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Sally G.
Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 9567
Experience:  Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
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We have a 2 year old Rhodesian ridgeback and all of a sudden

Customer Question

We have a 2 year old Rhodesian ridgeback and all of a sudden 2 weeks ago he seemed scared of everything ,shying of from other dogs with his tale between his legs where usually he would be wagging and sniffing . He runs round the house staying very close to my girlfriend ,he will suddenly stop and look out of windows and into a space in the room but not always the same space.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I have been in the dog field for 25 years. I am a Therapy Dog & AKC Evaluator/trainer/ as well as an assistance/service dog trainer, specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today.

When did this start?

Is there anything new in the home?

Did anything happen that you know of that could have frightened him? Any construction going on, fireworks, etc?

Could he have gotten hurt in anyway in the areas that he is scared of?

How does he react to you trying to calm him down

Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

It seems as if you are offline and I will be going off for a while to do some service dog training. If you can answer the questions above i will be sure to respond when I return:)

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
A week or so ago .There is nothing new in the home , and nothing has frightened him that I know of .We live in a very rural area and nothing is going on out the ordinary .We han'nt noticed him being hurt and there is not one area that he is acting strange in .He sort of calms down of his own accord .
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for that information. Generally dogs start sudden behavior changes for one of three reasons. The are frightened, they hurt themselves, or they have a health problem.

The fact that you are not aware of anything happening does not mean it did not. If you live in a rural area then there may have been something that went off there such as a gun or firework, or there may have been a particular animal sound that was new.

If he is out on his own at times then he may have hurt himself and associates an area or sound with that.

An example: A bee sting is something that dogs have difficulty with because not only would something like that hurt, but the dog then associates any type of buzzing noise with that pain.

If it were a health issue then it would be neurological in nature such as focal or aura seizures. Dogs that go through these have a sudden change in behavior.

That being said, behavior wise he is at the age where certain imprints are left with him. Dogs go though this throughout their lives into about the 5 year. Imprints change, a dog that was once fine with a noise or area, suddenly becomes frightened of it. This is a normal part of their life. At that point it is how the owner handles it that will determine how the dog spends the rest of its life.

The fact that he is calming down on his own is good, but you must make sure there is no soft talk or coddling as this is seen as form of reward and the behavior will get worse. If you can, when he begins to act like this work him in commands to redirect the behavior and then you can praise and reward that behavior.

Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.

If he can calm down without interference from you then I would allow him to try that. But at the same time I would want to see daily training take place to boost his confidence.

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