Getting over fears - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-22-2013, 04:43 PM Thread Starter
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Getting over fears

Specifically the fear of crossing a bridge. Ranger was dropped from the seeing eye because he was afraid of stuff. I took him for training, but I guess I never mentioned the fear of bridges so it was never addressed. I mentioned his fear of grates and there really was no way to simulate that in a training facility so i guess I never mentioned bridges. Could kick myself because that is a bigger problem than grates.

Anyway the trainer offered an idea and I wondered if you guys had any others. I emailed and she was nice enough to call back even though I had used all my private lessons. She told me it would take a lot of time. i should walk him toward the bridge and when he balked turn around and then try again. Over and over praising him until we get as close to the bridge as possible then call it a day. Do that over and over and eventually he may go over the bridge.

I plan to try this but wonder if you guys have any tips. I am kicking myself that I didn't tell her about the bridges when we were in lessons. I thought I had at one point since I talked to them a lot about whether they could help Ranger before I went for lessons. If I did mention it it was probably to her assistant so I am sure she is right that I did not mention it to her. Just mad at myself that I spent $270 and I didn't address his fears. She did do a great job helping me with basic obedience and focus so that ought to help.

Anyway, do you guys have any advice?

Thanks, robi
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-22-2013, 05:00 PM
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When you say 'bridge', what do you mean? Any type of constructed path that raises over the ground? Or a bridge over water? Or a bridge over traffic?

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-22-2013, 05:07 PM Thread Starter
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I have had trouble getting him across small culvert bridges and road bridges over water. When we went on outings with the seeing eye he would go over bridges and even sidewalk grates - reluctantly. I am thinking that the presence other dogs gave him courage, or maybe the fears have just gotten worse.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-22-2013, 05:09 PM
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So small garden type bridges at the park (or children's play ground) don't seem to bother him?

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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-22-2013, 11:31 PM Thread Starter
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Sorry, i was out for the evening.

Those types of bridges would bother him. The trainer said to take him to a big, wide bridge to start with.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 02:07 PM
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I wonder if starting smaller would help? For example, if you had a wooden skid/pallet type of thing in your yard, you could teach him to walk over it. Then you could raise it up on some cinder blocks once he's used to walking across it. Sometimes adding the thrill of chasing a toy helps dogs to overcome their fears, like throwing something into the water to get them to swim. Maybe try throwing a toy onto the bridge?
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 02:26 PM Thread Starter
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Ah, blanketback that is a good idea. Then i would have the added advantage that it would be in our quiet backyard without any distractions. I have to try to think how to set something like that up. It would have to be extremely steady or it could really backfire. Maybe I could even start with some of the Little Tykes backyard stuff or would there be something available on some dog site. I would be afraid that something on cinder blocks may not be steady enough.
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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 02:48 PM
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I turned our picnic table into a fun jump-up game, lol. I'm adding ramps in the spring. Our first piece of agility equipment
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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 03:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rangers-mom View Post
Sorry, i was out for the evening.

Those types of bridges would bother him. The trainer said to take him to a big, wide bridge to start with.
My theory is to begin where the stress level is the lowest. If he has no reaction to small garden type bridges, then you'd have to find where his threshold is.

If he is going to react to small bridges, then starting in your back yard would be a good idea. If he is relaxed and confident in your back yard. I'd suggest to begin with a large plank or board and just lay it in your yard. You ignore it. Don't try to coax him to it or go over it. Let him get used to it in your yard. Once he ignores it, play games over it. Throw a toy, lay a food track..that sort of thing. Try to keep his stress level as low as possible.

Once he is confident over that, then using the same material, raise it. Make sure what ever you use to raise it does not compromise the stability of the board/plank (bridge). Start over again by you ignoring it (you're not recognizing any danger or threat in the 'bridge') and let him investigate it using his own time line. Make sure you throw a party and treat/praise when he approaches or goes over it on his own. If he is food driven, laying a food track would help him take this next step.

Keep advancing your 'bridge'. Once he is confident over the one you built at home, then take him to a play ground. Use their equipment.

You might want to pay special attention to the material you use. You don't want it to make noise (plastic) or be slippery in the beginning.

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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 02-23-2013, 04:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blanketback View Post
I wonder if starting smaller would help? For example, if you had a wooden skid/pallet type of thing in your yard, you could teach him to walk over it. Then you could raise it up on some cinder blocks once he's used to walking across it. Sometimes adding the thrill of chasing a toy helps dogs to overcome their fears, like throwing something into the water to get them to swim. Maybe try throwing a toy onto the bridge?
I agree with starting smaller. Its the kinda same thing we had to do in agility..we didn't start on the dog walk, but on a flat board. Get a flat board, put leash on the dog, put treat at very beginning(hopefully treat motivated), after you get past that first treat, go about a foot, add another treat and keep going(lots of praise). Once the flat board is mastered, height can be added.

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