Fearful Bloodhound

Posted by ncolby
Sep 29, 2007
Hi There,

I am hoping for some advice. My husband and I have three dogs; a 14 year old Border Collie (Kelsey), a 15 Month old St. Bernard (Ruby) and a 12 Month old Bloodhound (Izzy). All three are great dogs, though they all have their little quirks. My biggest concern is our Bloodhound, Izzy. We have had her since she was around 15 weeks old and, as far as I know, she has never suffered any trauma. She is so friendly and loving with us, loves attention from the family and takes well to learning and commands. However, she is so fearful of strangers that she will run and hide whenever we have guests in our house and/or when we take her out in public. If a stranger approaches her in any of these situations (home or public) and she can't run and hide, she will often urinate or defecate on the spot. We live in a pretty remote area, and she has not been exposed to many people or situations, and we realize our mistake in not properly socializing her. I am currently taking her every week to basic obedience class in an attempt to expose her to new people and dogs and hopefully build her confidence. In class, she is well behaved and does not urinate or defecate in fear. She barks and carries on sometimes, but all in all is responding well in class. She is getting better lately with extended family and will now let them pet her and will even play sometimes, but I can see she is still very leery and jumpy around them even though she has known them since we got her. However, strangers still terrify her and nothing I do to coax and encourage her will get her to engage with people she doesn't know well (even tried steak). I don't want to push her too hard and scare her, but it concerns us because she will hide in our room (sometimes for days) if we have guests that she does not know. She refuses to eat anything and I have to force her to even go outside to go potty. What could have happened to cause this behavior and what things should we be doing with her to help her get over this fear?
Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Oct 2, 2007
Hi, I have a similar issue with one of our dogs, Noah (2 yrs old rescued Border Collie Mix). He is great with people but scared of big dogs and tries to snap them. We are now trying to let him build confidence by taking him to off-leash park, doggy day care, training classes. I believe exposure to other friendly dogs is the key to the success.

Therefore, I think you are doing a right thing of taking Izzy to training classes with a hope that he gets used to strange dogs and people.

Another thing you can do is to have your friends visit you so often and give him a treat each time. If he is not food motivated, it might be a little challenge since he might not like physical attentions, which most dogs like. You will just have to let Izzy learn people are not harmful, they are nice, one by one, instead of having a big party or multiple guests. When you have a company, instead of letting him go hide, have him sit or lie down right next to you and pet him as you converse with your guest.

That's exactly what I trying to do with Noah. He is getting much better compared to a couple months ago.

I hope Izzy will get over this issue by, say, early next year!! (that is my goal too)
Posted by ncolby
Oct 3, 2007
Hi MaxHollyNoah,

Thanks for your response, I appreciate the input. I have read some of your other posts and I think you give great advice.

Izzy is such a sweet dog, it makes me sad to see her so fearful. I have no idea what could have made her this way, as she has always been treated with love and care. The trainer says it is simply lack of socialization.

Your advice about having her lay near me while I have guests is a good one, but she tends to dart off as soon as there is a knock at the door. Do you suggest I leash her and bring her to me (she'll pull away and try to resist), or will this make her more afraid? I don't want to further traumatize her by forcing her to stay when she is freaked out. I could also gate off the upstairs and lower level so that she would have to remain in the general area, but it's so hard to get it through to my friends/guests to ignore her. They'll do it for a bit, but eventually they try to coax her to them and it freaks her out. If they would just let her be, she would settle in and probably come to them. At this point, I only have one or two people that really understand that she is terrified and who will come in to my house and let her be. She is OK with these people (after months and months).

When she is scared, she won't even touch a juicy steak laying on the floor (yes, sadly I have tried this)! Tonight in her doggie class, she FINALLY ate treats from me AND the trainer, so I think that's a good sign. Good luck with Noah and please let me know about your progress. Thanks again and advice is always welcome.

Posted by MaxHollyNoah
Oct 3, 2007
Hi, Nicolby and Izzy!!

First of all, I am sorry that I called Izzy "he" since I didn't know it was "she".

I am so glad to hear that Izzy ate treats from the trainer. It is a big step for her!! Like this, she will learn to take treats from other people. She is so different from my doggies!! Mine are always so hungry and would take treats from anybody (even from strangers!!). In fact, Holly, the other rescued Border Collie Mix, was a stray and she used to be (and still is a little bit) afraid of men so she barks at men at the off-leash park. I usually hand the guy a treat and ask him to give it to her so that she will like him. This way, she is getting familiar with male dog owners we meet at the park. I learned that this method is called "desensitization" and it is what you are doing with Izzy too.

I have a couple more suggestions for you:

First, don't feed Izzy before training classes so that she would be more interested in food/treats during the class, and this will be a big advantage for you and the trainer.

Secondly, make her hungry when you have a company. This will also help your friend when meeting and greeting Izzy with a treat.

Another one - in fact, this is a question for you but, is Izzy a big dog? Are your friends feel comfortable with Izzy, or a little afraid? If people are afraid of Izzy, she will sense that very easily. Also, Izzy might not want to be look at by strangers so when they greet her at the door, or when they are close to Izzy, ask them not to look at her but turn around and extend their hands with a treat in front of Izzy's nose.

There was a very scared dog in Noah's training class and we are practicing our dogs to be nice to strangers. This dog keeps barking with a fear at some of the dog owners. The trainer brought in a young man who works at the doggie day care next door to meet our dogs as a stranger. The guy was very good!! He didn't look at the scared dog at first and just hand him a treat, then gradually turn around while he was talking to the dog in a soft voice saying like "good boy, good boy". Finally this dog let the guy sit right next to him and let him pat him.

Anyway, what I wanted to say is that you might want to pick a right person for this practice, just like I am picking a right dog for Noah to get used to.

I hope Izzy will do better in her next class. By the way, Noah graduated from an intermediate class last night!!
Posted by drandallpacbellnet
Oct 5, 2007
We have two rescue dogs, Cassie, a 2 yr. old wire hair terrier mix, and Muffin, a 3 yr. old maltese terrier mix. Muffin is a very well behaved and easy going dog. Cassie, however, has bouts of fright, sometimes in the middle of the night, when all she wants is for one of us to hold her. Sometimes she trembles like she is freezing. We have no idea how to help her feel more secure and not have these spells of fear.