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Dog Training: Shy, Nervous, Timid, Cowardly, Vicious Dogs
( Originally Published 1943 )
A shy dog slinks from strangers; a nervous dog fears thunder and lightning, or refuses at times to be quiet and restive; a cowardly dog fears to defend himself against either large or small dogs; a vicious dog bites upon the least excuse.
A shy dog often is nervous and cowardly; a nervous dog may be lively, brave and companionable; a cowardly dog bluffs and bullies; a vicious dog usually is disobedient and undependable.
The shy, timid or nervous dog is handled best when brought into a room or other place, before strangers, who should ignore him for a few minutes. Any movement toward him should be made slowly and with an unconcerned air.
A shy dog is an abomination. In almost all instances, shyness is born in the puppy. It can be detected as early as the age of eight weeks. He slinks back when strangers approach; he turns and runs away when he hears loud voices. While other puppies rush forward to greet even a stranger, the shy puppy stays back and cringes. He hides in the corner, does not come out when called, and gives the impression of having been badly treated previously.
The trait of shyness may be lessened by kind treatment, the puppy must be taken in hand early and the same master retained. It is well to keep the shy puppy away from other shy dogs. By playing roughly but good naturedly with him, be tends to lose a little of his shyness.
The shy dog is dangerous; he is not necessarily a coward, but if cornered or surprised, bites furiously without notice. For their own sakes and for the sake of the breed, shy puppies should be put out of the way; males and females that are shy should not be used for breeding. A breeder never should sell a shy puppy.
Shyness is hereditary. It can not be cured. Its evidence may be lessened but the cause can not be removed. Nervous dogs respond to sympathetic handling; timid dogs lose their hesitation within a few days. But shy dogs are born shy and doomed to die shy. They deserve pity rather than punishment.
The nervous dog needs a master in whom he trusts fully. A piece of paper flying up suddenly, an unnatural noise, lightning and thunder, frighten him; at times be must be confined or punished to be put at ease. He should not be overfed and should have much exercise. In time, he will lose much of his nervousness.
The timid dog is not cowardly; he may be nervous a little. Do not accuse him of dullness. His case presents few difficulties. Kind treatment, confidence in his master, rough play, speaking assuringly to him as you walk amid noises and strange sights, and never undeserved punishment -- these change the timid dog into a confident, normal dog, a companion and useful guard.
Cowardly dogs are disgusting to humans and likely to other dogs. Human cowards are despised and so are dog cowards. The cowardly dog is dangerous because he is a bully and bluffer. He pounces upon smaller and helpless dogs and chases them, biting them as they run; but if they turn upon him, be runs away.
The cowardly dog is inclined to snap at children; in fact he quickly senses helplessness and rushes to attack it. In the presence of adults or larger dogs, he is cringing.
He rushes upon small dogs and takes them by surprise, amid his growling and snarling. He sneaks behind persons and nips them in the calf of the leg. He barks and snarls furiously at passersby when he knows he can not get to them or they to him.
Can cowardice be cured? In some cases it can be lessened; in most cases it can not be lessened and can not be cured. Too harsh judgment should not be passed upon the cowardly dog.
Some humans are cowards but are able to conceal the cowardice. The dog is forced to reveal cowardice. Sometimes the condition is fear rather than cowardice. It is not reasonable to expect a small dog to rush out and fight a large dog; it is as fair to have the lightweight boxer fight the heavyweight champion.
But some dogs, even of large size, show cowardice and this can be lessened. Place the cowardly dog, the one that lies down and whines when another dog comes up on him place him and another dog of equal size and strength in an incIosure where both must fight. This will be a tonic to the cowardly dog and show him that he can take care of himself. He will fight back and furiously. And shout your encouragement to him while he is defending himself. Whether he wins or loses, give him a rewarding pat.
The vicious dog may be the result of kicks and scuffs from his master. Like produces like between master and dog. A vicious dog is disobedient and in this he reflects discreditably upon his master and the master's training ability.
Much of the guilt for the crimes committed by a vicious dog should be placed upon the master for a dog is what his master makes him. A dog is not to be judged according to his master so much as his master is to be judged by the nature of his dog. Judge a man not 6y his wealth, his house or his auto but by his dog's disposition.
The dog that has been beaten and kicked, half starved and seldom cared for, is undependable in temperament, quarrelsome and vicious, and thus reflects his environment. A vicious dog needs a new master, one who is kind and yet stern; if this fails, he must wear a muzzle at all times outdoors, else smell chloroform; and a dog that because of his viciousness, must be muzzled at all times, should smell chloroform at an early date. He is an enemy to all dogs and to human society.
Any dog that can not be trusted fully with children he knows, is not a desirable dog. And any person who does not give his dog full and loving care and attention, is not worthy of owning a dog.