Social Misfit

Posted by belzoniboy
Mar 31, 2008
I rescued my dog from one of the local rescue places. Vet thinks he's mostly Norfolk terrier. Problem is he was never given the chance to socialize with other people or dogs. Woman told me he loves to sit in your lap 24/7 which she allowed him to do. At first would growl at anyone who came in the house. Doesn't give them the time of day now but won't go to most of them either. I can live with that. Biggest problem is he's a wreck around other dogs. Scared to death of most of them. All but two to be exact. One was older dog we had when we got him. Joined at the hip until older one died. And there is one dog down the street that he actually gets excited about and chases playfully 50% of the time when he sees him. Tried taking him to dog park and he just sat behind my leg shivering. How do I get him over this so he can enjoy company of other dogs? One last thing. At times when we are walking he acts like he wants to chase other dogs until they turn towards him and then his tail goes down and he moves to the opposite side. Would appreciate any advice. Thanks.
Edit/Delete Message
Posted by Todd
Apr 3, 2008
Hi there and thanks for the post.

Now before i start i think it is important to point out that you should never be tempted to tell him off when he is being fearful as this will not help things.

Secondly i would recommend a product called DAP. This is a spray that natural calms dogs down and reduces there fear and i promise you it will be worthwhile. Talk to your vet about it and give it a go

He needs to learn that it is not okay to be scared. The aim of the training is to teach him that he will only get attention when he is being confident and not fearful.

And here is how we are going to do it -

When he is being fearful eg cowering, hunching, hiding or has his tail between his legs, you need to completely ignore him. This means no eye contact, not talking to him, not petting him and turning away. If you say to him "its alrite" he is learning it is okay to be fearful.

Combine this with reinforcing his confident behaviour. The second he starts to be confident eg stepping forward, standing up etc you must reward him. YOu can pet him and give him attention but use a quiet voice with no sudden movements so as not to startle him.

You need to be very consistent with this so he doesn't get mixed messages about what is right and what isn't.

After a week of this you can try him with other people and situations.
Ask a friend to come around to your house...let them know what is going on so they don;t get freaked out .

Get your friend to sit on a couch 5 metres from him. Have your boy on a lead. Slowly work your way towards your friend doing the same as above. reward confidence and ignore fear. Once he gets close to your friend encourage him to take treats from their hand. Remember no sudden movements or loud noises.

Take things slow and make sure to reinforce and ignore as appropriate. Once he is happy with one friend try another and another. Keep on with this to help build up his confidence.

At all times he should have a place to get away. If we make him feel trapped then he will get even worse so if he starts getting very nervous then let him out of the room and try again later.

After he is used to people do the same thing with people dogs. Have the two dogs separated and both on a leash. When he is well behaved he can advance. If he is fearful then ignore him and wait till he shows confidence again.

After a few sessions with different dogs in the backyard you can try the same out on the street. The only difference is you wait for them to come to you. Again ignore and encourage
Once he is happy on the street try the dog park. Use a quiet dog park at first and work your way up to a busy one.

Take things nice and slow.

Good luck with him and please let me know how things are going