Mo got spooked! Please help.

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Postby cannon » September 5th, 2006, 8:49 pm

This morning Satchmo flipped out when I took him outside. There were roofers tossing down large pieces of roof two buildings away. Upon seeing this Satchmo FREAKED OUT! He became really scared and tweaked out. He tried to get out of his collar. He tried twice to run past the limit of the line he was attached to (he always knows when he is out of line), which he never does. He then went to the fence and tried to get over. Then he went into my basement stairwell and HID under the wooden stairs. I had to physically pull him out. The whole time he was struggling with all his might to get back under the stairs.

I got him back inside and he settled down a little. I crated him and went to work.

When I came home he was cowering in his crate. I took him outside, the roofers were gone, and he was still acting a little scared. Now that he is inside he keeps looking up at things like lights and ceiling fans like they pose a threat to him.

I have never seen him show a 'flight' response like this. It scared me. If he had got out of his collar I am sure he would have run away. This is just so strange for him and opposite of his normal behavior.

Just for the record there was no aggression displayed by Mo, but I was a little worried pulling him out of the stairwell. Not because he is a pit bull, but because he was a terrified and cornered dog. he is a very relaxed mellow kind of dog, but is not timid. To me he is middle of the road between dominant and sumissive. Leaning towards dominant and almost never fearful in the least.

I am at a loss for why he reacted so strongly.

Any opinions on what happened or any similar situations?
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Postby Marinepits » September 5th, 2006, 9:02 pm

Oh, poor Mo! :(

When my guys start losing their minds over something unfamiliar (especially if there is a lot of unfamiliar noise involved), I calmly and slowly bring them towards whatever is freaking them out and I keep telling them "It's okay". I let them investigate it at their own comfort level. The key to this is to BE CALM and act like it's no big deal, no matter how the dog acts.

I learned this approach from grooming dogs for years. Many dogs, especially first-time-grooming dogs, will LOSE THEIR MINDS with a forced-air dryer blowing at them after their baths. Just go slow, be calm, and let them know by your actions that whatever is "scary" is really nothing to be afraid of. If you act calmly, then the dog will pick up on that clue (it may take a bit) and gain more confidence in their perceived "frightening" situation.
Never make someone a priority in your life when that someone treats you like an option.
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Postby cannon » September 5th, 2006, 9:14 pm

Thanks. I tried to calm him but he wasn't having it.

If they are out there tomorrow morning I will try to let him get closer. Only problem is they are on a three story roof and they are dumping fender sized pieces into a big truck. :(
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Postby Marinepits » September 5th, 2006, 9:19 pm

cannon wrote:Thanks. I tried to calm him but he wasn't having it.



Yeah, sometimes they just can't be reasoned with.

When you take him out tomorrow, have some high-value treats handy and try to keep his attention on the treats. Make sure it's something he REALLY loves!

Can he see the roofers from inside the house? If so, try starting from there and very slowly bring him outside.
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Postby a-bull » September 5th, 2006, 9:46 pm

How old is he?

See if you can get some of the shingle scraps, sit on the ground with him, and just toss them lightly then toss a treat. Let him check them out, and when he seems solid, toss them a little higher, etc., etc.

Be careful with any reassurance you give him. Sometimes that will reinforce the fear. Just be very happy and matter-of-fact.

Nothing wrong with a spook. It happens, and in the big scheme of things, it sounds like he wasn't even too bad off and neither were you. :wink:
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Postby Malli » September 6th, 2006, 2:43 am

I agree, with dogs its, munkey see munkey do.

He sees you thinking its no biggie, he'll start to question his fear.

Plus, high value treats don't hurt either :lol3:
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Postby SisMorphine » September 6th, 2006, 8:04 am

I'd see if any of the roofers, while on break, may be willing to help you tomorrow. Bring him over while they're just hanging around, let him sniff, bring super high value treats and let the roofers give them to him. Then I would work up to having him eat treats off of one of the scraps. Then maybe sit across the street and feed treats while the stuff is coming down.

Unfortunately it's a process that would definitely take more than a day! So I'd say do the best you can, with the short amount of time you've got. Don't just let this one go because it can form a foundation for similar irrational fears in the future.
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Postby Marinepits » September 6th, 2006, 5:54 pm

Hey, cannon! How is Mo doing today?
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Postby JCleve86 » September 6th, 2006, 8:14 pm

My dog took off and hid for hours behind the garbage cans (we thought we'd lost her somehow!!!) when my dad was cleaning the gutters out a few years back. From the dog's perspective...there are really, really tall dudes standing way up there throwing scary crap at you and making lots of freaky noises. As far as my dogs are concerned the world is here merely for their entertainment, so Molly was right freaked out when stuff started flying out of the gutters. That was NOT fun as far as she was concerned, and thus, totally uncalled for. lol
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Postby cannon » September 6th, 2006, 10:39 pm

Hey, cannon! How is Mo doing today?


OK, today started off bad. Mo was totally relaxed last night. Maybe even more than normal.

Then at 7AM :squint: the roofers started :x . Mo was like a light switch and was instantly scared. I tried to get him on the balcony to watch the roofers, like you had suggested Marinepits, but logistically it was too hard at 7AM. :drool:

I took him outside with the prong and leash. He saw a roofer, but was unphased. I praised him and gave him treats. While waiting for him to poop they dropped another piece of roofing. The noise spooked him again.

We went to an unused yard nearby and he could see the roofers better. No problems there, but no poop either.

I tried to bring him back towards home, which meant getting closer to the roofers, and he freaked a little bit again. He tried to hide under my truck. He came out with a correction and went straight inside where he was instantly 'all better'.

It is clearly the noise that is bothering him, but having him on the prong and leash seemed to prevent any problems and seemed to calm him a little.

JCleve, I agree, the gutter story sounds pretty similar to what I am dealing with.

SisMorphine, I did praise and calm him while we watched them throw roofing down. He did good until we got closer to the house.

Malli, I agree, that monkey see/monkey do might help. That is why he was on the lead. i tried to show him it wasn't bothering me.
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Postby rockermom » September 7th, 2006, 6:38 am

Poor puppy. Rocky too can be afraid of things falling and especially crashing. Glad you were able to make it a little better.
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Postby Marinepits » September 7th, 2006, 7:04 am

Well, every little bit of progress is good. Sounds like he's doing a bit better. :)
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Postby cannon » September 7th, 2006, 8:00 pm

Better today. He knows they are the ones dropping stuff and he doesn't like it, but no strong reactions like before.

Thanks guys.
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Postby Marinepits » September 7th, 2006, 8:17 pm

Yeah! :helloClap:
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Postby cannon » September 8th, 2006, 7:33 pm

Thanks! Even better today. We are slowly returning to normal. :P
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