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Lisa, Certified Veterinary Technician
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 16507
Experience:  CVT with a special interest in behavior modification through structure, boundaries and limitations with positive reinforcement.
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I have a small wire haired terrier schnauzer mix, last

Customer Question

Hi, I have a small wire haired terrier schnauzer mix, for the last couple weeks everyone we take him out, he does his business and after coming back in he acts cowardly, and scared, he shakes for like 30 mins. Follows me around, sits on or at my feet no matter where I go. Please help is something wrong with my dog?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Lisa replied 1 year ago.

Hi there. My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help you with your question today. Just like an in person consult, I have some questions of my own to help ensure I give you the best advice possible....

Is there anything new in the areas he's going when you take him out?

Any new dogs or people?

Is he an anxious dog overall anyway?

When he acts scared, what do you do?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Hi Lisa, nothing new in area, no new ppl or animals, I hold him, cover him and try to give reassurance when he comes in. He is not an anxious dog usually.. After about 30 minutes to an hour he is back to normal. I'm just so worried for him
Expert:  Lisa replied 1 year ago.

Great. Thanks for the additional information. I really appreciate it.

At first, I suspect something may have frightened him when he went out, and then when you comforted him, it triggered a positive association which makes him keep doing it.

It's the same thing as when you're training a dog for any other thing....he does the behavior (the acting scared), he gets positive reinforcement for the behavior (the comforting him), so the little light bulb turns on in his head to keep doing that behavior to get the reinforcement.

The best thing to do at this point is to not reward him with that reinforcement when he comes in acting scared or nervous. I know it's hard because you feel bad for him, but by stepping over him and ignoring the behavior, and only rewarding him when he's not acting like that, he'll relearn that the acting scared doesn't get him the attention.

If he were doing this at other times, or if he was having other symptoms such as weight loss, vomiting, diarrhea or anything else, then I'd think it was something medical possibly, but since it only happens at this specific time, I think it's just a learned behavior that we can help him unlearn with time.

I hope this helps.

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