Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Roo's Noise anxiety

Hi everyone! Well, it has been a while since we posted. We completed our cross country adventure....all the way from Los Angeles, CA to Belfast Maine and back! It was a wonderful trip and Roo exceeded my expectations all the way. She was amazing in the car (though she did start to look a little depressed towards the tail end), she was well behaved off leash in the countryside, and she adjusted well to new surroundings. Her only downfall was that she did become a bit protective of her new home turf and was not so nice to a doggie friend. But it was a learning experience.

On the way we did get to try out the Thundershirt during a few short storms. I found that it worked by calming her down and putting her to sleep. And that was all I could ask- I'd rather she sleep through a storm than tremble.

Our first week back in LA was great. She went to the dog park and was happy, playing fetch, going after long balls, none of the former fear issues that had cropped up in the month prior to our trip. But then, it changed. All it seemed to take was a couple of poorly timed low level crackling sounds which could have been firecrackers or bubble wrap, and she became scared at the park again. She was hiding in her little bunkers under the picnic tables (dogs have dug deep holes under these tables and they are the perfect size for Roo to hide in. However, she would come out for people she knew, and a few throws and we'd be back in the game. Then her noise fear started to pop up in walks in our neighborhood, which hasn't happened before. When this happens there is nothing I can do to make her turn and focus on me. She just wants to get to the end of her leash and run as fast as she can back to home or the car- or anywhere she can go indoors. If we are nowhere near home this gets tricky, as it is not fun to try to make a scared 40 lb dog heel. On one or two occasions, I picked her up and carried her for about a block until we could turn onto a quieter street. But that is not ideal. And then it got worse. There actually came a time when I asked if she wanted to go for a walk and she ran into her crate and stayed there shaking as if a walk was the most horrible thing in the world. This broke my heart. It seems to happen more towards the latter part of the day- in the morning she is still feeling good and will go for a long walk.
So, today was our first day out on our little networking route since my return two weeks ago. It's taken on a whole new meaning with this new problem- there is quite a bit more at stake here. The great news is, she is happiest going into stores. But walking in between the stores, the tail is often down and any small thing will set her into fear mode. Our first stop today was Chipotle on Sunset- where we met up with a sitter to exchange keys. Anytime there is a person who wants to say hi to her she is happy- friends are very helpful! Next stop was Tailwaggers. She got lots of treats from the friendly staff who were very concerned about her problem. Unfortunately I realized when I parked my car that I had spent so much time packing my bag full of business cards and doggie treats that I forgot my wallet! So we couldn't do any real shopping.

We drove away from Tailwaggers and parked at West Hollywood Park. My intention was to walk through the park and then over to Petco. All was going well, she stopped to say hi to a young boy and was happy as a clam. But then I needed to get her attention, and she wasn't listening, so I did something I have always done- a very light tap on the side of her back leg. Apparently I must have timed it to coincide with a sound she didn't like, and this sent her into fear mode. We slowly worked our way back to the car and drove to Petco.

At Petco, once again she was in her element. She was absolutely adorable with a chihuahua puppy- so sweet and gentle ( I haven't seen her interact with small dogs much so this was great). Her tail was up and we did several laps around the store so she could feel confident again.

Then I knew we still needed more exercise. The dog park was out. Franklin Canyon was a maybe, but there had recenely been a lot of echoing hammer sounds due to home construction in the area, so I decided to park across the way at Tree People and take the short upper trail (which I learned has been dedicated to Michael Jackson) just to get a little extra exercise. For the most part she did well here. There was one small sounds which seemed to briefly upset her, but she walked calmly on the leash and I was pleased with that.


  1. The noise phobias you are describing sound very familiar. My pup has a fear of large vehicles, especially garbage trucks. She tends to hide when asked to leave the house to go somewhere, and will try to bolt for home or the car if a large loud bus or similar vehicle passes us while walking. Total sympathy for what you are going through.

  2. The good news is, we're working through it, slowly but surely. It's a combination of me getting her out for some confidence building, but also listening to her when it's not the right time and not trying to *push* her through if she is feeling nervous. Hope you are able to work through it with your pup too!