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HIS STORY.....
I recently have become the new owner of my mother inlaw’s submissive sweet and scared little one and a half year old Shih Tzu puppy. He came with basic training she didn’t take him to and she was frustrated with the side effects so greatly that she put a gate up to keep him from going to the bathroom on carpets. She gave him a shock collar to stop him from whining and scratching at the gate, in which he was behind every day of the week and was only walked once a week at most. He was a lawn ornament and she would yell at him and remote control shock him for all of these behaviors. She also has a high pitch noise maker that dogs can hear and pushed the button anytime he had responded negatively to the shock collar.
I now have noticed that he is very needy, which I am also but I don’t want him to develop separation anxiety making yet another problem for this poor little guy. I do bond with him by letting him nap on my lap or next to me but I fear about feeding the behavior because I selfishly love our snuggles.
I have noticed he shakes and retreats when the fire alarm batteries run out and it beeps. He also has this reaction to the oven beeping and the microwave, checkouts at the store and occasionally the T.V. because the shock collar would beep before the shock. He has only now started to slightly wag his tail two weeks in to living with us and he often looks sad or depressed and whimpers in his sleep often. We have a schedule for him and he has at least one to two walks a day +15-45mins of play time and an hour of snuggles in my lap before bed time to calm down before crate.
How should I be working with and rehabilitating this sweet little guy? I have enforced crate training and worked with him on clicker training. As of right now he can sit, lay, dance, shake with both paws, and we are working on roll over. He also will put his paw on his face by command and high five sometimes without treats during play for his squeaky toy.
But I have no idea how permanently the emotional effects of having been neglected like that will last for him.
Please any recommendations on how to work with this set of issues or anyone who may have advanced knowledge of how to rehabilitate this behavior?
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Poor little guy. There is a lot of work to undo what has been done but dogs can be very forgiving and resilient.

I think the first thing is to build your bond so letting him snuggle is fine at the moment. By letting him see you and your family as safe, and that he has nothing to fear, it will likely help build some of his confidence. If you are worried about separation anxiety, there is a good game called the flitting game described about ⅔ of the way down this page -

Emma, who developed the game, is one of the UK's leading experts in separation anxiety.


For rehabilitation to sounds, you can record the microwave beep and play it back very quietly, while simultaneously feeding tiny pieces of roast chicken or frankfurter sausage. Gradually increase the volume, and you can do the same with other noises. You are trying to change the association of beep = pain to beep = good things.

Is he toilet trained, given the way your MIL tried to address that?
 

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Is he aggressive at all?
No, he does get insecure with the bigger dog we live with from time to time, but her energy level and excitement is pretty high and he is new here so..... With humans and the three other dogs he has met on lead no just her from time to time when she steps over him.
 

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How sad! It’s great that you’ve taken him on and are prepared to help him.

I’ve taken care of a couple of dogs that’ve been needing some sort of rehabilitation. One was a chihuahua mix, had some unclear history but was very timid and scared, especially of men. According to her previous home she didn’t like walks or to play🙄.. At the beginning she was very scared but as soon she got to know you she became very needy and cuddly, much like yours. I wouldn’t say that it’s bad to cuddle him, especially not in the beginning. However I wouldn’t suggest to cuddle him in the wrong way in the wrong situation. As an example, if the dog gets scared and to comfort the dog you start to make a big fuss out of it, this will only reeinforce the feeling since you reinsure the dog that it’s a dangerous situation. If “my” dog would be scared she was more than welcome to seek support from me but I also showed her that it wasn’t a big deal and when she got to handle the situation more on her own she also gained more confidence.

That dog also used to follow me every step I took so then I started to encourage her to stay whenever I went up. Putting up a gate (if this doesn’t scare your dog) to prevent him from following you everywhere, could teach him that it’s okay to be alone. Creating a cozy place for him where you encourage him to be (away from you) could also be a good idea.

Then I would focus on building his confidence. This dog I’ve talked about didn’t have much confidence at all, scared of everything, didn’t take any initiative, never played etc. Just by walking her and letting her be a “real” dog she gained a lot of confidence. In the beginning she would only walk right next to/behind me. Then I started to encourage her to explore, to run, to climb rocks etc. I would encourage every initiative she took (even though it maybe wasn’t the best). I remember one time when I realized she wasn’t right next to me which got me to freak out because it never happened, then when I went looking for her I found her like this:
D9D3A0FD-DC33-4C39-9ADE-E49FAD3CEB98.jpeg

And of course I didn’t want her on my kitchen table but I was so happy that she had started to take her own initiatives and become more independent. Then it didn’t really matter that she was a bit naughty.

To set them up for success to overcome different tasks is great for building confidence. It’s great that you’re already training him on different command and tricks!

With the problem of being scared of the noises I would say the same as Joanne. Follow the principle of “classical conditioning” for him to make new positive associations with the sound rather then negative. It’s the same principe as when you train clicker training.
 

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No, he does get insecure with the bigger dog we live with from time to time, but her energy level and excitement is pretty high and he is new here so..... With humans and the three other dogs he has met on lead no just her from time to time when she steps over him.
Well it sounds like you've made a fine start with him. I don't have anything to add to what has been said except to point out that there are many books available on the topics of (counter-)conditioning and helping your dog deal with anxiety and fear issues. Unfortunately I can't recommend one because that kind of thing is a bit outside the scope of what I needed to learn while training my own dog, but maybe someone else can.
 

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We acquired a small dog like you under similar circumstances. The way he dealt with his fear was severe aggression.
We've had him 2 years now, and he's still a work in progress. He has made great strides. No one can believe he's the same dog.
With that said, the best way to help your dog is to gain his trust. It may take a long time to build that trust. Patience, consistency and tons of positive reinforcement are your friends.
There are many books out there that you could read. One is "The Cautious Canine". It's a thin book, but packed with lots of tips.
The fact that he likes snuggles on your lap is a good start. That bonding is very important to start building the trust. He may never get over the sensitivity to the sounds, but trusting you will let him know he is safe.
There's a fine line between lolly-coddling him when he's scared and supporting him through his fears.
I hope that helps and good luck with him.
Please keep us posted on his progress.
One thing to note: Dogs like these are our best teachers. I've learned so much from our little dog that you can't find in any book. :)
 

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loads and loads of good tips here I can't really add to those. I have rehabilitated various abused dogs and all I can say is it takes quite some time, lots of patience, lots of kindness, lots of love.

Now the elephant in the room. Your mother-in-law. I can't actually say what I'd like to say about a person like that I'd be banned.
How you going to make sure that she doesn't do this to any other dog?
the reason I ask is because if you don't then how do you prevent another victim?
 

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My dog is doing better. He is crate training he has been able to socialize with and without lead during visits with a neighbor in their yard with dogs. Loves walks and had fun showing my Mother inlaw his improvement. She now allows him on the carpet in her home and does not yell at him as he is My dog. She understands that she was and will not be in any position a good fit for a new young dog, so I am not worried about a new victim because she is not stupid she gave him to me because she knew she wasn't what was best for him and that I would provide that. He has stopped alleviating in the house now that he knows his schedule and knows he can ring a bell by the door for any unscheduled need to go outside, that he can and I will take him out. I love that he is bell trained and is soon to be crate trained. I still have times where he gets time outs outside but for the most part he loves our company and is starting to enjoy his bed. Yes he does follow me around most of the time, he has times he likes to do his own thing and that is fine. I will address yes, he is bothered by a gate and just does way better without it as long as I am working with him on stay training consistently. Which is moving very slow 🐌 I push but I'm willing to take it at his pace. I have a few books and am getting some advice from a trainer on YouTube who have very mixed and versatile forms of teaching. Thankfully this pup is quick to decide and let me know what is comfortable with him and what is not. He gets really sad or starts to shut down slowly if he does not like it and we redirect the training to avoid any unnecessary escalation of such behaviors. We are growing and he still hesitates to listen to my husband and I sometimes but not always, slow build of the relationship and trust for sure. Now he sun bathes he rides on a bike with me in a basket and also on lead next to me, the more he slowly experiences positively the better off he has seemed.
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My dog is doing better. He is crate training he has been able to socialize with and without lead during visits with a neighbor in their yard with dogs. Loves walks and had fun showing my Mother inlaw his improvement. She now allows him on the carpet in her home and does not yell at him as he is My dog. She understands that she was and will not be in any position a good fit for a new young dog, so I am not worried about a new victim because she is not stupid she gave him to me because she knew she wasn't what was best for him and that I would provide that. He has stopped alleviating in the house now that he knows his schedule and knows he can ring a bell by the door for any unscheduled need to go outside, that he can and I will take him out. I love that he is bell trained and is soon to be crate trained. I still have times where he gets time outs outside but for the most part he loves our company and is starting to enjoy his bed. Yes he does follow me around most of the time, he has times he likes to do his own thing and that is fine. I will address yes, he is bothered by a gate and just does way better without it as long as I am working with him on stay training consistently. Which is moving very slow 🐌 I push but I'm willing to take it at his pace. I have a few books and am getting some advice from a trainer on YouTube who have very mixed and versatile forms of teaching. Thankfully this pup is quick to decide and let me know what is comfortable with him and what is not. He gets really sad or starts to shut down slowly if he does not like it and we redirect the training to avoid any unnecessary escalation of such behaviors. We are growing and he still hesitates to listen to my husband and I sometimes but not always, slow build of the relationship and trust for sure. Now he sun bathes he rides on a bike with me in a basket and also on lead next to me, the more he slowly experiences positively the better off he has seemed.
View attachment 246831
It sounds like you’re doing amazing, keep up the good work!
 
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