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Lisa, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 16554
Experience:  CVT with a special interest in behavior modification through structure, boundaries and limitations with positive reinforcement.
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Almost 3yrs. Malti-poo is afraid of everything. jumps at movement,

Customer Question

almost 3yrs. Malti-poo is afraid of everything. jumps at movement, noises, riding in cars
stares out the window & barks or growls at nothing. shakes & pants in the car.
tried Benedryl, thunder shirt, car seat, calming collar. does she need a tranquilizer?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Lisa replied 2 years ago.
Hi there! My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help you with your question. Just like an in person consult, I have a few questions of my own to help ensure I give you the best advice possible...
How long have you had your dog?
What is her name?
Does she act like this mostly in the car, or at home too?
Has she ever been to obedience classes?
When she acts fearful, what do you do?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
we got her at 4 months. her name is ***** ***** at home and in the car. she was in a class at 1 1/2 yrs.
I just try to comfort her, holding & talking softly. today she is staring towards the window and growling.
Expert:  Lisa replied 2 years ago.
So when she acts like this, you always comfort her?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
yes. she stares down the hallway and growls. she wont go into my office, stays outside the doorway and growls then goes away
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
in the car she pants and shakes the whole ride
Expert:  Lisa replied 2 years ago.
Thanks for the additional information. I really appreciate it.
I think you may have accidentally reinforced this behavior in her.
Dogs tend to do certain things such as growling/barking/shaking as an attention getting behavior and when that behavior is rewarded with attention, they will repeat it. That's the whole premise of positive rewarded-based dog training. So just like sitting politely (dog's behavior) brings forth a cookie (positive reinforcement), some dogs have found that barking/growling (dog's behavior) brings forth mom's concern in the form of attention (positive reinforcement.)
If you think this may be the problem you will need to determine what initiates this behavior and how you may be unconsciously rewarding the behavior. For example-- if your pup only starts to act up when you start to leave the house and you notice the behavior and come back to pet and "reassure your dog that its ok" then you are rewarding the behavior. As long as the behavior is rewarded the behavior will continue!
To extinguish this behavior you will need to start ignoring the negative behavior and reward and pay attention to the dog when NOT doing it. You can also try distraction by playing games with working with and reinforcing basic obedience skills. Remember NO positive reinforcement when your pup is acting out!
You also might find it helpful to enlist a good trainer to help you with her behavior issues if needed. Just make sure the trainer is a positive, reward based trainer! I know that you did take her to classes, but getting a trainer to come to your home and help train her there will likely give you better results because you'll be using her normal environment.
If none of this works, then it might not be a bad idea to talk to your vet about a light sedative to help take the edge off.
I hope this helps!!
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
how about the car? how do I get her to calm down? thunder shirt, calming collar and car seat don't work.
we travel every weekend, 1 1/2 hr. ride each way
Expert:  Lisa replied 2 years ago.
It could be that she's carsick. Lots of dogs don't do well in cars.
You could try picking up some Bonine at the pharmacy and see if that helps.