Shy and Fearful Dogs

Categories: Dog Behavior
By Laura Yurchak
On July 10th, 1993 we adopted Tasha, a 4 month old Border Collie, from the Kenosha Humane Society. Tasha was trembling at the back of the kennel. She was plastered to the back wall; she wouldn’t look at anyone. We took her out of the kennel and let her interact with Terra, who we also adopted. They seemed to get along well, so they both came home with us that day. While in the car, Tasha drooled excessively on my shirt and the car door. Thank God we only live a couple minutes away from the shelter or I would have been soaked from head to toe. It was then that I began my life with a shy and fearful dog.

Once we got home we found that she was afraid of many noises. We tried to take her for a walk but she would flatten out on the ground like a pancake. I would have to carry her when we took them both for a walk. She was also afraid of car rides, thunderstorms, people and anything new in the environment. Raising your voice completely shut her down. Once she shut down, she wouldn’t move.

For many years the experts said not to coddle a shy-fearful dog because you are reinforcing their fearful behavior. I say phooey on that noise and so does Dr. Patricia McConnell. Let’s pretend that you are afraid of spiders. A spider is on your ceiling and your fear of this beast inhibits your ability to get rid of it. A family member comes home and says, no worries, I will handle it for you. By doing so, did your fear of spiders increase? I should say not!

Loving Paws offers a shy and fearful dog class to help folks understand what their dog is going through and how to help them overcome or reduce their fears. The class includes the use of Dog Appeasing Pheromones, T-Touch massage, Bach Flower Essences and counter conditioning and desensitizing to help change their emotional state to the better. Some dogs improve with medication from their veterinarian.

We NEVER made Tasha cope with fear stimuli. She worked through it in her own time with the help of counter conditioning and desensitizing. We celebrated every tiny little baby step of success. We did our best to help her make positive associations to the fear stimuli. To do this we made walking, riding in the car, noises and strangers fun, exciting and rewarding. I also used Reiki and Ttouch massage. My Tasha conquered many fears during her lifetime. Within a week she LOVED going for a walk. In a few weeks she enjoyed car rides so much that she would try to herd the cars on the road from the back seat. Her fear of people took a good year or more and she never was one to rush up to a stranger for attention. Once she got to know you, about fifteen minutes or so, she would continually drop her tennis ball in your lap to throw for her. Thunder and fire crackers were the only noises she never overcame. We never stopped our counter conditioning and desensitizing program, not for the 16 years. Unfortunately, we didn’t consider using the DAP products and the Flower Essences. I can only image what we could have accomplished if we had. Tasha
taught me patience and how to celebrate the tiny things in life. I love you Tasha and I thank you for the years we shared and the things you taught me. I miss you dearly.

DAP – Dog Appeasing Pheromones

• Simulates the mother dog’s natural pheromone produced the first few days after she gives birth.
• Gives the dogs comfort and reassurance when under fearful or unsettling situations.
• Clinical studies show that using DAP you can reduce destructive behavior by 86%, excessive barking and whimpering by 70%, house soiling by 67% and trouble at night for newly adopted puppies by 68%.
• Comes in collars, spray and diffusers.
• Purchase collars on line, spray and diffuser at pet stores.
• Collar: Great for use with shy and fearful dogs.
• Replace every four weeks.
• Must have contact with the dog’s skin at all times.
• Spray: Good for small areas such as a car.
• Diffuser: Good for areas of the home.

Bach Flower Essences

• Developed in the 1930’s by Dr. Edward Bach.
• Their purpose is to balance emotions and negative mental states.
• Liquid extracts are made from individual flowers.
• They are safe, non-toxic, free from side effects, non-addictive, doesn’t interfere with other medication; you can’t over dose and is complementary to other treatments.
• Purchase at Equinox in Kenosha, 5901-6th Ave, Sheepish in Racine at 326 Main Street or on line.
• Rescue Remedy: Emergency Remedy useful in stressful events such as accidents, shock, trauma, veterinarian and grooming visits, training classes and anxiety.
• Five-Flower Stress Formula or Animal Rescue Formula, By Flower Essence Services: A mixture that helps to reduce stress. Many feel this helped their dog.

Tellington Touch Massage

• Developed by Linda Tellington Jones in 1978.
• Uses specific hand motions, rhythmic breathing, a variety of hand positions, and a scale of finger pressures.
• Intended to activate the cells and awaken cellular intelligence.
• Often makes major changes in behavior and speed up the healing process.
• Practiced in over 30 countries.
• Used on a variety of animals.