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#1 of 11 Old 10-07-2011, 08:18 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Back in May we adopted an eight month old mix(German Shepard/Lab/Terrier/Chihuahua mix) from the local humane society. For the most part hes great. We absolutely adore him, he responds well to us (he even follows my 4 year old's commands) and has learned quickly.. There is just one major problem I have with him right now.. Hes scared of almost everything. I car driving nearby freaks him out, anyone raising their voice for any reason and he hides, the kids scream.. thunderstorms.. sirens.. the vacuum.. water hoses.. anyone opening the oven.. He is especially scared of men in general, which is going to be a problem when my husband comes home in a few months. The latest thing is hes scared of getting his nails clipped. They NEED to be clipped but I can't do it without accidentally hurting him since he won't sit still and I don't know what to do about it. I swear the only things hes not scared of is me, the kids and the cat everything else freaks him out.

 

Any advice on what can help him become less scared of just about anything/everything? He doesn't act up really when hes scared, I'm not worried he will bite anyone or anything like that. The only negative thing that happens is him peeing all over the place when hes scared. I just hate seeing him frighten so much and honestly the little scared whine he does breaks my heart. Its so sad. When hes not scared of something hes a very happy dog and loves to play with the kids and the kitten (his best friend, these two adore each other), right now hes giving me his "pet me" look.

 

Also any advice on getting him ready for a long car ride? We are moving from Florida to North Carolina early next year and as you can probably guess hes scared of being in a car. Id rather not get a tranquilizer or anything like that but Id be willing to if I can't get him to calm down. Right now he whines from the minute I force him into the car to the minute I carry him out of the car.


~Heather~ Mama to Miss E (1/07), Miss A (11/08), Mr.T (2/11) and Miss A (10/12) Expecting our newest blessing sometime late Sept/early Oct.. Wife to my Marine since 11/2005
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#2 of 11 Old 10-07-2011, 10:07 AM
 
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Poor guy. If you can afford it I would recommend working with a certified applied animal behaviourist (if you are interested I can find one in your area). I also recommend a few books: http://fearfuldogs.com/books/ good site as well. It will take time and patience to help him overcome his fears, you will need to work on building his confidence and learning that these things are infact not scary. If you dont already clicker train I would recommend starting as it can be very helpful.


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#3 of 11 Old 10-07-2011, 10:37 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by OkiMom View Post

Back in May we adopted an eight month old mix(German Shepard/Lab/Terrier/Chihuahua mix) from the local humane society. For the most part hes great. We absolutely adore him, he responds well to us (he even follows my 4 year old's commands) and has learned quickly.. There is just one major problem I have with him right now.. Hes scared of almost everything. I car driving nearby freaks him out, anyone raising their voice for any reason and he hides, the kids scream.. thunderstorms.. sirens.. the vacuum.. water hoses.. anyone opening the oven.. He is especially scared of men in general, which is going to be a problem when my husband comes home in a few months. The latest thing is hes scared of getting his nails clipped. They NEED to be clipped but I can't do it without accidentally hurting him since he won't sit still and I don't know what to do about it. I swear the only things hes not scared of is me, the kids and the cat everything else freaks him out.

 

Any advice on what can help him become less scared of just about anything/everything? He doesn't act up really when hes scared, I'm not worried he will bite anyone or anything like that. The only negative thing that happens is him peeing all over the place when hes scared. I just hate seeing him frighten so much and honestly the little scared whine he does breaks my heart. Its so sad. When hes not scared of something hes a very happy dog and loves to play with the kids and the kitten (his best friend, these two adore each other), right now hes giving me his "pet me" look.

 

Also any advice on getting him ready for a long car ride? We are moving from Florida to North Carolina early next year and as you can probably guess hes scared of being in a car. Id rather not get a tranquilizer or anything like that but Id be willing to if I can't get him to calm down. Right now he whines from the minute I force him into the car to the minute I carry him out of the car.

 

 

First, I can't think of breeding that would make for a much more high-strung animal than what you happen to have.  Not a criticism or even saying you can't make it work, but WOW- terrier/chihuahua mix- and labs tend to be pretty high energy when young as well.  He'll probably mellow a bit with age and with a lot of socialization and training.  

 

The first place to start will be with exposure to everything and anything.  Essentially, take him everywhere with you- put him in the car over and over- repeated  exposure will help him become more at ease with it. 

 

With the loud noises etc- do you know his history?  What was he exposed to as a puppy?  Has he been abused?  Again- lots of exposure- walks near traffic, reassurance as the kids run around etc and so on.

 

Nail clipping- with one of my dogs, I was advised by the breeder to start early and do it often.  He's great about it.  My shelter rescue- not so much.  She hates it and it takes at least two adults to manage it every time (an impressive feat as she only weighs about 8 lbs.)  Nothing has helped her to become more tolerant over several years.  I just accept that I will have to overpower her for her own good.  We wrap her in a towel and use a two person approach. I do muzzle her when we do this because she would bite at that moment given the opportunity.  I wish it were not the case, but it is, so the best thing we can do is to ensure the safety of all. 

 

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#4 of 11 Old 10-08-2011, 10:50 AM
 
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exposure yes, but do not push him into situations that scare him! That is called flooding and all it does is lower the confidence of the animal and ruin the bond you have with them. They rely on you to keep them safe, and if you continually expose them to situations that cause fear and stress you will ruin the trust. Flooding also causes learned helplessness which is very traumatizing. Your best bet is to start conditioning your dog using positive reinforcement to help boost his confidence and teach him that the scary things are ok, but associating them with treats (or other rewards), You need to do it slowly and always keeping it positive.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by insidevoice View Post

 

 

First, I can't think of breeding that would make for a much more high-strung animal than what you happen to have.  Not a criticism or even saying you can't make it work, but WOW- terrier/chihuahua mix- and labs tend to be pretty high energy when young as well.  He'll probably mellow a bit with age and with a lot of socialization and training.  

 

The first place to start will be with exposure to everything and anything.  Essentially, take him everywhere with you- put him in the car over and over- repeated  exposure will help him become more at ease with it. 

 

With the loud noises etc- do you know his history?  What was he exposed to as a puppy?  Has he been abused?  Again- lots of exposure- walks near traffic, reassurance as the kids run around etc and so on.

 

Nail clipping- with one of my dogs, I was advised by the breeder to start early and do it often.  He's great about it.  My shelter rescue- not so much.  She hates it and it takes at least two adults to manage it every time (an impressive feat as she only weighs about 8 lbs.)  Nothing has helped her to become more tolerant over several years.  I just accept that I will have to overpower her for her own good.  We wrap her in a towel and use a two person approach. I do muzzle her when we do this because she would bite at that moment given the opportunity.  I wish it were not the case, but it is, so the best thing we can do is to ensure the safety of all. 

 



 


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#5 of 11 Old 10-08-2011, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks..

 

I did look into dog trainers but they are all either expensive or I can't take my children with me. I don't have a babysitter right now with my husband being gone so no one to leave the children with.

 

The only thing I was told about his background was he was part of an unwanted litter (the guy who originally owned him put a female unfixed dog with a male unfixed dog then got mad when puppies resulted) and was kept for the first 4 months of his life outside with little to no human interaction. They said they didn't THINK he was mistreated but the guy use to spray them with the hose when they barked (probably why hes scared of the hose/water) He spent 4 months with the humane society and was very thin and unhappy when we got him. Hes gained almost 20 lbs since we got him and I finally don't see all his ribs when he moves around. I was honestly surprised they adopted out a dog as thin as he was but Im glad they did. A little love and hes so much better health wise.

 

Im going to take him into a groomer and have them cut their nails. They NEED to get done or they will grow into his pads.

 

He is getting better with some stuff. He actually went outside today in the rain (something that I had to force before) and didn't try to hide in his crate when the thunder started like he use to. He also allowed me to brush him again something he use to not allow.  Im going to start trying to get him use to the van without driving then add in short drives. I don't drive much other than to run errands so Im trying to figure out how to do this (I won't leave him in the car for more than 5-10 minutes). I might bring the kitten along since the kitten calms the dog.

 

My biggest thing is to keep the confidence he obviously has in me. I don't think he has learned to trust humans before this and I don't want him to lose the trust in one of the only humans he trusts. That would be tragic in my books. I really do love this dog and want to make sure he can get over this fear of everything.


~Heather~ Mama to Miss E (1/07), Miss A (11/08), Mr.T (2/11) and Miss A (10/12) Expecting our newest blessing sometime late Sept/early Oct.. Wife to my Marine since 11/2005
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#6 of 11 Old 10-16-2011, 08:15 AM
 
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Just popping in to address the nail issue

 

I would look into a dremel for his nails: http://www.amazon.com/Dremel-761-03-Cordless-Grooming-Rotary/dp/B0000C6DZ2/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1318777944&sr=8-2

 

This is the one I used with my rescue who hated nail clipping, and by going slow (like one nail/day) and giving treats she tolerated it after a while. Maybe get the groomer to clip them and then maintain them with the dremel? Nail clippers really are painful for some dogs.

 

Good luck with the rest, a behaviorist is an awesome idea also!

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#7 of 11 Old 11-17-2011, 03:50 AM
 
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HI, I have a greyhound, and they can be notorious for being a little nervous.  My dog is afraid of shiny floors, and won't go upstairs unless you drag him.  He has gotten so much better in the last 2 years since we rescued him.  I found that I couldn't force him to do anything.  if he put the breaks on, and didn't want to go somewhere or do something, I had to pretty much circle back around and try again.  Once he got spooked and stopped, pulling or pushing or whatever didn't help.  Also, he was scared of the cats, random things in the street (such as garbage cans or covered motorcycles) and had a little separation anxiety.  I pretty much did my best to ignore this.  If he was acting freaked out, I let him have some space, but I never gave him reassurance or pets because I didn't want to reward that behavior.  If we were walking I gave a little space to the scary object, carried his leash on the opposite side of myself while we passed it, but no pets and baby talk thats for sure.  Just a quick "lets go", and I walked with purpose.  He still looks at these things really hard, but he learned that I wasn't scared of them, and it wasn't appropriate to run from them.  When he did eventually let the cat rub up against his legs I gave him treats and lots of attention.    He was overall a pretty easy case, and I am sure your situation is more dramatic, but patience and consistent training will get you past the worst of these!  

 

Also I use a pedipaws for my dogs nails.  it's a battery powered rotary sander for dog nails.  He hates the clippers, but LOVES the pedipaws.  It's kind of gross because nail dust goes everywhere, so I try to use it outside so I don't have to breathe it in.   My dogs nails are so huge that the clippers kind of crack them up a bit so the sander works better - takes longer though. 

 

Also, groomers will clip nails for cheap. so even though your dog won't like it, but having a professional do it quickly and painlessly will make your life easier, and may even help him get over it.  I can see how you being worried about hurting him and hesitant to clip can add to his anxiety!

 

Also, have the nail clippers out, and visible, and hold them a lot when you feed him etc.  Also when you play hold them and occationally pet him with them and touch his feet, but don't actually grab toes or clip him.  
 

I got my dog used to a tooth brush this way.  he used to run when he saw it and in a few months he stood there calmly while I brushed his teeth - amazing really....

 

Best of luck!  


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#8 of 11 Old 11-17-2011, 04:42 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the advice everyone!

 

Ive managed to get him to let me clip his nails using a lot of treats and having him sit on my lap (which isn't exactly easy since hes a big boy but it worked out in the end). He still doesn't like it but it has to get done.. Im working on baths now, which is a whole nother story. Im going to work on one thing at a time until we can work through most of it..

 

Now if only hed stop pooping on the floor whenever hes not next to me Id be happy :)


~Heather~ Mama to Miss E (1/07), Miss A (11/08), Mr.T (2/11) and Miss A (10/12) Expecting our newest blessing sometime late Sept/early Oct.. Wife to my Marine since 11/2005
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#9 of 11 Old 12-17-2011, 10:41 PM
 
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My friend's pit/husky mix rescue puppy had a lot of fears when she adopted him at 4 months old.  He was freaked out by highway overpasses!  He'd crouch down whenever the minivan went under one.  He's still scared of towels. TOWELS!  Basically, it seems he just wasn't properly socialized as a puppy.  He had to be introduced to a lot of normal, everyday things in a calm, non-threatening manner.  The more he was exposed to things (it was a REALLY slow process), the more he realize that nothing bad was happening.  The key was to make sure everyone around him was calm as well.  Getting freaked out or anticipating his upset with worries of your own makes things worse. 

That said, I've never been able to trim our 10 year old shelter dog's nails.  I have to take her to the groomer to get it done.  She was 15 months old when we adopted her.  Maybe you'll have an easier time since your puppy is young.  She also freaks out more when her nails are clipped than when they are ground down at the groomers. 


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#10 of 11 Old 01-05-2012, 07:14 AM
 
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My rescued Heeler is much the same way.  Its been 2 years, and while she is still a bit timid about loud noises, thunder, other dogs, car rides - its so much better.  And yes, exposing them but not pushing them.  SHe used to be a piddler too - and that has stopped.  

 

One thing that really helped her is doing agility training.  Not sure your dog is up for that - but even frequent dog walks, basic training - will bond the dog to you, and help with trust issues.

 

For thunderstorms I highly recommend the THUNDER SHIRT.  $35 and its guaranteed or your money back.  Ive talked to SEVERAL trainers and rescue people who SWEAR by them.

 

It takes time.  But itll be so worth it in the end to have a little patience.  

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#11 of 11 Old 01-05-2012, 08:05 AM
 
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What a lucky dog you have, OP! He must be so grateful to be in your home.

 

My well-socialized, outgoing, confident Corgi that we got as a puppy was afraid of windshield wipers. He would crawl way to the back of my Jeep if we had to drive in the rain.

 

Glad the nail trimming is going better! My new Corgi doesn't like his nails cut either (he cries like we're torturing him), but I try to hold him every day in trimming position (I hold him in my lap), and hold his feet without doing anything. He's getting much better.

 

We've had him since September - he was 1.5 years old. He was afraid of a lot of things too at first - the dishwasher, a loud sneeze. But as soon as he realized nothing bad would happen when trhe fridge kicked in, he stopped bothering him. Your dog obviously will take more work!

 

I would strengthen your bond with him by doing lots of training. My dog has been "Momma's boy" since we got him, but since I've been teaching him tricks, he's even more so. Training, parise, treats, and attention will help him trust you.

 

I like the idea of bringing him to the vehice without going anywhere. Feed him in the car, or give him a favorite toy or treat.

 

I totally agree with the PP who said to not pet or baby talk when he's afraid, but if you ever catch him NOT being afraid of a loud noise or previously scary thing, praise him a lot! Eventually he'll figure out that it's good to be brave. Liek with kids, we need to teach our dogs what TO do, instead of what not to do.

 

Good luck!


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