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Hello,

I am new to this dog forum because I am trying to exhaust all my options for this problem. I have two dogs: Chief and Thorne. Chief is a 2 year old husky shepherd mix and Thorne is a 1 year old Italian Greyhound mix. Both rescues.

The way my house is laid out has my room and attached office in the basement. Thorne is a bit clingy and must sleep with me (per his own rules). However, he is VERY scared of the basement. He runs down the stairs, excited to follow me and then gets down there and starts shaking, as if he's realized he's made a dire mistake. His entire little body is shivering and shaking so much that he starts panting from tiring himself out. I have never seen a dog so frightened. I have been trying to help the problem by bringing him down in small increments and then slowly increasing the amount of time and rewarding him for his good behavior. He sometimes makes good progress, but other days he goes right back where we started. Thorne also piddles when he gets overwhelmed and does so a lot downstairs. I always try to comfort him and talk to him and calmly as possible but nothing seems to work. I tried ruling out the idea of a presence that I can't see that might be scaring him (i.e. ghosts, demons, demagorgons from The Upside Down, etc) by bringing Chief in the basement. Chief has no worries when he is in the basement at all. In fact, he likes coming down here for the silence.

I was just wondering if anyone had a similar experience and consequently any tips or ideas on how I could help little Thorne feel better about being here. I have had him for 9 months and it has been a problem for 9 months. I just want him to be happy.

*note: he is extremely outgoing and happy when he is not in the basement and can easily make himself at home at any other place we visit.
 

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Is there anything in the basement, like a furnace, or washer / dryer, that might be spooking him?

Is it all day that he's afraid of the basement, or only at certain times of the day?

Have you tried using Chief to help Thorne?

It will help if you can figure out why Thorne might not like the basement. There may be some sort of noise that caused the fear and he's learned to associate the noise with the basement and so does not like the basement. If you can pinpoint the cause of the fear it might be easier to overcome it.

I ask about the time of day because some sounds are more noticeable during certain times of the day. My boy is at times afraid to go outside at night, and it's because at night we can sometimes hear things banging around in the train yard that must be over a mile from my house. If your boy is worse at certain times of the day it would help to really work with him on being happy in the basement at other times of the day and work your way towards the time when he's afraid.

I'm betting that Chief can probably help you with Thorne. Take both dogs down to the basement and give them both treats, then pet both dogs for a bit then try playing with them, try and include Thorne but if he doesn't want to play leave him be and play with Chief, stopping every few minutes to pet Thorne and talk to him before playing with Chief. Do that 10 or 15 minutes a day, I used a similar technique with two of the dogs I had in the past, the male couldn't have cared less about thunder, the female acted like her world was going to end when it thundered. So I used a technique similar to what I told you to do, when a storm came I'd pet her and talk to her, then play with my male dog and act like it was the greatest, happiest, time. Slowly, I couldn't order it to storm daily LOL, she got better and learned that she was safe during storms.
 
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