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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, my husband and I just adopted a beautiful 3 yr old Cattle Dog/Collie/Lab/?? mix girl this weekend who was rescued from a terrible puppy mill environment a year ago. Long story made short, she was kept with over 200 other dogs outside without shelter and only a single bag of food tossed out for the dogs to fight over and only a stagnant puddle/pond for water. The breeder would beat the dogs with a broom any time they fought, but otherwise ignored them. After the humane society rescued the dogs, she was adopted by an elderly couple initially, but they had to give her up due to their declining health and has been in foster homes until now. Here's the petfinder link on her for photos: http://www.petfinder.com/petdetail/17305680

She's a very sweet, but extremely submissive and timid girl. She doesn't show any aggression at all to other people, dogs, or our two cats, nor does she do the "fear pee" I've heard of other scared dogs doing. She's an angel when it comes to being housetrained and walks on a leash amazingly well (doesn't bolt at squirrels, cats, dogs, etc, just stays right alongside us and occasionally stops to look at aforementioned distractions before continuing alongside us). When we first brought her home she wouldn't eat or drink initially, and immediately hid behind our couch until we could coax her onto the doggy bed we got her. She seems to be slowly getting more comfortable about us petting her now and will eat/drink as long as the bowls are right next to her bed, but she still won't get up and explore or otherwise move from the bed unless she's on a leash.

Any ideas on the best way to help her get more comfortable and come out of her shell? I know it will take a lot of time and patience, but some sort of idea on timeframe would also be helpful. We've been trying to give her the space she needs and always make sure to sit on the ground and be at her level when we pet her and hand feed her treats (she LOVES cheese), but I'm worried we're letting her stay within her comfort bounds too much by keeping everything she needs right there by her bed... Thanks in advance for any help you guys can provide :)
 

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Sounds like shes doing well considering her past. Som' dogs just have good "bounce back" she sounds undersocialized to me, rather than tramatized :)

How long have you had her now? I find at about 6weeks in they tend to become a bit more comfortable, because they have learned most of the routine, and dogs like structure/routine.. Then again at around 6 months, and then at about a year. But it really depends on teh dog and how much work you put into it :)



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Discussion Starter #3
We've only had her since Saturday, so not long at all. Since I've never dealt with a dog quite this submissive I wanted to be proactive and find out what we should be doing to help and work with her right from the start rather than playing it by ear and wondering why after 6 weeks to a 6 months she still is shy :)

What sort of socialization is good for her at this stage? I want to take her to obedience training since she doesn't know any commands yet, but with her being so scared I was thinking it would be good to let her have time just with us to get in a routine first. I don't really care about dog tricks, just the basic "come", "stay", etc so I can let her off leash at a dog park and not worry about her not coming back :p
 

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Yeah, perhaps private lessons would be better than a typical "class".

You can intro training right away, and see how she responds to it, tho Iam betting she wont be too interested at first...unless shes very food motivated.

At her age, there isn't too much that can be done socializtionwise, as far as just exposing her to things...that window has passed. You can however teach her that the things shes afraid or is OK through training.
I wanted to be proactive and find out what we should be doing to help and work with her right from the start rather than playing it by ear and wondering why after 6 weeks to a 6 months she still is shy
It would depend on the specific issue. Right now the main thing is shes hiding in one spot right? I thinking giving her just a few days to do that, is not a bad idea, she may just come out of it. Hand feeding her, her meals is a good step towards convincing her to trust you, which in turn will convince her to move around more.



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Discussion Starter #5
She's not exactly "hiding" since her bed is in one of the central spots of our home that we walk past all the time, but yes, she's not budging from that bed at all except for walks.

She loves cheese, but I wouldn't say shes really food motivated. She won't even eat her meals unless no one's watching (not even the cats). Cheese is about the only thing we can get her to eat from our hands so far, but we'll keep at it :) I gave her a kong stuffed with cottage cheese yesterday and she happily licked that for hours to get all the little bits out.

I've had good experience training dogs in the past, so I'll try to start off training her myself until she shows enough interest in the training to try private lessons.
 

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What a lovely story. This is one lucky dog. It will be a delight to watch her come out of her shell and become a happier dog. Please do keep us updated about her progress. :)
 

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Well, new milestone today! Sandy actually felt confident enough to walk ahead of me for about a 1/3rd of her morning walk today, and actually leaned towards my hand a little when I greeted her this morning instead of turning her head aside and cowering :) Considering how her first vet check-up was yesterday (all clear, no issues), the fact that she didn't regress a bit due to the visit is promising!
 

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Another update... Sandy's starting to get up off her bed without any prompting now! She hasn't fully explored yet and only goes into the computer room to lie either behind my chair or under my husband's feet otherwise she's in the other room on her bed, but it's still progress :) She actually has come up and licked my elbow for attention a few times now too, which is great progress considering how much she cowered when being pet last weekend! She's starting to come around much quicker than I thought she would, so I'm excited :)
 

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This is awesome! What a joy it must be to watch her come around and find out the world (her new world that is!) is a safe and loving place. :)
 

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Another update :)

Sandy has decided that she LOVES attention and has discovered that sleeping on our feet when we're at the computer is the best location to solicit said attention. She has VERY strong licks that she uses on my husband's arm (same one he's trying to use the mouse with which causes him to play his video games rather poorly ;) ) when she wants more attention. Its very cute! Only downside is that trying to push our chairs back so we can get up to go to the bathroom or kitchen is a bit interesting with the way she wraps herself around our legs and chair legs :p

She's still very nervous when not curled up under us, but she is getting better. She'll lay in the middle of the floor sometimes instead of finding a corner. We did have a backstep for a little while when I asked her to move from her bed for a second so I could slip a heating pad under her bed... Somehow she got it into her head that she shouldn't use her bed and wouldn't come near it no matter how many treats and encouragement I tried. She's started using it again now, and I make sure to praise her a bunch and make a fuss every time I see her there, so I think we're almost over that :)

Walk-wise, she seems to be getting more confident. Her tail isn't super tucked underneath her anymore, and she's not reacting as much when we walk past the two homes under construction or the kids at the school bus stop. She still has her panic moments, such as when we walked past a garbage can and there were these oh-so-scary milk jugs filled with some dark liquid sitting next to it :eyeroll: But any time something scares her we just stop and I pet and soothe her until either it moves away (like a bike or kid) or until she calms down (like the case of the evil milk jugs).

The only problem we seem to run into is there's this one neighborhood kid that rides around on a scooter... He keeps following us around on his noisy scooter no matter how many times I tell him to back off because he's scaring her... Bah. That's for another thread though, I think I've rambled long enough :)
 

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We've only had her since Saturday, so not long at all. Since I've never dealt with a dog quite this submissive I wanted to be proactive and find out what we should be doing to help and work with her right from the start rather than playing it by ear and wondering why after 6 weeks to a 6 months she still is shy :)

What sort of socialization is good for her at this stage? I want to take her to obedience training since she doesn't know any commands yet, but with her being so scared I was thinking it would be good to let her have time just with us to get in a routine first. I don't really care about dog tricks, just the basic "come", "stay", etc so I can let her off leash at a dog park and not worry about her not coming back :p

I would use clicker training at home at first to give her confidence. It is great for submissive dogs because the only verbal cues are positive.
 
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