Buddy just gets more neurotic by the day. Advice?
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Thread: Buddy just gets more neurotic by the day. Advice?

  1. #1
    Mia&Buddy is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultBuddy just gets more neurotic by the day. Advice?

    Any thoughts on why Buddy has suddenly (in the last month) become terrified (not an exaggeration) of both SU and the vacuum? SU walk the dogs every day without fail, feeds both of them, and is a very calm person, so no chance of anything going on there. I do almost all of the vacuuming so I know that he hasn't been tormented with the vacuum.

    Here's what happens: SU walks into the bedroom, Buddy makes a beeline for the other side of the room. SU walks into the kitchen, Buddy goes into the other room. Buddy will not go through a door if he has to pass SU. But if SU says, "Hey Buddy, want to go for a walk?" or has a tennis ball in his hand, Buddy is his* best friend.

    As far as the vacuum is concerned, he reacts nearly the same way, trying to avoid it at all costs. The other day, my daughter was helping with the cleaning before we had company over and she was vacuuming the kitchen floor (hey - it works so I'm not complaining) and when she got within 5 feet of Buddy he actually tried to jump up on the kitchen counter. I was standing inbetween Buddy and the vacuum. I was very surprised that he saw the vacuum as threatening. He never even paid attention to the vacuum, now all of the sudden he is terrified.

    He is about 2 and a half, and appears to be in excellent health. I'm stumped. Any ideas?

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  3. #2
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    DefaultRe: Buddy just gets more neurotic by the day. Advice?

    We're having a little bit of the same problem with Larry and my boyfriend's dad. The advice I was given (by a very good source) was to let Mr. B feed him dinner, and also get Mr. B to carry cookies in his pocket. He is not supposed to make ANY eye contact, and is not supposed to talk to Larry, just periodically give him cookies. Walks are also supposed to help, but I know you said your SU does that.


    As far as the vacuum, make sure not to reinforce that fearful behavior. Absolutely no coddling, baby talk, etc etc. Just keep acting like everything's hunky dory, or else he'll learn that being afraid of something gets him more attention.

    You could also try having someone (probably not your SU) turn on the vacuum in a far part of the house, while you're in the opposite side with Buddy and giving him praise and cookies (if he's not fearful). If that works, try moving the vacuum to a slightly closer room, and so on.


  4. #3
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Buddy just gets more neurotic by the day. Advice?

    What you need is a deconditioning protocol to use.* They're effective with people, dogs, and other animals.

    Dr. Patricia McConnell has a booklet that describes how to set one up and use it -- I think it's called "The Cautious Canine" but it'd probably be best to call or e-mail them and ask what they most recommend for your situation.

    http://www.dogsbestfriendtraining.com/books-retail.php
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

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    AngusFangus is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Buddy just gets more neurotic by the day. Advice?

    Wow, no idea! But it sounds sort of like Simon and his crate. One day he would be fine with it, the next he would slink to the other side of the room if you asked him to go in.

    His could, I think, be traced back to that episode of diarrhea he had in there when no one was home. So it seems like Buddy's could be traceable to something??

    SU can't think of anything that has happened? Not intentionally of course, but some kind of loud noise, accident, etc., that happened while Buddy was around?



    Connie and "The Boys":
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    Simon, d.b.a. Flat Coated Retriever, CGC, RE, CD

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    Crash, Pit Bull x Rottweiler x Golden Retriever

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    Mia&Buddy is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Buddy just gets more neurotic by the day. Advice?

    Thanks for the advice everyone. Larry's Mom and Bob, you sound like you are suggesting similar things (desensitization), and I appreciate the book suggestion Bob.

    So it seems like Buddy's could be traceable to something
    We've racked our brains, Connie, and are coming up empty. He has always been very cautious around SU, who can be a bit gruff verbally with the dogs (corrections are on the stern side for my liking, but nothing physical), but the vacuum really has me stumped. I'm going to try the desensitization.

  8. #6
    Bob Pr. is offline Senior Member
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    DefaultRe: Buddy just gets more neurotic by the day. Advice?

    Yes, do get the booklet and try the deconditioning AKA desensitization. Use small steps, increments, rather than rushing it.

    I think dogs, like people, differ a lot one from the other. Some dogs never mind thunder and fireworks while others have anxiety attacks.

    My Puff (YF, AKC field line, 63 lbs, dob: 8-'01) has always reacted to my lawnmower as if it was a demon from Hell intent on capturing her.

    I'd usually take her out with me when I mowed and anchored her to large tree in the front yard with a 25 ft. scope line. Whenever I came within 90 degrees of facing her, she'd tear off as far as she could in what sometimes was the wrong direction and then have to tear back. It gave her LOTS of exercise.

    That was NOT the best way to desensitize/decondition her BUT after 4 years, it has gradully had an effect. Now she'll stay in the yard without being tied to the tree, positioning herself at the far reaches of my yard, usually lying down just over the property line in my neighbor's yard. She acts like my job foreman now, watching me, and very occasionally moving.

    Repeated exposure without generating too much anxiety gradually extinguishes the fear/panic reaction. Puff had too much initial anxiety but over a long amount of time the repeated exposures finally did the job. Since her fear level is now much lower -- closer to a desirable level -- it wouldn't surprise me that much if she'd be able to come much closer to the lawn mower even while it's making noise running.
    Puff [YF, AKC field line (from competing HT/FT breeder) 62 lbs, dob: 8-'01]

    Bess [BF, AKC bench line (from competing show breeder) 55 lbs., 1967-1981] "Poor Bess, the Wonder Dog":
    http://forum.justlabradors.com/showt...?p=748#post748

  9. #7
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    DefaultRe: Buddy just gets more neurotic by the day. Advice?

    Wow great advice from the others. Just wondering, you said that SU has a gruff voice. Mine does too, and Buck will cower down or leave the room if dad is too loud. Try getting SU to change the pitch/tone of his voice when Buddy is in the room. Worth a try to see if a "Happy Voice" gets a tail wag or two.

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