Scared of stuff...

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Yarr's picture
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Joined: 2008-11-01

Scout seems to be developing fears of things for no really good reason. 

Our bedroom (where she sleeps) is at the end of a hallway connected to the living room.  She won't go down the hall unless I turn the light on.  She will sit at one end of the hall and whine until the light comes on and then will run into the other room as if she is racing to make it before the light goes off again.  She doesn't have a problem in a dark room, just with the hallway. 

The other thing she is suddenly afraid of is hats.  I have a fedora I wear occasionally when I go out.  One day I was wearing it and she wouldn't come out of her kennel.  I didn't know what the problem was until my wife suggested that it might be the hat.  Sure enough, when I took it off, she came on out.  To test, I put it back on and back into the cage she went.  I then tested her with a ball cap.  What I figured out is that if I want the dog to get into her kennel and stay there, all I have to do is put something on my head. 

What is up with that?

AlphaAdmin's picture
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Joined: 2010-01-18

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Likely something has happened to cause these fears. She's still a puppy too.

The Doberman is very perceptive and usually not afraid of much. She could have made a bad association with the hat or dark hallway at some point, perhaps without you even noticing. It's hard to say. Perhaps she heard you yelling at someone on the phone while she was walking down the dark hallway. Or perhaps you came in the house one day with the hat on covering you face and confused her.

How did YOU respond when she first showed either of these fears?

What you can do now is show her that these things are safe through desensitization. You need to go in small steps and use care not to reinforce the behavior. When she shows fear, never try to comfort her. This is assuring her that there is a reason to be afraid.

When she starts acting scared, act as if you don't notice it and she'll see that her acting afraid is unnecessary. This usually works for most things, unless there was a traumatic experience.

In such a case it's good to keep the confident attitude, not comforting, and in small increments allow her exposure to the fear.

Yarr's picture
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Joined: 2008-11-01

Whatever it was, it was both recent and sudden.  She's not skittish as a rule.  She loves people and other dogs and nobody or no thing has ever been 'mean' to her that I am aware of.  She even loves going to the vet where they do things she doesn't enjoy such as give shots or trim her nails. 

I don't wear the hat all the time so I can see how she might have gotten confused, but I never noticed her avoiding it before.  As far as the dark hallway, again, I called her to come into the bedroom and she didn't come.  She kind of disappears in the dark anyway so I turned the light on to see where she was and she darted down the hall.  It just happened one day and now she does it all the time.  I thought it was strange because aren't dogs supposed to be able to see pretty well in the dark?

As far as my reaction, I guess it was more or less, "huh?" and then checking to see if that's what she was reacting to.  I'll work with her to desensitize.  That sounds easy enough.