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Old November 26th, 2011, 06:28 PM
evanora's Avatar
evanora evanora is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada
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11month old puppy having "panic attacks"?

Eko is my 11month old puppy who I adopted at 8weeks of age. She was written down as a bichon/poodle with possibly havanese thrown in. As she grew, every comment I received (and still do) from people was "Wow she's long! Does she have dachshund in her?" so it's possible she may have some of that mixed in there as well.

Since she was a young pup she was introduced to tons of different races of people people, plus children, the elderly, men, women - you name it! She was taken to obedience/agility classes set up for beginners, I'm a dog walker so once she had all her shots she has accompanied me on all of my outings and met every type of dog (big, small, neutered/spayed and unfixed). She has traveled in cars, buses and on the subway, LOVES swimming/water and is a nutbar.

Then, things kind of went "weird" with her due to an incident with the park bully dog (who is never on leash and has attacked several dogs because she runs out of no where and lashes out and the owners do nothing - mix between a lab/shepherd/border collie). The female dog attacked her/chased her down right beside me (three times) and of course, the other dog was off leash, Eko was on and all Eko did was scream/howl and try to hide in my legs until I chased the other dog off. Since then she barks/wails at new midsized to larger dogs (even if they are on or off leash) and it doesn't matter if she's on or off leash. It's very hard to talk her down (which is me trying to use her clicker training, positive reinforcement training or even just redirecting her) once she gets into this state of "panic", and also it's quite embarrassing as people usually call me the "dog whisperer" of the park because all the dogs I walk in the neighbourhood behave the best for me - except my own, now (apparently).

People have suggested that she no longer has the confidence she had when she was younger but having tried so many forms of training with her (and she's super bright so she catches on quickly) and none of it seems to soothe her in these times of panic, I'm at a loss. It's heartbreaking to see because she enjoys other dogs so much and all the dogs she has known regularly from her young puppy days (dogs up to 115lbs!) she still loves to death and will romp around and play with, but new dogs... it's like her brain shuts down and she can't just accept that it's okay to have confidence and be carefree - all she does is wail/bark and completely freak out. I can't take her to off leash parks anymore because her tail is down and she just stays beside me, when once she ran around and played.

She's super attached to me and is great when people come to our house, but also on the street she will not go up to people or kids anymore. I'm willing to give anything a go!

Her "brother", my 11.5year old helps her at times as if he goes up to a dog she sees it's "okay/safe" and will sometimes follow. But I'd like her to have that ability all her own and not bark (it's a fear based bark) and have fun with new midsized/larger dogs like she used to.

Any advice is greatly appreciated! (apologies for the length)
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Old November 27th, 2011, 07:08 AM
kitona kitona is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Calgary
Posts: 86
What a bummer! Same thing happened to one of mine. When I first got him at 8 months, he was kind of nervous about everything but other dogs were ok. Then, at about 10 months another dog came out of the blue and attacked him. My dog was on leash, the attacker wasn't. There was no physical damage done, but he's been leash reactive ever since. Now, 4 years on, he's getting a whole lot better. When we meet dogs on our walks, we curve around them so it's not a head-on approach. We'll often stop and chat with other owners at a bit of a distance and slowly get closer. this gives him a chance to see that the other dog is controled and ok. If the other dog is calm and the owner is willing we'll walk with them for a bit and things usually work out.
If you look at this from your dog's perspective, she learned a hard life lesson that day. She was out with you and a bunch of ''friendlies'' and was mugged and beaten up by a complete stranger. She has learned that not all dogs are trustworthy just like we have all had to learn with other people. Sad, but true.
Sounds to me like you are doing the right thing by not exposeing her to a dog park environment and giving her quiet time at home. As for building her confidence back up, maybe try giving her a ''job'' like an agility class or something similar that she really enjoys doing. It will expose her to strange dogs under control and stimulate her mind.
Good luck with her!
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Old November 27th, 2011, 08:05 AM
Longblades Longblades is offline
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Posts: 2,490
I will hazard a guess (all any of us can do is guess) that this incident may have happened when your puppy was in a fear period. It's going to take some work.

Was this in an off-leash dog park? Your pup should NOT have been leashed. As a dog walker you know this, I'm pointing it out for others who may read. One dog leashed and the other not is a recipe for miss-given and miss-read body language cues.

If this was not an off-leash park then I'd report that dog to whatever authorites. You seem to indicate the other dog is a known bully so you and the other owners can complain about that dog even if it was an off-leash park.

How long ago did this happen? I think you need to plan on a slow recovery. I would definitely take her older friend with her but I would avoid that park in times when it is busy. Does she have any other doggy friends to help build up her confidence?

A book I've found is great for situations like that is Leslie McDevitt's "Control Unleashed" I think her "games" might help your puppy-girl to learn to focus on you instead of worrying about what the other dogs might do. She needs to know she is not facing the threat of that big dog all on her own, though I would do my best to not meet that dog again.

Dog parks are not for everyone and not for every dog and your wee girlie, sadly, may simply no longer be a candidate for one. I think Kitona, above me, has some good ideas too. Good luck.
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Old November 27th, 2011, 10:07 AM
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evanora evanora is offline
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Join Date: Nov 2011
Location: Ontario, Canada
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Thanks so much for the both of the replies!

kitona - I'm going to do what you suggested and when we meet a new dog (if the owner and dog seem like good "candidates") I'm going to ask them if we can tag along with them or even just follow them (I better ask though, as to not look like a creeper). Most of the people who walk in my park with their dogs are dog friendly people who don't mind her barking and a few have told me to just ignore her and let her get over it. If nothing else, she's been teaching me patience as I know now this won't be a quick fix. A job is a great idea! I'm going to look into the next step of an agility class (she took a beginner's one and loved it) for her and also some other fun dog activities that will be in a controlled environment. Thanks so much!

Longblades - Thanks so much for all your advice. The park that I go to around my home is not an off leash park and the bully dog is always off leash. I've had several words with the owners (some not so nice...) and we try and avoid them every chance we get. It's unfortunate because the dog literally dashes out of no where growling/on attack - for my dogs' (including the ones I walk) safety, I sadly have to avoid the park if I walk in and see them in the distance off leash. Seems unfair that they have so much power. The animal control people are now making rounds to our park because of complaints, but somehow they haven't been able to catch this person yet and the owners will not talk to you/acknowledge you and we don't know where they live.

As for how long ago it was, the first time was when she was 4.5months old and playing with a stick while we were sitting under a tree and the dog tore over the hill behind us and attacked Eko for the stick. And sadly it happened again while we were walking and she was about 6months old and we were leaving the park and again, from behind, she tore down on us (from I have no idea where) and scared the daylights out of both of us. She has tons of dog friends of every size - even a huge 115lbs collie/lab mix that is huge and black and the epitome of everything she is normally scared of. She's a client dog of mine so I walked them together and it took about three walks, but now Eko adores her. It's really bizarre to me because shepherds tend to be her most fearful breed, yet she'll romp and play with a friend's two border collie/shepherd crosses who she's only met a few times over the span of her life without hesitation.

I guess a lot of this is that I just want her to have her confidence back so she can just enjoy things and not worry. I'm definitely checking out that book (thanks for the recommendation!) and I'm steering clear of the off leash parks until she starts to show a bit more confidence. I refuse to give up. The one good thing about our off leash parks is there are separate small and large dog areas.

Again, thank you so much! I am taking all of your suggestions and I'm going to follow through with them
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Old November 27th, 2011, 12:08 PM
kitona kitona is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Calgary
Posts: 86
Do let us know how it goes with your little girl. And if you stumble on a new and effective stratigy, let us know about thart too! It's been a long road to recovery for my guy and every bit of knowledge helps. I'll check out the book too. Thanks for the suggestion, Longblades.
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Old November 27th, 2011, 10:52 PM
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Sew-sew-steve Sew-sew-steve is offline
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i agree with Kitona,

from the looks of it your dog never had a "bad" experience? and isnt able to deal with the fact that it might get pushed around again. all i can say is take it slow and go at the dogs' pace and try to rebuild its confidence with bigger dogs. work with its nero-associations.

if its a small dog dont worry too much as bigger dogs, people, or anything else much larger than it can be very intimidating. dont worry about it too much and just go at the dogs' pace!
"For those whom Islam has embraced, the greatest witness to God's unremitting, pursuing, sustaining, and guiding love is the Qu'ran. Like a vast magnificent ocean, it lures you deeper and deeper into its dazzling waves until you are swept into it. But instead of drowning in a sea of darkness, as described above, you find yourself immersed in an ocean of divine light and mercy." - Dr.Jeffrey Lang
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