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My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

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Many dogs exhibit fear in a variety of situations. Sometimes this behavior is the result of previous abuse, the breed, or often a lack of socialization and confidence. As there are a number of causes, there are also a few different things you can try if you dog is afraid of everything. This page contains several suggestions for helping your dog to feel calm and safe.
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April 7, 2008

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

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April 7, 20080 found this helpful
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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!

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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.

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By Me (Guest Post)
April 8, 20080 found this helpful
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I didn't read all of the advice but I'm sure it's excellent. Also consider Rescue Remedy, a holistic calming therapy. I've never had to use it but I've read about many many good experiences. It's harmless & it benefits the dogs greatly. I've had abused dogs & it can take yrs. but like everyone says they eventually come around to be wonderful dogs. There is no time limit because every dog is different. Just be there & let them be themselves & take their own sweet time working through it.

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By Tracey (Guest Post)
April 9, 20081 found this helpful
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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)

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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.

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July 2, 20101 found this helpful
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I heard on NPR, "Calling All Pets" that there is a dog and.or cat pheromone that you plug into your electric socket like a night light. It releases the calming pheromone. (included is a web site info)I would give this a try. "What Good Are Pheromones to Me and My Pet?"
Certain pheromones secreted by dogs, cats and horses are calming. Some of these pheromones are the type secreted by lactating mothers. These pheromones help the babies feel content, secure and safe. In addition, some calming pheromones help animals recognize familiar places. As a group, pheromones that have a calming effect on animals are referred to as "appeasing" pheromones.

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Scientists have created synthetic versions of these appeasing pheromones for use as treatments to help pets deal with anxiety and fear. The advantages of using pheromones are that they're not sedatives and haven't been found to cause dangerous side effects. Pet guardians don't need a prescription to obtain them for their pets. However, the use of any chemical affecting your pet should be approved by his veterinarian before you use it.

There have been a number of studies evaluating the effectiveness of synthetic pheromones in treating behavior problems in companion animals. The results of these studies indicate that commercially available synthetic pheromones can reduce anxiety in many pets.
Check with your vet or Google it online.

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January 18, 2008

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?

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Sophia

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January 18, 20081 found this helpful
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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!

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By MommyOfTenAmazingAPBTs~<3 (Guest Post)
January 20, 20081 found this helpful
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I have to say, I agree with leshia27, to a point. I agree that getting him into a puppy training class would be a great thing, but it sounds like you should work on his confidence and socialization some before you actually start the training classes. I would be concerned that a class would be a bit scary and overwhelming for him as he is now. I'm curious as to whether this is a temperament/ personality thing, if this is due to some kind of abuse or neglect early in life or if this is simply due to lack of proper socialization?

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If it's a temperament/ personality thing it could be due to poor breeding or it could just be how he is. In that case you should still be able to socialize him and get him to get over his fears (or at least most of them), without too much of a problem. If it's because he was abused and/ or neglected that would most likely be a bit harder for him to get over. It wouldn't be impossible, but it might take a while. One of the many wonderful things about dogs is that they don't live in the past like people do. They live in the moment, and they are very forgiving. They can get over just about anything with the right help. If this is simply due to lack of proper and/ or early socialization (socialization starts with the breeder), it should be fairly easy to correct, especially since he's still so young.

Good breeders will start to socialize their pups as soon as they can, normally around 3-5 weeks. My husband and I breed APBTs (we have a litter of 7, 5 week 2 day old puppies now), and we start to socialize ours as soon as their eyes and ears are open, and they are up running around, checking everything out. When the puppies are that young, they are forming their first (and most important) opinions of people, and pretty much everything around them. It is very important that they are around people and only have good experiences with people. If the breeder that your puppy came from didn't socialize him well/ properly when he was younger, that might have a lot to do with how he is now. Again though, if it is just a socialization thing it should be easy enough to correct. You will just want to socialize you puppy basically.

Now, normally the best age to socialize a puppy is between two and four months. After four months the socialization window starts to close and it's much more difficult to influence a puppy. But, it's definitely not impossible. It seems that a lot of people think having a puppy around new people and new animals is socializing them, but that's not true at all. Puppies need to be introduced to everything they will be around on a daily basis, and things that they might eventually end up being exposed to. With our puppies we don't ever try to keep things quieter than normal or calmer than normal. Obviously we don't want them to feel scared or threatened, but we want the environment to be as much like it is in a "normal" home on a "normal" day as absolutely possible. They are exposed to our other dogs, the TV and all of the different sounds that come from it, the garage door opening and closing, the car being cranked up, the car horn, the door bell ringing, pots and pans making noise, sounds from the dishwasher, washing machine and dryer, plastic and paper grocery bags, trash bags, various delivery people coming to the door and the different things they deliver, the trash truck coming to take the trash, the mail man/ lady delivering the mail, running water, umbrellas opening and closing, the vacuum, broom and mop, skateboards, roller-blades, bikes, etc, etc, etc. Once they have had their shots and are able to go outside of our home and be around new people and animals, we make sure they meet as many new and different people as possible, including children of all ages and activity levels, as many other dogs and cats as possible, we make sure they see birds and squirrels, they see cars, trucks, vans, etc, they ride in the car, they get use to being on a leash, just everything they would, or could, encounter on a daily basis.

With your pup, because he is already over 4 months and he is so fearful, you will just have to be very patient and persistent. I would suggest that you introduce him to everything! Since he is very fearful of everything you will need to make sure you don't scare him and make it worse. Use a lot of treats and positive reinforcement. You will need to expose him to one thing for a while and then another thing for a while, then switch it up some. Does that make any sense? lol! Okay, for example, you said he's scared of boxes and bags. Get a few different boxes and introduce him to one of them. Don't comfort him when he gets scared, but don't force him to be by the box either. When he realizes there's nothing to fear and he starts to calm down around the box, you praise him and/ or give him a treat. Do this for a while until he is okay with that box. Then do the same thing with a different box. Once he's use to that box, go back to the first box and do the same thing over again. Just do that over and over again, using different boxes, two or three of the boxes together, etc. Once he is okay with the boxes for the most part, move on to the bags and do the same thing. Then try a box and a bag, two boxes and two bags, etc.

It is important to remember to not comfort him when he's scared. I know that sounds horrible and it can be the hardest thing in the world to do, trust me, I love my three fur-babies as if they were my children and I want them to always feel safe and be happy. But it is very important to not comfort a fearful dog. If you comfort him, or give him any attention at all when he's in a fearful state of mind, you are nurturing and/ or almost rewarding that state of mind. He needs to be rewarded when he's in a normal or calm state of mind. Nurturing a fearful state of mind will keep it from moving forward and getting over the fear, and for a dog to be fearful causes him a lot of stress which is absolutely miserable for him! Plus, fearful dog can eventually become fear biters, which is obviously not a good thing at all.

Anyway, I won't keep rambling on and on, but again, to really get him over his fears of everything, and get him to be a well socialized, balanced, confident, happy dog, you will just have to be extremely patent and persistent, don't comfort the wrong state of mind, always reward the right state of mind, and make sure you stick to your guns. Don't give or give up, and when it gets hard just remember that socializing him is what is best for him. I will say that some people may not do things the same way, and even though this has always worked for me and my dogs some people may not agree with what I have just suggested. I personally don't think there is one best or right way to do everything when it comes to working with dogs. It all depends on the individual dog, the owner, and the situation. You will just have to figure out what works best for you and your pup. If you feel that it's going to be too much for you to handle on your own, I would strongly suggest that you get a professional trainer to come work with you and your dog, I would think in your home would be best for your dog at this point. And then once he starts to open up and come out of his shell some, then a good puppy training class would be wonderful.

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January 22, 20081 found this helpful
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Oh boy, sounds like my dog. I don't know anything about Bulldogs, but my Cocker was like this from the time I got her at 12 weeks old. The only thing I will say that she liked was people, any kind of people and she'd be in heaven but another puppy or dog, a strange toy, object, or attempts to pick her up sent her into a dither. I did as the others suggested. She went to puppy school and I'm afraid even the trainers said they were surprised she was still afraid of the other pups even after 8 weeks. I took her to 'communications' classes and that helped me understand her issues more, how she was signally when she was afraid etc. so I would know when and how to calm her. What killed me was I had the feeling she didn't even trust me and since she had a few weeks in life before me I had no idea what got her so afraid of everything.

One thing I learned that had never dawned on me was how many dogs regard our hands as mouths and feel threatened when we look straight into their eyes. So when we offer them our hands to say 'come play' and wiggle our fingers they see two big mouths and become afraid. I started keeping my fingers together and just made sweeping type motions. A clicker worked to get her to follow directions better than hand movements. I also took it slow and easy. Let her approach, me looking away, petting with no sound, etc. so more and more she got more comfortable. Mine is also very sensitive to tone of voice. Boy one harsh word and she seems put off for weeks so I have to watch that too.

I also took mine to beginner agility. She loved it (although she wasn't happy with the other dogs being around she did get more interested in the activities). Going through tunnels, over jumps, around poles, etc. really got her confidence up as she learned that things that move or are unfamiliar can be okay. She also learned to trust I wouldn't lead her into anything that would hurt her and she got good and pooped out too.

What I did do was just take it all slow so she got more confidence in me and therefore more in herself. I found a doggy daycare that would work with her and took her in once a week or so just to get more confident with the other dogs. That took about a year but now she isn't squealing like she's being killed everytime another dog is around.

She also had extreme separation anxiety and basically I had to take it so slow, leaving her for a couple of minutes at a time and then increasing. Now after doing that for a few months she will actually let me know she'd rather stay home than come in the car (I have never had a dog before that turned the car down but whatever makes her happy I guess).

One other thing that is controversial but I have come to think might have something to it is that some breeds are sensitive to some vaccines. When I mentioned my dog's issues on a Cocker forum a lot of owners said they noticed fear (and other personality changes) in their dogs after their rabies shots. There is no actual scientific proof either way but I can tell you my dog no longer gets any shots and won't until they do the proper studies on them. She had only her puppy shots but that can be enough.

Anyway, get the pup into some classes with a good trainer and see what they suggest since they have an opportunity to watch both you and the pup. As I mentioned, a lot of the progress my dog has seen (she's nearly 4) is because of things I had to change in what I was doing (even though they had worked with my other dog, no problem). Even at nearly 4 we're still working on things and slowly but surely, she's behaving more and more normally...although she still seems to think puppies are creatures to be avoided at all costs.

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By D (Guest Post)
January 28, 20080 found this helpful
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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!

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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

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By Marylyn (Guest Post)
October 1, 20080 found this helpful
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I don't know how old your dog was when you got her but it sounds to me that your dog spend long hours in either a "puppy farm" or with maybe owners who did not bond but there were other dogs around and she had some scary moments if she did not obey. We had a similar incident with a non rescue dog who shook and was afraid of things she was not used to. With kindness and assurance after 4 years she finally was ok. We now have only rescue dogs as they just seem to be so grateful.

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By Cheryl (Guest Post)
October 1, 20080 found this helpful
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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.

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October 2, 20080 found this helpful
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I have the same advice. Cover both nostrils and you'll solve the problem. I found a dog in our backyard and four months later, I still have him. He's just starting to warm up, but is afraid of everything. He's a chihuahua, chose me to bond to, and is sweet, but scared. No one can approach him without his running away. He will eventually get backed into a corner and be submissive; he'll even fall asleep in our laps, but we can only think that he was abused, to be so fearful. Does anyone else have any experience with this? Four years is a long time to wait!

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By Oberhund (Guest Post)
October 2, 20080 found this helpful
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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.

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February 12, 2017

I rescued my Sheltie 4 years ago. He is still so shy he doesn't play, or even come to be petted. I spend time with him going for walks and teaching him tricks. He's smart and picks up things fast, but he is afraid of plastic bottles, stomping feet, loud noises, and just about everything. I just don't know how to calm him down and get him to relax. He must of been abused as a pup. And it breakes my heart that he doesn't seem to have fun. I've had other dogs, but he is the only one ever I can't get to. I don't want to push him. I thought after 4 years he would know he's safe here. I'm at a loss as to what to do for him.

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October 9, 2012

How to break a dog from being scared of everything!

By MShearron from Nashville

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July 4, 2019

My nine year old Chihuahua lately has become withdrawn, hides in the dark for long periods of tlme, won't obey (unusual for her) and sometimes won't eat. She acts scared for no reason. What could be wrong?

Thanks.

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April 7, 2008

A month ago, my boyfriend and I adopted a two year old Beagle/Chihuahua mix, Cooper, from the Animal Rescue Foundation. We love him to pieces, but he is scared of everything.

We thought that surely after the first month he would adjust a little, but I have seen hardly any improvement. He is scared of squeaky toys and paper (Christmas sent him hiding behind the couch, and Monopoly money had him running to the closet); he is scared of startling noises, and when I put on my coat; he is scared of being approached from people who are standing, and he is scared of any quick movements.

He recognizes his name, but has no response aside from looking in my direction - I can never coax him to walk toward me. I have rescued an abused dog before, but never one that acted like Cooper.

Cooper will sit on my lap for an endless amount of time as long as I'm still, but as soon as I stand up and set him in the floor, he gets scared and hides under the bed in the other room. If I shut the bedroom door and don't allow him in, he gets so scared, he pees on the floor. If I don't physically remove him from underneath the bed, he stays there all day long.

Also, when we ran the blender in the kitchen, he was so scared he actually pooped all the way to the back bedroom closet.

It makes me sad that no matter how much love, compassion, or space that we give him, he still will not trust us. It breaks my heart to not receive love from my baby. Please, someone help me and Cooper.

Courtney from Tulsa, OK

My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

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My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

Not being a dog-person myself, I am hardly in a position to offer reliable advice. However, I would suggest you inquire at the ARF you adopted him from regarding his past and maybe any advice they can give you. At the same time, DO NOT GIVE UP HOPE! Keep on giving love, talk to Cooper reassuringly, telling him he will live with you FOREVER, for the rest of his life. Also, tell him when you plan to stand up/shut the door/run the blender/whatever, and also explain the reasons why your are doing this and how long it will take. Tell him you are taking him to a safe spot (under the bed?) for the duration of the noise or whatever. Treat him the way you would treat an abused child who came to live with you. It is clear that he has been severely abused emotionally and apparently also physically. Good luck to you and hugs and kisses to Cooper!
PS: I am a social worker with experience in child protection issues--- (01/17/2007)

By Carol Churchill

My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

I've had and am having experience both with abused children and animals-- it takes a lot longer than a month. Be patient and keep on being gentle in voice and movement, and like the social worker above said, talk before you do anything! (I still automatically do this with my adopted daughter who came at age 7 and was scared of everything, "I'm going into the other room to get some tissues." Nothing is too small to explain beforehand-- but my daughter has become very well adjusted and is now saying "Mom, you don't have to tell me everything you do!")

Animals will react to your tone of voice so be careful to speak gently! Also approach any animal with your hand from underneath-- never above.

Love and pats to you and your cute doggie. (01/18/2007)

By Denise

My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

Hi
I read your story and it is a double on our own experience with our rescue dog Inca, a black Labrador who was rescued from a hell hole as a pup. We were about the eighth family to take him as he kept being taken back and we were told he was not trainable as he is too nervous of everything. Getting him home was a nightmare as he can't cope with noise, strangers, animals, etc. He looked so like our other lab Jet that we had to have him. He took 18 months to house train, he is now clean at 4 years old, our dog Jet helped enormously in bringing him on. I give him bach flower remedy, a couple of drops on the tongue when expecting stress, eg fireworks night, or visitors. He needed lots of encouragement and love and now he is trained to give paw, sit, lie, stay etc pretty much like Jet does and he is the best guard dog ever despite his nervousness, probably his way of showing appreciation for sticking with him! It takes so much time but it is really worth it. Inca is so much part of our family now and time is a great healer, you haven't had him that long so give it time and patience and I'm sure he will come good! (01/18/2007)

By mags

My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

As a child we took in a stray beagle that we soon realized had been very abused. He was afraid of everything, and he would urinate on his food after taking a few bites. I know that it took a good six months for him to feel safe. He turned out to be one of the best pets we ever had. Follow the wonderful advise already given. Don't give up! You have a diamond in the rough.
Liz (01/18/2007)

By Liz Orr

My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

Don't give up. My parents had a similar experience. It actually took their dog 3 years to adjust and not bark like crazy whenever something startled him, but he was an older dog. Hopefully your dog won't take so long. (01/18/2007)

By Allison

My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

Could you maybe try to ease his hyper-responsiveness with a short term doggie tranquilizer?
Think of it as a way to give Cooper some much needed relief from his debilitating post-traumatic fearfulness. It will quiet his frayed nerves so that he can experience love and security, and begin to trust.
Ask your vet. (01/18/2007)

By Susan K.

My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

Good for you for adopting Cooper. We adopted a lab/chow mix at age 1 who had been in 3 homes before ours. I don't think he was abused, but it did take him 6 months before he really began to trust us. He was aloof and always watched us with his ears at full mast never changing his facial expression. We have had him now for 5 years and he turned into a very expressive, puppy-like dog and we love him dearly. It will take a long time and Cooper will probably never be very assertive. Don't give up on him. There are books written by dog behaviorists that might help you. (01/19/2007)

By Marfette

My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

He's adorable, and you're wonderful for caring so much. I agree with the advice people have offered. Patience is a good thing - my dog was so hungry when I got her that it was 3 months before she walked away from food. Two suggestions for you and your boyfriend - Try seeing things from Cooper's point of view. He seems to fear things going on above him. Get down on the floor with him. I instinctively did this with an abused dog once, and we quickly became good friends. Second, sometimes a crate in a quiet part of the house makes a safe place, with one of your soft blankets and a soft toy. He seems to need his own little place where he can feel safe and secure, doesn't he. He looks like a very sweet, intelligent dog, and I'm sure he'll repay you many, many times for your love and patience. (01/20/2007)

By Janice C.

My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

I actually watched an episode of Rachael Ray this week and it had a little dog that was scared to the point of chewing off all his toe nails. They had a vet on there that recommended doggie anti-anxiety meds from the vet or he even recommended chamomile tea although I don't know how you would go about giving it to your baby. (01/20/2007)

By Sherry

My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

Oh he is adorable those eyes!!! I agree patience.
I rescued a Jack Russell Terrier who had been left in
a kennel for over 10-14 days with no food or water.
When we got her she would drink so hard she would choke and get sick. I would just rub her back and coo to her baby talk and she jumped if doorbell
rang or phone even on tv! I would quickly scoop her frail little body and baby talk and coo to her sing even. She soon learned to deal with 'the noises'
and it took some time but she is the best doggie
and is such a good girl. Cookie Mae is a loving,
sweet and very mellow girl. It took maybe 6 months for her to relax and sometimes if someone yells
even during a football game (me) she runs and hides under her blankie. (01/20/2007)

By Annie Rios Hill

My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

My husband and I adopted a cat, Kitty, at age 9 months. She had been an outdoor cat and who knows what had happened to her. We renamed her Kamilah (to keep to "K" sound). She was afraid of coats, chairs, our pet turtle, doors, being alone. I carried her around a lot - after I fished her out from under the bed, that is. I took her to the bathroom and held her in up to the mirror to show her "mommy and me". Five years later, I still talk to her every morning and tell her what time mommy and daddy are going to be home. I hug and kiss her when I get home. I warn her if the vacuum/food processor/coffee grinder is going to be used. I make sure she has a safe place away from our dog. My reward? She comes when called. She gives kisses when requested. She sleeps on my pillow above my head, her breathing like a balm on my soul. It takes time to work with any rescued animal. It might take 3 months, 6, 9, 1 year or two. It is absolutely worth it. (01/20/2007)

By samaree

My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

If all the other suggestions don't work, take all dry foods away and try to feed him mostly home cooked, not fried, meats like chicken, beef, and turkey, NOT ham/pork/tuna/bacon, salty things because dry foods tend to make the nerve endings
in all pets frayed, and they become overly sensitive to touch, sounds, and shocks. Make certain there is always enough water and that the dog is not COLD, remembering that the bottom 1/4 of rooms are always the coldest and that this breed has little hair
for covering. I'd advise a comfy little jacket he can sleep in, or two, to keep one clean. Even though that
area near the floor may not seem cold to humans, it can be for that breed. Also, keep in mind that all
humans seem like monsters. If the humans are especially naturally loud with their voices, heavier
body weight, the loud sound on wooden floors can
seem like World War for a tiny pet. Also, giving a
single small can of special less salty canned meat
is o.k. occasionally, but not regularly. Never salt the
dog's food or give salty scraps. Just watch the salt
and noises for a LONG time, even if you have to put the dog in a heavier jacket with a hood that folds it's ears a bit. Try not to yell for any reason and for a
very long time, perhaps for the whole time you own the dog. Watch the loud music, TV and appliances
as well. All of these things are terrifying to tiny pets. Keep tiny pets away from large pets at all costs until the tiny one is well adjusted to all things.

Hope this helps and gives you food for thought. God bless you. : ) (01/20/2007)

By lynda

My Dog Is Afraid of Everything

I know it's a month late but I wanted to just point out that your dog needs a crate. Dogs like crates because they want their own cave to sleep in, instinctually. We see crates as cages, they see them as dens. Your dog is using the space under your bed for this purpose. When you close the bedroom door and he can't get to it, he is separated from his only safe space, his home. This of course creates major anxiety. He uses the closet for the same purpose. The peeing and pooping is not intentional, it's a reaction to fear - it is both a natural physical reaction (it actually happens in people, too - it makes you lighter and more able to flee if necessary) but the dog will also do it because it will tense up all its muscles when scared. He isn't pooping because he's thinking, "I need to poop," he's instinctually making it easier for himself to run away.

If you get him a crate that is his size and possibly a crate cover (a towel or blanket will also work this way) so it is a little dark area for him to sleep and teach him by putting him in there when it is bedtime and whenever you leave him in the house alone, he will feel safer and safer. He should never be fed in the crate, and the crate should NEVER be used as punishment. You can look up crate training all over the internet.

Also, do not drag him out of there if you can help it. Let him come to you. You wouldn't like it if someone dragged you out of your house by your head and locked the door behind you so you couldn't go back in, especially if you had been the victim of some kind of violence or trauma.

Good luck with him! He is cute, certainly. If you spend the time and are patient but firm (he still needs you to be the alpha, not just let him do whatever he wants) he will come around. My coworker rescued a Katrina victim and it took him 6 months before he stopped being terrified of the phone ringing or other dogs barking. My friend rescued an obviously abused chihuahua and it took him almost a year before he stopped hiding in corners whenever something fell. But they are both doing fine and all it took was some patience and showing the dog that they were safe. (02/12/2007)

By Jenna

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