Posted by coetzee
Jan 16, 2008
PLEASE help me! My 1yr old Fox Terrier is a gentle, calm, loving & obedient dog but she seems to suffer with phobias! She cant wait to go for her daily walks but as we walk down a long road before reaching a walking path, we pass several storm drains of course. About 10 feet from the drains, she drops to the road as flat as she can make herself & absolutetly refuses to budge. I have actually treid sitting on the pavement at the drain with treats (neighbours think I'm mad) & as much as she likes food, refuses it as well. Only when I go up onto the nature strip or neighbours front lawns will she walk. She pulls away from the street towards the house until we are past. She does the same with any steps or stairs....will not go up or down & appears terrified. I refuse to pull her back & forth on the lead as has been suggested to me as that seems pretty cruel. Many thanks Jan :::eek:
Posted by Blue
Feb 28, 2008
Hi Jan,
With a lot of patience and persuasion, your dog can be trained out of her phobias.

Throughout your training, you have to remain calm and consistent, or the dog will pick up on any nervousness and agitation you may have and will immediately distrust you and whatever phobia you're trying to get her over will continue to persist.

What I suggest you do is work with one phobia at a time.

For each one take your dog as close to the phobia as you can, all the time praising and encouraging her. As soon as she starts to cower, stop the praise, [B]don't reprimand[/B], just stop praising her. Your lack of praise is reprimand enough without making her more fearful.

Try to move forward, just a little, put a treat a few inches on the ground in front of her, the first one where she can just reach it by stretching forward, and then put another just a little further ahead of that. As soon as she goes for them, praise her enthusiastically (but not in a startling way!). You can keep trying this with some new pieces of food.

When she refuses to progress any further, don't give into her, just turn around and walk away from the object of her fear - no praise, just turn and walk away from it, and continue on other obedience/heeling training.

In this way you will build up her trust, that the progression forward gets her praise and treats, while avoiding the object causes the walk to abruptly stop moving forward, as well as the praise and treats abruptly ending. Dogs work better with a reprimand/reward program, and your reprimand in this case is simply not rewarding.

Forcing her to go near her fears will not work, it will make her distrust you more and give her reason to fear the object.

I hope this is helpful, and please do update us with any progress you may have already made!
Good luck!