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Dr. Steven Osborne
Dr. Steven Osborne, Veterinarian
Category: Vet
Satisfied Customers: 4277
Experience:  20 years of Veterinary Medicine expertise with experience in canine and feline medicine and surgery
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My 18 month old female Labrador has suddenly developed a fear

Customer Question

My 18 month old female Labrador has suddenly developed a fear of a specific area when out walking, she has never been frightened or told off.
Been happening for a week now, when we approach the area, tail goes right under her, ears down and refuses to walk, when we have managed to get her past this section, she literally flies across the road, normally she would sit at road side, be given a biscuit and waited till road is traffic free, now she refuses biscuit and just wants to be gone. Just glad she is on lead
I personally have stopped going that way with her but hubby is still trying to sort the problem out, she would only go near the area today because a neighbour who was also out walking came to cross the road and she followed with his dog in front, when she is on other side of road, tail goes up and she seems fine again.
Its a mystery as they say, she is normally a very happy, loopy 18month old blonde bimbo, who loves other dogs though submissive
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Vet
Expert:  Dr. Steven Osborne replied 4 years ago.

Dr. Steven Osborne :

Hi,I'm Dr Steve. I am sorry to hear about Piper's new fear. IT does sound like something has frightened her of that area. Unfortunately it may be impossible to know what it was that exactly frightened her. Since she is a submissive dog, it may take even less of a frightening event to affect her in this way. She could have smelled something that caused her stress. This could be another dog that was "new " to that area or another animal that she doesn't recognize the scent of. It could be something that she heard or she saw on one of her walks. It could even be something very minor that wouldn't register to us as being scary becasue we can rationalize most things we see. For example if a large piece of newspaper blew across the road we know that it is not going to hurt us, but if she saw it and heard it and didn't know exactly what it was, she could be afraid of it and think that each time she goes into that area "it" may be there to "get her" . This type of effect could happen with a number of things and as I mentioned you may never determine what it was to start with. The best way to get her over this fear is to give her many opportunities to go into that area without being frightened and eventually she should learn that the area is safe.If she felt safer with another dog, you could try to find someone to walk with so she can see that the other dog is not afraid. ANother thing you could try would be to give her a treat aqs soon as she starts acting nervous, so she may start to associate that area with a treat ( a good positive reinforcement).

Dr. Steven Osborne :

If the treat and/or other dog helps, the more frequently you expose her to that area the sooner she will learn that it is safe. You cold take her there, then around the block andback through that area several times on each walk to give her a consistent and constant exposure to the area to show her it is safe. ALong with the treat you could give her lots of praise and attention to help her feel safe when she acts nervous. The last thing is to not do anything in that area that may make her feel more nervous or scared . You don't want her to associate any other frightening events with that area. I hope this has helped. My goal is your satisfaction. I will check throughout the weekend to see if you have more questions. Thanks for your question and good luck.