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Old 12-14-2008, 07:44 PM   #1
woosa
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Unhappy scared dog

i have a black lab about 2 years old we got from a shelter when she was a few months old. when we got her she was scared of us, i assumed she was just scared of being taken away by people she didnt know. now, so much later, shes still scared. shes not scared of me and my mom but scared if everyone else and i can tell she still doesnt trust us 100%. if i make a sudden movement close to her she'll get scared and run. as far as i know shes never been hurt by anyone, and we dont neglect her (every time i tell someone about her they assume we either abuse her or neglect her). we'd let her go in and out of the house as she pleases our yard is fenced and now she stays outside all the time except at night she comes in to sleep. shes scared of going in the house now. i picked her up and brought her in my room and she just stood there cowering and was too scared to even walk out into the hallway to go back outside. when friends come by ill try having them go outside with me to play with her a little bit to see if she'll get used to other people but she just runs and hides from us. shes also scared of the leash so i cant take her out for walks. we've had her for so long i dont understand how she could be scared of everything. i dont know what to do any more im ready to just give up any suggestions would be appreciated.
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Old 12-14-2008, 09:16 PM   #2
cockermom93
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Wow I am really sorry you are having this problem. I don't know any solutions but I just wanted to wish you luck and I hope things work out for you and the dog. Keep us posted, I am sure someone else will have some advice for you. Oh and welcome to K9mania!
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Old 12-14-2008, 09:47 PM   #3
Shells_k
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I am so sorry I dont have any advice for you either, but I sure wish you luck in getting some good advice. That would break my heart if a dog I loved so much was afraid of everything and not able to enjoy him/herself.

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Old 12-14-2008, 10:32 PM   #4
BetterDog4U
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First, I AM NOT A PROFESSIONAL dog trainer or behaviorist. But I have owned and have worked with quite a few dogs in the past 40+ years.

IMHO, it sounds like you have a very sensitive dog. Sensitive dogs pick up on your "ora" or "energy" very easily.

Dog's also live in the moment. They don't think or dwell on the past. So forget about what might have happened in its past, and for now ... forget about what has happened in the last two years. Start with a clean slate as of NOW!

If the dog senses that you are a weak energy or senses weak leadership from you it will never trust you to protect it. You must be an “alpha dog” or “pack leader” to your dog. Your dog takes all of its cues from you. You must show the dog that you are in control and that you are the “protector of the pack.” In order to do this, you MUST be in complete control of EVERYTHING in your dog’s life. This doesn’t mean that you need to be a slave driver, or control the dog’s ever move. It just means that it needs to see you as the one that provides food, water, training, rewards, a safe place to live .. and so on.

When the dog is scared or unsure of its self, you need to read the dog’s body language. It will tell you a lot about the dog’s state of mind. In the worse cases, the dog’s tail will be between its legs, its ears will be back flat against it head, it will be shaking and it may even completely shut down. If this is the case, you should really contact a local dog behaviorist for some one-on-one help.

When you see fear based reactions from the dog, your first reaction might be to go and comfort it by picking it up or petting it and saying “It’s OK”. At the risk of sounding mean and heartless, DON’T DO IT!!!! You will not be doing your dog any good and it can actually be harmful to the dog. I say harmful because you will only be reinforcing that state of mind in your dog. The dog will interpret your actions as you saying: "it alright for you to be scared". By reinforcing fear it will only ensure that the dog will have the same “fear response” every time it encounters whatever caused this original fear reaction. By playing into the fear you are depriving the dog from the opportunity to learn to be self confident.

The best thing you can do is to ignore the fear reaction. If you ignore the fear response, the dog sees that you are not scared and it will learn that nothing bad is happening. It will begin to cope with whatever it was that it found frightening. After some time, the dog learns to be OK with the situation and after some more time, it will become more confident.

Building the dog’s confidence can be done by working with the dog as much as you can. Take on the role of "Coach" or "Teacher" by spending time playing with it, training it to execute commands and walking. Confidence is a direct result of you giving plenty of praise and even some treats whenever it does something correctly.

As for walking, go get a fifty-cent piece of rope, and work with the dog in the house. Put the rope on, and call the dog to come to you. When it does, praise it!!! Let it know that it did a great job!!! Soon you should be able to walk the dog around the house. Then move to the yard, then the driveway and so on!!! Walking your dog is the best and fastest way for you to “connect” with your dogs as a leader. If the dog walks with you, it has trust in you.

Last edited by BetterDog4U : 12-14-2008 at 10:40 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 12-15-2008, 05:03 PM   #5
lucysnewmum
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like others who have posted i am not a qualified trainer but have many years experience of handling and working with dogs. my own is a rescue and she was "testing" to say the least when i first got her although i did have a sound knowledge of her background which gave me an insight in to her faults and peculiar behaviour. it took me three weeks to get her to put her lead on without a struggle and even longer to master the walk. there is no time span anyone can give you

My advice to you would be:-
1. Stop feeling sorry for the dog
Dogs live for now. you need to start all over with some basic training and work on gaining her trust. any sign of weakness from you will reinforce her insecurity. be firm and consistent with your training

2. Back to basics
Start as if it is your first day with her and she is a puppy. the lead needs to be a source of impending fun for her so start by putting it on, rewarding her with a treat or a fuss and then taking it off. do this several times in about 5 minutes and then leave her alone for a while. repeat the exercise several times more before extending the time that she has the lead on before you remove it. when she is completely at ease with her lead on allow her to drag it round the floor with her for a short time before removing it. once she is comfortable with the lead on and looks for her treat once wearing it you can start to gently encourage her to be by your side "heel" with her lead on.

3. Get professional help/go to training classes
once you have gained your dog's trust training will become much easier as she will know that if she does good for you a treat will come her way. training classes will also help socialise her and get her ready for the great outdoors

good luck with everything...keep us posted on your progress and post any questions you think we might be able to help you with.

and well done you for giving her a forever home. rescues are hard work but are so rewarding and in time you will have a great, loyal companion who will give you much joy


ZACK
My loyal friend forever in sunshine

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Old 12-15-2008, 05:12 PM   #6
elsasmom
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I would strongly urge you to schedule a one on one with a good trainer if you can afford to do that. An assessment by a professional could get you started on the best course of action. Any of the suggestions that others have made would certainly help, but a trainer can see and observe your dog to better understand which suggestion is the best way to go. Good luck. You want a good solution so that's your best start.
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Old 12-15-2008, 05:47 PM   #7
Jr_K9_Expert
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elsasmom View Post
I would strongly urge you to schedule a one on one with a good trainer if you can afford to do that. An assessment by a professional could get you started on the best course of action. Any of the suggestions that others have made would certainly help, but a trainer can see and observe your dog to better understand which suggestion is the best way to go. Good luck. You want a good solution so that's your best start.
I completely agree with what Elsasmom said. As I said on another thread, any intervention without prior or appropriate knowledge can only make matters worse. Behaviorist comes first.

If for some reason you can't get a behaviorist to asses your dog then follow the advice given above, I think its good information to keep in mind. Don't coddle your dog, it only reassures her that there IS something to be afraid of. You should act indifferent to whatever she's shying away from.

When around her there are some things you should never do. Never look at her in the eyes, no sudden movements around her, no patting on the head (only causes more submissive behavior). If she comes sniffing you or someone else, ignore her but be subtle and if you can provide her a treat (piece of ham or turkey are most effective) it might help her make positive associations to the people she's investigating.

If you loose your patience don't yell at the dog or become frustrated, you have no idea how harmful this is to the dog's progress. If you yell its like taking one baby step forward but then 100 steps back.

It could be in your interest to get another dog that is bit more self confident, this could possibly help her, because the more confident dog acts in a way that will tell her that there is nothing really to be scared of.

I'll try to get some links that might help.
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Old 12-15-2008, 05:56 PM   #8
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Here is a thread of a situation almost like yours. Finding groups that are going through similar situations could be of great help for you:

http://www.k9mania.com/forum/showthread.php?t=10992

Here are some links that you might find useful

http://www.paw-rescue.org/PAW/PETTIPS/DogTip_Shy.php

http://fearfuldog.com/

http://www.r-plusdogtraining.info/rehab.htm
-Steven



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Old 12-16-2008, 04:20 AM   #9
LoveMyLabs
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FYI - it's "aura" that one person was speaking of...just in case you get confused.


I would have to agree that you need to be firmer, but not mean, to your dog. She's scared because of something that you are doing, or not doing, around her. Have you tried to socialize with other dogs? Have you tried takin her out for walks, or do you just assume that she won't take to a leash? Have you played with her, taught her any commands, etc?
Tony, Kim, Gunner & Tira.
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Old 12-16-2008, 05:03 AM   #10
cockermom93
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Just a thought... if she doesn't like a leash attached to her collar then you could try a harness... let her wear it a little at a time for a few days or so and then put a leash on it and let her get used to that and then maybe pick it up and intise her with food. Don't give her any treats or praise until she does good. ??? Just a thought like I said.
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