This is a Premium feature
Fear agression(8 Posts)
Help my 5 month mini schnauzer has stranger danger issues. It’s very hit and miss but if a stranger goes to pet her she snaps at them. She’s fine with us and some strangers (mainly men). We’ve tried getting random dog owners in the park to pet her, offer treats (after explaining about the snapping). She’s fine sniffing them, but any sudden hand movements she really doesn’t like it. She’s v timid, we get her out and about as much as we can to different environments. What are we doing wrong? Or will she grow out of it??? She’s great with other dogs
Long story short no she won’t grow out of it, you need professional help from a qualified dog behaviourist and sooner rather than later.
Been there done that and wished I had got help earlier than I did as it was too late for my dog.
What Greyhorses said. In the meantime, don't let strangers approach her/offer her treats etc. Give them a wide berth and give her the yummiest treats ever while she can still see them then stop treating when they've gone. If she's growling/lunging etc then you're too close and she needs more space.
She’s certainly not growling or lunging. Some people she’s really happy to have a fuss with. It’s just some people stroking her. Thought maybe getting her to see strangers are fine would help (that’s what vet initially advised with the treat thing). Have contacted a couple of behaviourists waiting to hear back. Not sure offering treats everytime she can see any strangers would help we live in an urban area she would be the size of a house! She’s fine out and about as I say just doesn’t like strangers touching her
Mine was very much like that at first, yours may improve or may deteriorate into lunging etc but I do wish I had consulted someone sooner so I could have put the work in place earlier
I also would avoid people for now but keep her at a distance she is comfortable with and give lots of treats when she’s calm and settled, gradually moving her closer to the people. If she shows any signs at all of being worried then take a step back. I wouldn’t allow anyone to stroke her at this stage as anything that scares her could set her back.
Also, I don’t think it’s anything you’ve done wrong. Some dogs just for whatever reason (genetic usually!) are just nervous souls and you will probably end up spending lots of her life shielding her from the world, best to get those tools as early as you can
As others have said, you need to see a qualified behaviourist pronto. The sooner you see them, the less ingrained the behaviours will be, and the more chance there will be of a better outcome
Do be aware that behaviourists vary enormously in quality. Unlike, for example, physiotherapists, literally anyone can call themselves a behaviourist. Some of those people are dangerously clueless and will make your dog irretrievably worse.
I would strongly recommend you seek an APBC or CCAB (list on ASAB website) behaviourist as you will then get someone who actually knows what they're on about. Check your insurance - some policies, Inc PetPlan, will cover a behaviourist.
In the meantime, however, please stop asking your dog to approach or be touched by strangers, or asking strangers to give the dog treats. I completely understand why you've been doing it (it's a common mistake) but you're actually giving the dog a really conflicting set of emotions - "I don't want to approach the scary person, but I do want the treat, but to get the treat I have to approach the scary person and ARGH what do I do?!". For the dog that's scared of strangers, walking away or not approaching is a really positive thing (think flight or fight) and you should think of it that way.
You're unlikely to ever have a social butterfly of a dog, and you may not ever have the sort of dog you can take to the pub (though I hope I'm wrong on that one) but the behaviourist should be able to give you management tools that, if correctly and consistently applied, make the dog feel more confident, less snappy and ultimately safer to be around.
Thanks all. In touch with two behaviourists now. Was chatting to my dog walker today (wfh) she also thinks it’s just my puppy being v timid and lacking confidence. Going to try and keep approaches with strangers to a minimum. Let puppy choose who to approach. Think she’s a victim of her own cuteness in this one!
Sounds like a good plan. Do be slightly cautious of the advice of both vets and dog walkers on dog behaviour - vets receive little-to-no dog behaviour training at university (and an alarming proportion can't recognise basic dog body language from a photo) and of course dog walkers need have no formal training at all.
I've found a lead slip with a really clear instruction (I have "ask before stroking" or alternatively "do not touch" not a rather cryptic "anxious") has been helpful for vastly reducing, albeit not eliminating, the number of people who try to touch my dog. Mine wears it because he has some anxiety and doesn't enjoy being stroked by strangers (though he will tolerate it) rather than being snappy, but the same principles apply.
I bought mine from here www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Ask-Before-Stroking-Dog-Lead-Slip-Cover-042-/162101837955 - it says seller currently away but their main website says they're back tomorrow www.saintroch.co.uk/ They do a variety of different messages if you want something slightly different.
Please login first.