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Basically, I would take these steps:

Oh great.
Here we have someone who didn't even know how to affix a prong collar properly a few months ago, and now, on basically no information, she's going to "help" this perfect stranger with her fearful GSD.

I definitely need a break.

Handsome Jack Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to reply by e-mail
Godspeed, Sgt. Rafael Peralta. Semper Fi.
http://littlegreenfootballs.com/weblog/?entry=13981 Heroism and Cowardice
Just so you know, my dog had a complete blood workup done several months ago to rule out anything medical that could be causing this fear (i.e. thyroid problems...). After that was ruled out she was brought to a behavioral specialist at a local university. I spent several hours with her and was ultimatley given literature to read and exericses to preform, thus the noted improvement I mentioned in my first post. And, no, HJM, she's never been comfortable around children because of the screaming, quick movements and unpredictability.

Having no small children myself, exposure to them has been and continues to be limited, but she has had all the exposure to children that I could provide and had been improving up until Monday night. I know not to comfort her when she displays fear, but to ignore it, give her a command to concentrate on and praise lavishly for complying. I have been taking her to as many different types of places, and exposing her to as many different types of things as is in my power to do (noisy streets, constuction sites, parks, quiet places-so quiet that it is spooky) and everything had been going great.

This has been a year long process, not something that just popped up. Lexi was afraid of the noise the wind made, leaves falling, her own shadow, when we first got her. As a pup, she would avoid people, not like most pups, running to snoop and play. I was more or less wondering if anyone had had any experience with a dog like this and what 'they' did. I also thought maybe someone may have had some experience with Clomicalm (thanks for the name...all I could remember was 'calm').

I didn't mean to start world war 3 here, just get some fresh ideas as sometimes when you're involved in a situation you may tend to overlook the obvious. And, to quote: "How would this person know exactly how to behave around her fearful dog, yet need to come here pleading for help???"...I wasn't pleading for help, just "some thoughts" on the matter was all I was asking for. I know how to behave around my fearful dog, but I'm always open to any and all experiences others may have had.

You can never know too much.
I also thought maybe someone may have had some experience with Clomicalm (thanks for the name...all I could remember was 'calm').

You're welcome.
I didn't mean to start world war 3 here, just get some fresh ideas as sometimes when you're involved in a situation you may tend to overlook the obvious.

Don't worry about it. We have many world wars here but we get over them quickly enough and learn to play nicely again.

Tara
Yes, continual exposure to desensitize her to it. But under controlled conditions. You can't just keep surprising her with screaming sledders,or you're going to worsen that fear - especially since it's happening indifferent places, which will generalize it.

I agree. The first incident was a total surprise, but the next night, I knew the kids were there so I kept as far away from them as possible, but close enough so that she could still see and hear them. The incident that worried me the most, was the night she heard them while she was in the house. I have no control over the kids outside. The only control I had (environment wise) in that situation was to close the windows.
First of all, exactly what is it that sets her off? Is it the screamingor the toboggan or the sound ... does she always react to the sound of children playing, or is it just specifically when they're on a toboggan?)

I believe it's the whole package. She's used to seeing and hearing children playing although she's not completely comfortable with it (to the point where she would want to join in the fun). She would just walk by with me without any need to hurry to get past. We have a trailer at a campground and in the summer there are always kids running around. At the beginning of the season she was very nervous, but by the end of the season she was able to lay on the lawn and watch them ride by on their bikes or run around playing without displaying any adverse reaction on her part.

What was different between the first
incident and the second? How do you react when she gets frightened? How quickly does she get over it?[/nq]The first incident was a total surprise to both of us. I'd heard the kids playing, but I had no idea as to how close they actually were. As it turned out a couple of the kids were zooming past the exit of the path we were on just as we were coming out. The second incident I was aware that they were there and took steps to make sure that we didn't get too close (more within her comfort zone). The first incident caused her to be not her usual self for about a half an hour after we got home and she had no interest in playing any more.

She just wanted to go directly back to the car. The second incident wasn't nearly as reactive. She was able to relax enough to want to play again within about 5 minutes. As to how I react, I ignore her fear and when I see that she's nervous in any way, I give her a command. When she complies, I shower her with praise for doing as she was asked. Sometimes, not always, when someone is walking behind us she gets a bit nervous so I'll go off to the side of the sidewalk, get her to sit and stay while the person walks by.

While they are walking by I'll be telling her what a good girl she is. She is much more comfortable watching them walk by than having them behind us.
Unfortunately, the most important thing is that she is not "surprised" byan incident before she's ready for it.

I try to control her enviroment as much as I can, but sometimes there are surprises. Example: we were walking along a harbour front where everything was peaceful and serene. All of a sudden a tug boat tooted it's horn. Lexi was extremely startled by this. I had no control over the situation and had no warning that it was going to happen. As a general rule, she isn't startled by loud noises so I was kind of surprised by her reaction although it was a piercing loud burst.
Perhaps you can wait on her walks until after dark, when the kids are inbed?

As a matter of fact, all incidents occured after dark. I was thinking that maybe this may be a factor in her being more fearful although up to that point she seemed quite comfortable outside at night.
If you were satisfied with your first behaviorist visit and found that following his or her recommendations helped your dog, I suggest that you contact the same behaviorist with the questions you've asked here. Most good behaviorists would want to know what was going on with their patients anyway.

Melanie Lee Chang > Form ever follows function. Departments of Anthropology and Biology >
University of Pennsylvania > Louis Sullivan (Email Removed) >
The first incident was a total surprise to both of us. I'd heard the kids playing, but I had no ... they were there and took steps to make sure that we didn't get too close (more within her comfort zone).

That's the key, right there. If humanly possible, avoid exposure that is not in her comfort zone while you're working with her.

I will agree with both Jack and Tara in that you're best off seeing a behaviorist who can help work with her in person. And I will disagree with Jack. Medication may help this dog. But only an in-person diagnostic work-up can determine that.

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