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I recently took in a dog that had for all its life lived primarily in a small dog crate. Her world was measured in inches not in experiences, love came in the form of a dish of food and a bowl of water. When she failed at motherhood she proved worthless to her former owner and found her way into our home. She was not housetrained and knew nothing of playing with other dogs. She soaked in affection like a sponge. She's learned so much and had come so far, but recently she's been having a hard time. At first we had a kennel for her since it was what she knew but had to get rid of it because we couldn't get her out of it. She wasn't afraid outside the kennel she just had always been in one and thought that was where she belonged, she'd cry seeing the other dogs or treats outside the cage but wouldn't come out. Taking her outside to potty was an ordeal as she's 60lbs. For at least 3-4 months she'd been doing great but recently decided she didn't want to come in the house. Now its a fight to get her inside the house even if its 10 degrees outside and she's shivering. The routine never changed, nothing frightening, just one day she didn't want to come inside and balked on the ramp. But sometimes she goes inside with no issue other times it's impossible and takes 8 trips outside. When she's inside she runs to one of three spots she lays and there she stays unmoving for hours and hours, until she goes outside. Which she doesn't want to do. She was not doing this before. She will not interact with the other dogs inside now either. It's gotten so bad that trying to move her will send her into a complete panic where she runs as if she's never been inside our house before and has no idea where anything is, tipping things over and spinning out on the hardwood floor, falling on her side and flailing until she's on her feet again. It's gotten so bad that now she won't eat or drink unless I slide her to one of the food dishes. She's hungry all the time, to the point of trying to eat anything that falls near her even coins. If you put an object in one of her places she'll cram herself against it laying in a painfully awkward position and cry from the discomfort. If you put human food on the floor inches out of her reach she'll stretch to the max then cry and drool unable to get to the food because she will not get up. We took her to vet thinking either she'd gone blind or physically could not get up but she's physically fine. And when outside she has non of these behaviors, she eats, runs, gets up fine, and plays hard with the same dogs she's inside with. It's horrible to see her this way after she was doing so well. We've also had to explain that its not a medical condition to people who come over and think our dog is so sick it can't move and we're ok with that. Outside of that it's becoming an issue we have to get resolved, her constant flail outs are starting to rile up one of our dogs who thinks she's lunging at us or our other dog because its so sudden and dramatic. And there have been a few times we've fallen or had things broken or fallen on her due to her not moving out of the way or running frantically into us or into things. Dog trainers here have had no idea what to do and I am at a loss on how to help.
 

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I wish I had some great advice for you but I don't have the expertise to offer it. Hopefully others will come on with suggestions. I just wanted to say thank you for taking this sweet pooch in. She obviously had a horrible life before you. I'm sure she will need time and lots of patience to resolve any issues she is having.
 

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Thank you for the response, for having such a horrible life she is the sweetest dog. A true testament of how remarkable dogs are in their capacity to forgive us humans for the terrible things we do to them. I really just want to do right by her, and make up for the terrible life she's had until now because of a selfish terrible person and I feel like I'm failing her. She's obviously in distress and I don't have a clue how to make this better for her, so I hope someone can offer a suggestion. I have been praising her when she doesn't immediately go to one of the spots on coming back inside even if it's just for a few seconds and she's been coming inside better so I'm hoping that there is a correlation between the two things, even if I don't understand it.
 

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In your position, I'd be looking for a qualified behaviorist. Think of a trainer like a schoolteacher, whereas a behaviorist is like a therapist. These can be veterinary behaviorists - fully trained vets who took further training/education into animal behavior and behavior modification, including medicine - or canine behaviorists who have either studied in an academic program or become certified through a group like CCPDT. The latter can't prescribe medication, but they can offer a lot more insight into behavioral therapy you can do to mitigate her symptoms and help her learn how to function in her new life. They may still suggest you talk to your regular vet about medication if they think she would benefit.

Just a warning that anyone can legally call themselves a behaviorist, which is why I emphasized finding someone with third-party credentials or certification from a trusted institution, or who comes recommended from a trusted vet. CCPDT actually has a search function on their website that can help you find whether they've certified anyone in your area.

I also mentioned medication a few times - basically doggy prozac and the like. My personal feelings towards this is that if a dog is so anxious that they cannot function in the home, it might be worth it to consider anxiety medication. This is not - or should not be - just a sedative to make her stop acting stressed, but actual psychiatric medication that allows her brain to process stress in a healthier way and stabilize enough that she can understand she's safe and learn how to function and cope in this big new world. Some dogs need it for life, but quite a few can be weaned off once they've learned those better coping skills. A vet doesn't have to be a behaviorist to prescribe them, so this is an option even if you can't find a professional to help you with behavior modification right away. And yes, I've seen anxiety medication work wonders on a friend's dog - really amazing results, and now the dog lives a full life, including participating in dog sports/events.

If you're curious, I love this article: http://www.drjensdogblog.com/behavior-medication-first-line-therapy-or-last-resort/

Wishing you so much luck. She's so lucky to have found you.
 

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How long have you had the dog? I got a dog from much the same circumstances. She had been in a box stall from the time she was a puppy. When they found they could not get her bred, they wanted to get rid of her. When I first got her, she would bolt off if you came near her. She would not come through a door or gate unless you stood way back, then she would bolt through. It took over a year before I could open a door and she would come through it. I did have the advantage of having other dogs so she learned a lot from them. She still has the occasional time when she does not want to come in but I would just close the door and try again later.

I got her in August 2017 and it has only been in the last year that I could walk up to her outside and put a leash on her and she wags her tail all the time and comes to me for pats all the time. She finally acts like a normal dog but is still terrified of anyone other than me.
 
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