Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Need tips for a timid dog / dog intros

Ok, so I've been all pictures and no talk. Today I am all talk, no pictures. Miss Shelby is settling in as best as a scared dog possibly can. That's where I need YOUR help.

I don't know if Shelby has lived inside a home, but she is potty trained. On night #1 there were no treats interesting enough to get her to venture outside with. She held it all night long. The next morning, I physically had to drag her every few feet, praise and love her, repeat, until we moved past our big bad pool to get to the yard (which was out of sight due to the layout of our yard). Once she saw the grass, she was thrilled and got down to business. Once done, she darted past the big bad pool, shaking, tail tucked, to the back door waiting to get back to the safety of our master bedroom. Last night and this morning it was easier to get her to the yard, but probably because the hard food switch and treats gave her the big D. Amazing that she held it like she did all day and most of the evening.

She likes to lay under my desk or in the safety of the ex pen we set up when we realized that asking her to climb up stairs to a plastic airline crate just wasn't a good choice for her right now. She will explore parts of the house with me, but shakes and tail tucks quite a bit. She and Bellona have met through the ex pen and have shared the same room while awake and sleeping while safely seperated by the ex pen. I have been praising and rewarding them both for good behavior. Bellona however likes to talk a lot and her talking is very growly. I try to redirect her and or have her move when she does that because I can't tell if it is further stressing Shelby out.

Last night, the babysitter who comes over so that I can study 2x a week opened the baby gate I had up keeping Shelby in the room with me and Bellona in the rest of the house. I didn't hear her do this (on the phone with the rescue) and turned around to see Bellona investiagating the contents of the ex pen. Shelby was under my chair and didn't move an inch and made no sounds which is a good thing- I think. I ushered Bellona out just to be cautious. I like dog intros slow and steady. Which gets me to thinking, if I can't get Shelby out of the bedroom, let alone the house, how can I intro them on neutral turf like I typically would after a long walk together? Add to that Shelby is HW+ and I don't want to over extert her or stress her out.

I'd love any tips you have for easing a soft and timid dog into a home. I am being patient with her but would love any insight on bringing her out of her shell and integrating her into our home so we can make her a wonderful family pet for someone. I am so used to pushy, dominant, stubborn dogs that I feel a bit lost with this sweet soul. I really appreciate the help my blogger friends.


  1. Try using hotdogs, cheese or chicken as treats. I have found these have worked in the past with dogs that haven't wanted to take a traditional treat. Also, you can give smaller peices of a reward which will limit her stomach aches. Other than that, there are no real quick tips... takes a lot of time with a very timid dog. Soon she will learn that life will be good from now on and that anywhere she goes, she will be safe. I think allowing them to see/smell each other through the gates is a great idea until Shelby gets stronger.
    -Corbin's momma, Jenn

  2. Have you heard of the two week shut down? I think it might be helpful for helping her aclimate/adjust to being in a house.

    I don't follow it to a T, but I think the general premise is a good one.

    Time and stinky treats are obviously your best friends. :)

    Good luck! She's adorable.

    ~Carlos' foster mom

  3. Carlos- I have missed you! Please update your blog or come to the board and fill us in.

  4. Is it possible she might be more toy driven than food? Mesa was locked in a crate all day by her first owner when we got her but once we learned she liked a tennis ball more than food (seriously, hold a ball and throw cheese at the dog and she ignores the cheese) we were able to make large leaps and bounds in her training. We also used Baily to show an example of what we wanted Mesa to do.


  5. I would suggest that for now you keep Shelby's world small so that she settles, relaxes and importantly learns to trust.

    I would keep eye contact to a minimum with her..eye contact means pressure.
    Lots of soft gentle praise spoken to her. Spend time sitting by her crate or in the room with her reading a book or magazine without interacting with her. Just being a calm reassuring presence.

    This may seem hard especially as human nature you want to cuddle her and tell her everything will be alright and she can trust you.

    I agree keeping Bellona on the other side of a gate or crate so they can see each other from a distnace for now. Introductions, exploring the house etc can wait for now.

    Everything will be alright with time and patience. Small gentle step..and you will be hugely rewarded by how she will respond.

    Hope this helps.

    The Thuglets Mum

  6. Hey there - our first dog wasn't that scared but she's definitely a shy and timid dog. We found stuffed animals helped. She carries them around almost like a security blanket or at least she used to when she was young. She still will search the living room for something to carry upstairs with her when we go up for bed. She doesn't play with them, just likes having them next to her.

    And the overall best thing we did for her (she had some fear aggression issues) was to adopt a second dog. The second dog is really outgoing and has helped our first girl to be more comfortable around new people. So, maybe Bellona will be really good for her!