Rescue dog with fear/trust issues
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Thread: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

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    Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    One week ago, I got a 2 year old Pekingese/Chihuahua from the SPCA. This poor dog was never properly socialized and may have been treated to roughly by the 7 kids that lived in that house. He is only 6 1/2 pounds and is not the kind of dog to be around all those kids.

    He was fine for the first week, although he did bit my finger on the morning of day 2 when I reached for him too suddenly. The folks at the SPCA told me that he was crate trained and really enjoyed being in a crate. I got him a crate and he was happy to get in it. I have a bed in there and keep treats in there, trying to make it a pleasant place rather than a punishment place.

    The problem now is, when he is in his crate, he is very aggressive. I can not stick my hand in there without getting bit. I know it is because he is scared. He moves to the back of his crate and starts off with a low growl - warning to stay away from him. If I back away, he stops growling. But he has to learn that I am in charge and will not be pushed around by him. He also needs to learn to trust me. If I had to get him out of his crate for some reason, I need to be able to stick my hand in there.

    What can I do to help him?

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    Senior Member Thracian's Avatar
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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    A dog who is as fearful as your poor boy sounds is not going to trust easily. This is going to be a long process. How much time does he spend in the crate and what entices him to come out?

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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    He has been in and out of the crate all day. Now he seems to be settled in for the night. He comes out when he wants to be with me or just to play.
    I have been calling him to go outside and he will not come.

    I put some peanut butter on my finger and stuck it in his crate. He licked the peanut butter off. A second later, he snapped at the same finger.

    I have had him for a week. He has been sleeping with me. I just got the crate yesterday and now that is the only place he wants to be.

    I know he feels safe in there. His backing into the corner is fear and his snapping is defensive.

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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    Give it time. When he is in his crate just leave him be.
    Is there any reason you need to reach in there and take him out?
    He is used to what he had to grow up with. Obviously his crate was his only safe place from a rough house. It will take time for him to trust you. If you leave him alone in his crate and ignore him the easier this is going to be. Most likely bad things used to happen outside of the crate. He will eventually figure out things will be ok. You need to let him progress on his own. Don't force it by taking him out of his safe zone or even coaxing him out. Let him come out when he wants to and on his own free will. This process may take weeks, months or longer.

    Keep your peanut butter laden fingers out of the crate. I would actually recommend you just stay away from the crate. Let him feel safe in there. I would only reach in just a bit to put his food bowl in there when it's time to eat. If you have to clean the crate do so after he comes out on his own accord.

    Eventually he will start to trust you more and want to be outside of the crate.
    He is obviously a scared little boy. Be gently and easy going. Raising your voice and showing anger will only prolong his recovery.
    Last edited by chrisn6104; 03-09-2010 at 10:01 PM.

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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    Thanks. I'll try this approach.
    He did come out to go for a walk. Now he's back in there. I just don't want him to spend all his time in there.

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    Senior Member Thracian's Avatar
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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    You say that he was fine for the first week without a crate . . . was he showing any fearful behavior then? If so, what? Cowering, shutting down?

    To be honest, if he truly was fine without a crate, I would be tempted to remove the crate except when company is over or some other reason for it. But more information would help before I feel comfortable recommending that.

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    Senior Member MissMutt's Avatar
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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    Your problem is that you're looking to use force and "dominance" with a dog who, right now, needs the complete opposite.

    His crate should be a safe haven for him. Leave him alone when he is in there. If he wants to spend a lot of his time in there right now, then so be it. "Forcing" a fearful dog to do things is really injurious to the whole process of rehabbing them. Things need to be done at their own pace.

    A growl is hardly pushing you around - in fact, it should be considered a good thing. A lot of dogs go straight to a bite when they're feeling threatened. This dog is giving you signals and letting you know that he is scared, so please, do not punish the growl, because it can save you and other people from getting bitten. It is normal dog communication.

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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    Quote Originally Posted by JAMJTX View Post
    Thanks. I'll try this approach.
    He did come out to go for a walk. Now he's back in there. I just don't want him to spend all his time in there.
    This is perfect. Exactly what you should be doing. If all he wants to do is spend every minute of the day in that crate so be it. Trust me he will eventually come around.

    I personally would not remove the crate. I would let him have his safe zone. He needs this for right now. Over time as nothing bad happens when he comes out he will gain his confidence and and trust in you while still enjoying the crate.
    Use the fact that he likes his crate to your advantage.

    I love working with this type of behavior. Look at it this way. You just rescued a traumatized fearful dog. He probably bit you with the peanut butter because he knows that trick. Bad things always happened after he came out for the peanut butter. When you start to see results and he becomes more brazened to grace you with his presence it is a wonderful feeling. You will always remember how he used to be and what you saved him from.

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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    Thanks again. He is out of his crate today and acting like he has all week long.
    I'll take this advice and report back soon.

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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    Just for an example. I rescued a staffordshire from the pound nearly a year ago. He is just now starting to not be afraid of an incoming smack to the head.

    He was obviously hit .... many times in the head before I got him. I can tell not because he's slow to learn things but every time I raised my hand or even just went to pet him on the head he would wince waiting to be hit. It's taken him nearly a year to get used to not being hit. Oh and he was even worse when I had something in my hand. I'll take a paper towel center and play hit my other dogs with it. They will grab it and we tear it apart. I tried this with him when I first got him and he ducked for cover. So I can only imagine he was not only hit with a hand but by objects as well and probably much harder.

    It's a feel good thing for me. I like to take dogs like that and give them something better. Show them there are good people in the world even if they are few.
    Last edited by chrisn6104; 03-10-2010 at 01:58 PM.

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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    I went to the SPCA twice looking at dogs. The second day I decided on Sammy. He played with me in the room. Althoug he was a little bit skittish, he was not growling or biting. When I went back 3 days later to pick him up, he seemed to remember me. He sat in my lap on the way home.
    He was fine all day long. He never left me and slept with me that night. Early in the morning, I did reach for him too fast and he bit my hand. That was my fault. I always call him before I reach for him. This never happened again until day 7, when he got his crate.

    He went into the crate on his own, as I was putting it together. He knew what it was and wanted to be in there. Once he got in there is when the problem started.

    Today he is active and has been coming to sit on my lap. For about 14 hours, he was very anti-social.

    Thanks again for all the input.

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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    He sounds pretty fearful. You likely cannot change the aggression response from that fear in this dog, better and easier probably to remove the fear instead.

    All you can do is try to not reward/reinforce the fear response, and actively reward any confidence he shows and reward giving you attention.

    A regular schedule for all activity so he can build confidence in what to expect and when in his new life.

    And positive reinforcement marker training so he can build confidence in what to expect from interacting with you would likely help a lot too. You may not be able to use a clicker for a marker though with a very fearful dog, I know I can't with mine.

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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisn6104 View Post
    I love working with this type of behavior. Look at it this way. You just rescued a traumatized fearful dog. He probably bit you with the peanut butter because he knows that trick. Bad things always happened after he came out for the peanut butter. When you start to see results and he becomes more brazened to grace you with his presence it is a wonderful feeling. You will always remember how he used to be and what you saved him from.
    The side I like is that fearful dogs seem to tend to be the most attentive, affectionate and eager to please dogs if handled well, and very easy to train.

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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    Quote Originally Posted by JAMJTX View Post
    But he has to learn that I am in charge and will not be pushed around by him.
    This is the wrong mind set!

    Quote Originally Posted by JAMJTX View Post
    He also needs to learn to trust me.
    Very very true. He needs to know he can trust you. In his mind you can be another kid thats gonna throw him around like a doll. He likes his crate because that is where he feels safe. Find something that he really likes, a ball, toy, or TREATS.

    Open his crate and try to get down to see him. Dont tower over the crate, if you can just lay down by him. Call him by his name and try to "persuade" him(show him he can trust you) to come out with treats or something he really likes. Every time he comes out PRAISE him over and over. Tell him hes a good dog! Keep doing this over and over. After awhile he'll know that its not a bad place outside his crate. Good luck!

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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    Quote Originally Posted by JAMJTX View Post
    Thanks again. He is out of his crate today and acting like he has all week long.
    I'll take this advice and report back soon.
    Good news
    If the kids of the previous family didn't exactly handle him the right way, he might be a decent little dog who put up with so much from the kids and took an opportunity to go to his crate when he was able to, and learned the kids would back off if he snapped once his back was to a wall. Hopefully he'll find out that you mean him no harm.
    My mom adopted an ancient longhaired chihuahua a year and a half ago. She snapped at her the 2nd day she arrived when mom went to pick her up. Since then she's never shown she has a mean bone in her body, and even put up with stuff like this for our amusement..

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    Senior Member Cracker's Avatar
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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    Lots of good advice and support here..good for you all!

    Just want to recommend that you check out www.fearfuldogs.com there is LOTS of good information there as well.
    Maggi and Cracker, Dog about Rosedale


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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    Quote Originally Posted by chrisn6104 View Post
    I love working with this type of behavior. Look at it this way. You just rescued a traumatized fearful dog. He probably bit you with the peanut butter because he knows that trick. Bad things always happened after he came out for the peanut butter. When you start to see results and he becomes more brazened to grace you with his presence it is a wonderful feeling. You will always remember how he used to be and what you saved him from.
    I feel the same way with Wally.

    While I do wish he never had the issues in the first place, I'm glad he's been able to come so much past them and now that we are like best friends. He used to "hate" me.


    Quote Originally Posted by TxRider View Post
    The side I like is that fearful dogs seem to tend to be the most attentive, affectionate and eager to please dogs if handled well, and very easy to train.

    This seems true with Wally as well. Once he learned I will protect him and handle stuff with/for him, he's like "hey big brother, see that dog over there? What are we going to do about him?"

    And if I "say" nothing by just having him come in the other direction, he's like "okay, let's go sniff something" LOL

    Wally's latent learning position.

    Believe in yourself, be the type of dog owner you want to be and you won’t need labels." - Dr. Abrantes

    "I hear, I know. I see, I remember. I do, I understand. " -Confucious says why I love shaping in a sentence.

    "Once you've entered the battle, you've already lost." -Amaryllis' mom on dog and child training.

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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    i think all you have to do is have the dog know that everything belongs to you, even the crate is yours. you can do this by having your hand in the crate even before the puppy goes in it. leaving your hands in the crate before the puppy goes in, can help him get use to your hands being in the crate. you should do this exercise a lot until he is comfortable with your hands in the crate. and remember to exercise the dog, by long walks before putting him in the crate, so that when he is in the crate he would be too tired to care that your reaching for him. hope this helps
    Last edited by slickooz; 03-13-2010 at 02:07 PM.

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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    Quote Originally Posted by slickooz View Post
    i think all you have to do is have the dog know that everything belongs to you, even the crate is yours. you can do this by having your hand in the crate even before the puppy goes in it. leaving your hands in the crate before the puppy goes in, can help him get use to your hands being in the crate. you should do this exercise a lot until he is comfortable with your hands in the crate. and remember to exercise the dog, by long walks before putting him in the crate, so that when he is in his crate he would be too tired to care that your reaching for him. hope this helps
    *soooo* not the way to deal with a fearful dog.

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    Re: Rescue dog with fear/trust issues

    www.fearfuldogs.com

    I can't recommend this site enough. Really.

    Plus, you've only had the pup for a week. He doesn't trust you. He doesn't know you. Building a relationship will take time, patience and lots of work. Make everything from you special and fun but take it really really slowly. If his only history of people has been being mistreated or harassed it's going to take some time for him to overcome this, if he ever FULLY does overcome it.

    Please go and check out the site. You will find it enlightening and very helpful.
    Maggi and Cracker, Dog about Rosedale


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