GO!

Working with a highly fearful dog

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
(Page 1 of 2: Viewing entries 1 to 10)  
Page Links: 1  2  
Bella &- Cougar

1193109
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 14, '13 6:54am PST 
I adopted (took in) a highly fearful dog two months ago. Who knows his story, but terrified doesn't even explain it. He is beyond it... Of everything. Not just a few things. He has really come around to me, but is still terrified of my husband, unless he's on his dog bed. He hasn't left that bed since I got him, except to go out with me or when I have to drag him to the car for the vet. He has not seen any other part of the house except where he lays, which is at the front of the house.

My question is when do I start making him go to different parts of the house? Do I force him to or let more time pass and hope he gets the courage up to check it out for himself? He takes treats from me, or eats them if dropped, but not when I am making him do things, such as go to the car. And I have yet to be able to lure him from the bed. Yes, I have read the Fearful Dog blog and even purchased and read her book. However, it doesn't help me with determine what to do with this specifically.

HELP!!!
[notify]
Lily

Woof!
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 14, '13 11:37am PST 
Lily was like that when we first adopted her. We just mostly went at her pace. If there was something that we had to force her into, like getting a bath, we just took things really slow and I talked to her the whole time because it seemed to calm her down. We ignored her for a while, this helped her calm down enough to the point where she started exploring the house a little bit. So she would check something things out, then go back to her hiding spot. She also started seeking out some attention from us but only if we were sitting down. She would come over for a quick pet or a treat then go back to her hiding spot. She was still afraid of my husband so he took over most of her care for a while. That helped build some trust between them. By the way, if he's only been with you for 2 months, he is still settling into his new home, some dogs take longer than others to settle into a home. It took Lily 6 months before she started to settle in, and a year to completely settle in.

Edited by author Mon Jan 14, '13 11:42am PST

[notify]
Kaluha

Fly Free, Kaluha
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 14, '13 12:21pm PST 
I agree with lily, time. It took Kaluha 9 months to be able to take food out of our hands. I have not yet met a dog that does not come around eventually, but you have to have patience.
[notify]

Kaluha

Fly Free, Kaluha
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 14, '13 12:23pm PST 
I would add that you may want to consider talking to your vet about anti-anxiety meds? If I had to start all over again with Kaluha, I would ask about the benefits of going that route. And consider a behaviorist. I work with a LOT of fearful dogs.
[notify]
Kye

I'm like- Einstein only- hairier.
 
 
Barked: Mon Jan 14, '13 10:12pm PST 
I wouldn't prescribe medications personally.
My dog Kye was abused badly before I rescued him (he was adopted in 2004 from my hometown SPCA) and was so terrified of people that he would shut right down as soon as the kennel door was opened. He would crawl to the back panting, shaking and urinating on himself. His pupils would dilate and he wouldn't respond to any stimuli, he was just that terrified. Thankfully he seemed to adore me right away. I managed to get a lead on him and took him for a short walk around, he was still extremely skittish but being outside seemed to help him deal with people a lot better.
What I did was first work on a bond with me, once a dog trusts and respects you it's far easier to convince him you're doing things for his own good. A good tip for a fearful dog is to pet under the chin and the chest instead of the top of the head or back/shoulders so you the dog builds confidence. I know a few trainers suggest stroking the tail and keeping it from between the hind legs, triggering a new mindset, but I have never applied this method and cannot vouch for it. I did a lot of hand feeding, controlled exercise (heel and sit/lie while on walks) and I'll admit, I even sang to him when the mood struck and despite my utter lack of tune I think he enjoyed it.
After he felt comfortable around me and would take food from my hand we worked on areas of discomfort. I'm thankful for my school bus driver, who let me bring my terrified dog on the bus every day after school and patiently waited while I got him to sit calmly. After he would get on the bus and sit I started getting my bus driver to give him a treat, first step in seeing strangers as something fun. I used the school bus as a way to teach him to deal with stressful situations and remain calm, even if approached by a stranger. It was very important to me that he didn't develop into a fear biter.
We moved on to walking down Main Street at rush hour and visiting pet stores where strangers would pet him (one at a time) after he relaxed in the new environment. You can use popular phrases as cues for a behavior as well. A lot of people say "Hi" when greeting a dog so use 'hi' before providing a reward, this way the dog learns that when he hears it good things happen. I don't mean treats always, it could be anything from praise to play.
The first 'scary' place you master with your dog is a big milestone, they get easier to work through every time, you just have to provide your pup with an alternative response to fight/flight. I used 'sit' and then added 'touch' after to keep Kye focused on me. If he feels like he's being overwhelmed he will sit and place his paw on my foot. It takes a long time to get a fearful dog comfortable around new people and things but it's 100% worth the effort for you and the dog.
[notify]
ARCHMX Asher RL1X RL2X RL3X RL

we will dance in- the ring without- words
 
 
Barked: Tue Jan 15, '13 5:56am PST 
Bella and Cougar, fearful dogs really DO benefit from having some control over their environment. Have you tried any clicker training? I find that targets can really help. I also love Nosework as a way of helping a dog overcome fears. If you need help figuring either out, let me know.
[notify]
Jax (earned- her wings- 5/30/12)

Give me your- toy.
 
 
Barked: Tue Jan 15, '13 5:05pm PST 
You have 2 dogs on your profile picture. Is he one of them? Jax was terrified of everything when I got her, even grass. Time and patience are going to be your friend if you want to help him. Jax lived to be almost 12 and she was a work on progress her whole life. With that said, you say treats will motivate him a little with some things in some instances? Then food is going to be your motivator. What helped with Jax was: I would feed my other dogs treats in front of her. She would have to come over and take the treat personally. If she didn't come over and get it, she did't get any. It took a while, but her stomach became more important than her fear. So, maybe you can have your husband feed your other dogs treats and not him until he comes over and takes it. That would be your first step with building confidence. You have to work with him in baby steps and "try" not to have too many set backs. if you do, you have to back up to where he is comfortable and restart there. A book that helped me was "The Cautious Canine". It's a very thin book, but is packed with very helpful hints. The hardest thing about having a dog like that is to try and not lolly coddle him. It's human nature to feel sorry for him and inadvertently reinforce his fears. Good Luck!
[notify]
~Emma~ RL1

Mixed breed,- Pure heart
 
 
Barked: Tue Jan 15, '13 10:30pm PST 
I've found a regular schedule really helps as well. If there are no surprises it's easier for them.
[notify]
ARCHMX Asher RL1X RL2X RL3X RL

we will dance in- the ring without- words
 
 
Barked: Wed Jan 16, '13 3:33am PST 
Em, way to go!

I found this little video on how training can build confidence. No dogs in it till the end, but the idea remains the same:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=QQ2M pmxUgSA
[notify]
Bella &- Cougar

1193109
 
 
Barked: Tue Jan 22, '13 8:21pm PST 
Thank you all for your responses! I have not tried any type of training with him. I honestly don't even know how to begin to do that with him.

I didn't mention that to add to his problems, he had FHO surgery a few days after I got him and has been walking on three legs ever since. Because he had yet to start using the other leg, he has been going to physical therapy for a week at a time. He is now going on his third week, and I was out of town, so ended up leaving him there for two. Anyway, he was a totally different dog after he returned from the first week. He was more curious of the house, let my husband take him outside without freaking out, came up to my husband from his dog bed into the living room when my husband called him (and lured him with treats), walked to the back of the house into our room when I called him and coaxed him, and wasn't even bolting back to his bed as soon as he came into the house. I'm not sure what happened (possibly the fact that he had diarrhea TWICE in the house prior to all of this and must have had to go so badly that he checked out the other rooms in the house), but the changes were great! So, hopefully he will continue to make that progress when I pick him up on Saturday.

What guidance can anyone give regarding beginning any type of training with him? How should I initiate it and what should I work on first? He still isn't taking treats from me when he is really nervous. I imagine sit should be something to start with, but do I need to have him on a leash? He is generally ok when I approach him, but sometimes he does back away, except on his bed.

Someone asked if one of the dogs in my picture was him. No, he isn't in that picture. His name is Nolen! smile
[notify]
  (Page 1 of 2: Viewing entries 1 to 10)  
Page Links: 1  2