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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I adopted a 7 month old Shiba Inu/Lab mix (we think - the rescue group was not 100% sure) 8 days ago. It took her about 2 days to let me pet her and about 4 to be comfortable with me. Now she is unbelievably clingy with me. She is still not extremely comfortable with my boyfriend, but she is getting better.

She is very shy and very uncomfortable with strangers. After some initial barking and growling, she will follow visitors in our apartment around (to the couch, to the bathroom, to the kitchen) to see what they are doing. She did the same thing to me and my boyfriend the first few days. But she WILL NOT let them touch her. The same goes with people we run into during walks. Everybody wants to pet her, but she doesn't want them to. Once they walk away, she wants to follow them to wherever they are going.

I'm not sure how to help her become more outgoing. I assume that her curiousity is a good thing, but she is so nervous around strangers I am worried one day she might get agressive. Should I let her get away when people try to per her? Should I hold her in place so they can pet her and she can see they aren't trying to attack?

I am also considering a doggy day care once a week to introduce her to some dogs and a few more people. Is that a wise choice at this stage?
 

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Well you are describing the shiba behaviour maybe you should read up on primitive dogs just to get an idea of their mind set.

If it was my dog, I would carry treats and hand them out to people who want to pet her but do not restrain her, let her decide. I don't think this will turn into aggressive behaviour but she would be a much happier dog if she could let go of her fears.

I can see potential separation anxiety but it's way too early to tell since it might take her a while to settle in.

I would like to see a picture of your little sweetie if it's possible :D
 

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Based on what you're describing, I'd try my best to not to let people pet her on the street (which, I know, is impossible sometimes). If she's nervous around new people, then stressing her out creates a negative association with meeting new people (especially since most people don't know how to greet a strange dog properly). If she growls to warn them off, then she's also learning that taking an aggressive posture works. This is especially bad because, even if she's really expressing fear rather than aggression, it creates a positive association with aggressive behavior, and the posturing can eventually turn into real aggression. You do want to introduce her to people, but you need to control the environment to ensure you're creating a positive association. It's much, much easier to prevent the fear/aggression behavior from appearing in the first place than it is to stop it after the fact.

One thing I would recommend is letting the dog make the initial contact instead of the human, and create a positive association with them. When introducing people, let them handle some of the good treats (chicken, cheese, hot dogs, etc.). Have them come in and ignore the dog; let them sit down on the ground somewhere, turned away from the dog and avoiding eye contact or petting. Let the dog eat the treats - at first by dropping them randomly, then eating out of the human's hand once they are used to it - then leave the room (and taking the treats with them). You need to repeat with a LOT of different people and different environments to get the dog to generalize, but eventually she'll come to associate meeting new people with yummy treats. The amount of practice required will vary widely depending on the dog.
 

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Wanting her to stand still and be petted is going a bit fast for this shy girl. Let her go at her own pace. Have visitors drop treats for her. Just drop them, don't expect her to take it out of their hands. Praise her anytime she approaches anyone on her own.

I've had Cupid six months now, and he still doesn't like to be approached by others. It takes him a long time to warm up to people.

You might want to check out this thread. It's got lots of great tips and success stories.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
Here's some pictures of Prandtl - what do you think? Does Shiba Inu/Lab fit her?





And thanks everyone for your input. I will definitely try the "give treats to strangers" approach. She usually won't eat what people she doesn't know offer her (like she thinks they will poison her or something) but I think she might appreciate them being dropped on the ground.
 

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Hey!! Your dog is beautiful. But a little off topic. How old is she now and how much does she weigh? I think my dog has alot of resemblances to yours and were trying to figure out what she is and how much she will be at an adult.

Thanks.

Kari
 

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The best way to prevent aggression in a fearful dog is to never put them in a situation where they go over threshold (shut down, run away, etc). I STRONGLY suggest not letting any one pet her. If people on the street don't listen to you, simply walk away. You need to let your dog know that you will protect her and prevent any one from doing anything uncomfortable to her.

The only thing strangers should be doing right now is feeding her treats (GOOD treats, as already mentioned). They should not be making direct eye contact with her, should not be reaching for her, etc. She should be dictating the terms of her interaction with them.. she should be the one approaching them first. Praise her lavishly when she does these things.

If you are ever having guests over and cannot watch her, or know your guest will not be compliant with your requests, the best thing to do is to crate her in a separate room where she can feel safe and unbothered.

Oh, and NEVER punish a growl. A growl is the dog's warning system. If they learn that they're not allowed to growl, they may go straight to a bite.
 
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