The Chair of Terror

Say hello to the “Chair of Terror”.

To me, it is not so scary.  It is sad because my husband now rarely snuggles on the sofa with me; he can now be found in his chair (often asleep), but to my dog (who is really "his dog") this chair is plotting his and our demise.

My husband has wanted a recliner for a while.  He likes to get home and kick back and occasionally rock himself like an old person (ha ha I am kidding, who doesn’t like a good rocking chair?).

But one of my dogs is TERRIFIED of it!

Now, we have talked about my baby’s lack of confidence before.

Occasionally it shows up when the ceiling fan comes on, or when I decide to blow dry all this hair of mine and he scuttles out of the room.

But for some reason this chair is even more menacing than anything else we own.

I Think this is What My Dog sees

Jo, as we affectionately call him, is his daddy’s boy.  He lives for when his dad is around and takes him out hiking or training.   His life revolves around his dad.

So the fact that the apple of his eye is sitting in scary chair, is more than his little mind can take.

When he is brave enough to be in the room he curls up in a ball, stares and whines at his dad; but for the most part he is too scared to go near or sit with him.

So What Do I Do?

Okay, I know he is completely insane.  No one has ever beat him or chased him with a hair dryer or a Lazy Boy.  But knowing that he is crazy only sets me back, if I truly believe it.

I think people think… “There is nothing to be scared of “COWBOY UP” (I am from WY).

But when it comes to phobias it doesn’t matter what you think or say, forcing the fear on the person or the dog is going to make it worse, and pretending it doesn’t exist certainly doesn’t help!

Phobias by nature are not realistic.

  • Are you terrified of spiders?
  • Maybe heights?
  • Or being buried alive?

It’s not realistic that spiders are going to kill you, or that falling to your death or being buried alive are something that is likelyto happen to you.   But that doesn’t mean if you have a sincere phobia that my saying that will cure your feelings.

I personally am afraid of heights and driving off mountains or bridges.

My mom was and probably still is claustrophobic.  I remember as a young child taking a tour down into a cave in beautiful South Dakota (some of the best caves are here).  We were in a line of what seemed like a hundred people (as an adult I am sure it wasn’t quite that many) but it was a lot climbing down a staircase into a cave!  My mom started to hyper ventilate; next thing I remember was her pushing grown 250# men out of the way and screaming to get to the light.

My dad was put in a very awkward position of staying with us little kids and worrying about my “crazy” mom.

But was she crazy?  Yup, the walls were not going to move in on her and entomb her, the cave was perfectly safe.  But that doesn’t mean that what she felt wasn’t very real for her.

Have you ever had a panic attack?  I, unfortunately, have and it feels like your heart is going to beat out of your chest and you are going to die.

I think this must be how our dogs feel.  It doesn’t matter if their fear is “real” to us or something completely silly (like being scared of a wonderfully comfortable Lazy Boy chair), to my dog it is very real and he doesn’t know how to cope.

Counter Conditioning

Counter conditioning can be very effective when dealing with phobias.

Counter conditioning is the conditioning of an unwanted behavior or response to a stimuli (the scary chair) into a wanted behavior or response by the association of positive actions with the stimulus.

What does that mean?

I know it is a little hard to understand, but I end up pairing the CHAIR with FOOD or happy things.


As a dog owner I have to be empathetic and figure out WHY I think the chair bothers him.

Honestly, I think it is the clicking it does when my husband leans back and pushes the foot rest out.  The rocking squeak doesn’t help either.

If I just expected him to COWBOY UP I would never have taken the step to realize what it is about the chair that bothers him!

Be kind and be thoughtful and don’t force or the behavior is likely to get worse, crazy and out of control!


Work at your dog’s pace.

I started out by extending the foot rest and feeding him on the chair.

The chair isn’t as scary without me in it to make it rock and make noises.  By eating in it he can realize that it isn’t soooo bad.

Some dogs may not be able to go that fast.  For some eating 5 feet from the chair or whatever the stimulus is would be too much.  If that is the case then back up 20 feet or however much it takes.

It is really in your dogs “paws” and what he is capable of; if he yawns (sign of stress), licks his lips, diverts his eyes, STARES at the stimulus (more on staring at thing click here) , or tries to run, you are too close.   Back up until his tail is in a normal place (more on the importance of tails here).

You want to see signs of “normal pet dog” not PANIC DOG.

If you aren’t quite sure… you are too close!

Work at Your Dog’s Pace

My Boy overcoming his Fear. My pictures are not as glamorous...

I have been feeding him off the foot rest for a couple of weeks.  He is still skittish if it moves so I want him to be solid before I start showing off what the chair can do.

I also have to control his “daddy”.  No swinging and rocking while he is in his chair and his dog is in the room.

I think sometimes guys want to call the dog over and then do whatever scares them cause they think its funny… but it is not.  It is just making it worse.

So if he needs to push and extend and rock, his dog goes down into our exercise room in his crate with a bone this way he is not traumatized.

Pretty soon I can see myself rocking and feeding him.

Then I will extend the foot rest, make it click and feed him.  But right now I work at his pace in his comfort level.

It doesn’t matter if it takes 3 weeks or 3 months or more, the most important thing is to help him realize there is nothing to be scared of.


And, I don’t coddle him.

If he gets panicked for some reason, I don’t chase him or pet him or tell him “it’s okay”.  I don’t want him to think I like his response… so I ignore his fearfulness.

I don’t want him to think he is in trouble (that will make it worse)

And, I don’t want him to think I am praising him… “it’s okay, it’s okay”  sounds a lot like “good boy, good boy” and (that will make it worse).

So if he panics I ignore him and make a mental note to back up in his training.

The most important thing is to be kind.

If your child was scared of the dark you wouldn’t beat her and put her in a dark room.  You’d get a nightlight and spend time reading to her and maybe sleeping with her for a while.

Treat your dog with the same kindness, he needs love and understanding (without encouraging it) and work it through at his pace.

You will have a better dog, and a better relationship in the end… and people can rock and recline!

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  1. Rachael Little says:

    Our little Bingo, R.I.P., was terrified of the rolling trash can. Whenever we would take it to the curb; he would run from it.


    Martha Ramsey Reply:

    You would be surprised at how often this same method works for humans with a phobia or more. I am in no way equating dogs with humans, but I worked with developmentally delayed people and had one who was terrified of school buses, to the point that she would roll into a fetal position on the floor of the van we drove. From the safety of the van, she was encouraged to just look at the bus with me holding her hand while she ate a chocolate bar. She overcame her fear after a good bit of time and effort on her part as well as on mine and her mother’s. I have always trained my dogs with kindness and positive reinforcement. People will tell you that dogs do not understand language, but I had a black Lab who did. He would take food from your hand only when he was told “you can take it”. My doubting Thomas brother did not believe he understood the words and using all kinds of words which rhymed with take it, he tired to get the dog to respond. Beau sat and watched him until he said the magic words, then took the treat. I had four children and he NEVER took food from them unless he was told to take it. Yeah, dogs do understand some human language. I have wandered a bit here, but to get to the point, I was given a Yorkiepoo about 14 months old who had been “picked on”, according to the owner by the other male dogs. To combat the problem she moved the dog outside to a small house on a concrete pad with minimal exposure to people and other dogs. As a result of that, when I got him he spent the first week hiding in the hallway unless I picked him up and brought him into the living room. He did not eat or drink until I went to bed. He refused to go into the yard. Using the same method mentioned here, I put food on first the top step, then the yard close to the steps. He now goes into the yard, snoops around, pees, potties and generally has a fine time, at least as long as I am on the porch. This has taken weeks to accomplish, so I highly recommend the method to anyone with a problem dog, especially one with great fears, but please remember it takes PATIENCE, UNDERSTANDING and SYMPATHY for the dog.


  2. Gabriela says:

    Our dog is afraid of the big truck with it’s many headlights that takes the rubbish early in the morning. It comes just twice a week early in the morning and sometimes it happens to meet it when we are out for the morning walk. Since our dog saw it for the first time at the street, she didn’t like it at all and got scared really scared. Now, even when she hear it from inside the house, she is frightened.


    Cody Reply:

    I think that is expected if your dog does
    not like big loud noises. A friend of mine
    owns a dog on the truck and he is a chihuahua.
    Since the little dog has been around a trucker
    for forever he doesn’t even flinch when they walk
    by a 18 wheeler. My friend once walked him in front
    of one of the trucks just about to depart from
    the truckstop. LOL, the little dog just stands
    there probably thinking this thing won’t crush
    him and watches the truck. The guy had to drag
    the dog away back to his truck and the dog looked
    at him all confused. Now when he is home I take him
    for walks and simple neighborhood things scare him.
    It feels really flip flopped.


    Ethel Reply:

    My dog Licorice is also afraid of the trash collection trucks.He is lab and chow mix and very big but he manages to hide in a 1 ft. by 3 ft. area under my computer. I can not take him out for walks as there are to many stray dogs and there would be to many fights.any suggestions?


  3. gayle cunningham says:

    My 1year old english springer spaniel goes mad when someone passes with a hi-vis yellow jacket/wastcoat on and it takes ages to calm her down. Any sugestions to help her overcome this (she is fine with my husband if he has one on ) ?


  4. Barbara Ponte says:



    Carole Reply:

    Those grass pads do not work. My dog wouldn’t use it, no matter what. I even took a pee pad outside and picked up some pee and then rubbed it on the grass. Nothing. Don’t waste you money.


  5. Sandra White says:

    My dog is terrified of the clothes airer, she thinks it is going to fall on her, the same with my laundry basket on wheels, it folds up and she is scared again that it’ll fall, but is scared when it is set up as well – no chance of it fslling then ! When it is standing there and she has to go past it she seems to take a big breathe and run past !


  6. What a perfect time to receive your newsletter in my email today! Just this week, my 6 month old Doberman puppy developed a phobia over a super large piece of artwork that is propped along the wall near his crate. One time he bumped it and the picture started to move toward him – and that did it. He would only glance at the picture from around the corner. Last night, I moved the painting upstairs. Your tips will help him get used to the area again. Thanks!


  7. RoseMarie SInclair Urban says:

    Our Dudley Lab was very afraid of the springy-type doorstop (on wall near floor) behind the bedroom door that prevents the door from hitting the wall. As a puppy he pawed at it and it sprang back and forth and really startled him, and for about three months he was fearful to enter the room. He would run through the door, looking to his right at the offensive and terrifying object and would go to the far corner of the room to lie down. One day I sat down and began playing with the doorstop, and he merely watched nervously from across the room. He whined a little, which I ignored. I did not talk at all. Next day I did it again and he creeped , guerilla style, closer to me. Third day he came and sat next to me while I played with it. I never said a word. I could tell he was still nevrvous as he was making a bit of a whine and nudging my face, which I ignored. Fourth day he pawed at it , ran, pawed at it , ran. This, about 20 times. I still never said a word but continued to play with it myself. Last day , he began to play with it, and we actually ended up playing with it together, and at that point I did talk, saying the usual things I say when we are playing with a ball or other toy. (Good boy, You got it , etc) After that, he pretty much ignored it, and was no longer fearful when entering the room, although he would give it an occasional swat, as if to say, yup, I conquered you and now I am the boss of this room, NOT you , you silly old doorstop. The whole process was so interesting and it was fun to see his progress!


    Gclef Reply:

    What a great story! I could just picture it.


  8. My Flatcoated Retriever, now 3, is afraid of shiny or slippy floors (I was not aware of him getting a fright)

    He is also wary of shadowy corners and some scary walls in a training hall. I throw treats and his dumbbell into these shadowy places and he very cautiously retrieves them.

    He is fine in a well lit sports hall with a non slip floor but unfortunately there are not many of those who admit dog training classes.

    As a young dog he wouldn’t go round certain corners or cross particular slabs in the pavement, when we were lead walking but fortunately he got over that with familiarity and treats.

    I can live with it all and if he doesn’t feel confident or is stressed by in an indoor training place or Obedience show that is alright with me but I would like to be able to help him overcome his phobias.


  9. Pat says:

    I have found that when my 1 year old Corgi gets really crazy, in that barking, backing up way; if I put his short collar on him, in the house, it calms him down. Recently he was in a mood, he’d had a walk but was still a bundle of nerves. I put his leash on him, and in a little bit, he came over and fell asleep on my lap. I don’t do this all the time, pups will be pups, but it does work for me.


  10. Gclef says:

    Our 107 lb lab mix, Clyde, is afraid of wooden or tile floors. I’ve had to put “rug islands” everywhere for him to get around. He wasn’t like this as a puppy and I don’t know where it developed. He’s obviously afraid of slipping, so he dashes madly across the “scary” surface when he has to, and then of course – he DOES slip, reinforcing his fears. His sister Bonnie has no problem and will go anywhere. We’ve been guilty of trying to sweet talk him into to getting up the courage, but obviously that’s the wrong ploy.


  11. vicki says:

    my dog(1 year old) is scared of most things. I have taught him not to be afraid of hair dryers, vacume cleaners and all them sorts of things. but i don’t know how to get him to eat from a different dish. I have tried putting his favorite treats in a bowl and on a flat plate, but he would rather starve. he has to have his regular dish both for food and water. what can i do
    egards vicki


    Vicki Reply:

    How did you teach your dog to not be afraid of a vacuum cleaner. Mine barks and tries to bite my little robot vacuum.


    Minette Reply:

    Feed him near it while it is not moving until he is comfortable eating near and then ON it.

    Now when you turn it on toss him treats.

    Then when you move it toss treats to the floor so it is associated with good things rather than bad things.


  12. sandy says:

    We have a 9 mo. old puppy, German Shorthaired Pointer, who has always loved to go bye bye with us in either the car (suv) or truck, recently we purchased a pet barrier to install in both vehicles for the safety of the pups and us, at first she would jump right in either vehicle and now she refuses to get in either vehicle, she actually runs and hides, tucks her tail, so we do not want to force her to ride or go with us and have been leaving her home, she has had no bad experiences, always rewarded with a doggie treat when we return to the vehicle, we cannot imagine what has changed or why all of a sudden she is afraid, hopefully you can help us better understand or give us some pointers, thank you.


  13. Kathie says:

    My 13 month old long hair chihuahua, Barkley, is terrified of plastic trash bags or plastic bags from the grocery store. The sound made by opening or even touching the bag sends him running in fear to another room. Feeding him on the bag is out. Any suggestions?


    Sue Reply:

    My 5 year old mixed breed is also afread of garbage bags and large bags with groceries or other items in them


  14. Janet says:

    My dog is afraid of various objects and barks at them. Mostly it’s objects with eyes on them–a doll, a wooden lizard, etc. If I put it down, she will nip at it and I’m afraid she’ll break it. she’s really afraid of it but at the same time she attacks it very cautiously.


  15. marlene says:

    Lola, my almost two year old Yorkie is afraid of doors. All doors. She barks and growls at my bedroom door as it closes or opens, and she becomes a maniac when the patio doors open and close. When she goes out on the balcony she can also see through the doors, so that becomes another avenue for her release of fear. She even paws at the now open patio door as if attacking it, barking her high pitched bark of fear. Unlike most yorkies, she is not a barker, not even for the doorbell. So this behavior is odd, I have no idea now to remedy this.


  16. Michael says:

    My 5 year old Border Collie is afraid of two things: thunder and someone passing gas or our 12 year old making that sound. We have instructed the 12 yr. old not to do that but we can’t do anything about the thunder but let him get close to one of us, (usually daddy) and speak low and lovingly to calm him. With that he seems to be fine.


    Carol Reply:

    Nothing calms my German Shepherd/Sheltie mix. She is 12 yrs old. Possibly was abused when she was less than 6 months old. Friend found her and kept her. Then my friend got cancer and was dying. I went to care for her and Mollie just stuck to me like glue as soon as I entered the house. I had never been in this house since I lived in another state. So after my friend passed, I took Mollie home with me and she is so loyal and comforting! Well she definitely has separation anxiety issues and scared almost to death of thunder. Don’t know what to do. She shakes continuously, sheds, hyperventilates and tries to climb under me, continuously for hours until long after the thunder stops. Any suggestions?


    Minette Reply:

    read this


  17. Mika Panagou says:

    Bianka, my 10 month old lab-pointer, is afraid when our coffee table that is quite large and heavy moves as it has wheels!
    She simply runs away when she sees you are about to move it!
    I have no idea when this started and for what reasons. I can’t connect it to something. If the table is still she has no problem!


  18. Brad says:

    My brother has a dog that is completely afraid of any kind of food dish. It will not eat food out of a dish or drink water out of a dish unless it is held by my brother. They have to place the dog food in a spot on the floor to feed their dog. If the dog is thirsty my brother has to hod the dish in the air in order for the dog to drink anything. Otherwise if they are not there to hold the dish the only way the dog drinks anything is if it can find free standing water outside such as after a rain. Yes, this is very strange and my brother has tried lots of things to change this behavior. He tried to fill a bowl full of treats to get the dog to eat from it and it wouldn’t even do that. any advice on how to fix this I know my brother would appreciate it.


  19. kat says:

    I took my shipoo for a walk in a city where she hasnt been before. We live in a rural area. Came upon a corner that had a fire hydrant on it. No way was she going near that corner with that “monster” sitting there waiting to get her.


  20. Terry says:

    I keep the dogs toys in a laundry basket when we clean up. I taught him to ick up his toys and ut them in the basket. This all ended when his dogs tag on collar got caught on the laundry basket. When he pulled away, the basket was attached to his colar and was chasing him. He was terrified and will no longer even come into the room, if the basket is in the room. We were doing so well and now all of that effort to teach him to pick up his toys and put it in the basket is gone. Thanks for your help


  21. Bonnie says:

    Our miniature schnauzer, Dutch, will not eat out of a bowl! We have to put his food directly on a plastic tray. When he was almost 6-months-old, we had his food and water bowls in a small, elevated metal stand. One day the tag from his collar got hooked on the stand. He got scared and ran … bowls, food, & water flew … I calmed him down and removed the stand from his collar. Luckliy, he wasn’t hurt physically. We used positive reinforcement to eventually get him back to his eating area and to drinking water out of a bowl – no small feat – we had days of his drinking water from our hands! But, more than a year later, Dutch will still not eat out of a bowl. We’ve tried big bowls, little bowls, plastic bowls … he’ll just sit and stare at it. We’ve tried to entice him by putting “really good” treats in there. But, he doesn’t take the “bait”. It doesn’t matter where the bowl is – in our house, outside, in a hotel room … he won’t eat out of it. Someone said that if he got hungry enough, he would, but we went two days and he still wouldn’t eat out of the bowl. Other than his food bowl phobia, Dutch is an excellent dog.


  22. Jack McGill says:

    Our dog is almost 1 1/2 years old, and is terribly afraid in the car. We took her for a ride when she was just a pup and she was fine. We dread taking her to the Vet or Groomer because it takes all our strength to hold onto her. She will get into the car, if it isn’t moving or the engine isn’t started. Then she’s fine. We don’t know what to do with her. The Vet suggested taking her for very short trips, like to the Post Office or Bank. We’ve tried that, she’s bad. Does anyone have any suggestions for us?


  23. Lynda says:

    Thank you for sharing this. My inherited dog is afraid of the basement stairs. She is OK with the 4 steps into the garage, but not the l1 going down to the basement. Both sets are concrete. She grew up in a first level apartment and never learned stairs as a puppy. I tried putting her on her leash and bringing her to the landing. She shook. She doesn’t shake when on occasion she will sit with me there. I see the leash was a bad idea. Will try the food plan that you have done with your dog. Any other suggestions? I also can’t pick her up without her yelping like I am beating her.


    dorothy stanford Reply:

    my dog yelps when she is picked up. I took her to the vet he said there is nothing wrong with her we are not hurting here,so keep trying to pick her up. I was’nt happy with that answer so I took her to another vet. after xrays and lab work he said she has pancreatitus but all he did was give her pain meds. isnt there something else we should be doing.she still yelps and wont be picked up.I am at my wits end,cant afford another vet bill.the last one broke the bank.


    Minette Reply:

    Some dogs don’t like being picked up. I am not sure I would either 😉 Often we do things they find weird and bad manners and picking them up is sometimes one of them.

    Try leaving a row of cheese or other goodie down the steps and letting her find them and make the go alone. Sometimes dogs worry that once they start we might force them so see if leaving food on the steps will help her figure it out on her own.


  24. My Bearded Collie also has a phobia and will not go down the basement stairs which are carpeted and the basement is finished. She goes up the stairs to the top level and down without any fear. She is 4 years old and we do not force her down to the lower level.


  25. Jean says:

    My 1 1/2 year old Australian Shepherd is afraid of the sound of the bags treats come in. But only if they are sitting on the counter when I open them. If I touch the bag when it is on the counter, she will leave the kitchen. If I take the bag off the counter and open it and she is fine. Either way she is more than willing to take the treat that comes out of the bag. How silly is that??


  26. Tom says:

    You will probably delete this but . . . YOU dislike the recliner because your husband naps in it rather than snuggling with you, and the fact than you put quotation marks around “his dog” indicates an unresolved human issue on that front. Is the dog equally distressed about the recliner when your husband is home and you are somewhere else? Is the dog fearful of inanimate objects when he is outside with your husband? If the answer to either of these questions is “no,” then it is highly likely that the dog is reflecting your emotional distress. Resolve the human issues, allow your husband to rock to his heart’s content, and realize that the dog is perfectly capable of coming to terms with a chair (if the chair is really the problem) without your help.


    Minette Reply:

    I could care less about the chair.

    I have my own and always have. He snuggles with me at night.

    The dog is scared of a number of things and always has been, it makes no difference whether it is my husband or me near the objects. He is scared of the object.

    YOU are too busy trying to add human psychology when there is really no torrid story to tell.

    Clearly you have never seen a dog with phobias but this is pretty classic.


  27. josie says:

    My husband has a recliner just the one you show and the pups love it.
    They are afraid of a plastic blowing around in a neighbors yard.
    When my husband gets out from the chair they jump in and won’t let
    him sit.


  28. PATTY says:

    we have an 8 yr old shih-tzu who is scared of the “bleep” noise the Wii makes when we turn it on to watch a movie or play a game! he will get up out of bed and run to the nearest bedroom with his tail down! My husband once made the noise himself and Gizmo ran away just from that! Crazy!


    brenda Reply:

    Is it the actual noise or the frequency? I only ask b/c I bought my “girls” a squeak toy that humans do not hear (just the sound of air) but dogs CAN. They can hear it squeak from another room. They love it. The brand is Hear Doggy and the price was high considering it is a dog toy but it is durable as well as washable and of course no squeak at least not to us. I have a Lhasa Apso named Gizmo and he is 14 years old. I read that Gizmo is a popular name for these two breeds!


  29. Ellen King says:

    Hi, Minette,
    To your original problem. I would guess that the dog was crated out of the room when the chair arrived. Of course, big suprise…..! After ordinary measures of reassurance, I’d probably throw/hide some biscuits variously in the chair, let him decide… explore… whatever. And not watch him. If on coming back your see him in the process of nosing around the chair, praise him and go away. Hopefully it will hasten the process.
    I wonder how much dogs learn in a crate? Perhaps, depending on ‘the refuge quality’ you suppose your doggie values, you could even place the crate nearby.
    (Frankly, I’m not a crate person, but I’m willing to learn too.)
    Peace, Ellen King


    Minette Reply:

    He was not in a crate and he is scared of many environmental things this is just one of several


  30. Minette says:

    Leave it down and let him get use to it, don’t wiggle it or move it just let it be.

    Sometimes the best thing to do with a fear is not to over react and to allow them to get over it on their own.


  31. The Hess Family says:

    Our dog Tasha is a 4.5 year old lab, shephard, husky mix that we adopted from a rescue agency when she was 6 months old. Nobody knows what she experienced in her first 6 months before being picked up on the streets of Mississippi, but she is literally afraid of everything new in her life. It took her two weeks to get comfortable with our family. Any time a new person enters the property she barks and whines. If the person enters the house, that just increases the intensity (though she runs away). This behaviour is also triggered by inanimate objects, from packages to shopping bags to Christmas presents and new pieces of furniture or appliances. She is a wonderful dog, but we’d wish that she’d get over this strange phobia…


  32. beth davis says:

    I have a shitzu that is afraid of a bleepling noise from t.v. when they have a weather bulletin. He goes and hides in the bedroom..sometimes after coxing he will come back out…but is a fearful little dog. I just give him lotza hugs and kisses, and accept him for who he is. All dogs have different personalities, just like humans. then I also have a boston, well she is so jealous of Nicholas, almost funny! dogs, they are so good for the human soul.


  33. brenda says:

    We have had dog aversions before and I believe the best way is to not coddle and not get all upset and “helicopter” around the dog. The dog most definitely picks up on your body language. The ancient Greeks thought dogs could read your mind. I see that at the vet and I bet most of you have too.
    I guess what I am trying to say here is that if YOU are upset that they are afraid then the dog will read your lack of CONFIDENCE. And a good pack leader always projects confidence and always projects that he or she is in charge (not in a bombastic way of course). The dog will live up or down to your own expectations. Sometimes they come with a quirk and we have to help them around it.
    That said, I agree with Minette on her method. And not coddling the dog means that she is projecting confidence and is in charge of training so her dog will respond normally in time. So it’s not the actual what you do, that depends on the fear and the dog but the air you are projecting. If you approach this with a can do attitude and you mean it the dog will know it.


    Reva Reply:

    this has been the best reply to Minnette’s problem. Just want to say that it is soo hard not to coodle. I have issues not doing this myself.


  34. Brenda says:

    We got new cabinets and an island put into our kitchen 2 months ago and now our 11 year old coonhound won’t go into the kitchen. The flooring is exactly the same and the back door to the fenced in yard is in the kitchen so that is how he used to go in and out of the house 15 times a day. He won’t even go up the back steps to go into the kitchen from the yard.
    I’ve left pieces of steak and other treats in the kitchen and nothing works. Any tips?


  35. I had Duke 10 years. Great dane. Since birth and never could figure out why he was afraid of a can of biscuits getting popped open. The sound I suppose. He would run and hide. We turned it into a game. All I had to do was open the fridge and say Duke, biscuits!! He would run and bark (playing) I didn’t even have them in my hand, just said the word and it turned into a game. But when he was a baby it was a real fear for him. He liked to watch me cook, not allowed in the kitchen when I was cooking , so he would lay in the door way and watch. His whole life. I showed him step by step, cooking the biscuits. Popping the can and having a chase game, making sure he got one when they were ready.
    By the time he was about 5 years old we would be outside and I would say ” Biscuits!” He would run and jump and bark like he was a puppy again. It was so funny! Then I would say ” ok I put the biscuits away,” And he would just stop. It was our little game till he left the planet. People never understood. But it was turning the scary sound into a game that made him loose his fear of it. He will be gone since May of 2012, I haven’t made biscuits since.


  36. Wendy says:

    My Border Collie is afraid of the microwave. It started when I switched on the microwave, making me thing she can detect the radioactive waves, and finds them disturbing. But now she can be asleep on the couch, and as soon as I open the microwave door, she’s in hysterics and runs outside, and barks through the window. I have tried offering her a treat in the kitchen at the exact same time as I open the microwave door, in an effort to teach her this is a good experience, not a bad one, but she either grabs the treat and runs whimpering, or she just runs. I tried to be firm/commanding but not angry: “ANNIE. COME. SIT.” and I tried to be happy/inviting: “Would yoooou liiike…. a treat?” which normally pricks up her ears with delight, but it appears there are too many conflicting thoughts in her brain, and her instinct is to just get outa there.


  37. Michelle Eppleston says:

    I have a Malamute. She was a notmally brought up pup – not mistreated or anything. she was scared of everything.. Approaching wheelie bins or road work signs in the path – worse with builders mixing machines! I found that walking up to the object and me spending time to inspect and touch the object seemed to help and eventually she got used to walking past them. The problem that does remain is loud noises. We were walking past a roofer close to a busy road junction. The guy started hammering on the roof and she went bonkers! She was not full grown yet, but I have a bad back and really struggled to keep her under control!
    She is almost two now and quite big – she walks on the lead like a dream – until some idiot starts to set of fire works at 6pm!!! I had to lash she lead around the nearest tree and calm her down enough to carry on walking .. If I hadn’t she would have ended up in the middle of a busy road.
    I need to make her less afraid of loud noises as my weight will not be enough very soon against her strength… Where do I start?
    I managed to sort out the household items like vacuum cleaner and hair drier – but outside noises is a tough one to stage – any ideas!?


  38. Lois says:

    I have a 4.5 year old Shih Tzu, who is a therapy dog. The only thing she is afraid of is squeaky shoes on a hardwood floor. We had hardwood floors when we got her and it was fine, but on a therapy visit a nurse squeaked her shoes on the floor there and now even at home, if we squeak the floor with wet tennies she runs to the bedroom and jumps on the bed and shivers. Have tried ignoring her, but doesn’t help. When we come in from outside with her, have to walk on the wood floors, so now what do we do?


    Minette Reply:

    Try associating the noise with something good like a treat… like the chair and food.

    Control a tiny squeak and toss her a great treat (boiled chicken or something really good) and see if you can change her mind about the noise.

    It might take time, if this is a phobia and not just a fear it will take longer to get over.


  39. Steve says:

    Our 1 1/2 year old Bloodhound, Hondo, is terrified of our basement. He won’t even go near the basement door. I have no idea why he is so afraid since he has never been down in the basement. We have tried numerous things to get him to go down into the basement to realze that there is nothing to be afraid of. However, he wants nothing to do with it and runs away every time we open the door.


  40. Rana says:

    One of my dogs is afraid of feathers. When he sniffs them, they move. He thinks they are attacking him and he runs away. It’s rather fun to watch.


  41. Fara says:

    My Bichon Is scared of the car. From the time I first got him at 8 weeks of age he has coward in the car and occasionally has vomited. He is now 11 months and still refuses to even walk beside the car. Our trash bins are out behind the car and most times when he is with me as I dump the trash he only goes as far as the gate and stops. will no follow me past the car. When we go on walks other cars in the neighborhood do not bother him it is just my car. When we go in the car I have to carry him and place him in the car. He has not vomited for several months now but he still panics when in the car.
    I need help as I do a lot of traveling and would like him to enjoy his travels with me.


  42. jack says:

    ha my dog is terrifide of are childrens old stuffed bunny! beat that for SAD!


  43. Janet says:

    Our gorgeous big white German Shepherd is afaid of musical toys.
    He performs everytime we try and play them. Howls and barks continuously. Sometimes even tries to “get” them.
    I will try some of the suggestions. I have tried consolling him but doesn’t work. He is happy and loves them – until the music.


  44. Janet R says:

    Our gorgeous big white German Shepherd is afaid of musical toys.
    He performs everytime we try and play them. Howls and barks continuously. Sometimes even tries to “get” them.
    I will try some of the suggestions. I have tried consolling him but doesn’t work. He is happy and loves them – until the music.


    Minette Reply:

    My guess if he is howling and barking is that he is overstimulated and not fearful 🙂


  45. carolina says:

    “I think sometimes guys want to call the dog over and then do whatever scares them cause they think its funny… but it is not. It is just making it worse.” Thank you for that line!! my dad has that same dumb behavior towards my dogs which makes me so angry! so it made me feel a lot better to know it’s not just him that does that.


  46. Lynn Haynes says:

    My dog is petrified, (of all things), the pooper scooper! She is a very strong Akita, one we had to learn exactly what it meant to be an alfa dog to handle. She is great around everything but flips into a panic when my husband heads out to clean the lot. I take her out of the lot for a walk and we are out of sight before he will even head outside. We can only figure its the sounds she is reacting to as he cleans because she doesnt react to the scooper unless he is using it.


  47. katrina says:

    I would love to talk to you about several things that have spooked my 14 mth old german shepherd to the point I have purchased a thundershirt & calming produces trying to help her. It started with fireworks & then thunderstorms. From there it has been anything from strange (loud) noises to things I can’t see! She is a great dog, aI have taken her to training classes as a puppy, walked her daily and tried to socialize her with other dogs, children, & other people. We have had play dates with other dogs. She does well in all these things. But when it comes to things like noises & things that are different it freaks her out! Please help I want her to be secure & confident in & with all situations.


  48. Debi says:

    I feel much better reading everyone elses problems. MY DOG HATES GARBAGE TRUCKS TOO! and the mail truck, and the UPS and Fed Ex truck which are on our block every day. Sometimes I go out with her when I hear them and feed her itty bitty pieces of treats. When the mail man isn’t looking, or the UPS guy is not in the truck, we walk all around it, and I place treats on the bumper, the tire, the seat, etc….eventually she will get it. She is MUCH better than when I got her a year ago. But the MOTORCYCLE and TRAINS are the WORST! She goes INSANE! I keep with the treats, if I hear a motorcycle coming before she does, I throw some treats in the grass and tell her to go find, this usually works well, and she forgets about the truck or motorcycle. I am afraid the train thing is a GIANT task and unfortunately ALL dog parks around here back up to a train track, even the Humane Society where I took her for training…but I live in a condo and have to take her somewhere to run…shes a border collie/cattle dog mix…loves to play Frisbee and swim.


  49. Nancy says:

    We have a 7 year old Italian Greyhound that we rescued when she was 2 years old. Someone had adopted her from a puppy mill and then didn’t want to keep her because she would not have anything to do with them. She would run and hide.
    When we got her she would hide under the bed all the time. A year later she would come out as long as we ignored her. Then if she saw us watching her she would go hide again. Two years later she would jump up on our bed and sleep under the covers until one of us got in bed. Last year she started jumping up on the bed at night when we would be in the bed with the lights out and sleep under the covers. This last year she will let us pet her when we are in bed and within the last couple of months she has started coming downstairs and jump in our laps and sitting maybe 10-15 minutes to be petted. If you make any movement other than petting, her she will jump down but stays in the room where we are. It has been hard because our last Italian Greyhound was a lover.


  50. Beth says:

    As a breeder one of the things I do is run the vacuum cleaner, hair dryer, radio, etc while the pups are nursing and later while they are feeding on regular pup food. This is to help the dogs not develop those basic fears as they will already associate them with food. I was told by my brother who has bred labs for many many years about this trick. I try to make sure the pups I offer are used to as many things as possible before they venture out beyond my front door. Hopefully it works 🙂


  51. Julie says:

    Hi, we have a beautiful 18mth old Australian Kelpie called Cedar. We bought her from a breeder then had her flown to from Adelaide to Darwin, where we live. Initially she was a bit frightened of of the car and some noises but over her first 6 months with us she seemed to overcome this, she was even excited to go in the car and Thunderstorms never bothered her. We even took her on a 7000km round trip with no problems. Then when we collected her from the vet, after desexing, she was scared by any sudden noise at all and barks at thunder. If she was human (and she almost is) It seemed to be like she was “tripping” just like you see a drug taker on TV do. Its not related to the vets as she still loves to go there. Its now 8mths later and she still jumps or panics at sudden noises and is “uncomfortable” in the car, but she will get in willingly, although she pretends she cant jump in on her own now. I am worried as we have to do the same 7000k round trip this Christmas. I take her in the car as often as i can, but it gets quite humid here and i cant leave her in the car for any longer than 2 minutes even with the windows down in a shaded area. Her favorite toys are a bouncing ball(almost obssessive with), squeaky plastic tube and a noisy “oinking” pig so its not all noises. She doesnt like it when i put the “leg” up/down on my rocker/recliner, she runs out of the room, but she will jump up and sit on my lap afterwards if i encourage her – no bribery required! Can you help? I am baffled as all the techniques i tried before wont work. I even tried food this time to no avail.


    Minette Reply:

    depending on the drugs used she very well could have been drugged still.

    Either way she needs slow work and desensitization.

    I would ask the vet for some drugs to make her trip less traumatic.


  52. Stephen Foley says:

    Tilly will not enter the room a I suffer with spinal problems she is laying in a different room I have tried to give her treats that iris okay when sitting upright but as soon as you recline the chair she is off


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