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Canine Behavior/Dog acting scared


We had 3 bears come in our yard two days ago yesterday our beagle seemed fine, today when he goes out he looks around then pees and walked near our bench and his hair on his back stood up and he ran to the door and now is hiding under the bed. Do you think he smells something. ...I'm not sure the bears was close to the bench unless they came back last night...thank you

Thank you for your question. Nature can be a wondrous and exciting thing when it visits our yard. But, bears are predators and smell like predators. It is entirely possible that they came back through your yard last night after you saw them and they may have urinated near the bench or rubbed a scent gland part of their body on the bench, leaving behind a very clear neon-sign notice that they've been through. It's absolutely possible that the scent of bear has made your beagle quite nervous, especially if he's never smelled that predator before.

Don't force him to go out into the yard - and certainly not without your supervision. You might try hosing the bench and surrounding area down in order to help wash away the smell of bear and see if that helps him feel a little better.

You can also go sit on the bench and see if he feels bolstered by your presence to go investigate the area more. If he does, you can reinforce his bravery by offering him small bites of his very favorite treats while hanging out in that area. You can also play a game with him where you're sitting on the bench (the area that spooked him) and if he looks in your direction, toss a treat over to him and just beyond him so that he actually has to move AWAY from you/the bench to get it. This helps reduce the pressure on him to move toward the thing that scares him. Once he retrieves the treat, wait for him to look at you again, and repeat. After a few tosses, he is likely to take a step or two toward you. Toss the treat behind him. As you continue this game, and as he starts to feel a little safer, he'll start moving closer and closer to you. once he is willing to come to you, give him "jackpots" of treats right there on the ground and on the bench and all around that area.

A JACKPOT is presenting 10-20 treats scattered around the area for him to sniff and retrieve. Ideally, instead of just dropping a fistful of treats, you will drop just one or two, and as he retrieves those, drop another one a few inches to a foot away from him, and as he retrieves that one, drop another a few inches to a foot away from him in the other direction. Think of a slot machine that lands on all 7s and starts just dropping quarters - it's sort of feels like a never-ending flow of coins coming at you. that's how the treat delivery should feel - just one after the other after the other after the other....

Then, walk calmly back inside and tell him he's a good boy. Repeat the whole process 10 minutes later and see if he feels better about the area.

And, until you know the bears have moved on, make sure that you supervise all of your dog's outside time. And have some bear spray handy in case you need to encourage the bears to leave. And all the other local bear safety stuff that I'm sure you already know living in that area - like don't leave food out, lid the trashcans, etc.

I'm sorry your beagle got a fright. Hopefully it was just a startle and he'll come around quickly with just a little bit of tasty fun in the area where the bears trespassed.

Good luck! Please feel free to followup if I can be of any further assistance.

Worcester, MA Behavior Specialist
Masters Candidate - Animals and Public Policy (Animal Behavior)
Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, CPDT- KA, APDT


IF YOU BELIEVE YOUR DOG IS ILL OR INJURED, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR LOCAL VETERINARIAN IMMEDIATELY. THIS IS NOT THE FORUM TO ADDRESS URGENT MEDICAL ISSUES. I AM NOT A LICENSED VET AND HAVE NO DIAGNOSTIC SKILLS. ***I have been answering questions on All Experts for over 5 years now. I enjoy being able to offer assistance in this forum. I do need to be clear, though. If you’re looking for free advice about a specific behavior question, you MUST submit your question to me via All Experts. If you bypass All Experts and write to me directly through my website, I will ask you to submit via All Experts. On the flip side, if you’re local to Los Angeles and you wish to speak to me privately about an in person consultation, please go through my website. I appreciate your assistance in keeping my volunteer work on the volunteer site.*** I can answer questions about the following canine behavior issues: obedience, timid/fearful & fear-based aggression, nuisance behaviors, families that are expanding with either new human or new animal members. If you have potty training questions please first read my trio of blogs at If you still have questions after reading the blogs you can post your specific questions here. PLEASE be as specific as possible when asking a question. Give me a detailed example of the situation - dog's behavior, body language, circumstances surrounding the issue, what the consequences are (another dog's response, your response), etc. I can only provide insight if I can get a picture of the whole scenario. If I ask for further details, please provide them. In person I would normally observe for at least 90 minutes to assess the situation and the dynamics before offering tools and suggestions to modify it. In writing it is ever so much more difficult. Thank you for your participation in the process.


I have been professionally modifying behavior and training obedience for 7 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I have just changed the name of my business. It is no longer Good Dog! Dog Training. The new name is Nutz About Mutz!. If you see previous questions with the Good Dog! website information, that is my response.

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