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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We have a coonhound/lab ...we brought him home when he was 4 months old, and he was kept outside in a separate kennel from his mom. The conditions were gross, poo everywhere in the majority of the space, the only apparent water bucket was green, and he seemed afraid. We chalked it us top us being strangers (the scared behaviour). We were able to collar him and leash him. He did well the whole drive back, but was timid and wouldn't really eat or potty when we made (frequent) stops.

Once in our home, he quickly learned to use the doggie door, and has never had an accident in the home. He gets lots of exercise in our yard, with lots of playing with us and the other (older and smaller) dogs.

The problem now, is that if we just try and hold the harness (a collar slips right off his head) or leash, without even calling his attention to them, he notices, and then runs to hide. I am worried he may have been abused by the person we received him from. Because of this behaviour, we just made sure to give him lots of exercise at home, and never bothered to worry about it. He has even seen the enthusiasm our other two dogs have for walks (they LOVE it) and it seems to hold no sway for him. He is super timid and I think anxious!
The problem now, is that we are moving to a home with a tiny yard, and will need to train him quickly, so we can make sure he gets the exercise he will need. Please, I know we should have done this sooner, but we really never thought we'd be moving ( we are loosing our home and moving to a rental), and these last weeks since we knew what was up, we've been busy packing and dealing with all that entails, and trying to care for my 5 month old baby as well.
So, I guess I am asking for tips, videos and any advice. And a huge Thank you in advance!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
he has no issue with me petting him, hugging him,..in fact, this past 4th of July, he freaked out and tried to hide behind the couch, I had to pick him up and carry him to the doggie cave (an open door crate).
He is almost 3 now. I want him to be comfortable for us to get the harness on him, and take him for walks, ...the new place has a tiny yard, with no room for us to play fetch or for him to get any real exercise at all. He will need walks, or probably end up destroying our house out of boredom :(
 

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Have you tried a slip lead? This might help him get use to something around his neck. Has he been on a lead at all? The only problem with a slip lead is he could choke if he pulled and jumped around in fear. You said he would slip a collar. Will he wear one without a problem? If he will wear a collar you could let him drag a lead around in the house for short periods so he can see it will not hurt him. Love on him..play with him while it is attached.

A flirt pole (toy on a string) is an excellent toy for burning off energy in a small space.
 

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Hi jeanius80,

Reading this there are few things that came to mind which could possibly help. As mentioned in one of the replies a Slip Collar would be suitable as it would ensure he won't wiggle out of it. You're right to suspect that something as happened in the past and there is a definite negative association with leashes and certain collars etc.

Thing is the more you take the leash towards him and the more he backs away the fear or negativity will continue and perhaps even become more intense. The ultimate goal would be of course to have him come to the leash. Seems like every interaction so far, and although you meant well, may have simply re-enforced his negative association. There are 2 things I'm going to recommend you do which may help your situation...

1. Next time he's hugging you, you're giving him a massage etc and his completely relaxed (not excited, but calm and completely at ease) try bringing out the leash and collar combo but DO NOT put it on him. Start using them to assist in the massage. For example you can make a little loop with the leash and use it to scratch his favourite spots, slowly stroke the head etc and the same with the collar. The goal here would be to build an association of relaxation with the presence of the collar and leash. I've done this with my little guy when he was not a fan of one of his collars and it did help.

2. This is another way to create a completely positive association with the leash. Carry your dog, or take him in the car, whatever is easier (not sure how big he is) and just drive down say 2 or 3 blocks. Get him away from the home as the environment can influence him quite a bit and now...this is important, you need to completely erase any thought that he is afraid of the leash, that he may have been abused in the past all of it, put it out of your mind. Take a deep breath, and think positive and stay calm and confident and get the leash and collar on him. NOW, walk him home. I am almost certain he will walk with the leash home. This is going to be a HUGE positive association for him, the fact that the leash is taking him home, taking him to comfort and safety.

Coming home is really going to be a BIG and important association for him and the leash/collar. It will help for him to rethink it's purpose and feel confident that seeing a leash will eventually mean safety, comfort etc. I would even go as far as to buy a new leash and collar so there is zero association with anything he's seen and had a negative experience with before.

I really hope this helps, stay positive and calm and he'll draw on that from you and slowly become more confident. I've been working with a fearful/anxious dog for over a year and it is slow process but one that is immensely rewarding.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
example: i was sitting with charlie on the couch, giving him loves, and my mom came in and sat on the other side of him. he leaned to her for more scritches and he was nosing us for more. she wanted to see if she could get his harness on. she left the room and came back in with it folded in her hand ( no jingling or shaking or abrupt weird actions). she sat back next to him. as soon as he spotted the harness, he jumped off the couch, ran over to hide behind the recliner. this is typical.
he can't wear a regular collar as they slip completely off, no matter how snug it is. if we put it any snugger, he'd be choking. he has a very triangular/cone head.
he reacts the same to the leashes
 

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I would not do #2. If the dog is afraid of the lead he may totally freak out just being out of his familiar surroundings. I understand the thought, but it might over load him. Make matters worse. The petting with the lead and collar does work. I have done it plenty of times in the past. :)
 

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I didn't realize he was that sensitive. Okay, well there are a few more things I can suggest. One involves a completely different type of tool which may make it easier and the other is a bit slower of a process.

A rope leash/lead might make it a lot easier to get a lead on him, it involves zero collars. You can probably make one at home, it's literally just a long piece of rope with a little loop at the end that you thread the other end of the rope though, making almost a cowboy lasso type thing. Depending on how long the rope is you can adjust the opening to make it large enough to fit any head through there. Once it's on you just tug on in slightly and it's snug and ready. This is sometihng that could work well with my second suggestion of taking him a block away from home. That way you don't have to put any collars or harness or click on a leash, nothing. If he's very food motivated, I'd recommend introducing it with food and even making a big loop, sticking your hand through it holding a big piece of whatever he likes and as he's eating from you hands just move the rope leash over his head and walk him straight home.

The other suggestion is to take the leash and start leaving it out in the open, in areas where he plays, beside his food bowl but do nothing with it. See if he can get over the sight of the leash just lying there for a few days and if he can you're on your way to starting a new association that the leash/harness/collar doesn't mean being trapped/hurt etc. Once he's stopped reacting to just the sight of it, then you may be able to move to using those tools to help him relax, massages etc and you can move forward from there.

I hope these alternatives help somewhat.
 

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When I asked if he would wear a regular collar it was just for you have something to clip the lead to so he could drag it. If he has a problem with either just putting it on. Leave them on the ground for him to inspect on his own. Maybe put with toys so he can see they will not hurt him.
 

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Will he slip a Martingale collar? They're a sort of half regular collar, half slip collar, but they do not choke a dog like a slip collar can. They're loose till the dog tries to pull then tighten up snug so the dog cannot slip out. They're used on breeds like Greyhounds that have a very narrow head.

I do agree with just letting him explore whatever collar or harness you try, and to try putting tasty treats around it, pet and love on him when they're near. Once he sees that they aren't out to hurt him, then hold them by him, feed him treats with your holding them, start petting him with them. Then try putting them on him, and letting him walk around with them, let him drag the leash around.
 
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