For all new members, please check out the thread New to the Forum? What to do and forum guidelines.
  • Hi all,

    I'm new to the forum. I have a 3-year-old shiba mix and just adopted a 7-month-old purebred the other day. The 7-month-old, Melon, is really skittish. She's starting to warm up to us and we're trying to get her socialized with other people, so we've taken her to the dog park where she has a big area to run around and play. She mostly runs away and plays on the outskirts of the park, away from the other people. If I bring her to us and hold her, she doesn't squirm or anything. Whenever strangers try to pet her, no matter where we are, she'll sniff the hand and then jump backwards. It doesn't matter if I'm petting her too or if I'm holding her or if the person moves slowly. She always freaks out. One girl suggested we take her outside of a grocery store and give people treats and ask them to feed them to her and pet her. I'm wondering what I should do, I don't want to stress her out and make her even more skittish.

    She is also scared of our living room. She'll cuddle with us in the bedroom, relax, watch TV, eat, everything. In the living room, though, she paces and tries to run back to the bedroom if the door is open. It doesn't matter if it's night or day, light or dark, loud or quiet. She just will not relax in the living room unless she's under the couch.

    Also, she doesn't show much interest in toys. If you throw a ball, she'll usually run after it but then get bored and go do something else. She'll sniff her squeaky toys or rope toys but won't actually play with them. Is this just a matter of getting her to warm up to us and be comfortable enough to play?

    [mod edit: re-categorized due to addition of new category]
    Post edited by sunyata at 2013-06-06 14:31:45
  • SayaSaya
    Posts: 6678
  • The people watching idea sounds great, thank you. I was nervous about all the attention she'd get at the grocery store, all those people would probably freak her out pretty bad. I might try that later as she gets more comfortable to get her better around bigger groups of people, but she's still scared of just one person now.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • mattzmattz
    Posts: 418
    My Etsuko was EXACTLY like this. Skittish and EXTREMELY shy around everyone and everything and every sound... Took her about 4 months to warm up to me completely, but to this day is still shy with strangers and skittish about certain sounds (i.e. plastic bags) - in due time, it will come to pass. Just keep the socialization going and remember to let things progress at a comfortable pace for HER, not the other way around. It's a task that takes a lot of patience, but learning to socialize her at her willingness is really the best way to go.
  • SakuSaku
    Posts: 372
    Post edited by Saku at 2011-08-29 17:51:24
  • Thanks. :) I knew it would take her time to warm up. Just looking for ways to get her more socialized without stressing her out too much. When we go to the dog park, we don't force her to stay around us; we let her decide to come to us. Yesterday she wouldn't come near us at all at the dog park and today, she spent about 1/3 of her time somewhat close to us and the other people.

    I really like the idea of people-watching with her so she gets used to people being around her. I think that'll help a lot.

    Do any of you have suggestions for how to make the living room fun for her? I imagine once she warms up more and gets into her toys (if she ever does), I could have her play out here. Right now, though, she doesn't want to play. She also will only come out of the bedroom for her actual feedings, not for treats. She'll express interest the treats and follow me out of the doorway, but once she gets to the threshold of the living room, she just freezes. I don't want to stress her out but I also don't want her to harbor the fear of the living room and I'm afraid if I don't start conditioning her to be okay with it now, it'll be much harder later.

    I've wondered if she's skittish just because she wasn't paid enough attention to as a puppy. The lady who had her got her from a breeder very young and wound up having to keep her in a crate a good majority of the time. If I move too fast, even like 5 feet from her, she will jump a bit and look very freaked out. Long, pole-type objects (like a tube of wrapping paper, drum sticks, those ball launchers for tennis balls) really scare her if they're moving a even little bit, far away from her. I'm wondering if something happened in her past or if she's just a skittish little girl.

    She shows so much potential for being a great dog, though. I'm sure once she learns to trust us, she'll be wonderful. Already, when I woke up this morning, she jumped up on my legs and licked my face. :)
  • zoezoezoezoe
    Posts: 110
    I rescued my girl about 3-4 months ago and she displayed a lot of the things you mentioned. She is still not comfortable with the entire house. At first she only wanted to stay in the room which had her kennel but now she is more comfortable with the room next door, the kitchen and the bathroom. I usually offer her yummy treats if she comes into any of the rooms she's not comfortable with. It took a very long time but slowly she made baby steps into the other rooms. She also likes to explore on her own and sniff around the other rooms (without me calling her to come get treats) and I think this helps her get comfortable with them.

    There are many objects that she is afraid of especially objects she has never seen before. She used to always bark at the Swiffer and the vacuum cleaner but I would tell her "it's ok" and kind of pet or touch the object. She would usually come over and sniff it. Sometimes I lay the object down and leave and let her sniff and get to know it on her own. Now she doesn't bark at these objects anymore.

    She is still afraid of MANY things and it's taken a LONG time but at least some progress has been made. I think once your dog gets comfortable with you and begins to trust you she will be more willing to take risks and go into other rooms or sniff weird objects. Good luck!
  • I'm wondering, when it comes to the living room thing, should I keep the bedroom door (where she prefers to stay) closed so she can't hide or should I keep it open and give her the option of coming out?
  • zoezoezoezoe
    Posts: 110
    I've tried both. I think keeping the door open is best so she feels that she can escape if she needs to. If you force her to stay in the living room I think that will just make her more scared but if she has the option of moving back and forth I think it works better.

    If she's unwilling to come to you for a treat while you're in the living room you can try tossing treats near the bedroom doorway and slowly try to get her to make baby steps toward the living room.
  • An update on Melon -

    While she chose to spend most of her time before we went to bed last night in her kennel, she finally let loose with her toys! I put her in her crate for the night and after a few minutes, I noticed she was chewing on the bars. I went outside, got her puppy durachew and her puppy kong, and put them in her crate with her. She loved them! She chewed her heart out until she curled up and fell asleep. Then when I let her out this morning, she leapt onto the bed and nudged my boyfriend until he woke up. She also brought us one of the kitten's balls to play fetch with!

    I think it'll still be a while before she plays in the living room, as all of this was still in the bedroom, but at least it's progress!
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • mattzmattz
    Posts: 418
    THAT'S AWESOME! I had the same experience with Etsuko at first, lots of toys and an uninterested shiba. I remember the day I found Etsuko playing with her toys FINALLY it was so nice to know that she was starting to warm up and feel comfortable. CONGRATS!
  • So I have a "skittish" question (fine multiple questions) and this seemed like the most relevant thread.

    Banjo is a quite skittish around people. Occasionally around new dogs, but not often. Yesterday he was barked at by a bulldog who we know (Jake. Jake is a neighborhood legend and is about 8 years old. He is super gentle and when Jake has had enough of Banjo's antics, he simply lays on top of him.) The rest of the walk, Banjo was skittish around dogs (or playing... its hard to tell as he exhibits the same signals to my untrained eye). In either event, his trainer isn't worried about the dog part as around him Banjo is always fine and knows how to make new puppies comfortable and rarely gets growled at/warned by any older dog.

    My questions:

    1) Is it possible since his attack my energy has changed and as such Banjo is scared around dogs? Or is that a Caesar Milan myth? I don't think it's changed, but I am now more on the lookout for things like sustained eye contact.

    2) Someone put a parking cone on our walking route. Banjo growled at it, barked at it (and he is a silent dog most of the time) and looked generally displeased with it. I allowed him to explore it on his terms, but he became Captain. growly-pants for the walk. I clicked and treated when he got close and inspected. Was I rewarding his fear or his overcoming the fear? (don't want to reinforce the wrong things).

    3) He is super skittish around people who he doesn't know who try to pet him. I.e. hand shy. I know that is normal shiba behavior sometimes. I am thinking of bringing cheese on walks so people can give him treats in exchange for friendship. Would you frown on this strategy?

    4) He is on a hunger strike, but I don't know if the two are related. He will NOT eat his "good" kibble (Blue Buffalo Wilderness), but will eat the kibble he was on when I got him (Verus). The verus results in stinky stinky poop which is quite large. I prefer not feeding it to him as it is also a "lower quality food". We start raw on saturday (two days from now). Would you just allow him to be a brat until then?

    It may also be helpful to know he is 9 months old. Could this be the start of a new fear stage? He already had one a few months ago.
  • JuniJuni
    Posts: 1269
    Sounds like fear stage, yes.
    Juni is not very keen on human strangers either. She likes to go up to people and sniff which people mistake as wanting to be petted, but she just wants to scan the new smell.
    For awhile we practised Greetings, if she got up and sniffed someone's hand I would reward her with a treat. I think it was a good strategy because it gave her an escape route so to speak. Back to safety at my side. And people are a lot better at accepting a "No,she doesn't want you to pet her but she really wants to sniff you" than a simple no when people approach her.
  • jennjenn
    Posts: 856
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8589
  • I just wanted to share my experience with skiddish suki, i found that she did get comfortable with me but she got scared with everyone else. she hated to go on walkes and she would just plant her self and would refuse to move unless i walked to her she would try to run away. also anytime i opened a door she would bolt and run sideways away from me. she always acted different outside then inside. inside she wanted to be near me and wanted to lay on me. no mater what i did she would be terribly frightened of my one year old. my 2 month old wasn't much of a scare she would sniff him and lick him. also i have noticed when dogs are involved she is more comfortable with her surroundings. well once i noticed she was getting aggressive to my toddler she had to be taken out of my home. she is actually going to go to sirf. suki was a puppy mill rescue. i found her in a shelter.

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 (0)