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    1. #1
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      Any Other Ridiculously Sensitive Dogs?

      Ok, Hoku.

      She's lovely and perfect. So lovely and perfect and sweet and hilarious (hilarious!) and biddable and sensitive. And sensitive.

      This doesn't come out so much with me, but more with my husband. A lot with my husband.

      Hoku spends her days with him—she goes to work with him, and so is with him most of the day, pretty much all week days. She clearly adores him, and thinks that the sun rises and sets out of his butt. As a result—we think—she is perhaps overly sensitive to ... I don't know how to explain it.

      When he applies the topical flea meds, she gets really scared, and then runs upstairs to her crate for a while, and will avoid him for a bit after that.

      If he tries to examine her face (like when she bonked herself on the patio), she gets nervous and runs upstairs to her crate for a while. She doesn't get aggressive, just ... like she's ashamed that she's done something wrong. She'll later come down and be fine.

      She likes to be on our bed in the morning, but won't be there if he's in the room. Apparently he once told her to get off the bed when she was up with him and our son and being 83 lbs and rambunctious. Now, she won't come on the bed if he's there. When he goes down in the morning, she comes up and will lie with me and play or snooze for another half hour or so. If she hears him coming upstairs, she hops down and goes into her crate.

      Today he was telling me that her demodexis spot on her ear has cleared up (it has), but that she had a spot on her forehead (it's not demodexis, but just a little bump or something on her forehead; I'd already noticed it, and it's nothing to be concerned about. I'd touched it and there is no pain or redness; it was maybe a place where she scratched herself, and is only barely visible). When he bent down to show me, she got freaked out and ran to the other room.

      To be clear: my husband is the gentlest, kindest person I know, so I know for sure he has never yelled at her or physically corrected her. I know this as much as I know anything. And she's not afraid of him—she nearly idolizes him. It's not fear; it's more like a worry that she's done something wrong. She's a bit shy w/ me this way, but it's really significant w/ my husband. Whom she clearly does not fear, and adores.

      We are starting to consider asking the vet to put the flea meds on. But we really don't know what to do.

      Thoughts? Just deal with it?
      Hidden Content Hokule'a ("Hoku") / b. 06.08.15

    2. #2
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      Do you and/or your husband put her on a grooming table (or the ground) and do her nails and give her a full body go over once a week, or every other week? If you don't, start now, and try to desensitize her to being touched anywhere, everywhere, in her mouth, her neck and shoulders (where the Frontline goes) her ears, nose, feet, eyes, belly, tail, everywhere... On lead so she cannot escape to her "safe place" crate, and you need to force it a little, not in a mean way, but build trust. She needs to learn to trust that you can do whatever you need to her, and that she will be OK. At least this is what I would do with her, if she were one of mine.

      I groom weekly, and do nails, on the grooming table, from puppyhood on, so I can check for lumps and bumps, get them used to being examined (for the show ring) and my own personal exam. My girls are also excellent at the vets office, even for all those progesterone draws we do for breeding.

      Have you asked Becky about this, I know she is in Hawaii right now, but she may have a suggestion too?
      Last edited by Shelley; 03-28-2016 at 10:57 PM. Reason: punctuation

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    4. #3
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      I agree. It sounds like a desensitization thing with the Frontline. It could also be the smell/feel. Luna will run away as soon as she sees any kind of spray bottle. Her "dog perfume", flea and tick spray and even ShowSheen are in spray bottles, and she hates the smell of all of them.

      I would also talk to your breeder about the shyness. Luna was the spitfire of the litter, Comet was the stoner of the litter and still is. It might just be the way she's wired and you have to put up with it. My 2 are from the same breeder but totally different lines, and they are opposite as night and day.
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    5. #4
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      I'm of the mind that she is just looking for a bit more leadership, meaning she needs clear, reinforced communication. With the flea meds, have hubby apply it, give her a treat for complying (you can jackpot with high value treats and then scale down to one treat) and have him do something fun with her right after. Don't let her run off to her crate and pout. With my dogs, I apply their flea meds, treat them, and take each one on his own walk. This serves two purposes -- it allows them to be separated while the topical dries, and it creates this association for them that flea med application = treat and quality one-on-one time with me.

      Your hubby could also invite her onto the bed with him, and give her some belly rubs, reinforcing the fact that she doesn't have to be off the bed if he's on it (unless that's really what he wants). Your hubby might have scared her inadvertently. For instance, I once was startled when my older dog accidentally knocked his metal food bowl out of his crate and made a huge clatter. I gasped or jumped, and he shrank back into his crate and wouldn't eat or touch his food bowl. I didn't yell at him, but he misinterpreted my response. I lured him back out with a treat and praised him, then had him watch me holding his bowl and encouraging him to interact with it. He got over it, but that kind of incident that doesn't involve anger or yelling could've created a sensitivity if I hadn't worked with him. I'm sure you all can do the same with Hoku to fix these issues. She may not be scared of your husband, but she's clearly misinterpreted some of his reactions. Now's the time to reverse course, and help her know that him examining her is good.

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    7. #5
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      Quote Originally Posted by Abulafia View Post
      Ok, Hoku.

      She's lovely and perfect. So lovely and perfect and sweet and hilarious (hilarious!) and biddable and sensitive. And sensitive.

      This doesn't come out so much with me, but more with my husband. A lot with my husband.

      Hoku spends her days with him—she goes to work with him, and so is with him most of the day, pretty much all week days. She clearly adores him, and thinks that the sun rises and sets out of his butt. As a result—we think—she is perhaps overly sensitive to ... I don't know how to explain it.

      When he applies the topical flea meds, she gets really scared, and then runs upstairs to her crate for a while, and will avoid him for a bit after that.

      If he tries to examine her face (like when she bonked herself on the patio), she gets nervous and runs upstairs to her crate for a while. She doesn't get aggressive, just ... like she's ashamed that she's done something wrong. She'll later come down and be fine.

      She likes to be on our bed in the morning, but won't be there if he's in the room. Apparently he once told her to get off the bed when she was up with him and our son and being 83 lbs and rambunctious. Now, she won't come on the bed if he's there. When he goes down in the morning, she comes up and will lie with me and play or snooze for another half hour or so. If she hears him coming upstairs, she hops down and goes into her crate.

      Today he was telling me that her demodexis spot on her ear has cleared up (it has), but that she had a spot on her forehead (it's not demodexis, but just a little bump or something on her forehead; I'd already noticed it, and it's nothing to be concerned about. I'd touched it and there is no pain or redness; it was maybe a place where she scratched herself, and is only barely visible). When he bent down to show me, she got freaked out and ran to the other room.

      To be clear: my husband is the gentlest, kindest person I know, so I know for sure he has never yelled at her or physically corrected her. I know this as much as I know anything. And she's not afraid of him—she nearly idolizes him. It's not fear; it's more like a worry that she's done something wrong. She's a bit shy w/ me this way, but it's really significant w/ my husband. Whom she clearly does not fear, and adores.

      We are starting to consider asking the vet to put the flea meds on. But we really don't know what to do.

      Thoughts? Just deal with it?
      I have a sensitive Lab as well and I understand. Your dog sounds more extreme than mine with maybe some fear/trust issues, but like my dog, she sounds pressure sensitive and overly worried about making mistakes. I've also never yelled or physically corrected my dog, other than when I was with my first trainer some very light collar pops, which only served to completely demoralize him. I have gotten PO'ed just in general (not at him -- at the cat for breaking something and stuff like that) before and stressed (work) and he has avoided me. It's happened a couple times so now I really watch myself.

      One thing I have learned is that forcing it will get you absolutely nowhere with a dog like this, other than her losing trust in you. You could probably get her to do what you want at some point by making her do it and it will suit your purposes. I don't personally equate that with obedience or acceptance and I never want my dog to do something out of fear or force. I mean, if something happens and it's gotta be done, so be it, but I won't have that type of relationship with my dog. Much like a child afraid of the dark; you'd never lock them in a dark closet to desensitize them. You might offer to go in there together for just one second and then run out and when you get out you'd tell them how proud you are of them and how brave they are and the next night, you'd do it for two seconds, then three...etc. You'd also make it fun and get in the racing pose with them and say, on your mark, get set, go! The child would gain confidence and it would most definitely create trust in your relationship.

      Going slow and allowing her a choice is key. Being encouraging and supportive is important and not making a big deal of mistakes is also important. Rewarding them generously, however they like to be rewarded is very motivational for these dogs. They need to know when they are right. Don't take away the reward too soon after something is learned. Consistency in training, using the same commands between family members avoids confusion in the dog. These dogs are not very forgiving of handler error. If you mess up, they will think they messed up.

      For us, using shaping in training has been a huge confidence builder. I teach tricks and things that are helpful with obedience, agility and field work using the clicker. I also got him to be a lot better with the dremel using a clicker. I use games for training and try not to take things too seriously. I've done a lot more than this with him as well as myself, things I won't go into as this is already quite lengthy, and it's been a lot of work. We still have a ways to go and sometimes I get discouraged, but he's improved by leaps and bounds.

      Perhaps your husband creates too much pressure for her. If he stands over her to apply meds, that might be too much. What if he kneels? Does that freak her out? Does he let her come to him or does he grab at her? When he asks her to get off the bed, perhaps he is being too strong for her? For some dogs, his commands might be fine or even not enough. For a dog like Hoku, perhaps it's too much. I know a lot of men who are not as good at praising a dog and who can be a little grabby, could this be part of it? Is he very demanding of her? She is still a puppy and it's pretty easy to expect too much of these types of dogs since they are typically so obedient early on. There are probably some things about his demeanor around her that he could change to help her with her sensitivities and it might take an experienced third party to point them out.

      It's a good idea to talk to your breeder as this is most likely genetic. Perhaps she has some insight into whether or not Hoku might grow out of it somewhat as dogs often grow in confidence as they mature and gain positive experiences. She'll never change in temperament, but it could get better on its own with maturity and time.

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    9. #6
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      Thanks, all. To clarify / respond:

      Do you and/or your husband put her on a grooming table (or the ground) and do her nails and give her a full body go over once a week, or every other week? If you don't, start now, and try to desensitize her to being touched anywhere, everywhere, in her mouth, her neck and shoulders (where the Frontline goes) her ears, nose, feet, eyes, belly, tail, everywhere.


      Not a grooming table, but on the ground or elsewhere—yes, she is touched daily, everywhere. Nails, between her toes, mouth open, looking in ears, belly, everywhere. With strangers—remember, she's in therapy dog training—anywhere they touch her is fine. She is not touch averse. (In fact she's up here with me, in bed, and had something in mouth, so I opened it and reached in there. She spat it out: a Euro coin.) It's not about touch; it's about what I would call "concerned attention" from my husband. No one else.

      (I'm not criticizing—I'd suspect touch aversion as well, but I know it's not that.)

      No trouble at Vet's office. She's a dream there.

      I would also talk to your breeder about the shyness.


      I couldn't call this shyness. She's kind of the least shy dog I've seen. Is out in public all the time, approaches strangers with big grin and wagging tail. Thinks she owns Home Depot. I take her to Goodwill (we are stocking up on vintage plates and such for the new cabin), and she will station herself at the door like a greeter.

      Again, this is just my husband. And only when she seems to sense his disapproval.

      Both my husband and I train her every day, so I don't think it's that she needs more leadership. It's almost like she idolizes him too much. I do think she might have misinterpreted a reaction from him, however—maybe when he told her to get off the bed?—so we can work on that.

      Ok, he walked up the stairs, so she jumped off the bed and into her crate. So weird. Now, she's out, and has gone downstairs to be with him.

      Perhaps your husband creates too much pressure for her. If he stands over her to apply meds, that might be too much. What if he kneels? Does that freak her out? Does he let her come to him or does he grab at her? When he asks her to get off the bed, perhaps he is being too strong for her? For some dogs, his commands might be fine or even not enough. For a dog like Hoku, perhaps it's too much. I know a lot of men who are not as good at praising a dog and who can be a little grabby


      I think this might be getting it. I don't know if he creates too much pressure, but I do know that he tends to stand over her rather than get on her level. Early on the trainer said "don't get at their level; stay above them," and I think he took this to heart, even though I took this to mean "if you have a disobedient dog," which Hoku definitely is not. I don't think she doesn't see me as an authority figure... but maybe he's a little scarier, even though she adores him. He's not a huge guy, but he's a 6' tall guy. And I do think he goes to her when he applies meds, not letting her come to him. I'll talk to him about this.

      and this:
      For a dog like Hoku, perhaps it's too much.


      Absolutely. I wonder if some of what makes her such a good Therapy Dog candidate—she literally goes mainly to people in wheelchairs, older people with canes, little kids, and just sits there and lets them fondle her; it's like she knows the ones who need dog love—also makes her just that little bit of extra sensitive with us.

      I'll contact Becky. I'm not worried worried. But it's an interesting thing. It could be temperament, puberty, a passing phase... I just wouldn't want it to get worse.

      Many thanks for all the thoughts and suggestions!







    10. #7
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      Does your husband use some kind of scent that you don't? A different shampoo or deodorant? Even his socks, if made of some kinds of materials, might smell strong to her. Reaching, I know.

      Oban has been leery of handling by our last Vet ever since the Vet gave him the nasal Bordatella. Not as pronounced as Hoku but I'm surprised at the reaction. Can you think of something similar?
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    11. #8
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      Pressure is a funny thing. It took me awhile to understand it. Pressure can be a wall, it can be a very small person, it can be expectations, it can be anything that causes the dog stress because it's big or new or ... it depends on the dog. This is a pretty good write-up: You're Too Close! Dogs and Body Pressure

      I play games with my dog to help. I will be very serious (start with a second and go up to several seconds), followed by exploding into fun and cookies. We do that a lot for ring work. I send him through my legs during training. When I do proofing work with him, we keep it light and fun. I have taught him to jump on me and grab at me with his mouth in play (I would not suggest this to everyone!). I also play games where I am standing over him or he is between my legs (like he is a horse). I taught him to jump through my arms like a hoop. I've made closeness with training and quiet a good and comfortable place for him by making it fun and rewarding it heavily. It's helped a ton, but he'll always be sensitive, so it's not like he is "fixed".

      Sensitivity does make them good therapy dog candidates. They tend to be attracted to people that do not create pressure (old, ill, children, people who are not very assertive in general, etc.), not that need more love (sorry!) and they are typically more gentle and quiet in general as well as very careful. It has been suggested to me several times that Linus should go into therapy work, but I have decided to soldier through obedience so I have been working with him on being less careful/gentle and pushier in general. I want him moving, running, active, playing and I feel like adding therapy work will send him backwards, so I have added field work and agility instead.

    12. #9
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      Quote Originally Posted by Snowshoe View Post
      Does your husband use some kind of scent that you don't? A different shampoo or deodorant? Even his socks, if made of some kinds of materials, might smell strong to her. Reaching, I know.
      My husband is not allergic to scent, but he hates strong smells, so no. And Hoku loves socks. Everyone's socks. When you put socks on, she looks at you like "Why are you putting my mouth toy on your feet? That is stupid, but whatever; I'll get it later."

      I think it might be the "standing above" thing. I've tried to talk to him about it without being all "you're doing it wrong," because he's not. Because he takes her to work (they are on lunch break now, about to go jump in the lake), she is with him virtually every moment of the day. And he has said that if he invites her onto the bed—like when I was in Rome, and he and my son were lying in bed together—she'll do it. But we are thinking that maybe when her told her to get down, she overreacted or something.

      Also, he's been the one to put her in her crate either at work—if he needs to crate her while doing something—or at night (though now she mainly runs in on her own after the evening walk), so that might be some of it.

      It's weird, huh? I'd know more what to do with a generally nervous or shy dog, which she's not. Sensitive, but not skittish or especially soft—she never sulks or mopes during correction at obedience, thinks nothing of a pop from the prong collar.

      She'll come up to me laughing and tail wagging with something in her mouth—whatever, a t-shirt, my scarf, socks: it's like a game. She doesn't destroy the items, doesn't run off to chew on them, but knows she can't have them. So I'll take the item, and she'll hand it over easily, wagging her tail (like "I retrieved for you this thing I can't have, look!"). Then she'll trot off and come back with another thing she can't have, tail wagging even more. It's like it cracks her up. I say "No," she hands it over, then off again. We don't leave much around on the floor, so sometimes she has to get creative, bringing ridiculous things, like a pen or scrap of paper. Repeated "Nos" seem to make her giggle, not mope.

      Ditto with training. Or just generally. She's not a moper.

      So she does get both physical (on walks, though she mainly is a very good loose-lease walker now) and verbal correction. That's never a problem with either of us.

      Except for thee few weird situations. And only my husband, whom she clearly adores.

      Oban has been leery of handling by our last Vet ever since the Vet gave him the nasal Bordatella. Not as pronounced as Hoku but I'm surprised at the reaction. Can you think of something similar?
      She didn't like it when the Vet scraped her ear for the Demodexis. But hey, who would. No, I think that she's never liked the brush, and maybe the strong smell of the flea meds just ... I don't know. She just doesn't like it. But it's the "Hey sweetie, come here, let me look at your ear" by my husband that has her react with a Hell no you won't! kind of thing.

      It's odd, though. I touch her and look at her all the time. All the time. When she's on the bed with me in the mornings, I put my head on her and sort of mindlessly play with her toes, her ears, she gently mouths my mouth, we snuggle. Not problem. It's the "looking with concern" thing she doesn't like. I wonder if it's a facial expression or tone of voice that she's reacting to. Hm.

      It's very interesting. We'll be working on it, and report back.

    13. #10
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      fan of fanboys's Avatar
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      Where did you get the name Hoku from? I assume not from the singer

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