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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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