Join Date: May 2013
Location: Glen Burnie, MD
9 month old afraid of PetSmart/PetCo!
I'm hoping that someone out there has some experience with the following situation and can offer some advice. (It's a bit long, sorry about that!)
My husband and I have a 9 month old female GS pup named Pierre. We adopted her at just 9 weeks old and she's been with us ever since. She is a well socialized dog and loves people and other animals (well, except for squirrels!). But lately, she has been SUPER afraid of PetSmart/PetCo.
For about 16 weeks in the summer, Pierre took puppy/intermediate training classes... and she did fantastic. Though I've heard various reports about PetSmart training, we had a wonderful experience with a trainer that truly did a fantastic job with our pup. In the past couple weeks, we decided to retake intermediate class because we've been finding that our pup is testing her boundaries to see what she can get away with. When looking through the posts here one day, I found someone who recommended that, during this stage, we re-enroll her in school. So for the last 3 weeks, we've been taking class (with a new trainer).
Last week, I took Pierre to puppy school and something strange happened. She walked nicely with me through the parking lot, all the way up to the store. And then she stopped dead in her tracks at the front doors, dropped to her belly, and decided she wasn't moving. At 70 lbs, there wasn't much I could do to force her. I tried coaxing her in with treats, calls, etc... but nothing worked. She finally got up to her feet, and with a little help from one of the PetSmart trainers, I was able to at least get her in the store. But then, she found the nearest corner and did the same. Cowering and generally freaking out. I tried coaxing her a bit, but didn't want to force her into anything that she didn't want to do.
When I was getting ready to call it a day and miss class, she started slowllllly walking towards the training block in school, so I let her get as far as she was able. We got about halfway to the back of the store and again, she cowered. Since we were running late to class (we're the only family in this retake class), the new trainer came out to look for us and found us in the main aisle, parked. She helped to coax Pierre and we were able to get her into the puppy ring, but did not get much training done. She was fine in the ring, but I spent most of my time talking to the trainer about what could possibly be causing this. After a good 20 or so minutes of normal Pierre, we finally started working on 'heel', but as soon as the trainer started walking with her, she freaked out again. So I had enough and told her that we were leaving.
It took us 20 minutes to get out of the store because she kept stopping and dropping. But, when we got home and she acted completely fine. Like nothing ever happened.
We've been watching her like a hawk the last few days, but she's been acting 100% normal. Last night, we took her to PetCo to see if it was that PetSmart store or a smell or random, etc or if she would act like this again.
Again, she went through the parking lot fine; she was even running towards the store, but stopped shy of the door again. Since we had 90 minutes or so to kill, we let her take her time and sniff her way through the store, but every couple minutes or so, she'd just be done-- shaking, etc.
We have an appointment with the vet next week, where I'll be talking to them about this issue, but wanted to see if anyone had ever experienced anything like this.
It's also important to note (I think) that just about all of her experiences at PetSmart/PetCo have been positive ones. The only issue we've ever had was the previous week when we were working on 'heel' at puppy school and the trainer tried the pinch collar. We've never used one before and Pierre didnt like it at all, so I made the trainer take it off of her almost immediately. Is it possible that that experience was bad enough that it has now scared her that much?
Any help would be greatly appreciated.