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Canine Behavior/Dog is scared of floor fan


Hi Jill my name is Claire. I have a mix-breed dog named Honey and she's 6 years old. We adopted her when she was 2. The area we live in has been VERY hot this summer and because of that Honey has been tired, sluggish and it's sad because normally she's so happy and playful. So 2 days ago (Tuesday) I got a fan for her. It's one of those tall, thin ones that I can set at different speeds and to rotate if I want to, and I thought she'd love it. I thought she might be a little weary of it, because she is sometimes with new things so I didn't turn it on at first, and I put a dog biscuit on it hoping she'd associate the fan with things she likes. When I turned it on several minutes later she ran. I tried to soothe her- first I turned it off then I petted her and talked to her. When she calmed down I decided to wait and not turn it on anymore. However, every time she walked in the room with the fan she would go out of her way to not go near it. Yesterday, when I got her food I put her food and water bowl in front of it, without about a foot's space between. She came to the bowl and stood at the side so that she wasn't very near, grabbed a mouthful, and went to the other side of the room to chew it up. And repeat til the bowls empty. I even scooted the bowl a little further away!
This morning I put a blanket she likes over the fan so she can't see it, and hopefully would think that since, I don't know, the fan didn't eat the blanket or something, that she would be safe from it too. But she's still avoiding it, tucking her tail when near it, etc.
The only good reason I can think of for her fear, and it might actually be valid, is her life before we got her. We rescued her from a shelter, where she'd been for a month. Before that, we have reason to believe she was abused. Like I said earlier, at the time, she was 2. She'd already had 2 litters of puppies. The people at the shelter said her ex-owner brought her in on a chain and she was so think you could see her ribs. She also apparently had a really bad name, so bad the shelter people wouldn't tell us.  So right now I'm thinking that her abuse before she came to lives with us (and we love her very much) has something to do with her fan-fear. Could that be accurate?
Whether it is or isn't, I want Honey to adapt to the fan. If you think that it's best not to, I definitely won't, I really just want her to be happy. And I thought this would, and hopefully eventually will. She loves sticking her head out the window in the car and feeling the breeze and I thought this would give her the same feeling. I've attached a picture so you can see what she looks like, because I didn't know if that would help. She's pretty small too, about up to the knee on all fours.
I hope all of this was helpful enough, and I hope you can help me. Thank you so much.

Get rid of the fan.

The dog can't make any "sense" of it and every single time you attempt to "soothe" or "comfort" her during her fear, you are inadvertently rewarding the fear.

Put ice cubes in her water bowl.  Buy an air condition unit!  The dog is suffering anxiety on top of heat prostration, not okay.  Provide plenty of water and don't exercise her until the heat wave is over.  

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

Past/Present Clients
Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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