)! When she approaches, don't touch her or make direct eye contact but do treat and praise. The bark at the door should be answered with a "Thank You" instead of, "It's OK". Dogs understand that very subtle difference in tone. Play Tug of War. It's not the evil game that most people think. The game can be played two ways; to win and as a cooperative kill/bonding game. You want to play to win...letting her win. The primary rule for both games is that when you say, "Thats Enough" the game ends with you holding the tug. When you are out socializing with your dog it is crucial that you praise even small displays of confidence such as moving towards something she previously hid from. Ignore her completely (don't even look at her), don't talk or try to coax her out when she hides behind you or shows any shyness. Agility is a wonderful sport that is great for building confidence. Good Luck!

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    Senior Member Durbkat's Avatar
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    Re: Black Lab -Timid / Shy

    I would enroll her in some obiedence class's to build her confidence. A obident dog is a confident dog.


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    Re: Black Lab -Timid / Shy

    Another thing to remember, from what you described you were praising her by petty and saying it was ok when she does this with other people. Do the opposite. If she doesn't want anything to do with new people your best bet is to let her work through it herself. Don't let her display any aggression. If she just wants to sit there by you let her. When she decides to start and investigate new people then tell her good girl and give her a treat. You'll also have to watch how the treats are given and how people approach. She could be looking at it as a challenge and/or threat and going into avoidance. If she is not taking treats she is probably in avoidance or submission which could turn into a defense reaction such as growling or biting.

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    Re: Black Lab -Timid / Shy

    TooneyDogs,

    She is not shy with her main family... its only visitors, that come into the house, I follow with what your saying for the most part, the part that I don't is why I would have to get on the floor also. Is it because I am the alpha.

    For the most part she will listen to me over the wife and kid.
    she doesn't like to let my wife or kid out of her site.

    we do play tug of war.. its actually one of her favorite things to do, beside play fetch with her ball, duck and Kong.

    We have a snake and a rope ball that we play tug of war with, and yes.. I do let her win most of the time, just because of the confidence thing.

    she is a very smart dog, she will go and get her leash for walks, sits, and lays down on command, the come and stay part we are still working on.

    All though she will not come into the kitchen while we are eating dinner, and all sitting at the table, and if she is sleeping in there when we sit down, all we have to do is tell her we are eating and she will go into the next room over and lay down and go back to sleep.. after watching for a little bit.



    Durbkat,

    I have thought about that, actually. but I'm thinking about having my wife take her, because she doesn't listen to her very well.


    ~~~~


    Any Other thoughts out there?


    You know I have had people ask me if she was abused, we got her @ about 5-6 months old, she was at a farm house up in Michigan, living with her sister and mom and dad, pretty much free rain of the farm except at night, and then was put in a 20x20 pen. Before my mom and dad picked them up and brought them both down here to Missouri. Her sister is total opposite of a dog, she is happy to meet everyone. Personally I don't think she was abused, I can honestly say I think I might have tapped her on the butt one or twice when time out didn't work (chewing on electrical cords) when we first got her.
    and that was where she was chewing at she wasn't responding to verbal NO command, and was back in an area where you couldn't get a hold of her collar.

    But potty training was a breeze, total of maybe 5 accidents on the floor and only one of them was a number two.

    sit, lay down commands, was also very easy. when she is walking with me, she is at my side, like she should be, not pulling away.

    now with my wife she is tight leashed with.

    The kid, she actually picks the leash up in her mouth and walks ahead of the kid.. as if she is taking the kid for a walk.


    Over all she is a wonderful dog.


    Her favorite pass time is doing the hidden picture puzzles


    Barhund Canine,

    Yeah I know thats why I'm looking for other options and opinions on this matter, I don't want it to get into the aggression part.

    Trying to stop this before it gets to far along.

    Great points, with that.

    one thing I forgot to mention in the past posts, is that lets say she is over on the stairs, sitting and watching.. we all ignore her.. and the visitor is sitting on the couch opposite wall (20 feet away) and and im sitting in the chair kind between them... if they getup to go to the bathroom or get a drink, as soon as they stand up she growls or growl barks at them, with no words being spoken to her or at her...
    Last edited by ssnephew1; 09-11-2007 at 07:28 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  7. #6
    Senior Member Durbkat's Avatar
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    Re: Black Lab -Timid / Shy

    Actually all of you need to go to the classes so that she will learn to associate what she learned with everyone in the family so that she will obey everyone.


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    Senior Member TooneyDogs's Avatar
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    Re: Black Lab -Timid / Shy

    [QUOTE=ssnephew1;121065]TooneyDogs,

    She is not shy with her main family... its only visitors, that come into the house, I follow with what your saying for the most part, the part that I don't is why I would have to get on the floor also. Is it because I am the alpha.

    Yes. The idea is to try and change her perception of her lower status and build confidence. By sitting on the floor, if she can approach the Alpha, she should be able to approach anyone else in that same position. Don't be surprised if she is hesitant to come close to you at first. Practice this alone with her and make it warm, wonderful and comfortable. It won't be the same with a family friend sitting there...afterall, she can tell the difference a mile away....but, you have set the stage and given her the experience for possible success.

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    Re: Black Lab -Timid / Shy

    Well will try that. We play with her on the floor all the time, including myself. I was even on the floor when our family friend came over and got on the floor, it didnt seem to make much of a difference.

  10. #9
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    Re: Black Lab -Timid / Shy

    She is starting to show aggression you will have to find a way that you are comfortable with correcting her and not allowing her to do this. I am working with an adopty right now with some similar issues you are dealing with that is also a lab mix. She is really sweet and she has problems with new people too. She is really soft and all the correction I needed to do was clap my hands and give her a stern no when she growls or barks at new people that come over.

    She doesn't do it as often now and I only have to tell her no now if she does growl or anything. I have only had her a couple of months. When she greets people correctly I praise her. I have worked with many dogs like this.

    It will be a good idea to learn how hard or soft she is. How does she act when you correct her for something? You don't have to be harsh about it just give her enough correction to get her to understand that she is not allowed to bark or growl at your guests. Try not to get angry act confident, firm, and fair. You may also be dealing with maternal instincts since she is ok with everyone in the family.

    From the other things you described with the wife and kids she is demonstrating leadership behaviors. Obedience training would help you a great deal gaining the confidence and trust for her to look to you guys for leadeship. The whole family will have to get involved and treat her the same, correct her the same, and praise her the same.

    It just sounds like to me that you have control of her most of the time but she has control of your family part of the time. It would be very similar to your kids, if you wouldn't let your kids do something, don't let your dog do what you wouldn't want her to do also. Set her up some rules, teach them to her, and give her some discipline when she needs it.

    You may also want to try and leave a short leash and collar on her so you can give a leash correction if she doesn't listen to a verbal no and a stomp of the foot or hand clap.

    You may have to pop the leash a few times to get her to listen and you are able to tell her no and listens to a verbal command.

    Time out doesn't work very well with dogs. They don't understand that type of correction which is usually related to punishment. If she growls or barks give her a correction and walk away and let her think about it. You only have a couple of seconds to do this. Example: She growls tell her no clap your hands, if she doesn't listen step it up to a leash correction, tell her no and give the leash a pop. Then walk away. Give her a few to think about it and act normal before you give her any attention. Be consistent, be fair, and keep emotions out of it.

    The reason to do as described is because from what you described your are dealing with instinctual behavior, rank issues, or pack behavior, which ever term you relate to here. Why I say this is from what you explained she is thinking she is watching over and protecting the family more or less.

    What I am trying to expalin is for you and your family to take over that position in a sense and show her you guys are the leaders and protectors.

    You correct these behaviors different than you do obedience issues. If you ignore instincual behavior such as barking and growling at your guests will only let her know it is ok to do. She naturally thinks she is doing her job.

    Obedience is different because they have to know what the command is and understand it before you can redirect or correct what they do.

    I don't like doing anything like this unless I have too. Some dogs you have to if you want to correct the problem. Just be careful how hard you give a correction. You don't want her cowering or showing severe submission. If it is too soft of a correction you won't see anything from her. You want to see her kind of lower her head and lower her tail a little bit and to recover pretty quick from the correction. It is hard to explain by typing.

    To get a better understanding check out www.leerburg.com and read Ground Work for your dog. There are a lot of articles on there for you to read. You may not have to ge to the extent explained in the articles because your not working with the high drive GSD and Mals that Ed works with. IMO you won't find better advice or information than you can get off his site and DVD's Dr. P's website is chock full of good no nonsense information also.

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    Senior Member Durbkat's Avatar
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    Re: Black Lab -Timid / Shy

    If you correct the dog for growling/barking at strangers then you are punishing the warning system out of the dog. Which means if you punish it out the dog could just get up and attack and won't give a warning because the owner punished it for warning people.


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    Re: Black Lab -Timid / Shy

    Well, I thank you for your input, very good points..

    Yes she is a very soft correct dog... all I have to really do is put a mad look on my face and say LUUUUUUUCCYYYy what did you do..... and she will drop her head and tail, and look up at me like "I'm sorry!!!!"

    I understand what your saying, when obedience correction is different.. that would be why I'm having troubles grasping what is wrong.

    I have had dogs all of my life, so I'm not the average first time dog owner. My mom and dad raised/bread greatdanes until I was 9 years old. I have owned everything from Lotsshitz, begals, labs, greatdanes, blue healer, poodles. But this is the first time I have experienced this type of issue.

    Thank you,

    I will check out that site!

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    Re: Black Lab -Timid / Shy

    Glad I could help

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    Super Moderator Curbside Prophet's Avatar
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    Re: Black Lab -Timid / Shy

    Has your dog been to the vet recently?

    Until you have this resolved, do not change the dogs environment. For example, don't move into another home, and don't get another dog, and don't reduce the amount of attention you give to your dog. These are stressors and they can make matters worse.

    Another thing to consider...your dog is at an age where she may be in the second fear stage, and I see this as mostly a fear issue. That being said, stop all aversive techniques to prevent injury. And IMO, when you're dealing with emotions, counter conditioning rules - pair the feared stimuli with something good. What are your dog's motivators? Food?

    This is where I would start for now.
    1) Manage the environment and lower the stress levels. If the dog is more comfortable in another room when a guest is over, place the dog in the room before the guest arrives.
    2) Fine tune impulse control - sits, downs, stays, leave it.
    3) Improve name recognition around distractions. Once you've worked on some counter conditioning exercises and see improvement, name recognition and attention will be important for the operant conditioning exercises you'll do later on.
    4) Practice NILIF and ignore attention seeking behaviors.

    If you can comply with all these things, I'd say your ready to work on exercises that will condition your dog's emotions.

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    Junior Member PAWSDOG's Avatar
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    Re: Black Lab -Timid / Shy

    I believe that there are some things that you can try and want to avoid.. first avoid cooing or wooing or babying her during these moments when she is acting fearful or shy.. Dog are simple and any praise given during the display of a given behavior is a reward for that behavior.. So if you coddle her when she is acting repressed it stands to only reinforce this behavior and make her more wary of strangers... You should also look into finding a reputable dog daycare in your area with a trained and knowledgable staff to get her started socializing and meeting new dogs, people and encountering new situations.. Dog Daycare can do a world of good for dogs... Lastly you have to determine what type of personality your dog has and work within the limits of this personality to get the most out of her.. I have written on this subject here..
    http://www.pawsdogdaycare.com/busine...rtupmanual.htm
    It's a big page so takes a bit to load.. Ignore all the start up stuff but about 2/3 of the way down the page you will find excellent descriptions of the personality types...
    Use the Edit find on page function and insert the following text..
    The six general personality types:
    PAWS............................

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