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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Approximatly two years ago I rescued a 9 month old "american bulldog." Named Jade. breed is questionable, that's just what her paperwork says. She looks like a little pocket pit. When I brought her home, she was afraid of everything. EVERYTHING!. I couldn't even get her to go outside without leaving the door opening and walking away. Over time she bonded to my other Dog, Bella who at the time was a 6 year old english bulldog that i've had since she was a puppy. (she's still an english bulldog, she's just 8 now, lol) She's bombproof..a great dog, and provided a great support system for this new rescue. I really think she taught her how to be a dog. Jade eventually got comfortable around me, and my mom. I lived alone at the time, so my mom made a huge effort to come over every day and hang out with her. I found that the sweet high pitched baby talk seemed to get a better more positive response from jade than normal or stern tones. Over the next two years jade did come out of her shell alot. Over all she's a great sweet dog. I can take both dogs on hikes unleashed and i know they won't go anywhere. Jade is good around other dogs, and people. She plays, runs, wags her tail like crazy. Her only aggression is some food and toy possession. but only towards my other dog or my two cats, and she only snaps, she doesn't bite. she has NEVER shown aggression towards any human...However...the above positive milestones only happen when it's just me, and Bella. Or my mom. She is still so afraid of everything outside of my house. I can't even take her for a walk without Bella. She's a totally different dog. My mom even tried taking just her to her house to get some alone time and learn how to be on her own. It helped a little but not much. When I first got her, for about two weeks she pooped in her crate. Luckily that went away and she potty trained pretty easily. maybe about a year ago..summer 2019 she started going in the house. My best guess is that she got stung by a bee from a nest right outside the house (my backyard is fenced in, they have free reign there) and was scared to go out. It's been pee pads ever since. Shes crate trained, so crating isn't an issue, but there are nights i'm not home so I just feel bad having her in a crate all the time. Here's where i'm really struggling and my heart is breaking....about 6 months ago I started a relationship with someone. I have never seen this dog so scared. When he comes over, she hides in her crate or in a corner and shakes. I don't know what it is. I've had her around other guys but never for a long term time period like this. I don't know if it's because hes a guy, or because of his deep voice, or because of a certain smell (he smokes). He's tried ignoring her, he's tried giving her treats...nothing seems to help. and part of the problem i think is that he's not around all the time. I really don't know what to do. While this is the big stresser with Jade, I still think the underlying issue is that she's a scared dog. She even still runs from me sometimes in the house. which is her most safe place where she is her most unscared self. I've tried food...I really have. Her favorites...peanut butter, cheese...She's a food motivated dog but only to a certain point. She will take food from my boyfriend but only if he goes up and gives it to her. She will never walk up to him for food. No amount of peanut butter or cheese will get this dog to go for a walk confidently on her own. I'm always pulling her til at least half way that she doesn't think the house is close by anymore for her to run back to. i NEVER would even think about giving up a pet. I don't believe in it. Once you take a dog, it's yours for they're life. But my boyfriend and I both have older dogs. Eventually were going to be left with jade. and i'm just worried what kind of life that will be for all of us. Managing a dog that's scared of everything for her entire life? My mom offered to take her in leu of giving her up for adoption but i know my mom doesn't really want a dog full time. I hope someone has some suggestions. I really think there's some back to basic training that needs to happen, i just don't know where to start. Raising a dog from a puppy was no issue. A dog coming to me with problems that doesn't seem to show any progression.....i'm so stuck. Thanks.
 

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A dog that is afraid cannot function. For some dogs, especially ones like her, I'd suggest getting the vet to prescribe something just to take the edge off her anxiety. That would make like a lot easier for her. Then you can start working on things like getting her out to your garden again, and walking without Bella.

For your bf, I wouldn't recommend he tries to give her food. It puts her in a really conflicted situation, where she wants the food but has to go near him to get it. For a dog as scared as her, 6 months is no time at all.

The important things about these things is to take it at her pace. For example, getting her to use your garden again - you stand by the door with a lovely treat - if she looks at the door, reward massively -spend several days rewarding her for just looking towards the door.

If she takes a step towards the door, reward. Then open the door and stand near it - if she looks outside the open door, reward . Then stand outside the open door - if she looks out, reward. If she steps towards it, reward. And so on.

With your bf, I'd suggest he ignore her. Completely. Not even eye contact, because to a dog, direct eye contact is very intimidating. Also, position himself so he is never between your dog and her safe place or escape route (door from the room).

Then after a few weeks or a month he can try taking some lovely treats and tossing them past her, so she has to go away from him to get them. I realise that sounds counterintuitive but it helps her build a positive conditioned emotional response (google +CER for the science if you are interested) without having to get too close which like i said could make her feel quite conflicted - she wants the treat but has to approach a scary person to get it.

After a number of weeks of doing that, he could put one of the treats on the floor, about 18 inches from his feet. See what she does. If she darts in, takes the treat, and goes off, then she isn't ready yet for this stage. So, as with anything in dog training, go back to the previous step for a bit longer.

When she takes the treat from the floor and eats it there, he can do that for a few weeks. Still no eye contact.

Once she has been taking the treat from the floor happily for a number of weeks, he can now offer one from his hand, but again see how she reacts. Any lack if confidence (taking it and stepping back) again is a sign she isn't ready, so back up a step for longer. And still no eye contact.

Once she is comfortable taking treats from his hand (and I mean really comfortable) he could try petting her, but using the five second rule.

Stroke her for five seconds (some dogs prefer you avoid the head) then stop. Only if she initiates further contact by nudging him or similar, he can continue for another five seconds then stop again. He should ontinue only for as long as she keeps asking. That gives her control and in turn that will build her confidence because she knows she can make it stop at any time.

Expect this to take months. But don't be tempted to rush it, take it at her pace.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you so much! this helped alot. I did forget to mention that I have tried a few over the counter CBD anti-anxiety treats, and nothing seems to help. I don't notice a difference. Maybe that's what you get with over the counter. I do like to keep things natural as much as possible...I don't want a dog doped up on meds, but I do think you're right...Something to just take the edge off might be what she needs at this point since she's not coming around on her own. Ive had a few people suggest that when my boyfriend comes into the house to give her her favorite treat right away so she associates him with a good thing. So that's why we've tried the treat route. But it makes total sense what you're saying. And I think at this point since he and I are both mentally and emotionally exhausted from this issue, ignoring her seems like something thats pretty easy to do as a first step.
 

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I do like to keep things natural as much as possible.
I know what you mean but we have a saying: all remedies started as natural, the ones that worked became medicine, the others became pot pourri.

Just because something is natural doesn't necessarily make it effective, or even safe.

don't want a dog doped up on meds, but I do think you're right..
I think medications have come a long way since the days of doping up. Admittedly it may take a bit of adjusting doses to get a good balance but her life will be a lot less stressful.

Please let us know how you get on.
 
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