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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tegan has always been afraid of dogs bigger than she is. We have tried lots of socialization but nothing has worked. One of her earlier encounters happened in a pet store when she was just 2 - 3 months old. Her leash became entangled with a larger dog's leash as he was checking her out. Tegan screamed and tried to run away, ever since then she over-reacts when she sees a bigger dog. She will either scream and try to run or she hides behind us or between our legs. People often feel bad as if it's their dog's fault when it's not.

Not long after that first incident, at the suggestion of a trainer, we took Tegan to an off-leash park using a flexi lead. She was only about 4 or 5 months old at the time. 3 larger off-leash dogs came bounding over to say hi and she freaked. The leash length was 16 feet so she ran 16 feet one way, the dogs chased her, at reaching the end of the leash she turned and ran back, this time she had 32 feet to run. Upon reaching the end again, of course her neck jarred and the leash handle pulled out of my husband's hand and Tegan kept on going. This was before she knew the "Come" command and she was so terrified it probably wouldn't have done much good anyway. Eventually the owners got their dogs under control, Tegan stopped running and we were able to go to her. Needless to say, in trying to help socialize her more, we obviously ended up damaging her even more so.

Now that she's 1 and weighs 21 pounds, she is still extremely afraid of larger dogs. People with large dogs who she acts afraid around say that she needs to be socialized because she is too timid. We tell them that she is fully socialized but has always been afraid of larger dogs than she is.

If she sees a dog around her own size or smaller she goes bounding up to it to say hi and play with it, she is great as long as they are small.

Does anyone have any ideas or suggestions?
 

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Just a thought, Julie, but do you have any friends with large dogs that are fairly calm? I was wondering how Tegan would react if she was on her own "turf", as opposed to a neutral place like a dog park or pet store. Maybe if you could have her meet a larger, calm dog in her own home, she wouldn't feel so frightened and insecure. Of course, I wouldn't leave them alone, b/c some dogs will snap or bite out of fear.
We had the opposite problem with Fritzy, our Eskimo dog. She was very aggressive toward other dogs, large or small, particularly in her own yard where she felt most safe. She jumped all three of our neigbor's springer spaniels AT ONCE one morning!! I had her in the front yard on a leash, but she was so strong, she just yanked me along with her. Fritzy was more likely to make friends with (or at least tolerate) other dogs when she was on their "turf" or somewhere neutral.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Kim, we have a friend with an Australian Shephard mix, Tegan doesn't do too badly with her when we meet them on walks and Lacey has been in our back yard but all Lacey wanted to do was chase Tegan around, which got to be a bit much for her after a few minutes. We also have a friend with a bulldog but Tegan hides behind my legs when we run into her. I wouldn't want her in our backyard though because her mommy said she had rolled a corgi when he was getting too boisterous and she had to intervene. Even

Tegan is also wary around that corgi because he's just a little too much energy and won't leave her alone. We've been in their back yard also but now she's leery of him.

We do meet 2 boxers once in a while but they are also very energetic and she's really afraid of them. So thinking about it, no I guess we don't really know any calm bigger dogs, which is too bad.
 

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that's a tough one. My only comment about your dog park attempt is that I"ve read it's not the best idea to bring a leashed dog into a dog park. The other dogs are free and they are contained and it could make them feel that they don't have the ablilty to do what they need to protect themselves (be that run, etc). Is it possible to go to a dog park at a slow time (where there may be only 1 or 2 larger dogs) and give it a try then?

I feel your pain because we have the reverse problem with Kirby - he is too much around small dogs, and we are trying to find ways to work on it. We were at the vet at lunch today and it was bad...there were 4-5 small dogs and Kirby was like a lunatic :?
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Leslie, that was a good suggestion about taking her to an off leash park when it's quiet. She if off leash herself most of the time now seeing as she has fantastic recall and we have taken her several times and it has worked out well, until of course a bigger dog comes bounding up to play or say hi. Again Tegan is either running off in the opposite direction or hiding behind our legs. Maybe it's something that will sort itself out with age and experience, when she figures out they won't hurt her.

I wonder what it would be like if we could have our two dogs meet up Leslie seeing as they both have the opposite problems and we could try to train them both to accept the other. I feel for you too as it's probably just as frustrating to have a dog at the other end of the spectrum.
 

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I have "used" Denver a couple of times to help
smaller dogs with large ones and a couple of toddlers whose parents
wanted them to get close to a large dog and to not be afraid.
We meet at a spot that is pretty quiet and I put Denver in a lie down
stay position and then let the smaller dogs and or toddlers approach him.
When they are comfortable I move Denver into a sit position and if no one is freaking out then I move him into a stand. Takes time and a very
gentle large dog to do this but we have had success.

Do not try at a dog park where some are off leash and some are not.
Maybe someone you know with a large gentle dog and in your own back yard.........just some thoughts.
 

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Sue, that's exactly how we got Napa over his fear.

He had help though. He had a friend, a Puggle, at puppy class. She wasn't afraid of anything so when a lab/great dane mix came into our class, Napa was nervous, but Brea (the puggle) wasn't. So normally Napa's fearful, and won't go near the older dog after they first meet. But with Brea there acting like nothing was the matter, Napa soon did the same. And he definitely doesn't have the same reaction anymore.

But also in our class, there was a dog, Sophie, who didn't want to socialize with Napa or Brea. So, we did try to put Napa on his back, which is more submissive, so Sophie didn't have to feel like she had to be so submissive. But, Napa's still a puppy. And although he is calm, he probably isn't the best, because he wasn't well trained, and he just wanted to play with her.

Good luck! It's going to take time. But in addition, you can't anticipate her reaction when you see a big dog. If you act like seeing big dogs is no big deal, she'll get the picture!
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hi Sue,

That's really good how you have Denver help children and smaller dogs get used to a large dog. If we do meet up next year after we move to the Island we should arrange a meeting with yourself and Denver to work on Tegan's timidness.

In the meantime, I will try this with my friend and her Aussie shepherd as soon as our weather improves again. We are experiencing a typical Calgary winter this week with -17oC and windchills of -26oC and snow. Needless to say we aren't spending much time outside this week. They say a Chinook should blow in next week to warm things up somewhat, but then it will be slushy and dirty. This is our last winter in Calgary and I am ecstatic about that after 30 years here - yeah.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thanks for all your tips. It sounds like having a calm big dog to help out is the way to go.
 

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Julie, your last Calgary winter way to go............
BC never gets even close to a Calgary winter.
Even with snow it never gets as cold.
Sounds good with the Aussie when the weather lets up.
I give credit to my cats for why my Denver has learned to be
so good with small animals. /children.
I have to Remind myself that Denver is a larger size
Doodle and very intimidating to small children and animals till they
get close and see that all he wants to do is give kisses.
When he is lying down he looks a lot less intimidating.
Hang in there Tegan!!!!!!!!!!!

Woof woof

Denver
 

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Sounds like Denver could be the ultimate therapy dog for Tegan! It would be cool if you could get the two of them together! Now, could the two of you send just a LITTLE of your snow down here for Tyke? We NEVER get any, even though it still gets pretty cold here! (to us, anyway!)We are so hoping that there will be at least a little of it when we go to Asheville NC next weekend - I'd love to see Tyke's reaction!
Or....Tyke is only 5 months old, and a little bigger than Tegan already....maybe we could come see your snow, and introduce Tegan to some NICE bigger dogs....Denver and Sue, we'll pick ya'll up on the way! :lol:
 

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I agree with what PP have said - especially with making it a "happy" experience. Make sure that you don't project anxiety or fear when YOU see a big dog - when you anticipate a reaction from your dog, often times they pick up on that and will react exactly that way!

If you bring the 2 dogs together - with confidence and treats - Tegan will learn that there's nothing scary about it! Also another small dog that is not afraid of big ones will "show" Tegan that it is okay. Don't "comfort" her when she is afraid as you are just conditioning her it's ok to react that way!

Right on to sessa35 about the clean slate every time - that's what Cesar Millan says! =)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for all your great advice. Maybe I do unknowingly project my fear to Tegan as I anticipate that she will be scared. Often I have even put the leash on if she is off leash when bigger dogs are approaching. I will try to be more laid back myself. I don't baby her or make a fuss verbally so she's probably just picking up on my body language.

Sure you can have all the snow you want, we will send some down to you. Tegan loves the snow but not the cold so much.

I agree that Denver does sound like the perfect therapy dog for Tegan and hope that we can meet up with you next year.
 

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Julie, this sounds like an episode of the Dog Whisperer! Cesar would probably say you're reinforcing Tegan's fear, and would suggest a (in his words) dog with balanced energy to help Tegan get over her fear. It might be good to find a calm, big dog, and a small dog who is not afraid of big dogs, and get them all together. Good luck!
 

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You might try to find a training class with an assortment of dogs. The training classes that I've been in also have a play time. So, for most of the time the dogs are all together, but focused on their owners, but for a few minutes they get to meet-and-greet. Might make her more comfortable just being around large dogs, but not actually being "with" them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
We have been to beginner, intermediate and advanced training starting at the age of 11 weeks until 9 months old, there were some bigger dogs in there but she was wary around them but got used to them but was not relaxed around them.

Also since April we've been having daily walks with a West Highland Terrier who has no fear of anything. The Westie greets dogs of all sizes and plays with bigger dogs while Tegan stands on the sidelines and watches.

All throughout the summer I invited friends with dogs over for playdates and we were invited back to their place so she is very well socialized. Also we back onto a park with a walking path, which we go to 3 times a day for our off-leash runs, she's had lots of opportunites to meet/get used to dogs of all sizes but nothing is helping if the dog is bigger than her. If it's smaller or the same size she is just fine.

There have been many good suggestions here, all of which we have already tried in the past. Her trainer, along with friends have given us good ideas too, none of which seem to have helped. All I can hope is that this is something that will improve as she ages.
 
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