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Good evening everyone!

 

i have a really quick question which i will supply with background first.

 

about two months ago i adopted a 4 year old border collie with social anxiety. Shes completely non aggressive BUT she is terrified of people she doesnt know. It took me two weeks of treats and time to get her used to me. but once she is used to you shes the most loving dog ive ever owned. When i first brought her home all she would do was hide outside all day or hide in a corner all day. terrified and running away from me at all cost. now shes perfect with me but like that with every new person she meets. I understand how basically to train her. which was to expose her to these situations but ensuring that each experience was a positive one. I also understand this road may never end. all i want is some tips or anything that will help ease her fear of new people. She doesnt have to LOVE everyone. i just want her to be able to be in the same room as a new person and not be stressed out. its unhealthy. so if anyone has any ideas i would be glad and willing to take any and all of them :D thanks so much!

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I had the same situation with my dog when I first got her at 7 mos. She actually bonded with me and my dog-walker rather quickly but was extremely shy and sometimes suspicious of anyone else. She's six now and is more outgoing every day.

 

By the time she was two she had half-a-dozen human friends - people she would greet readily, and with affection. Now she only seems shy of a few people, and I've identified triggers -people who are loud, or smell of cigarettes are big turn-offs for her. (Me too.)

 

The main thing is get people to leave her alone. No leaning toward the dog, looking at the dog, chirping to the dog, reaching for the dog, etc. Tell them to pretend she's not in the room - even if she comes over for an exploratory sniff.

 

For some reason the average person seems to find all this nearly impossible. But for your dog's sake you must insist. Fend off the "Oh, I love dogs! We'll be fine!" types. She needs you to buffer her from unwanted attention. She'll come around to an individual much more quickly if they let her do all the first moves. (and second and third.) When she starts to become excited to see a person, then you can allow more overtures from that person. Everyone else must be completely passive and let her call the shots.

 

My point of view. YMMV.

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I truly appreciate the advice!

 

I was just looking for tips because i knew how to get her to be ok with me. but i was not 100% sure on how to guide her on being ok with other people.

 

last month when people came over she would bark (not aggressive, but more of an alert-the-pack bark, if that makes sense) and run around outside. now she just quietly views from outside the sliding glass door, just outside her doggie door.

 

But i can completely see what you mean. Many people with their own views on how to train a dog. it is quite impossible to take her anywhere without darn near everyone trying to approach her and say things to her (even though all in good spirt) and she doesn't want anything to do with it.

 

At my place of work i can actually take her with me and have her roam around with me during the day, and there are very few people there to create a low populated area that i can be there. Ill just have to warn them before i bring her to just completely ignore her.

 

Also i have noticed, be it ever so slight, that she prefers Women over Men. (Im a man). she will love anyone but she definitely took to my wife faster than myself!

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I wholeheartedly agree with Geonni's advice, but just wanted to add that it it very important for a fearful dog to have a predictable environment, therefore, if you cannot control the elements of her environment try not to expose her to a given situation.

 

You can work with her with people you know (and who are adept at taking direction) by asking them to face away from her and drop a high value treat (do not try to get her to take it directly until she's comfortable) and then walk away. You may want to check out Patrica McConnell's booklet on counter-conditioning called

 

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I take her with me to work because were all close and there are so few people here at any given time that I just told everyone to ignore her all day. She's doing well. Not happy but not freaking out.

 

I will absolutely take a look at that book. I like yo broaden my knowledge of dogs as much as I can. I got two beautiful border collie that I want to make as happy and healthy as possible

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I have an anxious dog. I started him on anti anxiety meds a year ago and it has helped him tremendously. He is not "cured" but he comes down from stressful situations much easier, learned the alternative behaviors I taught him much quicker and his quality of life is SOOOO much better. I wish I had started them a year earlier.

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My number one advice for you would be to BUILD CONFIDENCE. Don't focus on just getting her used to social situations. Teach her that she can do anything.

 

Work on just general training. Gentle reward based training builds confidence. The more your dog learns (be it the important stuff like sit, down, come or stupid tricks) the more confident she'll become. It can also help her learn to read people better. The better she understands people, the less fear she'll have towards them.

 

When I got Meg at 2 yrs old, she lacked confidence and was afraid of everything (except me). She really had no idea how to interact with people. She knew sit and was learning come, but that was it. She wanted to play, but she didn't know how to play with people.

 

We did a lot of training. In our first class, we had to sit apart from the group because she was so afraid and insecure about being leashed near the other dogs. (Off leash she was ok because she could escape and hide.) Clicker training and agility helped change Meg's life. She learned what was expected of her and she learned how to read human body language better (agility helped a lot with that). Going to classes also helped a lot. It gave us a different environment to practice in, in advanced level classes dog savvy classmates helped her learn that strangers aren't always scary, and she was around other dogs on leash in a controlled situation where she learned she could relax a bit.

 

There are many ways to build confidence. Every challenge you face and overcome makes the next one easier. The teeter in agility was a big challenge for Meg. The teeter took about year (baby steps) to conquer. I almost gave up more than once, but I'm glad I didn't. Once she got it and was no longer afraid, it was easier to tackle other things that made her nervous. Swimming was also a big one. Part of her fear/lack of confidence was that she was a terrible swimmer and struggled to keep her head up. She would not go anywhere near a body of water, especially with a human close by (I think maybe someone threw her in at some point and scared her). After many time of me going in with her (one step at a time on leash, making sure each step was her choice, not forcing her) and her wearing a life jacket, her swimming improved and now Meg LOVES to swim.

 

More recently we had another break through. Meg has been with me for 4 years. It took about 2 1/2 years for her to reach the point where she could handle just about any situation. She doesn't shut down, she rarely hides, and shes now usually happy to meet new dogs and people. She now frequently asks random people to play Frisbee or ball with her. I was thrilled with how far she'd come and didn't really expect any more from her.

 

In January, we took a "Play" class with our favorite trainer. I got way more than I ever dreamed I would have out of this class. We learned to play with our dogs without toys...which isn't as easy as it sounds. It actually took a lot of practice and was way more work than I thought it would be. It was amazing though once we got it. Our relationship was great before this class, but even better after. When we started this class, Meg was at a point where she would happily greet other dogs, but only played with a very select few. I thought she just picky or not really into playing with dogs, but now I think it was more that she didn't know how to play with most dogs and was still a bit insecure. She has her own way of playing and if the other dogs didn't conform to her way, she didn't know what to do with them so ignored them. In learning a new way to play with me, Meg also learned that she could change her play style to suit other dogs. It was incredible watching her gears turn as she figured this out with a friends dog. Now she wants to play with everyone! Its like she's in her 2nd puppy-hood at 6 years old.

 

I guess my point is don't give up. Keep encouraging and teaching her. Work on building up her confidence in all aspects of her life and both you and she will be much happier for it (and will likely form a great bond together).

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building confidence is IMO the best advise given.

I have a nervous dog. She is being worked on sheep often. It's amazing how she is coming out of her shell around everyone due to the extensive work she is doing on sheep. It doesn't have to be sheep but something that she will grow her confidence from.

 

Good luck and just remember time and patience are your best teachers.

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I have a similar situation with my little darling but her problem is other dogs mainly big dogs that run up to her they scare the bagebizes out of her. Been working with her building the trust factor between us, showing her I wont let anything bad happen to her, she is fine with smaller dogs and kids its those great big ones. So I have kept her away from them, if we do see big dogs I keep her at a safe distance where she feels safe. We can now walk past a big dog ( keeping her on other side of the street and what not ) she does great I always tell her how big and brave she is and what a good girl she is after the big bad doggie is out of range.

 

Before her spay surgery we had a friend come over with a shep/heeler mix, things went pretty ok tell he dared to drink some water Gidget did not approve but it was dealt with and the visiting dog took it all in stride so no harm was done. We will eventually have another meeting with him after she heals and all. Next meeting will be in a dif sort of environment maybe out at the canyon where they can all run and play.

 

Little by little building that confidence and trust I think is the best key to helping, my daughter and I had this very discussion when she wanted to continue to expose Gidget to the big dogs at the dog park. I put my foot down and said NO not tell Gidget tells us she is ready

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