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Canine Behavior/Dog afraid of all noises and new experienced


I have a dog I adopted from a local
shelter in January 2016. She is about
two to three years old, spayed female.
She is a husky shepherd mix. She was
found in a bad part of the city and has
no history. She is scared of almost every
noise. Afraid of air conditioners, TV and
any unfamiliar noise. The biggest problem is
the yard. It is fenced in 6ft cedar fence with large
trees. If any of my neighbors are in their yard
she panics and tries to open the gate to get
back inside. If a car starts up, a lawn mower starts,
she starts pacing and whining and then tries to
get inside. The neighbors on one side have two pitbulls
and then will growl and lunge at the fence if they are
outside, which naturally frightens her more. She seems to
have gotten worse lately not wanting to go to the bathroom
but I just sit calmly and wait for nature to take over
her fear. I praise her and go indoors. If she meets a strange
man she will cower and urinate herself. She still hides
under the basement stairs when I'm not home so I put
her bed there to make her feel safe. She is not fear
aggressive. She has never shown any aggression to
anyone including the vet. Just shear terror. She acts like
a person who has PTSD. Sometimes if she hears
a noise she will flatten down on ground.

Thank you for your question and for the picture of Sky. She's beautiful!

So, based on the level of generalized anxiety that you are describing I think that Sky would benefit greatly from anti anxiety medication. If you were my in-person client, I would tell you that until we can help her get the anxiety under control, we will never be able to help her learn new and better coping skills. You mentioned that there is no history for Sky and that you think perhaps she is suffering from PTSD. Of course, it's possible that she just never was socialized to the world (e.g. stray from puppy-hood). And many dogs are genetically very sound sensitive without experiencing any specific trauma. But it is also certainly possible that she experienced one or more traumas that has created or exacerbated her fears.

If she were a human suffering from such anxiety, the first order of business would be medication to reduce the anxiety because when the fear and anxiety is so high, no useful learning can occur. Once the medication reduces the anxiety to a more functional level, then new learning can occur, which will allow for the development of better coping skills.

Medication is meant to be an adjunct to a behavior modification protocol - it is not the fix in itself. The meds are taken daily and require 4-6 weeks to reach a therapeutic level in the system. Most dogs (and people) who are prescribed such meds will be on it for 6-12 months while they do the behavior work to create better coping skills. Then, once those skills are in place, and with the help of the doctor, the patient is weaned off the meds. These are not medications that can be stopped cold turkey, they must be weaned off. Most patients taking it can be weaned off, though some need to stay on the meds longer than others.

I strongly encourage you to seek out a consultation with a veterinary behaviorist as they can actually prescribe the medication for you. Or a certified applied animal behaviorist (CAAB) - they often have strong working relationships with vets and can recommend medication which the vet will then prescribe and monitor for appropriate dosing.

You can search for a vet behaviorist in your area here:

You can search for a CAAB here:

You should also speak to your regular vet about such a referral as they may have someone they work with already who would be able to help you.

I have worked with many fearful dogs and while for some dogs something as simple as a ThunderShirt and Dog Appeasing Pheromones can help, other dogs have a much more intense and generalized anxiety, requiring a more systemic treatment. But I've seen great success with those dogs once the correct medication and dose has been determined.

ThunderShirt is an anxiety pressure wrap that has been shown to reduce some stress related behaviors during acutely stressful events.

Dog Appeasing Pheromone (Comfort Zone) is a synthetic version of a pheromone that nursing mother dogs release and has been shown to reduce stress in some dogs. This comes in a wearable collar, a spray and a plug-in diffuser.

Both of the above fall into the can't-hurt-might-help category. Some dogs show a great success, while others don't seem to be effected by them at all. But they may be a good adjunct for your dog on top of medication and as part of an overall behavior plan.

I wish you the best of luck. Please feel free to followup if I can be of any further assistance.

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

Canine Behavior

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Jody Epstein, MS, CPDT-KA


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 8 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 and many other issues. 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 a professional obedience trainer for 9 years, and specializing in behavior modification for 8 years. I have owned dogs my entire life. I own my own dog training and behavior modification business called Nutz About Mutz.

I am a Certified Profession Dog Trainer - Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), #2133301 ; I am a member in good standing with the Association of Professional Dog Trainers (APDT), #77763 ; I am an AKC certified Canine Good Citizen evaluator (CGC), #71253

Publications ; ; Multiple articles in the local pet magazine Pet Press (found across Southern California)

I have a masters degree (MS) in Animals and Public Policy, with a minor in Animal Behavior, from Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. I also have 3 years of graduate education in Animal Behavior and Learning from UM-Missoula and UL-Lafayette. I continue to educate myself to canine-specific behavior through extensive reading, online interactive workshops, vidoes and attending canine behavior conferences, workshops and seminars. Beginning in March, 2017, I will be the Behavior & Training Manager at Second Chance Center for Animals in Flagstaff, AZ.

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