Happy New Year!

3 happy dogs facing the cameraI am grateful to all of you for your continued readership. Your comments and feedback provide me with the reinforcement I need to continue to learn and share information about how we can make life easier and better for our beloved, anxious and fearful dogs.

As a pragmatic New Englander whose views on life & the universe were tempered by years of living in northern California I am able to admit that with this work I feel I have found my calling or bliss, take your pick. It certainly took long enough!

In lieu of resolutions, the following are the ideas I have, in varying stages of development, for 2013 and beyond.

1. Fearful Dogs’ Blog- keep posting!

2. Get more people to ‘like’ the Fearfuldogs.com Facebook page. I want more people to have access to information about how fearful dogs learn and Facebook seems to be a good vehicle for that. Plus, I confess, I am envious of people who have thousands of ‘likes’.

3. Publish Does My Dog Need Prozac?, a collection of posts from this blog. It is currently being edited!

4. Continue writing the next book on my list detailing the steps that can be taken, from first meeting to rehoming, to help fearful dogs become happy pets. It will pick up where A Guide To Living With & Training A Fearful Dog leaves off.

5. Offer high quality webinars for people learning to handle fearful dogs. The first one is scheduled for February 19, 2013! I will be joined by Dr. Linda Aronson who will talk about the use of behavioral medications to help dogs suffering from fear, phobias and anxiety. Pretty darn excited about this one.

6. Be available for seminars and presentations about fear based behavior challenges. I am especially interested in getting information out to pet owners, foster care givers, rescue groups and shelters. I know that the information I share will increase the chances of adoption success for many fearful dogs.

7. Create a fun and informative program about animal training and behavior for our local community access television station. I’ve got the go-ahead from the station and have lined up some fabulous folks for interviews.

8. Travel to Puerto Rico with a group of trainers and dog lovers to share information about reward based training methods. I’ve made more progress with this after speaking at an animal protection symposium in San Juan. Any readers in Puerto Rico who are interested in helping with this, let me know!

9. Publish A Guide To Living With & Training A Fearful Dog in Spanish and German. Translations are on their way!

10. Don’t start smoking, drinking too much or making a habit of eating maple walnut pie for breakfast.

11. Late breaking opportunity! I have been invited to host a radio show about dogs.

I have also set-up a page where you can purchase a discounted hard copy of A Guide To Living With & Training A Fearful Dog. It will be live until January 31, 2013. Happy New Year to you and yours!

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24 comments so far

  1. Heather Hatt on

    Debbie! Congratulations on all your achievements, and it looks like 2013 is going to be very exciting for you! I love that you are doing Webinars, Radio & Television! Have a fantastic new year and I have to agree with you… I think you’ve found your calling, for sure!!!

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thank you Heather! You are on my list for an interview about the work you’re doing at DVGRR. Interested? I hope so.

  2. kdkh on

    It sounds like you have a full year ahead! Good for you. Recommended your book today after meeting a fearful dog last night. It’s great to have someplace for his owner to go for help.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thank you. I am looking forward to it all and trying to remind myself that as with our dogs, one step at a time. There are learning curves ahead but I’m hoping that it means new neurons for me ;-)

      I’m so pleased that the book and website are helpful to the folks you are supporting. All the best to you and yours!

  3. cathywitlox on

    I look forward to reading the next book! I learned so much from the first one.

    Over the past few days, my fearful dog has been acting strange, which is likely because we had a lot of guests over the holidays, but it got me thinking that if she were sick, I might not see it. Any odd behaviour from my other dogs, and I would assume something was not quite right with their health. It’s not so easy with a fearful dog. I don’t remember this sort of thing being addressed in your first book, but you might have it in a blog post, so I thought I’d ask. Thanks, Debbie!

    • fearfuldogs on

      You are absolutely right that it is difficult, even with dogs who are not ‘fearful’ to identify what might be causing a behavior change. Years ago when my cocker spaniel began to act lethargically I attributed it to the fact that her mother has recently died. Turns out she had lyme disease. I treated that and she was back to her happy, active self.

      When we first get a dog we should eliminate medical causes for their behavior. I wish it was always as easy as treating an ear infection and getting a dog to stop snapping at hands reaching for them. Every behavior starts a new cycle of detection for us. What’s causing it? If we can identify that, and confirm it by changing how our dog is being managed, great. If we can’t figure out how to change the behavior or what is causing it to occur, we go back to the first step of the cycle-> health or medical causes. At the very least we need to eliminate that as a cause or contributor to their behavior.

    • engineer chic on

      I had never thought about this before, but you are definitely on to something. My fearful dog often lifts a front foot when he is anxious, I could see myself assuming a sore ankle was just nerves for a little while. Thank you for raising this issue, it will help me not just write something off as fear-based in the future.

      • fearfuldogs on

        Sometimes it’s a matter of something not seeming ‘right’ or some break in a pattern, or a new pattern. And of course it’s so darn hard with dogs to know what is going on. A dog with a headache may behave in the same way as a dog with a stomach upset.

  4. Anu Roots on

    Happy New Year right back atcha, Debbie!

    Congratulations on your upcoming webinars, tv, and radio shows. That’s such exciting news for you and all the new dogs (and their people) you’ll be helping. Am so looking forward to your new book.

    Thank you for guiding me to do better by my little dog, Remy, as I continue to learn from your ideas and example.

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thanks! It’s exciting, also a bit overwhelming, but hearing from folks like you who are finding ways to help your pups makes it all worth it.

  5. Natasha on

    Excellent list for an excellent person! I wish I could get my money back from the un-positive training system I paid for!! Do you have an avenue for a specific question?

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thanks Natasha. I think of myself more as an average person who found an excellent thing to do with my life. If you’d like to ask a question here you are welcome to. It might be best if we can find you a local trainer who understands fear based behavior challenges who can help you in person.

      Training might be a like love. You kiss a lot of frogs before you find royalty. No offense to frogs of course ;)

      • Natasha on

        Thanks so much! Well, we wanted t transport my mini Eskie without shoving a carrier into the car. We’ve used carrier only to vet and groomer so wanted to practice happy car trips… and wanted to start dog park visits. got a car harness on her just fine- I always say ” let me fix you” when dealing with a leash in any way, and this time kept singing “let me fix you a whole new way”… She seemed about to jump into the back of our hatchback, maybe had an SUV? And started shying when I got into the back seat and called her. I patted my lap some more and she hopped in, but shook like a leaf. I fed her treats but told hubby to go around the block and back home. Fooey, I was going to start a Freedom harness for walks…Should I go back to the carrier this weekend to try happy car trips some more?Do the walking harness so she gets happy with it without the car association or stay away from any harness for a while? I have been permissive with walks on leash. She is Miss Happy Girl with me, but only me. She loves treats and has learned a few skills. Hate the idea of loose dog in car. Thanks again!! Ps I assist w training at Humane society every week, where I first learned about shy dogs and positive training.

      • Debbie Jacobs on

        This is the challenge of working with these kinds of behaviors…figuring the best route to take.

        Sounds like you have two goals 1) traveling with your dog contained or restrained 2) having her be happy about either.

        You can strive for giving her the skills she needs to ride in a car, and what that means for your situation. Some folks work on making the carrier itself be a place of great comfort. The other thing is that you need to lower her anxiety while she’s in the car. We can do this through desensitization and counter conditioning. If the dog’s response is extreme enough, it’s very difficult to change it. Or the process would take so much time that we might not be able to get to where we need the dog to be in order to drive a significant distance. In that case I consult with a vet about an anxiolytic I can use situationally to make it easier for the DS/CC process to occur.

        My dog Nibbles displayed such an intense response to being in the car, trembling, panting, exit seeking, vomiting, that I could not bear to see it. He could lick some cheese off the seat or from a kong, but the physical responses would gone of for the duration of the ride. The use of an anxiolytic made it possible for him to ‘chill out’. He was able, on a 3 hour drive, to spend most of it curled up and snoozing next to my cocker. This was a huge relief for me, and no doubt for him as well.

        When a dog has an intense physical response to a situation it creates a loop in their brain/body. My body is reacting in a fearful way, there must be something to be scared of. This is how panic attacks and phobias work. Something triggers a physical reaction and then we make associations with what is around us when we experience it, and then try to avoid those things or environments. We can then have that reaction when in that environment or faced with whatever we made the association with, even if nothing painful or life threatening actually occurred.

        A very basic explanation but what we learn from it is that IF we can change the body’s response to a less anxious one, we can more easily convince the brain to learn a new response altogether. It’s all happening in both our brain and body, but for simplicity’s sake I’ll talk about them as separate.

  6. Lynn on

    I’ve “Liked” you on Facebook (although I confess I don’t much like Facebook) and I’ve recommended your site to the shelter where I got my girls, so they can pass the info along when other “shy” dogs find homes. I’m truly grateful for the wisdom and advice I’ve found here. Happy New Year from me, Tulip and Jazzie. Good luck with all the exciting projects!

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thank you for the like and I suspect you can put your time to better use than hanging around on FB, like going out for a walk with your dog! I appreciate you sharing the fearfuldogs.com website. By doing so you are helping to make life better for the dogs that go through the shelter. That is how the paying it forward system works!

  7. diana on

    i also just ‘liked’ your facebook page.
    best wishes on fulfilling all of your goals for 2013.
    sounds like a busy year ahead ;-)

    • Debbie on

      Thanks for the ‘like’!

      Debbie Jacobs Fearfuldogs.com

      • Natasha on

        Thanks Debbie, we brought her in the carrier from the home breeder (loving, but in the middle of nowhere minnesota so she had no exposure to strangers or anything), a three hour trip, without noticing anything but we knew she was fearful of course. Vet is three blocks away. It took one day of hot dogs for her to start jumping up and kissing me, so she has lots of love and our daily life is fun and happy…I gave her that OTC calming drops for groomer visit,three months ago and she threw up in the car both there and back. Of course the whole visit was traumatic but she was very dirty and wouldn’t let me wash her. Now I just use a wet towel but it’s coming on nail clip time! Maybe I should putt carrier in car and just throw treats in, and have her get in and out for a few times each day? Or just plain back seat? *sigh* so many choices even with the same concept. I started out thinking we wanted to associate the car with something other than vet, but now, as you described above, she may have generalized fear of the car, more than simply thinking Yikes, I’ m going to the vet.

      • Debbie Jacobs on

        You can practice getting in and out of the crate using treats, but remember there is a difference between a lure, a bribe and a reward. If following treats ends us having something bad happen, she’s likely to go off those treats. Or any treats may cause her to become suspicious of what you are trying to get her to do.

      • Natasha on

        So we save the real party for when she gets in! For her home kennel, she now runs in, and I count, one……two…..THREE!! And give her a hot dog piece. She sits without asking, and cocks her head as I count.. After three times counting, I praise heartily, put in the stuffed kong, tell her she is my sweet girl , close the door and turn out the lights. I could match this in the car or start a different game… And when we’ve done this a lot, then do short trips, then give her drugs for real trips? Lol, I don’t want to do that for dog parks!

      • Debbie Jacobs on

        Sounds like you have a good handle on the training and counter conditioning part. As for when or if you choose to use meds you’ll have to decide that depending on her reaction. In my dog’s case it didn’t matter how long the ride was, he was trembling almost immediately. The meds are used in conjunction with any training and may make it easier to get from being ok for one minute in the car to one hour. All depends on the dog.

        You’re doing just what needs to be done, you’re thinking it through!

  8. Mel on

    I am in awe Debbie. I love that you have found your bliss. I am also so proud at the recognition you are getting for the work you do. You already know I am a fan. If you ever come to do a seminar in MN, I will be the first in line to attend.

    I’ll continue to direct people to your FB page to “Like” it. I also look forward to finally being able to afford your book (money has been tight up until recently) and to buy the next set!

    Kudos to you and keep following your bliss. Dogs will love you for it, and so will we. :)

    • fearfuldogs on

      Thanks Mel! I’m not sure why some of your comments end up in my spam folder. But it’s nice to see them wherever they go.


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