For all new members, please check out the thread New to the Forum? What to do and forum guidelines.
Socializing with new strangers and nipping
  • kobigirlkobigirl
    Posts: 8
    We have only had our shiba for 4 days, but we have noticed he nips/barks/lunges at strangers. He has yet to ever actually bite somebody or make contact, but the moment a stranger puts his/her hand out to pet our Kobi, he gets kind of upset. I don't know if he is being protective of us as we have only had him for a couple days, or if he just doesn't like strangers.
    He has never acted like this towards my husband or myself, even on the day that we got him. he is nothing but loving and cuddling.
    There are some people he does it to more than others. So far, he has done it to a 5th grade girl, my mother, and a girlfriend of mine similar in age. As far as I know, the home he came from was very loving, stable, and clean. He was exercised and fed regularly.
    Anyone have any tips on what could be causing this? Any tips to to teach him better social skills?
    If he is protecting us, that's fine. I don't expect him to like everyone. I just don't want him to ever hurt anyone.
    Post edited by curlytails at 2012-12-12 23:04:34
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3664
    Don't let anybody put their hand out to pet him for now, especially strangers and kids, if this makes him uncomfortable continuing to do so could make things worse. Instead, try carrying around treats and feeding them to him while people that make him uncomfortable are around, or give some treats to the people and have them toss the treats in front of him. This will start teaching him that strangers are not bad but sources of yummy things
  • Serkle kSerkle k
    Posts: 974
    Get him into a training/obedience class of some sort... you may want to try to contact a behaviorist as well.

    I'm not sure where you're located, but you may want to check this link for something near you...
  • kobigirlkobigirl
    Posts: 8
    oh thanks, both of those help.
    @serkle, I am located in the seattle area.
  • sandrat888sandrat888
    Posts: 576
    You should definitely consider an obedience/training class for you dog. I agree with @calia that you should not let strangers or people that he is not familiar with to pet him now. Start with training and getting him associate good things (treats) with strangers and people slowly. Don't force him to be petted by people he is not comfortable with and go slow.

    I am located in the Seattle area too and left you a message on your profile should you want to connect off the forum. Good luck!
    Post edited by sandrat888 at 2011-05-11 15:01:45
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4785
    I missed this. There are some great training centers in the area. The best I have found, is close to me in Tacoma, Positive Approach,

    I admit I don't always succeed in using their methods at home, but it has really been the most enlightening series of classes I have ever taken after doing all of the traditional obedience style classes with my first Shiba. The dogs have tons of fun, too. The lead trainer worked with marine mammals, so they are all very hands off and non-punative which is great, and very up to date on training methods.

    I have brought 2 puppies there already and loved it (so did they), and I plan to keep going so I can improve my technique (and patience!) There is a mandatory owner seminar prior to starting a series, which I have attended 3 times, and I still learn from it which is why I go back. I highly recomend you at least go sit in on the seminar if nothing else. It's only an hour.

    Good luck with him! If you would like, a group of us Shiba owners try and meetup at the Fort Steilcoom park for Shiba only (and CO) play time. Usually on Sunday AMs around 10ish, but I haven't gone for some time due to rain and such. Would you like to meet up for a walk when Kobi is more comfortable with strangers?
    "Common sense isn't so common"
    photo c5d87957-61b6-48af-a440-4187cbfc861b_zps88ccdf88.jpg
  • anharchyanharchy
    Posts: 43
    Reviving an old thread:

    Azami gets nippy/barky towards strangers when surprised. What can I do to supplement her current training regimen/avoid getting her in trouble?

    To provide context:
    Azami's a year and a half old right now, and she's nothing but awesome at home. However, we noticed that outside the house, her reactivity was increasing, so we've enrolled her in one-on-one training, and have been steadily working to help keep her calm when seeing other dogs, or being in uncomfortable/"new" situations. Part of this has been taking her for occasional walks through town, a couple of brief stops to dog-friendly shops, keeping her close, and then rewarding her for being relaxed and responsive. Normally, this is pretty low-key/no big deal, and she's out for a 45 min walk with treats, comes home, and relaxes.

    She did really well yesterday at the shops, but on the walk home, a lot of people were just reaching down to touch her while we were walking without even asking me "because she looks like a fox or a little bear!" Understandably, she was kind of upset, which led to barking at people who reached at her, and we live in an area that's very popular with tourists and pedestrian traffic during nice weather. But we continued right on home, and I kept treating her as we walked, and tried to keep to the side streets away from the majority of pedestrians.

    However, as I stood in the lobby of our building getting mail, she nipped at a guy's shorts because he came around the corner with a plastic bag! He was fine, and just went on his way, and she didn't growl or try to really bite him, but I'd like to know what I could do better to keep this from happening. I'm going to talk about it with the trainer on Friday, but fellow Shiba owners...any thoughts?

    Obviously, I also worry that someday, she'll do it to someone significantly less understanding, and I also think it was a reaction to "not getting her space respected" on the walk home, but that's not a good excuse. Just a thought.

    Anyway, sorry for the ramble, and thanks for any advice you might have.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8548
    It sounds like your pup was a little overwhelmed by all the unwanted attention and got nippy when she was surprised. Remember, it is YOUR responsibility as her owner to tell people to back off and not pet her if she is uncomfortable.

    So first off... Stop letting strangers pet her, especially without permission. Feel free to be rude. People are rude to just reach down and pet a strange dog without proper introduction.

    Secondly, you need to work on getting her a little more comfortable around strange people and noises. Something that has really worked for me is to sit in a fairly busy (but still comfortable for the dog) place and people watch. Sit in an out of the way spot and put on your best 'leave me the hell alone' face so that people will keep walking by and not stopping to provide unwanted attention to your pup. Treat her when she is calm. Try this in a bunch of different locations to get her familiar with different people, places, noises, etc.

    Once she is comfortable people watching, you can move to slowly integrate her into the scene. Have her walk around people (but not let them pet her), into shops, around rubbish bins, near plastic bags, etc. Treat her and praise her as she stays calm. If she ever gets uneasy, back away and go back to people watching.

    Eventually you can integrate her even more and work up to getting strangers to treat her and even pet her. It will take time, patience, and a lot of work, but hopefully you can get her there.

    Just remember to make every outing a positive experience. :)
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • anharchyanharchy
    Posts: 43
    thanks, @sunyata. we worked on it on friday with the trainer too, so hopefully, i'll be better at giving her the tools she needs to make every outing a good one. much better walk today, so i'm sure the aspect of the trainer also training me is helping too :P
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8548
    @anharchy - Training classes are not so much for the dog as they are for the handler. It is amazing how just learning the appropriate way to communicate what you want to your dog can make things so much easier. :) Keep it up and let us know how she does!
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • pyleapylea
    Posts: 235
    Reviving this old thread to see if you guys think Pylea's attitude toward strangers is problematic:

    I've been taking/carrying Pylea to tons of high traffic areas to desensitize her to different types of people, animals, cars, noises, etc., and she does great. Examples: grocery store, food carts, downtown, coffee shop, crowded waterfall hikes, friends' yards, vet. She loves looking around and soaking everything in, and is very calm in these situations. She's seen strangers pushing shopping carts, moving garbage bins, skateboarding, and none of it bothers her. She also meets at least 10 strangers every day when I take her out to potty. People/dog-watching is her favorite thing.

    The issue is, she prefers to avoid strangers when they come too close. She will sniff their hand and then move away when they try to touch her. If she sees a stranger lurking at night time, she will be on high alert and make "boof" sounds and sometimes growl quietly. I told my vet about this, and she was HIGHLY concerned. After a long discussion, I now am asking strangers who pay her any attention to hand her a treat that I give them. She'll sniff their hands, take the treat, and back away. Or they'll have to drop the treat on the ground.

    I told my vet how literally Pylea's only problem is she doesn't like strangers touching her, and she's in puppy class, but my vet was really pushing one of her vet techs who is also a dog trainer. I mean, is that really necessary, especially if she's already in puppy class? Is it that bad for a shiba puppy to tolerate strangers but not care much for them being in her space, sticking their hands near her face? She never nips.

    I'm definitely erring on the side of caution and prioritizing fixing this issue, but I want to ask:
    - Are your shibas like this?
    - To what extent is this normal shiba behavior vs. a behavioral problem?
    - Is it OK for a dog not to like strangers? I want her to tolerate them and not be aggressive but I don't care if she's not excited about strangers. That's why I got a shiba...

    Other background:
    She's great at home with my partner and me, she warms up to visitors after a while, and she likes other dogs. She's in a puppy class and wouldn't let the instructor walk her (she wouldn't follow him even when he had treats) but otherwise sits quietly and watches, and is friendly to the other dogs. She let the vet and staff hold her and give her treats even though she wasn't totally relaxed. I take her to "puppy romps" at the local Humane Society and she plays with my friends' dogs.
  • Personally, and many may agree with me, but I am 100% okay with Pebbles not liking strangers that much. Greatly decreases the chance of one stealing her, IMO. As long as she's acclimated to the vet and staff and can get comfortable with them or anyone who may actually need to touch her, or can get used to them, I wouldn't worry about it and instead teach people to respect her space.
  • pyleapylea
    Posts: 235
    My vet said with near certainty that this behavior will lead to aggression and she won't be able to have simple procedures done without needing to be sedated. She told me I can bring Pylea in as often as I want, to have the staff pass her around and feed her treats... so I guess I will do that once a week in addition to giving her treats/praise for sniffing strangers. I just feel like a private trainer is overkill at this point but I don't know if I'm just being stingy.
  • Well, Pebbles avoids strangers touching her, especially when they come over her and try to pat the top of her head, and we have no aggression issues with people at all. She's two now, and as much as I can remember, she has always shied away, even as a puppy.
  • pyleapylea
    Posts: 235
    Thanks, @2dogsandawolf -- I will keep working on her stranger-shyness but that makes me feel a lot better.
  • NikkitineNikkitine
    Posts: 776
    @pylea - I think your vet needs a lesson or two on Shiba behavior. What you described is totally normal and generally how Shibas are described as. Aloof and reserved with strangers. I'm sure that's also what you should have read when you were researching the breed. You're doing great by having them offer her treats, but you should also learn and teach proper dog greeting behavior to people as well. Having a stranger suddenly come up to her and reach over to pet her on the head is actually a pretty intimidating so it should always be the other way around where the stranger ignores her first and approach her sideways. When she becomes interested and approaches them, then you can reward and praise her heavily for being brave. I'm not exactly sure how your vet thinks that her being reserved as being potentially aggressive and but it's great that they are willing to help you work on her socialization by bringing her in. I honestly don't think a private behaviorist is needed, she is still growing and right in the middle of her fear stages. As long as you keep making sure that everything stays positive for her and setting her up for success in each interaction, I think you have the best chances of her eventually overcoming her fears.
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1268
    It sounds like a normal shiba to me and I think you are doing the right thing by letting her go up to people to sniff them and then give her a treat. It doesn't have to be the stranger giving the treats either, if you reward her she also gets an "escape route back to you and safety".
    Juni started disliking getting petted by strangers when she was close to one year. Unfortunately she also got scared by an idiot of a man so she developed a fear of people.
    We practised pretty much like that, she had a command "go greet" which meant go sniff a persons hand (practise with familiar people she likes until she understands) and she would get a treat from me.
    But for most parts I tried to avoid strangers approaching her so she would also learn that being around people doesn't mean she has to have any close contact with them.

    When she was at her most nervous stage she did nip a few people, but every time she had told the person with a lot of signals that she was uncomfortable with the situation before she nipped. For instans there was a drunken guy who thought she was cute and grabbed her cheeks and wouldn't let go even with me grabbing him telling him to let go...

    She has never been hard to handle at the vet.

    I wouldn't drop Pylea off at the vet's to let them practice on her, that sounds like a recipe for disaster... Just keep doing what you do, practice a bit but let her avoid close contact with most strangers.
  • pyleapylea
    Posts: 235
    Thanks for the advice, @Nikkitine and @Juni. I'm very glad to know that her behavior will not necessarily lead to aggression/handleability issues if I keep up with the praise and treats when she sniffs strangers. She took some treats today (that I supplied) from strangers on the street and at the grocery store. :)

    Fortunately, people in my area do ask for permission to pet Pylea. I always say "sure, she's shy though," so they stick their hands out for a sniff and then once they move their hands to pet her, she backs off. But they always squat down and let her sniff them for a good while before trying to touch her, and they never insist on touching her once she moves away. So they aren't surprising her with sudden movements or being disrespectful. Most of them even know to try and touch from below rather than above her head.

    I didn't think this called for a private trainer either, which I expressed to the vet. I mentioned how she's already in class, a puppy play group, meets a lot of people, and how I would start rewarding her for polite greetings to strangers. Nevertheless, the vet called the trainer on my behalf, and later that day the vet tech emailed me telling me about the call and how the trainer is looking forward to working with me. -_- Normally this would turn me off from the clinic altogether, but they are otherwise perfect and a different vet there did a great job on my cat's recent surgeries. I may just ask to see the different vet next time.

    I do think I will take her to the clinic for a visit though. She did pretty well last time when the staff took turns holding her and feeding her wet food off of a tongue depressor, lol.
    Post edited by pylea at 2016-01-21 01:53:24
  • @pylea - I'd honestly still think about researching a different vet. For her to label a shiba puppy as aggressive who is exhibiting normal behavior, being super socialized, and comes from good lines makes me wary. Especially the label of aggressive (honestly, she's a baby) makes me think that this vet may be super old school and the trainer too. Plus that is incredibly presumptuous of her to call the trainer/vet tech for you. I'd worry that the vet is already taking a prejudicial/hostile view of your pup and that's not conducive to a good vet experience. Having a vet who takes the initiative to ease a dog into comfort at their office (rather than labeling them unmanageable and resorting to, or predicting in this case, sedation) is really valuable, especially when your pup is young. Those early experiences really color how they regard vets as they age.

  • pyleapylea
    Posts: 235
    Hmm good points, @violet_in_seville. There are a number of other vets at that clinic and I will definitely make a point to see my cats' vet, whom I already really like. But if any of the other vets share questionable viewpoints on shibas I will have to switch clinics.

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

In this Discussion

Who's Online (3)