Information presented in the “Living With…” sections of the SCARF website represent the personal viewpoint of the individual who made the journal entry and do not represent the opinions, positions, or viewpoints of SCARF or the veterinary community. [see complete disclaimer at bottom of page]
Background: When we saw our future Samoyed at the shelter, her cage card said she had separation anxiety, and had been turned in because she didn’t like the man in her previous family. They took her out of the kennel to meet us, and she immediately dived under the nearest bench. I had to crawl under it to say hello to her. We found out she had been homeless, then passed through two families before arriving at the shelter the day before. We’d been looking for a Samoyed for months and signed up to adopt her, not realizing what we were in for. We couldn’t take her home right away, because she had not been spayed yet, so we got a book on shelter dogs and started reading, thinking separation anxiety would be our biggest problem.
Management Tips: I was determined to have a therapy dog, so I really wanted her to overcome her shyness. We started to learn what made her comfortable (being outside on a leash, being under furniture), what she liked (walks, the park, children and their mothers) and what she was afraid of (men, including my gentle husband, sneezes, coughs, and pop cans opening). We took her to the park, and when people said “what a beautiful dog” we said “could you please pet her? She’s shy and we want to get her used to people.” (I probably pushed her a bit too much).
To build her confidence, we took her to an obedience class at a respected local kennel. It was the old fashioned “jerk-and praise” method. I don’t think it made her shyness worse, but she didn’t learn much either. We learned that she loved other dogs, and that she shed when nervous, leaving a cloud of fur on the grass during a sit or down-stay. We started taking her to doggie daycare so that she could enjoy playing with other dogs.
During her first year with us we went to several somewhat gentler obedience courses. She got her Canine Good Citizen certificate, barely passing the test with a stranger. She also became a registered therapy dog, although still approaching people somewhat shyly. We finally tried clicker training, with a very muted clicker (she was afraid of that sound too) - - and she loved it. When she does a command taught that way, she wags her tail! But she still growled softly at my husband when he came to bed and ran away if he offered her a piece of roast beef. I started running to the door and jumping up and down when he drove up the driveway to show her how wonderful it was that he was home – and she started to get excited too.
After 3 years, we got a Samoyed puppy, partly for company for our shelter dog, but mainly so my husband could receive more doggy love. Having another dog around really helped our shy dog.
We’ve had her now for 8 years. She has gradually improved to the point where at many times you wouldn’t know that she’d been shy, and she is still improving. She runs to the door to cover my husband’s face with kisses when he comes home. She loves to say hello to the neighbors. But it has been a slow process, requiring much love and patience. And she still runs away when we sneeze.
Information presented in the “Living With…” sections of the SCARF website represent the personal viewpoint of the individual who made the journal entry and do not represent the opinions, positions, or viewpoints of SCARF or the veterinary community. There may be discussions of drugs, devices, additives, foods, vitamins, herbs or biologicals that have not been approved by the FDA/CVM for the particular use being discussed. SCARF assumes no liability for the accuracy or outcomes of any suggestions, advice or other information provided by the “Living With…” postings on the SCARF website. All treatment decisions should only be made after discussion with your pet’s veterinary health professional, and no changes in your pet’s treatments or diet should be made based on any information found on the SCARF website.