Hello, I am new to the site and this is my first thread looking for some advice. Sorry its kinda long, but I am not sure what to and not to put in here. I refuse to give this dog up, me and my wife love him already and he has become part of the family. But if he keeps being this scared I can't imagine he is even semi-happy.
Me and my wife just got a new one year old lab, Calvin. We got him from my mother's friends who found him hard to deal with and didn't like him. Those friends got him from another set of friends who felt the same way. And they got him from who knows where. So in shot he has had 3 homes in a month now. We have had him for 3 weeks and can not figure out why he is scared of everything. He came right into our apartment no problem, walked around and was fine. A day later if i move a chair he is in the corner cowering, or running to his crate, which i assume he thinks is his safe place. At first we babied him, I know this was bad, guess we just wanted him to like us. Since then for about 2 weeks now i mostly ignore his cowering and when he calms down...like hours, some times a whole day...i will praise him and give him a nice treat.
I have read a few things about just giving it time its a puppy thing, but is one year old still a puppy thing? I know they are puppyish till 2 or 3 but being around for 1 year just seems suprising he is this scared of stuff.
Things he fears:
Tl;dr - LOTS OF STUFF (anything you would run into on a daily walk)
Objects that move from one location to another over a day or so...chairs, couches, lamps...if they aren't in the same place he wont go near them.
Certain noises from the TV, or certain things on the TV...the little screen saver DVD thing that floats around he growls at and runs away.
Other dogs...part scared part excited...sometimes i can't tell, definitely not a good behavior though...he hates little dogs anything like 10lbs and under he is scared of.
Mailboxes, Trash cans, desklamps...
I mean i could list a million things.
We are pretty sure he was abused by the previous family as he will not run from but bow his head to any man that walks towards him, and gets this real scared look in his eyes. I hate this as I have no intention of hitting him and it makes me feel awful when I walk towards him but I try and just ignore it. We are looking into getting a trainer that deals with abused dogs, a friend referred us to. Hopefully he can help us, but this might be a few more weeks. Any advice? Is scared behavior common with labs?
Last edited by Ootter; 07-08-2013 at 11:40 PM.
Poor boy! I would see a vet. A good check up is a first step. We have our Sophie, who has noise anxiety. She shakes and cowers and pants at certain noises. We have had bouts of it bad enough to have to sedate her. Our vet also prescribed valium. We only give it when she gets bad enough that she doesn't calm down within a half hour or so. We tried a Thunder Shirt, but it didn't work for us, but has for many other members, so you might try that. Our vet said that sometimes dogs have to be put on prozac. She didn't recommend it, unless needing valium was a daily occurance. Your pup has been through so much, and has been passed around so much he has not learned to trust. It will take time. We have found that when Sophie has an episode, we can often head it off my walking and exercising her. She also likes car rides. Good luck.
Sophie DOB 04/13/2011 6 mo
Sophie 15 months, with Skye
About how long do you think it could take him to "trust" us? Being 1 year old is he past the finding a leader kinda phase? Or is that something a dog does their whole life?
Being scared and skittish isn't a lab trait, but breeding and experiences obviously play a roll. You are doing the right thing by not babying and thus reinforcing the behavior. It will take some time, and getting professional advice from a trainer or behaviorist is definitely beneficial. I can imagine that the frightened look is heart breaking, but he will learn to trust you. You just have to give each other time. I'm sure he already appreciates you more than you realize.
Debi and Bauer
Some people are like slinkies. Not really good for much, but bring a smile to your face when pushed down the stairs.
This poor boy has been through so much and just needs time, patience and understanding. Working with a trainer that can help you with exercises to increase his confidence is an awesome idea. To think he would be better in a month, regardless of how nice you have been to him, is unreasonable. He may never be a dog that will not revert to scared behavior in different circumstances. I have a very confident almost 2 year old that has been with us since 8 weeks but certain things make him stop like a trash can that was not in front of a driveway the day before. He does not cower but unusual things will definitely get his attention. It is impossible to tell how long it will take before you see improvement, I really hope you are commited to helping this boy have the safe and loving forever home he deserves.
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.
I would encourage you to get a behaviorist to evaluate this dog soon. Your vet visit should be first and then find a behaviorist. You will never know what occured with him to get this result, and there is a possibility that his behavior is a genetic issue - but you may be able to make real strides with him with the right professional involved. It will take a lot of time and patience on your part.
Sharon, Blaise and Diesel.
Work the boundaries. Find something the dog likes and then introduce something the dog is fearful of. Start with the fearful thing far enough or quiet enough (if it is a sound) that the dog doesn't notice. Then shorten the distance or bring up the volume of the fearful thing slowly. If the dog freaks out increase the distance or soften the sound again. The key is to challenge the dog but to not overwhelm the dog.
Also work on basic obedience using positive reinforcement. Dogs can often times disregard their fears or the naughtiness if given a command they know so well they do it instinctively.
Lastly, exercise your dog. A tired dog is a often times a happy dog.
get to a vet asap. the first thing one should do with a new dog is get to a vet. don't delay. and this is irrelevant to the beharious, you need to have him looked over by a vet.
Do not ignore him. especially if he is afraid for hours and up toa day, ignoring him that long will only delay bonding. I know they say not to encourage a dog in fear but that doesn't mean you cannot pet them. distract them. Scared dog – Reassure or Ignore?
Work on bonding. I would hand feed and take baby steps on everythign else. I would certainly have him seen by a trainer or behaviorist if things are as bad as you say, the sooner the better (the more you delay the longer it will take to work on the issue).
DO NOT put the dog on a drug until you have have a full vet visit AND talked to a trainer/behaviost (NOT just the vet). a drug may be needed short term but you absolutely need to use it as a small part of a plan to increase teh dog's confidence.
Charlie (foster) and Rocky
I wanted to add - don't put too much emphasis on his past. He may not have been hit or beaten at all, he may simply have been undersocialised (lived in the country and not left him home/property or met new people/dogs until he was bounced around). He may be reacting to the CITY SOUNDS. I have a neighbour that was going to adopt a 1 year old dog that was a great pup, loved all her life and had a great life. But she lived in teh country and frolicked with her four legged brothers and sisters all her life. When they brought her to the city, alone, she freaked. completely. It was horrible. Given she was not in urgent need, they returned her to her home. I mean they could have worked her thru the issues but it wasn't necessary, she was safe with her first owners until her forever home was found.
Charlie (foster) and Rocky
This post broke my heart for both of you! I wish I had advice. I hope and pray you find a solution and you guys have a "happily ever after".