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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I adopted a 2 year old mix a couple months ago. She was confiscated from her original home due to abuse and neglect.

I have no idea on her breed. The paperwork said parson russell terrier mix, but she doesn't look much of anything like them, in my opinion.



Anyways, she's a nervous nelly in general and when I first got her she wouldn't even let me get close enough to pet her inside the house.

Now, however, she's doing much better and follows me around the house for the most part, and absolutely loves going for walks.

The issue is that when we are inside she won't come when she's called. She has 3 exact spots she likes to lay down inside and there are no in betweens. If I'm at the computer she will lay under the desk, if I'm in bed she lays in bed with me, and if I sit on the couch she lays on the couch with me.

If she's laying under the desk, for example, and I stand in the middle of the living room and crouch down and call her over (she definitely knows what I'm asking), she breaks eye contact and doesn't come, and then if I ask a couple times she starts to shake.

The main thing I've been trying to teach her is hand targeting. She is good at it, but I don't get any hard nudges from her and I've been doing it for a while. I'll hold out my right hand and say "touch." She will tap her nose into my hand or give it a lick and then she immediately looks to my other hand for her treat. (Note: she won't get up to touch, it has to be within range of her reach while laying down)

She's also getting somewhat good at "sit."

That's the extent of the training I've been able to do so far.

Any tips? :)

Also, she is not aggressive at all. It's strictly a submissive fear personality.

Thank you!
 

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Now, however, she's doing much better and follows me around the house for the most part, and absolutely loves going for walks.
You have managed some awesome progress with her in only a few months! If she was a victim of abuse, she may just need a little more time than an average dog to build additional trust, but it looks like she loves you.
 

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You have managed some awesome progress with her in only a few months! If she was a victim of abuse, she may just need a little more time than an average dog to build additional trust, but it looks like she loves you.

Thank you :)

I'm trying my best but also wanna make sure I don't try something that's going to take me a step backwards.
 

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It sounds like she may have some poisoned cues. It seems like "come" might have been called a few times, and when she didn't come she got heavily punished. Have you tried using a different word?
 

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Does your dog have a kennel? 4 walls and a roof, a place a dog can go and be left alone sometimes works wonders. Don't lock her in, don't close the door. I've taken the door off some kennels so there's no negative associations if the door accidentally closes. When a dog is in a "safe zone", the rule is to leave them alone - but there's no harm in sitting beside the kennel holding an object that you want to acclimate the dog to.

Your dog is living in negative right now, that's her comfort zone. How can you give the dog some positive to pull her out of that zone? It's going to take baby steps if she's been in an abused situation - and sometimes they need a gentle push.
 

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Here's the link to Kikopup's youtube channel https://www.youtube.com/user/kikopup/videos She's an awesome dog trainer and has lots of free videos that explain how to train different cues.

If she's looking to your hand for the treat I'd try hiding the treat in a pocket, treat pouch, or small container on the table or some other piece of furniture. If your not already doing so, try clicker or marker word training, whichever you think she'd do best with. You start the same with both of them, click your clicker or say your word and as soon as you say it give her a bit of a high value treat, do it around 10x in a row till she associates the sound with the treat. Then tell her a cue she knows, like touch. When she obeys say your word or click right when she does it then and give her the treat. She'll learn that her actions cause you to click and give her the treat. The advantage is that it allows you to let her know exactly when she's gotten something right, and buys you time to get her the treat so you don't have to hold it in your hand.

It sounds like your off to a great start with her. For her being scared of you when you call her I agree that it may be a case of someone calling her to them then beating her when she failed to come. Try starting slow with her, and maybe not use come or here but some other word, maybe Ven which is Spanish for come. Start close to her, and use a high value treat as a lure so that she learns that coming to you makes something great happens. As you increase the distance, and she gets good at it, get rid of the lure since you do not want a dog that only comes when she knows you have something, you can switch to a clicker or word to let her know she got it right. If she does not come don't worry about it, just ignore her, give her a break, and try again later but shorten the distance to her.
 

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Take off the kid gloves, it's time to rock the dogs world.

I'm sure at this point, jaws are agape and people are ready to furiously type a reply - but bear with me - it's not negative.

You can't possibly fathom what happened to that dog to put her where she is today. Possibly it's the abuse, possibly the neglect or a combo of both. You can't possibly know all of her triggers that would shut her down - but right now she's in her comfort zone of fear, unsurety, whatever. I personally can't live in the negative, nor can I imagine what it's like for a dog to live that way. She's already in the negative - now how to you turn that around? Your dog doesn't understand human language - they are sensory - visual, smell, sound etc.

She needs a mentor dog - only a dog is going to be fully capable of helping her out of her limitations and back into the living world. Forget about training for now - You'll end up working on one behavior at a time for months and months. We've taken in so many strays over the years, turned them around and they became loving family pets - I used to use a balanced happy dog to affect the negative. Dogs like yours need something positive to follow. Something that they won't be scared of - another dog.

I'm not suggesting getting another dog, that would likely be disastrous - but do you have a friend that has a balanced dog that's calm, confident etc? A dog that you can take for hours at a time. You're not looking to flood your dog with another dog, you don't want another dog up in her face. What you're looking to do is to let your dog visualize what this mentor dog is getting in return for being happy and positive. Have the mentor on the couch in your lap, pet the dog, make calm soothing sounds, give the mentor a treat. I guarantee your dog is going to be very aware of what's going on - even though they may not look like they are paying attention.

A leash is very sensory to a dog - it's where you are directly tied to your dog. What i've done in the past is leash the mentor to me - and leash the fearful dog to the mentor with 10 feet of leash. What you're looking to effect is the mentor is leading your dog - not you. Your dog is now tied to a wonderful energy of the mentor and it will follow. I guarantee you, done right - it works.


I've worked with many mentally handicapped children over the years, always found the most interesting kids were the ones with autism. Very intelligent in their own way, but these children tend to live within limits that they have created. Many parents nurture those limits knowing that any change can create chaos. These kids shouldn't have limits - nor should they be allowed to live within those limits. They need to be taken out of their comfort zones and shown the different possibilities - experience different things. Dogs are no different - your dog has created it's own limits due to environmental of neglect and abuse.

If you really want to rock your own world and explore animal phychology and behaviors - get on youtube and have a listen to Temple Grandin. She is the most successful autistic woman known - she has a PhD, and she attributes her success to the people that were willing to give her a push, remove her limits, show her the world outside of her own little world. Temple had to learn in her own way - it wasn't easy. She speaks of "bottom up" dog training where the rest of us do a "top down" - and it makes a whole lot of sense. But not just dogs, it's horses, cattle - any animal really.
 

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Thank you everyone!

Take off the kid gloves, it's time to rock the dogs world.

I'm sure at this point, jaws are agape and people are ready to furiously type a reply - but bear with me - it's not negative.

You can't possibly fathom what happened to that dog to put her where she is today. Possibly it's the abuse, possibly the neglect or a combo of both. You can't possibly know all of her triggers that would shut her down - but right now she's in her comfort zone of fear, unsurety, whatever. I personally can't live in the negative, nor can I imagine what it's like for a dog to live that way. She's already in the negative - now how to you turn that around? Your dog doesn't understand human language - they are sensory - visual, smell, sound etc.

She needs a mentor dog - only a dog is going to be fully capable of helping her out of her limitations and back into the living world. Forget about training for now - You'll end up working on one behavior at a time for months and months. We've taken in so many strays over the years, turned them around and they became loving family pets - I used to use a balanced happy dog to affect the negative. Dogs like yours need something positive to follow. Something that they won't be scared of - another dog.

I'm not suggesting getting another dog, that would likely be disastrous - but do you have a friend that has a balanced dog that's calm, confident etc? A dog that you can take for hours at a time. You're not looking to flood your dog with another dog, you don't want another dog up in her face. What you're looking to do is to let your dog visualize what this mentor dog is getting in return for being happy and positive. Have the mentor on the couch in your lap, pet the dog, make calm soothing sounds, give the mentor a treat. I guarantee your dog is going to be very aware of what's going on - even though they may not look like they are paying attention.

A leash is very sensory to a dog - it's where you are directly tied to your dog. What i've done in the past is leash the mentor to me - and leash the fearful dog to the mentor with 10 feet of leash. What you're looking to effect is the mentor is leading your dog - not you. Your dog is now tied to a wonderful energy of the mentor and it will follow. I guarantee you, done right - it works.


I've worked with many mentally handicapped children over the years, always found the most interesting kids were the ones with autism. Very intelligent in their own way, but these children tend to live within limits that they have created. Many parents nurture those limits knowing that any change can create chaos. These kids shouldn't have limits - nor should they be allowed to live within those limits. They need to be taken out of their comfort zones and shown the different possibilities - experience different things. Dogs are no different - your dog has created it's own limits due to environmental of neglect and abuse.

If you really want to rock your own world and explore animal phychology and behaviors - get on youtube and have a listen to Temple Grandin. She is the most successful autistic woman known - she has a PhD, and she attributes her success to the people that were willing to give her a push, remove her limits, show her the world outside of her own little world. Temple had to learn in her own way - it wasn't easy. She speaks of "bottom up" dog training where the rest of us do a "top down" - and it makes a whole lot of sense. But not just dogs, it's horses, cattle - any animal really.
You are spot on. The first time she met my friend's dog, she basically fell in love with him, which amazed me because the Humane Society told me she wasn't good around other dogs.

They are best buds:



He's the happiest little guy and listens very well, so he's been an awesome mentor. Mara (my dog) copied everything Jack did. It was the first time she wagged her tail in the 10 days I had her, and she started lifting her leg to pee even. It was hilarious.. she was just learning how to be a dog from him. The funniest is that Jack would lay between my legs and Mara tried doing the same thing but she ended up just laying on my shins all clunky-like, which was certainly uncomfortable for her, but she probably just wanted to be like Jack.

I've had him stay over for 10 days once while my friend was on vacation and she is definitely a lot more at ease when he is around. I've been considering getting another dog as a buddy (a more outgoing fella like Jack) to help her out once I get back from my next vacation.

Because you're right, it's going to take a long time to teach her just basic things, which is kind of impractical.

If I don't get my own dog, I'll ask to borrow Jack more often!

Thanks!
 

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Thank you everyone!He's the happiest little guy and listens very well, so he's been an awesome mentor. Mara (my dog) copied everything Jack did. It was the first time she wagged her tail in the 10 days I had her, and she started lifting her leg to pee even. It was hilarious.. she was just learning how to be a dog from him. The funniest is that Jack would lay between my legs and Mara tried doing the same thing but she ended up just laying on my shins all clunky-like, which was certainly uncomfortable for her, but she probably just wanted to be like Jack.

I've had him stay over for 10 days once while my friend was on vacation and she is definitely a lot more at ease when he is around. I've been considering getting another dog as a buddy (a more outgoing fella like Jack) to help her out once I get back from my next vacation.

Because you're right, it's going to take a long time to teach her just basic things, which is kind of impractical.

If I don't get my own dog, I'll ask to borrow Jack more often!

Thanks!
Excellent, Jack sounds like an awesome mentor for your pup. It sounds like Mara really wants to learn - if she's trying to lift her leg. That's so cute.

Bear in mind, coming out of the situation she was in - she may not know that she is a dog - just doesn't know how to be a dog. Only a dog can teach that - and those 10 days she had with were likely the best thing for her. Once she learns to be a dog, what it means to be a dog - you're going to see a completely different dog. She just need to learn to trust - sounds like she trusts Jack. Jack can bring her to trust you and others - as well as the world around her. That's the best starting point you can ask for.

Keep us updated :) I want to hear more as your pup evolves.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Excellent, Jack sounds like an awesome mentor for your pup. It sounds like Mara really wants to learn - if she's trying to lift her leg. That's so cute.

Bear in mind, coming out of the situation she was in - she may not know that she is a dog - just doesn't know how to be a dog. Only a dog can teach that - and those 10 days she had with were likely the best thing for her. Once she learns to be a dog, what it means to be a dog - you're going to see a completely different dog. She just need to learn to trust - sounds like she trusts Jack. Jack can bring her to trust you and others - as well as the world around her. That's the best starting point you can ask for.

Keep us updated :) I want to hear more as your pup evolves.
Hey Jagger!

I got your PM but couldn't send one back because I don't have enough posts, so I thought I would just update here.

Mara has gotten a lot better over the past few months. She still has her quirks of course, but she now fully trusts me and is always walking around confident with her tail up and head high.

She has spent a good couple weeks with Jack in this time, and she also just stayed over at my Grandparent's house for 4 days while I was on vacation. They have 3 small dogs and a cat and they all got along great.

She is still shy with strangers, but nowhere near as shy as when I first got her. She lets people pet her no problem, but her body language is pretty nervous/apprehensive when they do.

Overall she's becoming a really great dog. She hasn't been causing trouble while I've been out of the house like she used to. She just waits on the couch by the door for me to come home now, and now that it's no longer 110+ degree days in Phoenix, she loves to lay out in her bed on the balcony to soak up the sun.

I'm sure she will get even better with more time.

Here are a couple pics of her with Jack. Aside from teaching her how to be more confident, he's also teaching her how to be a lazy bum :D





Thanks for checking in!
 

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I'm sitting on the deck with a coffee in hand and a tear in my eye. Simply amazing to see her come so far so fast. Congrats!

Please post back once in a while with updates? Does my fat old heart good.
 

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I'm sitting on the deck with a coffee in hand and a tear in my eye. Simply amazing to see her come so far so fast. Congrats!

Please post back once in a while with updates? Does my fat old heart good.
I'll make a point of it just for you :)

I set a reminder on my phone for Feb 1st, so I'll be back to update then at the latest.

Thanks again for your help and for caring about her progress :)
 

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Keep us updated :) I want to hear more as your pup evolves.
Hi jagger :)

Back for an update!

Mara has been doing great. She's still pretty shy around strangers, but there has definitely been improvement. If I see her backing away from a stranger trying to pet her, I'll tell her to sit, and she will. Then she will stay and let the person pet her with no problem.

She's very calm and well-behaved. The only problem I have is sometimes when I'm gone for a while she will jump on the counter and take some random item and leave it in the living room, so I'll have to see what I can do about that.

I haven't been able to teach her other tricks because she's weird with treats. When I come back inside from a walk with her, I'll ask if she wants a treat. She will go under the kitchen table, and then when she hears the crinkle from the bag of treats she runs into the bedroom. She'll happily take the treat if I go in there and give it to her, but she won't take it from me in the kitchen. I don't give her the treats if she runs into the bedroom though because I don't want to reward her for that.

I would have liked to teach her to give paw, but I've kind of accepted that she's got too many nervous quirks and it feels like I go backwards with her trust if I try too much.

If Jack knew how to give paw, I'd try to teach her when he's around, but he doesn't.

But like I said, she's really a great dog and she LOVES going for walks. I take her on at least 3 15-minute walks every day and one thing I've noticed is her confidence just walking around outside has gone way up. She sniffs around a lot more without seeming like she's watching out for danger all the time. She also doesn't care about other people walking by her. In fact, sometimes I have to pull her to get out of someone's path otherwise she'll walk right at them.

She also loves going to lunch with me and my dad every Friday to just chill and lay in the sun on the outdoor patios. I love Phoenix because so many places encourage you to bring your pets.

With other dogs, she's pretty timid. She'll sniff them for a bit and then be done with it. I haven't seen her get aggressive at all when obnoxious dogs get in her face. One younger pup was climbing on her back and she just stood there like "uhhh, what are you doing?"

So yeah, that's about it :)

Here's a pic from Christmas

 

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It sounds like y'all are doing great and your girl has come a long way! I'm so happy for y'all.

I may be able to help with giving paw. I'd try teaching her paw targeting and use that to jump to her giving you her paw. Here's a link to instructions on how to teach it, I'd just reward her for pawing at your hand rather then nudging it with her nose.
 

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@jakeeck, I haven't been here in a long time, got notification of your post and couldn't resist.

I am so glad to hear she's doing so well, she is beautiful. She could just well be enjoying life at the moment and really not interested in doing tricks and such. Not every dog is into that. But keep working with her, she'll likely come around. She's come so far already.

When I got Monty, I had a certain level of expectation of a 5 year old dog that was set in his ways. Didn't know what to expect, but I set the bar to what I would be happy with - and able to live with. He's cleared that bar and then some, really amazed me at how far he's come. He loves to be out and about, loves people, great with dogs of all sizes and struts into any new environment like he owns the place. I don't expect him to do tricks and such, and I really don't practise anything with him. Others' get him to do tricks and he'll roll over, give paw, sit, down. It's fun watching him get silly with people, especially with children. I love my dog, and just expect him to be... He's my buddy.
 

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@jakeeck, I haven't been here in a long time, got notification of your post and couldn't resist.

I am so glad to hear she's doing so well, she is beautiful. She could just well be enjoying life at the moment and really not interested in doing tricks and such. Not every dog is into that. But keep working with her, she'll likely come around. She's come so far already.

When I got Monty, I had a certain level of expectation of a 5 year old dog that was set in his ways. Didn't know what to expect, but I set the bar to what I would be happy with - and able to live with. He's cleared that bar and then some, really amazed me at how far he's come. He loves to be out and about, loves people, great with dogs of all sizes and struts into any new environment like he owns the place. I don't expect him to do tricks and such, and I really don't practise anything with him. Others' get him to do tricks and he'll roll over, give paw, sit, down. It's fun watching him get silly with people, especially with children. I love my dog, and just expect him to be... He's my buddy.
Glad to hear your dog is doing that well :)

I'm sure mine will come around too!

I'll keep ya posted periodically.. hope all is well!
 
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