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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello guys, I have a golden retriever 2 y/o already ( you can check her video in DogPictures Forum )

Anyway, she is a scared dog and not self-confident. When I bought her he peed on me as soon as I picked her up, she was scared when I first met her and I have no idea whether the dog was traumatized there or was he born like that. most likely (to me) she was traumatized by people.

She is in a much better state of mind than she was when she was a puppy, but she's still scared of new stuff/objects/dogs/people who seem to be intimidating to her. the kind of people who instantly reach out a hand to pet her, dogs who doesn't come slowly and gently but rush into her to smell her - She would either run away or she would freeze and lay down.

Even in the house she doesn't always go confidently around the house, there are places that she is scared of.



What do I do ? At first I was inexperienced and had close to non-knowledge.
Today I try to always be calm-assertive in 'stress' situations, 'order' her to sit and calm. It works usually but in certain situations in very crowded places and such, it doesn't work, seems to me she's not capable of completely ignoring what's going on around her. ( no, no toys and items/food worked as distraction ) only keep going forward/past the place.

There is another factor - my mom. she' is unstable with the dog, and she is walking her out sometimes when I'm at work. she can't handle the dog. when she joins the walk with me she doesn't understand what's different :D anyways.

I'm not sure what else to include to create a clear picture for you guys

I wonder what can I do ? is it just that way that she's naturally insecure and scared.




Best Regards,
Boris.
 

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Dogs can have poor nerves. This is why its so important to choose breeding dogs carefully. Even if the parents seem fine, if the lines have crappy nerves, it can and will show up.

Be patient, keep the dog under threshold, slowly building up to more. Praise when all goes well, before the dog becomes afraid. Once she gets too close to something that unnerves her, calmly leave the situation, without making any fuss. Once in the "safe zone" get her attention, reward, slowly move closer.
 

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I don't it's natural for her to be so scared. I think it's her nature to be cautious, but it just has been blown out of proportion. Like juliemule said, just be patient and gradually build up her tolerance. One thing I would like to add is try not to comfort her when she is acting scared and anxious, this goes same for your mom. As humans we think we're telling the dog "It's okay, don't be afraid" but if fact it's sent through as "It's okay to be scared, stay scared". It's really hard, humans are just really empathetic, but in the end she will benefit more when her fears are not being nurtured. Praise her for being brave and confidence. Also, carry yourself proud with self-confidence as well, you want to set an example for your dog, you want to dog to look up to you. If she knows her human isn't timid and scare, she will put more trust in you and grow off of your positive energy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
@wicket and julie - Thank you for replying ! :)

I'm familiar with the facts that nurturing the dog while scared is embracing her current state of mind, I did that when I first got her but I learnt very fast, ALTHOUGH - There are times where the human isn't fully aware of what he is doing at the moment or what he is projecting to the dog - and this is something I think my mom has issue with.

I very often re-check myself every while when I'm out with my dog, re-check how I feel and what I project. I experienced a very 'good experience' few weeks ago and was very proud of both of us ^_^, of course you can skip that part. (on no spoiler function here)

I was outside with my dog, we were walking calmly and nicely until we came close to a place with few benches with people there and 2 big dogs ! Those dogs wander around the whole neighborhood scaring people off, killing cats, people image them as "Dangerous dogs".
So, as soon as we got close those dogs stood up and ran towards us and barking their life out, they stood about 3-meters to us. I just kept standing, watching them. At first I was little bit unstable and surprised as well, but few seconds after 're-check' I changed myself to very assertive and calm state, my dog just sat and WAS LOOKING THE OTHER WAY - NOT SHAKING EVEN! CALM !
They kept barking as I watch them, I figured out who in them is leader and I watched him in the eyes, and very soon later the dog looked down away from me and stopped barking - immediately the other dog stopped as well and they walked away.
I said "Good dog Astra" and we moved on.

I was happy to see how simple things might be with dogs.


One more thing, very often I don't know what the way my dog acts means.
I really love Cesar Millan's Show and see a lot when he corrects the dog while walking because he notices the dog's attention is towards something else or the way the dog is even looking at something is needed to be corrected.


Looking forward for you replies :)

Best Regards,
Boris.
 

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I wouldn't do much, if any, corrections on a dog like this. If you can redirect her attention, using look and treats, that spoils be best. If she won't accept treats, praise if comfortable. Few dogs are so nervous where praise isn't really good in their mind. If so, just be calm, patient, and confident.

I don't worry about my dogs attention being elsewhere on walks. Dogs are very alert and want to smell, see, hear Sll that's out there. When you should refocus her attention is when something will make her nervous. Attempt the focus before she reacts being fearful. This is the threshold. Past this point she is afraid, before this point things are ok. Over time, work closer to the places/objects until she can be beside it in a relaxed manner. Some dogs, depending on nerves, may never reach this point, but almost every dog can improve somewhat.
 

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Cesar Millan works mostly with aggressive dogs, so you may confuse your dog, by using Cesar's methods. When your dog looked away, she was doing a "Calming Signal" to indicate to the barking dogs that she was not a threat. If you stare at her, she will also look away, telling you that she isn't a threat.

When you are walking, Astra's attention is on you, but she also looks for threats, and she wants to sniff. One way to help her gain more confidence is to introduce her to many different gentle people and many calm dogs.
 

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Cesar Milan's methods have been debunked for decades. Please don't use them on your dog. Don't use them on any dog, but using them on a fearful dog will make things 1,000 times worse.

Watch the show with the sound off and you'll notice something: dogs that Cesar is describing as calm and submissive are licking their lips, looking away and yawning- all three behaviors are what are called "calming signals". Calming signals are a dog's way of saying "I'm harmless, please don't hurt me." In other words, Cesar isn't making dogs calm, he's scaring them half to death. Of course they stop misbehaving. If someone yanked a choke chain around my neck and threw me on the ground repeatedly, I'd stop doing whatever, too.

Look at it this way. I'm scared of spiders. Always have been. Eventually, it got to the point where the word "spider" could send me into hysterics. That's ridiculous, so I decided to do something about it. Over the course of several years, I learned to be able to function in the presence of a spider. I started by staying calm, with my husband's help, across the room from a small spider. After several years, I can now take a fairly large spider outside in a cup instead of screaming KILLIT!!! until my husband comes running.

Now, suppose my husband decided to pull out a gun and shove it in my face, shove me into a room filled with spiders and told me to stay calm or he'd shoot me. I'd stay calm. On the outside. I'm more scared of being shot than of spiders. But as soon as my husband left, I'd have gone back to hysterics over spiders. Also, I'd totally hate my husband and maybe start doing stuff like spilling hot soup on him or "forgetting" when his meds need to be refilled.

Using Cesar's techniques is like that. It doesn't fix behavior, it suppresses behavior out of fear, damages the relationship between owner and dog and bad behavior pops up elsewhere.

Please stop watching Cesar. Go to youtube and look up kikopup. She's amazing and her techniques will really help your dog.
 

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Be patient, keep the dog under threshold, slowly building up to more. Praise when all goes well, before the dog becomes afraid. Once she gets too close to something that unnerves her, calmly leave the situation, without making any fuss. Once in the "safe zone" get her attention, reward, slowly move closer.
We just adopted a 2-year-old golden retriever as well, so I'm backing this technique up with recent experience. Lily definitely isn't as scared as your seems, but we had similar issues with her learning her new space. There were some areas where there are some thick bushes or where she smelled the neighbor's dog through the fence. She blatantly refused to go ANYWHERE near these places. My husband and I have slowly been bringing her closer to the back and getting her more comfortable, making her realize there's no threat. Just time and patience, I guess...? Good luck.
 

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One more thing, very often I don't know what the way my dog acts means.
I really love Cesar Millan's Show and see a lot when he corrects the dog while walking because he notices the dog's attention is towards something else or the way the dog is even looking at something is needed to be corrected.
CM's heavily edited shows are entertaining at times but what he does is a poor way to train dogs. It's based on invalidated theories about wolf, not dog, behavior (pack, alpha, intimidation, everything is about dominance, etc.). It's like trying to train a child based on behavior noticed in one group of unrelated chimps in a badly run zoo.

I'd suggest that you expand your training knowledge by watching Kikopup's videos on YouTube. You might also watch Victoria Stillwell's "It's Me or the Dog" episodes on YouTube as well. They're professionally edited to fit the reality show format but show a more positive approach to dog training. Lastly, I'd also recommend Zak George on YouTube and Animal Planet for more exposure to positive techniques.
 

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I'm familiar with the facts that nurturing the dog while scared is embracing her current state of mind,
Boris be very careful here. Depending on what exactly you are describing here you could be very very wrong. Giving the dog a high value food treat when he is in his fearful state does NOT reward fear. That is a very commonly misunderstood thing about dog behavior. Esp with the Ceasar Milan crowd. Dogs brains don't work that way. It actually works the opposite way. Best described by Victoria Stillwell in this blog post below;

"To truly comprehend why food is so powerful, you must first understand the influence it has on the dog’s brain. Food has the power to not only enhance a dog’s ability to learn but also helps a dog overcome fear or anxiety by raising the levels of dopamine in the brain and stimulating the desire to seek or move towards the food reward. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a major role in reward-driven learning and helps regulate movement and emotional responses. If a dog is presented with food before he reaches a high stress level in the presence of a stimulus that scares him, a positive emotional response occurs. There are circuits in the dog’s brain that encourage seeking or hunting behavior and circuits that elicit the fear response. When you present food to your dog you turn on his seeker system, effectively turning off the fear. This is one reason why using food for activities such as scent work is so valuable for fearful/aggressive dogs. Turning on the thinking brain deactivates the emotional brain, enhancing a dog’s attentiveness with positive motivation and allowing him to move into a calmer state where learning can take place. Therefore, because food is incompatible with fear, using food treats for teaching is incredibly valuable, especially when it comes to modifying a dog’s anxiety and stress."

I'm not a VS advocate. She was just the first person on my google search to talk about dog brains and how they work. Temple Grandian also talks about how the animal brain functions and back up her statements with factual data. She discusses how when the seeker function is switched on in the brain the fear function can't work. And all the studies done to back that statement up. So you can check her work out if you are so inclined.

I just cringe when I hear people talk about nurturing a fearful emotional state. It isn't physically possible. You can't access that part of the dogs brain when they are fearful. So don't worry about it. I've been working my fearful puppy with my R+ trainer and she says it's impossible to reward the emotional state... so no reason not to feed a treat and say in a happy voice "yippee I love people" when he's reacting (stiffens, hair raises on back and barks) at people walking by on the street. There is no physical way to reward fear when I do this.....

Back to the original post. If I had a dog like this I would work on teaching her that the world is a safe place, that I am a safe trustworthy person to be around and that I will keep her safe. So lots of positive reinforcement training (find a good trainer or start watching kiko pups videos on youtube, read Dr Sophia Yin's website and blogs, read books by Karen Pryor, Patricia McConnel, ) ditch the Cesar MIlan stuff. I can say that easily b/c I"ve read all of his books, watched about 4 seasons of his shows. HIs info on positive energy being aware of the energy that you bring to the equation is correct. But he totally forgets to talk about how positive energy (happy energy) can really help counter condition a dog in fearful situations.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Guys, Thank you very much for the helpful comments, I appreciate that.

I'm not stubborn, I listen to people's advises. I surfed a bit and came across this website

Fearfuldogs.com

It's about a woman who had a fearful dog and "overcame" the issues.
I am considering to get a PDF copy of her book.


I never new about calming signals before, it is very fascinating and interesting !

That said, I still enjoy Cesar Millan's show - I may stop learning and applying the methods on my dog, but it is still fun for me.


Thanks .
 

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That said, I still enjoy Cesar Millan's show - I may stop learning and applying the methods on my dog, but it is still fun for me.
You wouldn't be alone. I think that show is a lot of people's guilty pleasure, even when they know how awful he is. Maybe because they know how awful he is. It's like watching a train wreck. You know real people (dogs) are getting hurt, but you can't look away.

Guilty. :redface:
 
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