Second Fear Period?

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!


Work? What's- that?
Barked: Sun Oct 17, '10 11:35pm PST 
Samson has entered his. How have you dealt with your dog's second fear period? I read in large breeds this can extend well past 14 months of age (he is 10 months now) so I need a good management strategy. Today he was scared of two little girls who were barely taller than he is!!! He did let them pet him, and their dad as well (who he knew, and did not react with fear), but it is beginning to get to the point where new people = potential threat. I like my dog "needing me" but I know this is NOT healthy for him! During this stage I do not want him to learn to be overly dependent on me.

Second Fear Stage Signs

He just finished "testing his wings," he is in the right age range, and he started consistently lifting his leg a little over a week ago, so the signs are there, everything lines up.

Samson has never been exuberantly friendly, mostly aloof, but fear is a new reaction for him. He isn't unmanageable of course, he's just, well...he isn't pleasant to have around other people when he's afraid, rather than just doing "drive-bys" or flat out ignoring them.

I'm thinking my best option is to just bring loads of treats with me on EVERY outing, and any time he starts showing signs of fear, just stuff his muzzle with as much treats as he'll eat, so he can associate that new things = fun time.

So far he has done very well if I command that he ignores strangers (and convey that to said strangers as well) but that's not any fun for me or him, and I don't think it is teaching him good things - it is simply avoiding a problem instead of dealing/managing it.

Luckily he should be past all this by my sister's wedding, hehe.

Edited by author Sun Oct 17, '10 11:55pm PST


cuddle bum
Barked: Mon Oct 18, '10 4:56am PST 
Flash is starting to go through this too. If we walk by kids playing with basketballs, skateboards or anything else that makes noise he bolts to the end of his leash. He also gets very weary of strangers as soon as sees them at a distance on our walks. He doesn't bark or anything, but I can tell he's watching them closely.

Of course this is not abnormal for his breed, but like you, I would rather he was just friendly. I think you've been doing well. I have gotten into the habit of taking a huge pocket full of treats and a clicker on our walks. If he seems relaxed when approaching or passing a stranger, he gets clicks and treats. He also gets them for giving me his attention - basically anything that isn't fearful behavior.

A lesson in- unconditionnal- love
Barked: Mon Oct 18, '10 6:01am PST 
I would do a lot of classical conditionning with food like you mentionned, but not start so close that he appears overly fearful or stressed. so decrease distance gradually...

I would get him involved in as many confidence building, fun and bonding (with you) activities as possible... you can also try TTouch, Getting in TTouch with your Dog is a great book fully illustrated as a step by step guide.

I would eliminate ALL positive punishement and negative reinforcement, and ALL training collars if you use them (prong, choke etc) in all venues of training and relating to him. It's amazing how that can make a huge difference!

Leah, CGC

All the Beauty- with none of the- Brains
Barked: Mon Oct 18, '10 11:19am PST 
Sampson - Leah had a second fear stage at about 11-13 months. It was over people, vehicles and bikes. I did exactly what you are talking about with the CC however at one point she started to stress out about a specific pair of white dogs from down the street (two white labs - Leah had previously been the victim of a bowl aggressive dog in a play time at obedience class - it was two white goldens who cornered her and then the male went after her because she was near the water bowl - this happened to her at 5 months). Since I was worrid that her fear would escalate to a irrational fear of pairs of white dogs I started to use treats and frisbee to walk near the house of these dogs over and over. I also just made sure to have the frisbee and treats on me at all times and I restarted my whole desensitation stuff I had done for her at 12 weeks. I took out umbrella's, I wore hats, I had friends and neighbors where hats and mustaches and banged pots and pans and rode my bike and skateboard and jammed treats down her throat or just did puppy pushups (sit-down-sit-stands) over and over near people running around and making noise and whatever. I did this up until like 14-16 months then backed off and just did everything occasionally until I was happy with where she was. It really helped but even though I knew they had a second fear period I was really surprised at how many things I found that she had regained a fear for. I am really glad I put the time in to touch up on everything.

One other thing to think about is head to the vet for some happy visits during this fear period too. I obviously work at the vet so it was easy for me but you have no idea the number of 1 yr old GSD's and other large breeds (dobbies, rotties, mastiffs etc) who get a red sticker on their first birthdays because they were desensitized as puppis but never reintroduced positively to the vet so freak out on their first year exam causing a fear induced aggression. Its so sadfrown

Oh well - Good Luck with this period - hang in there and just spend time retouching on everthing - you will be glad in the longterm that you took the time now!

Work? What's- that?
Barked: Mon Oct 18, '10 11:45am PST 
Leah, thanks for that suggestion. I hadn't even thought of a vet appointment, but maybe here once harvest is over I will schedule in a physical or something, just to give him at least one good experience with the vet. His fear seems to be exclusively over people, not much else (dogs, vehicles, etc, everything else, seem to be fine).

I had to take my truck in to get the tires changed today and he did pretty good in the waiting area. I brought hot dog slices with me and just had him do tricks over and over any time I thought he was going to get reactive. Puppy pushups as well - except he doesn't really know "stand" so I just did sit - down - sit - down - sit - down, etc.

He barked at a little kid who stared him down too long, and once after SUCCESSFULLY! greeting a couple, I was so proud of him...then he let out this high-pitched bark. I just reeled him back in and went back to doing his trick routines.....

The thing that just sucks is out here in the sticks it is hard to meet up with a lot of new people for desensitization. Now that it is colder outside I can leave him in the truck in the parking lot at church during the sermon, so I've been having him out in the lot while people are leaving to go home, and he's had a few good experiences there.

Oddly enough he has NOT shown this fear toward new dogs, which I would have expected him to - although he plays wonderfully with Jake (pretty rough play, lol) - when he was very young he was terrified with Jake, and I made the mistake of introducing them too soon for Samson a couple times. I'm glad this hasn't stuck. He greets new dogs with exuberance.