Question from 11-25-16
Duckie is a one-year-old dog that we adopted from the humane society. We love him so much, but he is scared of everything. The pool man, tv, the wind, the ice maker noise, doors closing, etc. We can’t even take him for walks because he freaks out if he sees another human, dog, squirrel, leaf blowing or car driving by. How do we help him become a happy, normal dog who can see another human without having a barking/panic attack? Also, he sounds like a rooster when he bars and it’s LOUD so we really make a scene when we encounter another human or dog. HELP!
First and foremost all behavioral issues or a sudden change in your dog’s behavior could be the result of an underlying medical problem. For example, hypothyroidism is a very common cause of strange behavior in dogs and is easily treated with Thyroid supplementation. Once a blood test and physical exam have ruled out any underlying problem you then need to work on Building Duckies confidence. Most people think a dog like this was abused but it could simply be a combination of genetics and lack of socialization. One of the most critical periods of development is called the socialization period, which occurs from 3 to 12 weeks of age in puppies. During this time your puppy is very impressionable with regard to social influences. To start building Duckies confidence you could simply have people come over and throw him a treat so he starts to associate strangers with a positive reward, also carry treats on walks. The other thing to remember is that a lot of veterinary behaviorists will temporarily put pets on medication like Prozac to help ease the training process. We have a dog in our office who has completely turned around with behavior modification and Prozac!