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Afraid Of Groups Of Men


Guest manders4
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Guest manders4

Daisy has been pretty good on walks so far. She doesn't pull much and stops when we tell her and goes when we tell her. However, men really freak her out, especially when there is a group of them. We live in a neighborhood that has a lot of college students and they tend to travel in packs. It isn't really something that can be avoided so I hope she works it out. We've only had her since Saturday so she is still definitely adjusting.

 

Also, there is one park that she really like to do her business in. At first, she would only go there and now she usually does. Unfortunately this park has a basketball court in it and she is extremely freaked out by the basketball playing. She tries to run in the opposite direction, which is pretty unnerving! I've been making her continue to the park and hang out there a little bit to see that there is nothing to be afraid of. But I'm wondering if I'm doing the right thing or not.

 

Oh, and she's fine with my husband, so I know it's not just all men that she's afraid of.

 

Thanks!

 

Mary

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Sorry I can't help you but I'm anxiously awaiting reading replies from people who CAN! Summer doesn't have a man thing but she does have a noise thing. Basketball games would freak her out because of the quick, sharp sound of the basketball bouncing on the floor. She's afraid of balloons being popped. And if someone drops a 2x4 onto pavement or a pile of other 2x4's. I'm really hoping your replies will be helpful to both of us.

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Guest MyBoys

Since she is spooked by this first off I would make sure you are using a good secure safety harness and not just a martingale, which in a panic she could slip. I would continue walking her there but at least for now do not stop, when you come to the courts just keep moving, my bridge boy Gunnar was terrified of anyone playing basketball so this is what I did, I would continue talking to him as we would pass and not give him a chance to slow down, then when we got past I gave him a little treat I carried in my pocket, I can't say he actually ever go over his fear of basketball playing but I was able to at least walk him past it without him going into panic mode. Since she is still very new to homelife the outside world can be a big scarry place for her, be patient and give her time to feel secure in all her surroundings, inside and outside, she sounds like a sweet little girl, good luck.

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Guest Houndie

We had the same two issues with our grey, shortly after we got him. I'm not sure what you mean when you say "freaking out" but our boy would bark ferociously, and even lunge at men when he and I were walking. My husband never had this problem. We finally figured out that I was tensing up, because of past experiences with the lunging, and that tension was transmitted to Greyson. I started acting very much in control when we would pass a man, and slowly, Greyson overcame his fear of men. I also talked to him in a calm, light, voice, so I projected to him that I wasn't afraid of the man we were approaching. On occasion we will still encounter a male he barks at, but that is rare, and there is no more lunging.

 

As for the basketball situation, our boy was so frightened of a bouncing basketball, I had to check outside before taking him out, to make sure the neighbor kids weren't shooting baskets. Poor thing, he would hide behind my knees and shake. I finally took a small bag of treats outside with me, and told some of the neighbor boys that Greyson was really, really afraid of the them and the basketball, and would they help him get over this. Most kids love a dog, and they were more than willing to help. To start with, I gave them a treat to give to him, and they did that for a few days. I would take him back in before they resumed playing. After a couple of days, they would give him the treat, and then pet him, and we would stand and talk for a few minutes. After about a week, one of the boys inadvertantly bounced the basketball while we were standing there, and Greyson didn't do a thing! No fear at all. I do have to say Greyson is highly food motivated, and so this process worked very well with him.

 

I know others with more experience than me, will jump in with other suggestions. Don't despair -- just give it a little time.

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Guest jaws4evr

Well, i think you're off to a good start. For desensitization, i'd take her to the baseketball area, but stop at a distance where she's aware of them, but not at anxiety/panic yet, no matter how far this is. Ignore her and let her watch/smell/listen to the action for maybe five minutes? Then tell her she's a good girl and walk away and continue your walk. As she does better you can oh-so-gradually decrease your distance. You don't ever have to get right up there, since that's not really a "normal" situation anyways). If you repeat this many many times ( :) ) it should sink in that nothing bad happens with the basketball playing men, and it's really rather boring!

 

You can also mix it up and walk right by the basketballers at a happy brisk walk pace, within her "aware but tolerant" range (which could be two blocks or more, whatever is her comfortable distance), to encourage the "no big deal" mentality.

 

You can also build some positive association with tbe basketball men with treats and such, to me there's a danger of associating anxiety with treats though, so I prefer the "make it safe and boring" desensitization approach to anxiety creating situations.

 

****edit

 

With the "loud noises" problem, we try to use a "cue" word for scary things... ie we use "what's that?". What we try to do, is if something happens that is startling, but is something we know the dogs will immediately recover from (bird flies out of grass, rattley car goes by etc), we say "what's that?" to build the assocation that the words mean something startling happened, but that it means nothing and they can relax now.

 

You can work with this in the house to by dropping objects that you know are startling, but well within the dogs recovery level. Make sure to make it totally boring and "no big deal". No praise, no coddling, no reassuring when the noise happens, just project the best positive relaxed attitude you can.

 

Make sure ot only use this command when you're sure the dog will immediately recovery at first, otherwise it'll become the "scary noise" word which is the opposite of what you want.

Edited by jaws4evr
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Guest manders4

Thanks everyone!

 

Myboys - we have ordered a safety harness, but don't have one yet. She's smaller than the default size, so we had to special order. We just got her on Saturday, so not everything has been worked out yet.

Houndie - the "freaking out" she does when approaching men is just trying to back away and usually ends up tripping over my feet and trying to run into the street. I have a pretty good hold on her leash at all times, so she doesn't get to move too far.

 

I think we'll try to gradually move towards the basketball players. It's too bad that it happens at the park she likes to potty in. I hope she decides to go somewhere else when they're playing and doesn't just "hold it"!

 

Mary

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Guest krystolla

Hack has the same fear of basketball players -- I think it's the random pounding noise that really bothers him. Thus far we've beaten fear of trash cans, garage door openers, mirrors, and silver cars. Still working on children and basketball players, mostly because it's harder to control situations that involve other people and not just inanimate objects.

 

What's worked with Hack, especially with the children, is finding someplace he can hear them but can't see them. It seemed to cut down on the number of triggers at once. He also is okay with children who are being quiet -- it's just playful noise and playful movement together that's no good. I choose to believe that's progress. :)

 

Anyway, the general plan for getting over fears with Hack has been:

1. No running away

2. No running past

3. We can stop and look at anything as long as you want. If you jump around like a bronco on a leash we aren't going anywhere. :(

4. We will walk REALLY SLOWLY past anything scary

5. We will walk in an arc rather than a straight line (angles are less threatening than straight approaches)

 

I've also tried to work in the calming signals stuff so I'm standing around yawning and licking my lips while the neighborhood looks at me like I'm crazy. :wacko: Ah, well. It seem to be helping.

 

A lot of it seems to be that both Hack and I needed practice going through the process of him getting upset and calming down. I was really uncomfortable watching him get nervous, but I've seen him get upset and calm down again enough now that I can stay calm. Me being calm helps him be calm. Also, he has experienced fear and calming down from fear often enough that it seems to happen faster.

 

So good luck, and remember to give it lots of time.

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Guest Houndstown

I would mostly attribute it to unfamiliarity. Our new girl Teralyn was freaked out by everything when she got here-which is strange, because she was SO outgoing. Now that she has been with us for a while, she has settled in, and is only freaked out by new things-large groups of children being her new fascination. She will tuck her tail, hide behind you, etc. Once she gets used to whatever the stimulus is, she is fine with it from then on.

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I agree with slowly desensitizing her. Lexie was afraid like that of the kids getting on and off the bus..so everyday I would take her near the bus and praise her and say "bus" and even had a few kids give her a treat. The kids loved getting involved..took her almost a year but now when i say "bus" she wants to go over and see the kids, and i don't even give her treats anymore. I would take her near the courts quite often and in time she will get better. gl

 

I also agree with not having her pull or try to get away, u be the pack leader, it does help

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Guest manders4

We've now had Daisy for a little over a week and I can't believe she's the same dog! She only gets spooked now on walks when someone goes by on a skateboard. Almost all of the time she walks beside me without pulling. We can even walk through the park if there are only two or three people playing basketball!

 

I knew that she would get better over time, but I had no idea the transformation would be so quick!

 

Oh, and she also relieves herself in many places other than the park now so it's not as big of an issue when she can't go there!

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Guest MyBoys

I am so glad for you and Daisy :yay, sometimes it just takes a little time for them to get use to their surroundings, and by not making a fuss about it she took your lead and is trusting you :thumbs-up. Way to go Daisy!!!!

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Guest duckbilled

Our Ike just stops on walks and does the statue thing. Something is freaking him out but I don't know what it is. Sometimes it is on the way home, sometimes it is on the way out. It is not at a specific spot on any of the routes we take.

 

Obviously, his statue behavior may have nothing to do with fear and more to do with him wanting to go in a different direction or something. Nonetheless, I find that if I walk him confidently, briskly and without stopping I can get him past problem areas. I watch his head out of the corner of my eye - if I see a slight glance off the path ahead I give a light tug on his leash to break his focus on whatever is grabbing his attention.

 

The key with him is to break his focus on other things and to keep moving. Once we stop it is all over. We can be standing there for 5 minutes until I can trick him in to moving again.

 

I don't do a lot of the Caesar things but I think this tactic really works.

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Guest manders4

Thanks! I'm really excited about how comfortable she's becoming. Of course, we're in the middle of a mini heat wave here in Vermont and she's not too psyched about going outside in the heat. I can hardly blame here though. 90 degree weather is not all that pleasant to me either.

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