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Hi everyone this is going to be a long post because I really want to give you the full background on Meg and I'm looking for new advice and tips.

To start it all off I bought Meg as a puppy I'd finally moved into a large flat with a fenced off yard and wanted a dog since I had never lived without one, so I went out after searching and brought home Meg. She's a Heinz or a mongrel however you prefer to say it. Her parents were Heinz and so were their parents as a puppy she was well looked after and the owners cared about both the mum and dad. I brought her home and trained her then at a year old I was walking her through the fields we always walked in the evening and her ears went up and she bolted away which was unusual her call and response was on point she knew to come back but she didn't. After a full night of looking for her there was no sign. I was heartbroken, everyone around me assured me I'd get her back since she was chipped to me with a collar on that also had my address and number, so as soon as someone found her and took her to the vets I'd get a call but one never came.

It had been 2 years and I refused to get another dog now fearful of what happened to her and the fact people have told me it sounds like someone had used a dog whistle to lure her in and pick her up, I honestly thought shed been taken for baiting and killed and couldn't go through it again.
So two weeks ago I'm pondering through my emails sorting them out when I see an email tited "DOG CAPTURED" I click on it to check what new spam I had got and it was a dog warden saying they had found a dog abandoned chipped to my email address and I had 3 days left to pick her up. So I rushed through and there she was walking around. The wardens notes said she had been found dumped in some fields 45 mins away without a collar she'd been out a couple of days and no one had called in asking for her back.
I'm not sure if she recognized me but I was just happy to have a second chance but a lot of things have changed in her personality and could do with some tips and advice.

First off she has developed a fear of men and will cower if one approaches or says anything to her. Luckily she has accepted my partner (after many treats!) but if he gets up to fast or calls me from another room she may wee or really squeeze into the corner of her bed. I understand this one will just take patience and time but want to give you the full story.

Meg is scared of mops, brooms anything stick like or pole like she will bolt away and sometimes pee. The first time this happened it upset me a lot I have been raised that you never need to hurt a dog to learn them a lesson, treats for good dogs and ignore or time out for bad dogs. Someone has very obviously been hurting her with an item like a broom, I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas on how to make her like brooms and mops again so I clean any mess or just tidy without her feeling panicked or wetting herself currently they are all hidden the storage cupboard since she will not enter the kitchen if she can see them.

When you ask her to "get down" or "lay down" she immediately thinks shes going to be hurt, if I find her on the settee and ask her to get down she will do as shes told and scarper away or she will have a shut down, wet herself and shake. At the moment with this I try not touch her when I give this command and when she gets down I praise her for listening. With my partner if he says any of the commands she does it but out of fear and runs to her bed and wets the bed and hes now becoming discouraged in being around her because "All she seems to think of me is I'm going to hurt her" I've said it will take time but I'm wondering should I try and teach her new words for some commands so she doesn't relate them to bad things?

And the last one is the big one which has me stumped. If she is in another room and I'm around the flat she's fine doesn't make a peep. But if she hears me leave the flat in less than a min she howls and barks. There is very little whining which is what I hear in a lot of separation anxiety cases its just very loud noisey howling and barking! I filmed her and she doesn't destroy anything she just paces like shes stressed, finds the easiest way to the window and howls and barks out of it. Now I'm on sickness at the moment and very rarely leave the house for more than 15/20 mins to get some shopping but what concerns me is that in less than a month I was going to be returning to work but I cant with the fact I've already had someone in the block of flats report me to the RSPCA for neglect and abandonment! To top it all off I've had a letter from my local council saying they've had complaints if she does not stop barking we will have to leave since I will not sell or send her to a rescue.

I have tried a Kong and hiding treats but as soons as I leave the kongs dropped the treats are ignored and she starts howling and pays them no attention. I've tried and hour walk before we leave but she will just make the same amount of noise but lay down and prop her head on the windowsill instead. I've blocked off the window but still howls and barks just at the floor. We are hoping on Friday we will be getting a large crate for her and training her that its her safe place while I'm gone.

What I would like to change is that when I walk in after going out she isn't looking at me like I'm about to beat her, the advice I've had so far is to ignore that behaviour because its unwanted and if I ignore her when I enter and leave she will come to learn not to be scared because no attention is being focused on her when I come back but I don't know if its helping much.


I know its early days but if we are forced to leave I don't know where will take me and my pets! I'm happy to wait a few months until she relaxes but my neighbours don't want to know and want her gone.

Thanks for reading such a long post any advice is better than none and I'll answer any questions I can!
 

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I'm glad you've been reunited with your dog. What happened while she was not with you could certainly be responsible for her new, fearful behavior.

I think you might find a lot of help from the website fearfuldogs.com

Also, this book is a good one for dealing with SA.

Treating Separation Anxiety in Dogs: Malena Demartini-Price: 9781617811432: Amazon.com: Books

Ignoring behavior we don't want isn't nearly as useful as using counter conditioning to help a dog overcome it's fears. We may consider a fear to be irrational but it's real to the dog.

You may want to consider medications. The fearful dog site has a good resource on the subject.
 

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First I would suggest talking to the neighbors who have put in the complaint (or any nearby if you don't know who the concerned party was) and explain the situation. Tell them what happened to your dog, that you are working hard to help remedy the situation, and what you are doing to help fix the problem. If they know what she's been through, that you haven't abandoned the dog in your apartment, and that you're actively trying to fix things then they may be more understanding and less likely to report you. Perhaps not, but it's worth a try.

You say that she's fine being left alone in the house until she hears you leave? Could you shut her in the bedroom or something with a closed door and do things in the house (with her locked in and not seeing you) without her going nuts? If so, then perhaps putting her in the room, turning on a radio loud enough to drown out the noise of jangling keys and a door closing, and leaving very quietly can trick her. Start doing that for very short periods of time (walk out the door and immediately come back) and work up to longer periods of time if that method works- go from immediately coming back in to staying gone for 30 seconds, a minute, 5 minutes, so on. That's a problem I've had with crate training my dogs. There is only one real entrance to my house, and the dogs could easily see me leave and hear me close the door when I left. I started picking up my keys and purse a fair amount of time before I left. I'd put them in their crates, cover with a sheet, and turn on the radio. They would then sit there covered up like quiet little parrots.

I've heard some people have good results using a thunder shirt to help with anxiety issues. I'm not sure how much good it actually does, but my parents love theirs for their storm-phobic Brittany. I started using one on my rat terrier when he first came to live with me. Was absolutely crate trained at the breeders, but moving to a new location even with people he knew sort of threw that training out the window. His behavior started to improve when I put the thunder shirt on, but it could have been any number of the things I tried that helped. Some people absolutely swear by them, some people call them a waste of money. At this point in your game I'd say it's worth the money to give it a try.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Hi guys shes due to restart her booster since she not been at a vets since I've had her we have to start them again and I was going to ask about any medication and feel even something to supplement her water might help to relax her into learning new things.
I'll have a look on the site now and thanks for the book recommendation I'll read a hundred books if it means she wont feel so stressed when I leave :)

Hey duck sadly my neighbours consist of a couple of alcoholics who don't care and a guy who thinks he rules the flats I tried to explain to him what happened and even the rspca inspector had understood that situation and he doesn't care says it's my fault he doesn't want to hear the sob story and if the mutt doesn't stop he will record her and send that to the council! So now I'm housebound I'm trying to not stress because I know she will sense that.
If she knows I'm here she will happily sleep in another room if she knows I've left the property thats it I tried removing my keyrings and also the radio but she has incredibly good hearing and just howls over the radio. The door is a very distinctive noise and being in a flat only one way out. My partner thinks Im crazy for thinking of changing the lock so it doesn't make that noise but thats her main trigger that means I'm gone. I put her in a room when I leave because if she has free roam of the house she goes straight to the window near the door and howls. The problem with Meg is she's very smart and even though she can be well behaved she can find a way around anything even as a puppy haha :D

When I get the crate on friday I will try out the covering the crate idea and let you know how it goes :)
I've not seen much of the thunder shirts just seen them in a pet store I might have to try one out with her if it will make her more comfortable if not I'm sure I could sell it if it doesn't :)

We are hoping to find a local agility course and see if it chills her out since she loves running and I'm hoping learning a course will work her brain see if she remembers it from when she was younger :)

Thanks for the advice guys let me know if you can think of any others :)
 

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Hi Shelley94,

A member here who has great experience with rehabilitating an almost feral dog is @StormyPeak.

I've used a ThunderShirt to deal with my rescue dog's moderate separation anxiety, and it has worked for it. The change wasn't overnight, but it definitely made a difference for us. I think it's worth a try.

Also, I'd recommend doing more reading on separation anxiety. Crating a dog with SA can actually aggravate, not alleviate, the dog's anxiety. I would proceed with caution and back off if your shows signs of distress while being crated.
 

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Since she has so many fears consulting a behaviorist that uses positive reinforcement will probably be very helpful. They'll be able to help you form a treatment plan and it'll also be something to show the RSPCA and counsel if your neighbor keeps complaining.
 

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Too bad about the neighbors. They can be a royal pain in the butt... thankfully mine were very understanding when I've had issues. Or at least I assume they were since I didn't hear any crud about it, but I've also not complained when they've played music too loud or let their guest park in my parking spots on occasion. Being a jerk about things can come back to bite you and he'll find that out eventually. During the training process I'd try to observe when the angry neighbor leaves the house and time your sessions or times when you need to leave the house when you know he'll be out. That way if she does start being noisy you may be able to avoid that confrontation. Can unfortunately be difficult if the guy is a homebody and doesn't go anywhere.

I'd absolutely change the locks (with your landlord's permission, of course) to something quiet if at all possible. I've known some pretty quiet locks and doorknobs in my day, and that could be a huge help from you. I would start by shutting the dog in a safe room as far away from the front door as you can get (a bedroom would probably be ideal) while doing normal things in the day. I'd treat it like a crate and basically "crate train" her using that room as the crate since she's comfortable alone there. Reward her when she's quiet in there and let her out, build up to greater periods of time when you're in other parts of the house. Try building up to going out the front door without making any noise or closing it. Then try closing and locking the door. If you're able to reduce your leaving signs as much as possible (putting on your shoes in front of her, picking up your keys and bag, audibly shutting/locking the door, etc then she'll eventually not see those as signs of leaving anymore. Use a baby monitor or something to see how she's doing. Make sure you try and return before she starts getting stressed out. Give the thunder shirt a try to see how it helps, and talk to the vet about the possibility of medication.

As someone mentioned I would perhaps avoid using a crate with her unless she's a lot more comfortable being closed in it, is destructive, or can otherwise get into trouble. Trying to confine her to a crate when you're battling the issues with your neighbor could make things worse. If she's destroying things or something then that complicates things, but otherwise I'd just try to dog proof a room. Perhaps put a crate in the room and make more of a bed and safe area in the room instead of closing her in the crate itself.
 

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Hi Shelley,

As mentioned I've been working with a dog who was abused for 5 years. Her old owner kept her tied up and isolated in a yard...and when the dog became an 'expert' at slipping her collar or breaking her tie down. The owner couldn't get her to come to him (because he never trained her...and he would be angry with her for escaping so she didn't want to go to someone who was yelling at her)...so he would chase her down...and beat her with things that were at hand once he caught her...chains, boards...etc. He moved, finally , and abandoned her in the yard and a rescue group ended up with her.

I got her from the rescue group about 3 months after they had her and Jaya, was almost completely feral, and had no socialization to humans, other dogs, cats...etc. Everything was new to her, and everything terrified her.

Pointers that might help.

For the first few months I didn't talk to Jaya, nor look at her...as far as letting our eyes meet. These things terrified her. What I did do, was drop treats her direction...and moved Very slowly. She would have full out panic attacks, bolting through the house and trying to hide if i spoke to her, looked at her, or moved too fast. Once she realized I wasn't going to hurt her, things progressed from there.

Use new words: Who ever had her, probably used words like 'down' 'off' 'come here' "No" etc....followed by blows or yanks on her collar. Give her a new set of commands. If you want her down off of the sofa, maybe use the word 'settle' as in settle on the floor. Jaya is afraid of the word combo 'come here' but I found out she's fine with 'come on' So when I call her I use the words 'come on' and never 'come here' as 'come here' scares her. So her old owner must have yelled come here at her a lot.


The mop... you might just keep it in sight all the time (at least for a while) Lay it out on the floor where the dog has to walk by it...dropped treats around it from time to time. Once the dog can go past it, you might move it to different areas so it becomes just another thing in the house.

Jaya was terrified of my broom, she still shies away from it, but not in a panic, and she knows I'm not going to come after her with it. I had to first teach her that it was a harmless thing and that was how I did it.

Don't make a big deal out of anything...terrified dogs don't need 'excitement' they need calm and quiet. So, if she does something you like don't squeal out a 'good dog!' or clap your hands or anything. It's enough at this point that she did what you wanted...later when she's more comfortable the verbal praises can be given.

You might try 'practice leaving' through out the day.

Don't say anything just out of the blue get up and go out the door and shut it. Wait...a few seconds...hopefully before she starts barking...then go back in and act like you never even went out the door. Try to stay out a little longer each time you do this...hopefully stepping in before the dog barks and carries on.

This might puzzle the dog so much they don't know what to do...not even bark...and then...your there again before they decide. But you don't make a big deal out of the coming or going...so soon the dog might learn that that is just the way things happen.

I did this with a pair of dogs I had that use to freak out, and it took a while but they learned to just be ok with me walking out the door and not coming back for a while. And when I did, I ignored them for a few minutes just so they don't get any more excited than what they were in seeing me.

I hope that helps. These things help me with Jaya, your dog might respond a bit differently. But I think the main point is to just take things slow and in a calm manner....and don't force your attentions - let her come to you...it will take time but I'm sure you will see the dog start to trust you.

Stormy
 

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About leaving the mop laying around. Exposing a fearful dog to what it fears is sometimes considered flooding. Dogs can become habituated after a time but using counter conditioning, to change the emotions, is a more science based method less likely to cause the dog fear during the process. The process should be: mop appears and then high value food treats. Mop disappears, food stops. Repeat several times. Sessions should be short. This insures the dog has a clear mental picture of what is causing the good food to appear. This should make the positive association happen faster and cleaner.
 

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Gabby, I'm always for going with the most gentle training methods, and I think with a lot of fearful dogs, the counter conditioning you mentioned will work.
And I encourage Shelley to try it that way before trying it my way.

But, with Jaya...she was on pins and needles those first 4 or 5 months...and I don't think I could have got anywhere with her in trying to train her like that.
Just me shifting in my computer chair was enough to make her jump up and run out of the computer room. Trying to show a her an item, (movement) and treat her...I don't think it would have worked with her at that point.

So, I came up with what I thought was a decent plan to get her accustomed to the broom - that didn't involve the broom or me showing movement while she was around.

She would bolt from the room the second she saw me head for the broom....and no amount of treats would interest her at that point where she goes into to what I call a 'panic attack'

By putting the broom out where she could see it...and putting treats down around it then walking away - after she came back from down the hallway, she immediately seemed to figure out that 1+1 and 1-1 thingE.

Me + the broom = danger.
Broom - Me = treats

So, while still a bit afraid, of the broom, she would go over to it cautiously and get her treats. I never forced her into contact with it, other than she needed to walk by it if she wanted to follow me into the kitchen - but that would have been her choice too, as she did like to follow me around the house - at a couple arm lengths distance. : )

Once I got her where she could at least see the broom without bolting then I would wait until she was outside, and I would move the the broom a little closer to where I sat in my recliner, tossing treats around it.

For a time, when she came in, and was un-clipped from her tie down, she would bolt away from me and go down the hall, only to come back a minute or two later to watch me...even lay down a little ways from me most of the time...as long as I didn't move.

Anyway, with the broom laying on the floor, she quickly got to the point where she was stepping over the broom, and ignoring it so she could get to the treats, even when the broom was finally leaned against the recliner arm and me being there..sitting very still.

In about 2 days, she was fine with the broom being next to me and when I finally picked up the broom to take it into the kitchen, her reaction was a good one. While she 'shied' a little bit, she didn't completely panic and bolt down the hall into the back bedroom.

So, she figured out that 1broom +1me doesn't = danger.

She's not fearful of the broom now, and just watchful when I do have the broom in hand. I hope that as time passes even that little bit of watchfulness will diminish as her trust in me grows.

I probably could work with her a little more in the way you suggested...now that her utter terror of the broom is gone - and she will hang around long enough to see the lesson...lol

I like it though that I can at least now walk through the house with the broom, like when I need to use it to sweep snow off the front porch, then take it back through the house to hit the back porch too - and she doesn't flee from me thinking I'm going to go after her with it.

The treat tossing also helped her realize that every time I shifted in the chair it wasn't to get up and go after her. I would sit in my chair and moving very slowly would drop a treat for her. I would do this at random times while sitting in my computer chair or recliner. She finally realized movement by me wasn't a bad thing either.

Stormy
 

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Grabby, I just noticed my typo! I'm so sorry... didn't mean to call you "Gabby"

Stormy
 

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No problem. I have a dog named Gabby and that's where my lame user name came from. I do tend to be gabby so I never take offense when I'm referred to as gabby. Tis true. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi guys I didn't realise I'd have so many replies I'm going to have a look at them this evening when her routines done and my house has been sorted :) and will reply to them all then :)
 
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