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So, I have two dogs--a heeler/mini aussie mix (Soco) and a heeler/border collie mix (Jack.) Two winters ago I left the dogs in the backyard while I went to the grocery store. While I was gone, the neighbors heard what sounded like dog fighting in the back yard so police and animal control were called. Police got there first and thought Soco was biting Jack's neck and wouldn't let go. They tazed her two times before she finally calmed down. Turns out that while they were playing, her mouth got caught on his collar and they both panicked, causing all the ruckus.

Anyway, now both are very skiddish around people. (Other than a handful of family and friends they know very well.) Soco is the most terrified. Despite the predominant heeler in her, she isn't a biter and doesn't act aggressively towards people... she just barks like mad and is terrified if anyone looks like they're going to approach her. I think Jack just follows her lead. He doesn't seem as nervous about people when Soco isn't around. Both used to be the happiest pups that we took everywhere with us and now they have to stay home.

Does anyone have any suggestions? We've tried introducing her to new people, having strangers (to them) offer treats and toys but Soco wants nothing to do with any of it. Thanks for any ideas!!
 

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I just wanted to say, it's so lovely to see people asking how to work on things like trust in their dogs. All I've seen so far is people demanding certain traits in a dog! I'm thinking a stress cost may help on walks or when out and you get air freshness for dogs to calm them!
Hope this helped x
 

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Thank you for your replies!

When we try the strangers tossing treats, Jack is all about it. He's very food driven and doesn't seem to be bothered by people being around but gets nervous when they try to touch him. Not in an agressive way.. He just dodges out of reach. Soco wants nothing to do with the treats or toys at first. She'll take a couple steps forward, bark her "alarm" bark and then take off running. She'll warm up to the idea slightly if the strangers stick around for awhile and every now and then she'll "sit" and "shake" for a treat but the alarm barks happen every time there is a loud noise or if someone tries to touch her.

We've thought about seeing a behavioralist but I think we were hoping the trauma would fade over time and she would go back to her normal self that would love on everybody. Plus their behavior didn't turn aggressive by any means so I think initially we thought that was a positive sign.
 

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When we try the strangers tossing treats, Jack is all about it. He's very food driven and doesn't seem to be bothered by people being around but gets nervous when they try to touch him. Not in an agressive way.. He just dodges out of reach.
It's good that he is taking the treats, that's a big step in itself.

Soco wants nothing to do with the treats or toys at first. She'll take a couple steps forward, bark her "alarm" bark and then take off running. She'll warm up to the idea slightly if the strangers stick around for awhile and every now and then she'll "sit" and "shake" for a treat but the alarm barks happen every time there is a loud noise or if someone tries to touch her.
Honestly, I would skip the part where people try to touch them when they have warmed up to them that bit. Just have the strangers keep dropping treats, no strings attached. Let them feel that they don't have to put up with something they aren't ready for. Keep it under their threshold. :)

It might even be a good idea to try to have the strangers ignore them completely when they come in, just keep tossing treats at random times, just make sure they aren't startled.

We've thought about seeing a behavioralist but I think we were hoping the trauma would fade over time and she would go back to her normal self that would love on everybody. Plus their behavior didn't turn aggressive by any means so I think initially we thought that was a positive sign.
What most people call aggression is actually just scared dogs that are reactive.
They react to what scares them. I'm glad that neither of them are on that level but it's something to look out for.

This is why I would still recommend a behaviorist to come to you and see what can be done in a safe manner. As much as we try to help and manage our surroundings, something might happen that we wouldn't consider a big deal but that something might be enough to scare her enough to react.
Dogs will most often chose flight instead of fight so make sure that they are never cornered and that they always have an easy out.

All that being said - they might never be completely ok with strangers.
I'm not saying this to scare you!
I have a rescue that was very fearful and now 8 years later, we have gotten over some of her worst fears but she still is not always comfortable with some people and that is fine by me. I don't expect her to put up with attention she doesn't want. :)
 
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