Sunday, March 31, 2013

7.5 months - Fear Phases

I heard from several good greyhound sources that greyhounds do not go through the typical puppy fear phases. This is a lie. At least it's a lie for Kili.

While I only noticed minor worries and insecurities throughout most of puppyhood, we are going through one whopping fear phase right now. I just got in from a walk and decided to write this blog because the alternative was to sit down and cry.

When we hit 7 months I was so happy. The last fear phase is typically around 6 months. I thought we were home free. I had noticed more interest in the environment when we were out on walks starting at about 6.5 months but it just seemed like curiosity. You normally become less interesting to an adolescent dog as they develop other interests, so I wasn't concerned. Then she started to refuse food on walks, drop food that she did accept, and constantly seemed unsure about things going on (benevolent things like birds chirping, as well as a resurgence in her anxiety about dogs barking at her). I started taking her out more often and for longer walks (it helps that the weather is FINALLY starting to cooperate). I had a week off work last week and I took her to all sorts of stores to meet people, dogs and see new places. In general I found her environmental distraction/fear was much lower indoors, even in new buildings, than outside. I walked her downtown more often so she could see more hustle and bustle. I took her to the dog park as often as possible (it's 45 minutes away) so she could meet new dogs, people, and just enjoy being outside. Instead of pulling her along when she wanted to stop I allowed her to just look around (even when it looked like there was nothing to look at). She seemed to be doing a little bit better.

Then a few days ago I noticed that she wasn't pulling head on to meet new people. She still wanted to go over to them, but she sweeps in from the side or from behind. She doesn't try to jump or get at their faces. People try to pet her and she ducks away. She won't accept food from anyone on walks. I just had her out for an hour and I probably asked over 10 people to stop and say hello to her. I gave every person a couple of high value treats. In most cases she would accept the treat and then drop it. If I then picked it up and offered it she would eat it. In a few cases she ate the treats she was offered. In a few cases she refused to even take the treat.

I want to cry. I want my friendly, waggly, jumping puppy back. My greatest fear is that this lukewarm personality is here to stay. My only option is to get her out to socialize as much as possible and make all associations with the world, people, and other dogs as positive as possible. I have to just keep telling myself this is a fear phase and it will pass. I will have my friendly, waggly, jumping puppy back. Hopefully sooner than later. I have to keep telling myself that to try to make myself believe it. It's the only thing keeping me from breaking down.

It is just a fear phase. I hope.

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