Dog Forum banner

1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys, I need some ideas about what to do with situations like the following:

Some days ago, me and my bf were walking our GSD mix dog with 10 months (28kg) at night, when he was starting to have a panic attack due to the sounds of fireworks. He started to feel afraid and then distanced away faster and faster. The moment I noticed I tried to hold him still, but fastly it escalated to him crying and moving madly, and even tried to bite us aggressively to get away (he's rarely aggressive and never really aggressive). It was really hard to hold him still, he almost got away from his collar, and even if both of us were trying to hold him it was still very hard. My bf was holding his collar and it choked him a bit, while I was holding his scruff and back skin from behind. After a while, he calmed a bit (maybe due to choking), and so we had to take him home as fast as we could, while he was panting heavily due to the way we were holding him. When he arrived home he was panting, not acting too fearful anymore but panting and not settling down right away. Luckily he's a very confident dog that it didn't traumatize him too much, but now he gets slightly stressed and avoidant every time we walk by the same place.

Anyways, what troubles us now is how can we manage situations like that if it happens again? If we ever lose control, we lose him. He can run far far away, and there are just so many dangers like trains and cars. He's a dog dog, it's hard to control him safely when he panics like that. Also, choking him by the collar can be very dangerous (this is something that makes me think how unsafe it is to use choke chains, specially on fearful dogs). It helped to make him lose energy as he lost some air, but it is too dangerous and we need a safer way.

What would you guys do??
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
13,331 Posts
Holding him will make him panic more. Primates like to be held, but for canine this is almost like an attack.

Just be calm and walk with him away from what is scary. With fireworks that is hard, but get him somewhere the sound is not as bad, inside a car or building might be the fastest retreat.

If you are worried he will slip out of a regular collar, use a martingale collar, but not a choke collar. As you are saying, being choked while afraid will make everything worse for him.

And of course, don't take him somewhere you know will have fireworks. I avoid these places with my dogs, and even don't take them where there will be loud sounds and confusion, such as parades, fairs, etc. My dogs cannot handle that much stimulation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Holding him will make him panic more. Primates like to be held, but for canine this is almost like an attack.

Just be calm and walk with him away from what is scary. With fireworks that is hard, but get him somewhere the sound is not as bad, inside a car or building might be the fastest retreat.

If you are worried he will slip out of a regular collar, use a martingale collar, but not a choke collar. As you are saying, being choked while afraid will make everything worse for him.

And of course, don't take him somewhere you know will have fireworks. I avoid these places with my dogs, and even don't take them where there will be loud sounds and confusion, such as parades, fairs, etc. My dogs cannot handle that much stimulation.
It actually happened near home, at the usual walk place. It was a festive day, but it happened so sudden that we couldn't do much about it. We couldn't just stay there 'till he is calm nor simply walk him away coz he was having a serious panic attack, that he was moving and crying madly, as if he was in pain. He tried to bite us to be freed, so it would definitely be a bad idea to hug him (dogs that are used to hugs doesn't usually perceive it as attacks, but hugs, just like the leash or any form of restriction, can make the dog feel even more trapped and desperate to escape). So we tried to grab his collar and scruff/back skin instead, 'till he was calm enough and then move him as fast as we can. It was really stressful for us even thought we tried to keep calm, as we almost lost him and he's so big that even with both of us it was hard to control him. :(

But well, today there was thunder and we were inside home. He actually didn't panic, but barked to the thunder sounds instead (tails up and all guard dog style). I guess that I'm glad that he's a confident dog, although if he's outside home he would probably panic again.
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
795 Posts
Holding him will make him panic more. Primates like to be held, but for canine this is almost like an attack.

Just be calm and walk with him away from what is scary. With fireworks that is hard, but get him somewhere the sound is not as bad, inside a car or building might be the fastest retreat.

If you are worried he will slip out of a regular collar, use a martingale collar, but not a choke collar. As you are saying, being choked while afraid will make everything worse for him.

And of course, don't take him somewhere you know will have fireworks. I avoid these places with my dogs, and even don't take them where there will be loud sounds and confusion, such as parades, fairs, etc. My dogs cannot handle that much stimulation.
I used a gentle leader on my standard poodle ,he was trained as a hearing dog wearing a gentle leader. He could not slip his head out of it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,032 Posts
Distractions can work too. Like Tess says, forcing them to be in the situation (or making them feel forced by holding them) makes it worse. I call my dog's name excitedly, and run/jog the other way. If I have treats, I will stuff them in her mouth as we are jogging the other way. You can counter condition for thunder and loud noises inside as well (using a recording and volume control) to prepare him for a surprise outside.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Hmm this is not an usual fear reaction, this is a real intense panic attack as if the dog is being tortured. Nothing would really distract a dog that is panicking so much that all he can do is to move crazily to escape while crying as if he was in real pain...
Also, treats might not work when the fear anxiety level is already mild or higher. Back then, when I tried to help my dog get over his fear of stairs, I've tried to put him in the middle of the stairs after luring him with treats. He didn't swallow it, and eventually let it fall from his mouth. If a dog is too afraid, he just won't eat in that moment.

Also, this was not a forced situation, it would be just crazy to even think of forcing a dog to go through such a level of panic attack...

Actually, I'm not sure how to desensitize him towards thunder and similar noises, since I've tried to use recorded sounds but my dog didn't react to it. Maybe I need to use a nicer sound system, but well, I would never really force him to go out and face the thunder sounds, since we can't risk having him panicking that crazily again, and besides, over flooding just doesn't work anyways.

What I need is to figure out ways to deal with situations like that if he ever has panic attacks all of a sudden. Just imagine we were walking out of home and there are loud noises all of a sudden. We would need to know what to do to control the situation.


By the way, about the halter, I'm not sure if it would be safe when a dog has such panic attacks?
 

·
Banned
Joined
·
795 Posts
Distractions can work too. Like Tess says, forcing them to be in the situation (or making them feel forced by holding them) makes it worse. I call my dog's name excitedly, and run/jog the other way. If I have treats, I will stuff them in her mouth as we are jogging the other way. You can counter condition for thunder and loud noises inside as well (using a recording and volume control) to prepare him for a surprise outside.
I would never stuff food in my dog mouth when it have a panic attack! The dog could choke on the food. I don't think playing a recording of a thunder storm it the same as being a real thunder storm. The dogs can feel a storm coming on. My last dog always became frighten before a thunder storm even started , he knew it was coming as he could feel the energy of the storm. Whenever there was show on TV that had thunder storm happening my dog was fine. He knew it was not the real thing! He was too smart to try and trick like that!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
I would never stuff food in my dog mouth when it have a panic attack! The dog could choke on the food. I don't think playing a recording of a thunder storm it the same as being a real thunder storm. The dogs can feel a storm coming on. My last dog always became frighten before a thunder storm even started , he knew it was coming as he could feel the energy of the storm. Whenever there was show on TV that had thunder storm happening my dog was fine. He knew it was not the real thing! He was too smart to try and trick like that!
Yeah I feel that they can actually tell what's artificial and what's real. For example, if they hear strangers talking in the TV then they are fine, but the moment they hear a stranger talking in real life they can tell it even if they are not seeing the person.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
152 Posts
How about a harness? Fit it properly so he can't slip out. If he starts panicking just start walking briskly away from the source of his fear.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,032 Posts
I had a fear aggressive dog who reacted to other dogs, and I stuffed food in his face regularly when we were cornered and couldn't get away from other dogs. If we could get away, we did, but there are emergency situations. It is better than allowing your dog to continue reacting, because if he is taking food, at least you are working on counter conditioning. Have you read the reactivity sticky or watched any of Yin's YouTube videos on counter/classical conditioning? They give a good basis for conditioning reactive dogs and how to handle surprise situations.

I don't doubt that your dog looks like he's having a panic attack, but you are asking for advice on what to do in situations where your dog is reacting and I am giving it based on having had a dog who was so severely reactive that I had to rehome him to a more experienced owner. Not trying something out because you don't think it feels right seems counter to what you are asking...

I don't want this to come off wrong, but "panic attack" is anthropomorphizing. Your dog is reactive to loud noises. You counter condition that through exposing him to his trigger and slowly increasing his exposure while creating a positive association to the trigger. If a recording doesn't work, try pennies in a can (shake lightly, treat, shake harder treat, shake a bit harder, treat, etc.). If pennies don't work, try banging on a garbage can lid.

Do you want some links on how to counter condition at all?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,032 Posts
I think the miscommunication here might also be that I don't physically force food down the dog's throat. I put it directly in front of his face to distract him and he eats it. If he is not taking food, obviously that won't work.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
I had a fear aggressive dog who reacted to other dogs, and I stuffed food in his face regularly when we were cornered and couldn't get away from other dogs. If we could get away, we did, but there are emergency situations. It is better than allowing your dog to continue reacting, because if he is taking food, at least you are working on counter conditioning. Have you read the reactivity sticky or watched any of Yin's YouTube videos on counter/classical conditioning? They give a good basis for conditioning reactive dogs and how to handle surprise situations.

I don't doubt that your dog looks like he's having a panic attack, but you are asking for advice on what to do in situations where your dog is reacting and I am giving it based on having had a dog who was so severely reactive that I had to rehome him to a more experienced owner. Not trying something out because you don't think it feels right seems counter to what you are asking...

I don't want this to come off wrong, but "panic attack" is anthropomorphizing. Your dog is reactive to loud noises. You counter condition that through exposing him to his trigger and slowly increasing his exposure while creating a positive association to the trigger. If a recording doesn't work, try pennies in a can (shake lightly, treat, shake harder treat, shake a bit harder, treat, etc.). If pennies don't work, try banging on a garbage can lid.

Do you want some links on how to counter condition at all?
I think that you have misunderstood me, although thanks for the advice since you just wanted to help (I know you meant distracting the dog not stuffing treats right in him). :) But well, he did not look like he was having a panic attack, he really did have a panic attack which was extreme, making control difficult. He was crying for his life as if he was being tortured, and moving and shaking madly that nothing could really distract him. That is different from just being fearful, and that is on a fear level that no high value distraction can really grab his attention.

What I actually want are ideas and advices on what to do and what to avoid in such situations. For example, I think that grabbing him by his scruff and back skin was one of the few good ways to try to immobilize him and gain control, but maybe there could be better ways? Also, what kind of precautions can I take to make it safer in case something like that happens again? A harness could be helpful (if he panics that extremely, having two leashes and one leashed to the harness and another to the collar might help having better control).

Actually, I'm familiar with counter conditioning. :) I do it with my dog, he's reactive to other dogs but can focus on me most of the time if I have some good value stuff to distract him. I'm hoping that by time, he will be less reactive and get used to other dogs' presence of course, although the only problem here at where I live is that we don't have dog parks so that we have really few opportunities to do counter conditioning exercises.

But well, back to the topic. It's not that I'm simply disregarding your advice, but counter conditioning with treats when fear level is too high simply doesn't work. Also, as I've mentioned before, I used treats to help my dog overcome his fear of stairs before, and when I simpl put him in the middle of the stairs, he was so stressed that he simply dropped the treat.
When a dog is just too afraid, specially in extreme situations, he would just care the less about eating when he just feel the need to escape.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,032 Posts
I meant to come back to this earlier. It still sounds like he's over threshold to me, but I'm not a trainer. ;) I'm not sure there's anything else you could do that hasn't already been suggested.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
You mean this? On-Leash Aggression: What is Over Threshold?

The problem of what happened was that his fear escalated so fast. Restraint through leash (leash tension) plus us trying to grab him for not losing control were making him even more desperate to escape. All he wanted was escaping, as if the firework sounds were of some big predator that would soon go after him. He was screaming and trying to escape for his life, even trying to bite us in order to escape (just like how dogs would bite the leash or whatever that is holding them for escape).
Just imagine how it feels when you sense something big and dangerous is coming, and you realize you're trapped, and you feel more and more stressed and eventually only able to scream for your life and pull madly. You just can't think anymore, and pull and try even if it hurts.

But well, I guess that not many people are experienced in dealing emergency situations like this. It would be easier if you have a smaller dog, since it wouldn't be as hard to control/restrain the dog.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,032 Posts
This sticky: http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior/reactivity-leash-aggression-barrier-frustration-12538/

My old dog bit myself and my SO a few times when he was over threshold (it's called redirected aggression) before we decided we couldn't handle him any more, and he was only 20 lbs. so I can imagine a large dog would be really difficult to control.

I don't think there's a whole lot that can be done to help a dog who is that severely over threshold if they aren't even eating. At that point you are doing damage control, basically try not to get bit and get away from whatever is freaking them out. Insecurity is CCed the same as frustration reactivity. I guess the only thing I could add is to try a head halter, but I could see the dog hurting itself in the future on that if something similar happens again. Something like this:

 

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Thanks for the link. :) I've seen this video before, this is one thing I want to do with my dog, coz he's reactive whenever he sees another dog (but well, this is another topic). The only problem here is that where I live, it's not possible to find owners that could help me train my dog that way, but well, I'm considering taking him to a dog school that was suggested by one of my neighbors for socializing (hopefully they will have a few trained dogs for help) and a few other stuffs.

But well, is a head halter safe if he pulls crazily? I'm not familiar with head halters, but it turns the dog's head every time he tries to pull right?

Since that day, he has been hesitant whenever we pass the place where it happened, although he has been better. There are some flags nearby and it seems that the sound of them flapping kinda resembles the firework sound, and he is a bit afraid every time he hears that. If someone cleans carpets by the window nearby, it also scares him a bit. Maybe I can CC him with a carpet too (hitting a carpet on a wall).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,032 Posts
That's kind of what we're talking about, rand. ;) Desensitization through CCing. Since the recording doesn't work, I'd definitely try the carpet thing.

I'm not personally familiar with head halters, sorry. My concern would also be the dog hurting himself.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Hi Sheep,
I was wondering if you found more information on this topic? I just had a similar situation with my dog, and this thread is the only thing I found addressing this specific situation! And I really want to be better prepared because I feel I handled it all wrong.

Some background on my dog: he's almost 2, was a stray, a little skittish and triggered into some anxiety a couple times (construction, busy streets, open parks) the first couple weeks after we adopted him. We took it easy and slowly worked up his confidence, and now 9 months later, he's been fine, only mildly reactive at times but can easily be calmed and distracted away from his fear.

Yesterday, I was on a jog with him and we turned down a path that has train tracks off in the distance (we've gone down it once before). Half way down, a train went by, and my dog panicked. Full on anxiety attack like I've never experienced before, and I lost all control of him. He turned and tried to run back the other way, pulling and panting like crazy, he wouldn't listen and when I tried to stop and calm him he started squirming. Thankfully I had a harness on him otherwise he would have probably gotten out of his collar. I was at a loss as to what to do: run him home real fast? sit down and stay put till he calms and I regain control? We had a long ways to go, and a busy park between us and our house, and I tried several time to stop in a quiet place and quiet him but he was in such a state of panic he just panted like a maniac, breathing fast and deep, and dragging me all the way home. It took him about 30 minutes to calm down once home and I implemented some of the techniques I found online.

But what to do in the circumstance you describe: unexpected event, away from home, without access to any resources (treats, toys, quiet spot)???

It seems to me like the best thing for me to do was to just calmly, and quickly, walk him home. I think me trying to restrain him, calm him, and stopping just made it worse. What do you think? I really hope there is a technique in addition to that. We can do our best to prevent triggering environments for our dogs, but the unexpected does happen and I want to be prepared to react in a better way next time.

I do recommend a harness, the front-clipping gentle leader or the full harness does give you more control and it saved me because my dog is 45 pounds but strong. Even though he was pulling hard (trying to run), he wasn't in danger of getting away or chocking himself.

Once home, this worked:
- Giving him space and not overly handling him, but sitting near him and talking to him in a soothing way
- Going through easy, simple tricks like sit, or shake, with treat rewards to get his mind back
- Putting on soothing music (this actually worked! i think it was because it calmed me down too, and made the energy in the room calmer)

I know staying calm and having calm energy is important, but an event like this is stressful and the dog so far lost in his fear I hope there is a way to bring them back quicker to ease their struggle! I will continue my search and share if I come across anything….
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
471 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Hi Sheep,
I was wondering if you found more information on this topic? I just had a similar situation with my dog, and this thread is the only thing I found addressing this specific situation! And I really want to be better prepared because I feel I handled it all wrong.

Some background on my dog: he's almost 2, was a stray, a little skittish and triggered into some anxiety a couple times (construction, busy streets, open parks) the first couple weeks after we adopted him. We took it easy and slowly worked up his confidence, and now 9 months later, he's been fine, only mildly reactive at times but can easily be calmed and distracted away from his fear.

Yesterday, I was on a jog with him and we turned down a path that has train tracks off in the distance (we've gone down it once before). Half way down, a train went by, and my dog panicked. Full on anxiety attack like I've never experienced before, and I lost all control of him. He turned and tried to run back the other way, pulling and panting like crazy, he wouldn't listen and when I tried to stop and calm him he started squirming. Thankfully I had a harness on him otherwise he would have probably gotten out of his collar. I was at a loss as to what to do: run him home real fast? sit down and stay put till he calms and I regain control? We had a long ways to go, and a busy park between us and our house, and I tried several time to stop in a quiet place and quiet him but he was in such a state of panic he just panted like a maniac, breathing fast and deep, and dragging me all the way home. It took him about 30 minutes to calm down once home and I implemented some of the techniques I found online.

But what to do in the circumstance you describe: unexpected event, away from home, without access to any resources (treats, toys, quiet spot)???

It seems to me like the best thing for me to do was to just calmly, and quickly, walk him home. I think me trying to restrain him, calm him, and stopping just made it worse. What do you think? I really hope there is a technique in addition to that. We can do our best to prevent triggering environments for our dogs, but the unexpected does happen and I want to be prepared to react in a better way next time.

I do recommend a harness, the front-clipping gentle leader or the full harness does give you more control and it saved me because my dog is 45 pounds but strong. Even though he was pulling hard (trying to run), he wasn't in danger of getting away or chocking himself.

Once home, this worked:
- Giving him space and not overly handling him, but sitting near him and talking to him in a soothing way
- Going through easy, simple tricks like sit, or shake, with treat rewards to get his mind back
- Putting on soothing music (this actually worked! i think it was because it calmed me down too, and made the energy in the room calmer)

I know staying calm and having calm energy is important, but an event like this is stressful and the dog so far lost in his fear I hope there is a way to bring them back quicker to ease their struggle! I will continue my search and share if I come across anything….
Hi :) You are right about not trying to do too much to calm him down, as it can panic him even more. My dog never more had panic attacks like that as there were no fireworks when we go out, but I think that the best to do is to get a martingale collar (nylon) or just the regular collar (preferrably nylon and wide one) that can link to the harness, and when something happens, remain calm and hold him as best as you can 'till he calms down. If you can distance from the trigger, it would also be good.
And when he calms down, it's like as you said, simply don't interact too much with him, tell him assurance words that he knows (I sometimes tell my dog "it's ok" or "good boy"), and simply stay calm would help. You can even try some calming signals like yawning.
Also, whenever my dog is starting to get stressed, but not going past threshold, I try to feed him some nice treats. He would eat in a stressed manner, but it helps him shift focus to the treats.

IMO, it's best to avoid head halters if your dog might panic. They are great tools for desensitization, but if the dog ever goes crazy, it can hurt the dog when he tries to break free from the restraint. Once, I was using it during a walk, and when my dog reacted to another dog, he went crazy fighting the halti head collar. All I could do was simply holding the leash calmly and firmly, tried to figure out instinctively how to hold it for minimum hurting, 'till my dog calmed down. He ended up hurting himself and had some scratches on his muzzle. :(
 
1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top