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Thread: Help with Phobia's (ie: our princess is a wussy)

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Help with Phobia's (ie: our princess is a wussy)

    We've only had Gracie about a month. And we realize she's undergone a huge change in her life so some fears are normal, but we thought she'd be getting better about some of this stuff by now and she really isn't. Sudden sounds or movements seem to terrify her. She scurries under the safety of the computer desk or cowers momentarily.

    She only wants to be in the family room and acts extremely afraid to venture into any other parts of the house. Only goes outside (which means walking through a small hallway and the kitchen) voluntarily when she absolutely has to Go first thing in the morning. Any other time of the day we have to carry her or take her by the harness and literally force her to go outside. Once she's outside she does her business quickly, and makes it clear she's ready to get back inside. As soon as we let her back in she scurries as fast as her little bully butt can right back into this room.

    We want her to eat in the kitchen, not the family room. But she normally won't venture out in the kitchen by herself. We've tried to just gate her in the kitchen with us while we're eating dinner, and she acts like she's being punished to the max. She won't eat her food out there (or very little of it), but if it's brought to her in the family room she'll eat it.

    Now when we're in the room with her (which is most of the time during the day) she's extremely loving, wants to be constantly petted and loved on. She seems to love everyone who she's met, dogs, cats kids and adults, but does show a preference for women and smaller people. She will cower a bit when first meeting men but not badly. She's extremly complacant when being groomed. Takes all the wiping, bathing and even shots at the vet and nail trimming at the groomer without flinching.


    Once we've forced her outside she seems fine too. She seems to enjoy the walks around the block (once we get past that big scarey gate thing) that we go on almost nightly. But she's very eager to get back inside once we get "home".

    If anything yesterday's thunderstorm only increased and personified her fears. Ever since that she's extremely skittish about any kind of sudden sounds. She goes and cowers under the computer desk at the slightest things.

    Sometimes she'll start to act like she's going to go to the kitchen by herself, but then hears the tiniest sound and scurrys right back to her hidey hole under the computer desk. Yesterday this happened, and I tried to block her from running back in with my leg and she bashed her head into my shin so hard I thought she'd broken it for a bit. I have a HUGE bruise. And I'm sure her head does too.

    There have been a few (very few) times that we thought things were getting better, but then the boogey man has returned at the next venture into the scarey parts of the house.

    Does anyone have any ideas of things we can do to soothe her fears yet get her to do what we want without it seeming like punishment to her?

    Coaxing with treats is USELESS...doesn't work at all.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Help with Phobia's (ie: our princess is a wussy)

    I'd like to add that she isnt eating well at all. Like Lari said she will eat if we bring the food into this room but if we dont she will go without eating. She isnt eating nearly the 2 cups a day that the breeder told us that she would eat. She will go a day or more without eating . My concern is her health if she doesnt eat.

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    Default Re: Help with Phobia's (ie: our princess is a wussy)

    Since Gracie is 4, she probably has some baggage. Perhaps the previous owners did not allow her in their kitchen- and unfortunately you don't know, nor will you probably ever know what the punishment for this "crime" was. She would probably recognize things like cabinets or the refridgerator, and associate this with a place she is not supposed to be in. Very scary indeed. Perhaps she was only allowed to be in a living room, and recognizes the furinture shapes as a safe place.

    Playing with her in the kitchen, a bit of belly rubs, some hiding of your face and playing peek a boo, and some fun training excersises in the kitchen could help calm her fears. Sit on the floor and play, then do some training with something really gummy like a diced up hot dog. Do this daily for a few days, then start doing the same thing without the hot dog until she is comfortable there.

    I am also going to tag froggz and telly03, who seem to know much about dog behaviors.
    Last edited by bullmama; 09-07-2010 at 10:59 AM.

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    Default Re: Help with Phobia's (ie: our princess is a wussy)

    An example: She was snoring happily in her bed about 5 feet from me. It is windy here today and I have a window open; a gust of wind not 5 minutes ago rattled the window. She was out of her bed in a shot, barked once, and slithered under my desk where she is once again snoring.

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    Default Re: Help with Phobia's (ie: our princess is a wussy)

    Sorry I really don't have any suggestions, Desertsky had some good ones, I myself have never dealt with this issue before. I definitely agree that she probably has lots of baggage and it may just take time for her to become more comfortable. Maybe mix a little wet food, plain yogurt or meat in her food to encourage her to eat.

    "Looking at a bulldog is said to cure the worse of the blues, living with one, serves to prevent them!" -Author unknown

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    Default Re: Help with Phobia's (ie: our princess is a wussy)

    We mixed a little canned Fromm food in her dry.... didnt matter as long as it was still in the kitchen. I tried coaxing her with a warm hotdog today and she wouldnt follow the hotdog out of this room. I'm sure she would eat her food if I brought it in here but we don't want to give in to her.

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    Default Re: Help with Phobia's (ie: our princess is a wussy)

    I am not sure if that is necessary at this point. I would work on making her comfortable in the kitchen before telling her that is where she must eat. She is obvoiusly very spooked by that area of your house.... for some reason. Since you do not know what happened to her in the kitchen (she could have gotten injured- or heaven forbid- beaten by her previous owners) for being there. I know it is where you want her to eat, but this could be more traumatic to her than you think. I think aiming for a goal of a month to get her in the kitchen eating is not too much, because you just don't know what happened to her there. Scares me to even think about why she does not like it so much. There IS a reason though. If nothing tragic happened to her there- then she does have a phobia about it for some reason. Making her comfortable there is key before you even try to make her eat there.

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    Default Re: Help with Phobia's (ie: our princess is a wussy)

    I agree with desertsky as usual. Only thing I had to offer to this was lots of snacks when she is in the kitchen and outside etc. Not so much to bribe her but to get her to know that those places are a good place to get the yummies and then maybe she will get used to them more. I agree at this point dont force her to eat in the kitchen. She needs to just feel safe and really get used to you guys and your home. She just needs to know that you are her forever home and wont hurt her the way she may have been before. SO SAD! Poor thing! Does she like tomatoes, etc? Like when I am in the kitchen cutting up fruits or veggies the boys are always there. Maybe if you get her to realize the kitchen is full of good food and snacks in time she wont hate it so much.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Help with Phobia's (ie: our princess is a wussy)

    She runs through the kitchen so fast there's no stopping her to try to give her a treat there. She never follows us to any other room in the house to even see what we're doing there. I haven't tried feeding her tomatoes. I did try some carrot (in the family room, not the kitchen). She was completely unimpressed.

    We are taking the advice given and will bring her food in here (family room) for now and take it slower trying to get her used to other areas, We'll keep her in there with us at various times, and perhaps in time she'll "get it" that nothing is going to hurt her there.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Help with Phobia's (ie: our princess is a wussy)

    SHe ate like a little piggy last night AND this morning....

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    Default Re: Help with Phobia's (ie: our princess is a wussy)

    Yep, she don't like that kitchen..... I think playing with her on the kitchen floor, belly rubs, brushing, ect. will help. Of course, you will need to clean up the dog hair after the playtime tho... don't want that in your food

    Hopefully in time you two with all of your love and support will calm her fears.

    This was interesting, maybe it will help:

    http://www.ddfl.org/behavior/fearful-dog.pdf

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    Default Re: Help with Phobia's (ie: our princess is a wussy)

    There has been a little improvement,then this weekend a major breakthrough,when Gracie followed me to the bedroom and actually stayed put without scurrying back to the den right away. I got her bed and put it beside ours and she has slept there the last few nights now. Follows me right in every night!

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