Ask The Trainer
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I hope you can help me with two fear issues I am having with my beagle Beatrice (a laboratory rescue).
1) She was housebroken in my home rather easily with regular outings. Our problem is in the car! Almost every time she has gotten in my car she PPs! The first time I picked her up at her foster home we were not 1/2 mile away and she went in my lap. I have used Nature's Miracle many times on the carpet. I was keeping a plastic shower curtain and towels in the back of my Jeep with the seats down but it seemed to invite her to go. I have a canvas portable crate with a plastic liner and thought this would be the solution. It is not. She still goes in it every time and just sits in it! (I have never given her food in this crate.) We are in a dog-walking club on Saturday mornings, and she will go in the yard before we get in to go, but after walking with the other dogs for one hour she will squeeze out enough PP to make a nice wet spot on the towel in the crate. We are only driving three blocks but she insists on going! Any suggestions?
2) Beatrice is extremely afraid of my ceiling fans. I live on the third floor with skylights and it is much more comfortable if I can have the ceiling fans on. Beatrice is a laboratory rescue, and I don't know what her experience has been before. If I turn on a fan and hold on to her for a little while, she just shakes and her nose runs so much there is a wet spot on the pillow. I just wonder if I should introduce the fans a little at a time or just have a higher air conditioning bill so she won't be afraid. I haven't had the fans on in either of my two rooms all summer except when I need to change the sheets on the bed! It keeps her off the bed long enough for me to change the sheets.
1) She's probably a little fearful of the car. You can try giving her something delicious to chew on (to keep her mind off the ride) and you can also try one of those "doggie diapers" to help remind her that she's actually pp'ing in an inappropriate area. One thing you have to remember about lab pups is that they have never experienced anything but a crate so new things can be a little overwhelming at times; once she understands that you're going to a great place, her nervousness should subside. Let me knows how it goes.
2) Here is another example of new things for Beatrice. You can use the same technique with this as well (except for the diaper!). Start out slowly at first and give her a wonderful chew (one she only gets when working on something she's fearful of [e.g., fans, car rides, brooms, etc.]). One thing I think works extremely well (I use it for separation anxiety as well) is a Kong stuffed with a mixture of peanut butter, Cheese Whiz, a little bit of dog food, and some special treats. Mix it all together to make a paste, then stuff the Kong full and freeze it overnight. Get it out and let her start to lick at it, then turn on the fan and ignore her if she starts to get nervous. The second she starts to lick the Kong again say "Good girl" in a calm voice; if she doesn't start licking the Kong, leave the fan on for about five minutes then turn it off and take the Kong away. You want her to associate something good happening with the fan coming on.
>When a dog is fearful of an object, don't give in and say "Poor baby" or coddle her in any way; if you do, it's sending the message, "Yes, you should be afraid" so it actually makes the fear worse. If she's afraid, just act like everything is normal and go on with what you were doing; she'll feel more confident in herself if she sees that the same object isn't upsetting you!
>One last thing, don't use the fan against her. If you need to change the sheets, just put her out of the room until you're done. I have the same problem with my dogs doing that; I think they just like to play in the sheets!