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post #1 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-01-2009, 12:21 AM Thread Starter
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Overly sensitive?

I've noticed that Bianca seems really sensitive to certain tones of voice and being reprimanded. I am not sure what to do about this? She seems to keep her ears back a lot and her tail down. If I tell her "no" or "uh-uh" she will act very appeasing/submissive or even depressed/worried. I am wondering if she may have been trained using harsher methods than she needed and this may have caused it?

When she gets in the way if I am doing something, I sometimes will tell her to "go to your bed" or "go lay down" and she always slinks away as if I just yelled at her or something... I always feel bad when she does this because I am not trying to reprimand her, I just want her to get out of the way so I can tie my shoes or play with the cat or something without her right there trying to lick my hands and get in the way... She just seems really sensitive and I am not sure what to do to make her realize that she doesn't have to be so nervous or upset if I tell her not to do something? I am hoping to take an agility class to boost her confidence but I am not sure what else to do...


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post #2 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-01-2009, 12:26 AM
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Re: Overly sensitive?

Maybe you're right about previous training. But, how about when you tell her to to something and she slinks away, you follow her to where she gets out of the way, for example, and treat her and talk to her soothingly, showing how happy you are with her behavior. I think that after some time, she'l realize you're not the a$$ that was probably too harsh on her.

Keep your chin up. There's a good side to everything. She'll probably be alot easier to train because she'll feel your love more rather than fear your wrath, you know what I mean?

Hope this helps.

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post #3 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-01-2009, 12:38 AM
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Re: Overly sensitive?

overly sensitive -- certainly could be from previous methods that were too harsh for her. could be her nature. could be a response to vaccination. could be a tick disease.

How old is she and how long have you had her? How easily does she make eye contact?

ETA: I agree with MLR, immediate positive rewards for appropriate responses. I would be careful not to coddle or use too many words though, if that makes sense.


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post #4 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-01-2009, 12:51 AM
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Re: Overly sensitive?

I think some dogs are just like this.
Dante 99.9% of the time needs nothing more than an Uh-uh for a correction - and he's never been harshly treated

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post #5 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-01-2009, 01:26 AM
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Re: Overly sensitive?

I have to agree. I've had a couple of fosters that I just have to place my hands on my hips and they go into "shame" mode. Ilan has a tendancy to get upset if she hears people yelling on the TV. All of my dogs were trained using pos. reinforcement.

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post #6 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-01-2009, 01:58 AM
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Re: Overly sensitive?

Try changing your tone of voice and setting her up for success all of the time. Make everything into a game and speak in a high, happy voice. Become a treat dispenser. I've had several dogs who were sensitive and when I made these changes they really responded well.

For confidence building try this game: http://www.clickertraining.com/node/167

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post #7 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-01-2009, 02:20 AM
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Re: Overly sensitive?

One of the things I've found that helps with sensitive dogs is to use a voice that is a bit higher and sillier when you're asking them to do something. In order to do this, I use phrases like "silly girl, go lay down somewhere else" instead of just "go lay down" (which can often come out in a harsher tone than you want to a sensitive dog). If I use something like "silly girl" or "goofy dog" or "fluffbutt" (one of my favorites with the chows), it's hard to sound mean! My voice automatically goes up a bit and sounds happy.

I have a "school marm" voice that can sound very authoritative at times and when I got a sensitive dog I found that just my voice made her crumble. So I developed the silly voice more and it was a huge help. The dogs I have now aren't very sensitive for the most part and I can say "go lay down" without a problem, but I kind of like calling them silly names .. *LOL*.. I also make silly names out of their names, like calling Trick "Trickaroo" and Tazer "Tazerboo" and Khana "Khanabanana" and Dora "Adorable Doggie". It's just plain hard to sound harsh when you're using names like those.

Ahhh, the power of the voice!

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post #8 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-01-2009, 03:12 AM Thread Starter
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Re: Overly sensitive?

She is 4 1/2 and I've had her since the end of December.
I wonder if maybe this is why she didn't complete Schutzhund training at her last home? Maybe the training was too forceful for her temperament?
I sometimes will say "good girl!" (in a high pitched/happy voice) when she heads towards her bed after I tell her to go lay down because I feel bad that she is slinking away with her ears back. The only problem with that is that when she hears that she comes right back over to me, and then she is back in the way of whatever I was doing. :P
She seems to be sensitive to *positive* tones of voice as well. If I sound the least bit like I might be calling her or praising her she will rush over. I guess that is a good thing but sometimes I am trying to call one of my foster kittens or something and Bianca thinks I am praising her so she comes over and sits in the way and then the kitten won't come... I try to give her a lot of praise to try to get her to seem more confident instead of walking around with her ears down all the time but she still seems worried when I give her a command even though I praise her when she follows it. We're going to start a positive reinforcement based training class soon so hopefully that will help.


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post #9 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-01-2009, 09:36 AM
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Re: Overly sensitive?

I had a rescue dog like this and we did agility, obedience and two tricks classes. All of them helped a bunch but the tricks really, really made the difference. We taught tricks with clickers so it was a positive experience. If she is sensitive to negativity then she will aslo be able to tell when she makes people happy with tricks. His favorites were were "bang your dead" and hitting an easy button with his paw when i would ask "was that hard?" ! It gave him control over our emotions because he would always make us laugh!
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post #10 of 19 (permalink) Old 03-01-2009, 09:40 AM
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Re: Overly sensitive?

Sounds like the previous situation was not positive.

I like the above recommendations on the tricks and agility.

Sometimes it is the dog, but if it was for an extended period of time, even a stronger dog would have issues.


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