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Fly phobia

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Hi everyone!


One of my BC boys, George (2 years old), has a fly phobia. He is ok with small flies, moths etc, but we live in Australia, in a country town, in an area with lots of dairies. We get plenty of humongous blow flies, with a very loud buzzzzzzzzzz! These ones freak George out. Whether he is outside, or one manages to get inside, he cowers, tries to hide under desks or underfoot, in the smallest space he can squeeze.

For the next couple of hours, even after we kill the fly, his ears are back, his tail is down, his head is down except when his eyes are darting around trying to find non-existant flies. He seems hyper alert. He slinks from 'safe' spot to 'safe' spot.

Our other two boys have no problems, and Oscar (our other 2 year old BC) actively hunts flies, snaps them out of midair and eats them.

When we are out and about, George is fine. He will snap at a fly if it comes too close, but at obedience, at the beach or on a run he pretty much ignores them.

George is usually a very laid back dog, content to snooze the day away when home. He can be a bit sensitive, and reacts when we tell off the other dogs, but most of the time nothing upsets him. Storms are no problem, sirens etc don't worry him. Just blowflies. Even saying "Bzzzzzzzzzz" causes him to snap his head around with his ears back and that scared look in his eyes.

We are coming into summer here, and although we clean up the doggy doo, and exclude flies from the house as much as possible (and my partner hates them too!), we are in country Australia, and flies are a fact of life.


So, my question is, do we worry about it? Is there something we can do to help him, or do we accept this one quirk and just try to minimise his exposure, provide him with a place he feels safe in and let him be? We already have an open door crate outside, which is one place he hides when in the backyard. I must admit, it seems a strange thing to scare a working dog breed. Anyone else have dogs with a strange phobia?


This is George.post-14654-0-02177000-1412904401_thumb.jpg

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My Floss didn't care for flies. If one came into whatever room she was in, she would take one look and leave. Sometimes she looked disgusted( how dare it invade my space) and sometimes she looked like it scared her. Border collies can be such quirky creatures.

If it is becoming a problem, maybe carry some treats or favorite toy to get his attention away from the noise.



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Levi is afraid of flies and bees, any buzzing flying bug. It didn't even start until he was almost 4 years old. It is only an issue in the warm months luckily. Most days he is totally fine, other times I can't get him to go outside for more than a minute. He flips his head around, darting and trying to catch them then gives up and runs to the back door. If I can get him far enough away from the house he will be fine to go on our off leash hikes. If we are away from home, I can snap him out of it with distractions or verbally motivate him to keep moving with minimal effort. If one is in the house, he usually catches it if not, he will slink off into another room.


It has never really been a problem and we just either let him back inside, or if he is mildly scared just verbally praise him and motivate him to keep moving.

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I'm wondering if you did a little buzzing, very quietly, and tossed him a really yummy treat, or got out his favorite toy, if that might not change his mind a little bit. It's a de-sensitization approach.


Start when you are at the beach or some other out-and-about place, since the noise doesn't bother him there, and see if he'll take a treat or play with a favorite toy in the presence of the flies. If he will, get him well used to the idea. Then try it at home, with you making a very mild buzzing sound. The idea is to change the association in his little doggy mind to 'buzzing means treats!' from 'buzzing means something is going to kill me'.


It might not work, but it might help. Let us know how you get on. George looks very sweet!


Ruth and SuperGibbs

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George is a nice looking dog.

I agree with Ruth that desentizing him is a good idea.

As I see it, if it is possible for him to learn not to have a fear reaction to something that is common in his environment, then he will be a happier and more relaxed dog. I always consider it my job to help a dog get over something like that if possible, because it will improve their quality of life.


I have learned that just about any fear can be overcome with enough time and patience. Might be a lot of time and a lot of patience, though. Worth it in my opinion. If the phobia is great enough the dog will never learn to like the object of his fear, but can at least learn to tolerate it without too much discomfort.


As Ruth said, start with a very very mild buzzing sound. Experiment and find out how small and quiet of a buzzing sound does not cause any reaction whatever with him, and start there. Spend several days whispering a buzz, or whatever it is that doesn't cause him to react, and then giving him a tasty little bit of something. Do over and over, several times a day, at various times of day in various places. If you feed kibble, try giving him about 1/4 of his kibble one piece at a time, accompanied by those tiny little buzzing sounds.


Then very very slowly increase the buzzing sound that you do. If you reach a point where he has a reaction, back up and go back to the level at which he was not reacting and spend another couple days doing that before trying to increase the sound again. This is a process that may take months, but will probably work, and if it does it will make his life a lot easier.


Make sure you don't let anyone tease him by making a buzzing sound just to get a reaction out of him.


If fly season comes upon you before you have gotten him desensitized, just continue with the program and try to keep him away from areas where there are a lot of flies.


Good luck and let us know how it goes.

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