Confidence building

Tricks, obedience, behavior, and more.
User avatar
Chasesmom
Bully Ambassador
Posts: 2611
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:40 pm
Location: 6 months 'til baby town

Confidence building

Postby Chasesmom » Sun Jan 01, 2012 4:11 pm

As Chase ages, he seems to get more and more fearful of everything around him. I'm looking for some good confidence building exercises to help build his self-esteem and get him back to the way he was.
He's scared of pretty much any floor cleaner, plastic bags, paper bags, when anything moves quickly, if something slips out from under his feet he flips out.
It's starting to worry me because he's just such a pansy anymore and I worry of fear biting and just the fact that he is not happy. Even when it comes to us telling him to do something, he acts like we're threatening to kill him or something. If he is begging at dinner and I say 'go to your bed' he looks at me with these puppy dog eyes and then slumps away, SHAKING, tail between his legs like I yelled at him! I didn't yell at him, I simply asked. By the end of the day, he mopes around with his tail down, shaking and head hanging like he is just exhausted and mortified. It's depressing and I hate seeing him this way so I hope there is something we can do to help him and fix these things.

I know we have a lot going on right now with working on the house and all the new tools, sounds, etc probably aren't the easiest for him but we've done our best to keep a schedule and some bit of normalcy. With a baby about to come in to the picture, things are only going to get more stressful for him and I really worry that mentally he isn't cut out for all the changes.

Anything, any suggestions would be helpful. Training, exercises, games, anything.
Also, should we consider a 2 week shutdown to try and recharge his batteries or something? Would that be helpful or would that just switch things up and cause more stress?

And we cannot afford a behaviorist so in-home techniques/suggestions are best.

Please and thank you. We need some advice.

User avatar
MMSmith
Adolescent Bully
Posts: 395
Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2011 4:40 pm

Re: Confidence building

Postby MMSmith » Sun Jan 01, 2012 10:11 pm

I am by no means an expert, but I do have a more fearful guy myself.

How much exercise does Chase get? I know it's tough right now, but there was nothing like wearing my boy out for decreasing his reactivity to 'scary' stuff. Also, I've also found that fun exercise (hiking, swimming, fetch) vs standard walking was helpful too. Whenever Henry was being really playful and engaged, I would use lots of praise. Henry also loves to play and wrestle, which I've heard can help a shy dog become more outgoing.

User avatar
Inaras mom
Adolescent Bully
Posts: 272
Joined: Mon Apr 03, 2006 6:45 pm
Location: Cleveland, OH
Contact:

Re: Confidence building

Postby Inaras mom » Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:32 am

Inara went through a skittish phase right before I switched to clicker training. After she learned via the clicker that she got rewarded for interacting with random objects, that girl became so brave! She'd go up and down slides, interact with anything I point at, etc. So maybe look into clicker training so Chase learns that it's OK and FUN to interact with things.

User avatar
jamielvsaustin
Moderator
Posts: 6369
Joined: Thu May 08, 2008 9:13 am
Location: Palm Bay Florida

Re: Confidence building

Postby jamielvsaustin » Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:41 am

I agree with inaras mom, clicker training is SO positive it has to be helpful. With Resi it helped, and so did the command to "Touch it"...we'd take her to Ace Hardware and ask her to touch all kinds of different things...giant gallons of paint, PVC piping, paint brushes, chairs, bird feed-whatever. At first she was a little hesitant, but we just made the biggest deal about any movement towards the object and more and more she wanted to "touch" these things. Tons of treats when we could see she was really unsure but wanted to do it because we asked her to.

Is he food or toy motivated? Maybe you could start with one thing...something he doesn't really like but isn't terrified of. Lay it in the middle of the floor and put his favorite treat/toy by it and ask him to go get the treat/toy and then throw a freaking PAR-TAY when he does. If he isn't at that point yet, maybe just looking at it and sniffing sort of close to it is a good progression for him.

User avatar
star_frances
Pit Bull Forum Addict
Posts: 1889
Joined: Mon Jun 18, 2007 7:54 am
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Re: Confidence building

Postby star_frances » Tue Jan 03, 2012 9:55 pm

Lots of mental exercise can't hurt right now, either - frozen Kongs, work-to-eat toys, etc. Things that will keep him engaged and mentally stimulated for long periods of time. I'd also suggest a good thorough vet check-up when you're able, if this is a sudden/recent behavior change there could be something going on.

User avatar
Red
Addicted to PBF
Posts: 9519
Joined: Tue Dec 21, 2004 4:35 am
Location: SoCal

Re: Confidence building

Postby Red » Tue Jan 03, 2012 11:36 pm

Chasesmom wrote:And we cannot afford a behaviorist so in-home techniques/suggestions are best.


Several times I offered you a consult free of charges given the issues you spoke of, on this forum, which are not new and go a few years back. I also directed you to someone closer, since a 3 hours drive was not an option I guess .It serves no purpose to deny dogs the help they need, until things escalate and behavior become worse and more significant both in intensity and frequency. I am sure there will be more problems as the baby comes and some on line advice is often not enough. If you are still in San Diego my offer stands, but it is the last.

User avatar
Jazzy
Pit Bull Princess Pamperer
Posts: 7651
Joined: Sat Apr 22, 2006 4:52 pm
Location: New England

Re: Confidence building

Postby Jazzy » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:11 am

I do agree as Red said that your best bet for the most successful resolution would be to have an assessment from a professional if there is any way to swing it.

That said, Veronica has fear issues on and off that started when she was around 1 year old and have escalated as she got older. I can't remember if I posted here but this past spring/summer she went through a bad period that was set off by her noise phobia and she bacame almost agoraphobic for a few months. I really thought I was going to have to go the veterinary behaviorist route and put her on meds; however once again she snapped out of it and seems "fine". Fine meaning "fine for Veronica" she's never going to be a big, dumb, happy-go-lucky dog...that's not her temperment.

Anyway what we do around her fear issues is use desensitization and counter-conditioning as much as possible around known fears. If it is a specific object and she is willing to approach we let her do so on her terms, name the object for her and provide praise/treats for checking it out. Also just as an interesting aside...I tried desensitizing her to certain sounds using youtube recordings from the computer. I also used my laptop so I could play the sounds in different rooms of the house. Worked GREAT. Except that Veronica can apparently tell the difference between a youtube recording (which she is totally fine with now) and a naturally occuring scary sound...which is a completely different thing. I suppose I could have tried taking my laptop all over the place but I couldn't figure out the wi fi thing and it's hard to go on a walk with a laptop. lol

For V. when she gets fearful she gets "in her head", you can almost see the wheels turning and see her thinking and in that state thinking is not a good thing. We try to do things to get her "in the moment" and out of her head. What has worked wonders is her having a doggy friend to socialize with. Socrates has helped snap her out of some fear states...I don't know if it's seeing that he isn't afraid or being around a stable dog that brings out her innate doggyness, or if he just gets her out of her head and into the moment...but he has been a godsend.

We also increase the "positive" experiences in her life. When she is in fear mode she wants to hide in the house (which I think would be bad because that just reinforces dysfunctional behavior) so we get her out a little at a time and make it super positive, fun and rewarding. We try to not push her too much and if she indicates she doesn't want to do something/go somewhere we don't force her.

I also use training and falling back on things she is good at and building on them a bit to increase her confidence.

I think I kind of rambled, so I don't know if any of that was helpful.

User avatar
addieNmel
Newborn Bully
Posts: 157
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2009 9:39 pm
Location: Findlay Ohio

Re: Confidence building

Postby addieNmel » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:36 pm

I agree with the above.. clicker training, playing sounds on the laptop ( eg: desensitizing to the doorbell, etc) and positive interactions with really good treats and lots of patience helps.. just be aware you're looking at a lot of time, its not something that will go away or decrease quickly.

I have also found that agility classes have helped addie tremendously as well.. with socalization and confidence. I would definatly recommend a few classes if not only for building your bond and help her confidence with new scarey objects.

User avatar
Chasesmom
Bully Ambassador
Posts: 2611
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:40 pm
Location: 6 months 'til baby town

Re: Confidence building

Postby Chasesmom » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:48 pm

Red wrote:
Chasesmom wrote:And we cannot afford a behaviorist so in-home techniques/suggestions are best.


Several times I offered you a consult free of charges given the issues you spoke of, on this forum, which are not new and go a few years back. I also directed you to someone closer, since a 3 hours drive was not an option I guess .It serves no purpose to deny dogs the help they need, until things escalate and behavior become worse and more significant both in intensity and frequency. I am sure there will be more problems as the baby comes and some on line advice is often not enough. If you are still in San Diego my offer stands, but it is the last.


Red, we wanted to come up there when I got off deployment. And as you know, being a military wife, that things don't always go as planned and you're at the mercy of the DOD. chocolate happens. Just a few weeks after I got back we ended up getting pregnant, I got moved to a different command, we both started our discharge stuff, and things were hectic to say the least. I'm sure to you, with all the stuff you do with dogs and whatnot that may not seem like a lot or overwhelming to you but it was for us. And, once again, I did speak with the person you mentioned on the phone a long time ago.
I appreciate the offer, but we're not in San Diego anymore nor will we ever again be there.

I really wish things had played out perfectly and the stars had aligned so we could have gotten up there to see you, but life had a different plan for us and it threw us both for a loop.

Chase is not at all a nutcase like some dogs and I really think that some simple at-home stuff will help him and IF IT DOESN'T and we don't see improvement, then we will cross that path.
This has been a stressful time for all of us.

User avatar
Chasesmom
Bully Ambassador
Posts: 2611
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:40 pm
Location: 6 months 'til baby town

Re: Confidence building

Postby Chasesmom » Wed Jan 04, 2012 6:57 pm

Thank you everybody else for the suggestions. I'll let you know how everything goes. We have some clickers laying around and I guess we'll have to whip 'em out again.
I do work with the things he already knows and lots of treats/praise and that seems to help lift his spirits. I really hope it's just an adjustment period as it is for all of us.
Chase has had exposure to kids here and there since we found out and he has interacted fine but we plan on keeping the two of them separate for a while when the baby is first born. We will be taking things very slowly.

He does have bad hips and I think that contributes to it because occasional pain meds seem to help him. Once we find a decent vet/surgeon in the area we will be looking into the femur head removal surgery for both hips.

User avatar
1lila1
Pit Bull Forum Addict
Posts: 1878
Joined: Sat May 27, 2006 12:35 pm

Re: Confidence building

Postby 1lila1 » Sat Jan 07, 2012 8:01 pm

If your dog is in constant pain that right there could explain a lot of his behaviors. For years my older dog, Lila, would randomly whine. It was so annoying and seemed to be without "good" reason. Turns out she was suffering from arthritis that hadn't been caught yet and earlier last year I found out she has advanced degenerative disc disease that wasn't caught until her disk blew. Her arthritis covered up the symptoms of the disk disease. Now that she is on daily pain medication the whining has practically disappeared. Not totally, she is somewhat of a vocal "whiney" dog by nature but the random whining for no apparent reason is gone. But yeah, brushing up on his training with the clicker, lots of praise, letting him accomplish things should help a lot with his confidence.

A fun mentally stimulating game is to teach your dog shapes. I cut about six different shapes out of the sheets of craft foam and use a clicker to teach them the difference. By now they know the shapes when asked but at first they get so excited that they go around touching each and every shape they can with their noses before I even ask them to lol. It's really cute. Since your dog has joint issues, this might be a good non-physical activity to do with him.

You mentioned him shaking when told to stop begging at dinner. Depending on how food motivated your dog is having everyone in the room eating while he is not has to be emotionally upsetting for him. My dogs don't eat on the same schedule that I do but whenever I have a sit down dinner they get frozen kongs (so they'll last longer) to keep them occupied. I don't think it's fair to the dog for everyone else to be enjoying food while they are expected to watch without being upset about it. Give him a Kong, or a chew toy at the very least, and you might find you don't have to correct his "begging" anymore.

User avatar
Chasesmom
Bully Ambassador
Posts: 2611
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:40 pm
Location: 6 months 'til baby town

Re: Confidence building

Postby Chasesmom » Sat Jan 07, 2012 9:09 pm

Great suggestions! Thanks. That shape game sounds like a lot of fun..I really think he'll enjoy that.
I never thought about it being upsetting to him..interesting. He loves food so that could be it

User avatar
Mooresmajestic
Bully Lover 4 Life
Posts: 1456
Joined: Thu May 07, 2009 11:42 am
Location: The "D"... ish

Re: Confidence building

Postby Mooresmajestic » Tue Jan 10, 2012 11:14 pm

I didn't read every post, but from your initial post my first thoughts went to medical because of age. Pain or loss of vision, thyroid imbalance.

User avatar
Chasesmom
Bully Ambassador
Posts: 2611
Joined: Mon Aug 06, 2007 8:40 pm
Location: 6 months 'til baby town

Re: Confidence building

Postby Chasesmom » Fri Jan 13, 2012 10:59 pm

Anybody know any behaviorists in the Boise, Idaho area?


Return to “Training and Behavior”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 8 guests