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Amurphy26 01-19-2014 12:45 PM

Building trust and confidence
 
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I'm working on my 15mth GSD bitch'sAttachment 168089 reactivity to other dogs. I firmly believe that part of her problem is that she lacks confidence in herself and trust and confidence in me; we can almost pin point exactly when and why her problems started.

Anyway, how do I build up her trust in me? We do basic training and obedience, play games etc but I'm a bit stumped as to how I can show her she can trust me. Any suggestions?


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David Taggart 01-19-2014 01:49 PM

"Trust", or so called "bond" starts to form a bridge from the very first day you bring your puppy home. First of all define yourself to your dog. This image has its stages: first of all - you are a foster parent to your puppy, a protector, stroking her whenever she is frightened, calming her down. Avoid pushing her if she is. Crouch to her level if you see she exhibits it and remain in this position until unknown dog with his owner dissapears, bringing yourself to her level would mean to her that you two are together and do not intend to run away. If she barks agressively, her hairs on the end - ask her to lay down, dogs calm down faster in sitting or down position. And, the most important - turn your back to the object of fear, never stare in that direction, show her that it is something to ignore.
Show her that you are a strong powerful and experienced foster parent by taking her to new places, as her biological mother would have done. Parks, towns, different streets, train her to use public transport if you can (you would need a harness with a handle for that), visit places where she can see different dogs during your walk, in this sense their number is important. But don't stop, it would be better to be on the move all the time, ignore all. It is always recommended to stay with a group of friends over first 2 years and train your dog to ignore any unknown. She should learn to heel perfectly, pay attention to the command "Heel", not to that dog she is scared of, thus she learns to pay attention to your voice rather than to the object of fear.
Then, you should know that it is typical to young females to exibit fear and agression, it will go away naturally when she's 3, bolder and physically stronger. Help her as her leader of the pack to gain bodily weight due to good appetite after hard physical and intellectual exercise, her physical development and muscular mass is a clue to gaining confidence.
I have noticed many times that intensive training builds the strongest bond with the dog. Sometimes dogs start loving a trainer more than their owner (if the handler is a trainer) only because that one teaches them something new, engages their intellect and directs their energy.
By looking at the photograph, I can say you have a very beautiful female. Good luck!

Amurphy26 01-19-2014 03:53 PM

Thank you so much. You've given me some brilliant advice and ideas to work on.
I'm really struggling with getting her to heal. She'll do it if I have her ball or a treat but as soon as they're removed so is her attention on me. I've read lots of posts about people with reactive dogs getting their dogs to heal and that keeps the dog focused on the owner and not the approaching dog so I know I have to work on it but I've a long way to go.
Thanks for the advice.
X


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David Taggart 01-19-2014 04:01 PM

You are very welcome. You would meet many nice people here genuinely wishing you to succed.

carmspack 01-19-2014 06:50 PM

what ? "Then, you should know that it is typical to young females to exibit fear and agression, it will go away naturally when she's 3, bolder and physically stronger"

really bad idea " stroking her whenever she is frightened" promotes exactly what you do not want

bad idea -- fraud "train her to use public transport if you can (you would need a harness with a handle for that), " you can not , should not disguise your dog as a seeing eye / guide dog , especially a dog that has issues that will reflect on the real working guide dog or dog-in-training

this makes no sense "muscular mass is a clue to gaining confidence

Courtney 01-19-2014 07:37 PM

Can you tell us more about when you believe these problems started?

That's awesome that you are training with her, keep it up.

I would recommend letting her just hang out with you, tag a long when you run errands. Go hiking, casual walks, explore together. Give her a job. I started "help me" when my boy was a pup...he knows that means hold or carry something for me.

I'm not sure the issues she's having with other dogs but I would stay away from dog parks (not even sure if you go). Only allow her around trusted dogs. Put other dogs on hold for now & continue to work on bonding:)

Shade 01-19-2014 08:09 PM

Trust and confidence doesn't happen overnight, it's a process just like a human relationship. The dog regardless of age associates good things with their human pack: food, shelter, companionship, etc just to name a few

Firstly you can build a dog's confidence by A) do you best to never put them in positions to fail. So if she doesn't like dogs in her face, refrain from taking her into pet stores, dog parks, etc where she will have to face those things at a close distance. Start where she is comfortable, whether is be 5', 50' or 500' and start your work there. B) Always work at projecting confidence and peace no matter what, dogs are very adapt at reading us so if you're uncertain and nervous they will pick up on that and that can add to their own personal stress they may be feeling. Don't coddle the fear by stroking or baby talking them, step in between them and the object of fear and then either freeze there to allow them to investigate it at a safe distance (if it's inanimate and the dog isn't showing signs of extreme stress like trembling, drooling, teeth chattering, etc) or if it's something moving and they've showing signs of avoidance slowly move away keeping yourself in front of the dog.

My poodle is very fearful, she's from a BYB and from day one I have seen her struggle with fear and lack of confidence. I knew she would never be able to be in a class setting or play group so I started with little things. I didn't coddle her by carrying her everywhere, I kept her on the ground once she finished her shots and allowed her to explore at her own pace. If she was behind me I didn't make a big deal about it, I just either stayed still and acted like nothing was wrong or casually walked away. If a dog went to sniff her and she was showing avoidance I would crouch beside her and block the dog from getting close, either by petting the dog and keeping it's attention on me or gently pushing it away and blocking. I rewarded any confident behaviour I saw, if she avoided a fire hydrant and then the next walk went by it without a sideways glance I rewarded. Remember that even a glance towards a object of fear can be a good sign, that means they're not in total avoidance mode.

I have done my absolute best to never ever force her into something she was showing true avoidance. I've been very fortunate that I have a good vet and groomer that have paired with me that show nothing but kindness and compassion for her. They allow me to stay with her and will step back and take a break if asked to, it's a great tool to have. Life isn't perfect and mistakes will happen, forgive yourself and the dog and move forward and don't dwell on the negative, look for the positive no matter how little and strive to encourage it.

Something I found very helpful was showing her that things weren't scary. So if there was something, let's use a fire hydrant for example and she was showing mild to medium avoidance I would give her extra leash so she had space to move if needed and I would walk straight up to the fire hydrant confidently. I would touch, slap, talk to, even sit beside the object and physically show that it was ok to be around. If she followed me, even a step I would toss a treat and praise her. If she came even closer and came to my feet or into my lap if I was sitting I would treat and praise as well. Not a huge party but a warm "good girl" with a pat and treat. Same thing for other dogs, if I saw the other dog was calm and friendly I would ask the owner for permission to come up and I would give Jazzy space but I would approach and pet the other dog talking quietly to the dog or owner, showing her that the dog was safe to approach. I never forced her to approach but showed her through actions that many dogs are safe

As she aged she became more confident in me, she ran to me if she needed reassurance rather then run away. I don't think she'll ever be a normal confident dog but she's learned through years now of experience that I will protect her from everything I can and she can come to me if she needs help. She knows I will fix the situation by either removing her or defending her from whatever is bugging her. That took months to grow, but it's worth the wait and every tear to see her approaching situations that she cowered at before with a raised head and wagging tail. Those moments are my reward :)

MadLab 01-19-2014 08:28 PM

Quote:

as her biological mother would have done. Parks, towns, different streets, train her to use public transport if you can
My female has been great since i got her bus pass. :rolleyes:

Amurphy26 01-20-2014 01:58 AM

Quote:


bad idea -- fraud "train her to use public transport if you can (you would need a harness with a handle for that), " you can not , should not disguise your dog as a seeing eye / guide dog , especially a dog that has issues that will reflect on the real working guide dog or dog-in-training
I don't think he was suggesting passing the dog off as a guide dog. She's walked regularly in a harness and it is nothing like a guide dog harness. She also doesn't wear anything with any signs on that says Guide Dog. There is no way she would be mistaken for a guide dog. It would be a mistake to keep her away from busy places. She's not anxious with loud noises, crowds or people it is only other dogs. She has been really well socialised with people and I don't want to ruin that. We're very lucky in Scotland and dogs are allowed into a number of shops and a lot of pubs.

It might help if I explain part of my problem. In the past I've always raised pups by letting then explore and letting them be independant. Unfortunately I made mistakes with this one and her temperament didn't suit that approach and so I didn't show her that when she's anxious or if she feels under attack (even when I know she isn't) I will be there to protect her, I basically hung her out to dry.

I don't need judged or at this stage advised on what I should of done, believe me I have gone over the last year a million times. I too have always been told not to praise fear and just remove her from the situation. However much I understand this I appreciate what the other poster has said about getting down on her level. I really struggle putting myself between her bad an off lead dog coming towards us. When she's barking and lunging she is really strong. I know I've to try and keep her under threshold but we don't have dog parks in Scotland so off lead dogs are a part of every walk. I don't have a choice in that.

As I said before. I appreciate all advice. I am working hard to help her but her confidence in me is something that really needs extra help.

Thanks again. Lots of food for thought.x



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Baillif 01-21-2014 09:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by madlab (Post 4865081)
my female has been great since i got her bus pass. :rolleyes:

lol


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