Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Skittish Mini

I have a 6 month old Mini Australian Shepherd, I have had her since she was 8 weeks old and purchased her from a breeder. She had other brothers and sisters and would play with them. When I got her home she was skittish but soon warmed up to us and my other two Mini Schnauzers. She is very skittish around other people, if anybody comes over she will run and hide. When I walk her she will run the other way if she see's anybody coming even when I have my other two dogs with me. I was hoping to teach her agility training and frisbee but I do not see how as she is so skittish. Any suggestion's on why she is like this and how to cure her?


Aussie Behavior Problems? Australian Shepherd Lover's Guide To Australian Shepherd Training & Care

Comments for Skittish Mini

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Skittish
by: Nonnie / Dee Cutshall

Try an obedience class at your local pet store; like PetSmart. Talk to their trainer first. They can give you pointers and suggest which class to sign up for.

me too
by: Anonymous

I have the same issue with my boy. I've had him since he was 8 weeks, and got him from a breeder, yet, whenever someone visit, or when we go to a store (like petco) he acts so afraid, and howls/barks at people. I don't know what to do either. hopefully, someone has an answer for us both.

skittish
by: Gayle-- Big Run Aussiess

I, too, recommend a positive reinforcement puppy class with lots of praise. You should continually socialize the pup very carefully. Find treats that your pup really likes-- real meat,etc. and having strangers feed him. Don't force anything on him, but let him make up on his own. Any kind of interaction with strangers should be praised heartily. There is a great book called "Click to Calm
" that you might want to research. Clicker training is wonderful for really sensitive dogs. You can also do research on clicker training your pup and get him into a clicker class. It's loads of fun for you and your dog. Agility will greatly help your pup with self confidence.

not so much
by: Anonymous

no offense, but being that hers and mine are so skittish, how can we even get them to go to an obedience class? really? I took him to Petco, just to walk around and he was frantic, barking at anyoon who got to close or tried to touch him, and wanting to leave.

same problem
by: Anonymous

We have a (now 11 mo) Toy Aussie. She was EXACTLY the same way. She was TERRIFIED of strangers and especially children. We would take her for a walk and she was like a cat in a bathtub, she would NOT move from our yard. She would scramble so badly when other people came near she would wear her back nails down to the quick. We started walking her early in the morning and later in the evening when there were not a lot of people outisde and it was quite. It helped build her confidence. We also started in her class at Petsmart as soon as she was fully vaccinated. At first I had to carry her into the store, if we put her down she wouldnt walk and i had to pull her across the floor. She would shake like a leaf and wouldnt take treats. She had already learned some tricks at home so once she got to a place she felt safe in the class (under my chair) and we dropped some treats down and she started to take them. She slowly came out of her shell(over the course of 5+ mo or so) and will now walk/run into the store and knows right where the training room is (she LOVES the trainer and demo dog). You can audit classes at Petsmart (you can sit in and participate w/o having to pay for the class again) and we did NOT stop going to class from Feb through until Aug. After a lot of research and talking w other people (trainer etc)decided to get another puppy. Our Aussie has always been much more calm when there is another dog around. She has come out of her shell even more now and watches the puppy (we got a pug who is SUPER outgoing and LOVES everyone) and mocks her behavior. She does hide when certain people come over but she hides a lot less now that we have the puppy. She is A LOT more friendly, and less scared. The pug is in now in class at Petsmart and we are allowed to bring our Aussie too. It is more for the exposure aspect since she can do all the training tasks (we did beginner and intermediate class w her). We have worked LONG and HARD w her and she is always a work in progress. Just hang in there and slowly expose them to things and hopefully it will help. Hope this helps! Good luck!

skittish
by: Gayle-- Big Run Aussies

From my experience Petco and PetSmart are not the perfect places for socialization. My dog who has won High In Trial in agility in a huge, noisy building like McCormick Place in Chicago can't go into PetSmart. She becomes a nervous wreck. She shakes and cowers. She is a therapy dog and goes into hospitals, nursing homes and schools with no problem at all, but we can't do PetSmart. Maybe its the smells and just doggy overload in general. I don't know. Maybe a private clicker class would work the best for these puppies to start. After the pups have progressed, they could join a class. This is no easy fix by any means. It will take a lot of time and patience.

Skittish
by: Nonnie

Our trainer did a one on one class. Only me and the dog. She had us stand next to her, near the door of the store. She would stand where she could see if someone was coming in and would tell me if it was just a person, a person with a dog, etc. If Bailee started barking, I would quietly tell her to leave it. If she did, she got a treat, if not I would immediately turn and walk her in the opposite direction. Then we would do it over and over. Even other employees would participate in coming towards her and talking to her. Again she got a treat if she didn't bark. Or they would walk by and if she didn't bark, they would drop a treat on the floor near her. Other customers were used to reinforce these commands. As they came to the register to purchase something, Bailee would start to bark ... same routine.

Another thing our trainer suggested was to take our dogs any place we can, even just for a ride to go nowhere 10-20 minutes in the car. They see lots of people, cars, dogs, practice the leave it command. It helps to have someone to drive and someone to sit next to and work with the dog. Also to take them to a drive through like McDonalds or some place like that, order a hamburger for the dog. Explain that you are working on socialization with your dog and ask the person who hands you your food to just say hi - no touch, nothing scary. Then pull to a parking spot as quickly as possible and give the dog a few bites of hamburger. This helps them to associate good things with going in the car, talking to someone unknown, etc.

When we are at home, we are selective when we let our dogs just bark. If they are barking because they saw shadows outside or one of us made a sound they didn't recognize, we use our "leave it" command. If they stop barking after the first time we say it, they get a small treat. If not, they don't. They learn quickly. They will even bark on purpose and stop barking after one bark on purpose to get the treat... so you have to be on your toes.

I hope these suggestions might help a little.

Skittish Mini
by: Anonymous

When we took our aussie to her first training class she was also very skittish. The trainers will know how to handle this. We attended classes at Posidog, don't know where your located, but they were very helpfull. By the third class she couldnt wait to go in and play and train with all the other dogs.

skittish
by: Gayle-- Big Run Aussies

Wow! What an outpouring of love and care from Aussie people. I have had people in class just sit with their dog and click and treat continuously until the pup is comfortable. That is dog training! Yes, it can be a long road, but worth it in the end. So much good advice here.

Skittish
by: Nonnie

There are some good suggestions here.

Bailee calmed down a lot when we got Maggie. She is still the more active, but calmer. They are half-sisters born two weeks apart. Bailee is protective of Maggie and does dominate her a bit. Maggie doesn't care. She knows her place in the pack and she likes it. We keep a watch on them so that Bailee does not overdo it.

They have been to several different obedience classes. Bailee loves to go to PetSmart, even though it makes her nervous. She loves to see her trainer, Debbie. As we near the PetSmart, she starts to whine and get very excited. She knows who Debbie is.

For the most part, just keep working with your Aussie. They are worth every minute!!

Keep us posted!

there's hope
by: kat

I had adopted an adult aussie that had chewed all of the hair off of his back legs. He was a nervous wreck. The vet even recommended sedatives. These guys really respond to positive reinforcement and tons of affection to get over their fears. He's 5 now but will still run and hide if he hears anything/anyone that is loud or unpleasant. They are also extremely receptive to your mood and will absorb any fears or worries that you have like little sponges. Be confident and reassuring always and watch him blossom.

Miniature Australian Shepherd
by: P Schroep

We adopted a Miniature Australian Sheperd several months ago from a rescue shelter. It is 3-4 years old and is a very skittish dog. It is attached to my wife but has nothing to do with anyone else in the family and is openly afraid of myself and my adult son. This behavior has not improved at all in the last few months and I would like to give the dog back to the shelter. Any hope of this dog's behavior improving?

Skittish
by: Nonnie

To the person who got their Aussie from a shelter ... Please don't take her back there!! If you return her they will euthanize her immediately. Please find an Aussie rescue group. Please!!

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