Fearful and Shy Dogs – Picking A Dog Up and Putting the Dog Down
Easy, right? Not always so with fearful and shy dogs. Picking a fearful or shy dog up can be traumatic to the dog. You are literally lifting that dog out of his comfort zone. Make sure that dog is comfortable with your touch before you try to pick the dog up. If your dog is still not comfortable with touch, try slow gentle massages around the shoulder areas and back of the neck. When your dog is comfortable with your touch, we can move forward.
Ready? I have strong opinions on picking dogs up and putting them back down.
First, picking a dog up….
Try to make it as pleasant an experience for the dog as possible. Make sure you are in a patient, calm state of mind and you really have time to do this properly. Do NOT pick the dog up by the legs or scruff of the neck. I recommend putting one hand/arm over the back of the dog and gently under the stomach/chest area. Wrap you other hand around the area just above the dogs front legs. Be careful not to go up too far and make the dog feel like you are choking him.
Okay, you’ve got the dog picked up. What should you do now? Let the dog guide you.
If dog is very nervous, hold him in your lap for just a few moments. Just hold. No petting at this point.
If the dog is relatively calm, continue and set the dog, gently in your lap, still holding him with arm over his back and under tummy. Guide with your other hand. Let him just sit there. Don’t move your hands. Make sure your lap is stable and the dog is not feeling like he might fall. When the dog seems calm, pet him slowly and gently. Feel free to reward the dog with a treat. Don’t hold him for more than a few moments the first time. Increase the time as you go and the dog lets you know he’s okay with all this.
Now putting him down…
This too should be a pleasant experience for the dog. The dog should not feel like there is any danger in being put down on the floor. Make sure the spot you are putting the dog in is secure and stable. Do not set him down on a high table, or on something that is shaky.
Before putting the dog down, be sure the dog is in the calmest moment possible. Don’t let the dog jump down. The dog could jump and hurt himself and then connect that to you putting him down. It can cause further fear.
Set the dog down on the floor. Hold on to him for a moment and do a slow, soft rub on the shoulder area. Slowly remove your hands. At first the dog may run from you as soon as you release it. But as you do this over and over, you will find that your dog will move away more slowly.
Give the dog a treat to show him that what he has done is awesome!
Continue picking your dog up and putting him down until he is really comfortable with it. Increase the lengths of time you hold him as he maintains a quiet, calm state of mind.
You and your dog are doing wonderful!
Fearful and Shy Dogs – Getting to Touch
Keep those treats nearby. They will come in handy.
During this process do not try to trick your dog into letting you touch him. That will only cause the dog to distrust you. You will be proving to the dog that humans are up to something and can’t be trusted. It is not worth it in the long run.
If it’s possible (and sometimes it is not) see if you can get the dog to touch you first. Sometimes that opens the door for them to let you in for touching. How?
-When giving the dog a treat, hold the treat in the palm of your hand allowing the dog to sniff and possible even lick your hand as he gets the treat.
-With the next treat add a little peanut butter on the treat. Let the dog have it from the palm of your hand. Do this until the dog takes the treat happily and is enjoying the peanut butter treat.
-Now put some peanut butter in the palm of your hand. Set the treat on top of that. Offer it to the dog. Hold very still and do NOT try to reach out to the dog. Let the dog move as they wish. When the dog will take the treat and then lick your hand to get the peanut butter, you can move to the next step.
-Do the same as above but gently slowly move your fingers as the dog gets the treat and peanut butter. When dog is comfortable move to next step.
-Continue with the peanut butter and treat. This time reach out. Do not touch yet. Just reach out until the dog is comfortable.
-Again with the peanut butter and treat. Now reach out and try to touch the dog UNDER the chin and slowly rub back and forth. Use slow gentle movement. If the dog pulls away, do not move your hand. Hold still and let the dog know you are not trying to trick him. When the dog is comfortable with this touch move forward to the next step.
-You are not only touching but you are establishing a base to build your relationship with the dog on. You are teaching the dog that you can be trusted. This is huge process using baby steps to get there.
-Continue with treats and touching. Next try touching chest area. When dog is comfortable move touch to the ear area, then back of neck, then back. Move over the dogs body. Save the top of the head and top of neck for last as these are spots that might lead the dog to think you are trying to grab him.
Now that we have established a good slow touch, we can move forward. Stay tuned! You are doing it and your dog is feeling more relaxed!