Just adopted a timid dog – advice!

posted 3 years ago in Pets
Post # 3
Member
1007 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

@melisandescott:  We adopted a dog from the shelter that had previously been abused and she was VERY timid when her adopted her.  Honestly, the only thing that helped was time.  We made sure not to overwhelm her or push ourselves on her if she wasn’t comfortable.  Eventually, she came around.  She will be somewhat timid the rest of her life, but the difference between now and when we first adopted her is amazing.  Good luck and congrats on the new member of your family 🙂

Post # 4
Member
2612 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

@melisandescott:  It’ll take time for her to adjust. Don’t “baby” her when she is acting afraid, ie coaxing her out, petting her, talking to her a lot, etc. That only rewards or reinforces timid behavior. Obedience classes are great for timid dogs- it helps their ‘self-esteem’ to know what you expect and to be rewarded for doing it. When you walk her, YOU should confidently lead the way instead of her, that way she knows that you are confident and in control of the situation, so she can trust you. Keep walking her a LOT to wear her out and to show her that you’re her new ‘pack.’ Good luck!! My mom has a chihuahua mix and she is awesome!

Post # 6
Member
8518 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2014

I know some dog behaviorists. I’ll see what they say and let you know.

Post # 7
Member
424 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

Aww, good for you!  It sounds like the little pooch finally got an awesome family.  I wonder what her backstory is?

Post # 8
Member
4223 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

thunder shirt! Also treats for when she comes inside, every time. 

Post # 10
Member
2368 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

 Patience and consistency are key. I totally agree with the PPs that walks will help build her confidence. Every time she demonstrates good, confident behavior (going through the door willingly, coming out to greet you, etc), reward her. 

Post # 11
Member
8518 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2014

@melisandescott:  One of my dog behaviorist friends said that the best thing to do for now (assuming you just brought her home really recently) is to let her be. Create a den type enviroment for her, such as a crate with a blanket draped over it. That way she can go in there if she feels she needs to get away. Dont force her to come out and spend time with you because that could backfire and you might make her more stressed.

Once she’s more comfortable with you, try teaching her simple commands. Clicker training is a great way to teach confidence. You’ll need to “charge” the clicker with her, which basically just means you click the clicker and give her a treat until she recognizes that the sound of the clicker means she gets a treat. Dont try to get her to do tricks with the clicker until she fully understands the sound means a treat. I let my dogs get used to the sound of a clicker for several days before I attempt to to get them to do commands with it.

Post # 12
Member
127 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2015

@MrsAKSkier:  +1 Dont coddle her, let her get used to the new environment and she’ll settle in with time.

Also, thank you for adopting. It’s always great to hear when someone adopts rather than buying, and especially when that dog is older than puppy-age.

Post # 13
Member
2612 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2011

@allyfally:  +1 

Yep, just ignore her when she’s under the table. Having a safe, quiet spot for her to go to is a great idea, as is giving her a treat for confidently coming inside. 

Post # 14
Member
560 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2013

My dog was exactly like this. We’ve had her since she was 10 weeks and now almost 4 years later she’s still timid with all strangers and anyone she’s not sure she remembers. She’s totally warmed up to us though. I agree with other posters–let her be and see what happens. Definitely give her alone time to calm herself, sleep, and explore her new home. But don’t hesitate to love on her if she’s feeling brave! I firmly believe some dogs just have quieter personalities. Our little one is shy, but gets separation anxiety when she thinks we’re leaving. Totally fine once we’re gone though. You’ll get used to her personality, and I’m sure she’ll warm up.

Post # 15
Member
822 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2013

@melisandescott:  I agree with the poster that said not to force her to do anything.  Once she gets comfy in your house & realizes she’s in a safe place, she’ll come out of her shell.  I adopted a very timid dog 8 years ago & she is just wonderful now!  She became very attached to me right away.  She was fine with my husband the day we adopted her, but as soon as he went away to work & came back, she was frightened by him & even snapped at him.  We learned very quickly that she did not respond to agressive training.  She is very treat driven.  She did not want to associate with men at all, so I started bringing her to my favorite cafe and carrying treats with me.  Whenever a man wan wanted to pet her, I’d say yes, but give her this treat first.  She would always take it & be OK with them petting her.  My husband would also come home with a treat every single day.  Now, she doesn’t distinguish between men & women at all.  She’s comfortable around all types of people & she adores my husband.

I had the instinct to want to hold her & baby her all the time, but that wasn’t what she wanted & probably would have only promoted the behavior. She loves being near me, but has never really liked being held.  She also never learned to play fetch and do a lot of typical dog things, but she has done great having another dog companion and even learned to play & wrestle with him a bit. It’s also been really easy to train her, because she gets in trouble once & never does it again.  We pretty much never had to punish her, we just reward her when she does something good.  Now she’s 14 and she’s deaf & almost completely blind.  But she still tries to make it outside to go potty & is still such a sweetheart.  She is by no means the same dog she was when we first adopted her.  She really blossomed and enjoys life, we just had to be patient with her.  It is one of the greatest rewards to see her this way.

Good luck with your little girl!  It’s wonderful that you adopted her and want to take the time to make her happy!  I’m sure she always will be happy with you guys!

Post # 16
Member
10384 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2010

Small, healthy treats can really bring a dog’s anxiety level down and reassure them that they are doing what you want them to. Tiny bits of cheese, some chicken jerkey (the kind without any spices or extra flavors) etc etc are great choices. Our trainer suggested that in one of the classes we took with her.

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