Labradoodle & Goldendoodle Forum

I promised I would return after interviewing trainers and behaviorists.  What a week--and that is an  entire discussion in itself--but let me tell you--research and interview just don't buy a class and attend!  Interview as if you are hiring an employee. 

Fight or Flight Response is complicated but a good and thorough explanation can be found on this link

Here is the summary of what we learned:  Possibly it will help others who have anxiety issues identity these characteristics in their dog.   This is our individual story and the direction we are taking with her after weighing all alternatives after professional observations:
  • Fight vs. Flight--another alternative
  • Confidence Building
  • Giving the dog a confidence building job
Starlit's Story
Starlit is very passive.  Not an aggressive dog at all--even though she has bitten. No,  not nip--bitten with damage.   Her reactions to those she loves are submissive.  Loving, cuddling, Hugging, Wiggling. 

She is a peaceful girl.  She would rather retreat or run, not attack the strange man's butt in my home.  In public she is shy and behaved.  She would rather NOT be there.   If I were to take a leash off her she would run away, not attack someone.   That is her first choice. 

What Starlit has learned  is that in the home she can not  run  ( even though a safe place has been offered for her to retreat)  so she fights--the ugly man goes away after I bite him!  That works. She is confident that this works.  UGH  Learn/Re-learn the rest of our lives  :) 

She will be re-enrolled in puppy obiediance class   :)   After all, she is a puppy--just really really big older baby compared to all the rest who will be attending the class.  Kind of like my premature son who weighed 8.5 lbs in the premmie ward we can't look at size and age in development.

She knows commands, has been in class before.  She does rather well for her age on stay, sit, down etc.   but when stressed she can not handle even the simple tasks.  If she can run--she runs.  If she can hide under the table--she will go there first.  If she has no other option--she bites a butt  Nope- she is not aggressive-she is a chicken and no way will she attack from the front. 

The purpose of this class is to stress her again gently.  The stress will be that she is in class in public with people and with dogs ( she loves dogs) and other happy people who do not want to hurt her.  Simple enough.  Slow enough.  The puppies of course will be learning new commands.  Starlit will be learning confidence in a gentle environment.   The trainer and behaviorist will be present all the time to watch and we will re-evaluate the next phase when she completes the first 6 weeks. 

 With each command she will relearn slowly  she can do a command even under stress--thus little by little she will learn to deal with her stresses in a new and more acceptable way.  It will take months maybe but all so worth giving this dog an alternative this gentle girl  so much wants to know.    She does not want to fight or go away. She wants to be with her people-so let's teach her a new way to do what she so much wants to do.  How to handle a situation correctly even though there is stress.

The next step:
This is far off they would like her to learn a job.  She has a great nose.   Tracking may be in her future.  A confidence building job.  Agility was ruled out because she is so clumsy.   Cute and clumsy.  Hopefully I can post this in the future.

P.S.  to the trainer who I talked with on Wednesday of last week: You told me I had a toxic dog--I needed to detoxify her first.  How the heck do you detoxify a dog?  Colonics?  WTD?   You told me to put her down.  You would not even see her.  You told me to lock her up then have men throw food at her. Keep her in a cage. Take away all privedges.   If I wanted to entertain in my home--take her to a car even in the winter if I got company and leave her there all night or be legally sued.   Your class and your training is highly rated. 

I have an idea.  Let's meet again--Just once.  You will legally have to put me down this time. 

Interview your trainers first!   :) 


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Replies to This Discussion

Joanne, it sure sounds like you have a great plan, and I give you so much credit for everything you've been doing to help this little Doodle girl. She is so lucky to have you. Did you learn anything about why she's like this? Is it something that is inherent or is it a learned response from prior experiences in her short life? I've often wondered about how much of our dog's temperament is inherited versus learned. I suspect a little of both, but I'm uncertain. Starlit's journey will be exciting for all of us. Please keep us posted....I'm sure there's so much we'll all be able to learn as she develops into the happy, secure girl that she's meant to be.
Lots of theory from all angles. I added one above just now. Re-read the bottom.

Could be any of these or all of these:
* She just may need an individual and additional training
* The 4 month fear stage did not go well and she may always have some fear issues. ( her age is debatable. The vet said when I first got her that her age did not match her teeth. So she may not have been 4 wks, 4 days old. She was at least a month older)
* Social development in puppies--puppies should be in a loving home environment. If they do not have human contact in the early weeks they may always be shy. She was a puppy mill dog.
* She may just be wired different. She was the last puppy--not sold or chosen. She was Discounted for a quick sale.
The last one makes me laugh because--Do you remember the movie Marley? Jennifer Aniston called Marley the discount dog. Yeah--Marley was a monster. So hard to train. But in the end--the greatest dog the family ever had. :) :) this is how I am thinking about this now
You mean months, not weeks? Like the idea about the greatest dog. Why wouldn't somebody have chosen this pretty girl?
It sounds like you have what some refer to as a "reactive" dog. Max is just beginning to have reactive type behavior. He hasn't bitten - but he just hasn't felt the need. He does the bark/growl thing.

If you haven't read the book "Scaredy Dog" by Ali Brown, I highly suggest doing so. I'm finding it very informative and the above post is almost the beginning of the book. :)

Thanks Danielle. Will certainly check into the book :)
Last night I saw a few Scaredy dogs in class. Our new trainer likes to work with this type of thing. What was so great about it was --Starlit was mellow compared to what I saw some of the other dogs.
Two dogs will be moving out and into protection training. Both were well trained after several classes somewhere else--but territorial. They will be taught--it is okay to protect but when, where, and how. We were able to see some of this class too. Great class if that is what you are into. I was impressed. If they want to protect you--show them how :)
Melody is a sweet and loving little dog. She is anxious, however. Every little noise scares her. I think she was this way when I got her, and she was 5 months old+ at the time. She is small, and when I took her to beginning behavior class, she tried to back right out of the room. She backs away from so many things! I have just now seen this site and am encouraged. We did have an incident that made matters worse for her. I have written about it on one of the discussions in another group. My house cleaner, (not a pet person), put Melody in her crate when she was cleaning here. She started up the vacuum cleaner and vacuumed the house, including coming right up to the crate. Melody must have completely panicked. I was not here. I came home to find her in her crate, shaking and there was poop everywhere. I was horrified and called the house cleaner. She explained what she had done, and says she did not notice Melody reacting, nor the mess. Melody was about 7 months old then. I was so upset, I could hardly see straight. I called the Vet and we have been working on desensitization with Melody. She can now be in a room with a vacuum cleaner, and is okay outside with a leaf blower, if I am near her. This is quite limiting. Last week we were walking to the mailbox. The sound of the key on the mailbox spooked her and she bolted away from me,. Her collar snapped right off and she ran away from me. I am so grateful there was not a car driving by at the time. I have gotten some D.A.P. spray for her and I think that has helped some. I just saw the harnesses posted here, and am very interested in this, plus behavior classes and books. I love this little girl so much, as does my husband. We want her to have a balanced life.
Joanne, I remember I read this, but must not have commented. I feel encouraged..thank you!
How is Starlit doing? I am looking for hope as our Willow, with everything we have done, still can't walk down the street.
Patti, she is doing wonderful. Wow, after returning to this post nearly a year later, I find it hard to believe we are talking about the same dog. Changes happen slowly and go unnoticed unless we keep notes in situations like this. Looking back now, it is just remarkable.
We did seek out a complete medical workup, then began anti-anxiety meds, then on to training. I strongly believe ALL three were needed. Not just one of these methods.
Like you , we were crushed after months of seeing a beautiful dog so full of fear even though we continued to provide a safe environment full of love.
She will never be 100%, however she loves her walks, the park, and sometimes even humans make her tail wag, and most of all loves training.
I want to give my other dog credit here too, because sometimes she feeds off his superlative confidence.
Write me anytime for support.



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