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Working through the fear period

Colubridz
January 15th, 2007, 04:08 PM
My puppy is now 5 months of age and seems to be going through the fear period. He has become suspicious of certain strangers on walks and will bark and growl at them. Initally I tried saying, ah ah and then making him sit to distract him and then praising and treating him when he stopped however he would continue. I was considering getting a trainer to help curb the behaviour but alot of people have told me on other sites and friends with dogs to not wait and get one immediatly before it gets worse.

To say the least I am now extremely confused as some people are telling me to only use positive reinforcement to fix the behaviour where as some trainers including the ones at the place he went to puppy kindergarden for said to use light corrections like a yank on the chain. I prefer positive reinforcement but am not against using light corrections such as mentioned above, I would never consider such nonsense of alpha rolling or physical things like hitting him on the nose. Others have recomended a citronella spray coller which I know dosen't hurt them but i still don't feel comfortable using one.

If someone could please give me some advice either way it would be helpful.

Kayla

4thedogs
January 15th, 2007, 04:22 PM
I would suggest seeking out a trainer who knows how to deal with this fear otherwise you can make it worse. What is you puppy trying to do fight or flight.

It will come down to increasing the socializing you do with your pup as well as your being careful of your reaction when he becomes fearful. He will trust your judgement so you need to be confident and be very careful not to feed his fears.

Doing any physical correction light or not will not be helpful and could make the fears worse. Example: If he is scared of a person and he gets a jerk on the leash for being scared he will remain that way or the behaviour may become worse than what you started with.

Where are you located?

Colubridz
January 15th, 2007, 10:46 PM
He is reacting in a fight type mode and will stop when he see's certain people walking down the street and begin to growl and bark. I've been trying distracting him by getting him to sit and then rewarding him and then praising and treating him however he will go right back to it. I actually found two good trainers I'm considering, the second a friend has been using for his wiemeriner after she nipped a student ( their tutor for a living). They said he works with only positive reinforcement and was very good so I'm going to give him a call tommorow.

Thanks
Kayla

p.s ( I'm in Mississauga,Ontario)

Spirit
January 15th, 2007, 11:16 PM
Just a tip... when you tell him to sit, make sure you're standing slightly in front of him (you protect him, not the other way around).

At 5 months old though, instead of making a leash correction and forcing him to sit, I would calmly and gently show him that there's nothing to fear. Maybe even bring him closer to what it is he's afraid of. If he becomes afraid and starts to back away, then a sit would be appropriate. Once he's calm again, then you move forward (again).

There are times when a leash correction is appropriate, but try to remember that you're dealing with a young puppy who has had only a couple short months of "the real world". It's sort of like punishing your 3 year old child for being afraid of the clown at her birthday party by using force. "Hey. Knock if off" doesn't work with puppies in the fear stage. Gentle is better.

(edit) I just remembered when mine was about 5 months old, he was terrified of the lobby of my house, but only at certain times (other times he would go down there to play). I think he heard noises coming from outside, or shadows on the window, but whatever he was hearing/seeing, he would sit on the stairs and grooowwwwwl towards the lobby. He REFUSED to pass the 4rth step from the top to go down. I had to go sit on the stairs with him, and slowly move down step by step, and invite him down to see that there was nothing there to be afraid of.

I called this "the boogeyman stage". He still does it from time to time when we go out for walks at night, or if it's really windy. That boogeyman is baaaaad. lol