Yorkie scared of dogs

Posted by vbrabata
Sep 1, 2009
My six- month Yorkie is scared to death of dogs (all sizes, shapes and colors). I walk her daily and whenever we cross paths with a dog, she starts whining and tries to run away. I make an effort to remain calm and assertive and just keep walking, but I don’t think she’s getting the message. I have arranged a couple of play dates for her with other puppies and older dogs (at least once a week for a month and a half now), but she has never relaxed and had fun. She hides between my legs and doesn’t play with the other dogs at all. A few weeks ago we were at a park with a friend and her five Chihuahuas, all of them chasing each other and having fun, but our Yorkie didn’t move an inch from between my legs until they left (and we were there for, I don’t know, 3 hours?).

Yesterday I decided to leave her alone in the yard with a friend’s old poodle and watch her behavior through the window. As soon as the poodle tried to get close to smell her, she hid under a low table (the poodle couldn’t follow her there) and stayed there for nearly two hours, even after the poodle stopped paying her any attention. When I finally came out of the house, she ran towards me whining and jumping, completely overexcited and stressed out. We got her inside the house and it took a long time, maybe an hour, for her to relax and stop whining (we tried not to pay her any attention while she was all excited, but we were truly concerned).

I’m not sure what to do next. I’m really worried and I just want her to be happy. Help!!!
Posted by KOPsarah
Sep 2, 2009
Hi vbrabata, and thanks for your post.
First of all try not too worry too much, this problem is incredibly common in very small dogs and your worry no matter how hard you try to cover it will be very clear to the dog. She is thinking "I'm worried, mums worried this must be a terrible situation!" You have been trying all the right things and they should be working but maybe we need to start her off in an even easier situation. Have her in a small room in your house that she is comfortable and familiar with. Arm yourself with heaps of her favourite toys and treats. Have a friends bring in their small calm dog in a crate if possible. As soon as the dog comes in start playing with your dog in the room and running through tricks and treating, whatever she really enjoys. Your dog will be in familiar territory and also feeling safer because the other dog is closed in. For this first session don't worry about her interactions with the other dog. If she gets upset don't try to comfort her just keep on playing with the toys, talking excitedly and ignore the dog in the crate yourself. As soon as she joins back in with you praise her warmly and treat her. You want the whole experience to be fun and the other dog in the room to be in significant.

Try and repeat this as often as possible in regular but short sessions (twenty minutes is plenty). Always end the session while your dog is happy rather than when it is stressing. As your dog gets more used to the presence of the other dog over several sessions you can ask the other dogs owner to take the dog out of the crate and hold it on their lap still at a distance. Again you want the other dog and the other dogs owner to be calm and mostly ignore your dog. If at any time your dog shows interest in or approaches the other dog praise warmly and treat her. Continue these sessions until your dog can cope with the other dog being in the room wandering but on its leash so that your dog can still avoid it. At this point tone down the fun a little so that instead of fun and games being a reward for just being the same room as the dog you are now expecting some sort of interaction with the other dog before you start the fun. When your dog goes nearer to or shows any attention to the other dog then start the praise and treats so that not approaching the other dog is boring and approaching it starts the fun. When your dog is eventually choosing to approach and play with the other dog you can try letting them both play off leash together. Once she can do this reliably try introducing other dogs with the same procedure (she should progress much faster the second and third times etc). Later you can try using several rooms in the house at once and even later still try the backyard. Keep sessions short until your dog is very comfortable with other because while 20 minutes with a bouncy new friend can be fun 40 minutes can be overwhelming, tiring or just too much fun.

I hope this helps, please let me know how you and your dog get on.
Posted by vbrabata
Sep 2, 2009
Thanks for your advice! I'm trying this tomorrow afternoon, i'll let you know about our progress
All the best,