Fearful Dog, Apologies, Questions!

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Fearful Dog, Apologies, Questions!

Post by CarolineLovesDogs » Mon Jun 29, 2015 12:08 pm

A few months ago I made this post on positively about talking to my family about our fearful dog. Her name is Molly and she is a miniature dachshund rescue dog that we have had for several years. In short, I asked for advice on how to talk to my family members and tell that I wanted to try helping her get over her many fears and helping her blossom. The reason I needed to ask for help and explain myself was because, among other things, none of them seem to realize how much stress she is truly under each day as she barks at and reacts to so many ordinary things. Like I mentioned before, she is scared of so many noises, new sights, uncomfortable with handling and other threatening body language. She is only, I feel, truly comfortable around one person in the world- me- because we have formed a close bond as I respect her limitations, don't use threatening body language, can read her calming signals, give her quality time for play and exercise, et cetera. She is also fairly trusting with my mom but my mom does do things which she finds threatening (even though mom is obvlivious) such as long, confined hugs, yelling at her and pulling her over when she had a potty accident, et cetera. My older sister, brother, and especially dad?; don't even ask; she still barks at them and reacts to them like they are strangers. In short, she has a very stressful life and I want to help her. Hence my previous post.
The reason I never updated that was because, I'm really sorry to say, I never did have "the talk" with them so never really got started on a good program of desensitization / counter conditioning, which is pretty much useless and impossible without some amount of compliance and knowledge from them. I didn't talk to them for the reasons listed above; they somehow seem to not think she is unhappy or stressed (even though they yell at HER all the time for her frequent barking), I don't think they'd want to committ to learning or helping me at all (which they will have to in some ways), and I'm just in general a person who doesn't like to rock the boat.
But I am committing to this NOW. I will tell them soon and with this public post I hope to be held accountable! ;) Thanks for all of your replies on the previous topic I made about this, by the way- I know it's late, and I'm sorry I never took the advice but I am going to do it now. Wish me luck on that conversation with my family!
Now, I do have a question / inquiery. If anyone has any suggestions on dealing with the type of dog I mentioned above (scared of so many things from every day noises to sights, but most of all the majority of people that live in the house), please share if you have time! I have read up a lot on dog behavior and such so I know about classical conditioning and that jazz, but the truth remains that I am a beginner in teaching and I know there will be some amount of trial and error. But I just would like advice on how to succeed with this... rehabilitation (though I hesitate to use that word as I don't like how it sounds or think it accurately portrays the situation). Because it's not just one thing (or two or three or four) that she is scared of, it will be very difficult and even impossible to keep her under threshold- I can't stop people from coughing, talking loudly, from thunder booming, from their being a new fallen tree branch on the ground- and certainly I can't kick my family members out of the house even though she is scared of them. I just can't see how I can adequately do proper desensitization under threshold in this enviornment, which I really think will make success difficult- but I have no choice. I know with such a fearful dog, this will likely never be a totally "normal" dog but I want her to be able to live a happy, lower stress, and fairly normal life where she gets to go out on walks at the park and things like that (within reason). We are so far from that right now! Plus it will be made more difficult by the fact that I will have devote ALL my time to this in some way; when I am at home I will constantlhy be needing to multi task with doing other things and being ready to have all my attention on Molly when something scary happens, as I really can't see my family wanting to help or being that good at helping. Anyways, any advice on global fear would be appreciated! Thank you for reading this! Oh and as I said, hold me accountable for having this conversation and getting started!;) And once I have the conversation with my family and things start going, I'll update here periodically.
****To share a positive, I have recently (and by recently I mean within the last few days) begun working dilligently with Molly on basic good manners and cues. She is a quick learner! Especially with loose leash walking she has learned quickly to walk politely on leash and now the rewards are spaced much farther apart and fading quickly after building a stronger foundation, and she is doing so well. We have lots of wildlife in our area (we have a large country yard, several acres) and we have even succeeded in standing close to the neighbor's guineas, chickens and peacocks which come over into our yard. Even as they are squawking and running and we are close by, she is able to stay on a loose leash. Remember, this has only been a couple days of training! I know that training basic manners and cues is going to be a much easier venture than behavior modification and emotional modification of her fear, but it is great to be able to see what a fast learner she can be when she is having fun- and she does have fun! When we are outside, even though occasionally a loud noise or people's voices yelling in the distance will scare her, she is not nearly as reactive outdoors and seems much happier, especially now that I am working on teaching her loose leash walking; to see her tail wagging and her eyes bright and her great attention on me is really rewarding. Note that I have tried training her in the past but often gave up because it is so difficult when family members had been *unknowingly* sabatoging my training efforts; not to mention my mom wouldn't let me go outside in the winter (too cold apparently), among other restrictions I won't go into here. Many of those difficulties still exist but with persistence and hard work she is doing well anyway. Hopefully once I talk to my family about the fear issues, I will be able to get them to generally stop reinforcing her bad habits which will make training much easier!!

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Re: Fearful Dog, Apologies, Questions!

Post by MaeFlowers » Tue Jun 30, 2015 4:56 pm

I am definitely not the one to give you much advice, but my 6 year old male jack russell has a lot of fear issues. When it comes to people I find that he does best when he gets completely ignored, 100%. He warms up to strangers who do this so much faster than with the ones who talk to him or try to pet him. He is fear aggressive so I tend to keep him out of any situation that would cause him to react, and you can't really do that in your situation.

Not sure how this helps you, but it might help when introducing your dog to strangers? If they know to ignore her completely and try to stay calm and quiet it might help.


Re: Fearful Dog, Apologies, Questions!

Post by CarolineLovesDogs » Wed Jul 01, 2015 9:17 am

Thanks for the tip. That was going to be my plan with my family members in general, to tell them (especially dad) to totally ignore her. The problem will be getting them to do it!

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Re: Fearful Dog, Apologies, Questions!

Post by Ari_RR » Thu Jul 02, 2015 2:55 am

No advice, but good luck, and yes you will be held accountable here :wink:
I suspect once humans step back and give her space, a lot of issues will be solved.
Let us know how the talk goes.

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Re: Fearful Dog, Apologies, Questions!

Post by GoodPuppy » Tue Jul 14, 2015 7:17 pm

Hey, I'm a novice, too, so I am receiving more words of wisdom than I can offer right now.

I just wanted you to know you're not alone in this sort of thing. It's tough when the people you live with can't get on board with what you are trying to do. It's hard to relax in the house under such circumstances, but enjoy those peaceful times when you are out for walks with her. That sounds like it's going great, so pat yourself on the back for that, and Molly, too! Yay for Molly, she's doing great and it so hard for her, so any progress is a hard won victory. Savor it.

And kudos to you for caring for this dog. It takes a special kind of heart to give so much to a little one who needs you. :D

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