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I need help.

I adopted a dog from a rescue 3 weeks ago. She was a stray for what appears to be her whole life (1-2 years) and was trapped by the Humane Society after being spotted eating trash, etc. VERY thin in intake pics. She was kept at the shelter for awhile, and then scheduled to be put to sleep. She was/is so fearful no one wanted her. A rescue went and got her, and had her for 2 days, sent her to be spayed and then the day after I picked her up. She is a whippet/pit something or another. Was 18 lbs. and now up to 25. :thumbsup: Obviously, I know the excessive fear will take time to pass but def not going to happen in the "30 days adjustment period" the rescue said. I know that she may always be skittish and such, and while that makes me sad, I am committed to her. I just need advice, especially if you have had a fearful dog. Here is her standard day:

- let out of crate at 6 am, will now walk out of crate on own unassisted (new positive behavior!) but then lay down right away and not move. I need to pick her up and leash her and she will walk out the door (unassisted after the first week) and pee/poop and stretch, roll around, wag tail a little (new positive behavior!) and walk increasingly well on the leash. As soon as she sees we are headed back to the house, she will lock down and not move. No treats will move her ... not even a bit of raw meat. I pick her up and carry her in.

- I have food and water waiting that I prepare before I let her out of crate, otherwise she will run directly upstairs to her "hiding place" (my bed) so I place that in her path and she instinctively will eat and drink -albeit super speed- all of it, and then run up the stairs to my bed.

-I leave her out while I go to the gym and get my kids to school and, so far, for the past 3 weeks she has been still on my bed when I get back. I let her out again for a walk (this is around 9 am) before I go to work. Repeat same behavior from 6 am walk. Give her a treat in her crate (bully stick, etc) and leave for work.

-Repeat same walking/feeding steps in the pm. If she is not outside or eating she is on my bed or in her crate. :( At night I lay in bed with her and talk to her while I read, my daughter (8) will sit with her and she will even let her prop her legs on her side while she does her homework. She is at total peace (no shaking, tail tucked, crouching low) that we saw 3 weeks ago when we sit on the bed with her. So, obviously, she likes to be around us to an extent. When I bring her downstairs she will shake and will sit with us on the couch, but the second I get up and/or one of us removes our hand from her side she will run upstairs.

If you made it this far, thank you.

Any advice would be welcome.
 

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You're probably right and this won't be a 30 day project. The best advice I can give is to join the Fearful Dogs Facebook group run by Debbie Jacobs. There is also a website of the same name. Fearfuldogs.com

Keep her feeling safe. Good luck.
 

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I adopted a dog a over a month ago who also was people shy. Now mine was never to the extent that it sounds yours is. Mine never had negative experience with people she just had practically no interaction experience with people (or experience being inside a house), so she was definitely anxious and very nervous but not TERRIFIED (except the first two days, she just mentally shut down and wouldn't leave her crate).

After 3 days she quickly identified her safe-spot as being on the rug of our raised living room, this is her "home base" that she always retreats to as soon as she is nervous or uncertain. We started by tossing treats to her in her safe zone, then on the edge of her safe zone, then slightly outside. Toss treat then walk away (so that your presence isn't creating pressure). We'd toss the treat further and further afield. This got her to the point that she began to explore a bit outside the safe-zone on her own (and after a week or so the whole apartment - with frequent returns to the safe zone).

Then we got her accustomed to us walking around and being near her just outside her safety zone (slowly decreasing the distance between us and the treat so she had to be closer to us to get it). Luckily our girl was never aggressive and we could always leash her and handle her safely, but she was very stressed during those interactions (wouldn't even eat a treat)-- this approach got her to the point that she was around us and (later) being handled by us without the stress. The first 2 weeks was spent with the above approach.

Yours sounds considerably more shut down then ours was. You need to know your dog and what approaches work for her, but you may want to consider leashing her either to yourself whenever your home or if you're in a different room have her tied up on a long-ish leash so that she can't escape back to her safe zone but she has room to move around/not feel trapped/explore (once comfortable). Toss treats to her and then give her space, toss the treat further from her (so that she has to stretch for it, then move a little toward it, then take 2-3 steps to it, etc). This is essentially flooding her to the new area (throwing her into the new place then trying to build positive enough experiences that she gains confidence in that place) -- some dogs will not be able to handle it and will regress, others can respond positively. My dog is definitely one who under controlled flooding will typically realize within a short period "oh...this actually isn't so bad" and then makes substantial progress. If your dog has had negative experiences, this approach may not work as it's not "I don't know what this situation is and I'm nervous", but instead "I've been here and it's BAD".

Also if your dog likes other dogs (many street dogs do), then setting up play dates with other dogs can be huge. I knew my dog interacted well with other dogs (i'd seen her at the shelter happily playing) but once with us she was so scared of EVERYTHING that she was also terrified of other dogs. I spent the first week of our walks getting her to interact with every CALM & friendly dog that I could think of to get her back to socializing normally with dogs and you could visibly see her gaining confidence after a positive interaction with a dog. Again, emphasizing calm (canine senior citizens are great for this). She would be a lot braver & more confident with me right after greeting another dog. So I used that to my advantage as much as possible (lots of frequent walks & dog-meetings during the day to constantly "re-boost" her confidence levels since inside the house was definitely the scary place).


Good luck! She will probably always remain a skittish dog that needs to be carefully watched and her stress levels managed, but watching my dog make progress and gain confidence has been AMAZING. It is so rewarding when you do see these little achievements. The first time my dog engaged in play with me I nearly cried from happiness since she'd been terrified of me just weeks before.
 

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I adopted a dog a over a month ago who also was people shy. Now mine was never to the extent that it sounds yours is. Mine never had negative experience with people she just had practically no interaction experience with people (or experience being inside a house), so she was definitely anxious and very nervous but not TERRIFIED (except the first two days, she just mentally shut down and wouldn't leave her crate).

After 3 days she quickly identified her safe-spot as being on the rug of our raised living room, this is her "home base" that she always retreats to as soon as she is nervous or uncertain. We started by tossing treats to her in her safe zone, then on the edge of her safe zone, then slightly outside. Toss treat then walk away (so that your presence isn't creating pressure). We'd toss the treat further and further afield. This got her to the point that she began to explore a bit outside the safe-zone on her own (and after a week or so the whole apartment - with frequent returns to the safe zone).

Then we got her accustomed to us walking around and being near her just outside her safety zone (slowly decreasing the distance between us and the treat so she had to be closer to us to get it). Luckily our girl was never aggressive and we could always leash her and handle her safely, but she was very stressed during those interactions (wouldn't even eat a treat)-- this approach got her to the point that she was around us and (later) being handled by us without the stress. The first 2 weeks was spent with the above approach.

Yours sounds considerably more shut down then ours was. You need to know your dog and what approaches work for her, but you may want to consider leashing her either to yourself whenever your home or if you're in a different room have her tied up on a long-ish leash so that she can't escape back to her safe zone but she has room to move around/not feel trapped/explore (once comfortable). Toss treats to her and then give her space, toss the treat further from her (so that she has to stretch for it, then move a little toward it, then take 2-3 steps to it, etc). This is essentially flooding her to the new area (throwing her into the new place then trying to build positive enough experiences that she gains confidence in that place) -- some dogs will not be able to handle it and will regress, others can respond positively. My dog is definitely one who under controlled flooding will typically realize within a short period "oh...this actually isn't so bad" and then makes substantial progress. If your dog has had negative experiences, this approach may not work as it's not "I don't know what this situation is and I'm nervous", but instead "I've been here and it's BAD".

Also if your dog likes other dogs (many street dogs do), then setting up play dates with other dogs can be huge. I knew my dog interacted well with other dogs (i'd seen her at the shelter happily playing) but once with us she was so scared of EVERYTHING that she was also terrified of other dogs. I spent the first week of our walks getting her to interact with every CALM & friendly dog that I could think of to get her back to socializing normally with dogs and you could visibly see her gaining confidence after a positive interaction with a dog. Again, emphasizing calm (canine senior citizens are great for this). She would be a lot braver & more confident with me right after greeting another dog. So I used that to my advantage as much as possible (lots of frequent walks & dog-meetings during the day to constantly "re-boost" her confidence levels since inside the house was definitely the scary place).


Good luck! She will probably always remain a skittish dog that needs to be carefully watched and her stress levels managed, but watching my dog make progress and gain confidence has been AMAZING. It is so rewarding when you do see these little achievements. The first time my dog engaged in play with me I nearly cried from happiness since she'd been terrified of me just weeks before.
Thank you!

OMG, last night she was on my bed and I was just petting her with one hand and reading with the other - like every night before I crate her. She is very relaxed at this time for the most part. Last night I tried to start playfully kinda "booping" her nose (if that makes sense) and she did this kind of happy, not nervous yawn complete with a dramatic squeal at the end and then like slammed her front paws down on the bed like in a super playful manner. I can't think of any other way to describe it lol but it was AWESOME.
 

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That's a huge positive behavior!! :thumbsup: Great progress! That's definitely the beginnings of her saying "I trust you"!

Don't be scared to push her outside her boundaries, but just make sure that you're moving at her pace. Wait until the "scary" thing has become normalized before making the next incremental step.

I was lucky that my dog moved quite quickly, but she would definitely have (and still has her) off days. Don't be disheartened by them and celebrate all the small victories that she achieves. Although my celebrations were veeeery subdued in the beginning as anything more then a half-whispered "good girl" just sent my girl running to her safe zone. She now embraces the baby-talk "good girl" and lots of pats and face-shmooshes, I just read her body language as what an acceptable level of excitement is from me given her comfort in the situation.
 

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I need help.

I adopted a dog from a rescue 3 weeks ago. She was a stray for what appears to be her whole life (1-2 years) and was trapped by the Humane Society after being spotted eating trash, etc. VERY thin in intake pics. She was kept at the shelter for awhile, and then scheduled to be put to sleep. She was/is so fearful no one wanted her. A rescue went and got her, and had her for 2 days, sent her to be spayed and then the day after I picked her up. She is a whippet/pit something or another. Was 18 lbs. and now up to 25. :thumbsup: Obviously, I know the excessive fear will take time to pass but def not going to happen in the "30 days adjustment period" the rescue said. I know that she may always be skittish and such, and while that makes me sad, I am committed to her. I just need advice, especially if you have had a fearful dog. Here is her standard day:

- let out of crate at 6 am, will now walk out of crate on own unassisted (new positive behavior!) but then lay down right away and not move. I need to pick her up and leash her and she will walk out the door (unassisted after the first week) and pee/poop and stretch, roll around, wag tail a little (new positive behavior!) and walk increasingly well on the leash. As soon as she sees we are headed back to the house, she will lock down and not move. No treats will move her ... not even a bit of raw meat. I pick her up and carry her in.

- I have food and water waiting that I prepare before I let her out of crate, otherwise she will run directly upstairs to her "hiding place" (my bed) so I place that in her path and she instinctively will eat and drink -albeit super speed- all of it, and then run up the stairs to my bed.

-I leave her out while I go to the gym and get my kids to school and, so far, for the past 3 weeks she has been still on my bed when I get back. I let her out again for a walk (this is around 9 am) before I go to work. Repeat same behavior from 6 am walk. Give her a treat in her crate (bully stick, etc) and leave for work.

-Repeat same walking/feeding steps in the pm. If she is not outside or eating she is on my bed or in her crate. :( At night I lay in bed with her and talk to her while I read, my daughter (8) will sit with her and she will even let her prop her legs on her side while she does her homework. She is at total peace (no shaking, tail tucked, crouching low) that we saw 3 weeks ago when we sit on the bed with her. So, obviously, she likes to be around us to an extent. When I bring her downstairs she will shake and will sit with us on the couch, but the second I get up and/or one of us removes our hand from her side she will run upstairs.

If you made it this far, thank you.

Any advice would be welcome.
This sounds a lot like Trucker when I first got him, but after a little over 2 months he is not the same dog at all. The biggest thing I can tell you is don’t put a time table on it and try not to “feel” (give her the sorry eyes) sorry for her. She needs you to feel confident for her to know she will be okay and you will take care of her because right now she is scared and whatever you are feel and expressing in your face when you look at her she will cue off of.

Trucker is my first dog so take my advice with a grain of salt but this is how I got him to where he is today:

- For the first couple weeks I would close all bedroom doors so that he could not hide under the bed. Sometimes dogs that are “semi-feral” can be overwhelmed by space when they are brought how so keeping them in a smaller area can be helpful to them when trying to allow them to gain confidence.
- From the time I let him out of his crate he was leashed which gave him the sense that mom was in control. I would try to keep her on a “house leash” to give her the sense that someone is in control (no need for her to think she has to be the leader) at all time.
- Trucker would “hoard” his toys under the bed, don’t let this happen. Go under there and bring them out into the same room as the rest of the family. Even if she puts them right back, it may become a game (it did with Trucker) but at least she is playing.
- For the door thing, Trucker couldn’t do it either. I got some great trainer advice on this on, when she freezes turn towards her and just walk around talking to her in the yard fed her some treats. Maybe add a slight jog and gradually turn back towards the door don’t change anything, not your tone of voice, your body language, your treat giving, keep her focused on you and just go through the door like nothing happened, if she freezes try it all again. Also, if there is another door to go in or out of potentially try that one first. Trucker had an easier time with our side gate then the front door.
- I also started teaching “Sit”, “Come” and “Wait”/”Go” commands to Trucker while we were in his most comfortable area, other than under the bed. “Come” came easiest to him and he knew that meant I would lean down and side hug him and make him feel safe. “Sit” and “Wait”/”Go” where harder for him but once he got the gang of them he thought he had me trained to feed him if he Sat till I told him to Go.

My dog is still the same petrified dog he was outside of my house but inside he has made some terrific progress, I learned quickly for the initial stuff following my instincts on seemed to put my dog on the right path. Having a dog with “past baggage” is a long road but I defiantly wouldn’t have chosen any other dog and I am so glad you picked your baby.
 

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Thank you!

OMG, last night she was on my bed and I was just petting her with one hand and reading with the other - like every night before I crate her. She is very relaxed at this time for the most part. Last night I tried to start playfully kinda "booping" her nose (if that makes sense) and she did this kind of happy, not nervous yawn complete with a dramatic squeal at the end and then like slammed her front paws down on the bed like in a super playful manner. I can't think of any other way to describe it lol but it was AWESOME.
Trucker does that, just hopeful it doesn't turn into inappropriate puppy play. Trucker has a hard time understanding the difference now between how you play with dogs and how you play with humans. I love the excited play grin and play bows he gives me but when they get flowed by him being "mouthy" I don't find it as cute.

P.S. you will have lots of ups and downs but the best advice anyone has given me is start a journal NOW because when you look back in a year (and she is annoying you for some silly thing) you are going to want to know how far you came to even get to that point that she is doing that silly thing to annoy you :)
 
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