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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
On Sunday, I was sitting out on the deck with the boys. The flies were terrible. I found the fly swatter and began hitting the flies away. Bailey was instantly afraid of what I was doing. He hit the deck, literally. He got up, ran to the door and tried to open it to get in the house. I put the swatter down and went over to him to calm him down. He was really shaking. I have used the swatter around him before and never got that kind of reaction. I know my hubby would never hit Bailey, but I'm not so sure about my stepson. My stepson doesn't live with us, he comes to visit for the summer. We asked him and of course he denied it. Obiviously someone has done something to the dog. He has reacted the same way when my hubby and I have had different things in our hands. I need to know what I can do to help him through this. My heart is just broken to think someone would want to hurt him. Does anyone have any suggestions?
 

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I am inclined to think it's more the motion and the sound it makes when swishing through the air. My Jasper is terrified of the fly swatter. He is pretty sound sensitive and I believe he is afraid of it because of that. He also is afraid of the yard stick, the measuring tape and of kids swinging their arms like they are throwing something. He has been with us since he was 4 1/2 months old and didn't used to be afraid of these things, it has developed as he has gotten older.

The kids swinging their arms came up when several skateboarders came rushing past us while we were walking at the park. They have their arms up to keep balance and to turn, he associates the arm movement with the skateboards, which scared him.

I would caution to NOT comfort him when he acts frightened like that. Though that is our first instinct, it actually reinforces the fear that they are feeling. Basically, when you comfort them, you are saying "it's okay to be afraid of that. Good dog for being afraid". Even though that's not what you mean.

Oh, what I have done with most of Jasper's sound fears is to have plenty of good treats on hand when I suspect that something might scare him (such as walking at the park). Every time a skateboarder or rollerblader came near, I would say "YES!" and give him a treat. We did that every single time. It got to the point where I didn't even need to treat him anymore. I just would say "YES!" and you could just see him do a little prance because he was so happy that he made me happy.

I had to do the same thing when people are fishing. Poor Jasper got tangled in an electric fence up at the lake one time. Well, besides zapping him, the sound it made was almost identical to the sound a fishing pole being casted makes. So he became terrified of people casting fishing poles (this is another place where swinging arms came into play in his fears). Same thing. Every time we walked past the fisherpersons, I would feed him treat after treat after treat. He started to associate the people fishing with something good. To this day, when we walk past where they are fishing, he does this little prance because he is happy.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I immediately thought someone had hit him because of what had happened to my springer, Trapper. He was doing the same thing as Bailey. As I found out, Trapper was being abused by his previous owners. It took 2 years before he would stop hitting the floor. We couldn't even raise our arms in front of the poor guy. I really hope thats not the case with Bailey. Its really hard not to comfort him. I'll try my best.
 

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It's very hard not to comfort them! We want to make them feel better. But unfortunately, that's not how it works with dogs.

I know that my Jasper had a pretty rough life as a puppy, but his sound sensitivity didn't show up until he was about 2 1/2 or 3 years old. So I know it's not tied into where he came from. But he is a super sensitive dog, anyways. Maybe that's how Bailey is. A lot of times it's a nice thing to have a dog really in tune with you totally.
 
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