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Hi, me and my husband adopted a 2 year old blue heeler that was part of a foster group in my town. This foster group pulled "Jessie" from the animal shelter on the day she was marked to be euthanized.

We were looking for a good dog that would be a watch dog (I'm home alone a lot at nights) and all around good family dog for us. We asked the foster people about her and she seemed like such a good calm dog. She was neutral and calm with both me and my husband. And we thought -- ok she'll be better than the troubles a puppy brings since she was already trained!

Well, as time has gone on. We've had Jessie for over a year now and she is not a watch dog what so ever.. She will not bark, play with toys, play with other dogs... thats not the biggest deal of it -- she is terrified of my husband. She never has accidents in the house but if he does something that unintentionally scares her (like accidentally drops something on the floor) Jessie will run and panic, shiver and shake and often pee in the floor. She flinches and crouches down if he just walks by her. My husband has tried giving her treats, being sweet to her... Jessie just has a terrible problem with men...or maybe its just something about him.

We and the fosters have no idea on her background really. She was just known as a 'stray'.

Now she does act submissive and timid with me.. But -never- to the level as it is with my husband. She has never peed in the floor with me. She gets in trouble sometimes but she forgives me and will act happier but with my husband it takes her -forever- to get over it.

I'm basically at my wits end. Honestly, I don't feel like Jessie was a good match for us. I think we needed an all around happy-go-lucky personality type dog. I'm very passionate about dogs and animals so it tears me up because I hate to see Jessie miserable.... And I'm the only person on 'her side' because my husband has become too exhausted and frustrated with trying to 'stay friends' with her. He works full time nights and goes to school during the day so he's stressed out enough as it is.

I've grown up with various dog breeds and personalities so I have experience with dogs. My mother has a blue heeler whose personality is -completely- opposite of Jessie's.

It stresses me out so bad to see Jessie scared and shaking and have my husband frustrated at the dog and me not knowing what to do with Jessie. I work during the day now and Jessie has been acting out scared/panicky and peeing on the floor even more now since its just her and my husband at home now. :(

I thought about contacting the same foster lady who had her originally. But I feel like such a 'jerk' and I cringe because I feel I'll be judged as just 'giving up' on the dog and being irresponsible.

What would you do? sorry this is so long winded...
 

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Have you tried homemade treats? Maybe you need something better to motivate a little bit. You should be doing the same with regards to ignoring her and dropping treats if she shows signs of stress around you, even if they're less major-it will help her out. You can try these, they're really easy:

Fish Fudge:
1 can=250g tuna or salmon
3 eggs
2 cups honey graham crumbs
350degF, 25 mins

I don't think anyone would make you feel bad if you felt like you couldn't keep her though. It might be worth finding a home closer to her fosters if she was fine there. I think you could go either way depending on what you decide, and either would be fine.
 

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Look at a site called fearfuldogs.com for how to counter condition her to what she fears. Kikopup also has many videos that would help you learn how to help her overcome her fear of your husband.

As for her not being a good watchdog, you have found out what many people discover when they adopt a shelter dog. If their background is unknown, their personality is something that will only be discovered with time. How a dog acts in a foster home isn't always indicative of how they will act in the adopter's home.

I'd try the counter conditioning before you decided to return her. If you can consult a behaviorist to get you started on the counter conditioning process.

Never have your husband try to hand her a treat. He can toss a treat behind her but never toss it at her. Asking a fearful dog to come close enough to take a treat is putting the dog under even more stress. Have him stand or sit sideways to her and to not speak or make eye contact with her. He should be at least six feet away when he tosses a treat behind her.

I hope you can work with her on her fears. Fearful dogs have much less chance of finding a home and though she may not be the dog you wanted, she may be the dog that teaches you the most. Good luck.
 

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Sorry to hear things aren't going well. I can tell you really care about dogs and want the best for her. I've fostered quite a few dogs, and some of them had mild fear issues with my husband (not as bad as your dog though). One thing that helps is to have my husband do all the things the dog loves - or at least as much as possible based on his schedule.

For example, he will take on the job of feeding the dog. He will also hold the dog's leash when we go for walks and eventually walk the dog without me. Since most dogs love to walk, this is one way to help the two of them establish a stronger relationship. Maybe that's something your husband could try.

What does your dog love more than anything? Training? Pieces of chicken? Maybe your husband could use that to his advantage. A co-worker of mine also suggested that he could take the dog to an obedience class to help build their relationship and trust. I think that's a wonderful idea. Perhaps you could go along too for the first few sessions to help the dog feel more comfortable.

Keep us posted, and I wish you and Jessie the best!
 

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That is really tough, I don't think anyone would blame you if you contacted the rescue about returning her. But I have this crazy idea that what she needs is a calm dog to "show" her how to act, and that your husband is good people. Is there any way you could borrow your mother's dog? Do the two dogs get along well? Or if she lives close, could you all walk the dogs together? Anything is worth a try at this point, I bet she has it in her to be a happier, calmer dog.
 
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