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Lisa
Lisa, Certified Vet Tech
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 16554
Experience:  AAS Vet Tech. Bully breed rehab & Behavior modification
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I have a beautiful, very gentle female golden retriever

Customer Question

Hi
I have a beautiful, very gentle female golden retriever who is 6 years old. At times she is also very timid, anxious and nervous. I notice this most is when there is a loud noise. For instance I dropped my iPhone on the carpet when she was sleeping and she jumped up quickly and looked around very stressed. She also has a similar response to plastic bags rustling and drawers slamming shut.
She is walked twice daily and we live in a happy environment. She seemed to have developed her anxiety in puppy hood. Is there any training you would suggest to help her relax more with loud noises?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Lisa replied 2 years ago.
Hi there. My name is ***** ***** I'm happy to help you today. Just like an in person consult, I have a few questions of my own to help ensure I give you the best advice possible...So you've had her since she was a puppy?Has she ever been to obedience classes ever?How much exercise is she getting daily?How does she handle things like thunder storms or fireworks?Is she crate trained at all?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Yes since 8 weeks old.
She is walked 1 to 2 times a day.
She did basic obedience as a puppy. She will sit on command, knows not to jump on the couch and will not beg for food. When we walk, she is mostly off lead and will just follow me.
She is also very scared of thunder and fireworks
I tried to crate train her when I first got her but she scratched on the crate and cried so we only lasted a night
Expert:  Lisa replied 2 years ago.
Thanks so much for the additional information. I really appreciate it.It sounds to me like Sadie is having a noise phobia. This is actually pretty common in dogs and I'm actually working with a new rehabilitation dog on the same issue right now.The thing to remember about any phobia is that it will continue or even intensify if the dog is repeatedly exposed to it. Dogs have many different phobias, but the two most common are a fear of strange places (like going down the basement stairs) and noise phobias (thunderstorms or even the sound of skateboard wheels on the pavement). Without corrective measures, some dogs will even physically harm themselves in an attempt to avoid the thing they're afraid of.The first thing to do is to have your regular vet take a quick peek at Opine to rule out any medical reason for this behavior. Underlying illnesses such as thyroid issues can often cause a change in behavior, so just to be on the safe side, it's good to have the vet to a little bit of blood work first. You could also talk to them about possibly sending out some anxiety managing medications to help take the edge off of her fear of loud noises and although medication is a good plan, it's even better to retrain your dog to learn to not be afraid of the noise.Make sure to have lots of your dogs favorite treats on hand for rewarding him during this retraining period.During this counter conditions, we're going to work at desensitizing her to the noise. This means we're going to use baby steps to increase your dog's confidence. Getting her enrolled in a reminder basic obedience class will also help as this will further the bond between you and she because you'll be asking her to do things and expecting her to respond. Dogs with phobias do really well with a strong pack leader, so getting into a class where you're going to be the leader will help a great deal. Until she's over it completely, every time you hear the noise she's afraid of, make sure to reward her with both verbal cues and treats.These techniques require patience and may take quite a bit of time, so don't expect an instant cure. Never punish a fearful pet because such actions can actually worsen his phobias and anxiety. Instead, touch her gently and speak calmly to reassure her but avoid excessive displays of concern or petting. Speak in an upbeat tone, act happy, and divert your pets attention to a treat or fun activity. Your goal is to deliver the message that the noise is no big deal.There are also a couple over-the-counter products that you could try that reduce anxiety in dogs:Melantonin is an over-the-counter drug that can be used to treat some anxiety issues in dogs. The dose you would give would be up to 3 mg given orally whenever necessary up to every 8 hours. More information can be found here: http://www.petplace.com/drug-library/melatonin-melatonex/page1.aspx , which includes risks, warning signs to watch out for and other bits of useful information.Try a DAP collar. These are collars that are impregnated with a man-made version of the dog appeasing pheromone, which is a pheromone that nursing bitches give off to their pups to help them feel calm and secure. It's something that humans can't smell, but it has an amazing effect on dogs with anxiety and other issues. Although you can find them at your vet's office..you can also find them online at places like Amazon.com and Ebay for much cheaper. Just make sure they're DAP brand, as they seem to work better than some other versions.Hopefully with some time and patience, she'll learn that the noise is nothing to be afraid of.I hope this helps.