15 Week Old Puppy Scared of Outside

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15 Week Old Puppy Scared of Outside

Post by robbo18 on Thu Jun 30 2016, 10:19

Morning All first post i came across this site after becoming a new owner of a puppy and figured it would be beneficial to become active here as it seems popular.

I have a slight issue with my little guy and walking on a lead (but i think it goes deeper than that!) i tried to take him out for a walk the first day i could however he just froze at the door shaking, i did manage to get him out a little further by calling and when he walked praised him, but overall he seemed frightened so i took him home. Annoyingly he walked just fine back so i think it is a fear thing.

He is good with other dogs so i took him out with my dad who has a beagle, he walked much easier and only required a few prompts by calling his name and getting onto his level to carry on. i thought he may get better from here on his own however he was back to normal in no time and wouldn't walk.

This is when i think i put my finger on the real issue, i believe he has a problem with people stood up and calling him, he will follow me around the house all day no issue but if i go outside and call him while stood up he is hesitant and will only really come when i get low. He has never been mistreated or anything like that but something must have triggered this fear any help would be appreciated in how to tackle this.

he jumps up and has other small issues but i know how to deal with these from past experiences its just i'm struggling with this one.

I have started attaching his lead and harness when in the garden and making sure its lots of fun outside there. i have took him outside on his lead and let him in his own time have a wander, he did wander about down the road but every noise seemed to knock his confidence such as cars, birds and people (though after the person passed he started to follow them until the next noise)

Again you guys will have more experience than i and any help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks Guys I dont want to s

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Re: 15 Week Old Puppy Scared of Outside

Post by -Ian- on Thu Jun 30 2016, 18:47

Hi ya Robbo, welcome to the forum from Flo and me Big Grin

From what I've read above it sounds like your doing most of the things I would do i.e. Lead on in the garden etc.

It can be a big scary world for a small puppy so would suggest making the experience outside the home as exciting and positive as possible. Never make a drama out of this issue or pay too much attention as this could become accociated to a negative experience. I would do lots of small tries little and often so it becomes normal and then increase the distance away from home.

Hopefully he'll grow in confidence as time goes by. Yours is certainly not the first timid puppy we've had on the forum. Strange that you've noticed that upright people could be a trigger too.


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Re: 15 Week Old Puppy Scared of Outside

Post by LizP on Thu Jun 30 2016, 20:37

Hi and welcome from me and mine Smile

Going outside through the door... another thing Millie had a problem with... Rolling Eyes

What I found worked was turning the doorway into a play/treat area, not asking her to go through to start off with but just building up associations with the doorway as a place for fun and play. Start throwing treats for him to run after as close to the doorway as you can without him getting worried. If he likes toys and even better, if he'll retrieve, again play within the vicinity of the doorway. Then start throwing the ball/treat closer and closer until you're throwing to the threshold... then out! Hopefully, you'll find he starts hopping outside happily to get his treat or toy, and you can then follow.

If you have situations whereby you need to get him to come to you, don't hesitate to get down low and play bow if that helps. Make it as easy as possible for him to do what you'd like, build up his confidence, then start to ask more and more. Do make sure you keep pushing the boundaries, even just nudging them, so that he does progress and so that his confidence does build. It sounds like he's a naturally cautious dog so creating confidence is the best thing you can do.

You sound pretty experienced and sensible so will probably be fine with things in general but, if it does help now or in the future, there's a FAQ sheet on addressing fear. Fear in animals is something I've got a lot of professional and personal experience with so do ask if there's anything else you get stuck with.

Frequently Asked Questions


Addressing fear




Addressing fear

It is important to understand, notice and adress fear in dogs of any age. This is particularly true of puppies, dogs who are nervous by natural temperament and rescue dogs who may have negative associations with certain people, objects, etc. by experience. Any dog can be fearful, though, so understanding fear and anxiety is important for everyone.

What is fear?
Simply put, fear is the mechanism that protects you from danger. When you fear something, your body goes into its automatic response of adrenalin release, which in turn affects your heart beat and your breathing. The objective is to provide oxygen to your muscles to enable you to respond quickly and strongly.
Fear can be felt on different levels. You can be worried by something, you can be terrified, or you can be anywhere in between.  All should be taken seriously as what starts out as worry can develop into full blown fear. Because fear itself is a very unpleasant sensation, feeling it can reaffirm that the thing is scarey and this can lead the problem to snowball. This is particularly true if an owner is unaware of the fear and repeatedly puts their dog in a fearful situation, such as taking him to places with lots of other dogs if they worry him.

What are dogs scared of?
Dogs, like humans, can be scared of anything. It is irrelevant if the object of the fear is actually dangerous or even mildly threatening, it is the animal’s perception that is important. A dog can be scared of a cuddly toy, for example, and experience all the same feelings as if he was confronting an axe murderer. We know that the latter is more dangerous but that doesn’t matter, if the dog is scared he is scared.

Common fears for dogs include loud and sudden noises, being left alone, new and unexpected things and, of course, other dogs!

How do I know if my dog is scared?
A fearful dog will first and foremost show by his body language. He will get lower to the ground, pin his ears back, tuck his tail in, try to move or at least look away, yawn, pant and whine. Different dogs show different signs to differing degrees. It is important to recognise the earliest signals for your own dog so you can spot when he is in a position he’s not happy with. If you miss him telling you he’s fearful of the man standing over him, his next option may well be to growl, snarl or even bite in an attempt to get the man to move away.

Can’t I just avoid what he’s scared of?
Yes, you often can but not always. Working to eliminate a fear or to give your dog a suitable response to his trigger means you are less likely to be caught unawares. You will also often find that working to overcome fears increases confidence in general, which is great for dogs who are generally prone to nerves and worries (which means many staffies!). While you are working on it, of course, it is wise to avoid triggers unless they are within your control and within what your dog can (just about) cope with at the moment.

So what do I do?
• Attune yourself to your dog’s body language. Learn to read the subtle signs he gives you to say ‘I’m not sure about that’. As you will see later, that ‘uh oh’ moment is where you can most help him;
• Be aware of your own reactions and emotions. If you become tense, get cross and tell you dog he’s being silly, freeze, shout, or even just plough on bravely, you will not only not be helping your dog, you may well be making it worse. You need to learn to remain relaxed, keep your lead relaxed except for very brief moments if absolutely necessary, and give your dog a feeling of confidence in you. If you are worried, you will convey that he is right to be so too! Learn to breathe out, relax your shoulders and keep a positive, happy attitude.
• Have a plan. We will go on to explain your options in a bit more detail in a minute. What will help you and your dog above all else is to have a plan in your mind, with options if Plan A turns out to be not right for what may be a changing situation.
• Train. Train, train, train. Your dog is learning all the time, training is really about helping him learn what you want him to learn, not what you don’t.

I’ve never done any training, can I do it?
Yes, anyone can train. Take things slowly, understand from the dog’s point of view why something works, and give it a go! If you have a problem that you feel beyond you at the moment, you might want to call in a professional, making sure you choose a trainer who uses positive methods only.

Ready? Let’s get started! First of all, general training notes...

Know your dog, know yourself

Working out which method to use and how to set up your training plan means thinking about what will work for you. Always use a method that rewards the behaviour you want the second you get it (food is the most common reward for dogs) and avoid reprimands or punishment, including shouting, harsh words and, above all, striking your dog. 'Punishment' in the very technical sense can be used when you know what you are doing, but it is generally not effective for fear situations as it will make a dog more stressed.

If your dog isn’t motivated by food, then a method that uses treats as a reward might not be the right one. There is also no point in choosing a training method that doesn’t suit you. If you’re not very good at holding several different things in your hands at once, trying to hold a clicker, a target, a lead and a treat pouch while focussing on your dog might not be your best bet.

You may well need to adapt to your dog’s needs though - you might find something difficult or inconvenient but it might still be the best method for the situation.

Planning
Planning means thinking ahead. Plan your walks according to current needs, make sure you take enough treats to last a lifetime, and have a backup plan. If you plan on working on traffic from that quiet car park that no one ever uses and turn up to find a Ramblers’ organised walk is meeting there, pressing on with your plan isn’t really your best option.

Little and often
The best training is usually done in short, clear sessions. It’s much easier to learn one clear thing than try to understand and remember a lot. It is better to achieve one small thing well than sort of get the rough idea of several.

Whenever possible, always end a training session on a good note, leaving you both feeling positive. If you have not achieved what you aimed for, do something else good then go and rethink how you can achieve it (or part of it) next time.

Fear training

Step 1 - Identify your problem
That might sound obvious but it isn’t always. What exactly is it that your dog is scared of? We usually see things as a whole that we put a name on, so for example you might say my dog is scared of cars when he’s on walk, but what is it he that bothers him? Is it the noise, is the the sight of them moving quickly? Is it all cars or just some? What about lorries and motorbikes?

Are there other things that upset your dog? It’s worth making a full list early on so that you know the extent of the problem. It’s also possible that things are related. A dog who is fearful of loud noises may also be fearful of lorries, may also have a problem with bin day. The individual things that set him off are called his triggers.

It’s often worth keeping a diary so that you can really understand the problem fully before you set out your action plan.

Step 2 – Break it down
Now you know what you are dealing with, have a look how you can make each of the triggers smaller. If you have several triggers, you will probably also want to prioritise. You may be able to live with a fear of children as you rarely see them but really need to deal with the panic on bin days when he goes into a blind panic, which means you have to make sure you are out of the house every week (and heavens help you if they’re early or late!).
With every trigger, there will be degrees. Something a mile away and out of sight is simply not an issue, that same thing right in your face will send you into meltdown. If you are training when it is a mile away, you won’t learn anything because there is nothing to learn. Training when you are in meltdown doesn’t work either because your adrenalin will have kicked you into survival mode and your brain won’t be taking in the right information. There will be a point, though, somewhere between where you are aware of the thing just to the point of wondering if it’s ok, if you need to act. That’s what I call the ‘uh oh’ point. That is the critical learning point.

Let’s take an example. Your dog is scared of motorbikes, with both the sound and sight causing him to lunge and snarl. A motorbike that is switched off and locked in a garage in the next village is so unscarey there’s no point even thinking about it. A motorbike that zooms past you full throttle at 70mph close enough that you have to jump out of its way to avoid getting run over is beyond belief terrifying and you won’t be learning anything else.
The ‘uh oh’ point will be somewhere in between. In this example, we have 2 triggers, sight and sound. It may well be easier for the dog to deal with these two separately, so let’s find the ‘uh oh’ for sound only to start off with. You might want to find videos of motorbikes that have good sound or use the voice recorder on your phone to get some good motorbike sounds. For some dogs, these might be enough to hit that point of initial worry. With a bit of thinking, you should be able to find places where you can stand and just hear motorbikes – off a road where one may well go from time to time, for example.

As you work, the ‘uh oh’ point will move as your dog learns that he could cope with the first point, and you will be able to add two triggers together, but it is important to take it slowly and be prepared to go back a step, find a smaller step, if it’s too much.

Step 3 – positive associations

The main method used to break down fear is to replace negative associations with positive ones. Instead of thinking that there is this scarey thing that’s out to get me and we’ll get closer and closer till my heart’s about to explode, you learn that it won’t get any closer and if you stand still and do nothing in fact you’ll get a treat! Well how easy is that?

Some dogs respond well to simply being fed a treat, others are very motivated by clicker training, some love a toy as a reward and others just love a fuss. Use whatever your dog responds to best but try to keep things calm, we’re trying to lower excitement not raise it.

Whenever there’s even the slightest chance of encountering the trigger, make sure you will be able to go into training mode so make sure you have your reward with you. However, it is much more effective to set up training sessions in non-real situations first so that you can control intensity and length. Teach your dog in the quiet of your garden that whenever he hears that rumble of a motorbike engine he just needs to sit and he’ll get a treat, and he’ll then know what to do when he hears that same sound when you’re walking down the road.

To start off with, always, always, always reward. One of the biggest mistakes of training is to under-reward. Get something 100% solid first, then you can start skipping some. You'll work hard for you boss if he over-pays you but are less likely to do so if he under-pays you.

Step 4 – relaxation
Given that fear creates a stress response, teaching your dog to relax in the face of that trigger can produce excellent and long lasting results. One of the easiest ways to do this is to drop treats on the floor. This not only carries on the positive associations, it also gets your dog’s head down. A low head is not alert and looking for danger, it is a relaxed position. If your dog is usually happy to snuffle for treats at home but can’t do it in a training session, it’s an indicator that you need to reduce the intensity of the trigger.

Always look to have a relaxed lead. There are always times when you will need use the lead for safety or for a momentary 'hey' but you should always look to keep the lead loose as much as possible. This will help both of you. Relaxation is important for you too and you may well find that this helps you as well as your dog and vice versa, as you being relaxed will transmit to him.

Talking of body positions, it’s fine for your dog to sit in these situations but never ask him to lie down if he doesn’t want to, it’s far to exposed and vulnerable and will only increase his fear.

Step 5 – release the pressure
One of the greatest rewards you can give a fearful animal is to decrease the intensity of the trigger. That might be by allowing him to move away or by the trigger moving away, depending on the situation. Always resist the temptation to think how well he’s done, so let’s try just a little bit more. That is then ‘rewarding’ his good work with something unpleasant and won’t encourage him to try again, maybe harder.

Step 6 – repeat
You should aim to repeat something at least twice more in each session. The first time you do something you’re not aware you can do it, the 2nd time you are aware and learning, the 3rd you know you can do it and it builds confidence.

Next session, repeat what you did last time to build confidence then, if you’re dog’s ready, ask a little more, make the trigger a little stronger, and repeat that.

Common questions
- Why is my dog scared of something now that didn’t bother him before? There are various reasons why fears appear, sometimes seemingly out of nowhere. It can often be due to a single incident, it can be due to association with something else, it can be because there was a small anxiety before that went unnoticed and ‘suddenly’ appears only when it has escallated. Some young dogs develop anxieties as they mature. It is also not uncommon for dogs with other causes of stress or tension, such as physical discomfort, to be able to cope less well with other factors.
- My dog can sometimes cope with something but at other times he’ll react badly, why is this? This is very often due to what is called trigger stacking, which is when you have more than one trigger coming into play. You may be able to cope with one thing, but if you add another, and maybe even another, it is all too much and and you can no longer cope. That’s why it’s important to deal with one trigger at a time when training.
- I can’t work out what exactly is what the triggers are and I think there is more than one, how can I find them? Keep a diary. Note when your dog reacts, how big the reaction is, and what was going on not only at the time but also before.
- How long will it take to retrain my dog? There’s no one answer to this. It depends on how deep his fear is, how much time you spend training and how good your training is. Sometimes it goes really quickly, others it takes time. Don’t give up, it’s worth the investment.
- I have been trying training for a few days and it’s made no difference, what should I do? See if you can find a way of changing your set-up. Change what you’re working with and what you’re rewarding with. Also, keep reading your dog to make sure that you’re in the ‘uh oh’ zone, which will move as your dog learns. If your trigger is too great or not strong enough, you won’t get positive learning. If you’re still making no progress after a while and a few changes, you may well need professional help, ideally one-on-one to start off with.
- I don’t have the time to do training or the money for a professional, is there another way? Not really. Our dogs need us to help them, they don’t know what we want otherwise. Without us, they will keep responding in the way that seems appropriate to them, which is not always the way we want.
- Do DAP diffusers, Thundershirts, etc help? There is some evidence that various aids on the market can bring some relief to some animals. However, if a dog is scared of something, teaching him that he can cope with it is the only way that he will know he need not fear. Relying on an external aid may be part of a training programme but isn’t a replacement for it.
- How do I deal with sudden noises, such as fireworks and storms? These are among the hardest fears to work with as they are out of your control to a great extent and can often occur when you are not there to help. The best is to try a general programme of noise desensitisation, gradually building up to loud and sudden noises, teaching your dog 'yay, there was a loud noise, how brilliant here's a treat'. It can take a long time but it can help significantly. Creating a greater general confidence in all sorts of events is the most beneficial.

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Re: 15 Week Old Puppy Scared of Outside

Post by robbo18 on Sat Jul 02 2016, 08:55

Morning guys Thank you for the replies. Have I had my hands full, I can get him to walk now and it's likely I'm wrong about upright people as this seems to be purely attention seeking as I am trying to stop him jumping up, it's the whole going out of the door thing he doesn't like. I will be trying the suggestion to turn the door into a play area. If I leave the house take him in the car to a field he walks fine (with the occasional stop because of noises) but keeps on going.

Thanks for the advice he is already getting better!!

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Re: 15 Week Old Puppy Scared of Outside

Post by Mia05 on Sat Jul 02 2016, 16:27

he will get better welcome from me and mia


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Re: 15 Week Old Puppy Scared of Outside

Post by robbo18 on Thu Jul 07 2016, 16:18

Thanks again!! I just thought i would do a quick update. I have the little guy walking mostly fine with only a few stops (usually when cars drive past) when we get onto the field he walks great off the lead any only walks a few paces in front. He is learning to come back to me and does do it most of the time.

All in all he is coming along just fine... just to stop this nipping at me when he has a mad half hour!!

Thanks

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