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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All! I'm new to the forum and looking for training advice with a new 1yo Aussie Cattle Dog named Coco. A little about her: Coco was rescued by a local charity group who adopts dogs in kill shelters that are on the docket for euthanasia. She had some time in their in-house facility getting up to date on vaxes and the like, then was in a foster home for another month with 5 other dogs, before I adopted.

Coco is an absolute sweetheart. I've had her for about two weeks and she has really warmed up to my partner and I. She loves to go on walks and snuggle on the bed and in the two weeks she has barked a grand total of one time.

Coco is also extremely nervous; and I wouldn't be surprised if she had previously been in an abusive home. She doesn't explore the house at all, spending most of her time in her crate and in our bedroom where her crate is. She will come out of the crate to get on the bed for snuggles, walks, or to eat/potty, but that's about it. On the few occasions she wanders out of the bedroom, she will look around briefly and then run back to her crate. She is timid to downright frightened around new people, but has no issues with other dogs at all.

I've owned other dogs and always trained them myself, usually using positive voice affirmation, affection, and treats. That being said, Coco is not motivated by any of these due to her nervousness. I also worry about enrolling in a professional training class. I doubt she would do well with focusing while in an unfamiliar place with an unfamiliar person. What advice do you all have? I know that we are still in the adjusting period now, but I want to start planning how to train even basic commands like sit, stay, come, etc.

Thanks for all your help!
 

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Firstly, this graphic is a reminder that a newly rehomed dog goes through a settling in process that can span a period of weeks to months.


Dog Vertebrate Dog breed Carnivore Mammal


As far as teaching 'skills' (suggest holding off on classes until she is truly feeling settled and safe and beginning to trust that life will be good in her new home), if she is not able at this time to take treats, she also not able to focus and learn what you want to teach her. However, when I begin to work with a newly rehomed, timid dog - I give them their space, let them decide for themselves if/when they feel safe enough and confident enough to interact or to explore on their own. Sometimes just strewing a few treats on the floor and walking away, can be enough to encourage them to take a chance and come out have a sniff around. Always allow them access and the freedom to return to their safe place if that is what they want to do!!

I make a point of 'capturing' (mark with a gentle 'yes' and toss or drop a high value treat and turn/walk away) any offered/voluntary behaviors I want them to repeat - making eye contact, a sit, down, laying quietly, approaching or following me etc. if/when they choose to. The early stages are focused solely on letting the dog decide what they are comfortable with and earning and building their trust, and reinforcing to them that they can expect only good things to happen. Once they begin to show some trust are feeling safer with me and in my home, then I work on putting those offered (sit, down, come etc) behaviors on cue.
 

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I can't say for sure, but I wouldn't guess she was abused previously. I think she is just getting accustomed to her new home. She sounds very sweet, she is up for cuddles and to be near you on the bed, doesn't sound like a dog who is fearful of people (owners).

If I didn't know better and my pup was older when we got him, I would have thought maybe he was abused at one point with the way he doesn't trust strangers and how fearful he was as a little pup. He was undersocialized as a pandemic puppy with his 81YO breeder, and socializing wasn't easy for his 1st 1.5 years, but I learned some dogs are naturally more cautious. Doesn't mean they can't overcome their fear and turn around. The most important thing is to build your bond and gain her trust. Everything else seems to fall in place easier after that because you have their back ;)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you both for the feedback and recommendations! A good update: I noticed she is a fiend for peanut butter so I found some soft peanut butter flavored treats and she loves them! I've started dropping them around the house as Cache recommended and she almost immediately starting coming out to explore- at first very nervously but as I write this now, she is laying down next to me on the couch. Thank you again for the help and advice!
 
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