(Closed) Anybody else with a fearful dog?

posted 6 years ago in Pets
Post # 3
2065 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: December 2011

It can get expensive, but you could look into hiring a professional trainer. My parents adopted a dog that ended up having aggression issues (towards dogs, not people) and they read a lot of books and tried very hard, but just couldn’t do it on their own. They went to the local Petsmart and got some recommendations for a trainer that came to their house to help them out with their strategy. It took a month or so of really working with her, but she’s doing SO MUCH better. They take her out every day to help socialize her and I bring my dogs over every weekend to get her used to them as well and it’s helping quite a bit.

Edit: Totally forgot – WHAT A CUTIE! 🙂 I just want to give him a big squeeze.

Post # 4
837 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

Fawkes (yellow lab / golden retriever) is pretty much a whack job. I am only partly kidding when I suggest that he has psychological issues, possibly even a hallucinatory disorder that makes him think that anything you carry is moving by itself, and therefore must be barked at in a manic, aggressive way while backing up looking for a place to hide. 

He barks at people, at other dogs, birds, cats, that leaf blowing down the street. Because yes, he can see that far and he just zeroes in on this stuff. Things my other dogs don’t even lift their heads for. And as far as the people / other dogs go, his reactions to them are completely arbitrary, unless they’re carrying something (moving a chair accross the dog park, replacing the bag in a trash can, using a cane…), then he stands there and stares at them (without blinking his creepy hexagonal-iris eyes) and barks.

Not just once. No. Repeatedly. Like a seal. But if they bend down to show him that they’re not being aggressive, his ears relax in this totally relieved “omg you’re not here to kill me and you’re not being eaten by the random piece of paper you’re holding” expression and he launches himself on the person to drown them in grateful / relieved kisses. He has this way of getting his paws locked behind your neck and then going boneless so that you can’t get him off of you. 

The only thing that will get him off of you is if he sees a dog running, then he books after it, barking this excited, non-aggressive monkey bark because he just can’t hold in his excitement.


I have to warn people when I’m letting him out of the bedroom, where I have to put him and two of the others because he just works them up into a jumping, barking frenzy, despite being mild-mannered dogs. This includes my fiancé. Every. single. day.

He’s three.

Thankfully, his “aggression” has never, ever been physical. He’s too afraid to get close. He has uninentionally hurt people with his relieved / excited jumping, but thankfully his only mouth issues are slobbering and grateful “gnawing”, where he puts your whole hand (or foot) into his mouth but doesn’t bite down. He’s a freaking crackpot. 

Anyway, I wish I could give you advice. He’s been to dog parks his whole life. He’s had play dates. He has a brother and sisters. He lives with kids now. He has been to obedience training (and knows his commands very well, but he simply cannot contain the fear / excitement / relief). I have nothing helpful to contribute, except to say that I can totally sympathize with issues like those you have with Bruford. I’m sorry. 🙁 

Post # 5
5670 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2010

Me! Raising my hand here!

This was my princess Gracie! I started out with agility for a confidence builder and then found this amazing trainer that helped build her confidence. It was pricey but we worked with this trainer for 8 weeks and now she is a different dog and I’m so thrilled.

Everyone thought she was fiscious but she was more afraid of them than they were of her. A couple of tips take your dog everywhere with a bag of treats. I used to go to the park and have strangers give her treats and Darling Husband would even take her on job sites and the supply house (she was more scared of this place than anything) and have people waiting for her with goodies so that when myself of Darling Husband said that person was okay they gave her a little treat. This reinforced that we we told her someone was okay or a good peron. You can also practice this in your house by having friends come over and use a short leash. If he gets upset remove him from the room let him calm down and once he calms try again. For the barking I found a spray bottle worked well.

He is accepting stranger with a dog because he is trusting the other dog that their owner is nice. He needs to learn to trust you when you tell him someone is nice.


Post # 6
5147 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2011

Oh yes! 

My dog Stormy was very unsocialized and fearful. I got him at a year old and he had only met 3 people in his entire life (breeder, neighbor, and vet).

(I don’t blame the breeder. The breeder was in her upper-80s, had her house destroyed by a tornado so had to move, had her sister’s house burn down, and overall  just had a really bad/busy year so didn’t have time to work with him.)


When I first got him, he was like a little ball of teeth on the end of the leash. (Literally, he would panic in public, and flail around on the end of the leash while growling and snapping.) He was fearful of other dogs and fearful of strangers, especially men.

I took him to a trainer, who had me do the “Click to Calm” method with him. 

Now he will play with other dogs and strangers can pet him.

This is him now! (Well, the video is a year old, so that’s him a year ago.) A year before the video was taken, I couldn’t get him within 20 feet of other people or dogs else he would freak out.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9ag0qNRvo4&feature=g-upl


So I highly recommend “Click to Calm”! And stick with it, it took us several months to see any progress, but once we started seeing progress, it was like a light-bulb went off in his head.

Post # 7
214 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: September 2011

Your dog is adorable! My bulldog (Gus) is a huge baby and is scared of anything that moves and doesn’t have a scent (garbage bags, shopping bags, vacuums, brooms, laundry baskets..). We’ve had him for over 2 years and even though I’ve vacuumed EVERY DAY he still runs when it comes out. He’s great with people, though (besides the odd jumping which we’ve been working hard to combat with some success). 

My advice would be to find a reliable trainer/program that works for you and stick with it. My friend has tried so many different programs/techniques with her dog that it just confused it and make things 10x worse.

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