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Puppy fear

Discussion in 'Puppy Forum' started by Helen Wells, Nov 11, 2020.

  1. Helen Wells

    Helen Wells Member Registered

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    My Puppy (16 weeks) is generally pretty fearless but has suddenly developed a fear of any vehicle bigger than a car! Grass cutters, vans, lorries etc. She's terrified - won't go close and wants to run as far away as possible. Is there anything I can do to help her to be less afraid? Not sure where it's come from as she was fine a couple of weeks ago. Thanks!
     
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  3. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Dogs go through various fear periods as they mature, so your pup sounds like she's going through one. Alternatively, she may have been upset by just one event, such as a lorry putting on its air brakes, and so associated the vehicle with 'scary'.

    The best way to bring her through this is to avoid the triggers... or rather, to let her see/hear them, but at a distance where she is comfortable. So if you can, find somewhere where she can see traffic but is far away that she isn't fearful. Every time something bigger than a car goes by, give her a tasty treat. If you find yourself too close, or there's a vehicle where you weren't expecting one, allow her to move away - 'scary' will be less scary if she knows she has a degree of control and can move away. (Stick me in a room with a spider and I might be OK as long as the door's open and I know I can leave - if I know I can't leave the room, and can't retreat if the spider approaches me, it's a very different matter.)

    Gradually, she's come to realise that large vehicles mean treats, and that if she is nervous, she can deal with it by moving away.
     
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  4. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    The thing not to do is force her to approach. Nobody gets cured of a fear of snakes by being thrown into a snake pit.

    Does it happen with parked vans etc. too, or just moving ones?

    I'd walk with her as close as she wants to approach, but as soon as she wants to turn away, support her to do that. That shows that you are listening to her, and supporting her. Just doing that should help her confidence grow. If you can find a sweet spot where she is aware but not afraid, and she can just calmly sit and watch from a safe distance, you can reward, reward, reward. This helps create a positive conditioned emotional response (Google +CER for more) which helps her brain change the experience from ”scary thing” to ”rewarding thing”.
     
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  5. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    @JudyN and I do this cross posting thing a lot ...
     
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  6. Hemlock

    Hemlock Well-Known Member Registered

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    I just did it too!

    This is an actual developmental "Fear Period" which is designed to keep young creatures safe as they become more mobile. All you have to do is wait, and pup will grow out of it.

    While you are waiting, visualise yourself as her "safe place". This means that when she tells you she is scared, you take her away from the scary thing and once at a suitable distance where she relaxes, you watch the scary thing together. Your message is "I will look after you". Don't try to make her face her fears: validate them by taking her to that distance where she can relax. Different days mean different distances as most scary things are more or less scary according to what has happened before.
     
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  7. Helen Wells

    Helen Wells Member Registered

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    She's hesitant with parked vans but not as scared. For example last night there was a postal van at a postbox as we were walking up the street. She stopped walking for a few seconds but when she saw it was stationary she carried on. But any moving vehicle she pulls to get away from.
     
  8. Helen Wells

    Helen Wells Member Registered

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    Thanks everyone! Such helpful replies
     
  9. Michael_ngs

    Michael_ngs New Member Registered

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    My dog was scared of cars (like yours when he had 16 weeks approximately) and the problem was solved with time.

    The most important is not to reprimand her and especially not force her to go toward vehicles. I always heard that when something stresses out your dog, you must react like everything is fine, not focus on the thing and especially not reprimand him. With time the dog will understand there is no danger. If possible, try to walk far from big vehicles and with time bring closer (only my advice, I'm not a pro)
     
  10. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    In that case, could you possibly get someone with a van to park near your garden so you can sit on your doorstep with her and feed her treats while she sees it and is still calm (you might need to play around with the distance)? It will help her realise it isn't coming to get her.
     

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