Fear? or Needy?

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Fear? or Needy?

Post by Storminateacup on Wed Jul 20 2016, 23:02

Storm has started a new thing when we go walking. I know she has some fears and we are working on it and there is improvement, but lately when we walk she wants me to pick her up, and not when she hears something new, she just wants up. I have a 14 year old Daschund who "walks" with us in a pram, so if I won't pick her up, Storm will jump into the pram. I cannot find/seee/hear anything new that is scaring her, so I think she just wants me to hold her. Is this something I should stop or still pick her up. People that see her say she is very spoilt, so it might be my fault
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Re: Fear? or Needy?

Post by -Ian- on Thu Jul 21 2016, 09:09

I think you know the answer to this one Nicki, if you continue to pick her up it becomes the normal thing and that will be a much harder habit to break let alone continue when she's 18kg Laughing


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Re: Fear? or Needy?

Post by gillybrent on Thu Jul 21 2016, 09:51

I doubt that it's fear because you would see other signs.

but ian's right, if you let her jump into the pram she'll expect it every time & your oldie might feel resentful.

how about taking some treats with you & when she acts up just hold the treat by your leg & keep going.

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Re: Fear? or Needy?

Post by Storminateacup on Thu Jul 21 2016, 12:45

Ian, you are right, I won't be able to pick her up soon, let alone walk with her. I always have treats with me, but she is very stubborn, and when she wants something nothing will distract her. I even had chicken with me yesterday and she just kept trying to get into the pram. I know the things that she gets a bit scared of, and treats work to distract her with those things. I think I need to be firmer with her, but she gives me those Puppy eyes and I forget everything else and feel so cruel.
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Re: Fear? or Needy?

Post by LizP on Thu Jul 21 2016, 16:11

I would say it could well low level fear, so worry rather than real panic fear. I can often happen that we can't see what's bothering an animal because it all looks perfectly fine to us, or our human senses don't pick up what the animal does. I personally would give her the benefit of the doubt and say it is fear. It's better to assume that than ignore a real worry and put it down to being silly or something.

I do agree, though, that you don't want her to think that this is a good response, regardless of the motivation. The ideal would be to set up some confidence building training sessions, whereby you teach her a better response worries.

What sort of thing worries her at the moment? Can you arrange for these things on a very low level? If that's possible, I'd try to build up associations between those things and having treats scattered on the floor - I'd do that rather than hand feed her treats partly because head down is relaxing and partly to encourage her to be less clingy towards you.

I'd also look to finding a way of making it impossible/difficult for her to get in the pram, taking that alternative away from her, and instead ask her to do something else - sit for example - that you can reward. Rather than being firmer (which is generally negative and may add to worries if that's what this is) create a positive something and confidence building instead.


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Re: Fear? or Needy?

Post by Storminateacup on Thu Jul 21 2016, 23:49

Thanks Liz, I have been treating it as a low level fear, and I didn't mean firmer as in being nasty.  Our trainer and husband has said that Storm has me wrapped around her paws haha.  We only do treat reward training, and usually she is really good.  When the pram/pick up starts, it doesn't matter what I ask her to do or what treat I give her (I even had chicken with me yesterday) she will not be distracted, so I end up giving in, because I don't want her to be scared and think I am not there for her.

The other day we were walking and a dog was barking in the distance.  Sometimes this doesn't bother her, but when it does, we give her lots of positive attention, telling her it is ok, and give her treats.  But this last week, none of that is working and she only wants to get in the pram or be picked up.  I have tried to pin point the other things, but I have no idea what they are.  I cannot tell if it is a noise, an action, a person or what.

During the week, I am on my own, and cannot leave the oldie at home because then she thinks she is being ignored and we don't have much time left with her so I don't want to miss out on any time with her.  On weekends with the husband, it is a lot easier to try control this, but I don't know what else to do when I am on my own.

I don't want her to be a nervous puppy, and our trainer says we are doing everything right, so I feel a bit lost sometimes.
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Re: Fear? or Needy?

Post by LizP on Fri Jul 22 2016, 08:06

Storminateacup wrote:  When the pram/pick up starts, it doesn't matter what I ask her to do or what treat I give her (I even had chicken with me yesterday) she will not be distracted, so I end up giving in, because I don't want her to be scared and think I am not there for her.
Always be aware of what you're teaching... in this case it sounds like you're teaching persistence! Laughing Seriously, if an animal (including child, etc) nags and nags and nags till you give in, you're only teaching that nagging works. You do have to knock it on the head, in a nice way.

I would still go down the route of teaching her an alternative behaviour. It's not the same as distraction, where she doesn't need to do anything, it's giving her something else to do that will get her a treat. Once you've taught her that, I would then ignore any demands to be picked up and if she jumps into the pram I'd take her straight out again, then ask for sit or whatever it is you've taught her, then reward. Make it black and white - much clearer for dogs - the behaviour that has worked till now no longer does, but this other option always does instead. She's bright, she'll work it out.

I think you're over worrying about her being nervous and how you react. Yes, her behaviour may well be driven by nerves and worry but adding your worry to the mix will make her feel more so. You need to ooze confidence and fun so that she can pick up on those emotions. So as soon as you notice anything, go straight into 'hey Storm, let's play this fun game!' mode rather than 'oh dear, what's worrying you?'

I promise you, getting a dog's focus on 'I can' rather than 'I can't' makes the hugest difference.


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Re: Fear? or Needy?

Post by Storminateacup on Fri Jul 22 2016, 08:09

Thank you so much Liz. I sometimes feel overwhelmed with her. I have always had small dogs, and never one as clever and energetic as Storm, so I was fretting I was letting her down a bit. I will give this a try now and I will persevere.
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