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Hi all,

My husband and I just brought home our dog, Mittsy, last night. She was abandoned in an apartment (we believe for three days or so) and then temporarily rescued by a co-worker of mine. We believe she is a lab/collie mix of some sort and about one year old but will be taking her to the vet early next week to get her all checked.

First things first, she has fleas! We have already given her the treatment that is applied topically on the top of her neck but I am wondering if anyone has suggestions on how to make her more "comfortable" while that is taking effect. She is scratching and nipping at herself constantly. There is also the concern of the fleas forever embedding themselves in our home.... Any advice is welcomed!

When we had our first meet with her she was pretty shy but began warming up to me within minutes. I could tell she had an issue with men though. We don't know much about her history but I can assume that there was some sort of abuse (whether physical or not) and neglect. A good dog owner doesn't just up and leave their pet in an apartment! So, my second question to all of you is: what are some ways that my husband can gain her trust? He is EXCELLENT with dogs and had his hand in training/raising multiple family dogs while growing up. We are using positive reinforcement, kneeling down to her level when we get close to her, and petting her while she eats which all seem to be working well.

Just over the last 18 hours or so we have seen a huge improvement in her timidness and I am sure it will take time for her to get comfortable. I just want to make sure we are doing everything in our power to let her know that she can trust us.

P.S. She is very well-mannered, seems to be house trained (although in the last 5 times I've taken her out for a walk she has only piddled once!), does a decent job on a leash, is eating and drinking regularly, and slept through the night last night. She does seem to have a little bit of seperation anxiety too but that is to be expected I suppose.

Thanks in advance for your words of wisdom!
 

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First, let me say it's very unlikely that the two problems (fleas and distrust of men) are related. ;)

Here's a good way to build trust: Have your husband sit in the same room with her, ignoring her, holding a very hi-value treat, like a piece of chicken or cheese or something. Don't make eye contact and don't speak to her. Block the exits, so she can't leave the room. She will approach and eventually take the treat, but he shouldn't make a move towards her, or even acknowlege her in any way. If he reaches out to her, she'll think he was using the treat to lure her in to a trap or something. That ends the session.

Repeat until she gets comfortable enough to stay close by without signaling distrust. Then, start stroking her face or chin, instead of reaching your hand over the top of her head. Petting her on the head will come later, after she trusts you.

Doesn't matter if you do 1 or 2 or 5 sessions in a day, but give her a decent time interval between sessions, and make sure that once you start a session, don't give up, however long it takes. Giving up sends the message that she's not really all that important to you, and she will understand the message perfectly. It'll be a good investment of time. You'll only have to go through this ritual a few times.
 

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For the fleas, what brand of flea drops did you use? Many of the OTC brands are less effective and more toxic than the vet-quality brands. A lot of the vet-quality brands are available OTC. . .Frontline and Advantage mainly. They're OK as long as you buy them from a reputable dealer. But the store brands like Hartz and Sergeant just aren't any good at all.

My favorite product for getting rid of fleas fast is Capstar. If she has a bad infestation, you can give one every day if you need to. My usual treatment method is to give Capstar at the same time that I apply the spot-on. This knocks the flea population down and gives the topical product time to work.
 

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Yes, Capstar! It knocks all the adult fleas off the animal within a few hours. That would be just what you are looking for to make the dog more comfortable right away. They'll scratch more at first, as the dying fleas scramble around, but then they'll feel much better. It does not require a prescription, but can be hard to find in pet stores...if you can't find it, it is available on Amazon. As far as your house goes, once you've treated the dog, wash all bedding she has used in hot water and do a thorough vacuum...several vaccuums, probably, to catch new fleas that might be hatching. When we were battling fleas, I was vacuuming every day for a while, ugh. Fortunately, this is an easier time of year to get rid of them, they reproduce faster in warm and humid conditions, so dry winter houses slow down their lifecycle and make it easier for us to get on top of them.
 
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