Life with our nervous and timid little girl

By Sue Ogden

Our Portuguese mixed breed, Daliha, is a shy timid little girl. She is totally fine with us, and our home, she is fantastic to take out for walks and runs on the beach, but if she is out of her comfort zone or there is a change in her routine, she can be very timid and nervous. We have worked hard to gain her trust, and to ensure she is relaxed and content with us, we have also worked hard to train her to come back to us when she is off the lead on the beach. This, she does like a dream, first time every time.

She loves her cuddles on the sofa when we are sitting in the lounge watching telly, and she loves to follow us around when we are doing work outside; in short, she is a very happy little girl.

Daliha changes when the usual routine is changed, or if we have visitors staying with us. We have just had Ian’s boys out for a holiday, and this proved to be a bit of a challenge for her. When we knew the boys were definitely coming out, we explained to them about Daliha, that she is a bit nervous of strangers, and that they would have to follow some rules about how to behave around her.

We told them about how to leave her to come to them, and not to try to stroke her until she was ready. The best way to deal with a timid nervous dog is to allow it to come round in its own time, this could take a few days, or even a few months, but once a timid dog feels safe, and knows there is no threat, then it will normally come round sooner.

The boys were a little excited at first, and wanted to get Daliha to come to them, but after I explained that she has to decide when she is ready, they did as I had asked. The main problem we found was first thing in the morning, the boys would get up and come down the stairs, but as I was already up, and Daliha was with me, she would bark at the boys as they came down the stairs.

They were trying to be good, by walking quietly and slowly, but as they did not speak to Daliha she would bark. Once I told them to talk to her, she would stop barking. Sometimes timid dogs are not happy with silence, you need to reassure them that all is okay, and that you mean them no harm. Once we had this sorted out things seemed to be a lot calmer, and Daliha would not run off every time one of the boys came in to the room.

After about the first week, Daliha seemed a lot happier, and would even allow the boys a quick stroke, this made my heart sing, as I so wanted her to feel happy and not under any stress.

Later on in the second week we even had cuddles, I walked out from the kitchen, on to the terrace, and saw Ian’s youngest son sat on the step, and Daliha was stood next to him. He had his arm round her and he was chatting away to her, as if she was his long lost friend, it made me so happy to see that she was at last getting the attention she so deserves.

He had allowed her to approach him, and as he had done as we asked, she had decided he was OK to give a cuddle to her. Another time we were sat in the lounge, watching the telly, and one of the boys was laying in his bean bag. We watched as Daliha slowly approached the bean bag, with this extra human on it, and she sniffed his ear. We did not realise he was asleep, but as he did not react, Daliha decided that this looked like a good safe place to go to sleep, and she curled up on the bean bag with him. She had been allowed to do things in her own time, and as such she felt no stress and was calm and stress-free to do things in her own time.

The following morning, we had no barking, and Daliha actually jumped up for a cuddle when the boys came down tairs. This was amazing and we were so happy to see this, that she was back to her old self, and the boys were very happy that now she would allow them to stroke her and tickle her tummy.

By the time the boys were going home, Daliha had grown very fond of the them and would go upstairs in the morning to help Secret (Our Water Dog) wake them up, she would jump on the beds and join in the morning ritual of licks and running all over them to get them out of bed. This was such fun to see from our timid nervous little girl.

It just goes to show that even the most timid or nervous of dogs, will, given time, encouragement and patience on the owners’ part, come round, and they will be a very welcome addition to any family.

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Sue Ogden is a professional dog groomer living in the Algarve. In her regular column, she provides readers with information on how best to care for their pets. Trained in the UK, she studied nursing, breeding, grooming, nutrition and kennel management. 910 851 140