Two years ago I was blessed with a lovely Chipoo at a rescue in my old city. I never owned a dog by myself before and was in a very stressful time in my life. The woman at the rescue said he has some aversions towards people and didn’t know how he was going to behave when he saw us. As soon as the door opened and he ran out he jumped right into my lap and looked at me with those big brown eyes. It was love. She did mention he had some aversions to men but have them give him a few treats and it should be fine. Fast forward to a few years later we discovered he has more than a few dislikes and it’s not as if he shies away from a fight. It’s to the point that he still gets whimpers, and cries, at anything from car rides, to walks. Sometimes he even shakes from it. Its anxiety much like people, dogs can have traumatic events that lead them to have a fear of people or places. After learning this I decided to take action! My baby will cope and we’ll take it one step at a time.
What I’ve Tried
The first thing we did was get him used to being outside. He responds well to positive reinforcement and treats. if he stops and begins crying I stop and comfort him then continue to walk making sure I remain calm and composed so he doesn’t sense that something is off.
Once we got him comfortable with going outside it was time for the car. This was by far the hardest part. It was like driving with a screaming toddler and I’m ashamed to say I did try to ignore and hope he learned to self soothe, that did not work, obviously. So we took it slower. I started with having him sit in the car while I turned it on and let it run feeding him treats and giving him praise. We eventually graduated to slow drives around the neighborhood still giving love. Then going a little further, now he does cry a little but I can listen to music, and dare I say he might even like the ride until we stop. That’s a whole other story.
I can see you wondering why don’t you use calming treats? Well, I did, and CBD oil. This isn’t an energy thing, hell even Benadryl doesn’t do anything. It’s anxiety it’s not something that can be trained out of him and exposure therapy doesn’t always work. It has no effect if he is in the presence of people he may or may not like.
I also take him to fear free certified vets and groomers who are trained to deal with anxiety and other issues. They go through additional training and education to deal with pets with anxiety, stress, or anything else that requires special attention. The appointments do take longer because they do everything in their power to make sure your pets are taken care of and isn’t scared. Click the link here to find a fear free certified professional in your area.
Unfortunately, none of these helped with the real issue, his anxiety. If I continue like this can get worst because it’s not being treated. I did have to have a talk with my puppy’s doctor and we are getting him on medication to calm him. I know he wants to love and he wants to trust it’s just going to take practice, love, and treatment.
If you’re going through something similar talk to your pet’s veterinarian about solutions and look for trainers that specialize in your pet’s needs. No animal is hopeless there are ways out there that can and will help but keep your expectations realistic. My dog will probably never be everyone’s best friend, and that’s fine, as long as we can explore the world together without fear I’m good. Good luck pet parents!