Hi, I'm Dr STeve. I am sorry that you are having this trouble with Tia. I have a few questions to help me understand more specifics about Tia's behavior. Can you tell me how long has this behavior been going on? Is it with just you or all people? Does she growl or act aggressive at all? If this behavior has just recently started, was there any changes to her environment like a new pet coming or one leaving, a move to a different house or anything you can think of that may have caused her to be anxious ? I will check throughout the day ( US time) to see your replies. If you could please answer each of my questions, then when I return if you are offline, I should be able to give you more information for you when you are back online. Thanks for your understanding and patience .
she has always been shy but seems worse no change in environment but her sibling a male does seem to be boss although don,t see that making her cower with us
thanks for the information. Since she has always been this way, it sounds like she has a submissive personality. As you know dogs have a "place" in the pack and with her sibling being the boss she has been designated the submissive. This is their relationship, however she also sees the humans in the house as part of the pack as well. Her behavior is that of a timid dog who is being very submissive.
Since this is a behavioral problem and a personality issue, there is no quick fix. Her feeling that she has to be submissive to avoid confrontation is also possibly causing her some anxiety. There is no medicine to help dogs feel more assertive or dominant, but there are some things that can be used to help a dog feel less anxious about her day to day activities and interactions with people.
There is a product called DAP ( Dog Appeasing Pheromone) that helps give dogs a sense of safety and well being. It is the same pheromone that mother dogs emit to help their puppies feel safe. This is a spray that is applied to a towel or small blanket and put in an area that she spends a fair amount of time. By giving her an area that hopefully she will feel safe in she may gain confidence when she is interacting with people.
If this is not effective, the next thing to consider is antianxiety medicines. These are pills given once a day to help reduce the anxiety she may be experiencing. I have used Reconcile and CLomicalm for anxiety in dogs. These meds can take 1-2 weeks to see results. Some dogs respond very well to DAP or Antianxiety meds , some dogs get some benefit and unfortunately some dogs get no benefit at all. The only way to know if any of these will help is to try them.The DAP is available from a vet or pet stores and the antianxiety meds are only available from a vet.
If you are reluctant to try medication, the thing that you could try at home is to avoid doing anything at all that frightens her or makes her cower. She is trying to live her day to day life without upsetting anyone and when she feels that she has done something wrong, ( whether she has actually done something wrong or not) she will cower. The only way to help her gain some confidence is to be gentle and soothing when you talk to her and as I said avoid everything that frightens her.
I have clients take a few days and write a list of actions and noises that make her cower or frightens her. This helps you realize exactly what she is nervous about. By avoiding these actions, she may eventually learn that there is nothing to be afraid of.
If you decide to use the DAP or the antianxiety meds , you should still avoid these frightening things. Even with the medicines she may still be frightened. The idea is to give her some relief from being quite so easily frightened so she can learn that she desn't have to be frightened. By avoiding those things that cause her fear, eventually she may get through this issue. Remember it can take a long time.
If you choose to try the anti-anxiety meds, I have clients use ot for 2-3 months while helping her to learn that the things that bother her are not something to be afraid of. If she makes progress after 2-3 months, then you can stop the medicine and see how she does. I hope this has helped. I will check throughout the evening and tomorrow to see if you have more questions. I commend you for being willing to help her through this issue. Good luck.