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Discussion Starter #1
We recently got a 2-year-old rescue.
He's a castrated boy, 12kg (26lbs), lab/dachs mix- kinda looks like a small black Labrador.
We have a small town house with a little garden. We were planning him as an inside pet.

When we just got him, he was quite alright but then we both got very sick and had to put him in foster care.
After 3 months, he came back and he's scared of me (male).
He's very attached to my partner (female). I think it used to be the other way around before fostering!

Anyway, he is really stressed. Barking on everything that moves outside... Barking on me when I walk
inside in the dark.
He's actually scared of me, as if I am going to hit him... I used to be his favorite! When he was with me,
he'd sit down next to my home-work-station and hang out all day, occasionally asking to play.

So, we called a behaviorist and we have an appointment with her Sunday.

However! She told us that "he's a predator and he's stressed" and that he should only eat outside?
I tried it today during the walk... He was like "OK that's food but we are on a walk now!"
She told us to starve him if we need to but make sure we get him to eat during walks (in small
portions given a few times over the walk, as if he's finding pray or something).

She is a recommended professional dog behaviorist but I just wanted to run it past someone else,
get some opinions, maybe?
Never saw people feed their dogs out on a walk!
 

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It sounds very odd, I can't say I understand her rationale at all. Unless it is to see you as the source of food to make you a good thing - but that could backfire horribly if your dog is obliged to come to you, the source of his fear, to eat. It will put him in a seriously conflicted situation - hungry, but having to get close to scary person to get food. :(

There may be a good reason but unless she explains it to your satisfaction, be wary. The dog behaviour and training industry is unregulated so my 92 year old neighbour who has never owned a dog in her life could set herself up as a behaviourist if she wanted.

What I would say is that if your dog is anxious, you must make sure she uses only reward based, force free techniques. Anything that asks you to dominate him will make him worse.

And you could try this - excuse me as I have little time right now so it is copied and pasted from another reply, but it may help. Do please let us know how you get on.

For the next two weeks or so, I'd suggest you ignore him. Completely. Not even eye contact, because to a dog, direct eye contact is very intimidating. Also, position yourself so you are never between your dog and his safe place (bed etc) or escape route (door from the room).

Then you can try taking some lovely treats and tossing them past him, so he has to go away from you to get them. I realise that sounds counterintuitive but it helps him build a positive conditioned emotional response (google +CER for the science if you are interested) without having to get too close. It also means he doesn't have to get too close to you, which could make him feel quite conflicted - he wants the treat but has to approach a scary person to get it.

After a number of days of doing that, put one of the treats on the floor, about 18 inches from your feet. See what he does. If he darts in, takes the treat, and goes off, then he isn't ready yet for this stage. So, as with anything in dog training, go back to the previous step for a bit longer.

When he takes the treat from the floor and eats it there, do that for a few days. Still no eye contact.

Once he has been taking the treat from the floor happily for a number of days, offer one from your hand, but again see how he reacts. Any lack if confidence (taking it and stepping back) again is a sign he isn't ready, so back up a step for longer. And still no eye contact.

Once he is comfortable taking treats from your hand (and I mean really comfortable) you can try petting him, but using the five second rule.

Stroke him for five seconds (some dogs prefer you avoid the head) then stop. Only if he initiates further contact by nudging you or similar, continue for another five seconds then stop again. Continue only for as long as he keeps asking. That gives him control and in turn that will build his confidence around you because he knows he can make it stop at any time.

Expect this to take weeks, or even months depending on the dog. But don't be tempted to rush it, take it at his pace.
 

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We recently got a 2-year-old rescue.
He's a castrated boy, 12kg (26lbs), lab/dachs mix- kinda looks like a small black Labrador.
We have a small town house with a little garden. We were planning him as an inside pet.

When we just got him, he was quite alright but then we both got very sick and had to put him in foster care.
After 3 months, he came back and he's scared of me (male).
He's very attached to my partner (female). I think it used to be the other way around before fostering!

Anyway, he is really stressed. Barking on everything that moves outside... Barking on me when I walk
inside in the dark.
He's actually scared of me, as if I am going to hit him... I used to be his favorite! When he was with me,
he'd sit down next to my home-work-station and hang out all day, occasionally asking to play.

So, we called a behaviorist and we have an appointment with her Sunday.

However! She told us that "he's a predator and he's stressed" and that he should only eat outside?
I tried it today during the walk... He was like "OK that's food but we are on a walk now!"
She told us to starve him if we need to but make sure we get him to eat during walks (in small
portions given a few times over the walk, as if he's finding pray or something).

She is a recommended professional dog behaviorist but I just wanted to run it past someone else,
get some opinions, maybe?
Never saw people feed their dogs out on a walk!
Hi. Welcome to the forum.

I think you need to find a different behaviourist. She sounds like she's old school. I'd be taking my dog and running a mile if any behaviourist - however well recommended - advised starving my dog.

It could just be that he needs more time to readjust. Poor young man has been through the mill in his short life. Give him time.

Toss a treat behind you when you need to pass him, so that he has to walk away from you to get it. Do that for a couple of weeks, then try tossing him a treat while you're sitting watching the TV. If he scarpers, go back to the previous step. He he takes the treat from where it is, great - do that for another two weeks. Then try dropping a treat beside your chair, see what he does, then after another couple of weeks, offer a treat from your hand.

As for the barking, do you mean he's sitting at the window watching the world go by and barking? If so, you can get transparent window clings that let in light but obscure the view, which might help him settle. With regards to barking at you in the dark, what happens if you just say "hey, it's OK, it's just me."?
 
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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for your input!

The impetus for choosing this behaviorist is that, while the dog was severely abused (all sorts of alcoholic-low-life-bastard
stuff which I will spare from you), after 3 months of work done by the rescue, he was really fine when we first got him.
So, we took their advice on the right professional to get him back to a good state.

That being said, I don't think I could deprive him of food, nor do I want to feed him on our walks. Actually, I would rather
if he never ate anything outside the bowl at home.

I'll show this thread to my partner and honestly, I hope we choose a different way.

It's more her dog than mine, though... She wanted him, she paid the ransom to the owner, she organised the importation
and a myriad of problems around fostering, etc...
He really loves her. He follows her like a shadow. He brings her things, jumps into her lap, whimpers and howls when
she's off (I work at home, she goes out to train for a future job).

It didn't use to be this way until we handed him for fostering. He used to be more balanced between us and actually
a little on my side.

I believe something must have happened during fostering.

As for the questions I noticed from you:
1) He sits somewhere (he can't actually see anything out) quietly and then when someone walks near our house
or, heaven forbid, puts something through our letterbox - he goes on a barking campaign!
2) When he starts barking at me (like when I come into the bedroom, if I was studying in my office), we try to call
him. I think we are a little stressed and maybe more pleading for him to stop than a simple "it's OK"... He just keeps
barking at me with a scared look - it shatters my heart!
I guess we better keep our composure and just calmly let me say "it's OK, it's me" and try to keep it a calm situation.
 

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Thanks for your input!

The impetus for choosing this behaviorist is that, while the dog was severely abused (all sorts of alcoholic-low-life-bastard
stuff which I will spare from you), after 3 months of work done by the rescue, he was really fine when we first got him.
So, we took their advice on the right professional to get him back to a good state.

That being said, I don't think I could deprive him of food, nor do I want to feed him on our walks. Actually, I would rather
if he never ate anything outside the bowl at home.

I'll show this thread to my partner and honestly, I hope we choose a different way.

It's more her dog than mine, though... She wanted him, she paid the ransom to the owner, she organised the importation
and a myriad of problems around fostering, etc...
He really loves her. He follows her like a shadow. He brings her things, jumps into her lap, whimpers and howls when
she's off (I work at home, she goes out to train for a future job).

It didn't use to be this way until we handed him for fostering. He used to be more balanced between us and actually
a little on my side.

I believe something must have happened during fostering.

As for the questions I noticed from you:
1) He sits somewhere (he can't actually see anything out) quietly and then when someone walks near our house
or, heaven forbid, puts something through our letterbox - he goes on a barking campaign!
2) When he starts barking at me (like when I come into the bedroom, if I was studying in my office), we try to call
him. I think we are a little stressed and maybe more pleading for him to stop than a simple "it's OK"... He just keeps
barking at me with a scared look - it shatters my heart!
I guess we better keep our composure and just calmly let me say "it's OK, it's me" and try to keep it a calm situation.
It's common for dogs to bark at things people passing by or putting things through the letrerbox. - doesn't mean he's stressed, just means he's the type of dog that'll bark if a fly farts three miles away. ;) Lol.

The feeding issue: there's nothing inherently wrong with feeding from a bowl, but it can be a bit boring and lead to scoffing the whole lot in a nanosecond. Personally, I prefer using treat dispensers as it allows for some mental stimulation as well as slowing the dog's feeding right down and there are loads of different types - slow feeders, kongs, Buster Cubes, treat dispensers, likkimats, etc. They allow the dog to eat whilst showing natural behaviour - the buster cubes and treat dispensers balls, for example, allow for scavenging and "hunting" for their food, which engages the brain, while the likkimat and Kong allow for calming behaviour in the form of licking.

Feeding outside is a strange one, but could she have meant taking treats and rewarding for correct behaviour? If so, that is good advice. Treats is a convenient way to mark wanted behaviour and to reward the dog for doing what you ask of him. Want him to walk nice on leash? Reward him for doing so? Want him to check in whilst off leash? Reward him for doing so. Need him to sit while someone passes by on a narrow lane? Reward him for doing so.

If he has a favourite toy, you could also use that - as well as - treats, so that the dog doesn't know whether he'll get a treat or a game if he does what you ask of him.
 

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My gut says no to this person... Shes heard you on the phone she hasnt met the dog and yet shes decided what and why determins his behaviour.

Ive had rescues some of whom were scared of men some who barked some who were hunters...
I never fed any outside or starved any in fact being getting used to the family and knowing they are going to get regular meals is part of intergrating a dog into the family. Establishing a good routine for them gives them security too.. So they know that each day starts with a treat and a walk then breakfast and a nap etc (whatever suits you) but they get used to it and then they settle..
Taking high value treats on a walk to help with training ok.. I do that too.. Someone saw me do it ( look at me, then treat when his attention switches to me) this morning when George was barking and thought it was a great idea they are going to try it with their noise phobic dog.

Dont feel you have to stay with a trainer if youre not happy ..If it bothers you of you feel uncomfortable following any advice given then say no thanks and walk away. You owe it to your dog to protect him from idiots and there are loads of them about.. I know its been mentioned but anyone can call themselves a dog trainer and there are loads of one day online courses that give a certificate to anyone with the IQ to fill in the form and pay the course fee.
 

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Withholding food from a dog is no way to build trust, quite the opposite actually. Doesn't a fearful dog have enough to worry about without the added stress of being hungry and having to worry about his own survival or when he will get to eat again?
With a fearful dog, food is a very effective way to start the process of creating a positive association their caregiver and earning their trust. When I adopted my abused dog - he trusted no one, couldn't be touched, kept himself at a safe distance, couldn't even eat from a bowl if someone was within 10 ft. of him. So I would put his bowl down and moved across the room, and just sat quietly not looking at him while he ate. Over time I was able to move closer, talk quietly to him and gently toss high value treats to him while he ate. It was weeks before he was able to approach to take treats from my hand, but in the meantime I would toss him a treat every chance I had. Without plenty of food - the 'good stuff'- in the picture - there is no doubt in my mind that I would not have been able to earn his trust, having an amazing bond with him and give him the good life he deserved to live.

I know how hard it is to see a dog so terrified, understand the heartache and struggling to find a way to help them understand that they are safe and everything will be okay. But we can't 'make' a fearful dog trust, we have to earn their trust - 'show' them we are 'trust worthy', help them learn that they can expect nothing but 'good stuff' from us and it takes time and empathy - patience, (all the patience you can muster) understanding, compassion, the resolve to work at the dog's pace on our part and a ton of courage on their part.
 

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She told us that "he's a predator and he's stressed" and that he should only eat outside?
I tried it today during the walk... He was like "OK that's food but we are on a walk now!"
She told us to starve him if we need to but make sure we get him to eat during walks (in small
portions given a few times over the walk, as if he's finding pray or something).
If I were to take advice from this dog behaviorist, he/she would have to give me an explanation that I could understand. Do you understand her recommendation? It seems to be saying that a predator needs to eat outside in small portions to simulate catching prey. It sounds bizarre to me. First, inside/outside is a distinction that predators don't care about when they kill and eat prey. Second, all our dogs are predators. How come they don't need to eat outside? What makes your dog different?

If she's saying that your dog needs stimulating activities (hunting or foraging), then that's a different story. Not having enough exercise is supposedly the leading cause of behavior problems. Is the person just recommending something that has a good probability of working, not really caring whether that will actually solve your dog's specific problems?

Anyway, my dog will probably behave like yours if I offer her a full meal during a walk: "Hey, I'm walkin' here! Put that away. I don't eat dinner while I walk. Whaddaya think I am? Some kind of animal?" She uses a lot of swear words. Joanne will probably censor my post if I quote her exactly. So I leave it to your imagination to insert the epithets where appropriate.
 
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