Maggie Update: Need some Advice
  • ajflacoajflaco
    Posts: 12
    Hi Everyone!

    When we got Maggie she was about 11 weeks old, she was a regular ol' puppy and she didn't seem too timid at all.
    But when she turned 4 months, she became very scared of almost everything... I know puppies go through phases but now shes 5 months old and she's still very scared of everything. Here's some examples of what she's scared of: Strangers.... I know Kai Kens are indifferent with strangers but she's not indifferent she's seriously scared of them but when she was younger I would take her out a lot of she would meet a lot of different people and she never seemed scared... I tried socializing her at a decent pace, maybe it wasn't enough? or maybe too much?
    She's also scared of anything on wheels, if we're in an elevator and a stroller comes in she will pee and once she even pooped a little bit... poor girl. We currently live in an apartment and she was completely fine on the elevators until she turned 4 months old.. and then she got scared, so now I'm leaving her at my parents house because she kept peeing in the elevators. We are moving to a house in a couple weeks and I'm so excited to have her back. Let me know if this was the right decision or not... Should I have kept her in the apartment? where she wasn't comfortable at all? Or is it better for her to be in a place she enjoys, she especially likes being at my parents house because my parents have a dog too.

    Maybe I should just be more patient.... I mean... she is only 5 months old... I don't know. Clearly I'm over analyzing too much here.

    What should I do to help her overcome her fears? I've heard consoling them isn't a good idea because it's almost like rewarding them for being scared.

    On the plus side, she loves other dogs and she loves going to the dog park. She's very submissive when the big dogs come around but she holds her own.

    I've had three dogs before her and they were all different breeds, I've never seen a puppy so afraid before... that's why I'm worried. I'm not saying I need a super excited dog or anything like that, I love her personality when she's around my friends that she knows well, I just don't want her to bolt and pee herself every time she sees someone new.

    Any suggestions... or stories of your own? Let me know!
    Thank you :)

    here's a pic of her sleeping on the bed with my cat blue, she loves sleeping on her back!
    image

    Post edited by ajflaco at 2015-08-28 10:04:39
  • It is actually ok to comfort her when she is scared. You will not reinforce her fear, you will reinforce that when she doesn't know what to do, looking to you for relief helps (vs continuing the fear or going on the offensive with a 'prevent defense'). They need to know you are there for them.

    I think you were wise to stop subjecting her to the elevator since it is a temporary thing she doesn't absolutely have to learn to tolerate when you move. An elevator is a small place, echoey, and crowded and when your head is at 18 inches above the ground a lot is coming down from above you. Things may be scarier for her down there than up at your level. Fearful things are also often learned in a single event in Kai.

    Kai do have a stronger fear self-preservation default underneath than many breeds, for some individuals it is closer to the surface than others. This is also the case is other breeds, such as australian shepherds, and the reason i mention this is because there is so little about Kai out there and it is helpful to step outside the breed and look at other flight-prone breeds for guidance as well.

    With exposure to a negative stimulus, Kais' first instinct is to get distance- and it may not even be a huge distance, I was walking my female down the road when she was a pup and she heard something that scared her (doesn't matter that *I* knew it was people, I have to honor that if she feels scared, she feels scared, it is real to her) so rather than restrain her close to me on leash I let her leash slack and walked *calmly* with her on her short "flight" for a few yards. She then had enough distance to think and see that nothing was imminent, and the sound was lessening. On her own thinking and choice, we nosed around (gaining time to go with our distance) for a few minutes and then resumed our walk just fine.

    With my Kai, I have found that keeping calm, not over -exposing them, and allowing them the space and time to think, that they seem to react to startles with shorter flight distances over time, consistently orienting to me for assurance (which is often just "yeah, I see that, too. What do you think?") and then deciding if it is too much for them to cope with or "Yeah we can handle that, its not that big." Kai do really well with relationship based training, which is not to say she will no longer be a fearful dog, but that if you know what to expect and what she needs then you can best pick what she can handle, what she can more than handle and actually enjoys, and then have a reliable plan for what to do when things are startling.

    Be aware that while she loves the dog park now, she is likely to stop enjoying it and prefer instead playdates with your parents' dogs or known dog friends and that will completely satisfy her dog social needs, which will lessen naturally as she grows up. So ask her in your mind "How is this for you?" and see what you think she would answer. If the park (or anything else like a walk to someplace you like but makes her consistently wary) seems to cause her more stress/reaction than relaxation and joy, its time to dial it back. BEFORE she is having a really bad time. It's our tendency to overdo the strange-dogs. Socialization is teaching her that things are good- or how to enjoy things safely. Quality far far above quantity. :)

    In my experience, Kai rely heavily on their relationship with their owner to cope with stuff, and if that is damaged, misunderstood or inattentive then they lose their anchor and become more flighty, more stressed and it requires a lot of work to do remedial reparation with them. (I also have a 9 year old Kai mix who I took a long time to understand well, and accept what is true for him as gospel, "It's dumb for you to react this way to that thing! Stop it. Do this instead. You have to get over this." Repair work is hard and takes a long time, and I spent too much time training against symptoms and reactions, while not quite understanding or giving enough attention to the stuff at the root. He taught me so much.)

    With new people, have them ignore her as long as possible, allow her to not greet them if she is not ready. some people can really come in hot on a cute puppy in their enthusiasm. Whatever the reason for her feelings, they are her legitimate feelings- she really isn't faking it to get your attention ( I am assuming that of course she gets lot of fun attention from you all the time :) ), so you can't actually reinforce her fear. This blog points to some excellent articles: http://eileenanddogs.com/2014/06/28/reinforce-dogs-fears/

    you cannot go wrong following Patricia McConnell and Suzanne Clothier! :)
    Post edited by WrylyBrindle at 2015-08-28 16:06:18
  • ajflacoajflaco
    Posts: 12
    Wow thanks so much!! This will definitely help me out. :)
  • Hi, I have a very unsocialble Kai. He is now 4 years old and just starting to be ok in social situations tho if we go downtown for a walk he still is pretty stressed. I accept that he is hard wired this way but you have to have a LOT of patience and I do. You also have to be very prepared for him to bolt. I have double collar; I have to have a slip collar of some sort. Some harnesses they can get out of. Clipping onto an ordinary collar is how many dogs who get scared run away and get lost. I also have a gps on him; I use tagg. I've never had to use it but it gives me some assurance. I also enrolled him in dog school right away. We have been going for 4 years. It puts them in a controlled situation with new things to learn and gives them confidence. That said he still can be quite nervous and also bull headed. Patience and protection is what I do.

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