Hi everyone! Our boy Opie loves learning and training, but he has an anxiety disorder. Has anyone else tried this with an anxious/fearful dog? We think it could give him more tools to tell us what he needs, so maybe it could help. Has anyone else tried this with their anxious dog? Or noticed any impact on anxiety/fear/stress?Β 

PS- Our next appt with our behaviorist is in December, and as always, we will talk to her then before trying anything.Β 
Hi Emily!

Our pup Scout has some big behavior issues we have been working on since we adopted her in May. She came to us needing to learn a lot of manners, and since we were home due to the Covid shut-downs we were up to the challenge. I have a background in Mental Health and Education, (and of course I had been following Stella and Bunny), so after a few weeks of having Scout I thought "eh, it's a long shot, but I'll try some buttons and see if that helps her feel less frustrated". She learned her first button, "outside" in less than a day, probably less than a few hours. She was OBSESSED, lol!

We saw a HUGE decrease in unwanted behaviors (mouthing, barking while eating, destructive behaviors in the house) as soon as we introduced the buttons. We started with "outside" and "play", her two biggest needs. We take it really slow because I think it's more important that she knows the buttons well, likes them, and it relieves stress rather than adds stress or confusion. As we add buttons we always prioritize what she really wants to communicate over what we wish she would say. (She now has water, potty, and ball).

Scout's not a perfect angel by any means or done with training yet, but I truly feel the buttons have helped to give her a voice to let us know why she's frustrated or upset. They have changed her whole world. Rather than focusing on getting rid of all her behaviors, we are able to find out more about why they are occurring and what unmet needs she has.Β 

You can check out my recent post under the Temperament section for more input from others on doing the buttons with dogs who struggle with anxiety or excitement issues, and you can check out my Instagram @Scouts.Journey.Home for videos on Scout's progress and details about how using the buttons has impacted her behavior.

Feel free to reach out to me at any time with any questions and I'll do my best to help or offer moral support!
I’m a dog trainer, and when I am going to work we model β€œMama Help Scared Friends”. Two cool examples: Lil saw me cutting up meaty treats from the fridge and said β€œCold Eat Scared Friends”
Two days ago, she saw me through the front window walking a client dog and told my wife β€œMama Help Friends”

Give your pup emotions buttons! When your dog seems scared, ask if they are scared using the buttons. We also have happy and sad. I haven’t done β€œmad” because I am trying hard to avoid that energy.
I would love to see footage of this!!
Kellie Β Yeah me too. She always uses the buttons so spontaneously that I’m never able to capture it. If I ask her to repeat herself for the camera, she just gets feisty, like MOM I know you heard me the first time πŸ˜‚
How do you get a scared dog to use the buttons? Β What’s the motivation? Β My dog gets scared and comes to me, shaking and I know he’s scared. Β Or, he goes under the couch. Β When he’s scared, he won’t even eat treats!
Bullitt_Jessica Β My anxious dog just needed modeling of scared for things that upset her and she quickly picked up using them herself! Just introduced zuri to β€œits okay” when she says stranger or scared to reassure my nervous pup! The buttons allowed her to alleviate a lot of anxiety!!
Hi Emily!

We also have a dog with an anxiety disorder (diagnosed and treated by a behaviorist) who is attempting to learn buttons. I totally agree with Scout & Sheila 's comment above about taking it slowly and really letting them acclimate to each button before adding more. Ruby isn't afraid of her buttons, but she is a little hesitant to use them regularly. She's overwhelmed pretty easily so we are moving at a snail's pace over here, but I'm hopeful we'll see significant progress over time! Currently she has an Outside button that she has a good understanding of, and we recently added All Done and Play. We started training in August of this year.

I know caring for an anxious dog can feel like a full time job, so feel free to reach out if you want to chat about anything! Thanks for the tag Kellie !
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Tai has a lot of anxiety about people coming in and around his home and just meeting new people in general.Β 
He literally shakes when people come towards him. And then if the person doesn’t back off or leave he just gets more escalated.Β 
He will even do this for people he knows and loves coming over unexpectedly. It’s definitely part of the breed since he’s really just a street dog. But we are trying to help him as much as we can.Β 
I think that having name buttons has really helped him. Sometimes I’ll announce that a person is coming with the buttons and it gives him time to recognize who is coming.Β 
Or he’ll see a car pull in the driveway and say, β€œdaddy” or something trying to figure out who it is. I’m thinking that adding a β€œfriend” button might help with people he doesn’t know.Β 
Use Friend/Stranger button pair
Does he have a Look button?Β 
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Libby He doesnt have a look button yet!
Sometimes β€œwhere” is used kind of like a look button. πŸ€·πŸ»β€β™€οΈ
Libby How have people here taught a stranger button? Schnauzers have different barks for stranger or friend, letting the family know the difference seems more important to them than most breeds, so it’s something I’d like to add. Though replacing manic barking with a button might be over optimistic!Β 

I’d describe my dog as a bit highly strung. She’s an extrovert, not a typical anxious dog. People love her, she’s not generally perceived to have a problem. If she was a human she’d be a thespian type, all gushing and excited then over reacting negatively too.Β 

But Lockdown and moving in 2020 hasn’t suited her at all. The dog Walker said she was like a different dog and just pulled to come home, so she doesn’t go on group walks anymore. She used to be food obsessed but now it’s hard to get any response when I ask if she’s hungry (she used to turn in a circle to say yes and also spent the hour before piercing my soul with her hungry eyes). I don’t think it’s physical because she does eat if we put food out, and she will go out with us, so part of my motivation for doing button training is to enable her to express how she feels.Β 

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