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Canine Behavior/My dog is controlled by fear.


I have a 4 year old schnauzer and ever since she was 2 she has been terrifyingly afraid of the daylight and the outdoors. She goes outside to pee during daylight and ffinishes, then continues to scurry and look behind her as if something is following here. She was a dog rescued from a puppy mill. She was only a few weeks old, and of my knowledge no prior fears were known. She knows when it's dark, and or cold/rainy and she knows there's no bees. I'm pretty sure bees are the problem. She knows the exact time of day and when she can comfortably go outside. She sits at the back door and looks out very sad and when I go to let her out she flees away and hides. She is afraid of any noise such as buzzing, rustlingor even just a bag moving around. What can I do to help her? It makes me so sad she is controlled by this fear. I don't recall her ever getting stung by a bee either. Example: today she was outside with me. We both heard a bee and she FREAKED out and ran around in circles and scurrying about and whining to go inside. What can I do for my poor little girl?

The Veterinary Hospital University of Pennsylvania (in Philadelphia):
(215) 898-4680

It is very probable this dog was stung, perhaps multiple times, and has a strong conditioned response.  The hospital above is one of the premier facilities in the US.  If you are within a reasonable drive (what you consider reasonable), I suggest you call and make an appointment with a Veterinary Behaviorist.  If you are unable to drive there, they should have referrals to a Veterinary Behaviorist within a few hours' drive of your home.

The dog requires eyes on, a base line neurological test, an eye evaluation, complete blood chemistry and most likely medication WHILE you work through this problem on counter conditioning her strong fear response.  A Beta blocker is a commonly used first step approach as it reduces the rush of adrenaline but there are other more sophisticated medications.  A Veterinary generalist does not have THE EXPERIENCE regarding the use of these medications, you require a specialist.  Here are online sites where you might also locate one:

This problem is complex because you are also involved, meaning: you are reacting to her fear and panic (becoming concerned, perhaps trying to calm her by petting her).  Desensitization to buzzing IS TO BE AVOIDED, it will not work.  The only thing that will work is an appropriate medication (short term) coupled with counter conditioning.  This means teaching the dog something entirely different (as simple as "sit") with positive reinforcement, then keeping the dog on long leash outside (you must go out with her); if she demonstrates the behavior described above, shorten the leash, walk in large circles left, right, left, right, until dog is visibly calm or LOOKS AT YOU, ask for "sit", be prepared to jackpot reward (handful of something good), walk on until she's calm, take her indoors.

It sounds simple; it won't be simple.  She's had this problem for some time, it is not self extinguishing.  Find the Vet. Behaviorist and report back using followup feature after the dog has been on the medication at least two weeks.  Until then, you must go out with her on leash.  Leash restraint will keep her cognition engaged.  Take a mint with you so your stress and anxiety won't "go down the leash".  

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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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