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Question
Posted by: Kosie | 2011/01/31

Nervous wreck

We have a 10 year old male short hair Sheep Dog. He has been quite a nervous wreck lately. When someone talks loudly, he will slowly get up and try to leave the room as quietly as possible. Or when I got a new parrot and it would start vocalising for food, he would also do the disappearing act. It seems that he does not want to be around loud voices, altough he is quite content lying next to the TV when we''re watching a movie on the surround system. It always seems as though if some raises their voice, he thinks he did something wrong and will get smacked, although he hasn''t had a spanking in over 5 years because he is so well-trained and knows his place. so it does not look like a general loud noise aversion. I am stumped on this.

Your insights will be appreciated.

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageDog Behaviour Expert

Hi Kosie, nice to hear from you. From what you say it sounds as if he has had a fright when somebody shouted and is reacting accordingly, which is with fear. You may notice that in addition to leaving the room, his tail may be between his legs and head lowered.You mention that previously he got smacked if misbehaving. You should never call a dog and smack it, all that will result from that is the dog will not come when called, as it perceives that the coming to you is what caused the punishment.Punishment should only be carried out if a dog is 'caught in the act'. Aggression breeds aggression. There are other methods, such as a Time-out that can be used when a dog does need to be reprimanded. What i would suggest you do to help with the fear, is to get a handful of his favourite treats and set the following up as an exercise. Sit in the room with him, and slightly raise your voice and then immediately give him a treat and praise him. He is now being rewarded for the behaviour you do want i.e. dog staying in the room and not stressing. Do this over and over until he is not reacting at all to your voice. When you have successfully achieved this, then gradually raise your voice a bit more, then repeat at a higher volume. When successful with this, start to bring in new sounds remembering to always start softly and build up accrodingly. Wishing you luck and do let me know how it goes or if you need any more assistance. Thanks Scotty

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Our users say:
Posted by: Kosie | 2011/01/31

Will do, thank you.

Reply to Kosie
Posted by: Dog Behaviour Expert | 2011/01/31

Hi Kosie, nice to hear from you. From what you say it sounds as if he has had a fright when somebody shouted and is reacting accordingly, which is with fear. You may notice that in addition to leaving the room, his tail may be between his legs and head lowered.You mention that previously he got smacked if misbehaving. You should never call a dog and smack it, all that will result from that is the dog will not come when called, as it perceives that the coming to you is what caused the punishment.Punishment should only be carried out if a dog is 'caught in the act'. Aggression breeds aggression. There are other methods, such as a Time-out that can be used when a dog does need to be reprimanded. What i would suggest you do to help with the fear, is to get a handful of his favourite treats and set the following up as an exercise. Sit in the room with him, and slightly raise your voice and then immediately give him a treat and praise him. He is now being rewarded for the behaviour you do want i.e. dog staying in the room and not stressing. Do this over and over until he is not reacting at all to your voice. When you have successfully achieved this, then gradually raise your voice a bit more, then repeat at a higher volume. When successful with this, start to bring in new sounds remembering to always start softly and build up accrodingly. Wishing you luck and do let me know how it goes or if you need any more assistance. Thanks Scotty

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