My 12 week lab puppy, Mellow, is absolutely terrified of cars. We got him when he was 8 weeks old. In his 2nd week with us, he was playing in the front yard and a school bus turned into the street. This scared him to death and since then he is terrified to step outside the house. He steps outside but as soon as he hears/sees a car pass by, he bolts back inside. I am trying to desensitize him by sitting with him outside but it doesn't seem to be working. He is calm if I am holding him or if he is able to snuggle with me, but if I create any distance he freaks out. He does not listen to me or any command that I give.
When I try to take him for a walk, he pulls me back to the house with all his might, huffing puffing coughing all the way. I feel like his harness is going to crack his ribcage with all the force he puts in pulling me back home.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated. I really want him to enjoy the outdoors and not be an indoor puppy.
my view of your situation is at 8 weeks old he is very much learning his surroundings, by holding him you are re-enforcing his fears factor and those fears may multiply such as barking at stationary objects like mailboxes and lightposts and bicycles/rollerbladers in motion etc. Socialization is the key here, he is young and must experience new environments sounds and people. Young pups who are socialised early on are quite easier to train and make life more pleasurable for you both.
The one absolutely unselfish friend that man can have in this world, the one that never deserts him, the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous, is his dog. -George Graham Vest-
When a dog wriggles his adorable rear end into a human's life, the human will never be the same
The more you cuddle this puppy the more you are reinforcing the fear. Can you get the puppy in to a puppyk class ASAP? I would also start exposing the puppy to as many safe and different environments as possible. Car rides, stores that allow dogs, (hardware stores, post offices, etc), anywhere as long as you are not putting the puppy on the floor/ground. As hard as it is you need to ignore the fearful behavior to help your puppy become a confident dog. Good luck!
Last edited by tammyhuffman; 02-28-2013 at 12:42 AM.
Maxx & Emma Jean
Ozzy - 10/16/02 - 06/28/11 - Always in my heart.
Sometimes the hardest part isn't letting go - but learning to start over.
As mentioned, puppied need to be exposed to many different environments, one of the ways I introduced ours to new things like that was to make it fun and distract them using trats or skipping along.
Its fairly normal for young puppies to just 'stop' on walks (the big wide world is scary) but just encourage with treats (dont just drag).
I also dont like using harnesses on dogs as some can teach them that it is ok to pull. Just stop each time they pull and continue when they are calm. It takes a lot of patience and the main thing - consistency.
Worth it in the end though
To the OP... the comments above are on the money.
I had a puppy with a family that was also beyond terrified.. unlike anything I had heard of and quite honestly it took some professional advice and help. What I was taught and passed on to the puppy owner was brilliant. It takes time, patience and a real willingness to help the pup out. I am happy to start you off with what I learned to do (and this was only about 18 months ago)
1. I read that when you step outside as long as you snuggle he is fine. Agree with above, don't do that. Open your door, step outside, and close the door and sit outside but against it. Do not try and walk him, do not do a thing. Have cookies in your hand, a favorite toy. Do this when you have about 15 minutes just to sit. Constantly play and encourage him. Do not try and do anything else other then this. He will adjust. Also, I would suggest if possible to take him out in the back yard. If he is constantly afraid by things you are trying with him,,, it will hinder moving forward. In order to achieve just this, it make take 1 day 2 days 5 days a week. Do not rush. I would also encourage you to do this twice a day if possible.
Once you mastered only this.. phase 2 comes. Remember you are literally sitting against the door.
Phase 2... do the identical thing but move 6-12 inches from the door, not more then that.
Phase 3... after you mastered the above.
When I went to a friend of mine who is a professional trainer and got this method I raised my eyebrows, was not what I really would have assumed the advice would be. 6 weeks later the pup I am referring to was absolutely a different animal.
I also agree with puppy classes but my personal fear is if you try and do that right now and the puppy is absolutely afraid of the world you are going to make matters even worse.
Danika & Eva
Thank you all so much for these wonderful inputs.
As Susan suggested, I have been sitting at the back door with him for the past 2-3 weeks. He is comfortable with that now. I moved him 6-12 inches forward and he is ok with that too. But if I get any further away from the back door, he panics.
Also, he is already enrolled into puppy class at Petsmart. I should mention that we have been trying to socialize him with different environments. We took him to the park (not doggie park) 1-2 times. From the time we park our car till 25 feet away from the parking lot, Mellow goes beserk. He is trying to run in all directions, seeking the first available 'safe' hiding spot. The further away you go from the cars, the better he gets.
Same story with Petsmart. He is fine inside the store, socializing with other dogs and people. But getting him to the store from the parking lot, and back to the car from the store, is the issue.
He is 12 weeks and 30 pounds in weight. It is getting very difficult for me to carry him. I will keep trying the desensitize method. Thank you all again for the advice.