Terrified at Petco?

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Barked: Tue Jul 2, '13 7:00pm PST 
Today I took Sam with me to Petco while getting some supplies as well as a new tag for him. He was a little nervous in the car, but he always seems to be (since we got him). When we got out he did his usual bit of barking at nearby people and tugging at the leash to greet them. So far so good. We get in there and he seems to be doing ok... pulling on the leash, looking around. Stopped barking completely. After grabbing what I needed I headed to the checkout and while waiting in line I noticed he was acting a little shaky. When he leaned against me I felt just how hard he was shaking! He even started whining loudly too. The longer we stayed, the more he was shaking and couldn't wait to leave. When we got out I tried giving him a treat I had just bought but he wouldn't take it at all.

I'm not sure what to do. He's been around other people and other dogs since we brought him home... the difference is that he usually only encounters people on walks and the like, meaning there's few strangers. In a store like Petco, there's a ton of people walking around. This is a big problem because in about a month I'm moving out of suburbia and into downtown, where he'll see likely hundreds of people a day on walks alone.

How can I get him to not be so scared?

Spooky Mulder
Barked: Wed Jul 3, '13 7:38am PST 
Young dog, in a new environment, at an age where they are very close to their second fear imprint stage.

Keep in mind there is more than just crowds of people at Petco... there are slick, shiny floors, strange animals in cages making all sorts of chatter, a mental overload of strange scents, not to mention (at least in my experience) a poorly planned check-out setup that can easily overcrowd an unsure dog.

Just keep working with him, expose him to all these variables separately if possible, or go to the Petco at a time when it isn't so crowded and less stimulating. If the staffers aren't a bunch of brain-dead wasteoids like they are here, maybe ask them to help by offering him treats or a toy.
Augusta,- CGC, RN

Such a Good Dog!
Barked: Wed Jul 3, '13 9:27am PST 
I agree with Mulder! Also I would add, make trips to Petco with him about training him and acclimating him and not about shopping at all . ...right now he needs your complete focus. Work on easy behaviors he knows and reward liberally. When he's ready and calmer, you can work up to shopping with him.

Keep it short for now and build up. You do similar things sitting at outdoor patios like Starbucks--anywhere with some people/dog action you can build and reward his exposure without overwhelming him . . .way to go


Serious Face
Barked: Wed Jul 3, '13 10:44am PST 
Arya is going through the same thing. New places with new people are very overwhelming for her. If there's too much stimulation, she'll start shaking and her nose will run and she'll start looking for places to hide. No treat is enticing enough.

You gotta go a bit slower. smile when they get super scared, they aren't able to process anything positive and the experience is wasted. Had to learn this the hard way. Now I try to do either/or. She is introduced to a new place while new people are watched from a good distance, or she meets someone new in a place she's comfortable. Increases the chance she will have a good experience. It might also help to get your pup to see the car as a safe place, and not something that precedes scary things.

bitches love- pantaloons
Barked: Wed Jul 3, '13 11:20am PST 
PetSmart is too overwhelming for Nicky. I think it might be huge assault on his senses- noises, food smells, animal smells, toy smells, lots to look at. He just can't handle it. He's much more relaxed at mom&pop stores though. It's quiet and there's only a few people.

too old to eat- any more KD
Barked: Thu Jul 4, '13 9:39am PST 
I agree with the others about Petco.
I moved from a town of 5000 to a city of a million+ with Squam. What I did was, for a few months before we moved, take him to noisier, more crowded places for brief periods. I took him to the post office, walked him downtown, hung out at the bus depot, train station, walked the highway, etc. So by the time we made the move he had been exposed to all kinds of smells, sounds, surfaces that he would encounter in the Big City.