Scared Berner

Discussion in 'Bernese Mountain Dog Training Forum' started by Bear'sMama, Apr 12, 2011.

  1. Bear'sMama

    Bear'sMama New Member

    I'll admit that my husband and I were late in socializing our Berner because we couldn't get all of his shots done until he was 4 and 1/2 months old. After that, we worked introducing him to people outside of the house and in our home as well as other dogs at the dog park (well supervised) and at our basic obedience class. We've also taken him to cafes, open markets, and into town to make sure he had lots of difference experiences.

    Some days, he is great and has no problem greeting people. Other days, he is so timid and won't approach people even if they have a treat for him. Most times he will approach if I tell the person to kneel down to his level with the treat.

    I'm hoping that this is just part of growing up and his fear of people will slowly fade with time. Although, I'm also concerned that I'll have a 100 lb dog that runs away if people try to approach him if I don't try and help him with his fear now (he is 6 months now).

    Has anyone else had similar experiences? Did you do anything special to work on the issue other than keep exposing him to people and different settings?
  2. linda_wlu

    linda_wlu New Member

    Been there

    In my experience, as my breeder explained, Berners typically have a fear of noises or people (sometimes both but not usually). Ours happens to be afraid of noises. It took her months to not freak out when we would push our chairs back from the table. We had to upgrade to a wire crate from a plastic one and same thing. She got herself so worked up because it sounded different. She wouldn't wag her tail in the wire crate for the noise. It took months to overcome. I distinctly remember the first day I came home from work and she was wagging her tail at me from inside the wire crate. With people, she's amazing. Wants to introduce herself to everyone no matter what size or gender. I'm told some Berners fear men.
    What we did to overcome the noise fears is just persist and make it a game. She had a fear of plastic bags so we made a 'cape' out of one and tied it to her collar (supervised of course) for a few hours while we were in the back yard. She's been afraid of some of our baby's loud toys but in those cases we don't mind. We like that she leaves them alone.
    With our girl we've also found that it works to introduce the item to her as fun. With boxes for example, we bring them to her nose and make a razzberry sound with our mouth and she automatically starts to wag her tail. Shes connected us making that noise with the fact that the item is safe and will not hurt her.
    I'm not sure if you can adapt any of this to the people dilemma. Maybe if the person were to wait for the dog to approach them rather than coming to the dog with the treat? Or perhaps some hide and seek? Ours loves that as well.
    hope some of this might relate.
  3. stitch413

    stitch413 New Member

    My Darby is 3 years now, as a pup (we had him from 8 weeks) he would socialise with anyone and everyone, no fear at all - as he matured i found he would observe the person coming towards him 1st before greeting them. Now if someone comes into the driveway he doesn't know he will bark at them, if the person keeps advancing he will tun tail and go into where my partner is and stand between her and whoever is coming in!! leaving me to fend for myself of course!

    but to get back to the point - yes he is cautious around new people, especially men, but if i give him the "ok" command he will walk out and greet the person.

    a good way around a fear of people is to have a lot of different people arranged to greet you on a walk and all with a treat, each person can offer the treat at the dogs level avoiding eye contact, and you can give the dog some command like "ok" or "safe".

    hope this helps:D
  4. Bear'sMama

    Bear'sMama New Member

    Thanks for the replies. I've been setting up our walks so we run into our friends who have treats for Bear. I haven't been telling them to avoid eye contact if he is scared when greeting so I'll start doing that along with tell them to come down to his level.

    He does seem to be getting better; I think it's just going to take a long time to get over that fear and build his confidence. He does go everywhere with me so hopefully that should help.

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