jumpy dog..training suggestions?

  1. I've had my dog for over 2 years now and she's always been jumpy/scared/cautious (got her from a shelter when she was 8-10 wks old)...like when I first saw her she was in a foster home with her sister and her sister was running around playing with us while she hid under the BBQ grill. The foster parents said when they first got her she was crying for nights and was scared to come out and they just let her come out when she was ready two days later.

    Up until now she doesn't like to be petted over her head..she doesn't mind under her mouth but you gotta go slow...any sudden movements and she will run away and hide. She's not really scared now but I'm noticing that any movements i make she runs away. I think i might have scared the beejeezus out of her by accident a couple of weeks ago too...i was on my computer and she was lying down behind me and i put my hand behind my chair to pet her and I guess b/c the chair was blocking me she didn't know what touched her and she bolted my room. Now i can't even get her to come in my room.

    any suggestions on what i can do?I need to get her confidence up.
  2. What does your vet say? It seems like she is suffering from anxiety, which I think can be dealt with through a behavioural therapist. How is she with other dogs?
  3. My chihuahua acts like this too. I got her when she was 3 months old and when we pet her over her head, she kinda ducks and squints her eyes or if I bend down and try to reach over to her, she'll back up really quick. She also doesn't like it when we try to clean her ears or cut her nails (idk why though because we played with her ears and paws a lot when she was a pup so she should have gotten used to it) and she usually responds to "Daisy, come here" but she'll just come over, stand by the door and watch me. If I want to get her into the room, I'd have to bribe her with treats.

    Whenever someone comes home (or comes over to the house), she'll get really excited and start doing her happy dance and her tail wags so fast that it looks like it's a bout to fall off. LOL - also, when she was a puppy, she would pee whenever she got excited, she's 17 months old now and still does it sometimes. It definitely has something to do with anxiety but I would also love to hear some advice from other members!

    Sorry if I'm sort of thread jacking but I'm just SO glad my dog is not the only one.
  4. Some dogs are just like this - either because they're born this way, or something has happened to them in the past to trigger this behaviour.

    You can continue to treat her lovingly and carefully, but don't make a big deal out of things. If you guys play in the yard, leave her a treat ball filled with treats (whatever she likes) and leave it in her sights. If she comes out to play with it, again, don't make a big deal out of it, don't congratulate her or yell and jump - just let her do her thing.

    Perhaps you could start small, by playing with her at close range (in the lounge room, on your bed, on the couch etc). Just start with hugs and pats and cuddles, then progress very slowly (over a few weeks) to little wrestles and maybe some tug-o-war games. You are not only building her confidence here, you are building her trust.

    Unfortunately, many dogs do not grow out of this. They gett better, but are never "not jumpy." Start by giving your vet a call for more suggestions. He/she may also give your doggy the once-over to make sure she's healthy and then if things are really bad, they might prescribe anti-anxiety medication. I would avoid medication, though, as it's better to do it through interaction with your dog. This will take HEAPS of patience and a few months' work could be undone in half a second, but stick with it and she'll improve!
  5. When I saw this thread I thought you would be talking about my dog's thing (jumpy -- but more so jumping on people). But this is different.

    One thing I have been told is to not coddle or react when my dog knocks something over and scares herself. Dogs take a lot of how they should react from their 'pack' aka you and your family. Also, if my pup falls or something ... I am not supposed to make a big deal of it (just like you would with kids). These have been hard to do since I am very protective of her, but I do notice that she is getting better about sounds and things since I started actively trying this.

    Other than that the only other thing I can think of is positive reinforcement and letting your dog change slowly at their pace. Good luck!
  6. i think something happened to her when she was a baby...when I was adopting her the lady that is head of the shelter said that they rescued her from the USA (i'm in Canada)..and her, her bro and sis and mom were on their way to be put down before they were rescued..so maybe during the handling wherever they were when they were young was the cause?!

    hmm..maybe i'll just be more gentle and give the vet a call...the vet HAS seen her twice (or more) and know she's jumpy but never suggested anything to me...hmmm..
  7. Sounds like my dog's little sister! He is nearly eight years old and that is the way he is.

    A bit of theory on how dogs evolved from the wild. The one that sounds right to me is dogs came about as humans settled into permanent homes and so developed garbage dumps. Before the dogs could wait and get the goodies after humans moved on but now only the bravest dogs with the shorter flight distances got the good stuff. In only a few generations dogs tamed themselves and got closer and closer to the givers of good stuff. The appearance of the dogs changed with this change in behavior, floppy ears and parti colored coats appeared. There is a fascinating study with fur foxes that shows the profound changes in appearance that happen with the behavior changes.

    To the present. I have a cute dog with floppy ears but definitely has a much longer flight distance than the successful garbage dump dogs. My dog and probably yours is just on one end of the scale. I am not happy about this but I think it is probably genetic.

    You can improve this with loads of training. Didn't work with my dog as he wouldn't eat if overwhelmed. I learned about going slow too late. Perhaps if I had been able to go his speed things would have worked out better.

    You can learn good dog body language. This has helped me quite a lot. Look away from stuff that could be causing anxiety instead of focusing on it. When on walks arc away from oncoming things which are pretty much always scary. I cross the street a lot on my walks. Do not face the anxious dog. Petting as a reward has to be learned and many dogs don't like it.

    Try getting a hold of "The Other End of the Leash" by Patricia McConnell. Very helpful book. There are more but that one is excellent.

    Oh, your dog may figure out that chair won't eat her. My dog was positive the empty car trailer was going to eat him first time he saw it and the next time we went by it didn't care at all. My other dog would see a new thing, go up and sniff it. The scared one, freak out - bark, cower, try to run away. After that strong reaction, he was fine the next time he saw it, pretty good latent learning I guess.

    Agility is my dog's safe place. People understand not to go up and pet the cute spaniel mix. They don't confront him when he barks to make them go away. He has an important job which he knows how to do.

    I suggest read the book. Find a job for your dog. Mine has a new one. He goes to find his sister who is hard of hearing. Her job used to be find the dinner bowl so she could get dinner. The job has to be real and build on something the dog likes to do. If your dog doesn't have a crate or special safe place find one for her. You can work with her from that place. And just love her, it is the way she is. I think I need to understand my dog rather than train him out of it.