Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 9 of 9 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hi all,

I've posted this thread a week ago telling about our new rescue dog that is afraid of us.
https://www.dogforums.com/attention-all-new-members/504560-new-rescue-dog-afraid.html

I'll just make a brief introduction for her: She's with me and my wife for about 3 weeks, She is still scared of us- turns her head when we pet her and takes a few steps back when we approach in her direction. She would barley leave her crate for the entire time. In the last 3 days we had good progress- we decided to put her Crate right next to the living room sofa (a 3 meter difference from the old spot)- So now she spends most of the time outside her crate on the sofa and sits with us regularly- even comes to ask for food if we seat on the same sofa and eat. She will follow my wife to the kitchen when my wife makes her meals- so it's better (still gets scared when we move or touch her).
We don't walk her because she won't come anywhere and just freezes so we set some pads in the house where she knows as the place for needs.

My questions relate to educating style- today I wanted her to get back to her crate without scaring her, it didn't work (I let her stay outside eventually), and of course about telling her to do or not to do other staff (as walking with us for a walk and not just staying)

1. Should I use assertive-demanding voice (not shouting) when I tell her to do stuff or to come over? or would it just scare her more?

2. Should I wait with education until she feels safe with us?

Have any other education inputs?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,379 Posts
The LAST thing I would do is be assertive with this dog.

Education can still happen.
I would not feed her in a bowl and start with the crate since she feels safe in the crate. I would make her earn her food and I use the word "make her" very loosely here.

I would introduce her first to a positive reward marker. Start by NOT feeding her food out of a bowl. All food comes from you or your wife by hand. All of it. The first step is to create a positive association with a word. I use the word YES. You can choose to use a clicker instead. You simply say "Yes" and feed the dog a bit of food. If she has not eaten any breakfast (or dinner) you can start with something like pieces of chicken or roast beef.. something REALLY good and REALLY high value. Say YES and then feed her a bit of food. Repeat.

The object is for her to make a positive association with the word Yes (or the click.. but the clicker might scare her). Since she IS so scared I would build the word YES for about three days.. so all of her food is associated with that word. If I could I would break her food into 3 or 4 sessions a day and simply build that positive association with the word.

When it is clear that she knows YES means "food" I would then use Yes and associate it with something she does (like going in her crate). If she OFFERS to go into the crate, say Yes and throw food in the crate. If she offers to sit, the instant she sits you say YES and give her food. The trick is timing. Yes must be delivered exactly as the behavior happens and food MUST follow every time so she knows that you will never "lie" to her about food delivery after the positive reward marker.

You may find you can actually work on something in 3 to 5 minute intervals once she gets the association between Yes and Food and doing something getting you to say Yes so she gets food. She must be comfortable with the situation when you are working with her and it is best if these sessions are random (considering her fears). Once she learns she can make YOU say Yes by doing something so you then feed her you should find your road an easier one.

As to recall, the best thing is to start with her name. Once she learns that Yes = Really good Food you can try sitting on the couch and then saying her name. The instant she looks at you, say Yes and offer the food (she must eat it at you.. either off your lap or from your hand). This will start to teach her recall by first teaching her that her name means something good and that something good will be delivered from you.

These are just ideas. They should do no harm but they also may not work (cannot see the dog). You can give it a go.

She may NEVER be an easy dog due to fear which is most likely genetic. OTOH you may help her enough to give her sufficient confidence to be a nice house dog. All you can do is try and all it will cost you is time and some really good food (at the outset).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,296 Posts
Don't pet this dog. What you are looking for is behavior modification. Look up desensitization and counter conditioning. This dog does not need an "education." She needs to learn, through your actions, that she is safe. Trying to pet her or move towards her, or ANY action on your part that causes a fear reaction on hers, will work against that goal.

However, this does not mean you should let her do whatever she wants. For example, you did a great job opting for potty pads so that you don't need to handle her. If you don't want her in a certain area, yet you can't get her back into her crate, make it so that she cannot get into areas you don't want her to be in. If this dog were in my home she would probably live in a penned area in a central part of the house, and he pen would containing her crate, toys, water, and potty pads. She would not get free roam of the house or come out of her pen. I would use positive reinforcement training with her and methods like shaping and capturing. I wouldn't even use luring (too much pressure to interact with people). Only after she has started to trust me, I would start to do some desensitization and counter conditioning to handling. Once I can trust that she is comfortable enough to be on leash, I would do desensitization and counter conditioning with leash handling exercises. Then, she could come out of the pen and have more freedom, yet be dragging a leash.

ETA: I just read that your dog is 8 years old. She will likely be fearful, to some degree, for the rest of her life. However, I imagine she has a lot of potential and can bond with you and your partner given time and patience (and being hands-off, and prioritizing your dog's needs above your desire for control.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thank you so much for the suggestions. I started using some and we have seen very good progress. I feed her only from my hands, and pet her head while she eats saying "good girl" - is petting still a don't do in that situation? I will continue to teach her in that way. Should I wait for her to leave her spot and come to me to eat? or should I show her the food and lure her to my direction?
Since she is spending time on the couch with us, she is more confident around us, but she is still scared.

I wanted to bring her something to play with- that might keep her busy. She won't play with regular toys so I thought about a toy with a hidden treat that I will put (She loves bones, but missing many teeth so I can bring her something to chew). Do you think about something that will be attractive for her? I plan on a playdate with a very friendly dog as well once her she'll recover from kennel cough
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,296 Posts
With fearful dogs, all petting must be on THEIR terms. A lot of people think the dog 'likes it' when being pet while eating. However, usually the dog wants to eat... and tolerates petting while they are doing it because they are hungry/motivated enough for the food. "Tolerating" and "Enjoying" are two different things. I would not force a fearful dog to just tolerate, as it can make things worse over time. You can tell a dog likes to be pet when she's seeking it out, leaning into it, soft body language. If a dog is stiff, frantic about finishing what they're doing, wide-eyed, body leaning away, twitchy, flinchy, etc... then the petting is doing more harm than good.

I'm also not a fan of luring with fearful dogs for the same reason. It's more of a "to get the food I MUST come to you" situation, rather than a "I want to come to you" situation. You are not really increasing trust; you are manipulating hunger. Shaping is much less invasive and more effective. I would recommend working with a professional, certified trainer who can guide you in this process.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,450 Posts
Canyx and 3GSD4IPO both gave some really good advice.

I would not pet her while she's eating (good advice for any dog really). They may tolerate it because they want the food, but they don't like it. Dogs generally want to be left alone while eating, other than being hand fed.

I wanted to bring her something to play with- that might keep her busy. She won't play with regular toys so I thought about a toy with a hidden treat that I will put (She loves bones, but missing many teeth so I can bring her something to chew). Do you think about something that will be attractive for her?
A Kong stuffed with peanut butter, coconut oil, wet dog food, etc. would be a great idea. Most dogs love them. Again I wouldn't pet her or bother her while she's licking it, just let her have it in peace :) You can use it as a reward for something too. For example, my dogs only get Kongs when they are left home alone. They get a frozen Kong when I put them in their crates and leave. They LOVE it and will happily run down the hallway and launch themselves into their crates because they know they're going to get that delicious Kong, which they don't get any other time.

Personally I would hold off any any play dates until the dog is much more comfortable.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,391 Posts
You may notice an improvement in mood when she is heals from Kennel cough. Being sick adds to the stress of a new home.

A service dog trainer in Atlanta uses a method that she calls bond-based training to help new dogs relax. She sits on the floor (or on the sofa in your case), takes a bite from a small cube of cheese, then shares the remainder with the dog. And repeats with 5 - 10 cubes of cheese, at least once a day. Trust and progress may improve more quickly. Don't stare at her when she takes the cheese, but you can look at her gently while smiling. After a few days of this exercise, if you see her beginning to relax, then say her name just before sharing the cheese with her. Let us know how this works.

What the others have suggested is true, that you shouldn't force the dog to accept petting or disturb her while eating. However, if the dog comes to you and already has the food, is free to leave, and chooses to stay, or even lean into the petting, then you'll have to evaluate if she is staying for additional food or for the petting. She may not be secure to be alone, but she may not want to roam far from her crate. If her crate is open, but she likes the pillow, allow her that option. It could take her a month or two to gain the courage to explore.

It sounds like you already seen her perk up at the Vet with other dogs. If so, that may be the bridge that strengthens the bond with you. I think you should consider interaction with another dog after she heals, possibly discussing this with the Vet, since both of you have observed her first hand. You might place the friendly dog in a fenced area, and then approach the area with your dog. If she pulls toward the dog in a friendly way, like you observed at the Vet, then I recommend a playdate. After they are comfortable or after 30 min of play, you might go into the area, and allow the friendly dog to approach you. Pet the friendly dog and ignore your dog, unless she comes over for attention. When your dog sees that another dog is safe with you, her trust with you may increase greatly. I have seen that non-aggressive, timid dogs are sometimes less shy with people who have dogs.

I didn't see much about whether she is shy with any dogs, only shy with you, or shy with all people? Who she is shy with and how she reacts in various situations makes a difference in how you train her. Also the type of breed may paint a clearer picture of her.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
Thank you so for helping us. We really love her and we want to do the best for her.
I stopped petting her, with or without food and also stopped luring her.
I think Kong is a great option for her, I hope she'll like it.

She is fearful around all people, she wasn't socializing in the shelter- just stayed in her bed (when they tried to walk her out she always tried to escape).
Another question I have- under such conditions, will clicker be a good training option for her?

She is a mixed hound, I'm adding some pictures of her in case you are interested or it could help

https://i.imgur.com/JWn2tT7.jpg - on our way back from the shelter on her first day
https://i.imgur.com/okg3WWK.jpg- Hiding during a walk the next day when we still thought we could walk her
https://i.imgur.com/4Bd8Gls.jpg- Her Crate (it's the old location and "design"- we moved her 3 meters to the living room and her peds are in a different place)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,391 Posts
Nice pictures. Cute girl. It is a good sign, if she was sleeping when you took the photo in her crate. A scared dog might need to watch you all the time, but a timid/shy dog, may just need a few more months of learning about you. I think the bonding exercise with cheese will help.

A clicker is a great training method. After you try the bonding method with cheese, to get her used to taking food from you, the clicker could be a good next step. Some dogs are scared of the clicker. If she is alerted or startled, but still takes the cheese when you are loading the clicker, that's probably OK. But, if she cringes and won't take the treat, you might try a different 'clicker'. You can muffle the sound with a piece of cloth, if needed. If she is noise sensitive, you can even use a small push button light or pointer as an indicator instead of a clicker.
 
1 - 9 of 9 Posts
Top