View Full Version : Brooklyn has become scared...of nearly everything.

5th August 2011, 09:33 AM
So, Brooklyn will be 10 months old this month...and she has started to become startled of things that she was never afraid of before (in fact, she was never a skittish puppy at all). For instance, on our walk tonight she jumped at the skateboard (I know some dogs are scared of these, but she has seen hundreds and never batted an eyelash), she whipped around at the sound of a dry cleaning bag and she startled with scare at the sound of a car door that shut. A car door! I mean, how many thousands of those has she heard?? It is just a bit strange because she just seems a bit skittish around lots of things lately.

The biggest one though...and I need HELP on this...is kids! All of a sudden kids scare the you know what out of her. She cowers behind me, tries to dart away, doesnt want to be pet, jumps back...just wants out asap. I don't understand :( We don't have kids, so she isnt around them that often, but she never used to be like this. Any age, baby to a teenager...but its like she knows when they hit 16, because she isnt scared anymore. What I do now is say to the kids "no petting, just kneel down and let her sniff you". I always carry lots of treats in my pockets so kids who want to come up, I still say no petting, but just give her treats. Some though, reach in for the pet like it is a game and Brooklyn cowers like she is scared to death. I am very firm with the kids. I usually just say "not today" or give them lots of treats so feed feed feed and try to get them to not pet her (hoping that she just starts associating them with treats and good calm things).

Anyway...advice? Help?! I am so lost :huh:

Oh, and with adults, other dogs, she is just fine. Even cats, she is just fine, no worries what so ever. And she is not aggressive or anything at all...just pure and total fright, poor thing. I also never console her when she is scared so I don't nurture that behavior and "tell" her she should be scared. But instead, like when a skate board goes by, I give her a treat right away so hopefully "skateboard=treat" Really going back to basics here, but feel this is strange for 10 months old.

Kate H
5th August 2011, 01:15 PM
I think for some dogs this is a transition from being very focused on you as a puppy and becoming more interested in and aware of what's happening around them - and realising that the world is full of strange noises, flapping plastic bags, noisy children who move quickly, etc.

A place to start is sitting with Brooklyn near but not too close to places where she is likely to see and hear the things that frighten her. Have her securely on your lap or close by and distract her with treats or a game with her favourite toy, so that children shouting and car doors banging are simply part of the background noise - the important thing is what she's doing with you. Gradually move nearer to, for example, the children's play area in the park, or a place where cars are parked and come and go frequently, playing with her and not giving her a chance to get worried. This will take several days, if not weeks. You could use the time to teach her the 'Watch me' command, which can be very useful when wanting to get dogs past things that worry them - they soon learn that you have a treat in your hand or pocket and they will get it if they keep their eyes on you! You can back up these excursions with practice at home - getting family or friends to close car doors while you play with Brooklyn, organising children to give her treats without fussing her or even looking at her, just dropping them close to her and walking on. With car doors, you could try my fireworks technique - get someone to bang a car door and immediately get very excited 'Wow! That was a big noise - I think that one's worth a big treat!' For some reason Brooklyn has developed bad associations with these things - you need to associate them with fun and treats. You may of course end up with Brooklyn expecting a reward every time someone slams a car door!!

Hope that helps,

Kate, Oliver and Aled

Kate H
5th August 2011, 07:50 PM
Sorting through some papers this afternoon I came across an article I had kept from a dog training magazine, entitled 'Critical periods in your puppy's psychological growth', and there it is:

6 to 14 months
Second Fear Imprint Period or Fear of New Situations Period [the first period is 8-10 weeks, when bad experiences can have a longterm effect on puppies]. Dog again shows fear of new situations and even familiar situations. Dog may be reluctant to approach someone or something new. It is important that you are patient and act very matter of fact in these situations. Never force the dog to face the situation. DO NOT pet the frightened puppy or talk in soothing tones. The puppy will interpret such responses as praise for being frightened. Training will help improve the dog's confidence.

You seem to be doing the right things! Looking ahead to anticipate a problem and practising watch or heelwork so that Brooklyn is focusing on you well before someone reaches their car or you pass a group of children, and then rewarding her with fuss and play after you have passed the hazard should help.

Kate, Oliver and Aled

6th August 2011, 12:30 AM
That is really helpful, thanks Kate!!! I hope nothing has frightened her with lasting effects yet, and I will keep doing the scare training just like I did when she was 10 weeks old. She did so well then, this stage is definitely tougher, but I will start working hard now knowing why this is happening. Great advice and much appreciated.

The hardest part is controlling children. Some are great and I just say kneel down, give her a treat and walk away...but kids are so unpredictable and sometimes just jump fast or reach their hand in so quick it is so hard to stop. I am trying my best...though I do wonder why I am finding parents doing nothing when I am getting firm saying to "do not do that to my dog" or she is scared, " to please just walk by calmly". The parents just watch as Brooklyn freaks out. It bothers me so much, people should take more responsibility for their kids when it is very clear the situation is not okay with me...but maybe they have never been around dogs before and just don't know. I will probably need to get more firm with the parents because young children don't listen to me the stranger :)

We have one couple of friends who have a few children (really good kids), my hubby and I were thinking last night that maybe we tell them our situation and bring Brooklyn over a few times a month, with the kids instructed not to touch her and to stay really calm...just letting her sniff, staying still, treats, etc.

Sigh, I hope we get this worked out! Thanks again Kate!!!

7th August 2011, 08:11 PM
Rylie recently got scared by two little girls who came at his face too exuberantly. I had given them permission to pet him but they just swooped in too fast at his face for him to be comfortable. This one incident has made him fairly skittish around both kids and adults. What I am trying to do is seek out young kids who have a dog and ask them to give him a treat (the last time I had to hold him) as well as any adult I meet. What I found at the last agility trial we were at is that he is fine with adults if I'm there but won't take food from them if I am not. He's always been pretty confident AND food loving so I'm sure we will work through the adult part shortly. I don't know as many kids so that might take a bit longer.

7th August 2011, 08:19 PM
This period is also included in Ian Dunbar's books and posts, and also most of the training links in the training section. Very common at this age and does need careful management so that the fears don't remain into adulthood. :thmbsup: