Hi,
My husband and I adpoted a two year old rat terrier, named Daisy about a year ago. She is great. Daisy is very smart and extremely loving.

The only problem is that she is terrified of most people. From the very first day we picked her up she has been nothing but a love bug to me and my husband and some family members. She has never been afraid of us, even in the beginning, but she cowers or growls at pretty much all company that comes over. If any one even tries to touch her she screams (sounds like a little girl screaming).
I'm sure she was abused, but I have no proof. I thought after a while she would relax around other people or at least people she sees often, but nothing has changed.
Does anyone have any advice, that might show her that no one is going to hurt her?
Thank you for your help in advance.
Susan
www.prettyskin.citymaker.com
1 2
The only problem is that she is terrified of most people. From the very first day we picked her up ... company that comes over. If any one even tries to touch her she screams (sounds like a little girl screaming).

First thing is, don't let other people touch her. Don't let them force themselves on her.
If she is really nervous, a good approach is to have someone come over and pretty much ignore her. They should not make eye contact with her. Some dogs find this particularly scary. No loud voices. Just have someone come and sit talk with you. No attempt to pet the dog. If she cowers or growls, ignore her. Do not pick her up to comfort her or to reassure her - this just confirms to her that there really WAS something to be scared of.

Our female can be a little shy. She is especially shy around people with loud voices who try to make friends with her immediately. (And our male insists on making friends with people whether they care or not.) She doesn't object if they try to pet her but it makes her very uncomfortable. Given time to assess the situation and make her own decision about the person, she will usually approach them slowly and cautiously. But not the ones with loud voices or the ones who have been too aggressive from the start. Once she decides about a person, she remembers them the next time. Either way. She has one man - who would desperately like to make friends with her - that she really does not like. He's heartbroken but, in his case, I think it's his loud voice.
I'm sure she was abused, but I have no proof. I thought after a while she would relax around other ... nothing has changed. Does anyone have any advice, that might show her that no one is going to hurt her?

I don't know about the abuse. She just may be shy. And the people that she doesn't like may all have something in common that you don't recognize but she does - that might be associated with abuse. You said she took to you and your husband and some family members right from the start. She isn't universally scared of people and she WANTS to be friendly - maybe just on her own terms.
Probably the only thing that will really help her is time and experience. Don't force her into situations but keep exposing her to more and more people - but try to control the obvious things that would/could set her off. But she may always have certain triggers that you'll never totally understand.

~~Judy
Spenser - Carbor Talk of the Town, NA
Sassy - Can CH Carbor Back Talk
Typical of Rat Terrier behavior. Some are very shy in just the manner you describe. She is attached to you guys, her family fairly, well though, from the sounds of it.
I have an 11yo Rat and although she is not skittish with strangers, she *is* wary. She won't associate with strangers and keeps a distance. With us, however, she is cool as a cucumber and content. (but hates anything or anyone to touch her feet) She doesn't like, and never has liked children under say, the age of 7 maybe. I don't know if it's size or movements or what.
More socialization may help, walks in the park and just lots of activity, they are busy little dogs. They really are all about doing everything they can to please their owners, if she thinks you are happy with her, that just makes her day. OTOH, if she thinks you are frustrated with her, she will NOT like that. They pick up on subtleties quite readily. Perry
The only problem is that she is terrified of most people.

If any one even tries to touch her she screams (sounds like a little girl screaming). I'm sure she was abused

Don't be so sure. One of my agility clubmates has a Rat Terrier who behaved in EXACTLY the same way when she first got her- right down to the high-pitched screaming- and she knows for a fact that Iggy was NOT abused. Ig was simply a supernumerary dog in the household of a busy breeder who had little or no time for her, and therefore was never socialized or exposed to the outside world- she was born in the household, and never left the premises until Joan adopted her at about age two.
It's been about a year and a half, and while she's now comfortable enough in the outside world to be a successful agility dog, she's still shy of humans, and probably always will be.
Does anyone have any advice

I can only tell you what I saw Joan doing with Ig at agility trials and agility practice, which was to very slowly and very carefully expose her to thingse world, little by little. She insisted that NOBODY attempt to touch, handle, or otherwise interact with Iggy, but rather to ignore her so that she could relax.
AFAICT, once Iggy learned that when she was with her owner, she was safe from people trying to force her to interact, she became less fearful and suspicious.
slowly and very carefully expose her to
thingse world,

Yikes. That's my remote keyboard stuttering; should read "expose her to things".
I'm sure she was abused

Don't be so sure. One of my agility clubmates has a Rat Terrier who behaved in EXACTLY the same way ... in the outside world to be a successful agility dog, she's still shy of humans, and probably always will be.

Thanks for the advise. I know your right about the socializing. The man we adaopted her from, kept her on a short chain in his backyard, where she wasn't around too many people.
The thing that really makes me suspicious of abuse, is when we first got Daisy my husband took his belt off in front of her and she crouched and peed in fear. It was so sad. But, she has never acted afraid of him before or after that.
I can only tell you what I saw Joan doing with Ig at agility trials and agility practice, which was ... with her owner, she was safe from people trying to force her to interact, she became less fearful and suspicious.

We have slowly exposed her to more and more things...like riding in the car. At first she was scared, but after a couple short rides to the beach, she loves car rides. In fact, now she begs to go for rides everytime we go somewhere.
I will tell friends to not touch and ignore her and see how that goes.

Thanks for the advice everyone!
Susan
www.prettyskin.citymaker.com
Hi, My husband and I adpoted a two year old rat terrier, named Daisy about a year ago. She is ... nothing has changed. Does anyone have any advice, that might show her that no one is going to hurt her?

Actually, her easy acceptance of you leads me to believe she wasn't abused at all, but rather she has learned screaming keeps scary people away.

I think its wise to reward her for unfearful behavior but not to force her to scream. Visitors don't need to touch her but they can drop treats at their feet while they ignore her. Perhaps at some time someone may be able to get her to take a treat from their hand.
This dog may never like strangers touching her, and thats ok.
Hi, My husband and I adpoted a two year old rat terrier, named Daisy about a year ago. She is ... advice, that might show her that no one is going to hurt her? Thank you for your help in advance.

Maybe she was abused, many dogs are, but then shes happy with you.

Do you get nervous about the fact that she gets nervous? Dogs can pick up on your mood, maybe that worries her. Maybe your efforts to stop it from happening are making her more worried. I'm guessing that your dog has some stress.
maybe a good book about dog behaviour will help you understand things, i'm not sure i can recommend anything as i've not read much but I quite like John Fisher's 'Think Dog' which is 'tuned' into dog 'thinking' and is fairly well regarded.
I'm sure she was abused, but I have no proof. I thought after a while she would relax around other people or at least people she sees often, but nothing has changed.

Probably not abused, just not socialized to strange people when she was a puppy. Dogs like that see everybody but the family as a threat.

The important thing is that she not feel threatened around strange people. So don't let anybody reach out to her, approach her, or even look at her directly. If anything, they can carry pieces of hot dogs and cheese and just toss them casually to the floor near her whenever they're around. Let her decide when to get curious enough about these non-threatening, treat-carrying strangers to approach them.
There could be a dramatic change in a few weeks, or it could take years for her to relax.
Be patient.
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