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post #1 of 2 (permalink) Old 01-29-2011, 09:15 PM Thread Starter
Pepper's mom
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New fear behavior?

Pepper is 4-1/2 years old. We've had him for 3-1/2 years and every winter we've used our fireplace with no problems. He has been fine through thunderstorms and fireworks.

The past few days Pepper has begun shaking, vibrating really, when the wood in the fireplace pops or sizzles. He also starts panting heavily, as if stressed. To the best of my knowledge he has not been hit by any flying sparks. He is, right now, on my lap in the front room while the fire burns in family room behind us. While I can tell he's stressed by the sounds, he's not in panic mode.

Has anyone had a dog develop fearful behavior to a previously accepted situation without a specific trigger or underlying health problem? Any ideas on what might cause this change in behavior?

Wanda & Pepper
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post #2 of 2 (permalink) Old 01-29-2011, 09:49 PM
Dave T
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yeah something like a crackling fire can scare a dog. What you want to do is some classical conditioning. Start with him at a fair distance before you get the fire going. Far enough that he can hear it but that it is muted by the distance. As soon as you hear a crackle give him some real meat. Keep doing this at a distance gradually getting closer to the fireplace. If at any point he balks at a crackle, back off on the distance. This has to be VERRRRRY gradual. Do this over a few evenings . Eventually he will associate the crackling like a clicker trained dog will associate the clicker,- a predictor of something good. Hard to say why this is a change in his ways, something changed his attitude, you may never know, but that's not important.

Dave and Molly
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Last edited by davetgabby; 01-29-2011 at 09:57 PM.
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