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    1. #1
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      Netmonkey's Avatar
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      Fear of people (and noises)

      Hello,

      My wife and I adopted a female lab mix (Lacy) about 3 months ago. When I first met Lacy at the rescue group, she was incredibly fearful of me. She barked at me and tried to run away. However, she warmed up to me very quickly after I took her leash and walked her around the dog ranch. After about an hour, she rolled over and I was able to rub her belly and she also took treats from my hand. Even with her initial fear of people, I could tell that she was a sweet dog and that she is one that I could work with. Now that she has been in our home for several months, my wife and I are the center of Lacy's universe.

      Inside of our house, Lacy is incredibly polite, patient, gentle, and eager to please. With very little effort, I have been able to teach her our rules. She has learned that the humans go first when going up and down the stairs. She stays behind us and waits for us to go 3 or 4 steps before following us up or down. When it is time for feeding, she politely sits at her food area and waits for me to give the "eat" command before eating. She knows that she is not allowed to go through an open door without our permission (even internal doors). When we come and go for walks, she politely waits for me to give the "ok" command to come in or go out of the house. She also politely sits and waits for me to put on or take off her harness when we come and go for walks. I have also worked with her on all the basic commands (sit, stay, wait, come, down, up, touch, etc). She is even polite and friendly with our cat. I can even feed both of them at the same time and Lacy will leave the cat and the cat food alone.

      However, outside of our house is a whole different story. There are so many things that she is afraid of and many things that trigger her fear. When we leave the house, it seams like she is looking for the things that might scare her. It is almost like agoraphobia in humans. I walk her 2-3 times a day and we cover 2-4 miles each day. She does best when I walk her in the mornings. I usually walk her around 4:30am and, because it is so quiet and there is no one outside, she is fairly confident. However, on our afternoon walks, there are other people outside and there are cars and trucks coming and going along the street. Any of these things can scare her. She either gets skittish, wants to walk in another direction, or she totally breaks down and will not walk any further. The latter is the least common but is the most difficult to get her through. In all the situations, I try to move her through the fear. Most of the time, we can just walk past the "scary thing", but when she puts on the brakes, I wait for her to calm down and encourage her towards the direction that we are walking. During our walks, the people we pass will want to pet her. If people try to approach her, she will cower, tremble, and try to hide behind me. However, I can take her to the vet or the groomer and she will accept their handling of her (go figure).

      I have read some training solutions and some have said to bring the in-house training to the outside. I use treats during the in-house training, but she will not take any food once we are outside and, with the outside anxiety, I really do not have her full attention anyway. So, how do I get Lacy past this fear of people? She will clearly accept new people as she did with me. At her core, she is a fantastic dog and she wants to please.
      Ohh... she also has a tremendous scent drive. She wants to smell everything along the walks. Maybe that can be taken advantage of?

      Thanks for your help
      Last edited by Netmonkey; 11-25-2018 at 04:59 PM.

    2. #2
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      Is there a way you can sit somewhere that is at a safe distance from what she is scared of. And do a look at that and reward. You might need to start on something that is not fear based like your cat and when she looks at you reward her. Desensitizing can take some time small steps lots of rewards. Have you tried maybe meeting a friend out and build her confidence.

      Im sure others will explain it better than me. I am better at doing training than explaining it. I hope this was a little helpful

    3. #3
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      I also have a tremendously anxious rescue and found something that really alleviates the symptoms. If you can get Lacy a bit eased up, you will have an easier time with any training/behavior modification you do.

      CalmPet granules (not liquid) by PetAlive is wonderful stuff. I'd tried a lot of things before I found this and this was the first one that allowed Sunnie to stay in the kitchen when I opened the refrigerator. Yes...the sound of the door opening frightened her to the point of tearing out of the room. That's when I knew I'd found the right stuff. Sunnie is still anxious but so much better.

      https://www.nativeremedies.com/petal...SAAEgJlA_D_BwE

      CalmPet is expensive but the site always has buy 2 get 1 free and they're running a special extra 30% off plus free shipping right now.....the code is CYBER-18

      I've recommended this to quite a few other people for their anxious pups (most rescues) and every one of them has raved about it. General anxiety. Separation anxiety. Thunderstorms. Fireworks. One was also afraid of people and now isn't...even greeting people and being just fine when walked by the walker.
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      Netmonkey (11-25-2018)

    5. #4
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      Quote Originally Posted by Jollymolly View Post
      Is there a way you can sit somewhere that is at a safe distance from what she is scared of. And do a look at that and reward. You might need to start on something that is not fear based like your cat and when she looks at you reward her. Desensitizing can take some time small steps lots of rewards. Have you tried maybe meeting a friend out and build her confidence.

      Im sure others will explain it better than me. I am better at doing training than explaining it. I hope this was a little helpful
      Right... I have been doing the "look at that" exercise in the house and she is really good at it (I use a tennis ball). The problem is that as soon as I step outside the house, all bets are off. When outside, she will not take treats so I cant give her a reward for any desired behavior. Would skipping a meal give her the food motivation outside of the house?

      hmm.... maybe bringing "strangers" inside the house would be the next step for her?

    6. #5
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      There is a lot of conflicting information on the internet. Some people do flooding, which is now frowned upon. Some people feed the dog or have strangers feed. Also frowned upon these days. I'm not sure what the answer is, but would recommend a certified veterinary behaviorist to help you.

      There is an online class starting December 1 (you can enroll now) by Dr. Amy Cook called Dealing with the Bogeyman - Helping Fearful Reactive and Stressed Dogs. I know many people who have taken this who started with dogs like yours and ended up being able to show their dogs in a crowded venue. Dr. Cook travels and gives seminars. She came to my area last month and was well-received. I did not attend, but it was held by my obedience trainer and most of my classmates went. They loved it. You can audit the class for $65 and get a lot out of it. Dr. Cook is progressive and isn't into making you make your dog do things she cannot handle.

      Also, curious as to all of your rules. What is the purpose of the dog being behind you and never going through doors? I agree that dogs need rules and that leadership is essential, but sometimes with dogs that lack confidence, they have a hard time functioning without someone telling them what to do all of the time. They fear making their own decisions. Sometimes these dogs benefit from being taught that they can make their own decisions and if it is "wrong" they won't be punished (and by punished, I mean what is aversive to that dog - whether a look, saying no, or using physical punishment - they are all different). We can embolden our less confident dogs with shaping (look up "101 Things to do With a Box") and allowing them to figure things out on their own and not controlling their every move. While these dogs seem obedient, sometimes they are just fearful.

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      Tanya (11-28-2018)

    8. #6
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      Quote Originally Posted by Labradorks View Post
      Also, curious as to all of your rules. What is the purpose of the dog being behind you and never going through doors? I agree that dogs need rules and that leadership is essential, but sometimes with dogs that lack confidence, they have a hard time functioning without someone telling them what to do all of the time. They fear making their own decisions. Sometimes these dogs benefit from being taught that they can make their own decisions and if it is "wrong" they won't be punished (and by punished, I mean what is aversive to that dog - whether a look, saying no, or using physical punishment - they are all different). We can embolden our less confident dogs with shaping (look up "101 Things to do With a Box") and allowing them to figure things out on their own and not controlling their every move. While these dogs seem obedient, sometimes they are just fearful.
      ahh... let me clarify. My wife wants our bedroom to be the one room in the house that does not have dog hair or cat hair. So neither the cat or the dog is allowed in the bedroom. Lacy knows not enter the bedroom and will not pass the doorway. Also, if the front door or the back door is open, I do not want Lacy to charge through it. In part, this is for her safety (I don't want her running out into the street, for example). Other than that, Lacy has free reign of the house and she gets up and wanders on her own. Also, we never use any sort of punishment. Everything that we have taught her has been through positive reinforcement and she has been eager to please (at least inside the house ).

      The rule about Lacy staying behind us when going up and down the stairs is for the safety of my mom. My mom is 78 years old and a large dog barreling past her on the stairs could easily knock her down and hurt her.

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      Beth C (11-26-2018)

    10. #7
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      Quote Originally Posted by Netmonkey View Post
      ahh... let me clarify. My wife wants our bedroom to be the one room in the house that does not have dog hair or cat hair. So neither the cat or the dog is allowed in the bedroom. Lacy knows not enter the bedroom and will not pass the doorway. Also, if the front door or the back door is open, I do not want Lacy to charge through it. In part, this is for her safety (I don't want her running out into the street, for example). Other than that, Lacy has free reign of the house and she gets up and wanders on her own. Also, we never use any sort of punishment. Everything that we have taught her has been through positive reinforcement and she has been eager to please (at least inside the house ).

      The rule about Lacy staying behind us when going up and down the stairs is for the safety of my mom. My mom is 78 years old and a large dog barreling past her on the stairs could easily knock her down and hurt her.
      Cool. This makes more sense to me.

    11. #8
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      [QUOTE=Netmonkey;178181]ahh...

      The rule about Lacy staying behind us when going up and down the stairs is for the safety of my mom. My mom is 78 years old and a large dog barreling past her on the stairs could easily knock her down and hurt her.[/
      QUOTE]

      I knew exactly what you meant. Dan is good about waiting for me to go first. Sunnie has been reluctant to take commands ever since we first got her and this is one thing that she hasn't absorbed from seeing Dan do the right thing. Sunnie usually waits for me to start going down, squeezes in to the side of me, immediately crosses over to the other side in front of me and continues down that way. She has taught us to just accommodate her way of doing things.

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      Netmonkey (11-27-2018)

    13. #9
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      You may want to try to use Lacy's food as a motivator by using her meal kibble as training treats, i.e. no actual meals - just use the normal daily portion as training treats throughout the day. Lido's trainer encourages this to keep them motivated. Hunger is a strong motivator for many dogs.

      I agree with you regarding having the dog wait to go through doorways and up/down stairs. We do the same with Lido. We have young grandchildren, and I don't want them plowed over!

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      Netmonkey (11-27-2018)

    15. #10
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      Quote Originally Posted by Beth C View Post
      You may want to try to use Lacy's food as a motivator by using her meal kibble as training treats, i.e. no actual meals - just use the normal daily portion as training treats throughout the day. Lido's trainer encourages this to keep them motivated. Hunger is a strong motivator for many dogs.

      I agree with you regarding having the dog wait to go through doorways and up/down stairs. We do the same with Lido. We have young grandchildren, and I don't want them plowed over!
      So I had a breakthrough with her this week. I was able to get her to take treats outside of the house and on our walks.

      Here is how I did it...
      Before our afternoon walk, I stood in the kitchen and cut up her treats and filled up the treat bag. She looooves freeze dried beef liver treats so this really got her attention. I then grabbed my shoes and her harness and leash. She knows that this is an indicator that she is going for a walk so she became even more excited. As we moved towards the garage door, I began to feed her the treats. I then continued to feed her the treats as we walked into the garage and out onto the driveway. As we walked down the street, she was looking at me rather than looking around for the "scary things." Every time she looked at me, I gave her the marker ("yes") and a treat. We walked about 3/4 of a mile doing this and we almost went through the entire treat bag. She still had some breakdowns, but at least now I know that I can work with her outside to address her triggers.

      As an aside, every time we go for a walk, I sit on the bottom of the stairs to put my shoes on. She always runs up and sits on the steps behind me and waits for me to put the harness and leash on her. Sometimes, she will bump the rim of my hat with her nose and then jams her nose into my ear or neck. It's these little things that make me laugh and enjoy having a dog



      So back to the breakthrough. The next day, I did the same thing. I cut up the treats, filled up the treat bag, and led her outside while giving her treats. However, during the walk, I made her work a little harder for the treats. As we approached some of her triggers, I asked her to sit before giving her the mark and the treat. As the trigger would come closer or move past, I gave her the mark and the treat while she continued to sit. Here are 2 examples:
      1. There is a school bus stop near my house. When a bus stops, a couple of Lacy's triggers become the crowds of children and parents and line of cars behind the school bus. I walked Lacy across the street from the bus stop and next to the line of cars. I asked her to sit and gave her the mark and the treat. We stayed there until the bus drove off and the kids and cars dispersed.
      2. While walking on the sidewalk, another couple was approaching from the opposite direction. I asked Lacy to sit and I continued to give her the mark and the treat as the couple approached. There was a threshold, however, where Lacy would not take the treat. When the couple passed us within 2 feet, Lacy cowered a little bit, but she did not shake or panic.

      I am not sure if this the right approach (would continuing this reinforce fears?), but at least she will take instruction and treats in a high stress situation.

      Where should I go from here with the training?

      Thanks again for all the help.

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      SunDance (11-28-2018)

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