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My wife and I live a high rise apartment in busy part of downtown. About a month ago, we adopted a super sweet dog but are stressing out quite a bit (because we are worried about her). The shelter thinks she's a Catahula hound, somewhere around 3-4 years old, 45 lbs.

At home, she's totally relaxed. She plays with us, snuggles with us on the couch, rarely barks, doesn't chew or destroy any of our stuff, rarely has accidents. Basically she's the perfect dog.

We have a routine of taking her out for walks or to go to the bathroom 4 times a day. For the first three weeks, she was sometimes hesitant on the street, but overall did very well. But within the last week she's developed a total fear/aversion for the outside world.

Initially, she dropped to the ground in the lobby of our building, tail between her legs, but could be coaxed (think: treats, peanut butter, encouragement) to continue outside. Then it was dropping as the elevator doors opened to the lobby, but again could be coaxed. Now she drops in the elevator and won't move a muscle once the elevator doors open to the lobby and I have to carry her outside. This sequence only happens when my wife or I try to take her out individually. When we are together, we can her to make it outside without her dropping. This may be related to the fact that the two of us took her to a big open park the last two days which she clearly enjoyed.

We both love our dog so much and just feel HORRIBLE that we have to expose her to a fearful (I think?) situation multiple times a day just so she can go to the bathroom. Any advice or help would be appreciated.

Am I making things worse by carrying her across the lobby? Is it enabling her dropping-behavior somehow?

Is taking her outside so often and exposing her to the loud street making things worse?

Is there anything we can do to help her?

Thanks
 

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Do you have a balcony? If it's practical you could have a dog toilet with artificial grass and a tray or large puppy pad so you don't have to go out so often.

Stress builds up , if she is better and more confident with both of you taking her out then do that if you can.

It might be worth consulting a veterinary behaviourist for advice on the best way to handle this problem.


How far is the park from you home?
 

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If you have the option you could build her a very large 'catbox', or pick up a very small kiddie wading pool for the same purpose. Small dogs are trainable this way, there's no reason you can't with a big dog too, and teach her to go in it. If you give it a go, I strongly reccomend the sort of cat litter that's basically pine pellets, it'll definitely help on smell and won't track around the way actual cat litter does.
 

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Hard to tell what might be going through her mind, or triggering the fearful behavior. A month is not really a long time, and my guess would be as she becomes more comfortable with you and your wife, she will divert her attention to other things, perhaps a bad experience in her past. You might consider haveing a well qualified trainer come to your home and work with all of you for a period of time. The right trainer/behaviorist can work miracles and teach you and your wife how to better deal with her fears.
 

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Am I making things worse by carrying her across the lobby? Is it enabling her dropping-behavior somehow?

Is taking her outside so often and exposing her to the loud street making things worse?

Is there anything we can do to help her?

Thanks
I agree with @dibbythedog that stress builds. So every time she reacts to a trigger quicker and with more veracity. It takes 2 to 7 days for the stress hormone to fully dissipate. Giving he a Kong or a bone as soon as you get back will help this happen quicker as the act of chewing helps to counter act the stress hormones.

Please do not think of it as "Enabling" her behavior. Fear is not a preplanned behavior. She is "Reacting" to something and if she is so fearful that she is to the "freeze" state than carrying her isn't making a lick of a difference.

Does she release for her "freeze" once out of the lobby? Or do you carry her all the way to the park? I would say if the noise was bothering her you would know, but if she visibly relaxes once out of the lobby then something in the lobby is the trigger.

Make sure you read up on dog body language and calming signals it will help you understand more of what is going on in her head.
 

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My shelter dog used to be extremely fearful as well. She was shut down and expressed her anal glands a few times in the first month we had her. She was deathly afraid of stairs (and we live on the second floor of the apartment). So we just carried her up and down the stairs every day. Additionally, she was too physically weak to climb them with confidence.

We worked on odd surfaces, easier stairs outside with her so that she could get more confident about placing her feet. We went to the college at low-traffic hours and found wide stairs to practice on. If she wanted to, she could choose to step off of them. Within a few days, she was climbing those steps like a pro.

After a week, she was a bit stronger, so we switched to more narrow/steep stairs. Within minutes, she was climbing those. And then we went back to our apartment. She was tentative at first, but then she remembered the fun stairs game and sprinted up the stairs.

For the longest time, walking her was managing her fears and stress, so we didn't work on LLW until last month (we got her in August).

Here is a walk: https://youtu.be/EMc-RVIg-A4

It really helps when the dog knows you will listen to them when they are afraid. When she is overly stressed and asks for distance, I move away from the trigger. I recommend working with a trainer experienced with fearful dogs. They will help the most.

I am a trainer, but I'm joining group classes once Pip is ready to expose her to dog-savvy people and more environments to build her confidence up.
 
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