View Full Version : My dog is SUCH a Scardy-Cat!

31st January 2008, 02:53 AM
Today, well whenever we have company she gets very depressed and scared. Today I had a couple friends over and she was walking around with her tail in between her legs almost the entire time!:( Sometimes the guests would try to pet her, but she would snap and start growling... she even bit once! Even today when she was out for potty, I stepped in some leaves that made a crunchy noise and she yelped!:neutral: Weird? She's prefectly fine when it's just us, but everytime there is company she hides. It's not that I don't socialize her with other dogs or humans. Iv'e had her met 2 other dogs on my street and a lot of other people.Anyone have this same problem or any help to give? Thanks. By the way, Mya is just over 6 months old, female blenhiem. I also forgot to add in. The day I got her from the breeders she was really excited to meet us as well. ever since then, she's been shy.

31st January 2008, 04:20 AM
Well, I'm not sure if this will help you any but I figured I would add my 2 cents. My 2 boys are almost 5 months and my blenheim is a little skiddish when it comes to other people picking him up but my tri could care less. And also, we had some really bad wind last night and my blenheim was so scared of the wind that when he was pooping he was also trying to tuck his tail between his legs in fear...what a mess that was. I dont' know if I should console him or try to get him mind off of it...I read somewhere if you console them it's like telling them it's good to freak out...Dudley (the blenheim) is also a little stand-off-ish of big dogs...I know why that is though. His first meeting with a bigger dog it scared him. I have since gotten him around other dogs and he's been ok but he has to check out the situation first and if something isn't right he's in my lap curled up in a ball. I'm hoping it's a phase but I'm not sure.

31st January 2008, 04:44 AM
" It's not that I don't socialize her with other dogs or humans. Iv'e had her met 2 other dogs on my street and a lot of other people."

2 dogs is really not a lot of dogs..in my experience. Puppy class is always a good way to socialize puppies. they will get handle and touched by strangers and they can play with puppies their age. :winkct:

31st January 2008, 02:13 PM
My 10 month old blen doesn't do well with people reaching for him or trying to old him. Not even my husband. Surpisingly he does find with other dogs. I didn't get him until he was 6 months so I think he was around a lot of dogs but not a lot of humans. Or that he may have been going though a fear stage when I got him. I watched Cesar the other night that had a dog that was afraid of men on and he had the men hold a treat by them but ignore the dog. So then the dog kept getting the treats but saw that there was no need for fear... or something like that.

31st January 2008, 02:30 PM
Today I had a couple friends over and she was walking around with her tail in between her legs almost the entire time! Sometimes the guests would try to pet her, but she would snap and start growling... she even bit once!

This is really very serious -- snapping and actually biting can be grounds for a complaint that would see her impounded and put down and is never acceptable behaviour for any dog. This is also very abnormal behaviour even for shy cavalier especially for a puppy -- shy dogs don't tend to growl and snap much less bite. Have you spoken to her breeder? Has she seen such behaviour in her lines? Any reputable breeder will really want to know of any odd behaviour that indicates a temperament issue in the line.

First, I would get her health checked to make sure there isn't a problem causing this. It could be pain that is undiagnosed and causing her to growl and snap. I would ask about possible neurological symptoms.

Then I would also immediately arrange for an assessment and temperament test from a certified APDT trainer (you can find one locally at www.apdt.com). This urgently needs to be addressed or you will; end up with an adult with fear aggression. When dogs like this come into rescue it is absolutely the most serious concern I have and I then work with certified behaviouralists.

I cannot stress enough that you need professional help on two fronts to get to the bottom of this: first to clear her for medical problems, and second, to get a proper behaviour and temperament assessment and training help. Until you know exactly what is going on and have a training plan in hand, do not allow her to interact with people. Just crate her or confine her to a quiet room when there are visitors around. I hope you can get a clearer picture of what is a happening and why and a definite plan for helping her to overcome this. :flwr: It will take patience and training time -- Megan was like this initially and it took nearly two months to get her to where she was fine; Murphy (who is now with the Spaniel Trust) had improved in some good ways over two months with Thelly but was still assessed as unhomeable and needed formal training over time. Thankfully the kind people at the Spaniel Trust offered to continue working with him and to help find an appropriate home with an experienced owner. That has literally saved his life.

For your puppy, this will very likely grow into a far worse problem unless steps are taken immediately to work with her professionally.

31st January 2008, 02:56 PM
I agree that socialization is infinately important in this type of situation. Also first and foremost, pain assessment from the vet is also extremely important. I don't think I've ever really met a cavalier that wasn't human social. My advice is to take her EVERYWHERE with you. As embarassing as this is, the bank knows the names of my dogs :rolleyes: So does the paint store, home depot, definately all the pet stores, etc. As looney as I might sound, I ask people who I walk by on the street to pet my dogs (if they will), and I've even stood outside of wal mart with them for socialization before. Crazy? Yes, but did it work? Yes, it did :D (sometimes, a little too much :oops:) Doggy classes were also a LOT of fun.. lots of customers to interact with. :)

if you're scared she'll bite, I might take her out in something like an enclosed stroller (to start out with) so that she gets used to being around people and then work towards getting her used to people . . . baby steps ;)

31st January 2008, 07:45 PM
Thanks for the replies. It's not her health for sure. I had her for a checkup last week and the vet said she was a healthy puppy. I will try to socialize her more though. She really is a sweet-heart. The breeder I got her from is extreemly good with her dogs. When I went to go see her, to pick my dog up, they were so playful and happy. It's been a month iv'e had her and maybe she needs a little more time to get used to her new home? :(

1st February 2008, 04:45 AM
Perhaps, but as Karlin says, it is unusual to find a Cav who reacts as you've described to people. It's understandable in rescue dogs who have been abused, but if your puppy is reacting like this now (and you're sure that you're not simply mistaking puppy play for aggression, but it doesn't sound like it) you do need to follow Karlin's advice re temperament assessment. Apart from anything else, such behaviour in a Cav actually goes against breed standard- that's how people-fixated these dogs usually are! My older Cav certainly qualifies as nervous and neurotic, but even at that, and with a bad start in life, she still adores people - all people!

-Another thought - do you know how much human contact the pup had whilst still at the breeders? I suppose it could also be that she simply isn't used to many people around her, and if all these huge people keep grabbing at her...

4th February 2008, 03:21 AM
Oh wow, I'd be very concerned to have a dog behave in such a manner, no matter how small that dog is. Agree 100% with what Karlin has said about checking to see if there is a medical issue going on.

If there isn't, then this dog needs some intensive socialising. There are two scenarios that I can see as clear as day, both being quite tragic. Your little dog snaps at someone, who then reports it and you have to have her put down. The other, is that a small child puts her face to Mya and received a bite to the face. We must never underestimate the damage that a dog can do, even a small dog like a Cavalier.

After getting the all-clear regarding medical issues, I would take Mya along to some intensive dog training. There she will learn to deal with lots of people and lots of dogs. She will learn about appropriate behaviour and best of all.... it will build her confidence. At the moment she sounds like what we call "a fear biter". That is a very sad thing for both dog and owner.

You can avert tragedy by dealing with this as a very serious issue.


4th February 2008, 11:53 AM
The issue maybe neurological, which can definitely cause temperament changes and a vet will not be able to identify this. Or else, the issue is definitely a temperament problem.

You should not be taking this dog anywhere in public until you figure out what is happening through professional assessments. First off doing so risks terrifying the dog further and making the problem even worse (socialising would be a way of addressing minor shyness but not aggression) or alternatively, running the risk that she will bite and if she bites, you will probably have no option if a complaint is made but to put her down.

Either way, this is the type of dog I would consider an urgent case for assessment on both fronts as this is not normal behaviour -- believe me, I have dealt with dozens of dogs and work closely with professional trainers and if we had a dog behaving like this the options would be to address th situation very urgently if possible or consider having to put down the dog. It would not be considered rehomeable.

I know this will upset you, but you really need to understand how very, very serious a problem it is if a puppy that was at one point normal and friendly is now (at such a young age!) so reactive that someone simply trying to pet it could cause the dog to growl, bite and snap. This isn't just a shy or fearful puppy; there is something much more serious going on. Normally I only see that behaviour in dogs that have been placed in extreme situations or have some medical problem, often, neurological. I have only ever had two rescue dogs that snapped and one was a badly treated puppy farm dog and the other had been attacked, hot by a car, and mistreated by the owner. So it does take a serious trigger for this type of behaviour and you need to find out whether it is medical or temperament to addrss it or you are putting people and your cavalier at risk.

Please ask your vet for a referral for a neurological assessment and make sure it is with a neurologist familiar with cavalier breed health issues, especially PSOM, hydrocephalus and syringomyelia; any of these could cause the pain that might make a dog react defensively if people are reaching for its head. If that shows nothing, then please get in an APDT trainer to do a proper assessment of behaviour and temperament so you can begin to work to resolve this situation. You could get the behaviouralist in before you see a medical specialist as well, as they can often assess whether they think the problem has a medical cause or element.

Let us know what happens; I know you would not want your puppy to be suffering unecessarily if that might be the case, nor to continue in such a state of mental unhappiness that she is feeling she needs to snap and try to bite people. There is some cause for this and if you can find it then you will be able to address it and enjoy your cavalier fully. :flwr: If there is either a behaviour or medical problem you also should report this back to the breeder.