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My dog is scared of my hallway (claustrophobia?)

January 4th, 2005, 12:55 AM
Hello - new to the site - I am a commercial dog walker in Vancouver BC
My 5 year old Border Collie/ Lab / Shep is having a problem in the house!
I added more floor cabinets to my kitchen last month and he now refuses to go in the kitchen - when he does he is very skitsy and flails around like "bambi on ice" he runs out as soon as he can - now he has started with the hallway also (no change there) He will not walk through it. He backs up and hesitates and barks. Right now its sporadic but becoming more and more frequent (he has no problem barking and running down the hall to the door for a visitor though - its like he forgets to be scared) He's never liked small dark halls or stairways (he wont walk past a leaning broom or anything that could potentially fall or move)

Any ideas on what could be casing this anxiety or how to correct it? Sometimes when I am out he gets stuck at one end of the hall and barks for hours!

Any help would be appreciated -


January 4th, 2005, 02:32 PM
I have never heard anything like this. I wish I had some suggestion.

Hopefully, it is nothing too serious and he grows out of it. I'd pay attention to his eyes, or have a doctor check them out. It could be that he doesn't see as well as he used too, and with things changing, you're both noticing it more.

January 4th, 2005, 02:48 PM
I once had a doberman who was terrified of small places. he once got between the garage door and the car and we couldn't find him for hours, here he was too afraid to move. he wouldn't go down stairs at all (good thing we only had two steps on the porch and that was it, he would jump those. we had to take the railing off so he would even do that). He was like that from the time we brought him home until the day he died 12 years later. so it is possible for your dog to be claustraphobic, but doubtful because it just started. I would also say to have his eyes checked. is it possible that something may have happened to him in the kitchen and the hall, like something fell on him. if something leaning on a wall or on a shelf fell off it may have scared him. as far as not being frightened when someone is at the door he may be so excited that he forgets all about why he was afraid in the first place. I would suggest talking to a trainer about it and see what they recomend.

January 4th, 2005, 05:28 PM
How do you respond to his fear? If you tell him "it's OK", or pet him, or reassure him in any way, you are telling him that it's quite alright for him to be fearful. Don't respond to his fear in any way, nada, not at all, except to tell him what a silly boy he is.

Have a light hearted conversation with the scary broom, or scary cabinets while he is watching. Pet them, even. Yes, you will feel like a moron, but just go with it... :D If he doesn't eat in the kitchen, now is a good time to start. You can use food, treats, games, playing, 3 minute fun training drills, etc, in the scary areas to make him more comfortable.

Does he play games, like fetch? Is he exercised physically & mentally enough? Is he obedience trained? Training builds confidence; and he's a mix of high energy, intelligent breeds...getting him out & burning energy, exercising his mind & body, can do nothing but good. If he is a strictly house and yard dog, now is the time to change that. :)

My guess is he was not exposed to very much in the way of different environments & experiences when he was a puppy, or was often put in situations that made him afraid when he was little. Some dogs are naturally a bit softer and will always be a tad neurotic and jumpy about new things...I have one like that (Daphne was a shelter rescue.). You can help him a lot by your reactions though.

January 4th, 2005, 05:31 PM
A lot of the herding breeds are neurotic in one way or another. Especially B/C's :rolleyes:

My Aussie was scared of the hallway when we first moved into our home and eventually got over it. My Aussie has also developed mild cataracts and I think this may be related.

January 4th, 2005, 05:38 PM
A lot of the herding breeds are neurotic in one way or another. Especially B/C's :rolleyes:

Yes, I was going to bring up the "neurotic BC" angle too...and GSDs are herding breeds too.
That's in part why I mentioned exercise & training....all that energy!
And of course it wouldn't hurt to get a vet check....though dogs generally adjust really well to changes in sight, hearing, etc, especially if it is gradual.

January 4th, 2005, 05:45 PM
Clearly you didn't consult the dog when choosing the style of doors and knobs. Next time involve him in the decision making process . :eek:

I brought a new chair home and my dog didn't like the fabric I chose. She wouldn't go near it for a month.

Feed her in the hall way for a week and all will be fine.

January 4th, 2005, 06:06 PM
thank you so much for all your ideas and suggestions - I have decided from now on to consult with Sam on the home decor (loved that reply ha ha)

Actually, I am starting to tell him how silly he is (as per your suggestion) and not move his bowl from the kitchen (which I had been doing) - I will make an effort this week to talk to the brooms and walls and cupboards too!

Its very odd - I noticed this morning that he will go one way but not the other?? We'll see how his eyes are when I take him to the vet!

Thank you for suggestions -

January 4th, 2005, 06:49 PM
Clearly you didn't consult the dog when choosing the style of doors and knobs. Next time involve him in the decision making process . :eek:


I thought this was hilarious too. :D

The talking to inanimate objects thing really helps! Quick story. I very recently moved from a rural area to a city. Since my dogs don't have the huge space they are used to for running, I've been trying to take them for almost-daily walks & runs. (I just have a small yard now.) The first time I took Daphne for a neighborhood walk, there was about 18 Scary Things per block for her to deal with. Leftover Halloween decorations, some construction equipment, Scary Bushes, etc. :rolleyes:

So, I've been doing the "talking to inanimate objects" routine. Yes, I feel like a complete fool chatting happily with a decomposing pumpkin, or forsythia bush. But the minute I start doing that, Daphne get all curious and her butt starts wiggling. Now 2 months later, she is very confident & barely flinches as Scary Bushes and Unexpected Trash Cans. Plus, she loves her walkies now! She wasn't sure at first...

January 4th, 2005, 07:36 PM
Did you change the flooring? Maybe to something really slick like lineoleum? My dogs hate the kitchen floor. I put carpet runners down one main walk area and they rarely come off that onto the tile floor.

Just a thought.