Very odd behaviour

jumbyjack

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Laska will happily set off on a walk, either on foot or taking her somewhere in the car. Somtimes she's fine and will go for miles, other times she will go so far and then stop dead then turn around and scuttle for home, fortunately she is always on a lead as she has nil recall. Occasionally she will only just get out of the gate and whizz round and go back up the drive. This happens in different places, no apparent reason, no noises or other dogs. Today we were going down a lane , wall at one side field on other and she freaked, cringing, tail down and staring at the field and backing up, clearly very frightened. So I turned around and she towed me back to the car. I then walked up another lane onto a park and she was fine and walked for about two miles. Nothing will get her to go forward after a stop and to try has her climbing up my leg and whining. Anyone any clues or advice please.
 

CorvusCorax

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Could be anything, something imperceptible to human eyes or ears, or pain that she associates with location.
I had one who ran for home or car once off the lead and once home, was a fence-runner and would also do laps of a room.
She would even bolt for her kennel from our own field and was only ever settled in a small, dark space.
Just a very insecure girl, the world was too big for her.
 

jumbyjack

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It does sound similar, I just never know when or where it will happen. She is rather odd in many ways, rescue dogs can be a challange!
 

Aru

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Its likely confidence and socialisation thing from your description and given she's a rescue. If she was never well socialized and was of a delicate/anxious temperament to begin with then we world as as CC above said is a big scary place and occasionally it can overwhelm a anxious dog.

I'd work on exercise's to build her bond and trust in you up as high as you can get it so you can redirect her when she's finding things a bit much.
Little things like getting her to walk to heel,ask for commands/tricks during you walk and keep the focus of the walk on waiting for cues from you as to what to do next can help..especially as it makes them likely to then look for direction from their owner when they are feeling insecure and you can try and redirect them from feeling scared to focused on the task you want performed. Swapping out fear for an alternative behaviour as dogs generally can only do one thing at a time.
I do know someone who used to briefly pick up their nervous girl when she was having a no moment,walk a bit down the road and put her down, ask for sit and a few tricks-reward this and restart the walk as the dog was usually calmed and able to relax again once whatever notion it had taken was done,the stimulus removed by moving along and the focus was redirected.

There may be a pattern if you start to write down all the triggers as well...but the dogs point of view is often very different to ours so can be difficult to catch.
 

jumbyjack

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Some very useful points there Aru, Laska came to me at 7 months and it's clear she was never taken out or socialized in any way. Four years later she will still freak out at odd things and knows nothing about behaviour with other dogs and people trying to talk to her frighten her. She's a very damaged little dog in public but is fine in the house, she know all sorts of tricks and has a mini agility course in the garden which she will happily use on her own!
 

PapaverFollis

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Have a read up about trigger stacking. She probably has a lot of triggers and they are probably really small, odd things. If you can identify a few and work on helping her make positive associations instead she may start to feel more confident over all. It's probably impossible to identify all her triggers but the more you can help her with the ones you can the better.

I would make sure you give her training and exercise (things like "find it" and filled kongs etc) in the house and garden daily and if she doesn't want to go for a walk every day that's ok.
 
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Laska will happily set off on a walk, either on foot or taking her somewhere in the car. Somtimes she's fine and will go for miles, other times she will go so far and then stop dead then turn around and scuttle for home, fortunately she is always on a lead as she has nil recall. Occasionally she will only just get out of the gate and whizz round and go back up the drive. This happens in different places, no apparent reason, no noises or other dogs. Today we were going down a lane , wall at one side field on other and she freaked, cringing, tail down and staring at the field and backing up, clearly very frightened. So I turned around and she towed me back to the car. I then walked up another lane onto a park and she was fine and walked for about two miles. Nothing will get her to go forward after a stop and to try has her climbing up my leg and whining. Anyone any clues or advice please.

my last little rescue would do this. she was a seemingly very happy, confident wee dog-absolutely brilliant with people and most other dogs (the staffy in her would sometmes get a little rough in play), not scared of noises, traffic, animals etc etc. I knew her history- fairly typical suburban home, both her elderly owners had died within months of each other and she spent a few months in kennels before I took her.

Very occasionally she would just bolt in terror with no warning, think it happened 3 times in the 6 months we had her. She had great recall the rest of the time but she would bolt back to the car and the only way I found of stopping her was by yelling 'sit'. I would tell her what a good girl she was and she'd snap out of it. Always in very rural locations-I thought maybe it was the sound of the burn in flood the first time but it didnt seem to be water. I didnt get to the bottom of it as we lost her to epilepsy-I did wonder if it was something to do with that tbh.
 

jumbyjack

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On dear! I tried to carry Laska past a sticking point and she had a total panic attack. Trying to hang on to 10kg of freaking out dog is not ideal, once back at the car she dived into her crate, turned round and asked for a treat with her tail wagging happily. She obviously feels very safe in the crate so would a crate in a trucky thing or doggie pram be an idea? I did take a Laska free walk going all round the sticking point and couldn't locate anything obvious at all, just grass and a tree! Totally stumped now, for the moment I will just have to go with her decision and turn back. Worth mentioning this was a new area, she hadn't been on this walk before.
 

skinnydipper

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I've been thinking about little Laska today. I don't know if any of my thoughts will be helpful.

I think it is too late to ask her to perform behaviours when she is already over threshold, by this time she is not listening.

Similarly forcing her to confront her fears (ie making her continue into the area that she is fearful of) is counter-productive in that she will lose her trust in you - being able to trust you is paramount, she needs to know you've got her back.

I think taking her through the scary place in her crate would destroy the security she currently feels when she is in her crate.

What would make her feel better when she becomes fearful? At the first sign of stress have you tried stopping where you are and just standing without saying or doing anything but with you radiating calm vibes, or even quietly reassuring her, stroking her slowly and calmly (not attempting to go forward). Giving her chance to collect herself and realise that the sky has not fallen in. When there is any indication she is a little calmer then her reward would be to turn round and go back to where she feels safe (not continue into the scary place).

In an ideal world this would be better done when she is sub-threshold.

If there is somewhere that you can predict she will be fearful then you could take her there, stop short of the point where she becomes distressed, reward her for calm behaviour and return the way you have come. Build on that and only go a little further when you know she has become comfortable at that distance. Progress with a fearful dog is usually in baby steps but congratulate yourself on any progress, however small. It is important not to rush and risk losing her trust and any progress you have made.

Fear is an emotion not a behaviour and it cannot be reinforced by you offering her comfort.

You could try to build her skills to give you attention when she is somewhere you know she feels comfortable, for example in the garden, in your home or an area where you already know she will be okay. Just simple behaviours like "watch" or "touch" and rewarding her with praise or treats. (she will be unlikely to be interested in treats in the situations where she is already fearful). As she becomes more confident you could try introducing these behaviours when she is approaching the scary place but I wouldn't worry too much about doing that - the main aim is for her to learn to be calm, that she doesn't need to be doing anything, she can just stand and take in her surroundings and realise there is nothing to be afraid of.

I hope you find a way to help Laska cope with her fears .

Best of luck.
 

jumbyjack

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So sorry I haven't responded to your post Skinnydipper, things have been going pear shaped with my horse and my brain stopped. Your post made a lot of sense but even more of a problem now is that Laska was jumped on by a St Bernard puppy the size of a water buffalo with owners who had nil control over their huge dog. It jumped on her resulting in her screaming hysterically, running backwards out of her harness and bolting down the tow path. I couldn't get to her in time because their child ran in front of me giggling. Said child was grabbed by the collar and flung out of the way, I grabbed the dog and yanked it into its launches while my friend caught Laska just before she ran down the bank onto the road. The owners wife constantly bleated the the dog would not have hurt her but seemed to fail to realize just how much damage been done. I seriously lost my temper with them in the end and told them to get the dog on a lead and to stop being brainless fools with a dog that size. OK it was a puppy and would not have bitten her but it has done permanent damage. She is now so nervous she freezes and then panics and goes to bolt if she sees a dog of any size. We walk in circles now and calmly retreat if she spots a dog because I can't guarantee someone will let a dog approach her and cause major panic. I've also put a half check collar on her and clipped it via a little strap to her harness so if the harness does by some chance come off she would still be on the half check. I really can't see any way out of this now, I just have to guard her and keep up the avoidance techniques!
 

pippixox

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Oh no that is terrible. Also hope horse is ok?

I have a slightly neurotic collie who I have mentioned before can take some things badly for a long time- she won’t go in the horse fields even when empty and electric off due to touching it once and horses approaching her once (sensible) but when it then transferred to all farm fields that we want to walk along I had to slowly push her and had to put her on a lead and encourage her or she would sprint back to car off lead! (Her Labrador buddy bounds ahead happily!)

People just don’t realise the damage that unwanted playfulness can do. I have to be careful with my 2 as they tend to bound up to say hi. But then they are respectful, just have to approach at full speed. If I spot the dog is on lead they go on lead.

I would not lose all hope. Just go slowly and little by little she will hopefully regain some confidence. I used to have a reactive GSD and I made us go on occasional walks where there would be other dogs but with enough space. I would pretend to be confident and stride on and treat and praise. I could not use the lovely canal path as it was too narrow.

A lot of advice had probably already been given and tried. I would certainly get a yellow or even red lead to warm people to give space.

I don’t know if anyone has tried calmers with over anxious dogs?
 

twiggy2

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So sorry I haven't responded to your post Skinnydipper, things have been going pear shaped with my horse and my brain stopped. Your post made a lot of sense but even more of a problem now is that Laska was jumped on by a St Bernard puppy the size of a water buffalo with owners who had nil control over their huge dog. It jumped on her resulting in her screaming hysterically, running backwards out of her harness and bolting down the tow path. I couldn't get to her in time because their child ran in front of me giggling. Said child was grabbed by the collar and flung out of the way, I grabbed the dog and yanked it into its launches while my friend caught Laska just before she ran down the bank onto the road. The owners wife constantly bleated the the dog would not have hurt her but seemed to fail to realize just how much damage been done. I seriously lost my temper with them in the end and told them to get the dog on a lead and to stop being brainless fools with a dog that size. OK it was a puppy and would not have bitten her but it has done permanent damage. She is now so nervous she freezes and then panics and goes to bolt if she sees a dog of any size. We walk in circles now and calmly retreat if she spots a dog because I can't guarantee someone will let a dog approach her and cause major panic. I've also put a half check collar on her and clipped it via a little strap to her harness so if the harness does by some chance come off she would still be on the half check. I really can't see any way out of this now, I just have to guard her and keep up the avoidance techniques!
I fully understand what has led you to go for a half check collar, a correctly fitting flat collar will give the same thw same security. A half check will tights around th dogs throat adding to the dogs panic by making her feel she is being strangled.
Walking in circle treating calm behaviour and retreating when you feel she may become overwhelmed is the bet way forward, just try to make the circle take her different places over time.
There are a few things you can se in various places to help her relax, pm me if you would like more information.
Your also right to be safeguard her from negative experiences and that possibly will be life long but try really hard to remember to breathe and stay as calm as possible in order to create as calm a state as possible around her.
 

skinnydipper

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So sorry I haven't responded to your post Skinnydipper, things have been going pear shaped with my horse and my brain stopped. Your post made a lot of sense but even more of a problem now is that Laska was jumped on by a St Bernard puppy the size of a water buffalo with owners who had nil control over their huge dog. It jumped on her resulting in her screaming hysterically, running backwards out of her harness and bolting down the tow path. I couldn't get to her in time because their child ran in front of me giggling. Said child was grabbed by the collar and flung out of the way, I grabbed the dog and yanked it into its launches while my friend caught Laska just before she ran down the bank onto the road. The owners wife constantly bleated the the dog would not have hurt her but seemed to fail to realize just how much damage been done. I seriously lost my temper with them in the end and told them to get the dog on a lead and to stop being brainless fools with a dog that size. OK it was a puppy and would not have bitten her but it has done permanent damage. She is now so nervous she freezes and then panics and goes to bolt if she sees a dog of any size. We walk in circles now and calmly retreat if she spots a dog because I can't guarantee someone will let a dog approach her and cause major panic. I've also put a half check collar on her and clipped it via a little strap to her harness so if the harness does by some chance come off she would still be on the half check. I really can't see any way out of this now, I just have to guard her and keep up the avoidance techniques!
I am sorry that you, Laska and your horse are having such a rough time and I hope things are starting to improve.

As Pippixox has mentioned you could get something yellow asking for space (see Ebay or https://www.yellowdoguk.co.uk) but people think it doesn't apply to them or their dog, and the owner of the offending dog is often too far away to read it.

I think the half check linked to the harness is good idea as a safety back-up. I can see Twiggy's point but in the case of some dogs, where the head is not significantly bigger than the neck, it can be difficult to fit a flat collar tight enough to not come over the dog's head when she panics and tries to escape (and the flat collar can't be so tight that it is uncomfortable). You should be able to adjust the half check sufficiently so that when it does tighten it does not throttle Laska but is sufficiently tight for her not to back out of it. A moment's discomfort vs losing your dog or a RTA.

Its disheartening really, you work hard to do what you can to improve your dog's confidence but you are at the mercy of people who think it is fine to let their dog come into your dog's space.

I hope you are able to reach a point where she can pass by dogs at a suitable distance - I would avoid narrow paths/confined spaces where you are unable to take evasive action. I know it is impossible to avoid other dogs completely but there is no requirement for her to interact with them.

She is very lucky to have such a caring and understanding owner and I hope together you can make progress.

ETA. I think you can get something called a Houdini harness which is more difficult to back out of.
 
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jumbyjack

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Her head size is the problem with a flat collar, it just comes off. She has a yellow 'nervous' lead which people seem to regard as a challenge kind of insisting 'she won't be frightened of me'. I have had to be quite rude at times to fend pushy people off her.
 

skinnydipper

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Her head size is the problem with a flat collar, it just comes off. She has a yellow 'nervous' lead which people seem to regard as a challenge kind of insisting 'she won't be frightened of me'. I have had to be quite rude at times to fend pushy people off her.
Ah, yes. The "all dogs like me" brigade :rolleyes:
 
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pippixox

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I would get the red one that says danger then. It’s not true but people will keep their distance. I would also put a hi-viz on yourself.
 
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