Progress Report: Bailey and the world's scariest construction site. - RasZoBai
Alright, I suppose it's time we get down to business.

One of the reasons I wanted to begin this blog was to a)talk about my pets non-stop and b)share Bailey's progress. Bailey is an extremely shy pooch, and has been working very hard on becoming more social. Since bringing her home in August, we've made an effort to bring her with us everywhere. It was actually because of her shy and timid personality that we looked a little further into what her past was like. I didn't like what I found as I began to dig a little further, and simply decided that whether she was from a breeder or a puppy mill, she deserved the right to be properly socialized.

Men, particularly strange men seem to scare Bailey the most. Since the beginning of her life with us, Bailey was able to be around two guys in particular; Scott (her faja) and my dad. Since the beginning Bailey has been head over heels in love with my dad. I think it's because he is a genuine pet person, and she recognized it early on (you should see her reaction when we go for a visit. She doesn't know what to do with herself, she's so excited!). Slowly we've gotten her accustomed to other male family members and have finally seen a few tail wags when they come over. And recently she's really begun to warm up to some of Scott's male friends (yay for progress!). But still, my cute little dog seems to freeze up when a strange man walks by. And so, we continue to bring her to dog parks and other dog friendly public places to help ease her intense fear of men.

Oddly enough, one of Bailey's biggest problems is that she's super cute. Because of this, ALL strangers want to come up and pet her. Sure, I think it's great for her to meet new strangers and get used to new smells, however I want her to do this on her own terms. A lot of work can be set back by one idiot over stepping his boundaries. It's easy to see when she's nervous- that tail swings right up between zee cheeks and she avoids eye contact. This past fall I was out in the morning walking with Bai. We live in a condo surrounded by other condos, particularly one that has construction going on every morning. I wanted Bailey to get accustomed to the loud sounds and opted to stay calm while walking by the noise hoping that my calm demeanor would rub off on her. So far, it had been working, until a very tall construction worker called out to me asking about my dog. I replied with one word quick responses hoping he'd get the drift that I wasn't in a mood to chat. I suppose somewhere in there he took it as an invitation to cross the path and try and pet my dog. Of course, Bailey panicked, got the leash out of my hand and ran across the street along our usual path. I couldn't decide whether to punch the worker where the sun don't shine or run frantically after my dog (which I obviously automatically did anyways). It was a horrible way to start my day! Since then, I have a hard time getting her to go around that corner where the construction site it. She's seem okay to go that path with Scott, but not with me :(

And so now, my lovely dog owning friends, I ask you this. Has this ever happened to you? How can I help Bailey get over her fear of the construction site while walking with me? I feel like I've failed her; she doesn't feel safe with me walking that part of the path. And sadly, we HAVE to cross that section to go on our walk and cannot afford to move until the fall. Any tips??

2/1/2012 02:56:41

My old dog Casey used to be scared of every loud noise, and if he got startled (ex. when teenagers in the park decided to set off fire-crackers in the middle of the day) he would jerk his head out of his leash and "run" (aka waddle) towards home. He was a sheltie, so he had a lot of fur which meant we couldn't tighten his collar enough for him not to slip out of it, without choking him. He never got over his fear of loud noises, so it might be something she'll have to live with. But I think Bailey is pretty resilient, and she's still really young. Maybe she'll just grow out of it.

Hailey's Lady
2/1/2012 04:23:54

Lee has some fears, but most of my "fear" experience comes from my clinical work with people. So this is the behaviourist in me talking!

You need to pair the scary place with reinforcement.
This means basically having the treat bag out and giving her treats as she steps closer and closer.
You may have to do this is steps. For example: At the corner before the scary part, have her sit and give her a cookie.
Then step around the corner, you may have to hold the treat out and as she comes give her some and then have her sit for more.
You may not want to go the whole way in one day.
Can you practice more when the scary man isn't there?

Of course, while doing this you need to be calm and neutral (you getting stressed won't help!)

These procedures can take a long time but they work (I got a kid who was scared to say the word airplane to fly using more or less the same thing).

Just an idea that may help.

9/25/2012 02:39:25

I like the precious suggestions you shared with us in your expertly written blog post. I want to thank you for this. Nice work.


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