23rd March 2005, 12:37 PM
Fear stages and overcoming fears
I know it is commonly discussed thatpuppies have two fear stages. I can't remember when the second one starts (and websites are providing various ranges) but it seems to be around 5-6 months. Bailey has most definitely hit the second fear stage. He was semi-fearless before, did fabulous at agility (wasn't afraid of the obstacles), etc. He has always been a bit more timid that my wild child Sophie, but never to the extremes we have been experiencing.
In the last week or two really (Bailey will be 6 months on the 28th) Bailey has become afraid of pretty much everything. Even very common things to him. He is semi-okay in the house although any thing new terrifies him, but venturing outside is a whole different thing. He REFUSES to go potty outside by himself (even if I'm out there). The only way he will go out is if Sophie is there.
We took him to the vet the other day to get his sutures removed from his umbilical hernia surgery and boy what an ordeal. He was fine in his crate and on his leash right after we got out of the car. There was a big dog, ON A LEASH 10 FEET AWAY and he cowered between my legs and hid his face. He has been exposed to big dogs before and went through puppy kindergarten being the smallest do by far. He was never afraid to approach the bigger dogs.
We were walking up the drive to get to the front door of the vet and a car pulled past us. We weren't really close, but it sent him running off the other way to the point where he almost ran in to the building.
Then the front door.... to get in to the vet you have to go up a small step and open the door. We were right at the step when someone came out of the vet's office and the door opened. No big deal, right? WRONG! Darling Bailey again hid between my legs and was shaking. The people of course oo'd and awww'd over how cute he was, but he wouldn't let them approach him. The parents ushered the kids off after seeing he was frightened and I could barely get him to walk up the step and walk through the door to the vet.
Once inside he kept jumping at me to be picked up. Knowing this would only encourage the behavior I told him (not in a coddling voice) that he was fine and to be a big boy. Okay, I know that has no effect, but I figured even the sound of my voice would help some. Inside the waiting room he hid in the corner under a chair.
Once inside the vet's office which literally took two minutes. He SCREETCHED as she took the two very quick snips to remove the sutures.
I know that agility helps build confidence, but its a bit early to start him (I really wanted him to be close to a year with the jumps and such). I know not to coddle him. What else can we do to quickly break this fear problem?