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Up Topic Dog Boards / Behaviour / insecure on lead when not with other dogs from home
- By Nimue [ch] Date 19.02.17 14:30 GMT
Rini (Coton de TulĂ©ar female bred by me) was born on November 21, 2015, and I am hoping to have her qualified for breeding.  For this, she will have to pass a temperament test, and at the moment this looks like it is going to be a problem.  Rini is basically an assertive personality, always getting into this or that, with good relationships to the other 6 dogs she lives with.  The problem is that she feels totally insecure when out on the lead alone with me.  She's fine if another of the dogs she lives with is with her "down there", but if it is just the two of us, she acts fearful.  This despite untold numbers of attempts on my part to alleviate this (going for walks with the other dogs, giving her snacks and rewards, going for walks alone with her, etc.).  I don't know why she feels so insecure and fearful.  At home she is a little devil.  Does anyone have any ideas or experience about how I could help her feel better?  We'll never pass the test if she acts this way, and that would be a shame, as she is a very nice example of the breed, has all her teeth, perfect patellas, etc.
- By Gundog Girl [gb] Date 21.02.17 12:19 GMT
Hi Nimue, I am not familiar with your breed and have not come across this behaviour before, but I just thought that you need to be careful you aren't in some way reinforcing the negative behaviour (treats etc when out alone with her) she acts fearful so you give her a treat. At home is she ever just in a room on her own, away from the other dogs? Could this behaviour be a kind of separation anxiety issue? Sorry I can't help more, hope you get better advice from other forum members.
- By Merlot [gb] Date 21.02.17 14:01 GMT
I think you need to take it back to basics with her, can you have access to somewhere to sit with her very close to home (A front garden) and take a chair out and just sit quietly with her on a lead. If she is still fearful then move the chair back to the doorway or inside a hall so she can see out but is more relaxed. Then its a case of each day move the chair 6 inches nearer to the frightening place (ie the street) until she will happily sit out and watch the world go by. The knack is to never go so far as to make her worried, very very slowly does it. Once she feel comfortable in the garden then try walking her through the gate to the street, one step out then home, each day an extra step. Never push it, better to do one day 3-4-5 times before moving on than to try too hard and go backwards. Reward each extra step but just ignore her if she panics and step back into comfortable territory.
- By monkeyj [gb] Date 21.02.17 14:37 GMT
With my two girls I noticed two things that affect their confidence, that could perhaps be of help?

One of the girls is quite lazy on our walks, and never pulls unless there is a squirrel or something similarly exciting. Except when we go to a new place where she hasn't been before. She becomes less relaxed then, a bit more apprehensive, and starts pulling slightly as if saying "yes it very nice around here but let's just move on just in case". Second time we visit this place she is much more relaxed, and third time no problems at all.

So one thing I would suggest is choosing a nice place for your walk with your girl which she would enjoy, and go there few times with her and another dog, repeating exactly the same route. And then try and do that route with her alone, and see if that might make a difference. The idea is that she really looks forward to a walk, and that it is a totally familiar place that she love to visit.

With my other girl she is sweet and energetic, and being a terrier she loves those little "confrontations" when she meets other dogs on the walk. No aggression or anything just being boisterously playful and full of beans. I noticed that in the beginning of our walk she pulls towards any dog she sees, bursting with energy and wanting to show off. By the end of the walk however this is no more, while still trotting happily and lively she is would actually rather avoid saying "hello" to other dogs. I figured this might very well to do with tiredness, which seems a natural thing to do for an animal; when tired, it's better avoid confrontations.

So my other suggestion would be to ensure you only go for walks and train to improve the confidence when your girl is fresh and full of energy, in the morning would seem to be the best.

I actually too use treats to help with confidence with my first girl. When we go to a new place my pockets are always full, and from time to time as we walk I would call her and give her a treat and kiss her on the nose, and we would continue walking. I do it as a small distraction, to remind her that I'm here that she is loved and safe, and that it's nice to be out together and nothing to worry about. It absolutely works as for a time after each such distraction she is walking more relaxed.
- By Nikita [gb] Date 21.02.17 17:29 GMT Upvotes 4
You cannot reinforce fear in that way so do not worry about accidentally increasing it with a badly-timed treat.  What you can do is give her a positive experience to associate with an event and this can happen even if she is already scared (e.g. if she was frightened of traffic but got a treat every time a car went past, slowly cars would become good things), although it's better if she's not, of course.

It's similar to the dentist thing: going to the dentist is scary for a young kid but the lollipop at the end still makes it a better experience for them, without making their fear worse.

Familiarity and routine certainly help with most nervous dogs - the key to their lives is to make everything as predictable as possible, so they can cope with it better.

I must say though, even if you did improve her nervousness, I would never consider breeding from a dog like this.  Assuming she's been well socialised and there's no bad experience to have triggered this (and your description suggests there wasn't) then to me, that is not a sound dog to be included in the gene pool.  A sound, well-rounded dog might not be as extroverted without their companions present but they should not be obviously fearful like that.
Up Topic Dog Boards / Behaviour / insecure on lead when not with other dogs from home

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