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Hi there,

My wife and I adopted our Black Lab Cross, Max, from Dogs Trust Glasgow in September 2006. He was 9 months old at that time, and had come to Dogs Trust from a pound in Northern Ireland.

He had a history of being abused, and his story of adoption is a warm one in that we were told he was wary of men due to his past. Somehow, despite this, Max bonded with me instantly and the staff at Dogs Trust were extremely taken aback at him accepting me. He'd never showed aggressive tendencies, he was just a really timid little dog at that time.

Fast forward almost three years and he's a big happy boy, our pride and joy despite him being a mischievous wee bugger at times!

However, the one thing we cannot eradicate from him is a strange and somewhat saddening incidence where he reverts to his old timid behaviour during the strangest of circumstances.

Any time either I or my wife go into the freezer section of our fridge freezer and touch the bag of ice, Max runs under the dining room table with his tail between his legs, before rolling over into a submissive pose and trying to give a paw.

It's utterly heart breaking, because it's the only part of his past that seems to remain and I hate to think about what someone done to him to have installed that reaction to something so simple in every day life ... going into the fridge to get some ice for a glass of juice.

Does anyone know what or why he still does this, and is there anything we can do to eradicate it? We've tried speaking in the "baby" tone to him and showing him the bag of ice and saying, "See, it's fine" and petting him but nothing works. When you put the ice back in the freezer and close the door, he comes bounding out from under the table.

I've put two photos of our recent trip to Troon beach, and as you can see he's a big happy boy ... but the whole freezer/ice thing has us stumped.

Thanks for reading. :D



 

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Hi and welcome, sorry I can't help with the freezer thing, but your boy is absolutely gorgeous and obviously very lucky to have you looking after him :D

I'm sure someone will be along soon that can offer you some help :D
 

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WeegieMac said:
We've tried speaking in the "baby" tone to him and showing him the bag of ice and saying, "See, it's fine" and petting him but nothing works.
Hi, and welcome to LF!

I would do the opposite to what you are doing! From the dog's point of view, you are praising and reinforcing his nervous behaviour, and probably reinforcing his perception that there is something to be frightened of.

I would think about opening the fridge frequently during the day and always as a prelude to something positive that's about to happen. Maybe keep some chopped up cocktails sausages in there or some little cubes of cheese and at frequent intervals during the day, open the fridge quickly, making no eye contact with your dog, and just toss a treat out for him and shut the door.

Any positive 'brave' behaviour then gets rewarded, and nervous behaviour can be ignored. his reaction towards the fridge may be rooted in his past, but I expect it's become an ingrained habit now to react the way he is reacting.

I'm sure others will be along with their thoughts.
Good Luck!
Becs and The Gang
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
sarahjane16 said:
Hi and welcome, sorry I can't help with the freezer thing, but your boy is absolutely gorgeous and obviously very lucky to have you looking after him :D

I'm sure someone will be along soon that can offer you some help :D
Hi, and thanks for your kind words. :D

We're both proud of how we've brought him on and looking at him now you wouldn't believe he's the same dog we adopted back in 2006 ... except for this odd freezer thing. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Becs said:
Hi, and welcome to LF!

I would do the opposite to what you are doing! From the dog's point of view, you are praising and reinforcing his nervous behaviour, and probably reinforcing his perception that there is something to be frightened of.

I would think about opening the fridge frequently during the day and always as a prelude to something positive that's about to happen. Maybe keep some chopped up cocktails sausages in there or some little cubes of cheese and at frequent intervals during the day, open the fridge quickly, making no eye contact with your dog, and just toss a treat out for him and shut the door.

Any positive 'brave' behaviour then gets rewarded, and nervous behaviour can be ignored. his reaction towards the fridge may be rooted in his past, but I expect it's become an ingrained habit now to react the way he is reacting.

I'm sure others will be along with their thoughts.
Good Luck!
Becs and The Gang
Hi Becs,

You know something, I'd genuinely NEVER thought of that, and it's something I'll definitely suggest to my wife and give a go.

The funny thing is that he knows the difference between the fridge section and the freezer section. When I go into the fridge, he's right behind me because he knows we keep the wafer thin roast chicken by Bernard Matthews in there!

If we can get some treats in the freezer and try and get the same association going, maybe we could remove the fear of the freezer/ice.

As I said, it's a combination of being saddened seeing him like that and being angry thinking what someone done to my boy to make him like that.

I've said many a time, if I could track down his previous owner I'd walk to Ireland to give them a piece of my mind. He's such an affectionate boy, so much so that he knows when we say "love" to him he gives us big licks/kisses on our nose.

I'll definitely give the treats in the freezer thing a go, even if it's just sneaking a handful in there without him knowing so I can purposefully give him them from the freezer. :D

Many thanks!
 

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Hi and Welcome to LF!

I agree with Becs' advice. Max is a gorgeous boy who has clearly landed on his feet with you and your wife. :D
 
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Definitely agree with Becs advice but would just like to add, it may have been just one scary incident, which was not necessarily done purposefully that is stuck in his memory.

My Collie had a dreadful fear of Tinfoil. She used to have her bed in the kitchen and one day I opened the cupboard above her and the Tinfoil fell out, unravelling as it went....all over her, despite my grabbing at it. She NEVER forgot that and always legged it as soon as she saw me or anyone reaching for the tinfoil. The JRT we had as a child was the same too but with her it was the oven door. It had been opened once and the plate balancing on the hob fell off and crashed by her......Everytime anyone opened the oven door after that she made a hasty retreat.

So yes definitely try what Becs has suggested but it might have been something completely innocent which scared him and he "may" never be fear free of the freezer and it's contents.
 

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I think Max will soon develop some positive freezer vibes, if he gets a frozen stuffed kong or stuffed bone out of the freezer a couple of times a day :D

He's a lovely boy. Welcome to LF :D
 

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Agree 100% with Becs handling of the situation. These things are usually caused through assocation, Something bad which has happened in the past which he assocates with freezers.

Regards, John
 
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