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Super Shy Guy

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Hi all :)

I've realized over the past two months of owning Ziggy (11 months) that he is extremely shy around people. Usually he seems worse around men than women, but today a woman my age asked to pet him and when she took a step towards him, ZOOM!, he ran as far from her as the leash would allow. She was petite and did not seem like the kind of person that would send him running, but I guess I was wrong :P Not even a treat would coax him her direction and that's saying something for a dog that is so food driven. During obedience the trainer will hold his leash while we work on recalls and he nearly bowls me over trying to get away from her and back to me. He's allowed a couple of people at petsmart to give him treats and pet him, but if it's a guy forget it. He's allowed women to pet him occasionally at the dog park, otherwise he'll try and sniff whoever is there and then take off as soon as they notice him. It's funny because he will pull to sniff people on walks, but as soon as they move towards him he's behind me. It seems like he wants to figure them out, but he doesn't want them go near him. I'm not really sure how to break this because I'm not really close to anyone out here to help me socialize him and in a month he's going to fly to my home ahead of me and be in the care of my family until I get there. I don't know if anyone has any suggestions/experience with this kind of situation.




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Schrev, as far as the flying your boy ahead of you, a few ideas: ask your family to send you some used bath towels or a few items of clothing that they have worn. He can at least get to know their scent, which might help a little. If you can record their voices and play them for him several times, that might help, too. Send them a couple week before he flies off, a piece or two of clothing that you have recently worn, and if he has bedding, send some of that, too. It probably won't make a big difference, but might help. The thing that might make the biggest difference is explaining to them how shy and fearful he is, and what you want them to do.


For him being with you until he goes, here's what I do with my shy dogs -

*Teach a 'look at that' command. Dog looks at scary person or object, turns back to you and gets rewarded.

*Teach a 'check it out' command. Dog goes up to scary person or object, sniffs, turns back to you and gets rewarded. With this you may need to go up and touch the scary trash can or plastic bag or what have you to get him to check it out at first.


These two cues will go a long way towards building his trust in you. Don't hurry him, even though you've got this looming deadline. If you can videotape these cues for your family to watch, or at least explain them, they might be able to work with him a bit until you get there.


You can't break this, he'll likely never be the life of the party. BUT, he can be taught to be more at ease and more trusting of whatever it is you ask him to do.


Good luck!


Ruth and Agent Gibbs, who is a recovering shy dog himself and has come a looooong way

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Thank you for the reply, this is all very helpful :) I'll start having my family talk to him over speakerphone and work on "look at that" more. I like the idea of them having something I've worn to reassure him, pretty sure he'll get over it when I get there but it's going to be a whirlwind of change, especially with two guys around. I'm crossing my fingers this will be a chance to get him more used to guys. I definitely don't want to push him too much, we've had a lot of construction around so a lot of workers all in one place, and I've had to detour around my building because he didn't seem too keen on passing through them. On a lighter note, there was a child's scooter car (the kind with a big smiley face on the front) in the middle of the sidewalk and from at least thirty feet he stopped dead in his tracks and would not budge. When I realized what it was that had him terrified I was in stitches, even thought it probably wasn't fun for him :P Seems we've got a lot to work on.

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