My 3-1/2 year old female lab was the runt of the litter. She only weighs in at 50 lbs. She is very sweet and calm but exhibits cautiousness and sometimes fear. I have a pretty good idea that she was not treated well as a puppy - too harsh and possibly even she was hit with something. Is it possible to get her to a "place" where she is not afraid? I have another lab and golden retriever puppy (9mos) that she gets along with really well. When she goes places, if another dog is there she is not so fearful.
To my knowledge no. My previous dog a German Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix was also a runt, only weighing in at like 32lbs. He was born on the side of the road after mom was hit by a car, they barely survived there for like 2weeks until they were found! His brother was killed by a car when he wondered into the street, but him and his sister survived and were rescued and brought back to health!
Throughout the 4 yrs I had him he was plagued with fear of vehicles and nearly anything that made a loud noise like lawnmower, vacuum, washer, dishwasher, etc. He never got over it and was even really shy to all other ppl except me. Unfortunately he had to be put down due to several internal issues that arose, but I'm sure he appreciated it since he suffered so much during his time!
There are a number of books and DVD's out there with tips on dealing with fearful nervous dogs... but to some extent, what you have now is what you will always have. There's a window of opportunity for socialization and once past that, all that's possible is minor modifications to make her more relaxed.
-avoid coddling or reassuring her when she acts scared - what we consider comforting the dog perceives as praise for being afraid. Ignore fearful reactions, or try to jolly her out of it...(in a happy, light tone "OH! look at the funny noisy trashcan that blew over! Let's go say hello to mr. trashcan! Isn't this the best fun ever! Yay! ) Your neighbours may think you're round the bend, but so what?
-desensitize her to feared objects that she will encounter on a regular basis. (If she's terrifed of hot air balloons, it's easy to avoid that - but if she's afraid of the microwave beep, that needs to be addressed.) For example, for the microwave beep: Set it up so the beep will go off repeatedly, and find a place where the dog is slightly uncomfortable, but not terrified. As each beep sounds, give her a high-value treat. As she begins to relax, move closer and closer - letting her set the pace. If she starts to freak, move back to a distance she can handle.
-Rescue Remedy and the Comfort Zone DAP diffusers and sprays can also be effective in relaxing nervous dogs.
a dog can learn not to be fearful of specific things in specific situations but that generalized fear can be impossible to completely overcome...
let me give you an example
I feed my dogs out of stainless steel bowls and they are quite used to me dropping them kicking them etc
one day I banged Hank's side (who came to us at 3 weeks of age) with the bowl .. he just stared at me... Sally (who came to us at about 4 months of age after being in hell) came racing over to get banged by the bowl and wouldn't leave... Gus on the other hand (the fearful foster dog) moved as far away as she could from the commotion ... now I have been working with her and I can now hold the bowl above her and touch her with it - but if I banged her with it she might not enter the kitchen for ages - it has to be very very slow progression and I suspect I'll have to do it in every location just as slowly
“I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do something that I can do.” H. Keller
How much of the Rescue Remendy do you recommend using? Also, where do you get the Comfort Zone DAP? I am not familiar with that
A drop or two on the tongue will do .. sometimes it works, sometimes not.
You can order the DAP online, or some vets or higher end/specialty pet stores carry it, or can order it.
I believe there is hope for fearful dogs, but you need a lot of patience. A friend of mine is a trainer and I have seen her help the owners of many fearful dogs. The last I saw was a chocolate lab that had been in a kennel all its life. Was scared to death of everything. . . and I'm not exaggerating. He was the worst I have ever seen. He is now playing and acting like a dog. He seems to be adjusting well. Be kind, but assertive. Don't baby her and kaytris is right, absolutely don't comfort her when she is scared. She has to learn to trust you 100% and when she does, she will start to learn that you are not going to let anything happen to her if she follows your lead. It is hard. . . harder than working with an aggressive dog. Good luck.
"My sunshine doesn't come from the skies,<br />It comes from the love in my dog's eyes."<br />
I tried the Rescue Remedy with Lilly today - did not really see any difference. I took her to one of our elementary schools today and a child read to her - she did fair in the quiet library and even took treats, but she did not like walking down the halls of the school with all the kids. She is such a sweet calm dog and I would really like to help her get over her fears. I'm not giving up yet. Thanks for all the suggestions. If anyone else out there has any other ideas let me know.
Here's Lilly and Jazzmine - believe it or not half-sisters. Jazzmine 4-1/2 years old and Lilly 3-1/2 years old.
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Have you tried DAP therapy? My son's dog responded very well, but it's one of those things - it either works brilliantly or it doesn't work at all.
*If we were on the same continent I'd lend you Dinozzo for a week, NOTHING bothers him...*
Last edited by Tanwen; 03-03-2010 at 06:21 PM.