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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all

Im new to the forum but have had dogs all my life but this little fella is a bit of a challenge

background.
Hes a rescue dog who lost one of his front legs at 5 weeks old but due to his poor diet he has very little muscle in his remaining front leg and walks with a real stoop and costantly faceplants the floor.
he is very nervous with new people and freezes when he meets them which means that if i take him out for a walk i often end up carrying him because he will refuse to move unless i have the kids with me then he walks happily to keep up with his pack.
hes around 5 months although his parentage is unknown he looks like a shepherd cross. he is a very very gentle boy, loves kids and other dogs but is terrified of new people especially men (im a single mum so hes not getting much contact with them apart from on our short walks)
so i have several probelms to overcome, he needs to gain weight but not too much or he wont carry it, he also needs to gain muscle but walking him is very problematic, the vet have said he will gain the muscle wandering around the house where he is comfortable but im worried about leaving the socialising because once he is much bigger i wont be able to carry him when he freezes
Ive only had him 5 days and he is making great progress but I worry that im asking too much of him too soon

so atm im taking him out on the same route 3 times a day, we walk to the local shop (5 minutes away) have a rest there where he can watch people go by and get petted by one or two of them, then walk back home again. he comes with me in the mornings to take the kids to school but im not sure this is a good idea because of the sheer volume of people around. He wanders around in the house and has one or two mad half hours with my other dog which totally exhausts him. hes on a complete dog food recommended by the vet and also a supplement to build him up

should i be doing anything more/less? any thoughts?
 

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What a lucky dog to have found someone so willing to work with him!:)

A few things I might do where I in your situation...

Look around to see if you happen to be lucky enough to have a canine physical therapist, vet with experience in rehab, etc. within driving distance. Even a couple consults may help give you specific exercises to strengthen his front end and teach him to move about easier.

I would also likely sign up for a nice reward based training class. It'll help a bit with exposure to people/socialization in a controlled setting, build your relationship, and boost his confidence.

:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
ive tried to find a training class but they are all in the evening and Im a foster carer and my youngest foster child is disabled and needs a strict routine which means bedtime is at 7 and we cant deviate from that so once 7 o'clock comes im house bound
 

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I think you should consult with a vet who can give you some guidance on muscle strengthening exercises.

Do you know how to desensitize and counter conditioning a fearful dog? That's what he needs to help him overcome his fear of men. If he's freezing up on walks I'd stop them for now. Exposing him to strange men, or whatever he's fearful of, is not socialization.
 

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It's much harder for dogs who are missing a front leg vs a hind leg, as roughly 60% of their weight is usually borne by the front legs, so it is more to redistribute, and the remaining front leg still bears way more than it's normal "share". Also, due to the hopping nature of their changed gait, that leg tends to take a more forceful impact with each step than they would with 4 legs.

I wouldn't make him walk if he stops and you can't tell for certain it's due to fear, particularly since he's still young and growing. My 3 legger was 50 lbs, and had good muscle tone (she was overweight for a while IMO, but still a normal "pet" weight), but walking 2-3 blocks was enough that she would need a rest before coming home, and usually another break while walking home because she was already fatigued. That was a lot for her, and sometimes she would be sore the next day if she had done other stuff. She was a strong adult dog, so I think it would be too much for a puppy and/or dog with minimal muscle tone. When we first got her, she was emaciated due to uncontrolled diabetes, and it took a while before she really got good muscle tone back, so we just let her hang out around the house and took short walks around the yard until then.

When I took her places that required more walking (she was a therapy dog, so sometimes would go to dog and non-dog events), I taught her to ride in a wagon, and also in a laundry cart. She knew that both meant meeting people without having to do the "work" of walking around, and took to them immediately, but she was a very environmentally sound dog, not afraid of anything, and loved getting out among people. As she got older, and started having a harder time getting around, I started using a harness on her to "help" take some of the weight off her front end while walking, the best one I found for that use was the ruffwear webmaster, because of the extra strap that helped keep it from slipping up when lifted, but any harness might help you to support him and help him out a little.

If you have anywhere that has a dog pool, or are near a body of water that will get warm, swimming is a great exercise for tripod dogs, as it's non-weight bearing. My dog could swim pretty well (and not in a circle!), but hated it, so it wasn't a good option for her. I would introduce him slowly if you do, and use a life jacket because he may tire more quickly, especially right now since he's not in good condition.

For socialization, can you drive somewhere there's some light foot traffic, and just hang out and let him see and meet people as he's comfortable? Maybe a park or pet store during quiet daytime hours. Even if you just take him somewhere and let him look at stuff and reward for brave behavior (curiosity, not shutting down, etc) people don't have to touch or interact with him for it to be a good socialization experience. If he's already making progress, I wouldn't worry too much, it sounds like he's doing fine :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I think you should consult with a vet who can give you some guidance on muscle strengthening exercises.

Do you know how to desensitize and counter conditioning a fearful dog? That's what he needs to help him overcome his fear of men. If he's freezing up on walks I'd stop them for now. Exposing him to strange men, or whatever he's fearful of, is not socialization.
i thought so but would be grateful of any advice you have to give
 

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First I would give him a bit of a respite from walks. You've had him a very short time. I'd wait another 10 days or so before resuming the walks.

When desensitizing and counter conditioning a dog there are some important points to remember. The goal is to create a positive conditioned emotional response. With that goal in mind, you want to have the scary thing predict treats. "When I see men in hats, Mom gives me cheese. Now I like men in hats."

The desensitization part comes into play because the stimulus (scary thing)must be far enough away not to create a fearful response but it must be noticed by the dog. It must be clear to the dog that the scary thing is making the food appear and not the other way around. CC is a very simple method. Success can be slowed down if we don't make sure the stimulus precedes the food. Scary man=food. Not, Mom has food scary men might be about to appear.

A good book for you would be Scaredy Dog by Ali Brown.

You might also want to look at the Facebook group Fearful Dogs. There is a wealth of information available.
 
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