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So I am fostering hopefully soon to be adopting an English shepherd. He is 2 years old. This is my first rescue. He was poorly mistreated and left outside in a small kennel from birth all the way til he was rescued I think 6 months ago. I know the breed needs exercise so I took him to a public park and saw a big dog hop out of another car and had an anxiety attack and pulled me back to my car. But he needs exercise. He’s afraid of big dogs and males. Also when I take him out to potty he only wants to do his business then come back in. Is their anyway I can get him to be more active? Are there any pointers on getting him used to the park? I’m just worried I’m not able to exercise him like he needs to be. They need atleast an hour of exercise. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
 

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It is so hard to see them struggle. Keep in mind he spent his whole life (until recently) neglected and isolated from the real world, so it is all new as super scary for him!
Ideally I would suggest forgoing the walks for now, keep his world small, and give him some time settle in and adjust and learn to trust that his new life is not so scary after all. Being rehomed is very stressful for any dog and it can take them weeks to months to adapt and adjust, and learn to trust - your patience and understanding will be a huge benefit to him.

May I suggest getting the book : Love Has No Age Limit by Patricia McConnell? It can provide some insight in what to expect and how to help a newly rehomed dog.
 

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Keep working on the spaces, slowly. This might mean just around the block, if that. Is he food or toy motivated? You can try dropping random treats or the toy while on the walk and make walks interspersed with scent games. Works on making it fun and can distract from triggers if you have the timing to play before he focuses on a trigger. For the immediate future, high- intensity games that can be done in smaller spaces like soccer/football or a flirt pole paired with the solid you can do can help tide you over. Fingers crossed.
 

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My take on this is that the dog needs comfort and care more than he needs the exercise right now. Forgo the walks, especially around other people and dogs. Once he had had a chance to settle in and realize that he is no longer in a cage and can be a dog, you can slowly introduce him to a few outside things. Try the indoor games, as suggested above, but don't be surprised or disappointed if he is not interested. He probably doesn't know what a toy is or that play is possible. If something like a flirt pole makes him cringe, put it away. Let him take things at his own pace and focus on doing whatever you can to let him feel safe.
I have fostered dogs who come from circumstances like this and they are always fearful at first, and never want to play because they don't understand it. Be patient and he will come along in his own time. Good for you for adopting this dog. These traumatized dogs can take a huge amount of time and patience, but it's very rewarding to see them make little bits of progress, and eventually turn into a happy dog.
 
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