11 Month old Suddenly Afraid - Golden Retrievers : Golden Retriever Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-20-2015, 01:54 PM Thread Starter
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11 Month old Suddenly Afraid

Hey all,

We have an awesomely mushy 11 month old male (neutered) who loves everyone and constantly wants attention. He has never been afraid of anyone and never growled at anyone ever.

Today we had a repairman with a big beard come into the house and for the first time it seemed he was afraid/didn't like someone that entered out house. He was growling, barking, hackles raised, and running away from him. We tried to soothe , pet, and reassure that all was okay but nothing worked.

So---how do we deal with this? We don't want him to make this a habit and certainly don't want him to become afraid of people who enter our house.


Thanks!
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-20-2015, 02:12 PM
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I have heard that many dogs go through a fear period at that age. I think you can fix it by exposing your pup to all kinds of different people (big, small, beard, no beard, etc.) and giving him treats or even better, making that person feed him treats as he calms down enough to get closer. He'll be loving bearded guys in no time
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-20-2015, 02:20 PM
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If this was attributed to a 'fear period' it's often easier to -avoid - situations until the dog is past - otherwise we risk them getting scared.

I would not have a dog eat treats from someone he is scared off - let him eat from the person he knows trusts. We can associate new people = treats - but it should be at a distance and we don't want to "trick" him with treats closer to what he's afraid of.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-20-2015, 02:49 PM
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It's possible that your dog sensed something else about the repairman that he did not trust. Or it just could have been his beard or his smell. A dog should trust his intuition just as we should trust ours. That being said, a young dog needs to gain confidence and he will with lots of socialization. I take my dogs regularly to a local park/zoo that allows dogs on leash, and we walk around the park. There are lots of different people and dogs on leash there, and lots of noise too. The best place I ever took my young Gabe, who was a chicken-heart at the time, was to a Renaissance Festival, where there were lots of people in costumes and noisy stuff going on. But the key with any young dog is to go out with them a lot, and with you by their side and relaxed, they too will gain confidence.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-21-2015, 08:53 AM
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11 Month old Suddenly Afraid

Quote:
Originally Posted by Carmel View Post
It's possible that your dog sensed something else about the repairman that he did not trust.
Yes. This, too. I was tempted to mention it but on the other hand he's still young and there is a good chance it was just something unfamiliar to him.
I would say while avoiding as someone mentioned earlier may be an easy way out for now, it seems that it would be more beneficial in the long run to increase his exposure to more people and things instead, as suggested by previous poster and as I was trying to suggest. I certainly wasn't suggesting having a person feed him treats while he was still acting scared. This would have to be a step by step desensitizing process.
There is also a possibly that it's a one off thing, which you will soon find out as he reacts when you do expose him more.

Last edited by thorbreafortuna; 02-21-2015 at 08:59 AM.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-21-2015, 09:24 AM
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Originally Posted by goldenny View Post
He was growling, barking, hackles raised, and running away from him. We tried to soothe , pet, and reassure that all was okay but nothing worked.
From what I've read, when your dog is scared, do NOT reassure, pet, or soothe. The idea is that by doing so, you are reinforcing the behavior and fear. Your dog doesn't understand English, so he thinks he is reacting appropriately because you are, in a sense, rewarding and praising him while he is acting out of fear. In other words, by saying, "Good boy!" you are saying, "Good growl, bark, and fear!"

Instead, say nothing. Give him calming signals. When he shows calm or "brave" behavior, THEN you treat. And, when he is scared, work on taking deep breaths yourself . . .think happy, calming, everything-is-cool- thoughts.

But like others said, maybe he had an instinct about the guy . . .
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-21-2015, 09:57 AM
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I'm sorry for such a short reply earlier - I was heading out the door.

If a dog had a recent bad experience or is in a "fear period" I would avoid the thigns he is scared of. During these times he is more sensitive to scary things (think about how most people feel after a scary movie for a few hours - or sometimes days later!). By exposing a dog to more things when he's had recent experiences you risk "sensitization" where many, many more neurons fire in response to the stimuli. Not good! By waiting a while (a couple weeks) and then going into training mode you do greatly reduce the risk of sensitization.

I do not use food to make a dog go closer to something than he is comfortable with. If the dog is stretching out to grab the treats he is still scared and I don't want him approaching a person (or thing) and being nervous. Example: My young puppy saw a weird statue and was nervous. We backed off about 15 more ' so we were about 40' away. Treats and fun. Go a few feet closer, treats and fun. Away. treats and fun. Even closer, treats and fun, away treats and fun. We ended up getting about 15' from the object that day and I decided not to push it. We'll do another session when we're near there again. If I had put treats at the base of the statue he definitly would have gone up to eat them - but NOT with the confidence I want. I also did not want to risk him associating treats with scary events.

You cannot "reinforce" fear with food or petting. You can reinforce behaviors, not emotions. Theoretically you could train a dog to act nervous but not feel nervous, howver that's actually incredibly hard to do !

You Can't Reinforce Fear - eileenanddogseileenanddogs
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-21-2015, 10:14 AM
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I don't really believe in the so called 'fear period'.
I think your pup sensed something about this guy that scared him. That does not mean he is going to react to every stranger like that. I would not be concerned at this point.
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-21-2015, 10:18 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cgriffin View Post
I don't really believe in the so called 'fear period'.
I think your pup sensed something about this guy that scared him. That does not mean he is going to react to every stranger like that. I would not be concerned at this point.
Me too - that's why I put it in quotes!
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-21-2015, 10:22 AM
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11 Month old Suddenly Afraid

This may be useful
http://ice.ucdavis.edu/~robyn/Korina...velopment.html

And this: maybe disregard my previous suggestion for exposure, this may not be the right time:
https://www.berkeleyhumane.org/files...iticalFear.pdf
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