Fear of strangers in the house.
  • NixNix
    Posts: 21
    So as you all know I got ryoko a fwe months back. We have been getting along really well, but a few things that I want to know what to do about?

    So when I have friends come over she gets very scared to the point where she keeps running around and doesn't know what to do. I let her be upstairs in her own space but she doesn't seem to calm down. Even amongst people she knows well like my friend that comes over regularly she seems to forget that she was sitting at his feet the previous time.

    Any advice as to what I should do?

    She also urinates when people come over and sometimes even poops.
  • obukobuk
    Posts: 524
    Does she feel safer outside of your home, on a walk? Is she motivated by food?
  • NixNix
    Posts: 21
    She does feel safe outside and on walks she will sniff people on walks but very cautiously. But in the house nothing she just stays very far away and keeps running around
  • sukoshi_momsukoshi_mom
    Posts: 775
    Since she feels safe outside, maybe you should have her meet and greet visitors outside, and then have them walk into the house with her. Maybe this would help reduce her fear.
  • NixNix
    Posts: 21
    I could try that any other tips ? We did go to my friends place and took her with us and she was fine in their house. She just doesnt take well to people coming in our own house.
  • ZinjaZinja
    Posts: 1033
    I think a thundershirt, dap, and go for a jog before your friend comes will work wonders!
    Post edited by Zinja at 2012-07-20 18:35:28
  • shibamistressshibamistress
    Posts: 3663
    I think the thundershirt/DAP is a good suggestion, but I will tell you that at least in my experience, depending on how fearful she is, you may not have much success with anything, and she does sound VERY fearful.

    I have a Shiba from a puppy mill who is very fearful of strangers. She also can't seem to remember people who have visited before. Sometimes she forgets people even while they are visiting--as in she starts to calm down around a person, then the person goes in the bathroom and comes back out (or Bel goes upstairs and comes back down) and it's like there is a new (scary) person in the house. And when my mom was visiting, Bel got used to her one day, but the next morning it was like a new person was here (Bel is epileptic, though, and possibly has other neurological disorders, so her behavior is probably extreme). We do use DAP and a thundershirt, but we don't usually do it when people come over. We just let her go hide upstairs if she is more comfortable that way.

    Bel is also ok, if nervous, in other people's house, but she clearly doesn't enjoy it, so we stopped taking her places.

    I find if I just have people ignore her--no eye contact, no trying to touch her--and if she has an escape route, she will eventually become curious enough that she will stay in the room to observe. Sometimes she will approach someone, which we think is a great success, but mostly she won't. I've finally just come to terms with the fact that she is really fearful and probably is not going to get much better about this, so we just let her be.

    Sorry I don't have any concrete suggestions, but I certainly understand how frustrating it can be. Just be patient with her.

    And out of curiousity, does she have other issues? Seizures? How are her thyroid levels? It's always worth it to check for a medical condition too.
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
  • CrimsonO2CrimsonO2
    Posts: 2215
    Hey Nix,
    You may want to take your friend's entrance into the house in baby steps so her initial excitement doesn't boil over to full blown overstimulation/stress/fear. Now, admittedly, my own Shikoku has no manners when guests come over and she'll try to jump up and put her paws on them and lick their hands so...

    When your friends come over, greet them at the doorway after they come in and stay in the immediate vicinity near the door until she calms down. Have some treats ready and just tell them to ignore the dog for the first 30 minutes they are there (no looking, turn away from the dog and don't make quick movements that could excite her or trigger her to run away). You want to try to encourage her curiousity to be higher than her fear. Have a clicker and treats ready so you might be able to toss treats and distract her from wanting to run around and pee/poop. As she starts calming down, maybe you can click and reward her with treats and then you can slowly make your way to your living room having you and your friend drop treats along the way (assuming she's not too excited to eat them).

    Just a thought.

    Jesse Pelayo

    Post edited by CrimsonO2 at 2012-07-21 13:07:49
  • obukobuk
    Posts: 524
    Mochi is also from a puppy mill and is a nervous dog in general, though he has improved a lot since we first adopted him 5 years ago. He now loves to come with us wherever we go but he is still quite uncomfortable when people come to our house. Most of the time we just manage the behavior and for the most part, our guests, even family members, have to follow certain rules. The most important ones are not to look at the dog and to just ignore him and keep walking. If Mochi is too aroused/barking and jumping up to the point of lunging at people, we put him outside on the porch where he can see the visitors and smell them but he can't get to them nor can they approach him. After explaining the rules to our guests, we let Mochi back inside and he will usually sniff everybody in detail (more or less lol) and then be ok with visitors.
    So far so good. Everything is peaceful until someone comes back from the bathroom. That person will immediately be approached and barked at. If Mochi is calm enough to obey me, he will just go and lie down somewhere. Sometimes that person has to do the whole ritual of ignoring the dog, letting him sniff, etc. again. It just depends. Same when someone stays over night. What really helped Mochi overcome a lot of his nervousness were visitors that randomly dropped treats around him. We even made maintenance people give him treats whenever they walked through the door. I might be able to write more later if my 8 month old lets me lol
  • shibamistressshibamistress
    Posts: 3663
    Ha, another dog with the "oh no, who is that scary new person who just came out of the bathroom?" thing going on!

    We tried the dropping treats around but Bel often is too scared to get them. When we had the behavioralist came out, in the 1.5 hours she was there, Bel never would take a treat anywhere near her, and believe me the behavioralist was a wonderful person and not at all intimidating. But Bel would not approach at all, which is typical of her.
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
  • obukobuk
    Posts: 524
    The treat thing didn't work with every single person. For instance, with black people he was terrible. We always said he's racist LOL of course not. I think it's just the color of the skin obviously but still...
    Anyway, with some people it took more than one visit, having rhat strange person give him treats (if we had freeze dried liver or something really great like that it, it worked wonders ;)). Also, it helped if i tried to get the dog's attention while my husband opened the door and let the visitor in. The best thing was to have Mochi go outside and meet the visitors there first, even go for a walk together which helped a lot. After a walk together, Mochi usually even came up to the strange person.
    Another thing, like i said, is to just give especially complete strangers simple instructions on how to behave/act around the dog. They see the difference in the dog's behavior almost immediately. It's just that most people have NO IDEA about what to do and what not to do around a dog. Yes, we even have "how NOT to greet a dog" instructions on our door for everyone to see.
  • jellyfishjellyfish
    Posts: 1081
    I know exactly what you are going through.

    Toki, my 10 mo old Japanese Akita, acts in a similar way. I'm not sure if he is fearful or protective (probably a combination of both due to his breed's genetics) but Toki is very protective of the house and me and my boyfriend.

    The best thing you can do is desensitize your pup to people coming over. Invite quiet folks over, and often. Here is some rule of thumbs:
    1) no eye contact
    2) no hands. Let the dog come to the guest on their own terms to "sniff". Do not give the guest treats***
    3) no loud gestures. Be an introvert
    4) be happy!!! :)

    **** the reason for this... No treats... The dog who may or not be fearful is enticed by treats, but suddenly really, really close to the stranger in question. This makes them suddenly confronted and theatended, and they may snap out of instinct, without warning. So, to prevent this, let the dog go to your guests on their own terms. Do not bribe them....(yes, contrary to popular belief that you will associate good food with experiences, this is one of those times that, in my opinion, goes against popular belief)

    DO NOT correct the barking. correct the thing that is stimulating them. Tell guests how to respect your dog. You don't want a bite to happen. (granted, an Akita is a watch dog, not a guard dog, but still, people are intimidated by Toki barking). Dogs bark. Get over it. Figure out what is causing the barking and work with them on the cause. You do NOT want to hinder theirs communications. So listen to them. What comes next is a growl, and after that....

    Also, the owner needs to stay happy too. If the owner is stressed, the pup will sense this. Toki does the same, so I try to be happy, and it helps.

    Just realize that your pup may never be a "party animal" and that is completely OKAY. Strangers do not have to pet your dog or earn their trust. (strangers tend to think that every dog is obligated to love them. Little do people know that dogs are social, and work a lot like humans). If you want to advocate you breed, do it with your words, not at the expense of your dog.

    It helps to take them in public often. (Toki does infinitely much better in public than he does at the house, but it reflects when strangers come to the home.) it also builds a good relationship between tthe both of you. And being a nihon ken, be prepared to be stopped for questions. It is extremely good socialzation. Here is some good places to go:
    1) pet smart, pet stores, ect....
    2) home depot
    3) half priced books
    4) Starbucks patio.

    I hope this helps. Basically, it helps to figure out the root of the problem,....don't treat the symptoms, treat the cause! (it takes a lot of work sometimes, embarrassing sometimes too, but just deal with it, you're going it for the better of your dog and guests)
  • jellyfishjellyfish
    Posts: 1081
    I must add, I have finally figured out WHY Toki doesn't like certain people. It is the way the act around him. It has nothing to do with ethnicity, clothing, hair style, gender, ect.... (unless they are carrying a huge bag or huge props or something). It has to do with the way the act. That is it. That simple. (though, I can't say the same for every dog, but I can speak for Toki)

    for a pattern of the way your guests act. Figure out the answer to these questions:
    -do your guests come in multiples?
    -do your guests act scared of your dog, make eye contact, stick a hand out to "sniff" (they shouldn't)
    -do or guests act wild and loud
  • ttddinhttddinh
    Posts: 1990
    wow, everyone has offered some great advice so far.

    @crimson02--Kaiju is definitely the same way but only with kids, not adults (which we like).

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