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Gomer Makes Progress!

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Our sweet little dude, Gomer, is now about 10 1/2 months old. He's become much more bonded to us and is now actually coming to us at the dog park. He has also discovered the joys of chasing a frisbee (he's only been doing it for a week but you'd think it's been months). He's also started to hold still when we love on him instead of trying to turn it into a play session. It's fun to watch the puppy turn into the Border Collie, especially when the Frisbee or tennis ball flinger comes out! :rolleyes:


I do have a question about (people) socialization. Gomer gets along well with other dogs at the dog park and in other situations. However, he is very skittish around new people. Taking him to the vet is a challenge because he doesn't want to get near the doc or any of the techs. If I'm walking him and we approach a person (without a dog), he will do his best to evade. In fact, on a recent run I took with him, he wanted so badly to get away from some kids who were waiting at the bus stop that he almost ran into the path of a car (thank god for the leash).


As a reminder, we rescued him when he was 7 mos old and I don't think he had a lot of positive interaction with people before we came along. Any advice as to how to desensitize him to his people paranoia?

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Sounds like good progress. It's always nice when you get to see your dog grow like that!


I was wondering, how is he with people he doesn't know coming into the house, like when you guests over and stuff like that? Does he act the same way? We usually get people to come in and sit on the floor with her and give her treats, first from me and then from them, she usually warms up to them pretty quickly. (good thing we have understanding friends!!!) She isn't like Gomer is when out and about though, so it may take a lot more work than that. She is unsure of strangers on the street, she will watch them until past and then do a quick turn around to get some scent from them. If he's like this with people in your house, it would be a good place to start.


You could also "stage" situations on your walks where you meet someone you know, but he doesn't and when the come near they can toss tasty little treats for him and walk away. I don't know if you've read "Cautious Canine" by Patricia O'Connell, but that booklet has more things like this and how to deal with dogs who are leery of strangers. It's really good. Turid Ragaas also has some stuff on calming techniques and dog body language. Again, most of this stuff may have to involve a stranger you know, but your dog doesn't, so that might actually be the tricky part. Finding a friend to help you.


I don't know if you've tried any of this already, but these are what I have had good experiences with. He's young still, so not a lost cause, but if he's been treated poorly, it might take him a while to come around.



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Thanks for the advice. Is that booklet something I could find on Amazon?


Gomer tends to shy away from new people who come into the house, but he eventually warms up to them, especially if they play with him (we have understanding friends too).


We could "stage" some introductions by bringing him into our shop during quiet times when we know we'll have just a few customers or sales reps around and not a big crowd. But I think I'll try to find that booklet first. I don't want to traumatize him any more than necessary!

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My female bc went through a stage at ~9 mo where she did not like strangers and acted fearful/aggressive around new people. I began taking her everywhere with me and made trips to my vets office where they would let me sit in the corner of waiting room and I would let Zoey just watch people come and go. The girls in the office know me and knew why I was there. When she acted more comfortable I let them give her treats when I told her it was okay. If you take her to work just watch her for cues if she is feeling overwhelmed. Something I had to pay attention to was not communicate any emotions to her. Now at 15 mo she is doing fantastic. I also read "Cautious Canine" and felt it was a great resource. Good luck.

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I love it when I find a thread where my experience might actually help someone else!


Definitely read "Cautious Canine," and I second the recommendation to order TOEOTL by McConnell, to, so you get free shipping. She was the author who helped me most with my very fearful dog.


Early on, I couldn't let Buddy near anyone - he'd bark and growl and try to get away. I quickly learned that if we were in a park and walked behind a group of people/dogs, Buddy felt secure. I did a lot of walking behind early on, to desensitize him.


But to work with letting people approach, I carried tiny treats in my left pocket constantly, and I still do to this day! Anytime I met a dog-friendly person, I'd explain that he was very shy, and would they mind giving him a treat? (Early on, I had to request that they not look him in the eye, too, but at some point he stopped reacting very strongly to that signal, and I could let them look at him.) Dog people were always very happy to comply, and loved feeling like they were doing something for the dog. The idea is to get the dog to equate humans with a very strong positive situation.


It took a long time - months and months - but eventually, Buddy stopped being fearful of strangers. He'll still flinch away when a stranger tries to pet him over his head, but he will actually sometimes approach humans willingly, if they have good dog body langugage. He's never going to be a golden retriever or a yellow lab, but he passes as normal most of the time, now.


Good luck. You can definitely do it! Good for you for recognizing potential problems and being willing to look for advice on how to work around them!



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Thanks to everyone for all of your help. Now this will make you laugh...we already have a copy of The Other End of the Leash. This is how well our friends/family know us as dog people; they're always giving us dog books. I'll dust it off and have a look at it and order McConnell's other stuff from Amazon.


I'll report back when I can!

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