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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone,

Something happened and I need your advice. Two days ago, Nickel and I went for a walk, as usual. After we stepped out of our building, 8 or 9 skateboarders passed through the sidewalk in an extreme speed. I still don't know if they did that intentionally or what - they split into 2 groups and passed by us on both sides. They caught me off guard and not to mention Nickel, a 3-month-old puppy. He froze right on the spot. He refused to take any of the treats, squeaky toys nor bully stick (yes, I have all these in my "diaper bag" when I take him out for a walk; we live right in the downtown area of San Francisco). He refused to walk. He just sat there for 5 minutes whimpering. I comforted him but I didn't want to carry him and baby him too much. After a while, he turned around and ran back into our building. He didn't stop and say hi to the doorman (he has never done this before; he stopped by the reception desk every single time). He rushed to the elevator and he dragged me to our door. He ran into his crate and stayed there since then.

I let him take the time he needed. I sat by his crate and read and just to stay with him. Today we took him for a ride and he was very happy in the car. But once we got off the car, he got all nervous again, especially when he saw people pushing the shopping carts at Petco. I gave him treats as we walked around; he took the treats with no problem but he was extremely nervous. He didn't want to play with other dogs or kids. He was literally velcroed to my jeans.

What should I do? How can I help him? He has been a friendly, loving, adventurous puppy until two days ago. I love how he was and I am willing to do anything to help him get out of this fear mode.
 

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I do not have any advice for you, but I am looking forward to seeing what others have to say. I just have to say, that poor baby! I feel bad for both of you; it's a shame he was traumatized like that! Hope this is just a little bump in the road for him...
 

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awww poor guy was SCARED

If it was me- i'd see if i could fin someone to skate board near him- getting closer and closer-

at the same time there are some things dogs SHOULD be scared of. My dog who got hit last year now is scared of cars. Thank GOD i'm pretty sure it's what kept him a live when he escaped and was gone for six hours a month ago. A year ago he had no qualms about running into traffic cars driving by never made him flinch back then- now they do- which is OK with me-


Just keep taking him out- his confidence will build back up your doing it perfectly right IMO
 

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neVar is right. Find a friend with a skateboard (even if you have to go buy one :biggrin:). Start at a distance where Nickel sees the skateboard, but is still VERY comfortable and feed, feed, feed him REALLY good treats (I'm talking about chicken, cheese, braunsweiger, etc... really GOOD stuff). As soon as he sees/notices the skateboard, feed him. Have your friend "go away". As soon as the skateboard leaves, so do the treats. This way, he associates the skateboard with the treats. Appearance of the skateboarder makes good things happen. Keep working this as your friend gets closer (this should happen over several sessions, not quickly). Nickel should start looking to you when the skateboard appears for the treats. You should also try this with other "wheeled" things that frighten him now (shopping carts, kids on skates, etc...). Good luck - fear is not an easy thing!!
 

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Poor little Nickel! That sounds like such a scary experience, for both of you.

If I were in your position (bearing in mind I'm no expert!) I would probably first be focused on getting him comfortable outside again. So I would be taking him out and letting him get used to just being out there again while feeding treats. Ideally he would be on the ground, but if he's too scared to take treats while on the ground, then I would be holding him. Whenever a pup who is normally interested in treats refuses to take them, you know the situation they are in is overwhelming. Then once he was comfortable outdoors again I would be doing as AgilityIG suggested and desensitizing him to wheeled items. Right now he associates them with a scary experience. You want him to think that good things happen when he's around wheeled things!

I have used a treat/ positive association approach with Darcy to get him used to being outside downtown. When he first came, he would squeak and shake when we were outside in all the downtown noises. So I would just take him outside and we would sit in the park surrounded by traffic and I would feed him treats (sometimes on the ground, or if he was really upset, I would let him sit on my lap). He has now been with me 4 weeks and can walk the 20 minutes to work without flinching at streetcars, sirens or other noises of the city. It took a long time and at times I was worried he would never be comfortable, but we definitely seem to be getting there! So hopefully a similar approach where you take it slowly and make all his outside experiences as positive (and treat filled) as you can will help.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for all the suggestions. Yes, Nickel is definitely scared. Now he refuses to go left after we go out of our building - that's the direction from where the skateboarders came. He's willing to go to the other side a little bit, with a lot of praise and treats and toys.

I will start taking him to sit in front of the building first and slowly we will try out AgilityIG's suggestion. Meanwhile, my husband is going to practice skateboarding somewhere. LOL~ Can't wait to see him skateboarding.
 

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What a terrible thing to have happened to the little fellow!

Sounds like you have a good plan going here. Good luck with it and please let us know how it is going.
 

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I think you did the right thing by not babying him. I have heard various experts say that if the dog is scared and you talk to him in a "poor iddle baby" type voice, that just reinforces - hey Mom thinks that is scary so I better be even more scared.

I usually tell my dogs in a matter of fact voice - that is fine, don't make a fuss its just something you have to get used to. One of my dogs used to freak out if I dropped a poop bag in the bin in the back alley. So I would go past the bin without anything to put in so it didn't make a noise at first.

The fact of the matter is - the dog is going to go for a walk and there are going to be skateboards. I'd be taking him somewhere where you know the skateboards are not going to be upclose and just acting like - hey skateboards are just fine. As someone said, find a kid with a skateboard and have the dog take a look at the skateboard up close when its not moving and then move it a little bit -- I think he has to get used to it gradually.
 

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I have my fingers crossed that you can desensitize your sweet Nickel to those scary skateboards. What a lousy thing to happen to such a precious little poodle! Sadly, we can't protect our poos from everything; scary stuff happens, but it sounds like you're well equipped to help him gain back his confidence. People already offered great advice so I'll just offer my good wishes. Good luck!!

BTW, our last dog, a wonderful 16+ year old Rat Terrier who passed away last summer, was buzzed and pecked at by a nasty Blue Jay when she was about 15 weeks old. She refused to go outside after that, sitting on her tiny tush and digging her paws into the doormat. I used to drop small, cut up pieces of hot dogs in a path ahead of her to coax her out. I went through about six packages of them but she finally worked up her nerve and resume dashing outside. Then years later she had a run-in with a goose! Again, I walked around like the snack shack at the football stadium to persuade her all was right with the world, and most geese.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Nickel is getting better

Just to report back: Nickel is getting less scared of skateboards and other similar wheeled items. He is still cautious and would stop whatever he is doing (i.e. sniffing, walking, etc) when he sees a skateboard or a bike or a shopping cart but at least he's not shaking nor whimpering nor trying to drag me home. When he sees one of those things, he would sit and observe from a distance. So I guess it's a big improvement.

He's still scared when he hears a really loud motorcycle or one of those big trolleys at Home Depot but I think he's improving.

My husband will continue to rollerblade and skateboard around Nickel and hopefully that will help.

Once again, thanks for all the suggestions.
 
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