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Brand new to the site and loving it already!! Amazing pictures and lots of helpful forum discussions.
I have a year and half golden, who is the most gentle, loving pup. Since we brought him home (about 9 months old) we've noticed how timid he is. He's great with other dogs, and socializing with people, he is just terrified of loud noises, quick movements, etc. We try to get him comfortable, repeat and praise but nothing seems to be helping him out.. any suggestions?
 

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Be very careful about not coddling him, or petting him and saying "It's okay, good boy" etc when he acts afraid - he is not hearing that what he is afraid of is okay, he's hearing that his reaction to it is - positive reinforcement for negative behavior. Instead, be upbeat and say "Hey! You're FINE!!! This isn't going to hurt you! Let's go!" in a jolly, happy voice. and move on to something else.
I'd provide more exposure to situations that are noisy and busy, and I'd also recommend a class situation.
 

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I agree with Pointgold on this one...you don't want to praise when he has reactions, it WILL make him think that that is the appropriate behavior. Better yet, don't make any reaction at all and ignore it altogether. The best thing to do for this pup would be to have more and more exposure to things in the outside world. What you could do is have exercises where someone drops a pan for instance on the floor behind the dog and do this a couple of times until he is calm when the pan drops, then when he makes no reaction to the pan dropping, slip him a little treat:)
Good luck with your baby!
 

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I forgot to mention that that would be a two person exercise where one is holding the pup on a lead calmly while someone unseen drops the pan. You also don't want the puppy to necessarily associate the noise with a particular person.
 

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I would be very careful of "flooding" him, it can backfire and make him even more timid.

I have a sound sensitive golden. I keep treats on me at all times. I use a verbal marker "YES" when my dogs do what I want, i.e. I tell them sit and when they do, I say "YES" and give them a treat. I was able to transfer that to loud, unexpected noises, like gunshots when we are up at the lake. We would hear one and I would say "YES" and give them a treat. Now when they hear a gunshot, instead of cowering, they look at me and I just say "YES". I don't even have to give them a treat every time anymore. They are conditioned to look at me when something startles them instead of cowering or running.
 

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(I wrote a response that didn't go through? - Will try again).

I, too, adopted a timid/nervous dog who is a sweetheart. Loud noises and new people made him want to run away. I quickly realized why he came home with the thickest collar I have ever seen. After he bonded with me I replaced his collar but he still pulled. Got a halti and it has worked wonders.
Things I have tried that have worked:
Look for noisy areas - construction sites for example. Walk him near it, giving him a wide berth at first and slow decrease the distance daily. Let him sit and watch what is going on and remain calm. Treat or play near the noise. Praise when he calms down.
When exercising in an enclosed area or with long leash throw ball in the direction of the noise and walk towards it too.
When going by loud noises or object he is afraid of sit and stay if he refuses to walk by.
Make noises/sudden movements in the house. Leap out of your chair, laugh out loud when its quiet, sprint up the stairs or down hall but not all at the same time or they will come to take you away. LOL.
How is he with kids/tweens? Kids are great for loud noises and sudden movements. Try one child at a time and slowly increase their number.

Fostermom, I like your safe word - will try it. Also agree that flooding is not the way to go and wouldn't try it.
 

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I have a golden that is the same way. Any loud noise will make her look for a place to hide. She is still young (1 ½) and we are working on it. On the good side she is one of the sweetest, happy-go-lucky, playful goofs I have seen. Also she is a very large golden so it is kind of funny that everything scares her. We are always working on not reinforcing her fears. I also would not flood, but work slowly to help her overcome this fear which is what we are doing.
 

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When I got Ranger he had spent the first 9 months of his life chained up in a backyard so he hadn't been exposed to anything. He would startle on walks when cars went by, when we walk past idling cars, or any loud noise (kids on skateboards, garbage men throwing garbage bins, etc). I found doing lots of obedience with him outside really helped his confidence and helped him to know what reaction I was looking for. We started doing obedience in really quiet, distraction free areas and moved on to really bustling places (like a supermarket parking lot).

Now that he understands what I'm looking for, I go out of the way on our walks to expose him. We walk past busy streets in rush hour, we'll stop and wait outside construction zones, we go to horse shows...and if there's anything that does spook him - like idling diesel trucks - we calmly walk back and forth until he's walking past it like normal.

With all the work outside, he's been much better in the house with unexpected noises. I'll drop his steel dog dishes on purpose and he hardly reacts to the noise at all. Over the holidays there were quite a few drunk, noisy, erratic moving people in our usual calm house and he was totally okay with that. The more exposure, the better.
 
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