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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Update on my sheltie from my last post :

I recently got my anxious dog on some medication, but the vet recommended I don’t start anything “too serious” yet like fluoxetine, so she gave me some Alprazolam and Gabapentin to take directly before a frightening situation for the dog. Unlike fluoxetine, this stuff isn’t supposed to be long term and is only supposed to be used right before a thunderstorm or long walk. that’s what the vet told at bane field told me. An hour or so before the walks I would give him the meds. It didn’t seem to affect the way he walked outside too much as he was still swirling around me and pulling and looking for an escape route. I’ve also tried to have a positive voice when talking to him outside and petting him a lot (he loves getting pet when he’s inside the apartment) instead of staying silent like i normally do to put him at ease and make it seem like everything out here isn’t so bad, but overall he pretty much ignores me or shoves his head in my arm because he’s so scared. They only gave me about 8 or so pills for both bottles until the next appointment so I want to use them wisely, but so don’t believe they seem to be working that well for him. the vet recommended i get a behavioralist, which i know would be fantastic to do, but unfortunately I work around 30 hours a week with college for rent and can’t afford to hire one for 140/hr. I know the meds would have to be used along side training, but I just don’t know where to start with him specifically. Right now i’ve been doing 10-30 minute walks of circling around the same field right next to my room because that’s normally where he starts pulling like crazy to get home. I’ve also been putting on his harness at random times of the day and giving him a treat inside when he has it on to make it seem like it’s a positive thing to have on. He never ever takes treats outside, I keep trying and he doesn’t do it unless we go to a random inside area like petsmart. If the meds continue to not work for him, do i try switching him to the long term ones? Is there any tips you guys have for training him to at least be less scared of the outside world? I don’t know if those thunder shirts or ear covers would work for him (he does get scared by police sirens and loud noises too). I can’t really sit with him right outside my front door to get him comfortable because my neighbors are out there basically 24/7 chatting and their sounds freak him out even more.

edit- i’ve also been trying to take it slow and limit his time outside so he isn’t too overwhelmed, so his walks never go past 30 minutes. i also sit down with him in the field to help him relax, but i always see him looking towards the apartment and pulling the leash and standing there waiting for me to get up and take him back. he also does this thing where he stops and sits down when i’m trying to walk away from the apartment, so i don’t know whether i’m supposed to pull him towards my direction or carry him there or what, because i don’t want to scrape his claws against the ground. then when i turn around to walk towards the apartment he speeds up and pulls like crazy again.
 

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Cat-dog, GSD spayed female and Tornado-dog, JRT mix, neutered male
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My Cat-dog gets very nervous when outside also. Before I had adopted her, she had been attacked by another dog and now fears that a dog will appear out of nowhere.

This is what I have done.

First, I stopped walking her in residential areas. This is because it is too common for a dog to come out from a side yard, porch or even the house to bark at us as we walked by. This just reinforces the fear that she would be attacked again.

Second, I take her for car rides - a lot! She absolutely loves car rides. She can see the world, but she is safe from other dogs. After the first few times of being nervous at the door, she now is excited to go outside in the front because it likely means a car ride.

Third, I make sure the walk leads to something she enjoys. She will happily walk at our local private park because she gets to see the horses and llamas. Seeing them makes the "scary walk" worth it. Her favorite by far was the walk to the river. There were lots of smells, few dogs (we only saw maybe four). Once at the river, we found a nice spot in the midst of a granite outcropping. I have never seen her so relaxed and happy. It was just us there, the granite boulders provided her with a sense of security, and she found a nice spot to lay in a pool of warm water. She didn't get nervous again until we reached the parking lot.

I have done several "pack walks" with her. With a pack walk, multiple people walk their dogs as a group. The biggest rule is no dog-to-dog contact. This lets the dog get used to walking near other dogs. While she is still nervous, it is less intense. She is learning that not all dogs attack. And that if she leaves them alone, they wil leave her alone.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The thing is he’s pretty much scared of any slight sound as well as the outside. Police alarms, people he doesn’t know chatting outside, rain, thunder, so on. I’ve taken him on plenty of car rides and he’s still nervous on those as well and tries to hide under my legs whenever he’s in there, so I have to tie him to one of the seats real tight to stop him from making me get into an accident. He’s a little better on the rides then he is walking, but I can tell he doesnt really enjoy them. Unfortunately he hates the park and anything related to the park (even the beautiful forestry looking ones with tons of trees), so he clings to my side and jumps on me crawling on my leg to let me know he wants to go home. I never let him think that doing that works, but I think the previous owner gave up whenever he did that and went home whenever he stated scratching them to get home. So they were possibly positively reinforcing him to think the outside is scary.

My main concern is with him to stop pulling and heaving away to get home specifically when we’re near the apartment, and to walk properly walking away from the apartment. When he’s far away from it in a pretty park he still tries to look for means of escape regardless in order to get home. he scratches on the pavement so hard heaving away that his claws started to bleed one time, so when that happens I had to pick him up just to get to the door. He’s also fine with other dogs, he just sniffs them sometimes, then ignores the ones outside
 

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This honestly doesn't sound like a short-acting anxiety med problem. That approach makes sense for things like thunderstorms, vet visits, fireworks, etc. that are occasional and relatively predictable, but not when the anxiety is caused by something that happens every day, multiple times a day (assuming you want to be able to have her go outside to potty). I'd talk to the vet about trying a daily medication like fluoxetine to lower her overall baseline anxiety. My understanding is that it's actually a very safe drug at the recommended doses, and I personally would rather have my dog on something that's known to be safe and well tolerated long-term to work on a long-term, daily problem. It can take a while for these kinds of meds to build up and reach peak effectiveness in the system, sometimes several weeks, but I've known several people now who've had great results with this approach.

That being said, I'm not the vet, and I do respect that there's lots of things I don't know or haven't considered as someone with no veterinary training. At the very least, I'd be calling them to say that the current doses aren't working for her. Many medications need tweaking based on how the individual responds to them, so she may just be on too low of a dose, or not quite the right combination. Fingers crossed!
 

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I agree with @DaySleepers in this case. If he is showing that much fear about everything, then he needs serious help.

I realize that money is an issue, but you really do need a behaviorist's help. You might contact one and explain about the dog's extreme fear and see if they could work out something on the rate. You can also try the college or university - if they have a vet school, etc, they might be able to help you. That in conjunction with fluoxetine will be his best bet. You could also contact Best Friends Animal Society in Utah and ask them for advice. They are really the ultimate at working with such extreme issues like this.

The main issue is that if the dog is this agoraphobic, every time you take him outside you can be reinforcing the fear - even if you are doing everything that is standard for helping a shy or fearful dog.

I am curious how you obtained him. As a rescuer, I would not have placed a dog that scared of the world in an apartment. This is nothing about you, but simply that there is no outside place you can control enough to give him a "safe" place to potty that does not require having to manuever through scary obstacles (eg, your neighbors).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I adopted him from a from a work colleague who was moving to costa rica to pursue teaching. she was a single mom and had a bunch of kids and was moving all the way there to live in some sort of mobile trailer, so she said she couldn’t take the dog. i know she had him since he was a puppy, so i don’t know how they did with his socialization period. with my other dog i tried to socialize her as much as possible and take her out when she was little, as long as she was comfortable, to get the hang of it. She also told me that if she couldn’t find anyone to take the dog, that she would have to take him to the pound because she didn’t have anywhere to put him. I told her that if she wasn’t able to get anyone else that I could take him, so here I am now haha. It took a couple of days of him hiding under my bed to realize i wasn’t going to hurt him. after that he became really clingy with me, but very sweet regardless. i can tell he really hates men though, as he barks at the ones that come through the door. he also loves the attention from me at home, but is so scared outside that he ignores me or hides under me. I know an apartment isn’t really the best for these dogs but i know my other dog loves it, as I dedicated the living room for them and my roommates cat and walk her to the big dog park at least 3 times a week. i only take the scared sheltie out to pee and poop so i don’t frighten him. But I’ll try out these meds a little longer and see if i can switch to the others if this doesn’t work. i try “training” him during the dark or early morning to avoid any large noises, so i don’t think i’d have the best schedule for a dog trainer too, but I have been looking up videos, articles and stuff to help me out. in the morning i usually go to class then it’s straight to work for me till late, and i come home to do all of the dog stuff (dog park, refill kong toy and food bowl, etc). My roommate is usually home to do the middle of the day walks and interactions because her schedule is just in the morning. I’m slowly trying to get him to be calm at least next to the door inside and work my way out. Just be patient with him. I think the turning point will be him finally accepting treats and praise outside, so i hope i can get to that point eventually
 

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You are definitely doing great with him and are putting all the effort possible.

Shelties tend to timidity, but it sounds like the prior owner and kids really scared him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
yea i knew sheltie tended to be timid in general. he seems mixed with something because he doesn’t have that tiny pointy nose like most sheltie do but i can’t figure out what. whether he’s pure or not doesn’t really bother me lol i just want him to feel comfortable and not be anxious half of the day dreading the hour i have to take him out for 15 minutes to poop. i also had to give him all of his shots and neuter him the week or two i got him because the previous owners never did any of it for 2-3 years. since he didn’t get sick or anything as a result i assume he never really interacted with many other dogs so compared to my other dog he acts a little funky when meeting other dogs. he still roughhouses with her at home though which is fantastic, it’s everything outside that’s the issue. thank you so much for the replies! i’m going to figure out the med and training stuff as soon as i can and any time i’m free
 

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My guess would be that he was never really taken outside his own house and yard in his old family. That's often enough to create a lot of stress and fearful behavior about... well, everything new, especially for sensitive dogs already prone to anxiety. It's also really easy to do by accident and without any malicious intent if the owner doesn't understand how and why socialization is important. It's impossible to know for sure, of course. Either way, wishing you lots of luck! You're clearly committed to working with this dog and I commend you for the time and effort you're putting in.
 
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