Want to help alleviate anxiety in rescue dog

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Want to help alleviate anxiety in rescue dog

This is a discussion on Want to help alleviate anxiety in rescue dog within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; So about 5 years ago now, my family rescued a dog who had been severely abused. The poor thing was an absolute mess when we ...

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Old 08-08-2018, 03:23 PM
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Want to help alleviate anxiety in rescue dog

So about 5 years ago now, my family rescued a dog who had been severely abused. The poor thing was an absolute mess when we got him, 10kg underweight, injuries, had experienced nothing but pain basically all his life. He was shut down, totally fearful of literally everything, did not know how to function as a dog at all. I cannot exaggerate how bad a state he was in emotionally when we got him and how much work, love, patience and kindness has had to go into teaching him how to stop being fearful and anxious 100% of the time.

It's been a long road with some ups and downs, but mostly ups because he's just an amazing boy! He's a totally different dog now. So this post isn't about changing any particular behaviour... he's fantastic! But he's still an animal with a history of severe abuse. We've accepted from day 1 he's never going to be a totally well-adjusted, confident, chilled-out dog; he's lived through unimaginably horrible conditions and that kind of thing is going to leave psychological scars, especially with a dog as smart as our Sawney. He's anxious, he's clingy, he's not nearly as bad as he could be but he spends a lot of time and energy worrying when he really doesn't need to.

So really what I'm asking is for any tips on how to make a dog with his past feel as secure as possible. Any advice or tricks people have discovered that might not have occurred to us! I've got a lot of spare time at the moment and I'm happy to play 'dog psychologist' to try to push through some of these emotional walls he seems to be stuck on. Poor guy can't talk through his problems, after all.

In particular, he gets weird when the weather is bad. I don't know what about bad weather makes him upset, but he hates being in the house when it's rainy/windy. It's a fairly recent development, and seems to be a mix of him feeling the need to 'stand guard' and protect us and him feeling scared/insecure over whatever weird trauma association is causing this. Should we force him to stay inside to prove his worries are baseless or just keep letting him 'stand guard' against the bad weather?

I can't give him actual medication, but I'm open to training and home therapies and stuff! I just want him to be happy and comfortable.
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Old 08-08-2018, 03:46 PM
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As an addendum; he seems to have generalised anxiety. He does a lot of what we call 'active waiting' when my grandma is out, where he just sits and waits for her car to come back around the corner. He doesn't really like being distracted while he's 'on duty' like that (although he perks up if he's taken for a walk).

He's not destructive or loud, and he's not triggered by typical things like fireworks or thunder. The things that do set him off make sense (ie if there are workmen nearby he gets upset because that's the kind of person who beat him in the past). But he spends so much time and energy being generally worried about, well, nothing in particular. I just think it'd be nice if we could get him to chill out a little more.
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