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We've had Harry for six weeks now and I've written on here before that he is quite scared of going out, either into the back garden or for walks.

 

Despite his reluctance, we have got into a routine and he has been starting to calm down on his walks and pulling much less to get home. We tend to take him through the park in the morning when it's quiet and in the evening, when he is usually more jittery, we stick to the streets nearby.

 

However, we've had a few setbacks recently. Last week I arranged to walk him with another greyhound owner but pushed him too far by extending the walk and taking him into the park in the evening because he'd shown a bit more confidence around the other dog. For the last part of the walk he was very difficult to control because he was scared.

 

On Friday night in the garden, we were out just before bedtime and a firework went off nearby. I didn't take him in straight away as I didn't want him to notice a reaction, so I waited a minute before I did but he was a bit shaky when he got inside.

 

Then on Saturday, I took him into the park early and there was a guy cutting back the bushes with a loud saw. I should have taken him back out of the park but I didn't want to back up so I carried on as normal but he really didn't like it.

 

Now he's extremely reluctant to go on walks. Before, we used to nudge him to the door and then he'd sort of give in and follow us out. Now he freezes at the door and he's even started to shake. Once he's out on the pavement he doesn't freeze and trots along nicely but cautiously. But once he's done his business he wants to go home and starts to pull and pant.

 

We've decided to shorten the walks, especially in the evening but I was just wondering if anyone had any advice. Do we persevere with the usual routine?

 

He has an appointment at the vet on Saturday to have his nails clipped and I plan to ask about his anxiety then. I'd seriously consider medication if I thought it would help.

 

He's a shy yet happy dog otherwise but his fear of the outdoors is affecting our time with him because that's a big part of our interaction with him.

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Can you cut back on the walks for a while? Just go out for potty? Do you have a fenced yard? It might just be too much stimulation.

 

If you consider medication- we used clomicalm with only our first girl, Gracie. It does take several weeks to have an effect plus you cannot stop it cold turkey. All together she was on it less than 4 months. Went from being terrified and destroying our house to a much calmer girl.

 

If he is OK in the house and it's just outside that he has problems, I'm not sure your vet would prescribe clomicalm.

 

The next month will be difficult as there are so many idiots shooting fireworks.

 

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Well I certainly respect everyone else's opinion, but if I had let Buck determine when and for how long we walked, he would never have progressed past going outside to go to the bathroom.

 

I got a harness, so he couldn't escape, and attached a leash to his collar and another to the harness, and I just carried on. I did stick to one route. Same time every day, same walk every day, until he could do it like a normal dog. Only then did I expand his horizons to more streets. At first he was scared of the new walk, but again, I persisted. And now he's just fine.

 

Every dog is different, but if you give in every time your dog is afraid of something, how does he ever learn not to be afraid?

 

My two cents, offered up for free!


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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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I appreciate all of your advice. It's good to hear different stories.

 

GeorgeofNE how long did it take yours to settle into a routine with walking?

 

Macoduck, I did think about cutting the walks out for a while but he doesn't much like the garden either and the walks are the quickest way for him to do his business! I would consider medication if I thought it would help. He's fine in the house though - he just gets nervous when he knows it's time for a walk. Did your girl gave SA or was she just generally anxious?

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I appreciate all of your advice. It's good to hear different stories.

 

GeorgeofNE how long did it take yours to settle into a routine with walking?

 

Macoduck, I did think about cutting the walks out for a while but he doesn't much like the garden either and the walks are the quickest way for him to do his business! I would consider medication if I thought it would help. He's fine in the house though - he just gets nervous when he knows it's time for a walk. Did your girl gave SA or was she just generally anxious?

Gracie had severe SA. She was destructive to herself, our house (shredded curtain, chewed walls and furniture), her crate (peeing and pooping in it). Although she was only 2, she had been returned to the adoption kennel because the first owners had tried to make her a vegetarian and she wasn't agreeable. As first time adopters (in 2002) we had no clue as to why she was such a wild unhappy child. I wish I had known at GreyTalk back then.

Like I said, she was only on clomicalm for 4 months +/-. A few years later she was much more confident and become a therapy dog with TDI.

 

Freshy (Droopys Fresh), NoAh the podenco orito, Howie the portuguese podengo maneto
Angels: Rita the podenco maneta, Lila, the podenco, Mr X aka Denali, Lulu the podenco andaluz, Hada the podenco maneta, Georgie Girl (UMR Cordella),  Charlie the iggy,  Mazy (CBR Crazy Girl), Potato, my mystery ibizan girl, Allen (M's Pretty Boy), Percy (Fast But True), Mikey (Doray's Patuti), Pudge le mutt, Tessa the iggy, Possum (Apostle), Gracie (Dusty Lady), Harold (Slatex Harold), "Cousin" Simon our step-iggy, Little Dude the iggy ,Bandit (Bb Blue Jay), Niña the galgo, Wally (Allen Hogg), Thane (Pog Mo Thoine), Oliver (JJ Special Agent), Comet, & Rosie our original mutt.

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Continuing to force h

 

Well I certainly respect everyone else's opinion, but if I had let Buck determine when and for how long we walked, he would never have progressed past going outside to go to the bathroom.

I got a harness, so he couldn't escape, and attached a leash to his collar and another to the harness, and I just carried on. I did stick to one route. Same time every day, same walk every day, until he could do it like a normal dog. Only then did I expand his horizons to more streets. At first he was scared of the new walk, but again, I persisted. And now he's just fine.

Every dog is different, but if you give in every time your dog is afraid of something, how does he ever learn not to be afraid?

My two cents, offered up for free!

Sorry, but not the way it works with anxiety or real fear. If you had a fear of snakes and I just kept forcing you to go into a room full of snakes, would you just get over it? No.

 

OP, you may need the help of a force-free trainer or behaviorist. There are natural calming aids you could try first - DAP collar, Composure chews, l-theanine, and a thundershirt for starters - but if those don't work, then medication is probably a good idea. Typically you'd want to work with a veterinary behaviorist in that case, or you can hire a trainer/behaviorist to develop a behavior modification plan and work with your vet who could consult with a vet behv on medications and dosages. But number one step, don't force him to be outside. If all you can manage is a short walk around the block to potty and then you go straight back home, do that for now.

 

As far as behv mod goes, there is counter-conditioning work you can do. In your case, I would probably start with a CD of sounds that you can play at low volume at home. You start with the volume low enough that the noises don't scare your dog. Turn it on, feed something very high value like chicken while it's on, turn it off, immediately stop feeding. Over time the dog associates the noises with something enjoyable, the food. Then you'd turn it up a little bit. But I think work like this should be done under the guidance of a professional so you have someone to speak with if things aren't going well, or even if they are and wonder if you can move along faster.

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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If he wants to go home once he's done necessary business, go home. No reason to keep him out beyond his comfort level.

 

If he does seem frightened of things, I'd keep to the same short route for a time, until his confidence and comfort increase.

 

Some of the things we do with scary things is stop and watch for a bit from a comfortable distance (dog might be slightly on edge but not over-the-top scared) and, when scary is unavoidable, use our consistent signal words ("eeeaaaasy") and get cheerful about it ("big boom! ha ha hee hee ho ho, wasn't that fun!").

 

It took one of mine who was NOT a terribly fearful dog a couple of months to get used to all the new things in our environment. Once he did get used to them, he was ready to venture further and was pretty confident about it.

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Our boy Kingsley took YEARS to get over his walking issues, and in some ways, his fears never completely went away.

Over the first year we learned when we could push him a bit, and when it was best to just stay within 2-houses of home.

 

He always liked routine, so even after getting a second dog, he still had one route that he was willing to walk.

 

I would not think after 6 weeks that you should consider drugs. you know what pushed him over-the-edge (like the noise from the weed-wacker at the park or the fire-work) and he needs to recover from that and know that you can provide him with the safety and comfort he needs.

Kingsley would have been more-hesitant after such an event for days... he fell in the kitchen once and did not go back in there for 6 months!

 

Good luck-- Patience and Time!

Amy and Tim in Beverly, MA, with Chase and Always missing Kingsley (Drama King) and Ruby (KB's Bee Bopper).

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Just so you know, original poster, there are certain people on GT who seem to make a point of disagreeing with ANYTHING I say no matter what it is....


I don't read that your dog is highly anxious or fearful--just mildly. Like my Buck. I would say after about a month of our daily routine including a walk, he was MUCH more relaxed.

He is no longer afraid of things like flapping flags or rocks that are painted white (both of which used to terrify him). He is still afraid of the children who play soccer at the park (who can blame him? :) ) and large groups, but the change is huge.



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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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Just so you know, original poster, there are certain people on GT who seem to make a point of disagreeing with ANYTHING I say no matter what it is....

...

 

 

 

Jen wasn't disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing - you just didn't give great advice here, sorry. Even if a dog is only mildly fearful, it's best to take it slow and counter-condition and desensitize at a level the dog can cope with. What you described you did with Buck is basically "flooding" and it's just not a good method to use. If you use counter-conditioning and desensitization and the dog is only mildly fearful, then you can likely move forward much quicker, but if you flood, you run the risk of making the situation worse and having the dog either shut down or escalate fearful behaviors, making the training twice as difficult because the behavior is now worse. You were fortunate. Since none of us knows the OP or her dog, or the dog's level of fearfulness, Jen's (and Jey's) advice regarding not giving the dog more than it can handle makes sense. Start small, build up and take as much time as the dog needs. :)


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Walking as a pack really helped with our grey. We would be walking the same route every day and it was fine. However, in the morning, my husband could not walk with us and therefore he would only walk as far as he needed to do his business. Once that was taken cared of, he wanted to turn around and go back home or he froze. I tried everything you mentionned. The moment I accepted that we would only walk as far as he wanted was when all started to get better. We would walk some, business was done, then he would freeze, I would call him over, he would do a few step then stops and all successful attemps at walking were rewarded with us going back home. One day he decided he would do the whole walk with me and so we did. And now he is a walking machine. It took about a month for him to stop hesitating on walks.

In the begining, lots of cookies were involved and even having only one paw outside was rewarded. I also did a few in and out just so he wouldn't associate passing the threshold with a frightening walk.

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Guest rratney

Sounds exactly like Mina's problem which started after an accident that damaged her toes. The main problem now is that she is reluctant or refuses to get up and/or go through the door. I've been offering pieces of frankfurter and string cheese as part of a counterconditioning effort but construction noises from the condo unit above mine have wiped out progress we were making. Now she will not take the treats either from my hand or from the floor. These are considered to be the yummiest treats you can offer. Does anyone have suggestions about treats that are irresistable?

 

Ron

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Sounds exactly like Mina's problem which started after an accident that damaged her toes. The main problem now is that she is reluctant or refuses to get up and/or go through the door. I've been offering pieces of frankfurter and string cheese as part of a counterconditioning effort but construction noises from the condo unit above mine have wiped out progress we were making. Now she will not take the treats either from my hand or from the floor. These are considered to be the yummiest treats you can offer. Does anyone have suggestions about treats that are irresistable?

 

Ron

Are you sure she's not in pain?

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Ron, I know Harry goes crazy for cooked chicken. It's the only thing we've ever been able to lure him into the garden with!

 

Thanks to everyone for your advice. It's much appreciated and it's really helped to decide which course of action to take. We don't want to cut out his walks completely but I think sticking to a very specific route and coming home after he has done his business will help us to progress.

 

He was anxious before but after the incidents in the park over the past couple of weeks, I'd say he has now become quite fearful. He literally shakes at the door and will freeze at the front gate, which he never did before. Thankfully he doesn't freeze once we're on the go but when he gets freaked out, he pulls quite erratically.

 

We'll take baby steps and see how we go! We took him to the vet today for a check-up, which was all fine, and she recommended Zylkene. We're going to try that for a little while to see if it helps too. We did try a DAP collar with him but it had no effect.

 

Neylasmom I'll also try the counter conditioning work. See if he can adapt to those noises!

 

Will keep you posted!

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Guest Amber

Not quite the same but whilst my greyhound loves walks she really dislikes going in the car, to the point where if I pick up my car key on the way out of the door, she plants herself and won't move out of the door. If we are going walkies on foot no problem.

 

so i take really good treats like ham, cheese or chicken and drop pieces on the ground to get her moving, like a trail to the car and then finally - eventually - jumping into the boot. Like your dog she got spooked by noises - bangs and road vibrations going over potholes and over long journeys. She never liked the car but a few bad experiences with road noise really put her off.

 

So now we're at the stage where while she is still a bit reluctant and would prefer a walk on foot, she jumps into the car even before i produce the treat...eventually i will phase the food out.

 

It's more difficult with your guy because there's no big reward at the end of it ( with my fey, the walk after the car ride is the reward ) but with him you could try really good treats on the ground to encourage him out and then keep the walk short and sweet, gradually building up the time. For him, the safety of home is the reward. But be really careful to avoid luring him outside if anything scary is likely to happen. For instance, have a recce outside by yourself beforehand to make sure the noisy garbage truck isn't coming up the street and no noisy neighbourhood noises that could freak him out. Obviously you can't avoid noise altogether but once he has regained a bit of confidence from quiet short walks first hopefully he would trust you to look after him.

 

You could try an over the counter supplement Calmex Which helped fey a bit.

 

Overall, it's patience, gradual confidence building and accept your guy is a bit spooky and scared outside and try to support him by acting confident and calm but at the same time responding appropriately to his fears ie try not to overface him by too long walks or forcing him past scary things, better to confidently lead him away in the other direction and reward him for being calm.

 

hope that helps.

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Guest rratney

Amber,

 

Thanks for the feedback. I've atarted Mina on Clomicalm and it seems to be having some effect. Sometimes she has no hestation about goiong through the door but if she does resist, I pull on the leash and face away from her and she changes her mind. However she's moved her resistance point to getting up so I can put on her leash. If I scatter treats (frankfurter and string cheese) in front of her she will pick up the pieces she can reach without getting up but ignores the ones that are further away. Somewhere I read that fearful dogs don't like to be watched while picking up treats. I tried putting the treats down and walking away to a point where I could watch from a distance. In a minute or so, she she got up to get get the treats; I put on her leash and we walked through the door just like normal.

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Guest Amber

Well that's interesting. With us, the scary environment changed a bit, as i wrote off my old car in an accident (thank goodness fey was not in the car!!) And the one i have now is bigger, easier to jump into and less road noise. And just being a different car, it didn't have the same bad feelings attached to it. She has even ceased panting whilst we're driving now.

 

So i think if one keeps up the classical conditioning with the food *and* improves the scary environment (by changing vehicle/ avoiding driving over pot holes/ checking the street out for scary noises before taking tne dog out/ only going short very quiet walks) *and* there is operant conditioning ie the dog can influence things and be rewarded (e.g. if i walk round the block calmly, then i get to go home; or if i walk to the park , i get to see my greyhound friend) then gradually the bad association changes and things improve.

 

So that's why in early stages it's better not too push it and be careful not to do too much too soon, and try to control the environment and avoid the scary thing at first, to build up confidence and change the associations.

 

It's also worth mentioning that a total break from the unpleasant thing is sometimes warranted. We had a total break from going in the car when i didn't have one and that really helped us to have a fresh start. Same thing with people too , for instance, i had quite a bad fall horseriding at the beginning of the year and for 3 months after that, i just had really negative feelings about even going near the riding school. Just bad associations. I would have hated someone making me go. 4 months later i went back, riding again,

enjoying it and all the negative association replaced with positive feelings. But i needed the break from it. The first couple of times i was quite tense, but once i got my confidence back, it's all good again. However, if i had gone back and been thrown off again first lesson, that would have set me right back.

 

I think the same psychology applies to dogs and their anxiety about walks, noise phobias , cars etc.

Edited by Amber
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