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Sam is now 5 mth old and has started to be very nervous of things, that a month ago he would walked straight past. Has anyone else had this happen ???
 

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Not with a 5 month old but with a 2 year old so there is probably a different reason behind it. Merc's problem first showed up as aggression towards moving things but then I realised he was reacting to anything that was a little bit different.

I tried at first to do the "show no fear" thing and made him walk (well OK I pretty much had to drag him) past things he didn't like but that seemed to only make things worse. In hindsight, forcing things on him wasn't the best thing to do.

I had much more success once I started backing off from a scary thing, waiting till he calmed down (and the trainer had a few ideas on how to speed the process up) then approached it again till he started getting upset, then we'd back off again. It took a long time at first - 15 minutes to get past an abandoned pram one day - but now (6 months later) he is considerably better and although he might not like something, if I don't force the issue he will relax and deal with it.

It's probably got a lot to do with Sam's age. Are you going to puppy classes? They might be able to help. I really wish now that I had done a lot more desensitisation and socialisation when Merc was little so don't give up!
 

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Around a few months of age Penny became really nervous when it would get dark. She was definitely spooked by cars with lights, shadows, etc. We gave up late evening walks but she's outside in the backyard enough now I think she's adjusted.
 

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Generally most dogs go through a fear stage at about the 5-9 month mark. It is nothing to completely freak out about. The best thing to do is to slowly and confidently show the dog that the object/person is not a threat. Don't baby them, but don't shove them towards the item.

Example: My dobe became terrified of trash cans all of a sudden (the ones outside). So whenever we went out we walked by the trash can and I touched it and talked soothingly to her. I didn't get down in her face and coddle her. But just said "see...nothing to be afraid of." It wasn't long before she didn't care.

There are some items that they will fear forever, or nearly forever. Nina is still terrified of the vacuum. Grady, however, LOVES it :)
 

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I just wanted chim in, I have a 7month old and she does the exact same thing and it started around 6 months....now she's nervous around things she never cared for before...like outside random noses and car lights shining in through the window. I'm glad to here that others are going through the same thing! Any advice on how to get her to stop barking at these things?
 

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Vizslandobes, I love it when I find a suggestion that helps! When Rosie freaked out at noises outside, I used to speak to her in a more animated reassuring voice. Last night, I thought about the tone you said you used about the trash cans, and when Rosie got upset at a noise outside, I just looked at the window and said casually, "no biggie." I couldn't believe it, she actually looked at me and calmed right down. I did the same thing today when she got upset about a video (of a vizsla) I was watching. I think they must be incredible readers of body language. I'll have to keep trying that "cool and casual" attitude.
 

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I'm also coming to the conclusion that Merc, if not Vs and maybe dogs in general, read body langauge at an amazing level as he seems to respond to how I'm feeling even when i don't think my behaviour is giving anything away.

I know part of our problem is that if I really really want Merc to come back to me or to leave something alone my voice gets a particular tone in it and he won't listen to that voice. Cool and casual is the way to go - just wish I could fake it better.

My trainer got us to start doing all sorts of wierd stuff with the dog whilst playing with him. Things like rustling plastic bags or waving hats / brooms/ ropes whatever around him but at the same time as playing with him so that odd noises or the appearance of strange objects became part of the fun and hence less scary.
 

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sarahaf said:
Vizslandobes, I love it when I find a suggestion that helps! When Rosie freaked out at noises outside, I used to speak to her in a more animated reassuring voice. Last night, I thought about the tone you said you used about the trash cans, and when Rosie got upset at a noise outside, I just looked at the window and said casually, "no biggie." I couldn't believe it, she actually looked at me and calmed right down. I did the same thing today when she got upset about a video (of a vizsla) I was watching. I think they must be incredible readers of body language. I'll have to keep trying that "cool and casual" attitude.
Glad that you found something that works for you both!!
 

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P.S. did I mention we have a phrase at our house, "the dog in the mirror." At night, we have to close the door to a walk-in closet area where there's a full length mirror lest it result in the whole house waking up to a heart-attack inducing volley of full-throttle spooked barking when she catches her own reflection. We've gotten to where we use short-hand, "could you please close that door part way so she can't see the dog in the mirror?" We've tried explaining to her that it isn't a real dog, all to no avail.
 
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