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Hi everyone. I rescued a Shepherd 8 months ago. Ranger is an amazing dog, but he was so abused that he would pee with just simple eye contact when he arrived. I have spent a lot of time trying to help him. I meditate over him and that is the only thing that regulates his breathing. He is very willing and wants to please. It just breaks my heart when he lays down with his tail between his legs at the slightest correction or even when asked to sit. I want to punch the people who had him before, but I digress... He has made a lot of progress but it seems short lived and I have to start all over again almost every 5 days. I work him off leash with my pack and he does very well but as soon as he can he will break free from them. I just fear that his life will be cut short with all of this stress...Does anyone have any suggestions (other than medication, I won't do that to him..)?
 

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I'm sorry you are having a tough time. The only advice I can really give you is give it more time. I know that it has already been 8 months, but it can take awhile.

When we rescued Clyde, he was a breeder dog at a puppy mill, hit regularly and they would hose down the cage with him still inside. The breeder was a male so he was scared to death of all men. It took a full 14 months for him to trust my husband and he still has times when he doesn't. We just used lots of positive reinforcement (aka tons of happy tones and treats), and if he was scared and ran off, we just let him have some time to himself.

Have you tried getting a crate or a little corner that is cozy and can be all his own? Clyde has a bed in the corner and would retreat there when he got scared. We made sure it was out of the way and when he is there, we don't go near it. It's a safe zone for him where he knows he will be left alone.
 

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Hi Firefly.. Yes Ranger has a very large Igloo that he loves. I have to make him come out of it sometimes. I just hope that time works. He is an older dog as it is.. I have 5 acres and he would rather stay on the deck and hide..
 

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Poor pup. Hopefully others will have some suggestions. Clyde wouldn't even come in the door for the first 6 months if my husband was within view of it. Eventually he just started to trust. He was about 2 years when we got him. It is horrible to think what some people must do to dogs to get them to be so scared.
 

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Don't do any corrections at all. GSDs are very intelligent and drivy, when handled badly, they go neurotic and over sensitive. The only punishment you can possibly use is the removal of attention.

If training is setting him off, he probably was abused during training. You must change the training. Use different words. You may have to use a clicker to free shape the behaviors, because clearly formalized training triggers fear in him.

Don't push anything. You must build trust, give him space and let him come to you.
 

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Hi .. Thanks for that suggestion. Yes, I do not use words with him or any of my dogs, only energy and hand signals. He has picked up on everyting very quickly. I just can't seem to get him to relax. He always looks like he is affraid someone is going to hit him. He listens very well and wants to please, so that is not an issue. I guess I just have to keep giving him space and love. He really likes it when I do non-verbal energy work with him and will be relaxed for a few hours. I have rehabed abused dogs before. I have just never seen a case this severe. I just want so badly for him to know that he is safe and loved here..... It breaks my heart. I can't even think about what must have happened to him to make him feel this way...If you guys can think of anything else please share it. I am open to any suggestion that is healthy for him and the rest of my pack.
 

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Hi everyone. I rescued a Shepherd 8 months ago. Ranger is an amazing dog, but he was so abused that he would pee with just simple eye contact when he arrived. I have spent a lot of time trying to help him. I meditate over him and that is the only thing that regulates his breathing. He is very willing and wants to please. It just breaks my heart when he lays down with his tail between his legs at the slightest correction or even when asked to sit. I want to punch the people who had him before, but I digress... He has made a lot of progress but it seems short lived and I have to start all over again almost every 5 days. I work him off leash with my pack and he does very well but as soon as he can he will break free from them. I just fear that his life will be cut short with all of this stress...Does anyone have any suggestions (other than medication, I won't do that to him..)?
I teach dogs to bark at me or be vocal with me and be a demanding as that builds confidence as well. I usually start with just touch until I find a way of petting the dog really likes and when I stop and the dog does the slightest thing to indicate it didn't want me to stop I pet some more and build on that movement asking for a little bit more until the dog isn't shy about asking for things and barks when I quit petting, and spread that confidence to other things the dog might want like food, or to go out, or to play etc.. and bring them out of their shell quite nicely.. Sometimes a bit too nicely and I have to set a few boundaries, but only after the shell has been broken and trust is there.

Playing games like tug can do wonders for building a dog's confidence as well as building a dogs trust in me.. I use it to let a dog know it can be physical with me, and even growl, and nothing bad will happen.. ;) Sometimes it takes a lot to get that first tug with a very low self esteem dog though, a flirt pole with a fleece tug on the end of a string can help, bring out the natural prey drive to draw him out and then make it interactive.
 

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The others have provided helpful advice, but I had to respond to this.

Does anyone have any suggestions (other than medication, I won't do that to him..)?
If a dog needs heart medicine, he should get it. If he needs pain killer, he should get it. If medication can help your pup feel like he's in a less scary world, what's wrong with that? Of course you wouldn't just give him medicine and do nothing else, but it can be helpful along with other things.

I have a shy dog, Cupid. He has come a long way since I got him, but I wouldn't hesitate to give him medication if I thought he needed it.
 

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I just scrolled through more of the comments. What is this guy's history (at least as far as you know it)? How old is he? Has he ever lived inside?
 

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Hi,
I rescued a 4 month old Catahoula who was living with hoarders (40 dogs in a back yard, no food and no water) no human contact, it was dog eat dog but this pup had his mother with her so she protected her for the first two months. The pup had mange and was quarantined for two months until age 4 months. She wouldn't make eye contact, cowered and ran when we came near her. Now she is 7 months, makes eye contact, will come and put her head on our laps and is learning some commands. We have an older Catahoula who is helping to socialize the young one along with trips to the dog park to replace her fears about being with other dogs and people. She still won't let us pet her on the head but will let us reach under her chin and Then pet her head. Some techniques we used included massaging her, bringing her to our bed to sleep with us (along with the other Cat), and using food as motvators. She is still very skittish and fearful at times, we have to wake her up during the night as she has what I would call horrible nightmares! Buttt...she is sweet tempered and I know with more time she will begin to trust us more. She too was very afraid of men and loud noises. One day we had her in our fenced yard and it was going to rain...she began digging a burrow frantically and then laid down and curled up. Does that break your heart!!! She is a pack animal and knows we are alpha, I think that is very important so we avoid fear biting. Good luck, it is so worth it.
 

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Hi schester. I have a two month old lab mix that we got from the shelter. She was really scared to begin with and she still has her moments. If I'm sitting in a chair and I stand up she runs into her crate. She still gets scared of new places and she doesn't like heights. She's gotten better and I know it will take time. I'm sure he'll get better. I'd recommend continuing to use praise and obviously give him lots of love. Sometimes simply sitting with Bella and loving on her relaxes her so much. Good luck and keep us updated. :)
 
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