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So I've posted here in the past about my fearful puppy, Odin. He's got two major issues, which seem to be related and yet totally separate. When he was younger, he was fearful and shy. He's always had fear issues, but lately it seems like it's impossible to take him out in public; this is mostly because he seems to be fearful and bold, which is just a nightmare to deal with. Over the past year and a half, we've tried absolutely everything we can.

As a puppy we socialized him very regularly (puppy classes, taking him to work to be around other dogs and humans, dog parks, etc). He started off super shy and quiet, but he began to build confidence around other dogs. His fear issues with humans was still a big problem though. We spoke to 3 different trainers with three entirely different philosophies, and none of them were any help what-so-ever. We tried handling things our own way, with patience and a balanced combination of reprimand(nothing physical or violent of course) and reward.

He seems to do great as long as whatever situation he's in doesn't differ from his expectations. For instance, I took him to work fairly recently and he was amazing; quiet, friendly, calm. Then suddenly, a co-worker decided to bring in his dog as well...Odin became a little monster, growling at everyone and everything.

We've tried every kind of training under the sun: BAT, treating him as part of a pack, very gentle and calm positive reinforcement, the list goes on and on. We're completely at a loss at this point. We've had many ups and downs with him, and there were a few occasions where it seemed like the only option would be to re-home him. Some how we pushed through the toughest times, but it's getting to be a bit ridiculous. His quality of life isn't nearly what I want for him, because anytime we take him out it ends up being an awful experience for everyone.

We have no clue what to do next, so I though I'd post my story here and see if anyone has any ideas or advice.

Thanks guys!
 

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Get yourself a good PR behaviorist and stick with the program for the rest of the dog's life. This is not something that is fixed and then he is a "normal" dog.

Quit with all reprimands and scoldings. Understand that when he is reacting that way he cannot help it because the situation is beyond his ability to cope... Get him out of there and manage his world better, being more gradual with his stressors.

Get some professional advice about trying him on fluoxetine.
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What would you say is the biggest thing holding him back? Fear of humans, fear of dogs, fear of places, sounds, objects, novel things, etc.?

I walk a similar dog (unsocialized until the age of 5 months) and if I had to pin down the thing that was the most help to her I'd say it was our daily trips to the park. She is (was) overly timid around people and dogs and seems to be mildly neophobic.

During park time, however, she can do nothing wrong. I took a very hard line of not punishing her or intimidating her in the slightest and it really paid off. I packed about a cup of training treats (i.e. kibbles and small soft-chews) per day and put them in a waist-clip treat pouch. Every day we went to the park, and she was rewarded when people and/or dogs came in. My original intention was to keep her from running over to them while off-leash but at the same time I was unknowingly accomplishing some LAT/BAT training. At the park she has met dogs big and small, young and old, playful and not, on leash and off-leash. Most importantly, all of her interactions with them were rewarding, even if that interaction was to watch them from afar while staying close by my side.

To get where she is now, it took maybe 7 months. She just celebrated her first birthday. She interacts well with other people and dogs but only if she is given the go-ahead. The park is sort of our 'safe place' where she can exercise, train and socialize without worrying about encountering a terrifying balloon or a bus shelter or a skateboard, or any of the other number of things she is afraid of. This has enabled us to work on her socialization to objects in a piecemeal, bit-by-bit fashion because she really has no need to be around busy streets, noisy settings, etcetera when we can have such a fun, stimulating time in the park.
 

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Could it be that what you want for him, and what he is most comfortable (and happy with), are two different things? It sounds like he has a very low stress threshold, for whatever reason (probably genetic at this point). Perhaps it is asking too much from him to take him to work with you, out to busy places with lots of people. It is great that you have worked so hard on this, but think about things that you can do as far as management to make his life less stressful and lower your expectations. If you can get him to ignore people on walks, that would be a good start. He doesn't need to interact with everyone. When you have visitors he is not familiar with, he may be best off in his own room with a chewie. Maybe you could be more specific about the type of situations that are so difficult?
 
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