By Dr. Lisa Radosta
Question: I have two dogs, a 3-year-old Chihuahua and an 18-month-0ld Yorkie/Shih Tzu mix and just adopted a Yorkie puppy. My Shih Tzu mix is terrified of the puppy. She hides, growls and will just stand there frozen when the pup goes near her. She is a very timid, fearful dog naturally and I don't know why. I have had her since she was 10 weeks old and she was pretty feisty then. When she got to about 8 months old she was scared of everything. She also piddles whenever someone comes near and crawls. What can I do to help her not be afraid and show her nothing is going to hurt her.
Answer: It sounds like your little dog has a long-standing predisposition to fearful behavior. This can be a result of a hereditary predisposition, lack of socialization before 16 weeks and traumatic events causing negative emotional conditioning.
It is hard to say without more information what caused her to be so afraid of your new puppy, but there are some things that you can do to make it better. Try the suggestions below for a week or two. If you don't see any improvement, you may have to see a veterinary behaviorist with both of your dogs. You can find one at www.dacvb.org.
1. Don't force the dogs to be together. This is called flooding and generally makes these problems worse.
2. Control the puppy. This may be counterintuitive, but if you control the puppy, your older dog will have more confidence to move forward and interact.
3. Introduce them around fun and exciting things. If your dog loves to walk or play with a certain toy, introduce the puppy each day to her around those circumstances. She will be starting with a better emotional state which will increase the likelihood of positive emotional conditioning.
4. Reward her for bravery. When she approaches the rambunctious new family member, reward her with her favorite treat. Encourage her to come forward and be in the same room with the puppy by rewarding her frequently.
Hopefully, soon you will have a more peaceful house!
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