Help with Scared Dog

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FG167
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Help with Scared Dog

Postby FG167 » Sat Mar 15, 2008 7:47 pm

Hi! I just got accepted! :) My original thread is in the intro section. I did not read about keeping new pits kenneled for 2 weeks until we had already had Kya for 1. She's a young dog, very scared. I think she might have been abused because when we got her she flinches a lot and is fearful of going in and outside, eating in our presence, going to the bathroom in our presence, going in and out of her kennel etc. She wasn't sure what to do with our toys either. She's gotten better - she'll go in and out alright and will potty on-lead most of the time and she's doing a lot better with the kenneling. She does try out the toys and I can tell she's interested but scared. We were keeping her leashed to us all the time to keep track of her. We have a kennel set-up so that she can always go there when tired/stressed and she has realized that and comes and goes readily when we're not asking her to do it. She just got spayed on Friday so she's sore and stiff and we've been keeping her kenneled all the time (except for potty breaks) because the stress and the spay seem to have really wore her out. Did we already screw up since we didn't do the first two weeks as suggested? Should we do the two weeks now? Are there any other suggestions? She is very submissive and really likes my other two dogs. She wants to cuddle but seems very scared to do so. She has toy drive but not much of an opportunity to exercise that yet. Thanks ahead of time! We just want to do the best we can by her.

Here she is for those that missed my intro thread:
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Postby msvette2u » Sat Mar 15, 2008 7:59 pm

I think it would be OK to start the two weeks but ease into it, because it will be new.
If you did the 2 weeks from day one, she'd expect it and not think differently.
So just kind of go backwards, into it, rather than shock her all at once.
BUT that's my opinion, not necessarily gospel, you know ;)

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FG167
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Postby FG167 » Sat Mar 15, 2008 8:03 pm

Ease into it how? Like more and more put her in her kennel? She's in there a lot now because of her recent spay, that's why I was wondering if I should start the two weeks now. Or do you think this is a prime time for her to be outside because she just wants to lay around? Or if this shouldn't count because she's so sore a preoccupied with healing...thanks so much for the quick response! I've been waiting to be accepted so I can have access to all kinds of suggestions.

msvette2u

Postby msvette2u » Sat Mar 15, 2008 8:08 pm

Yes, more and more time in her crate, let her be quiet learn your routines.
As long as she's not throwing a fit or something about being in there.
If she begins to, remember to not let her out until she's done throwing the fit :)

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Postby Allie » Sat Mar 15, 2008 8:24 pm

Welcome to the forum! I hope luvnstuff will jump in here soon to help you out (She's in GR too).
I have a girl who was neglected as a pup and had never seen the world outside of a basement until she was rescued at about 5 months. She was absolutely terrified of the outdoors, as well as cars, unfamiliar places, etc.

I was fortunate enough to be able to attend a doggy boot camp held by luvnstuff's trainer. It really was more of a course in helping me figure out how to handle her. The biggest problem I had was coddling her... which showed her that I was weak and unable to protect her, if that makes sense. As soon as I started to step up and learn how my mistakes were harming her more than helping, we saw GREAT improvements. It took a very long time and was very hard, but to see her today, you'd never believe she's the same dog. I don't think my work with her will ever be done, but she's my baby and she's worth it.

Anyway, I'm sure you will get some great advice here.

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Postby Red » Sat Mar 15, 2008 11:45 pm

What does she seem scared mostly, in your household? What kind of body language do you see when you handle her?Is it strong avoidance or she seems to try to come close to you and seek for interactions?

I'd work with her in the house for now, limiting the time she goes out, unless it is just your yard.With fearful dogs you want to start building a relationship based on trust, she will need it when it is time to face the word outside.
I'd also start teaching targeting your hands, which means to touch your fingers with her nose.Without being in a hurry, she has to offer that behavior, and you can get to it by reinforcing even small approximation of it.It simple words you offer your finger and reinforce the dog for moving one step toward it (with special food she likes and vocal praise).Then two,steps three, etc.Till she bumps your fingers with her nose.Targeting fingers can really help scaredys dog when they start becoming overwhelmed by the surroundings.Your fingers are her safe spot, and give her the opportunity to do something she is familiar with, feeling good about it.

She might not have been necessarily abused.A lot of dogs are genetically predisposed to fearfulness, or they were not socialized in a critical stage of their development.A surgery can stress a dog who already tends to be stressed even in normal situation.I'd keep her quiet till she recovers, without asking much.It important that you keep all experiences positive, so she can start building some confidence.There are many exercises to do to build confidence in dogs but it is a process that require time, efforts and a lot of patience.I' be happy to give you some tips for that.

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FG167
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Postby FG167 » Sun Mar 16, 2008 11:10 am

She's seems scared in and outside. It's based on us I think because when we had her on a long-line she would run and play with my two boys fine, tail up and wagging etc. But as soon as we would move or move toward them she would freeze and cower.

Her body language is mostly "freeze and they won't see me". She does occasionally try to bolt. But she also turns her face away a lot. If we walk up to/by her, she will lay down and turn her face away. She seems to want to be nearby though. If I'm sitting on the couch, she will slowly creep closer and closer to lay or sit next to me. She likes to rest her head on my leg too. When she's managed to bolt, she acts like she genuinely wants to come to us, then she'll either lay down and freeze a couple feet away or dodge away. I usually crouch and hold my hand out and she'll slowly, slowly come up and sniff, then I'll pet and gradually work my hand back. A couple of times when there's been a scary noise or something she's run to us as well.

I'm so excited - I've been (inadvertently lol) doing exactly what you're saying I should. I hold my hand out and every time she reaches and nuzzles I've been praising (ok, not exactly b/c I haven't been treating her for it but close!). She is really, really consistent with doing it too. I JUST got her to take a treat from my hand yesterday :) I was thrilled. So, since she's doing really well with that should I branch out or just keep reinforcing that? She really doesn't know "no, good dog, come here" or anything. I've been saying her name a lot and good dog and I can see that she's beginning to recognize her name but I'm not sure if she associates good girl with praise or not.

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Postby suzi » Sun Mar 16, 2008 11:24 am

Awwwwww,,,,poor girl....Good for you for jumping right on board for getting some help with her....

Welcome to PBF,,,
This place, is a nice place to be for many reasons.

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Postby Allie » Sun Mar 16, 2008 11:25 am

It is a lot in the tone of your voice too. She may not recognize "good girl" but if you tone is sweet and happy, she will associate that.

Keep working on the treats. Thankfully for us, Sidney is very food motivated and we kept working on reinforcing good things with treats. It took her a bit to be able to take treats from "strangers" (ie, anyone except me or my bf) but we worked on that a lot... strictly in the house first. It was important for us to be non-confrontational in our manners with her. Standing sideways, being very careful about how we moved our arms, for example. My bf had to sit on the couch a lot with treats in his hands (to his side or in his lap) and just wait for her to investigate. If he'd make any movements, she'd jump back. So, he'd just sit there still and let her come get it. At that point the treat was her reward. She would get spooked if he tried to move to pet her or say anything. Eventually we worked up to a quiet, sweet "good" when she took the treat. Baby steps.

She was particularly afraid of men at first, but we rarely have women visitors. So, I began keeping a can of liver treats by the door and whenever anyone came in, I'd have them take a treat, stand still, sideways to her with their hands down by their sides and treat in hand. She learned that she could come to the new person (she usually came up from behind) smell them a bit, take the treat and that was the end of the confrontation. After taking the treat we allowed her to retreat to the couch, or where ever she was comfortable. Eventually she'd go up, smell the person and nudge their hand for a quick pet. She's very good about greeting people now. We still allow her to retreat at will anytime she is uncomfortable.

Hope that helps a bit.
The yard was kind of similar in the way we approached it. I can tell you about that later if you're interested.

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Postby luvnstuff » Sun Mar 16, 2008 3:43 pm

lots of good advice from everyone !

One thing with fearful dogs and unknown history is we dont know what made them so shy.. is it just the dog, something happened etc etc etc..
So what we do about that is keep it in our mind, but TOSS all the worry out the door.
Worrying, and coddling as Allie said increases the stress/fear in the dog.
The number one fearful dogs NEED is true calm and fair leaders, this relaxes a fearful dog more than you can imagine. We need her to bond to her humans, to know that you (all humans in the house I mean in the word "you") are there for HER . This will allow her to blossom.

Now with the dogs, seperate them for now. Many think this is just to thwart off dog arguments, but some dogs , like my Kosmo here, I THINK (no way of really knowing) that he bonded with dogs and not humans, and dogs like this will look to their doggy buddys for leadership and guidance (which can lead to some bigger problems later on..)

So seperate her from your dogs for now.. As written I believe in the "two weeks give em a break".

Now that she is spayed, its ok to re shut her down, give her that chance to heal and breathe out for a few days, a kind of "ahhhhhhh" .

She is a beautiful dog , I can see the shyness in her face, you wait.. in a few weeks you will see a difference in the way she leans and looks at you.
Did you adopt her or just take her in? Oh and welcome neighbor!
:thumbsup:

I will find Kosmos thread so you can read about his transformation, he was seriously shut down coming out of the pound, literally belly crawling and freaking out and he has come around so fast my head is spinning!

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Postby luvnstuff » Sun Mar 16, 2008 3:51 pm

:oops: gez... I have three threads on Kosmo..
well anywhoo.. if you want to read about another shy dog
he really is becoming a success story and maybe you can see how taking life slowly for these dogs works by reading about Kosmo...

http://www.pitbullforum.com/viewtopic.p ... 21&start=0

http://www.pitbullforum.com/viewtopic.p ... ight=kosmo

http://www.pitbullforum.com/viewtopic.p ... 12&start=0

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Postby luvnstuff » Sun Mar 16, 2008 3:56 pm

just read your intro.. and what a great looking bunch you have there!
All your dogs look great! and cute!

and WOW holy jumping monkies bat man! 10 paws up for form on this jump! :)) even his toes are pointed!

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FG167
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Postby FG167 » Sun Mar 16, 2008 8:02 pm

I'll try to hit everything that was asked :) We're definitely changing our tone for her to know "good girl". I'm pretty used to sounding silly with my boys so it was automatic for me to extend that to her.

We did coddle her a lot the first couple of days but I wasn't seeing any improvement and while I encourage and comfort my other two, I never coddle them, so I decided to apply that to her. It seems to be helping, she's more willing to come/go with us.

As far as separation. We usually hang out in the living room or the bedroom in the evenings. I have her kennel set up in the bedroom because my desk is in there and so I usually shut myself in there with my other two and this way she was nearby but not alone. Should I move her somewhere else? If she's not in the bedroom she'll be more isolated in the evenings but there's significant activity through one of our middle rooms when we're getting home/making dinner, etc. Is this a better room? My boys' kennels are in the basement and that just seems so far away. What do you think?

That story was really encouraging, and while I certainly don't think she's a lost cause, I just can't picture her like that - if that makes sense. I want to and I really hope she does open up - I can't wait for that day, but it's hard to picture her so happy when she's so obviously not now :( We did have a mini-breakthrough today though. We went outside on the long-line so she could get a little more movement from me if she wanted (she's not acting quite so stiff today) and I went around the corner of the house for a minute. When I came back and stepped into the yard, she actually ran 1/2 way toward me, tail wagging...and then froze. I was psyched. But then I wondered if she thought I had went to get the other two and was just disappointed when they didn't bound around the corner...either way, it was a tail wag.

Oh, and that is my all-time favorite photo of Midas! :) I worked all summer long to get him to chase my object like that. Which he apparently forgot over the winter because he refused to jump at our event this weekend :( Mason on the other hand added 4 whole feet to his Personal Best, which was almost double his previous PB and he placed third!! :)

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Postby Red » Sun Mar 16, 2008 10:05 pm

When I came back and stepped into the yard, she actually ran 1/2 way toward me, tail wagging...and then froze. I was psyched. But then I wondered if she thought I had went to get the other two and was just disappointed when they didn't bound around the corner...either way, it was a tail wag.


Reward the fact that she attempted to come to you.That was great.It is okey if she stopped half away, it is still progress.You want to let her know about how much you appreciated the fact that she even attempted something.


I want to and I really hope she does open up - I can't wait for that day, but it's hard to picture her so happy when she's so obviously not now


Just let her take her time.You can't really push things with fearful dogs and what they are must be accepted.Of course you want to see her happy and balanced but that might take more time than you think.Or less, it depends.The rule is to be happy with what she gives you for now, and go from there.

Her body language is mostly "freeze and they won't see me". She does occasionally try to bolt. But she also turns her face away a lot. If we walk up to/by her, she will lay down and turn her face away. She seems to want to be nearby though. If I'm sitting on the couch, she will slowly creep closer and closer to lay or sit next to me. She likes to rest her head on my leg too. When she's managed to bolt, she acts like she genuinely wants to come to us, then she'll either lay down and freeze a couple feet away or dodge away.


I think she is trying to interact but does not know yet if it is safe.When she turns her heard that is a calming signals, like as she was to say "I mean no harm".Not sure you know about this but you can use your body language to communicate no harm as well.Lip licking, head turning, yawning and turning your head sideways is something that calms a lot of dog.While direct eye contact and frontal approaches might be overwhelming this body language can quickly let the dog know you mean no harm as well.It might sound weird to you but give it a try, I bet that you you will see a response or at least you can minimize her worries about close distance between you and her.

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Postby Allie » Mon Mar 17, 2008 9:09 am

Hey Red, do you know of any good books regarding calming signals? I'd love to research them more.


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