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Need Help With Dallas

735 Views 2 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Cracker
I have two things to work on with Dallas, but I'm not sure how to approach either one, and they are quite opposite. Dallas is now 14 months old.

1. Even after being well socialized (at least I think socialized her well, but obviously not enough?) she is still afraid of people, bikes, skateboards and baby strollers (I get the skateboards, they are loud). She literally backs and cowers away if someone stops to talk to us and wants to pet her, even if they just want to talk to us. I let the person give her a treat that I provided, but Dallas won't take it and is so afraid of the person. I don't want her jumping on people and loving them to death, but I'd like to get her not to cower away from everyone.

2. This is sort of the opposite. She goes nuts when the mailman comes (I know a lot of dogs do) but she lunges and jumps at the front windows and I'm afraid she may go through it. She tries climbing the couch which she is not allowed on. She is totally climbing the wall/window, clawing away at it. And of course barking her head off the whole time. We do hold her down and tell her to stay,but if we're not in the room at the same time, we've lost all hope. Now, if she met this same mailman on the sidewalk she'd be deathly afraid of him.
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Socialization is all about removing fears...the fear of strange sights and/or sounds. The usual approach is to work at a distance from the 'problem'...far enough away that she's not stressed. That's where you praise and reward calmness and confidence. If that has to be 50 yards or more away from the scary thing then that's the starting point. You move closer when she's no longer stressed at that distance.

She thinks it's her job to drive the mailman away. You need to show her that it's not her job by stepping between her and the window....you're taking over and now her job is done. This is not a quick fix. You have to do this everytime in the beginning but, she will start to relax after awhile. Teach an alternate behavior...have her go to a mat or a rug when people approach the door....that's her new job, go lay down....not bouncing off the windows.
I agree with Tooney dogs, you need to desensitize your dog to the things that frighten her. By doing this you have to NOT force her into interactions, find where her threshold his (20 feet? 100 feet) and start feeding her high value treats while the "scary thing" is in sight and stop when it is gone. By doing this you are teaching the dog that the "scary thing" is a predictor of GOOD stuff, it literally changes the association in the dog's mind. Think Pavlov's dog here.

As for the mailman. Many dogs have issues with the mailman. Stranger they've never met comes up the house every day and throws stuff through the door. Scary.
Same idea as above. In general, the more you can make sure the dog doesn't have access to the window to outside the less the behaviour will occur.

Set it up so you have the dog on a leash so you can remove him from the window when the mailman comes, (do not hold him down, you may end up the victim of displaced aggression and get bitten). Have him sit if you can and start feeding as the mail comes through the door. Practice this a lot..when you finally have some semblance of calm (with practice) you can teach a "go to your mat" command for whenever ANYONE comes to the door, so that it becomes the dog's default behaviour.

Please check out www.fearfuldogs.com for excellent information about counterconditioning, desensitization and thresholds.
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