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How to get your dog's attention when she simply can't hear you?
  • TrudyWTrudyW
    Posts: 14
    Hi,
    I haven't post in a long time since we got our first shiba (Matcha), and now we have two, Matcha(red) and Sachi(black).
    Some background: First, I want to say how much I've learned from having two dogs of the same breed that those "classical breed characteristics" are not always true. Matcha and Sachi have almost completely opposite personalities! Sachi I feel like is more typical shiba - she is very skeptical about strangers/new places (considered unfriendly by some people because she walks away when they approach her). She is very independent and she can defend herself very well with other dogs. On the other hand, Matcha loves to greet strangers, is extremely submissive in the dog park (always flip over when meet another dog, sometimes even flip over when play with a bunny.......) and she can be very cuddly.
    We don't have problems training Matcha. We use rewards and resource management (learned from shibashake). She knows to sit and watch us before she wants to engage with another dog or fun things and she can heel us pretty well when walking. I feel like she really loves to explore new environment and she always feels excited to meet new people, much more than her interest in treats. So every time we walk to somewhere new, I retrain her by asking her to sit and watch and reward her with freedom to explore.
    However, Sachi is very different. We got her when she was 4 months old, shipped from far away and maybe this has traumatized her. When we first got her, it was impossible to walk her. She not only pulls to the extreme, she walks in circles and you get tripped all the time. It may sounds kind of funny but if we are in a parking lot, she will rush into every space in between two parked cars and try to find a way to escape. More than that, she used to poop right away when she gets to a new place, and it doesn't matter if you take her potty right before. She has pooped in the car, in pet hospital, in malls, on the street, anywhere. At first, she doesn't take treats. Now she does (kind of). We started to take her walking in front of our home and slowly walks further out to more crowded street. She can kind of heel us (not that she's really thinking about it but it kind of becomes a habit). However, what bothers me is although she takes treats or heels us but she actually has no focus on you. You can call her, tap on the leash, hold her up, touch her face, whatever, she just won't watch you. I think she's so concentrated on other things, she just simply can't hear us. She knows "watch me" perfectly at home or at places she's comfortable with until there are strangers. Strangers are just no-no to her. She can't take her eyes off strangers. I feel like she thinks they are going to kill her so she has to stare at them ALL THE TIME. She's a perfect dog at home. She follows commands all the time with no treats needed, but when you take her outside, she feels very very threatened. Her first reaction always is to rush back home. Even today when we walk at the street in front out of home, you can feel her rushing when we are going in the direction of home. My husband and I are sometimes a little discouraged because we think she doesn't feel safe around us but feel only safe inside the home like she doesn't really have trust in us. I want her to be happy when we take her out to explore the world like how Matcha is but I just don't think this treat thing is really working because she's just eating them like a robot.
    Sorry about this really long thread! I really want to give you guys a picture of how they are. Thank you for reading this!! Please help me!
  • TrudyWTrudyW
    Posts: 14
    https://flic.kr/p/G8bDGH

    This is matcha
    Post edited by TrudyW at 2016-04-13 01:17:21
  • TrudyWTrudyW
    Posts: 14
    https://flic.kr/p/G5SEQy
    This is Sachi months ago
    I will post some more pics later. I forgot how to link pictures again...
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8456
    Poor Sachi. It sounds like she is incredibly fearful.

    If I remember correctly, your first Shiba is about a year and a half old, correct? So you decided to add another puppy at the same time? That is not always the wisest decision.

    Have you worked with Sachi alone or is she always with Matcha? If she is not always with Matcha, does she exhibit different behaviour (or perhaps a different intensity of behaviour) when she is alone?

    Have you taken her to a fearful dog class? If not, you might start there. These classes work with fearful dogs to increase their confidence and let them know that scary situations are really not that scary. The classes also help reinforce the bond and trust between the dog and owner.

    Another suggestion is to take her to the vet for a full workup. A lot of times, behavioural issues can be linked to medical problems, such as seizures, autoimmune disorders (hypothyroidism), etc. If she is too fearful to work with, you may also want to get her some anti-anxiety medication to help increase her fear threshold so that you can work with her more.

    I know this is also a long shot, but have you contacted her breeder regarding this? A reputable and responsible breeder will want to know about this fearful behaviour and can often point you in the right direction with regards to fearful dog classes, medical issues, etc. But since you said she was shipped from far away at 4 months, I am guessing the breeder may be less than helpful. :(
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • TrudyWTrudyW
    Posts: 14
    Thank you for your reply! @sunyata
    We didn't know back then that having two young puppies at the same time would be triple the work. We took Matcha to puppy class when she was little and we later hired a trainer to work on them being together. The trainer told us to try not to keep them in the same room to avoid separation anxiety so most of the time we don't let them play with each other. We train them separately as well. I would say having Matcha or not doesn't really change the way Sachi reacts to things, maybe make her slightly more comfortable but not a whole lot.
    Thank you for your suggestion on fearful dog training. I would look into that because I do think we might need someone more experienced than we are.
    I don't think the breeder is any good. We think she lied to us about her age. The first time we took her to vet, she said Sachi is definitely older than the breeder claimed because her teeth looked very mature. The vet was very nice - she asked for breeder's contact info and we all tried to contact her but never heard back from her. I don't know what she has been through at the breeder which might have caused her to be fearful. The breeder said she was supposed to be a show dog but her biting mark or something wasn't qualified enough to be a show dog. Maybe she has went through show training and really hated it?

    Thank you again for your suggestions.
    Post edited by TrudyW at 2016-04-13 16:21:46

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