Embarrassed by My Dog

Do you get embarrassed when your dog misbehaves in public?

When I first got Shiba Sephy I was constantly embarrassed by him.

Being a Shiba Inu, he is not very interested in being a model citizen, and more interested in doing whatever he wants.

I took him out on five 30-45 minute walks every day, but he was still a very wild, hyper thing inside and outside the house.

The worst was his leash biting.

If I tried to stop him from doing something during our walks, he would redirect his frustrations onto the leash and sometimes onto me. Several times, he jumped on me and did kill-moves on my jacket sleeve.

This was all very entertaining for my neighbors.

Many of them would watch from their windows, or even come out of their house to get front-row seats during our leash-biting dance. Many of them also offered free dog training advice; much of which was conflicting and inaccurate.

It seems that everyone is an expert when it comes to someone elses’ dog.

Needless to say, I was very embarrassed by Sephy’s behavior.

Because I was embarrassed, I got frustrated and angry with him, which made him get even more Shiba crazy.

Finally, I decided that this path of embarrassment only led to bad things; for both Sephy and me.

Rather than be worried by what random strangers thought about my dog parenting skills, it was more important to do what was best for Sephy and help him live a happy, low-stress life.

Once I put my ego into cold storage and started to focus on my dog, things improved significantly. I also realized that most of my previous spectators had problem dogs of their own, and were probably just as embarrassed as I was.

When it comes to dog training – it is best to gather information on your own and make up your own mind in terms of what makes the most sense for your dog.

It is human nature to be affected by what others think of us.

However, when I start to feel that way, I consciously refocus on the well-being of my dogs and let people on the street think whatever they want.

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  1. Aleigh says

    I have been reading your blog off and on for a few months now, and I have to say, it is the most helpful resource I have found. I stumbled on to it when I was having problems with my dog (shepherd/malamute) jumping on me and biting me on walks. You said something about asking yourself what’s the worst that could happen–my dog will bite me. AHA! That is not so bad. My dog is not trying to kill me, he’s just trying to express his frustration. Worst case is, I will have bruises. Soon after I realized that, and had a plan in place to deal with it, the biting and jumping all but stopped.

    Last night, I got really upset because I took G. out and we ended up getting turned around and coming out at a high-traffic intersection. He is quite reactive to cars, and although he is getting better, there seems to be a threshold where he simply cannot stop himself from lunging. We were working up the street at a snail’s pace. I would have him sit and treat him while two or three cars went by. But the minute I let him out of the sit, he would lunge at the next car that came along. As we were getting further away from the intersection, a girl shouted something rude at me from her car. I came home in tears. I put so much effort into everything in my life, including my dog, and I just couldn’t understand how someone could see me struggling and want to make me feel WORSE about what was going on.

    But then I came here and I realized — of course I have a reactive dog. I am a reactive person. He really is just mirroring my own insecurities and embarrassments and if I (somehow) put them aside, I bet he will too. Easier said than done. Still, thank you.

    • shibashake says

      I am so sorry that you had to go through that. I think rude people like that are usually not very happy people, so they strike out and spread their misery around. I had a neighbor like that who would always honk and shout at me every time he saw me walking my dog. He does that to other people with dogs as well, shouting at them about picking up after their dog, even though none of us were walking close to his property. In fact, I always avoid his house.

      He would also shout at people who didn’t drive fast enough for him, or I imagine, just came close to his proximity. He was a very angry person. Luckily, the whole family moved away. That was a good day for everyone in the neighborhood.

      The thing though, is that the majority of people that I meet are usually quite nice, but unfortunately, these bad experiences usually affect us the most. I try my best to focus on my dog and the positive people around me, and avoid the nasty people whenever I can. Writing stuff down can also help. 😀


      Big hugs!

    • Anonymous says

      Your doing everything you can, thats admirable,forget that rude person, I also have a really tricky dog we’ve done everything we can and its frustrating and tiring but we love him so much so I understand keep it up you’ll get thereand its not your fault you’re much better than a owner that would put the dog in a shelter and give up

  2. Andrea says

    On the vet thing – I was stunned. I took him in for his second round of shots (my first vet trip with him) and expected terror dog. Wore long sleeves to try to minimize the scratch and bite damage.

    Instead, he sat patiently on the counter. He looked at them funny when they took his temperature, but didn’t protest. He took the two shots and the worm medicine (we don’t know if he had them or not, but he’d had some bowel issues and the vet said it couldn’t hurt) and barely even acted as though he noticed since the vet gave him a treat which he was busy eating.

    No protest as she checked all of his “parts”. I was expecting an hour of agony and it was 15 minutes of nothing.

    Of course, last night, he nipped both of the kids pretty hard (not aggressive, playing, but they’re freaked out). *sigh* We’re doing hand feeding (them feeding him) and obedience commands from them to him, so not sure what else to do to establish them as above him in the pack. I’m going to put a drag lead on him so I can prevent chasing (we haven’t needed one previously because he will normally stop when I tell him to and is getting decent at the “drop” command when he gets into things).

    On a “good” note – he’s not leash biting or humping and is approaching the 4 month mark so I am cautiously optimistic. He’s also not demonstrated any aggression to people (though we introduce him to SOO many new people I think he’s just accepted it) and just kind of looks at the other dogs he’s met.

    If we could get the kid nipping to stop, I’d think he was the perfect Shiba. 🙂

    Our breeder’s name is Paul Lee of Bamboo Shibas. His website is kind of minimal, but he runs a bamboo farm with koi ponds and shibas. 🙂 His breeding dogs are gorgeous and sweet across the board. He does leash and collar work with the puppies and has his grand children in to play with them regularly to expose them to kids. (And, of course, they have lots of dog exposure with all the adult Shibas).


    • shibashake says

      Thanks for the link Andrea. Looks like a really nice place, and their Shibas look good. Hope they will have more pictures when they update their site. 😀

  3. Andrea says

    I’m worried my Shiba is going to start a Shiba buying craze which will end badly.

    Picture this – we have cleaners who come in every two weeks. If I leave Kiba home and crated (he’s still not quite old enough at 14 weeks to go to our local doggy day care), he flips out, and whines and barks the whole time which makes the cleaners feel AWFUL. So, instead, I haul him to work with me.

    At work, Kiba sleeps under my chair. The WHOLE DAY. He only wakes up long enough to munch some kibble, go for a couple of walks/potty breaks, and occassionaly to accept the worship sent his way by everyone who thinks he is so “cute and mellow.”

    Then, we get home. Gone is the sleepy, mellow, adorable puppy. We now have a crazy wild animal lose in the house who barks, screams, attacks bits of dust on the floor, runs in circles, chases the cats, and tries to eat the cabinets. And this is AFTER play time in the back yard to work off excess energy.

    I keep telling my co-workers that Kiba, much like my toddler, is only good _away_ from home, but they aren’t buying it. (The Vet also thinks he’s a great dog… he has no problems with shots and exams…)

    • shibashake says

      The Vet also thinks he’s a great dog… he has no problems with shots and exams…

      Wow that is amazing! Maybe I can get some of Kiba’s DNA and get that into Sephy. 😀

      I’m worried my Shiba is going to start a Shiba buying craze which will end badly.

      LOL – well make sure they get their pups from Kiba’s breeder.

      Then, we get home. Gone is the sleepy, mellow, adorable puppy.

      Yeah, dogs are supposed to be most energetic at dawn and dusk. However, my silly Sibe puppy seems to be active most of the day. Those Sibes – I must be crazy to get another one. 😀

      Kiba sounds like a really awesome Shiba. Which breeder did you get him from?

  4. Jennifer says

    That’s funny! well i am glad that you have a well behaved siberian husky, which is the only dog that i own and acts just like your sheba imagine that. Leash attacking,humping my leg and biting me in the ribs at the same time, he jumps at my face with his mouth open, and bites over everything from me bending down to tie my shoe, to petting him, to walking him everything is biting. I don’t know what to do, I don’t back away from him and i’m not scared of him. I redirrect, redirrect, and redirrect it’s a constant battle. I haven’t gotten into the obedience classes yet but they do start this month we will see how it goes.

    • shibashake says

      Hello Jennifer,
      How old is your Sibe?

      I just got a new Sibe puppy and she is a lot more mouthy than Shania. I guess I really lucked out with Shania.

      What has worked very well with Sibe puppy is a combination of bite inhibition training (together with food) and withholding attention or time-outs. Sibes tend to be very food focused, so I hand feed puppy all of her food. If she bites too hard or is not careful with her mouth I yelp loudly and stop feeding her for a given duration. Sometimes, I walk away from her as well.

      She quickly learned that to get the most amount of food in the shortest amount of time she has to be polite about taking things from my hand.

      Sometimes, especially when she gets excited, she will start biting on my hands or shoe laces. I make sure to non-mark her (ack-ack), and redirect her onto a toy. If she redirects, I praise her and reward her with food. If she does not redirect, I withdraw all my attention from her and walk away. In this way she learns that there are some acceptable things that she can bite on, but hands and shoe laces are off limits. If she bites on acceptable things she gets rewarded with food. If she bites on shoe laces, she loses my attention. This is especially effective with puppies because they really want your attention.

      Puppy also did face jumps in the beginning, especially when she is on my lap. That is how she plays with her litter-mates so she thinks she is playing with me. Whenever she does that, I non-mark her, eject her from my lap, stand up, and totally ignore her. It has worked well with puppy. Now she has learned that licking is ok but biting is not.

      Here are a couple of articles I wrote on puppy biting –

      Good luck!

  5. shibashake says

    There was this obedience class that I went to with Sephy where he just kept Shiba whining (in high pitch) the entire time and would not stop. During the class, the instructor came over and barricaded us with crates and such – LOL. It didn’t help one whit.

    By that time though, I was already past the point of embarrassment.

    Ah Shibas – they are truly an awesome breed. They are so smart they know exactly how to not only push your buttons, but also the buttons of everybody else around.

    Omi is probably the smartest one in the class – he has figured out that people ask him to do a lot of silly things and he only has to do them when it suits him.

    Sephy will be uninterested in obedience most of the time but if you have something he really wants, he knows every command in the book and is willing to do them all in rapid succession.

    Congratulations on your college graduation! That is pretty awesome and exciting! What is your degree in? I loved college – so many interesting people, and so many interesting new experiences.

  6. says

    i’ve gotta admit I’m really glad I read this article today I just got my shiba about 2 weeks ago he is 11 weeks now and I must admit he is a handful. iwe are already enrolled in an obedience class at petsmart but I swear Omi is the class dunce sometimes. It doesn’t really help that the petsmart trainer knows absolutely nothing about the shiba inu breed as a whole but at least she is trying. I felt really embarressed tonigt when Omi wouldn’t do any of the basic commands that even the whack dogs like the yellow lab (much like marley from marley and me) were doing. Omi did finally make me proud again because he is really good at walking on a leash but I can already tell me and him will have a long journey together. It’s okay though I love my Omi even with his stubborness and bad behavior he is still my dog and very much like my child (we will jus have to work these qwarks out together, hell I wasn’t always the best in my class and if only you guys could see me now, I’m 6 weeks away from my first college degree)

  7. shibashake says

    I bought his dog license last week and he’s #666.

    LOL! That is hilarious and so apropos. We definitely need a picture! I think all Shiba owners would get a kick out of that.

    He isn’t a model citizen, but he walks with our 2 year old mixed breed and seems to get his behavior cues from her.

    Yeah it is great when they can learn from an older, well-behaved dog. My Shiba got a lot better after I got my Siberian, even though she is younger.

    My Siberian is very food motivated and affectionate. She is also very willing to work for her supper. Since we got her, Shiba Sephy has been much better about doing commands for food, and even asking for affection. Whenever he sees her getting rewarded for doing commands he will come on his own and join in as well. It is great.

    Sadly, I don’t think he has many good habits to teach my Siberian – lol.

  8. Eric says

    We have had our Shiba for about a month now. He’s about 6 months old. I bought his dog license last week and he’s #666. I wonder if this is an omen.

    I’ve been lucky so far with his behavior on walks. He isn’t a model citizen, but he walks with our 2 year old mixed breed and seems to get his behavior cues from her. I suspect this is only temporary as he learns the ropes, and the worst is yet to come. He was a model citizen in the house when he first arrived, but now he’s into everything.

  9. shibashake says

    Hi Cynthia,
    I agree! Humor is one of the best ways to deal with a Shiba. My Shiba doesn’t really know what to do when I laugh at him – he just stops what he is doing and looks at me as if to say –

    “Hey – this was not the effect I was looking for” LOL

    Yeah – Shibas are a very goofy and funny breed once you look beneath the surface.

  10. says

    I do get embarassed sometimes but I rather like to laugh about it since Shibas will always be Shibas and their unique character is what makes them so special.

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