Dogs may experience fear in certain situations, either due to temperament or past experiences. This is a guide about training a dog to not be afraid.
We have construction going on in front of our house. My puppy wasn't afraid of it until one morning she woke and jumped in bed with me and has been scared to death since. She won't go outside and she would always go outside no problem! She paces back and forth. I try to comfort her. It only works for a minute. What to do? Help please!
Try a thunder shirt. They are made for animals who are afraid in storms. They are very effective. You can find them online mostly
The worst thing you can do is try to comfort the dog. Things like petting her and cooing "Now, now, it's okay" are only going to reinforce her fear response. Why? Because she thinks you are praising it. You can help her get used to loud noise by ignoring it or pretending to ignore it. Simply go about your business. Ignore any unwanted behavior from the dog. It may be too late, but try it anyway.
I have a 16 yr old dog that has always had anxiety issues. Lately it is out of control. I have a huge lawn for him to run and play in. I have always been able to just let him out without supervision. (He is way to scared to go anywhere.) He just runs around the house which has always been good exercise for him. He actually has a path.
Lately he will not go outside, I have to drag him out with a leash. When outside he runs around the house to all of the doors ripping the molding off, chewing the door knobs, and jumping up and scratching the doors destroying them. He has torn all of the rubber molding off, so there are holes in the bottom of the doors. I am so afraid he is going to break the sliding glass window. I have tried blocking the doors with things, but he just destroys the stuff. His ultimate goal is to get back in the house. Even when I am outside with him he just walks at my feet tripping me.
While inside he just paces back and forth causing him to breathe heavily so he throws up all over. He has started peeing and pooping in the house because he hates going out. At night he sleeps on the floor in my room (on his $150 memory foam bed). All night he keeps me up running around the room panting and acting as if something is spooking him. If I lock him out of the room he destroys the door to get back in.
I have had him since a puppy. He has never been abused. I do have a crate that I keep him in when I leave. Lately it is the only place he can be because he is making me mental. I don't want to constantly leave him in there what should I do?
Take him to the vet immediately. He's telling you something is very wrong.
It may be a kind of dementia since your doggie is so old. I recently took our 14-year-old Lab mix to the vet with the same issues, and the vet gave us some Valium for Max when he demonstrates his anxiety. The vet said that the issues could well be due to Max's age and mental status.
I have a 1 1/2 year old Basenji. She is scared of everything! She gets scared of the wind blowing, sounds, people, leaves, lint, inanimate objects, etc. She doesn't urinate everywhere, but if it is bad enough, she will have leakage from her anal glands. She will run off and hide, shake, or get all weirded out by pacing back and forth with her tail down looking like she has no idea how to get away. What should I do? It is very frustrating!
Melinda from Houston, TX
Melinda, I would definitely say don't give up - it may take years for the dog to become trusting. My poodle had been abused when I adopted her, and she was terrified of everything, too. It took a long time to get her to trust people, but once she got past her "past", she became quite the dog! Definitely look into getting a crate and putting it in a quiet area where the dog feels secure while you are making noise. If she knows she has a quiet and safe spot she can go to, it should help a lot. I would also talk to a vet about anti-anxiety medications you could give her during storms, or if you have people over.
I would definitely discuss the situation with your vet. They do sometimes prescribe anti-anxiety meds for dogs, and this would probably help. You also probably have some dog "behaviorists" in Houston, and they deal more with psychological issues. (doggy shrinks)
I give one of my dogs a product from Drs.Foster and Smith catalog (also have a website) called "Ultra Calm Biscuits". It is an herbal blend, shaped like a dog treat. It really takes "the edge off." But my dog is old and just recently suffers from anxiety. Since your dog is so young, you should probably try to treat the source of the behavior first, rather than just medicating the symptoms. Good luck! I am sure it can be helped.
Put a baby gate at the third step from the bottom of the stairs. Hide upstairs and call the dog to you. He will be able to go up the three stairs because he does not feel he will fall.
I took on a friend's female Bishon who is 2 years old. They bred dogs and she was one of their breeding dogs, but they had not bred her yet. They were getting older and need to get rid of the animals.
She had very little human contact so they were not able to sell her. They were going to take her to the pound so I asked if I could have her. The first week was a nightmare. She wouldn't come near me and hid in the bushes, rain, shine, or cold. Little by little I got her to come in the house. It has been about six months and she stays in the house most of the time. She won't let me touch her except when she is in her bed and I can pet her. She will run up to me, but never closer than arms length. When she is outside she runs around in circles. She will stand in the living room growling for no reason at all. I was able to pick her up when some friends were here (I had to get her in the bedroom in her bed before I could pick her up).
I took her into where they were and was going to show my friend how she was licking her self raw on her bottom. Well she did everything she could to get down and she pooped she was so scared and I let her down because she was way too strong for me. To get her to come into the house or a room I have to step away and then close the door after her. She will run around for hours.
We took her out with my friend's other dogs to run in the pasture and she stayed up by the fence and ran up and down it and never came to be with the other dogs. In the car she is terrified. I had her clipped and they said she was scared, but other than that she was OK. My friend took her for a walk with her other dogs, all on a leash, and at first Daisy was fine and then out of the blue she went wild. She wasn't sure what to do, but try and calm her down and Daisy bit her. So she just kept walking and she felt the lead getting strange and looked and she was dragging Daisy so she picked her up and carried her the rest of the way.
My friend keeps saying she is mentally damaged. I have been giving her magnesium, but it only makes her sleepy in the day and freaky at night. Can anyone tell me if they have ever heard of this before and is there hope for my Daisy?
By Karen MC
Hate to say this but it sounds like your friend was running a puppy mill. I don't understand how this Bishon had no human contact. Your friend may have been hitting and punishing this poor dog. Bishons are extremely friendly and excellent family dogs so things are not adding up.
Please give this poor dog time to start trusting humans again. It sounds like you are making progress but do not expect it to happen over night. It sounds like they may have hit her if she is afraid of your hands. Show her the back of your hands not your fingers. This helps to reassure a dog you are not going to hurt her. Her bed is her safe zone. She is licking herself raw because she is extremely stress out. Give her time to come to you.
If we were being abused, we would have a hard time trusting again. Trust has to come on the dog's time not ours.
You will need a lot of time and patience but once this poor dog starts to trust you, you will see her/him blossom.
Did the groomer clean the dogs anal glands? If not, then please take the dog to vet to see if that's the problem with the licking. If you live in a hot weather area she can also be having some hot spots and the vet can give her a shot to help with the itching. She can also be reacting to something on your carpeting.
She should be spayed asap. If she was crated by the breeders then try bringing a crate into the house (take off the door), try adding one of your shirts or a nightgown with your scent on it for her to sleep on.
Don't hold her, that is against her will and she might be scared of being abused. Be very careful about giving her supplements since you don't know if you might be causing damage to her liver or kidneys.
Most of all, be patient, don't force yourself on her. Be calm around her, keep kids away. Try Petsmart or Petco and ask them about their all natural tranquilizers.
I have a 3 yr old mini Dachshund with 2 problems. She is my first non-rescue dog and I don't know what to do for her "reverse sneezes" and her fearfulness. The only thing she is not afraid of is people. If I wipe her feet of sand, she will shy away for days, etc. I have never seen a non abused dog as fearful as she is. Any ideas?
Cheryl from Palomino Valley, NV
We have a dachshund that gets the reverse sneezes when he gets too excited. At my dog's social manners class when my doxie had them, the trainer covered both his nostrils for just a few seconds and the sneezes disappeared.
As far as the other behavior, just love and lots of postive reinforcement, but remember that Doxies need gentle discipline - they are very smart and can become very spoiled very easily.
As a dog trainer, one of the best pieces of advice I can give you is not to coddle the dog when she is acting fearful. Ignore the fearful behaviour, and only touch, look, and/or talk to her when she is acting confident. The biggest mistake people do is to try to soothe the dog with their voice and touch. The dog is actually getting rewarded for fearful behaviour and such behaviour will continue and escalate. And everyone in contact with her should follow this rule. Don't look at her, touch her, or talk to her unless she is being confident and calm. Let her come to you, don't back her into a corner unless you really need to get her for something (i.e. to keep her safe from something).
Ignore the behaviour and begin slowly desensitizing her to the things she fears. Try to expose her to these fearful things in small doses. Start with far distance and when she can remain calm and confident, expose her to them for more time. Only when she has adjusted to this distance and time should you decrease the distance. When you decrease the distance, start with a short time and then extend the time. I hope this makes sense.
Also be aware of your own emotional state. Dogs can smell our chemical changes in our bodies when we are stressed, afraid, nervous, etc. She will look to her leader for guidance. If the leader is calm and confident, then there must be nothing to worry about.
About this covering the nostrils to stop the sneezing. I've never heard of this technique, and I can't imagine why you would worry about stopping it. Sneezing is often either a sign that the dog is in an excited state or a sign that there is something wrong with her nasal passages (i.e. infection, obstruction, irritation). Get it checked out by the vet just in case. You don't want to ignore a health issue. If it's not health related, then I'd leave it alone. Anything that can help you "read" your dog's emotional state is a good thing. You can then work to trying to teach her to calm herself.
Good luck and I my last piece of advice is to read reputable books by trainers. Since you appear to have a shy, fearful dog, I'd recommend "The Loved Dog" by Tamar Geller (c.2007) and "The Dog Whisperer: a compassionate, nonviolent approach to dog training" by Paul Owens (2007, c.1999). This is not to be confused with books by Cesar Milan the Dog Whisperer on television.
Here is an example of how to desensitize a dog to an object.
Suppose your dog is fearful of the vacuum cleaner. Leave it out in an area of the house that is as far away from her and her normal area as possible. Usually the vacuum is making a lot of noise and is moving back and forth in a motion that in dog language can mean aggression. By leaving it out when it is not in use, it won't seem as threatening.
When she is able to see it (from a distance) without reacting in fear (i.e. she steps toward it, she doesn't run away, she looks at it and there are no signs that she is afraid), then you can bring it closer to her normal area of the house, such as the kitchen or the living room. Leave in an area that is out of the way, but visible. It's important that you don't make a big deal about it. Let her see you approach it as you pass by doing something else, totally ignoring it and not drawing attention to it at all. You can try using treats, too. Leave some little bits of treats several feet away from the vacuum cleaner. Start with a distance that is as close as she will come to the vacuum cleaner. Don't make a big deal about the treats. In fact, you don't even have to let her see you put them there and you shouldn't say anything when she finds them and eats them. If she thinks the vacuum cleaner is making these treats magically appear, then that can work in your favour. Once you know that she is taking the treats, place the next treats a bit closer to the vacuum (i.e. 6 inches). In order for her to get the treats, she has to approach the vacuum cleaner on her own. When she gets the treat, she is being rewarded for her bravery and her mind is being "rewired" to think of the vacuum as a positive thing. Work slowly and eventually you'll be placing the treats directly beside the vacuum, on the vacuum, behind the vacuum. Once she is confident enough, you can try mixing things up (i.e. moving the vacuum to another location, placing the vacuum in another position, even slowly moving it back and forth without turning it on.) Work slowly and if she regresses, begin again to an earlier stage -- the point where she had her last success, and build on it. Use repetition and reward to boost her confidence but progress more slowly this time.
I hope this example helps. The principles can be applied to other things she fears.
My American Bulldog is 5 months old and he terrified of everything. He is scared of boxes, bags, my hands. I try to play with him and he run away with his tail between his legs. I don't know what's wrong but I am worried about him. If I try and ignore him he starts panting and crying. I don't know what to do. Will he grow out of this?
I'd suggest getting your dog in a training class right away. You need a class that has puppy play and socialization, as well as formal obedience. This guy sounds like he needs confidence boosting, so a class using positive reinforcement is a MUST. You don't say how long you have had the dog, but you need to try and make up some ground QUICKLY!! Start slowly and start doing things that are not too overwelming. Teach the pup to sit on your lap and jump slowly pet and massage him while talking softly. Use small food treats to make the experience a positive one. Small sessions several times a day are best and never force him to do anything. You want his experiences to be positive and confidence boosting, not scary and overwhelming which will make the problem worse. Does he walk happily on a leash? If not work on getting him to walk on the leash using the food treats as a reward. Avoid any harsh words or stearn tones and instead use a happy upbeat praising voice. Once you get into the class you might be suprised at his improvements! I'm sure the trainer can offer helpful suggestions to help him. I would also contact the breeder and ask some questions. Are other pups having this problem? The breeder needs to know to better understand their breeding program. Goodluck!
You really need to socialize your dog. Fear can turn into bad aggression if left unchecked. The dog might be fine with you in you home as it is now; but if heaven forbid there's a change 3 years from now and you need to find a terrified dog a home...you'll be horribly out of luck. It's also no way for your dog to live. Training and socialization are the key. If the cost of classes are prohibitive; you can take the dog out to populated places and go through training exercises on your own.
Exercise is also paramount. A lot of what you see as fear can be an overabundance of untapped energy. You might think a fenced yard will provide enough exercise but it doesn't. You may enjoy a very leisurely stroll with the dog but if you aren't breaking a sweat; your dog isn't getting the exercise it needs.
Some shelters offer beginner classes at a reduced rate. Check around. If certain things really scare your dog; you need to introduce them slowly. Do NOT avoid them. This takes a lot of patience and more time than you probably think is necessary. Your dog needs to learn that they can ignore the things that are now scaring them.
Don't try giving praise and treats to get a dog over fears. All that does is reinforce the behavior you don't want to see. YOU need to be calm and remain so; no matter what the dog does. If you start getting anxious because you know the dog will cower or whine; you are actually silently telling the dog to start cowering and whining.
DON'T get another dog until you have done the work this dog needs. Unless the other dog is 110% trained and well behaved/emotionally adjusted; you risk having two out of control dogs.
Set yourself a schedule of the things that scare your dog. Start with the least scary things and go through routine walks and exposure to those things. When the dog start acting up; order the dog to sit or lay down and stay there until the dog calms down on their own. DON'T rush the dog away and who cares about your embarrassment.
It may seem to take a long time and could easily take a few minutes for him to calm down with each new exposure but it will get easier if you are calm, consistent and patient.
Only give praise and affection when you are away from the training situation. Praise at the wrong time reinforces bad behavior. You have to be the leader and a leader is calm and almost indifferent to new situations. If you get all anxious and try to prepare your dog; you're telling them they really need to be scared.
Plan on daily reinforcement (or better yet twice a day) and Good Luck!
P.S. Forget about all the nonsense people will tell you about socializing at different ages. Dogs change depending on their surroundings and the actions of their leader. Any dog can be trained. Any dog can be helped to become calm and content. It takes a LOT of patience and consistency but you can do it!