Monday, April 17, 2006

Help for Your Shy Dog

I recently finished reading the book Help for Your Shy Dog-Turning Your Terrified Dog Into a Terrific Pet by Deborah Wood. Over all I found it an informative book. What really impressed me most were her many references to training classes and how they play a key role in helping your dog overcome his fears. Too many times I'll read a training book and the only reference to training classes and working with a proven trainer comes in the form of a disclaimer at the beginning of the book. Wood however goes in the opposite direction and spotlights many shy dogs even her own and what each owner did to help their dogs over come their fears. All of the dogs and owners spotlighted worked extensively with proven trainers. Beyond working with the trainers they worked diligently on their own with their dogs and the dogs responded and proved themselves wonderful pets.

I was personally curious about this book because I am the owner of a fearful dog. My Golden/Poodle mix Wyatt started out a normal energetic and social puppy, but that all changed the day he was attacked by a Rotweiler on one of our daily walks. Despite my best efforts to keep Wyatt safe this incident proved too much for both of us. I did all the right things, an about face with Wyatt, we calmly tried to leave the ensuing situation, but unfortunately for us the Rotweiler's owner was not helping the situation. Instead of calmly calling her dog to her she chased her dog in our direction screaming and basically acting worse than her dog and raising the tension. My poor Wyatt was scared senseless. He peed all over himself and me and after that day associated free-flowing clothes and heavy women with danger. His fear didn't stop there he quickly showed signs of fear when walking through crowded places and began barking.

While most of the dogs in Wood's book exhibited their fear with tucked tails and shaking, Wyatt's surfaced through barking and overly excited behavior on his leash. I wished I had this book when all this started with Wyatt. While I did seek out a trainer for help and he spent the next six months in classes, the book would have been a wonderful tool to have and reinforce all that I was learning. Today Wyatt is still a fear barker but he has improved and is able to walk through the crowded open-air shopping center in our neighborhood without barking. He still barks at the odd person on roller blades however he's easily distracted from the barking when he's put to the task of sitting or doing a down. Wood's book emphasizes basic training not only for good behavior but to aid in confidence building and bonding with you the owner. I truly believe that Wyatt's improving behavior is a direct result from me continually training him and exposing him to as many sights, sounds, people and dogs as possible.

I highly recommend Help for Your Shy Dog-Turning Your Terrified Dog Into a Terrific Pet by Deborah Wood, as well as finding the best and right trainer for you and your dog.

Until next time Woof, Woof and a Roo.


  1. oh my god, i'm so sorry! that must have been terrifying for you as well. i'm glad he's received the attention/training he needed, but ... what about you?! while you might not be scared of free flowing clothes and heavy women might not scare you now, unleashed large dogs might. as a runner, i really hate all loose dogs. the number of times i've been charged. so far just too curious and not on a lead, but i'm waiting to have stitches!

  2. what advice do you have for the fosterer of a teenager (18 months) grey?