I recently purchased a mini aussie from a breeder. She had at least 20 other puppies. The one I ended up getting is very shy because he was beat up by the other puppies because he was the runt. Now that he is home with me he is afraid of everything he is very jumpy with every noice or movement he hears. It is sad to see him like this. I want to train him to do fun tricks but he is very scared and has a hard time trusting me. Is there anything I can do to help him?
Thank you for writing to me about your sweet,timid puppy. From what you described to me your breeder is actually what is known as a puppy mill. No truly responsible breeder would have that many puppies going at once and would also not have such a timid dog. The responsible breeder would have made sure that nothing traumatic was happening to their puppies. Additionally, many puppy mills breed their dogs in isolation, not in a home setting. These dogs tend to be afraid because of the isolation their mothers experience. I've seen it happen time and time again unfortunately.
The first thing to do is speak with your vet about medication for anxiety. The right kind and amount of medication is crucial in reducing the fear. He may refer you to a canine behavorist who deals in emotional issues.
I would also for awhile, hand feed him to gain his trust. Tether him to you so that where you go, he goes. That will start the bonding process. If you have crate trained your dog and I do hope you have (you can still do that), it will give your puppy a safe place of his own where he can go into when he is experiencing anxiety.
Never raise your voice to him. Do not use negative training methods or hit him ever. Work with a trainer that uses only positive reinforcement, preferably clicker training. This is very important as the way you train your dog (which gives him confidence) sets him up for the rest of his life. A book or CD by Karen Pryor will help you to learn clicker training.
There is a facebook page called Fearful Dogs that I strongly suggest you join. https://www.facebook.com/groups/fearfuldogs/?fref=ts
I rescued a dog from Korea this year who is also fearful and I've been working with her on these issue so I understand your concerns.
There are also wonderful books, CDs, and Youtube videos on working with fearful dogs. Go to www.dogwise.com and anything written by Ian Dunbar, Pat McConnell, etc can help you to create a plan to deal with your puppy. Some of these books are available through your public library or used on Amazon.com/
I wish you the very best with your sweet puppy. There are solutions that will help with his fear. Just be patient and persistant. Additionally, exercise is extremely important as it changes the brain chemistry and reduces anxiety levels.
Have a wonderful life with your beautiful puppy!
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