View Full Version : Afraid of other dogs

25th December 2007, 07:27 AM
Sorry this is so long...My dog Bailey seems to be afraid of other dogs, usually regardless of their size or breed (though he does go right up to other cavaliers that are adults, and german shepherds for some reason lol). I thought we did a good job socializing him as a puppy, and I really don't know what I can do to help him overcome this fear (you may have recently seen my post on him not getting along with a friend's pup that is very outgoing, and from the same breeder). I take him to the park as frequently as I can.

I've decided to start dog walking (only one dog at a time), and when I introduced him to a VERY passive shih tzu at the owner's request, he still seemed very skittish. Thankfully the dog is very well trained, and when Bailey seemed uncomfortable, she would lay on her belly to show him she was safe. I don't plan on taking him with me when I walk other dogs, at least while he is shy like this.

Could he just be this way for life, or are there ways to overcome it? He just turned 1.5 years old, and we plan on enrolling him in obedience/agility classes in the next month or two (though I am again a bit nervous of this because of his fear of other dogs). He also seems to whine a lot when around other dogs. He does do great with people, he's a big licker, but whines if they don't give him attention. What can I do to help him? Any advice would be welcomed.

Happy Holidays everyone!!

Edit: I meant to add, I was mauled by a dog Christmas 2006 while visiting Hawaii, so I tend to be a bit tense around large dogs, though not medium and small. Though he has been this way since we got him, I am afraid that it is somewhat my fault he is so nervous, if he can sense my fear. I am also doing my absolute very best to overcome this fear.

25th December 2007, 05:22 PM
Edit: I meant to add, I was mauled by a dog Christmas 2006 while visiting Hawaii, so I tend to be a bit tense around large dogs, though not medium and small. Though he has been this way since we got him, I am afraid that it is somewhat my fault he is so nervous, if he can sense my fear. I am also doing my absolute very best to overcome this fear.

What a frightening experience you had. Glad to see you're working on overcoming your fears.

It's very likely Bailey is picking up on your nervousness & taking his lead from you. You are his leader, so he needs to feel a calm energy emanating from you when in the presence of other dogs. Since you seem comfortable around the shih-tzu, maybe you can have Bailey meet with the shih-tzu several more times?

I'm curious to see forumer's suggestions because Sasha is also nervous around dogs, and I love dogs. I try to create opportunities for Sasha to meet other dogs whenever possible (the pet store, friends, & a walk w/ a neighborhood dog) but it only amounts to 2-3 of times a week. Still, it seems to help.

Clearly Sasha prefers people over dogs, though!

25th December 2007, 05:51 PM
The fear you feel around other dogs is surely a part of it, dogs pick up on our energy so if you're afraid of other dogs, it'll only make Bailey's fear worse. I'm hoping this doesn't sound to harsh, I know how hard it can be, but if you can get past your fear and pass a confident calm feeling down the leash to Bailey, it'll definatly help. I would also recommend getting a good, reputable, experienced behaviorist to help you work with Bailey, fear isn't healthy for you or him, and a good behavorist will be able to give you good, personalized advice and training methods once s/he has evaluated Bailey and seen the reaction in person. I truely believe that'll be the best way to help Bailey :) Good luck, I had a springer that came to me very afraid of other dogs, and it was no easy fix, but with patience, love, and the guidence of a good behaviorist, eventually she got past it.

25th December 2007, 06:22 PM
Thank you for the suggestions so far. I am very confident when approaching medium and small dogs, it's mainly the very large 60 lbs+ that scare me, so I can see how that may affect him, though there are times he is afraid of even a chihuahua. When my boyfriend takes him out for a walk without me, he reacts the same way. I am not sure where to find a behaviorist as you suggested, but I will definitely try and look into it, thanks.

(PS -CavyMom, I am trying *very* hard with therapy etc. to overcome the fear, but I've had a couple reconstructive facial plastic surgeries this year, which has slowed me down at times.)

25th December 2007, 07:00 PM
I understand, I really do :) While the visable damage isn't as severe - I as also attacked by a Golden Retreiver years ago, and it's taken me a long time to work past my fear of the breed, sadly that's what happens when back yard breeders and mills get ahold of dogs - They don't care about temperment or health problems, and it creates unstable, dangerious dogs! It's not an easy thing to get past!!! As funny as it sounds - The best way to help get Bailey past this is to walk her more, make sure she sees you as the pack leader, and keep her well exercised - A tired mind is much easier to work with then an excited, anxious mind.

Here's a few tips from my work with rescues that really helps - Get someone to help you (maybe the shih tzu's owner?), and start very slowly - slowly get her closer to the other dog and reward her for being calm, NEVER reward or pay attention to her when she's upset, this will intensify the behavior. Eventually you can get her closer and closer to the other dog without a reaction until she'll be right next to the other dog without showing fear, then you can take it from there and she can eventually learn to enjoy the company of other dogs - However, I still stand by my original recommendation of getting a behaviorist involved to help you learn exactly how to reach her and work with her - Make sure they use ONLY positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement often only makes the anxiety worse.

25th December 2007, 07:05 PM
Thanks CavyMom. The owner of the shih tzu was VERY kind and patient with him, and also said I can bring him with me to the park with her dog if I wanted. I think maybe on Sundays when my boyfriend is off from work, and I have him to also be there, maybe I will take the two for walks. He did sniff her, which he normally wouldn't do, and she kept bringing her toys to Bailey, and was a very nice, gentle dog, so maybe that would be a great start. I will try and find out from the owner where she has taken her dog for training etc. and maybe I can find some help for Bailey there.


26th December 2007, 01:53 PM
The obedience class will likely help a lot. :) Also trying to have some play time with friendly dogs. Some dogs are just shy and this may be the temperament of the dog or it can be due to a bad experience at some point when younger. I wouldn't worry about getting in special trainers at this stage -- just let your dog naturally meet as many other dogs as possible and t hen, talk to the instructor when you start an obedience class. Young dogs are often a lot shyer and more deferential around adults than they are as adult dogs. My two males are not too interested in interacting with other dogs, even as adults -- not afraid or shy but just a bit indifferent unless they get to know the dog really well.

26th December 2007, 05:26 PM
We've had this too. When we were out and met another dog, I'd explain the situation to the other owner, and if they said it was ok, I'd go up, pet the other dog, and tell my girl that there was nothing to be afraid of. I'd sit down on the curb and talk with the other owner and the other dog--according to Turid Rugaas, sitting down is a way of calming your dog down. It took about two months but she started to get over it. The final help was that we had to go away for a few nights and checked her into a doggy hotel which is also a doggy creche. We explained the situation to the owner who took real time with her to introduce her to the dogs in the creche very slowly, and she was able to sleep in the home with the family and their own dogs. Not everyone is that lucky to have such a good dog hotel in their town, but my point is to take it slowly and confidentally, and before you start the class explain the situation to the teacher so that s/he can help you through it.

Good luck.

26th December 2007, 06:48 PM
Thanks for everyone's input! I start dog walking that Shih Tzu today, and she suggested I bring Bailey along, and I think I might do that, because he never seemed scared of her, just cautious, which is a big improvement. I only take him to the park 2-3 times a week, but if I think I am going to try for 5-7 times a week, and my boyfriend and I are looking into some doggy classes. I will update everyone on his progress :)

27th December 2007, 11:34 PM
I took Bailey with me dog walking for the past two days, and it has gone great! He has been going up to other dogs. Being around the Shih Tzu seems to be giving him more confidence. Today they walked side by side like old friends :) I am glad she is so well behaved, I think this will help so much!

28th December 2007, 10:55 AM
Thats great news - progress already :)

28th December 2007, 01:57 PM
That's great news!!!!!!