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Hey all! We're moving cross country + to Alaska next month. I'm looking for ideas on how to help Rico transition. He's always been my fearful boy, but after reading some books and spending countless hours, he's gotten SO much better. My main concern is currently, he has to kind of psych himself up to go outside and potty. We have a screened-in patio, so he goes out there, surveys the yard, the sounds, etc, and spends around 5-10 min watching his sisters potty and just waiting until he gets up the courage to go outside. We would give him treats whenever he went potty outside, but it hasn't been enough to get him to just run out and go. Walks haven't been exactly easy with him either, as we live in a very active neighborhood, so there's quite a lot of stimulation.

The weather is 85 degrees here, so it hasn't been too bad. However, we won't have a patio in our new place (but we will still have a fenced yard), and when its -5 degrees and snowy, we can't keep the door open for him to eventually decide to go.

I'm hoping it won't be an issue as his fear is hopefully location-based. Our neighborhood backs up to the highway where he was born/rescued from, and there is so much street noise constantly around. We're moving to a small town, with a hopefully quiet neighborhood, so I'm really hoping he overcomes this as it's one of his last big struggles with fear.

Any tips on how to help him through this transition?
 

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First off I wanted to say that your dog is really lucky to have someone putting in so much time and effort to helping him out. :thumbsup:

We've had some dogs with anxiety, phobia and fear issues in the past and each one takes their own time and methods to work through it. We moved from the suburbs to the country with our seven dogs and they took to it with incredible enthusiasm. The yard was bigger and more fun to sniff, the house was larger, and there was a whole field for exercising.
One of our fearful dogs, Cleo, had issues only when inside but was completely care-free, happy, and even a little aggressive when outside and with other dogs. However, loud sounds, closed in spaces, feeling trapped, and other such things caused her to slink around with tail tucked and wide eyes. Helping her with calm, gentle talk, exercise to get out nervous energy and patience helped her in many ways, but she still is fearful of such things. It is just in her nature.

The change in house may be a little stressful, really it depends on the dog, but if you stay calm about it (if you are stressed or excited it rubs off of on a dog, especially if you fuss over them) and talk to them gently and let them sniff around the whole house and yard, get use to the smells and take their own time, then soon they will claim it as their property and learn to love it.

Some great ways to help a nervous dog loosen up can be both the calm and slow method and the excited and bold method.
The first is when you quietly and gently but persistently encourage the dog to go outside with you. You sit in the yard in the grass or on a lawn chair and just stay there, not staring at the dog but just relaxing until he comes. Let him walk around, gently praise him, perhaps offer some petting and a treat. This will slowly get him use to being outdoors and let him know it isn't so bad. The calmer neighborhood will make this easier.
The calm method can also work with leash walking. Be patient. If he gets fearful or is slow to walk, then keep the pace that way but encourage movement, forwards movement. This will help break him out of his thinking he can turn around and scamper away and help him realize it isn't so bad.

The second method can work with certain dogs as well. It means going out back and calling with excitement, praising and offering treats, tossing toys, tapping the ground, and getting them so into it that they just loosen right up and go out and do it. This can also work with leash walks, with praise, a treat, perhaps jogging the first little while so they have no time to think about something scary. Having other dogs to get her excited can also help, feeding her positive and calm energy.

I hope this helps give you some ideas. :)

Best of luck with your move and with Rico! :thumbsup:


just waiting until he gets up the courage to go outside. We would give him treats whenever he went potty outside
 

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I hope this helps give you some ideas. :)
That's fantastic advice! Thank you so much! The calm method for walking will definitely be our go-to at first to see how he does. Our eventual goal is to take him and and Roxy on hikes, so I'm hoping we can get him comfortable on them. I took him on a walk here awhile back in our neighboorhood and he was startled by a kid rolling around inside one of those giant 6 foot clear plastic balls and that undid all the hard work on walking we'd done here. :eyeroll:
 

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A good update for you all! Rico has done AMAZING with the move to Alaska, as have the girls. He LOVES his huge backyard, runs and plays non stop with with his sister, and for the first time in his life, I caught him laying down and relaxing outside. He's definitely come a long way in just a few short weeks. Next goal is to teach him to relax on car rides!
 

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