The Shy Show Puppy

Disclaimer:

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 welcomed our new Sammie girl into our home at 11-12 weeks old we were thrilled with our new bundle of joy. At that time she was beautiful, sweet and very easy to live with. She and her litter were whelped during a time period in which her breeder(s) were going through a divorce. The breeder admittedly shared that due to the divorce this litter was not as well socialized as past litters. Her shyness wasn’t fully revealed until about six-months old (puberty). When we began going to dog shows she would become extremely nervous by shaking to the point we felt she would have a nervous breakdown upon approaching the dog show location. She would put her nose up in the air and would smell the location prior to arriving. She would enter the building with tail tucked and sometimes be so afraid she would vomit. If not on lead she would have darted quickly. At first we felt the shyness/nervousness was solely related to the dog show environment - this later proved not to be the case. Her shyness and nervousness only seemed to progress with time. In hindsight, we see that in trying to comfort her in during her times of distress we most likely unknowingly exacerbated the problem.

Management Tips: We first consulted with other breed owners/breeders. We then consulted with a local obedience trainer who had taught all-breed obedience for numerous years, and who had earned many titles on her dogs of another breed. We trusted her a great deal. She suggested that we bring our girl to her 6-8 week classes (held outside). The exception for our girl would be that only positive reinforcement could be used and the emphasis would be on her going through the class/exercises, not perfecting the exercises. In other words, the obedience class was not meant to make her an obedience dog, but rather to teach and give her confidence in situations where she would otherwise have none. We were not allowed to quickly pop her collar on turns, even when using positive reinforcement with our words/tone of voice. She/we completed the class and for her that was all she needed - it worked! We began going to dog shows not long after and within approximately 3-5 months she finished her championship while believing she owned the ring. It takes a great deal of patience to work with a shy or nervous dog - a GREAT DEAL OF PATIENCE, but know that it can be done and the bond with your dog will be a close and special one in the end.


Disclaimer:

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.