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Ask Alecia: My Dog Is Frightened at My Boyfriend’s House!

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Hey Alecia,

I have a 1 and a half year old mutt, Sadie, that I adopted over a year ago. Things have been going very well. She socializes beautifully with other dogs and people, and has a good time at other people’s houses. Lately, I have been bringing her on weekend trips to my boyfriend’s house, and things have started to go down hill. She is hiding under sofa tables and under high-rise chairs, shakes when I take her in the backyard to go to the bathroom, and will not play with me at all. I have pulled out all the stops with trying to persuade her to play or relax: cheese, her favorite toy, treats galore. I feel horrible and try not to coddle her, but it’s heartbreaking. Do you have any suggestions for me and my poor girl?

I don’t know if this will contribute to her being scared at my boyfriend’s house, but one day he was washing his car and banged the floor mats together multiple times. She became incredibly nervous about that. She is also afraid of thunder.

Thanks so much!! Diana

Dear Diana, I am so sorry your girl is experiencing some fear.  It was really helpful to let me know about the incident with the car floor mats and the thunder as both of these are part of the same issue.   Often times when a dog is sensitive to loud noises and thunder there is typically an underlying imbalance typically brought about by the musculoskeletal body being off kilter – similar to a human needing a chiropractic adjustment or her kidney energy could use a boost which acupuncture is great for.  As a trainer, I always rule out physical issues first as I have found most behavior issues are more quickly resolved when I address the physical symptoms first.

The way that I evaluate this is by placing my thumb on the left side of the spine and my middle finger on the right side about 1” away from the spine on each side.  I start at the top of the head and work my way down in 1.5” increments gently pressing straight down to see if there is any twitching I find along the spine.  If I do that is my indicator that either massage, chiropractic or acupuncture is potentially called for.  You can check with friends to see who is available in your area and who comes most highly recommended.

The next thing you can do to address the emotional side of it and assist the central nervous systems overreaction to noises and thunder is to see if your local health food store carries the Bach Flower Essence, Rescue Remedy.  It is a non-chemical simple liquid formulation that you can drop into your dog’s water or have her lick off your hand and it will soothe her almost immediately.

Another option you have is to purchase her a Thundershirt.  It is a wonderful, coat like shirt that is made of neoprene and wraps around your dog snugly which will help her feel safe and less fearful of loud noises and thunder.

Let me know how it goes.

Paws Up! Alecia

Alecia Evans is the inventor of The Walk In Sync™ Humane Dog Walking and Training System with her exclusive 5 Minute Manners Makeovers using the Walk In Sync™ Harness and Accu-Grip Leash, along with her Walk In Sync™ 3 Easy Steps to teach any human/dog duos to Walk In Sync in just minutes.

The former host of the award-winning GrassRoots Aspen TV Series, The Whole Animal-An Alternative Approach to Animal Care, Alecia takes a natural approach to dog training and health care. Her work has been featured on Fox and Friends, The Sandra Glosser Show, NY 1, and in Aspen Magazine,, The New York Daily News and Woof Report.

Paris Permenter
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