Advanced search

Nervous dog - morale boost needed

(10 Posts)
SpicyPear Mon 12-Nov-12 15:58:28

So, some of you may have seen me posting about fireworks. I have an ex-brood bitch who is generally nervous and has very bad noise phobia.

Today she is utterly utterly miserable after weeks of loud noises and I am feeling so sad. I love her, she is an absolute sweetheart, but although she is not a typical 'difficult' dog, she has problems. We didn't really know this when we got her. The rescue told us she was very calm, an easy dog suitable for first-time owners. The last few months have been a huge learning curve and I now understand that this was not strictly the case. Well, she was calm but only because she was shut down.

We decided early on to stick with her, that she is worth the work. Up until the fireworks started our work training and socialising her was paying off. She was confidently enjoying the outdoors, off lead walks and her socialisation was really coming along, we even successfully took her on the tube. But now she is more like the dog we brought home all those months ago again. Hopefully it's temporary but today I am really struggling and desperately frustrated that I can't do more to help her. I look at the puppy confidently bumbling around, desperate to be allowed to start his walks and feel bad that she didn't really have a chance to be a 'normal' dog.

BurningBridges Tue 13-Nov-12 11:18:29

Have nothing helpful to say Spicy but noticed you were unanswered so just wanted to say we have a very nervous dog too, although not around fireworks. Hope someone with experience comes along soon.

LetThereBeCupcakes Tue 13-Nov-12 12:51:42

Oh, Spicy, I feel your pain. We adopted our girl almost a year ago. She was in a shocking condition when the rescue found her as a stray, she was almost certainly used as a breeding bitch in a puppy farm until she got too weak to carry on, so they dumped her. sad

She was also shut down when we first brought her home, and would just sit and stare at us for hours. The really hard part for us was when she started to "wake up" emotionally, then she would bark a lot, lunge at us (mouth closed, no biting - she would headbutt us), and generally come across as quite terrifying. When visitors came she would bark so wildly the only way to calm her down was if I sat with her and put my hands on her shoulders - she seemed to respond to the pressure. Anyway, a year on and she is so much better. There were set-backs along the way - DH and I got married and went away on honeymoon, so dogs stayed with my dad. She also had surgery on her leg 8 weeks after we got her. Despite everything she really has come on with a lot of patience. It's helped that we already had another dog who is very laid back - she follows his lead.

Is there anything in particular you are worried about that people can maybe help with? If not just remember you and SpicyPup will no doubt get over this latest set-back, and I'm sure she's having the most wonderful life imaginable now.

JRsandCoffee Tue 13-Nov-12 13:30:57

My little guy is truamatised too, it is horrible. He was cowering in the mud shaking after a gunshot went off in the distance in broad daylight the other day and didn't want to continue..... Having to persevere walking him until he relaxes enough to do what he has to despite being hugely pregnant which I could do without. Poor little guy, he's so jumpy and his confidence is shot to bits, not even interested in chasing cats out of the garden! We're just trying to be very supportive and not push him out after dark, we carried him out last night and waited a few minutes chatting before going back in, will probably do that for a bit and then try taking him on the lead and building from there. Also trying to walk him so that he comes back just in the dark but before any danger of bangs, but other than the above and just persevering walking so that at least he's done what he has to and can be comfortable overnight I'm not sure what else so any suggestions welcome! It is so frustrating as otherwise he's brilliant and always has been!

Will be avoiding him going out at all on over christmas and new year when he might hear fireworks.......

Good luck, hope it all gets better for you soon. x

SpicyPear Tue 13-Nov-12 13:34:59

Thank you burning and cupcakes. She was just looking so depressed on Monday afternoon I had to get it out! I make sure she's not around me when I allow myself to get a bit sad so she doesn't pick up on it.

In terms of practicality, the issue I have is that we have done lots of counter-conditioning around loud noises in the house and so she is quite calm while they are going on. But she associates them with outside and even if she seemed fine while they were happening, is terrified to go out the front door. Not just not keen, full on panting, tail tucked right under, pulling back on her rear legs. She will go into the garden to go to the loo but sprints straight back, sometimes I have to put a lead on her to get her to the back door. There's no way she would accept food or be registering praise, so I'm at a loss at how to build her confidence outside again. Any advice would be welcome.

SpicyPear Tue 13-Nov-12 13:40:16

Cross posts JR, sorry to hear your guy is suffering too. Once when we heard a gunshot in daylight she ran off and found a little hole to cower in and wouldn't come out. It was a circular walk back to the car with about three miles left so my husband had to carry her... she's not huge but at 18kg he was struggling by the end!

I might try giving her medication and seeing if she is relaxed enough to eat some of her breakfast in the front garden. I'm beyond caring what the neighbours will think!

JRsandCoffee Tue 13-Nov-12 13:56:43

Interesting re the loud noises training - ours is fine with them too if he knows where they are coming from, growls at gunshots on the telly and has no fear of cars (sadly) or the trains hammering up the line to London overhead if we pass under a bridge on our walks.......ironic eh? Will watch with interest to see if any more good suggestions!

fishybits Tue 13-Nov-12 14:08:37

Not sure how much help this might but have you thought about using a DAP diffuser?

It won't do anything about the noise fear but it might help soothe the poor thing sad

SpicyPear Tue 13-Nov-12 14:28:07

She is the same JR. No issues on busy roads or seeing the dustbin truck etc. Just when she can't see the source! E.g. she gets mildly spooked when my neighbour bangs around in his garage with the door shut.

I have tried DAP but we had more luck with a valerian diffuser and spray. Also tried a thundershirt, but she is frightened of it. So we are on last resort meds at the moment to manage it. I'm not looking for a quick solution, it just seems a bit intractable when the cd's etc aren't effective. I can't properly recreate or control the stimulus so training is difficult!

LetThereBeCupcakes Tue 13-Nov-12 14:42:52

Poor, poor things. I hate fireworks, and I have two dogs who don't bother about them.

I wouldn't do anything with them yet, aside from supporting them and giving them chance to recover. OP, you said you've done counter-conditioning in the house - maybe you could do a bit in other indoor locations (other people's homes, friendly pub, training class etc), as a bridge to doing it outside. Then maybe in a few months (when the weather improves!) you could gradually try moving outside.

Hope she calms down soon.

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, watch threads, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now »

Already registered? Log in with: