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In need of help/advice

Cory7
December 11th, 2007, 12:48 PM
Hi everyone,

I have a 3 1/2 yr old yellow lab mix. We got him as a pup and had him obedience trained and we socialized him very young. He's a really great dog. Friendly with humans and other dogs and he's left alone in the house when we're at work. He has no problem being left alone.

Now for the problem. When we're out and there are a lot of people and it's noisy he totally freaks out. We've been to a fair this summer and there were tons of people and it was very noisy and my dog was shaking SO BAD it was unbelievable. He was panting heavily and his tail was so far up his behind!!

Everyone was looking at us it was a little embarrassing. Everyone tried coming to him to pet him but it was a challenge.

Also, he hates being left outside by himself. Again he shakes.

He wasnít like this as a pup. As a pup he didnít mind the noise or having a lot of people around and didnít mind being outside by himself. What could have happened?

Heís just fine when we go to the park or for walks.

I feel SO bad when I see him in distress like that. It really breaks my heart - I want him to enjoy his outing.

I mean we did everything right. We trained him, socialized him. I feel I failed him in some way.

If this continues I will seek help. I mean this is not fair to him.

Any suggestions or insight would be appreciated.

Cory

jadams007
December 11th, 2007, 01:03 PM
is he in kennel? maybe another pet to keep him company would help

Cory7
December 11th, 2007, 01:07 PM
No, he's not in a kennel. We did crate train him as a pup.

Cory

jadams007
December 11th, 2007, 01:10 PM
I just thought if he was indoor trained would be away from outside noises. Sounds like a shy dog. A friend would be best.

Longblades
December 11th, 2007, 01:47 PM
Let me see if I understand this correctly. He went to the fair with you before and was fine? But now he is frightened of something like a fair? My uneducated guess would be that something frightened him when he was in such a situation. A fair must be sensory overload to any dog with enormous amounts of noise, smell, sights, people and even tactile sensations as tractors shake the ground. If it is just such situations that overwhelm him and he is still OK going on regular walks to the park I'd say just don't take him to the fair. You say he is OK alone in the house so leave him there when you go to the fair or something like it. Or board him if you will be away too long.

As for being outside alone, Labs are very people oriented and many would rather be inside with you. But if he was happy out alone but now is not my guess is something has happened in your yard to scare him. That is a problem with leaving a dog outside alone; you may not know what is going on when you're not around. We had one small child come in and hit our dog with a shovel. Another older boy threw things at him went he went by. We did not find these things out till after they had been going on for some time. We were lucky those kids did not get badly bitten.

Can you ask around to the neighbours to see if they know what goes on when you are away? If you find out what frightened him you can then work to desensitize him but I can't tell you how, I've never had to do it. Perhaps someone else here can help you or you can contact an animal behaviouralist.

Cory7
December 11th, 2007, 02:08 PM
Hi Longblades,

Thanks for your response.

The fair is not the only time this has happened. this has happened b4. It seems that if there is noise or confusion he panicks. Not just a little A LOT.

As for leaving him out. I leave him out ONLY when I am home and I check up on him VERY VERY often like every 5 minutes because I'm so paranoid of exactly what you mentioned someone coming and hurting him. I NEVER leave him out alone when I am not home or around.

Also I leave him out only for about 30 mins or so not very long. He's always inside so I want him to get some air.

Ugh...I'm so confused...I guess it won't hurt to get some help. It's a little more money BUT if it were my child would I not do the same?? I love him to death and I'll do anythign for this guy!!

Once again many many thanks for your help.

Cory :-)

Cory7
December 11th, 2007, 02:10 PM
Hi Longblades,

Thanks for your response.

The fair is not the only time this has happened. this has happened b4. It seems that if there is noise or confusion he panicks. Not just a little A LOT.

As for leaving him out. I leave him out ONLY when I am home and I check up on him VERY VERY often like every 5 minutes because I'm so paranoid of exactly what you mentioned someone coming and hurting him. I NEVER leave him out alone when I am not home.

Also I leave him out only for about 30 mins or so not very long. He's always inside so I want him to get some air.

Ugh...I'm so confused...I guess it won't hurt to get some help. It's a little more money BUT if it were my child would I not do the same?? I love him to death and I'll do anythign for this guy!!

Once again many many thanks for your help.

Cory :-)

SARAH
December 11th, 2007, 04:17 PM
I can't really help you, just give you a supportive :grouphug:

My airedale was even worse, he would totally freak if something made a sharp noise close by, like a baloon popping or even a book being "flopped" hard onto the coffee table or a magazine falling to the floor! I found him all balled up between the wall and the toilet on many occasions poor Idrys :rip: He was a rescue, and I have a feeling he was hit over the rear end with a folded newspaper from the reactions he had to a lot of things.

That's not the case with your dog though. I can only guess that something scared him in a noise place at one time, something you didn't notice at the time (which does not make you a bad "mommy") and now he associates noise places with whatever it was and possibly is scared that this "thing" will return when he's all slone outside.

It's so hard to know what our pets think or what may scare them at any one given time, and to put it in relation with later behavior is even worse. Maybe he's even making a mountain out of a mole-hill in his head, and that'll make it even harder for you to figure it out. I mean, had he freaked when it happened, you'd have seen it and calmed him down right there; but if he just got a bit scared and then blew it out of proportion later, you probably will never find out what the catalyst was.

Maybe bringing him gradually from quiet places to more and more noisy ones will help? You will have to be patient though.

Cory7
December 11th, 2007, 04:39 PM
Hi Sarah,

Thank you for your support!! It feels so good to hear I'm not a bad mommy!! I love him so much.

Now that I think of it he is terrified of thunder in the summer and that spooks him (like all dogs). And he is afraid of sudden loud noises so I guess he associates that with being outside!! I think he associates loud noises with thunder.

This summer we went for a walk and a firecracker went off and he dragged me home!! He pulled on that leash so hard I thought he was going to choke himself!!

When there are loud noises I try to comfort him and tell him it's OK but it's easier siad than done. They are in a different state of mind at that point.

I will try to call a few training schools and see what they think.

Cory

sugarcatmom
December 11th, 2007, 05:40 PM
When there are loud noises I try to comfort him and tell him it's OK but it's easier siad than done.

This might actually be part of the problem. By trying to console him when he reacts to a noise, you're inadvertently reinforcing the behaviour. As hard as it may be, try ignoring him next time, only rewarding him when he returns to 'normal'. I realize it's not exactly as simple as that, so a trainer might be a good idea. They should be able to give you some exercises to practice that would help desensitize your pup to increasingly stressful situations.

Good luck!

Longblades
December 12th, 2007, 09:00 AM
I agree with Sugarcatmom. It is so hard to do but ignore him when he is frightened. As stated, comforting only reinforces his fear. If you can manage to bring yourself to act like an idiot in public you could even try singing and doing your lottery happy dance. This will show him, 1) that YOU are not afraid so therefore there is nothing to be afraid of and 2) will distract him from the fearful thing or sound. Try to establish the singing and dancing as fun things in his mind first by doing them when he is not stressed.

Fear of thunder and fireworks is extremely common in dogs. You can buy dog training CDs that address this issue.

pitgrrl
December 12th, 2007, 09:45 AM
When there are loud noises I try to comfort him and tell him it's OK but it's easier siad than done. They are in a different state of mind at that point.


It's near impossible to do this with thunder or firecrackers, but in terms of the crowded/busy areas, you want to work on this before the dog gets into "the zone". You do this by slowly, over time, re-introducing the dog to the situations which freak him out and by keeping him busy with other, rewarding, things.

So, and example might be to bring him to a busy/loud/crowded are, but stay well on the side lines (paying close attention to his body language to make sure you're not pushing too far too fast) and practice obedience commands, or play a game, or what ever is really engaging and enjoyable for your dog in particular. As others have said, if the dog starts to get nervous, rather than comforting and coddling him, try to engage him in something else, even if it's just a little sprint.

This takes time, but it can make a huge difference. One of my dog became totally terrified of thunderstorms, and then, entire parts of our neighbourhood as he seemed to associate them with the noise. It took an entire summer, and many embarrassing moments of my, out on a busy sidewalk, playing tug, sprinting up the streets with the dog, or practicing commands and praising like a crazy lady, but he got over the fear of certain areas and now, during storms, though he still gets nervous, we can channel that into doing something for the most part, instead of him just shutting down and hiding in the bathtub to drool and shake for a few hours.

Another thing I found helpful was Bach Flower Remedies, either individual remedies or Rescue Remedy. If you're not familiar with them, they're homeopathic preperations designed to work on emotional, rather than physical, ailments. Gooogling will find a bunch of info. It's won't solve the problem for you, but in my experience it helps 'take the edge off' so to speak.....

Loves Labs
December 12th, 2007, 10:38 AM
Hello there - I can sympathize with you. We have a 2-year old black lab, Hayden, that was rescued as a pup and was very frightened of anything and everything in the beginning. He would shake and absolutely panic when people came over, I drop something - basically anything happened, he would be terrified. If we tried to walk down a busy street he would freak out and try to hide. I know, it is hard to see your pup in such distress.

We have just worked on trying to "condition" him to people and noises etc. Don't try to shelter them from them, keep exposing them, but try to make a positive experience (i.e. people come over and give him treats). We would continue to walk Hayden through crowds...gradually moving to busier places as he grew more comfortable. Everyone is right, comforting him during these episodes can be more damaging by reinforcing the behaviour.

What really has helped our little guy is getting a 2nd dog. Now, it is not for everyone and you must be able to handle 2 dogs (physically, financially and time-wise). Our 2nd dog (3 yr old yellow lab) is more confident and Hayden seems to feed off this. He has improved leaps and bounds since we have gotten her. He can walk down the busiest of streets and now will let most people even pet him! He has absolutely done a complete 360, but it did not happen overnight. A 2nd dog may just be the trick, if you are up for having 2 dogs. But again, I must stress, you must think it through - it is not for everyone! With labs, especially, it can get pretty rowdy.

That said, whatever you try - I wish you the best of luck. It will take time & patience, but hopefully you can help your little guy. :grouphug:

Cory7
December 13th, 2007, 07:57 AM
THANK YOU so much for all your support!! I feel so much better knowing that others have experienced the same situation as me. The advice makes A LOT of sense.

Actually yesturday I took Logan for a long walk and there is a lot of construction in our area so at one point as we were heading home there was a lot of hammering and it was LOUD. I saw that his tail started getting stiff and he started getting a little nervous. Right away I distracted him by playing. I started kicking up some snow because he loves to jump up and catch it. We did this for a couple of minutes and he was "happy go lucky" after that. Then I said to him lets run Logan, come on boy and we started running together, he was happy!!!!!

So that's a step in the right direction.

Also, I forgot to mention I am going to be a foster mommy for a shelter. I am going to get my first foster dog tonight or tomorrow. This should help Logan. Having a friend will give him comfort, I HOPE!!!

You guys are right. I need to be patient and go slowly with this. Something definately changed his behavior and at this point it doesn't matter what it is. What matters is getting him to what he use to be.

As suggested I will slowly bring him to crowed places so he won't be overwhelmed.

Once again I can't thank you enough. I really love this site.

P.S. I'd like to share a pic of Logan with you. How do I attach it?? This way you can see how he looks like :-)

Cory