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Hello!

I have a 1 year old female that all of a sudden acts scared of me (by way of shaking) and then will be my BFF as if nothing ever happened. For whatever reason, it is worse in the evening. I'm kind of at my wits end and don't know what to do about it. I've taken her out of her normal routine to overly coddling her (which I'm afraid in reinforcing the behavior).

She's spoiled rotten with a loving family of a wife, 3yr daughter and 6yr son, so please save any judgement, but I do believe something had to have happened along the way and I can't pinpoint it to a traumatic event in context to the recent time that it has become worse. My knee jerk reaction was my son, but he's loving with Frances. It is me she's acting afraid of.

Training was really a breeze, was firm but never heavy handed. However, the last thing we could not break was jumping up. I finally got a collar for it with beep, buzz and shock. She graduated up to a jolt twice over a period of a week and that fixed it. Since then, a beep or buzz is all it took and then subsequently removed the collar all together. Maybe a few months later, she was picking that behavior up again and I brought the collar out. She knew exactly what it was and coward down as I put it back on. That said, she never received any jolt (wasn't necessary) and this was weeks ago.

Anyway, here we are today, weeks out from the re-intro of the collar, and it seems to be worse over the past 3 or 4 days. She went with us on a trip over Thanksgiving and everything was great. She goes with me to the office every morning, a completely happy, secure dog. I understand Vizslas are very sensitive dogs, but I cannot pinpoint any one thing and if I can't pinpoint the trauma, I don't know how to fix or remove the trigger. She acts is if she's been abused, but has an amazing life, so it's hard not to take personally or be really frustrated. Any insight would be helpful as I have a lot of years left with her and hate to see her so anxious.

Thank you!
 

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Hi Tate,

If you were the one who put the e collar on and instituted the shock, then she's likely associated you with the shock (instead of associating the jumping behavior and the shock). Uh, oh...it's part of the reason e collars need to be used very carefully (if at all) so the dog associates the zap with their behavior and not with you...especially with V's who are so sensitive.

The fix here is to get rid of the e collar (use more traditional and time intensive training methods that are positive instead of negative) and then redouble your efforts at her experiencing you as the kind, loving dad you are....so things like feeding her (even out of your hand a little), hiking her, and really reinforcing her relaxing around you and feeling OK. But beware, once they get something like this in their little red heads, it takes awhile to get out...like many months, so have patience.

I agree with you that cuddling when she is having a flash back isn't a good idea b/c it reinforces her anxiety, you should just ignore her when she is like that.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Hi Gingerling,

Thanks for the response. I told my wife yesterday that we should just get rid of the collar altogether. I was also told to use a lot of caution when I got it, and we did. Perhaps two jolts was two too much.

That said, the reason I'm scratching my head is because the collar was re-intro'd weeks ago and taken back off. There was a period of "normal Frances" over the past week and a half or so and just started this nervous shaking a few days ago. She'll come up to me (even acting nervous), then she'll be completely fine.

One other thing I didn't mention was that it only happens in the kitchen/living room- nowhere else does she behave this way. I don't know if it's the beep of the mircrowave or the beep on the fireplace when we turn on that's in proxy of her and may have a similar sound to the collar from weeks back.

At any rate, I'll try the things you suggested. But how do I reinforce positivity to her while she's having her episode, without it coddling/reinforcing that behavior? Do I just leave her alone until she snaps out of it?
 

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It's not so much the time lapse since the e collar as much as it is the strength of the association, especially if there are beeps and braps that remind her of the warning before she got zapped. So, these noises trigger the association that both the zap is imminent and you're about to hurt her..even if thats' not accurate. One of my favorite songs..don't laugh, please..is KC and the Sunshine Band "Shake your booty" (C'mon, I asked you not to laugh..)...and it starts with a tone that is exactly like the front door bell, and AJ always looks up and runs to the door. Same thing.

It helps if you can minimize the other similar sounding beeps, but when she gets a flashback, I'd leave her alone, its too late then to address it as she cannot process either her response nor your intervention. But, if you redouble your efforts to be seen as the good guy instead of the zapper, eventually that prior association will wear off.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
That makes a lot of sense. There was an option to turn the beep off on the microwave, not on the fireplace, however. Played a little fetch with her in the living room (which we do outside only) and she seemed totally fine. Maybe doing fun stuff in there for a while might help with that.

Anyway, I'll report back on progress in a month or two. Thanks for the help; was a little nervous putting this out there.
 

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Fun is recreational. Learning new tricks is another one they often advise related to pups with some anxieties, just as focus games and agility. Due to her tender age i would be careful about agility yet, but something to keep in your your back pocket for later on if needed. The aim is to rebuild that confidence and the trust in you and desensitize her from the association she has developed.
Yes, please check back, always a very difficult topic, we all make mistakes with our dogs and it is great to see people willing to a admit, just as do the extra steps to undo the harm they unintentionally caused.
 

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Nervous? Not with us, we're all family.

If you can eliminate as much as possible, like the microwave beep..that would help. You want to extinguish her reaction by first avoiding all contact with the negative stimulus, and then slowly reintroducing it with a positive association. And ignore her (and her anxiety reaction) when she flashes back. Have patience, this will take a few months.

The time it takes is the other side of their exquisite sensitivity, sometimes they over react and get it wrong. You need to walk it back for her.

Hang in there..
 

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Tate......

Not going to debate e-collar vs no e-collar. With that said if you do plan to use the e-collar I highly recommend professional training. At about 1-years old, with our male V, we brought in a highly trained professional to do 8-one hour sessions onsite with our V. He took several sessions just to get him acclimated to the e-collar before he even started the recall training, etc. It's been highly effective for off leash activity. However, we do not use it for behavioral methods.

So as ginerling stated, you may want to discontinue its use for behavioral use, at least until you get passed this fear stage and find a reputable professional that can train you V with its use IMHO.
 

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Almost guarantee it is the "beeps" from any source. Our beloved Vizlsa Sadie reacted in a very similar way to beeps from Microwave, Certain TV theme music, Cash register beeps, Whistle at Olympic Swim Event, etc. We never exposed her to an eCollar, but as she was an older rescue we have no idea what happened in her previous life. Any beep in the house would send her off to her "safe place" in the garage for an hour or more. If we tried to keep her in the house after a "beep" she would shake/shiver, try to climb on our heads, and look around with wide eyes. Needless to say we never let time run out on the appliances or turned the signal beep off completely.
 

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This is the reason, I don't care for using the beep as a warning. So many things in our everyday life beep. We never know which dogs will have a problem with it, until they have a problem.
I use the beep/vibration button, for a dog to look my direction. I teach look with treats, so there is never a negative association. I started doing this, because I have a bad habit of leaving my whistle at home.
I also do not nick a dog with ecollar, if it's touching a person, or another dog. You never want the nick to be associated with with those things.
You can use ecollar training to enforce sit, here, and down. If you do whoa training, it can also be transferred over to collar pressure. All this is trained without the ecollar at first. The ecollar is only a added layer of training.

In your post, you say a Jolt. I hope you are over exaggerating the amout of pressure, you are putting on your dog. They should NOT be receiving a jolt. Your pup should have been worked on lead, with the lowest level possible.

Instead of throwing the collar away. I would leave the collar turned Off. Have someone else put it on the dog, and go do something fun. Repeat a few days a week. Once the dog has a good association with the collar. Then sell it.
 

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At any rate, I'll try the things you suggested. But how do I reinforce positivity to her while she's having her episode, without it coddling/reinforcing that behavior? Do I just leave her alone until she snaps out of it?

Tate
As others have already stated, and you've arrived at the same conclusion, put the eCollar away for now.
At just a year old, she's still pretty young mentally. Vizlsas get their size pretty quickly, but are slow to mature, which is both good and bad. I believe for you it will be good.
Start her training over and get her away from the source of the anxiety. Work her on the leash away from anything that beeps, or makes a noise like that. Get her solid at the heel and stay commands, then slowly introduce the noises back into the game.
Have her on a leash in the house going through the walk at heel, and work her in another room, while the microwave goes off, or what ever it is that you believe is triggering her. every time that microwave goes off, change her direction. You want to give her something else to think about, that she is comfortable with. Slowly work her closer to the source of the sound over a week or two and see if you can get her back in the room with the beep tone. At the slightest hint of anxiety, you move her in the opposite direction at the heel,and do a few minutes of leash work. This may take more than a week or two to actually get her back into the room.
When you're not working with her, make sure that other family members are not exposing her to the beep tones. Even if means putting some duct tape and cloth over the beepers on the appliances.
They have long memories. Mine knew exactly what the little white flags for an invisible fence meant years after they had seen one as young dogs.
If you do go back to the eCollar, get a different type. I also do not like the beep tone warnings, because they are distracting. I like the kind that vibrate first.
I have had eCollars on dogs under a year old, but they were for the invisible fence. Mine have pretty much still been on check cords at that age.
An alternative to correct the jumping up is to keep a 3' leash on her in the house for awhile. As soon as she starts to jump up, step on the leash, so that she can't jump up and give a no command. She'll stop soon enough. If anyone in the house is allowing her to jump up, they'll be undermining everything you're doing, and you will have one confused dog on your hands, which may be your contributing to your current issue. Everybody in the house has to be on the same page.
Go slow, and don't force it.
 

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I 100% agree with all TR said.

When we, as is so often the case, make an error in our training and create a negative reaction then it's up to us to re-train for a positive reaction.

Your dog is scared of the e-collar. If you completely remove the e-collar then all she will remember is the big-bad-scary reaction she had to the collar. If, instead, you happily (with only a really good tone of voice) place the de-activated collar on her and go about all your normal things (including happy things for her) she will forget the collar's on. Leave it on for a day then take it off. Leave it off for a day and put it back on. Repeat. On the 5th day ask her if she wants to....go for a ride, go for a walk, have a cookie...whatever gets her wiggle butt going, put the collar on and do whatever she said "YES that's what I want to do" as you tell her she's such a good girl with a laughing tone of voice. Repeat a few more times. When you feel she's over the negative you can re-introduce the sounds of the collar but do it while giving her some happy thing, a treat, ride or walk. Mine like it when I turn on the collar because the sound means we're going out somewhere without leash and usually so they can find birds. Collar = running and finding birds = happy dog!
Once she has overcome any fear you can toss the collar if you want to.

Dogs do live in the present and their past can be over-written. Take a little time and rewrite her negative memories with joyful ones. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Hey all,

Happy to report Frances is back to herself. I really appreciate all of your different ideas and insight. I've since turned the beeps back on the microwave, etc. and not even messed with that e-collar; they don't seem to bother her anymore.

I think the most important thing we did (besides remove that collar) was not reinforce her behavior when she was having an "episode". We just went on as if life were normal, gave her some brief love and moved on. Love the leash idea to drag around awhile to step on.

One thing I'm up against is being sabotaged by the rest of my family in that I have very young children, so she's not always getting consistent feedback in terms of not being allowed to jump up, haha. I suppose it will just take more time.

I think the lesson learned for me here is that Vizslas are different than Labs (what I've had before) and I just needed to have more patience. Really sensitive breed, but I wouldn't have it any other way. We all just love her.

Thanks again!

Warmest regards,

Tate
 

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Regarding ecollars for training. We went through professional training and although expensive it was well worth it for our current mixed breed dog. The trainer uses EZ Educators and it does not deliver a zap or a jolt it is more an attention getting "tickle". I have tried it on the back of my hand at several settings (we use 19 and single correction button only, no sound), and it is much more gentle than bark collars or invisible fence collars. Our dog now almost never requires correction for sit/down/stay/come/heel. Best to combine correct behavior with treats and verbal encouragement, and as stated do not "correct" when interacting with other dogs. So nice having a well trained dog.
 
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