Sudden Fear problem at 2.5 years

Posted By: RaisingBaby

Sudden Fear problem at 2.5 years - 01/28/17 04:29 AM

Never fear in my dog, ever - from 10 weeks till now. 2 days ago, someone was pressure washing something in the alley adjoining my yard. She freaked. I thought she was going to try to leap the 6' chain link fence at the far end of the yard. She's always freaked out when I sneeze... sudden expulsion of air? same as pressure washer - jake brakes on semi?

2 days have passed and she now shows fear of any large truck noise while in the house. In the yard, she is showing fear. This is a total reversal of how she's been since a pup.

I've been diverting with her favorite ball but it only works for short periods. Any ideas how I can reverse this quick B4 it sets in?

Should I take her out every time a semi pulls up and treat, ball with her on long line? You think your concerns are over at this age, then something like this pops up.
Posted By: MaxaLisa

Re: Sudden Fear problem at 2.5 years - 01/28/17 04:30 PM

I wouldn't expose her so directly. That's a form a flooding if it's not done just right. Meaning, if she's in a state of fear, you are too close. Maybe exposure near some busy roads with the treats etc, where you have control over her anxiety.

In an older dog i'd worry a bit about thyroid or tick disease or a medical condition in sudden extreme anxiety or fear, but this may still be youth and exposure? Jazz here is an anxiety dog and will get triggered. My GSD would get triggered and something that would give him that reaction would ruin the rest of the walk he also had some anxiety.

Any separation anxiety?
Posted By: middleofnowhere

Re: Sudden Fear problem at 2.5 years - 01/29/17 07:45 PM

Just reflecting a bit on my experience.

The late Barker the Elder the first was a rock steady dog with the exception that she did not like to walk over metal grates. Bridges were fine and so was her dislike of these plates in the sidewalk. Fast forward to moving to a city. (She had visited cities (esp Denver) often and done trips to SLC.) Walking down one particular street she showed some concern with larger vehicles. Handler gave it some thought and figured it out - she was uncertain when they approached from behind. So we started walking facing them. Did that a few times and it was good from either direction.

What I'm saying is - give it some thought and see what you come up with.
Posted By: RaisingBaby

Re: Sudden Fear problem at 2.5 years - 01/30/17 04:20 AM

Thanks for your reply. Food for thought. No separation anxiety. I've been leaving her with free run of the house for 2-3 hours when she was 5 months old then full time last 2 years. No problems.

Don't know about over exposure. Problem happened in our own 6' fenced yard. Problem is her fear going out in her own yard now when there's semi's in the alley. You may be right on, she was such a slow grower (physically and coming out of juvenile phase). Hopefully, I'll just backtrack and reinforce confidence and this is just still a young dog bump:)

I never knew that some don't stop being juveniles until they're 3. She's Hungarian/American registry 90lbs now (she should go back to to 82lbs when we're free of this 5 feet of snow) We have ice on top and it cuts her pads unless she does not run. EXTREME prey drive but shuts down as mellow as a lazy lap dog in house... no medium switch.

FTR - no way I intentionally acquired an oversize GSD.. the litter was not advertised that way and out in the valley with the sire and dam running... the male looked big but not the female:( but she's so healthy:) and I love her.
Posted By: middleofnowhere

Re: Sudden Fear problem at 2.5 years - 01/31/17 03:28 AM

Not to worry about the size. I had one that was "light" at 85# - she was barrel chested four footed tank - really round for a GSD. Another at the same time that was lean and spry.

One thing I think it was Bill Campbell advocated --- humans go happy goofy when dog is anxious about something (as in thunder for example). So maybe you and a friend go outside and just be happy. Semi shows up - humans go happy goofy silly play mode. Do this consistently for a few days and see if she doesn't lighten up.
Posted By: RaisingBaby

Re: Sudden Fear problem at 2.5 years - 02/09/17 07:46 AM

Middleofnowhere, Thank you for your reply:) I've come around the long way to the same conclusion that your comment about Bill Campbell advocated. She's picking up on my vibes. But, with the one exception of the power washer steam sprayer the restaraunt guy was using. That may be a lifelong fear for her. I simply cannot expose her to that noise enough do damp it down as it only happens twice a year.

Since her "freak out" and withdrawal she has gradually come back to normal, thank God. It's been a really hard winter here (6 feet of snow in 6 weeks and nothing's melting but turning into a "devils golf course of deep snow/ice).

She tried to run just a little in the yard and the ice caught her dew claw... blood all over the snow. But, she's getting her confidence back to normal. But, in her deep sleep she still "jerks" and is wide awake and on alert if a car drives down our street late at night.

So, we're just working on that... her new found protection duties of me and house... just reassuring/calming her when everything's ok or reinforcement a couple of times a month when her alerts are well founded and appreciated.

Back on the right track. It just freaked me out to see such an out of character reversal from her. It's still underlying, I can tell - but I guess not unexpected in a finally mature dog. We'll just treat it like all the other interesting changes in the last 2.5 years:)

Thanks for the sharing on size too. I feel all alone out there sometimes.:) In perfect health and 27"atw so still, on the lean side... she's looong.
Posted By: middleofnowhere

Re: Sudden Fear problem at 2.5 years - 02/09/17 04:08 PM

I'm glad the goofy human responsse is working for you. I've watched many people hold and pet their dogs at the vet and that results in a very anxious dog. So I've rather turned the other side to that - since I can't go too nutty at the vets, I give my dogs something else to do (maybe push ups) and stay upbeat myself. And I encourage the vets and their staff to avoid cooing at my dog because that also causes anxiety.

She looks great in the photo and it's also swell that she's focused on something besides the camera and holding still!
Posted By: RaisingBaby

Re: Sudden Fear problem at 2.5 years - 04/17/17 04:38 AM

Just an update. Apparently Summer's sudden fear bobbles were the final part on switching from happy go lucky 2 year old to a little unsure for a couple of months - and heading toward 3 year old and focusing on more important things:). But, we had our transition period and she ended up well balanced. Pheew!

I could say; it's ALL THE hours we've put in to training, but it's not. Training was/is just everyday living. I don't think of it as training. The spirit, dedication to owner and drive of the breed has much more to do with it. She's a well balanced GSD. Period. She's what a GSD should be.

Tomorrow - for her 2 yr 9 month B-Day lol.... Amazon will be delivering a horse whip, a stuffless fox, a Kong large ball with handles and a squeak Kong dog bone shaped thingy. Tying the fox onto to the whip end for a flirt pole. She's gonna be so happy, me too:)

She's only had 3 dog toys "store bought" ever but thanks to my first SS check, she gets a fresh toy overload tomorrow:) She smiles! Camera coming out to catch that:)
Posted By: Codmaster

Re: Sudden Fear problem at 2.5 years - 04/18/17 06:34 PM

Sounds like your dog should certainly enjoy her toys! I think you might deserve a lot of the credit with your training for your dogs behavior!

"Unsure" and "Fear Bubbles" are not normal for an otherwise solid dog - at least we have never seen any in any of our many GSDs over the last 40 or so years. "Unsure", less than 100% confidence behavior, yep, in a couple but in our case it seemed to be genetic and could be addressed with solid confidence building training and lots of work.

Our last GSD was absolutely rock solid from the time we took him home from kennel as a 7wo baby. Never a backward step from anything/anybody. Also had almost no "Startle" response to things - loud noise or sudden things. Great dog - the temperament that my opinion is that a GSD should have. And we certainly don't take a lot of credit for his solid temperament - I think that he mostly came with it and we just let him develop and show him what we expected with his temperament and behavior.

In fact, perhaps he might have had a bit too much self confidence as he was a challenge in some ways for a while, growing up.
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