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Categories: Behavioral Problems

Q. My dog is afraid of sneezes and coughs. She cowers and tries to climb in your lap. How can I get her to stop being afraid?
Hello,

Love your web site – I have order many products and in the process of getting my 3 Akitas trained, eating better and exercising more - I love your web site and you have amazing helpful tips.

One of my Akitas – female – when anyone sneezes coughs of clears their throat - she cowers and tries to sit in your lap?? Even if I ignore her so I don’t make it seems like a big deal. She has done this since she was a puppy, I have no idea why ?? I assume she is very sensitive to noise? But thunder does not bother her?????– but how do I get this to stop – meaning get her not to be afraid... Or at least from trying to crawl in my lap when it happens….. help!

Thanks

A. I have to admit, this is a new question for me. I haven’t ever had anyone ask this before.

I think what I would do is to start “fake” sneezing, coughing and clearing your throat on purpose and IMMEDIATELY after you do it, give her a piece of steak (or something she thinks is the best treat ever) I would make sure to have her on a leash, so you can block her from getting in your lap. The desired result would be for her to get her ears up and look at you expectantly when you make the sound.

I don’t really know any other way to work through this without being unfair to the dog. After you are seeing progress with you, then have others do it and be ready to reward her the second after the sneeze, cough, etc.. Timing has to be good here, for her to pair the treat with the sound in her mind.

Once she is looking for treats, then you will need to make sure to keep a bowl of treats in different places she’s allowed in the house, so if you really do sneeze or cough then you can reward her for behaving. Once she’s made the association with good things coming when she hears the sounds, hopefully you can back off on the steak and just go to regular dog cookies and then eventually only randomly reward her. Good luck.

Cindy Rhodes
  
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