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Overcoming Fear Of Big Dogs

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8 replies to this topic

#1
blacksheep

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Once upon a time, we lived in a house we were watching for someone.  When he'd come home, he'd bring all of his dogs back with him including his great dane.  Our little Loki never had a problem with the dane until he was accidentally stepped on while he was trying to urinate.  Ever since then, there has been some tension between Loki and any dog more than a couple inches taller than him.  He growls and takes a completely fearful aggressive stance (head low, ears flat, may show teeth/growl, tail between legs, whale eyes....)  Any large dogs he met before the incident he seemed fine with (including my in-law's boxer mix and rhodesian mix.)  

 

In the future, husband and I would like to get a greyhound and/or a dane.  We also plan on taking a trip in December (possibly on the 31st) and board our dogs.  Loki is fairly active and fairly social.  Luna is really active and a social butterfly.  While I haven't brought it up to hubby, I think at least these two would do well in a cage-free boarding facility.  I have two in mind.  One is cage-free day play with rooms/runs at night.  Another is 24/hr cage free with 24/hr supervision.  They both include TV which I think would come in handy while fireworks are going off.  

 

Luna wears the pants in their relationship.  Generally if Luna isn't afraid of something, Loki will approach and learn to like it too.  Loki used to hate taking baths but saw Luna jump in the tub one day and he followed her.  Now suddenly, he likes baths.  I'm hoping that Ms. social butterfly could get Mr. Loki to stop being so scary.  

 

What do you guys think?  Can a dog encourage another dog to not be so fearful?  Good idea or no?  Am I even going about this the right way?



#2
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There's a definite possibility that she could help him with his anxiety. Dogs will learn through the social cues of other dogs pretty quickly, but that will also depend on the other larger dogs that they come into contact with. 

 

I'd suggest finding an even tempered, laid back dog that reads cues from other dogs well. A few of our Danes would be the perfect match for him to meet! 

 

As far as adding a large or giant breed into your home in the future, I think it'll completely depend on whether you plan to adopt an adult or get a puppy from a breeder. If you end up getting a puppy (given that Loki still struggles with anxiety around larger dogs) it'll be more successful in the end as the puppy will gradually get bigger, thus making the transition for Loki easier. 


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#3
blacksheep

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As far as adding a large or giant breed into your home in the future, I think it'll completely depend on whether you plan to adopt an adult or get a puppy from a breeder. If you end up getting a puppy (given that Loki still struggles with anxiety around larger dogs) it'll be more successful in the end as the puppy will gradually get bigger, thus making the transition for Loki easier. 

 

 

 

We are hoping to start with a dane puppy for that reason.  If we did start with a grey, it would be an extremely chill one.  I know a lot of breeders will cull puppies as soon as they find out they aren't show quality.  Some are willing to give them up so when ready, I will put the word out to friends that work in hospitals.  I know the doctor at one clinic I interned at got his boxer that way.  She was C-sectioned and this puppy was white.  Owner wanted to euthanize but was willing to give up that dog if someone took her that day.  



#4
taquitos

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I would look into LAT training (Look-At-That) -- it's a form of counterconditioning, where you associate whatever the animal is reactive/fearful of with something positive.

 

I do think how other dogs react around your dog will help, but honestly she will probably need a bit more intensive training.

 

I wouldn't trust my small dogs in a boarding facility where they give them play time with larger dogs, but that's just me. I would only trust my small dog around larger dogs if I know the dogs very well. You never know with high prey drive dogs, etc.


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#5
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We are hoping to start with a dane puppy for that reason.  If we did start with a grey, it would be an extremely chill one.  I know a lot of breeders will cull puppies as soon as they find out they aren't show quality.  Some are willing to give them up so when ready, I will put the word out to friends that work in hospitals.  I know the doctor at one clinic I interned at got his boxer that way.  She was C-sectioned and this puppy was white.  Owner wanted to euthanize but was willing to give up that dog if someone took her that day.  

I agree with Taquitos with the LAT training, which would mean finding a trainer in your area with experience. I've had great success with LAT training with anxiety dogs. 

 

Have you looked into breeders at all yet? 



#6
blacksheep

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Have you looked into breeders at all yet? 

 

I started a couple days ago and will follow them for years till I'm satisfied with one lol.  Like I said, I'd rather take a puppy they'd likely cull at birth.  Those are usually the interesting ones.  Never heard of LAT but will see if there is a trainer nearby.



#7
Iorveth

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Natalie pretty much said what I was going to say. I would think a puppy would be easier because it wouldn't suddenly be a huge dog coming into the house. It would be a small dog that slowly got bigger. 

I think that a dog can absolutely help another dog get over fears. When we first started going to the park, Iorveth was a baby and, after he "graduated" to the big dog side that had a lot more room, he wasn't so sure. After seeing Buck be unafraid and interacting with a few calm, adults who were unafraid, he was more open to running around without having to have me right there. 



#8
lauren43

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I understand why everyone says puppy. But just to play devils advocate, puppies like to play. Great Dane pups are large even at 8 weeks.
If getting stepped on started the fear, then the puppy stepping on her would only make it worse. If you did decide to go that route you'd have to be super advocates for your smaller dog.

#9
taquitos

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Yeah honestly going with a gentler older dog, imo, would be a better choice.

 

 

That's LAT using a clicker. It's a great tool if you have a reactive dog. I use it for my leash reactive fosters and it really helps them get over their reactivity.

 

And if you are looking for a trainer, I would make sure you are going for someone who uses positive methods only. The worst thing for your dog would be to get one of those bogus trainers who believe in Cesar Milan's theories lol.






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