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Help! My puppy is scared of everything. :(


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#1 Sheepishdog

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Posted 25 July 2012 - 11:45 PM

I recently brought my new puppy home and he is 9 weeks old. He has warmed up to me pretty well and feels comfortable in the house and the backyard.. Some things spook him but he will usually go investigate very cautiously.
When I take him out front though it is a foreign world to him and he is extremely frightened of everything - cars, joggers, bikes, sirens, airplanes. He is so scared he pees himself and hides between my feet whimpering.
I don't think he has been exposed to anything since he was born in a rural area and lived outside. Now he's in the city and it's a scary place. All I do is take him out to the front porch and he is so frightened by everything around him that he can't focus on anything except his fears.

Other than this he is a very sweet pup and well behaved. I really want to give him a chance but a fearful or timid adult dog is not going to work out for me.
I know puppies go through fear periods but this is extreme for just that. It could be that he needs time to adjust because his environment changed so much.. Is there a chance that he will recover and be a confident and social dog? And what should I be doing with him? I can't take him anywhere to socialize.

I'm worried and completely lost. I only have experience with one other puppy who was a party animal!

#2 brady's mom

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 12:57 AM

At 9 weeks, he's still going through a HUGE adjustment of living in a new place, with a new person, without his mother or littermates. Just slow down and give him time to adjust and settle in, don't try and rush it or else you could exasperate the situation. He has to acclimate to the new setting and all that city noise is only going to be amplified.

I would definitely suggest going through and reading through the boards here, there's a lot of information on first time puppies and the alike. Also, go out and buy a copy of Leslie McDevitt's Control Unleashed: Puppy Program if you can. It's fabulous for teaching confidence in both you and your puppy.

But mostly, just give him time, patience, and love. A puppy isn't going to act like an adult dog, they're babies. They're not going to immediately settle in and match your expectations (although some puppies are Wonderdogs right from the get-go).

And why can't you take him anywhere to socialize? Once he's gotten his final round of shots you can take him to Petco or Petsmart, Lowes, the dog park, a regular park. Also puppy classes are a GREAT resource for both learning how to control and shape your pup as well as getting him the socialization he needs.
Kristi -- the naive border collie student [br]
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#3 gcv-border

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 06:23 AM

You are probably right in that he was not exposed to a lot as an outside dog from a rural setting if the breeder did not make a special effort to socialize him and get him used to unusual noises.

I would reward him (does he love food treats or toy treats? Use whatever he loves most.) whenever he shows 'bravery'. You say he will cautiously investigate some things. I would reward the heck out of that and make a game out of it. You may even want to set up some slightly scary situations so you can reward him. That way you can control the level of scariness (it sounds like many outside sounds are too scary and he goes over his fear threshold) and you can be ready to reward him.

Good Luck,
Jovi

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#4 juliepoudrier

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 06:39 AM

So he's been with you maybe a month? I think it would be helpful to not worry about whether he's "going to work for you" and instead help him to adjust to all the new things he's being exposed to. If he's food- or play-motivated you can take him out front for short periods and just work on distracting him with things he really loves. Don't get annoyed with his behavior (this will take a great deal of self control on your part) because if he's showing fright and you're getting exasperated, you are transmitting to him that he *should be* scared.

I wouldn't recommend immersing him in scary noises (any more than he already is), but certainly try to make new situations "ho hum" for him, and as Jovi said reward the heck out of him for bravery.

If going out the front door is really scary, then work on these things in the back yard where he feels safer. If you can help him gain confidence in a place where he feels more secure, he should be able to transfer that to new situations, as long as you don't push too hard or overwhelm him.

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#5 Lewie'sMom

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 06:55 AM

At 9 weeks, he's still going through a HUGE adjustment of living in a new place, with a new person, without his mother or littermates. Just slow down and give him time to adjust and settle in, don't try and rush it or else you could exasperate the situation. He has to acclimate to the new setting and all that city noise is only going to be amplified.


I think you mean exacerbate. ;)

Good advice, though.
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#6 urge to herd

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 08:14 AM

What the others said. Go slow. Reward for checking things out. Don't coddle, but don't force him either.

What does he like to do? Build on that. If he's comfortable in the back yard, start introducing some new things back there. Put a big cardboard box out back, then gently encourage him and reward him for sniffing it, bonking it with his nose, pawing it. Tip the box over so he can explore the inside of it. Introduce a new thing every few days, when he's gotten comfortable with the old thing. Work with him for just a minute, then take him away from the new thing and do something you know he's comfortable with. Use the box, a bicycle, an umbrella, a shopping cart, etc.

To encourage you, my Gibbs grew up on ranches, with very little exposure to anything suburban. We got him when he was about 2. He's now almost 4. He would seriously growl when he saw anything unexpected in his environment, like my shoes on top of the footstool in the living room. Shoes belong on the floor, by gum!

So I followed my own advice above. Around a year ago, I was walking him off leash. We came up to a balloon, still inflated, caught on a fence post. Gibbs spied it, did a little startle reaction, then went up to it. He glanced back at me once and I told him to go on. He approached it and bonked it with his nose a couple times, then looked at me for a "I'm pretty brave" cookie!

Take it slow. If he gets more scared, you're going too fast and break down the exposures into smaller bits.

Good luck and let us know how you get on.

Ruth and Gibbs the Bold!

#7 waffles

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 08:33 AM

I agree with others. I got my boy when he was 2 and he lived in a pen on a farm in the middle of no where. He was afraid of cars, bikes, dogs, a list of loud noises, man holes, the leash, water, etc. Now he has no problem with cars, trucks, bikes, man holes, and going to the creek and lake are his favorite places!
We would go for walks and if something scared him his usual response was to stop or swing back behind me. I said nothing, and just waited for him to put slack on the leash then we started walking again. The second he moved forward he got a treat. Manholes; we would walk up as far as he was comfortable and he got rewarded, eventually he would stand on them for treats. The 1st time I leashed him he did an alligator roll and hid under the car. I let him ride it out with me just standing there. He refused to walk, as if the leash weighed 100lbs-we encouraged him to walk by calling him back and for between us a few feet and letting the leash drag. By the end of the week he was smiling every time we picked the leash up to go out. It takes time, patience and a little knowledge. You can't force him but you can't hide him in the house either. Push him as far as he is comfortable going and keep exposing him to things in his world. Also, as he gets older and you start teaching him tricks and working with him, those will also build his confidence.
You have a pup and he will grow and become more confident with the right leadership a lot easier than an adult dog. Levi was 2 and now he is almost 4 years old and no one would know he was so skittishy back then. Every so often something throws him off though like the awning at the ice cream place flapping in the wind but he is definitely curious not just scared.
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#8 bcnewe2

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 09:53 AM

If you have any friends with other dogs? It might help him if there was another dog that wasn't having any issues if you made it out to the front porch and the other dog was out there having fun.

My Pup is a farm dog too. But I have other dogs. I can see that she takes cues from the other dogs as to what to be weary of. Although it can also work in the oppisite manner for things you don't like too.

Good luck, as the others have said, don't give up on a 9 week old pup. They have a whole life ahead. It won't always be this way unless you foster the fear.

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#9 frisbeegirl

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 10:21 AM

Hi,

The breed is known to be timid. Socialization in the begining is so important. My pup is now 11 months. In the begining she was wary of everthing. I would say ITS OK and with confidence move on.

Even now, new and even possibly dangerouse situations (vehicles/horses) she looks at me (now its a nod of my head) and we continue on.

Never used treats it just takes time.

Your pup needs to trust you then u will be able to trust your pup.

Good luck with him.





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#10 brady's mom

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 11:48 AM

I think you mean exacerbate. ;)

Good advice, though.



Oh goodness typing half asleep never ends well for me, lol. Thank you for catching that! :)
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Brady -- the king of the loveseat and master of all things tennis ball.

#11 Amelia

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 12:25 PM

I usually ask breeders to keep pups for me until they're 10 weeks old. I believe the longer they stay with littermates/mother, the better.

9 weeks is so incredibly young, of course he's afraid of everything. Especially if you have different expectations of him. He feels that and it doesn't feel good. Likewise, your doubts.

I really want to give him a chance but a fearful or timid adult dog is not going to work out for me.


That feels bad to him too. Border Collies are highly intelligent, and with great intelligence comes great sensitivity.

When I get pups at 10 weeks, I spend all my time with them. I hold them, cuddle them, play on the floor with them. I feed them by hand to increase the bond between us. I crate them in a wire crate for greater visibility with toys and chewies where I am in their full view. I take them everywhere, I observe them closely and let them tell me what they need to feel confident and secure.

Suggest putting your expectations aside, slow down, and let your pup show you how to help him. Observe and support.

#12 WildFlower

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 12:53 PM

^^ I agree with everything that Amelia said above. ^^

Everyone else gave some great suggestions, too.

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#13 Sheepishdog

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 01:08 PM

When I get pups at 10 weeks, I spend all my time with them. I hold them, cuddle them, play on the floor with them. I feed them by hand to increase the bond between us. I crate them in a wire crate for greater visibility with toys and chewies where I am in their full view. I take them everywhere, I observe them closely and let them tell me what they need to feel confident and secure.


I have been doing all of these things. He is a happy, bouncy pup indoors and he loves his crate. But when I take him outside he is a whole different dog.
I cannot take him anywhere because he freaks out too much and cries nonstop. This is why I said I can't socialize him. Unless he comes around, my options are very limited since we can't even go out the front door.
He is also not interested in treats.

#14 urge to herd

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 01:21 PM

since we can't even go out the front door.
He is also not interested in treats.


I repeat, work with him in your backyard. Bring parts of that scary big world into the world where he is comfortable, a little bit at a time. See my previous post for specifics.

Start what you have, which is a highly responsive, visibly anxious in new situations, 9 week old puppy. Until you work with him at his comfort level, or just a tiny bit above it, you won't get anywhere.

Ruth and Agent Gibbs

#15 bcnewe2

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 03:04 PM

Slower is better.
Give him way more time.
Open the front door. Go outside, sit there in front of the open door. Have fun, don't concentrate on him, but things around you. Maybe a toy that he likes in the house? Maybe toss a treat at the thresh hold. Get him to come closer than he did a few minutes ago and call it good. Little further next day. You'd be suprised how quickly he'll figure things out.

Patience and eventually you'll hardly remember the shy pup you are seeing now.

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#16 Journey

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 03:19 PM

Good grief, he's 9 weeks old. Pick him up, carry him and make sure nothing negative happens. Yes, he's going to pee on you be prepared. Go out for 10 minutes don't ask anything of him. Go in. Build up gradually. Try sitting out front. Just sit. Let him take it all in. Sit on the ground and let him sit in your lap. He's a baby, scared to death in a new environment and could well be in or coming into a fear period.
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#17 D'Elle

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 05:29 PM

He is only a puppy....a baby. Be patient.
Please do not say "....that is why I can't socialize him".
You can.
You have had lots of good advice. Here's just a little more.

I have a foster dog who came from a puppy mill and lived his whole 2 years prior to coming to me in a cage. (See the KELSO thread in "Rescue Resources" if you want the full story). This dog was 2 years old, weighed 45 pounds, and was too terrified to move. At all. If I wanted him somewhere I had to pick him up and carry him. He most certainly was not going out the front door.

Many things had to happen in his case before I could work on getting him out the front door, but once I got him walking and trusting me just a smidge, here is what I did:

I started feeding him (by hand) first in the living room, then each day getting two inches closer to the front door. Then I fed him next to the door. Then I opened the door, but went back to the middle of the living room, and worked my way 2 inches each day, back to the door. It takes time. Please do not get discouraged. I am not saying you should do this particular method, although it would probably work. Use any of the advice you have heard. But you have to work with him, in tiny tiny steps, with lots of love and kindness and rewards.

May I suggest that if he doesn't like the treats you are using, they may be the wrong ones for him? Every dog is motivated eventually by something. Try tiny bits of roast chicken, cooked liver, hot dogs, cheese, liverwurst, etc. until you find out what he likes. Don't rely only on store-bought treats. Make it something small, soft, and smelly.

Again, have patience!! Take a positive attitude. He's just a baby and will take less time to get over this fear by far than an adult dog does, and trust me, having worked with many frightened dogs, I can tell you it is worth it.
Good luck. Report to us what works and what doesn't and we will help.

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#18 Sheepishdog

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 06:09 PM

Good grief, he's 9 weeks old.

I do realize he is still a baby, but I believe I have a right to be concerned that a very fearful puppy will end up as a fearful adult. I do not want to put tons of work into him if this is part of his personality, and no matter what he will always be timid. That is not a dog I will be 100% happy with, and it wouldn't be fair to either of us. I know enough about puppies to know what he's displaying is not normal, curious puppy behavior.

Thanks for all the help. I took him to the front door today, but not yet outside. He was unsure but sniffed around and he could see everything happening on the street. I think I will do that a few more times.
Should I really be picking him up though? He is more comfortable in my arms, but I thought that gives the wrong impression of comforting him when he's afraid?

#19 brady's mom

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 07:06 PM

I know enough about puppies to know what he's displaying is not normal, curious puppy behavior.


Then you should know that at 9 weeks old he is going through a very large adjustment in his life and that is going to signal instability to him when all he has known up until this point as been stable, consistent, and familiar. This is not. And yes, you have a right to be concerned, but you that concern should come into play so much later down the road, like if it continues when he's 10 months old as opposed to almost 10 weeks. Right now, and I know it's hard because everyone wants things to happen so quickly, you have to foster a positive attitude and one of perseverance. I saw someone quote on here something about how you don't always get the puppy you want or expect, but you get the puppy you need. So just give yourself a pause for right now and don't worry about the adult dog aspect because the fact is, he's not an adult dog. He is your puppy, your baby, and right now your job is to give him love, patience, and security. You can't do that with too many expectations of what he should be like and when he should be like it.

In fact, throw almost everything you think you know about puppies out the window, because this puppy isn't going to be like every other puppy. This is your puppy, not someone else's.

You've been given a lot of good advice here and I really hope to see you and your pup's journey as it unfolds.
Kristi -- the naive border collie student [br]
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#20 denice

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Posted 26 July 2012 - 07:11 PM

Do you have a confident adult dog that he can take cues from? The world is big and scarey and since he is used to being with mom I think he may feel more confident if he has an adult dog to go outside with. He will see them not making a big deal of things and do the same. What age was the pup weaned and taken from mom? They learn tons from being with mom and the siblings, that is the basis for all his social skills. If he was weaned young then you may have to make up for that. If you do not have that option then it is up to you to show him all is well. Sit on the ground and let him explore around you. DOn't make a big deal about him being concerned. Let him explore or just sit close by. I would just be there for support talk nicely to him but be matter of fact. If you are worried about his behaviour he will know you are worried but will not know why causing him to worry more.

If you want a confident outgoing pup then call the breeder now and talk to them. IF they are a good breeder they will replace the pup or give you your money back ect. It will not do either of you any good to be at odds or frustrated.

It is a lot of work to socialize a dog. I personally do not take my pups off the place unless it is to the vet until fully vaccinated. They do go for a ride or two in the car, maybe even get carried into the post office ect. I am very rural so they see the barn, livestock, ect and I invite a few folks over for puppy play days. The real work comes after they are older then we start going places. IF you met the parents and sibling and they had good stable personalities he will most likely come around fine.

Good Luck

Denice


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