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!
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.
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 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?"
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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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!
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?
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.
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.
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!
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
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
How to break a dog from being scared of everything!
By MShearron from Nashville
You will have the most loyal, loving friend. This can be so very rewarding. Calm, loving, noise free, warmth, not shut outside, talked to, held, played with, his/her own toy, buddies, no abandonment. no hurt, good food (no corn wheat or soy) treats, no vaccines ( can be cause of this whole thing) homeopath has inexpensive remedies, check toenails, ears and teeth, most of all, patience and love. It is so gratifying to see something such a mess grow into a loving friend. They may never trust anyone but you and that's OK. That is their comfort zone and you let them become much more wholesome. Truer love you will never have probably because they knew evil before.
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?
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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.