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Thread: Agoraphobia

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2011
    Newcastle NSW

    Default Agoraphobia

    Hello dog lovers - I'm new to the forum and have tried a search on this one so my apologies if this issue has been covered previously.

    A week ago we picked up a beautiful mixed breed female terrier (bull terrier x jack russell by the look of her). She was a rescue dog so I have no idea about her history and she replaces our previous darling girl who we put down just before x'mas at nearly 19 years of age.

    She is very gentle in nature and like most 9-10 month old dogs is a bundle of energy and wants to play a LOT! She is great inside the house and has no problems in our backyard though she does bark a little (not excessively). She is a little sensitive to new noises and I would describe her as being quite submissive. She doesn't seem to like other dogs much, though she hasn't had a lot of interaction with them in the week we've had her. However, she is quite obedient given the small amount of training we've given her and has settled into her new home nicely.

    The problem we have though is taking her for a walk - she just seems to freak out as soon as she goes out the front door. It seems like she doesn't want to leave the house and starts pulling back toward the front door.

    If you do manage to drag her away from the front door she then starts to pull in any and every direction and just will not settle down - she even starts hyperventilating. So I did some lead training in the house and the backyard and she seemed to get it - walking calmly at my side.

    Then today I put her in the car (to avoid the front door area) and took her to a park nearby that is quiet and free from distractions. She didn't want to get out of the car and when she did - guess what? Pulling in any and every direction, hyperventilating and generally freaking out (including jumping up at me and almost clinging to me).

    We've just got home from that excursion and now she is calmly walking around the house again.

    The best description I can give for her behaviour is agoraphobic.

    I'd appreciate anyone else's experiences with dogs that might be agoraphobic or have displayed similar behaviour to what I've described..

    Many thanks,


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Um, my dog was like this when I first got her and still has her moments ie freaks out at busy roads (her definition is more than one car moving at once).

    I wish I'd known what I know now, back then.

    This may seem like the slow way to do it but I suspect in the long run, it's the best way with a scardy dog. ]

    Find something she loves doing or eating or both. When she is stressed she won't play or eat so that's an indicator of when you're too close. So she's fine in the back yard and in the house to the front door. Put her on lead and work with her inside but close to the front door, play tug or get her to do tricks for food (her favourite) or both for about five minutes in one go - all up or even less. Find out how close you can get to the front door before she starts to stress, and work just outside that bit and try to work a little bit closer like 10cm towards the end of a session. Work on that for a little bit every day. Hopefully after a few days, you get to the front gate, and then proceed the same way up the street...

    If you can organise some play dates with another dog about the same age and size at home that would also be good.

    When she starts to seem more trusting of you and less stressed out, you can take her play date friend with her to a suitable (empty) park.

    9 months old can be when a dog hits a second "fear period" and you don't want to aggravate this by giving the dog any reason to be really scared ie exposing it to potentially aggressive or overly boistrous dogs at a dog park or on the street, or by yelling at it or (what I did) dragging it.

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