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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a new dog owner and I just adopted a 2 year old border collie mix- she's fantastic! She's certainly made progress in the week and a half that she's been here- giving me less trouble getting her out of her crate for a walk, eating pretty much as soon as the food is in front of her- but I want to know how to make her more comfortable. She does not leave her crate whatsoever unless I put her harness on her (while she's still inside) and take her outside to walk, and she only eats in the crate as well. I'm under the impression that she thinks she isn't allowed outside of it, even though the few times she's come out she's gotten lots of positive reinforcement. Same goes with food- I'm pretty sure she thinks she's only allowed to eat in the crate. I've placed her food bowl a foot or two outside the crate and done my best to gesture and tell her she can go eat, but she won't touch it until I move it inside the crate. How can I help her be more comfortable? I know it will take time- the poor girl has never had a home before and she's doing her best, I just want to know if there's anything I can do to make it easier on her.

She also has a dislike for my dad. We've been doing our best to show her he isn't a threat, and it's gotten a tiny bit better, but she still growled at him the other day even though I thought we were past that. I've mostly been telling him to just give her space and let her observe that he isn't going to hurt her or anyone else, but is there a better way to get her to trust him?

I've tried starting some clicker training with her, but it's hard to get through the "charging" stage when she's only in her crate and doesn't seem to be very focused on me. Any tips for this as well?

Thanks for the help!
 

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She sounds very fearful. It will take quite a lot to get her to feel confidence. This type of fear is usually hard wired.

She is growling at your Dad because she is afraid (men have deepr voices and different posture than women so appear a bit more threatening).

When you take her out to walk, how is she around other people and the environment in general? Does she seem vigilant and worried? If she will take food outside, that is where I would do some training.

As to training indoors, try taking her to a room and closing the door and train that way.

If she is too nervous to take food in either above situation, she has very big fear issues. Getting her a bit more confident is going to be a long and imperfect road where you will need to be extremely patient.

If, with everything, you do not see improvement in a couple of weeks I would take her back to wherever she came from (this is what I would do and I am offering this up as there is no shame in it if the dog is so lacking in confidence that she will never be a good or fun pet to own).
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thanks for the advice, I'll keep all of this in mind. Taking her back is not an option though, I think too many people don't give their dogs a chance and she deserves someone who will put in the effort.


She sounds very fearful. It will take quite a lot to get her to feel confidence. This type of fear is usually hard wired.

She is growling at your Dad because she is afraid (men have deepr voices and different posture than women so appear a bit more threatening).

When you take her out to walk, how is she around other people and the environment in general? Does she seem vigilant and worried? If she will take food outside, that is where I would do some training.

As to training indoors, try taking her to a room and closing the door and train that way.

If she is too nervous to take food in either above situation, she has very big fear issues. Getting her a bit more confident is going to be a long and imperfect road where you will need to be extremely patient.

If, with everything, you do not see improvement in a couple of weeks I would take her back to wherever she came from (this is what I would do and I am offering this up as there is no shame in it if the dog is so lacking in confidence that she will never be a good or fun pet to own).
 

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Thanks for the advice, I'll keep all of this in mind. Taking her back is not an option though, I think too many people don't give their dogs a chance and she deserves someone who will put in the effort.
I used to think this way.. then I saw people struggle for years with dogs that will never "get better" and the resources they spent. Rescues are often of the mind set to "save them all." Some should not be saved.. they are just so fearful and lead such unhappy lives in spite of the resources used to help them..

Here is a story about one dog that spent most of every day cowering in a crate (door wide open) where she was treated with nothing but kindness. At 7 she would still submissive pee.. and if she thought anything was "off" she ran and cowered in her crate. Finally at 8 years old (dog was gotten at 8 weeks old and given the best care and treated kindly) the owner said "Enough" and euthanized this dog. Released her from her self inflicted prison of fear. This dog was owned by someone who trained her and took her out and socialized her.. but around 8 months old the genes came out. Everything was tried.. and the dog was with a very experienced and knowledgeable person. The screws got loose in the dog's head.

What is a game changer for me does not have to be for you or anyone else. I only meant it as a caution.

I wish you every bit of luck and hope fervently that I am wrong and your dog does a 180 degree turn around and becomes an amazing dog.
 

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I wish you every bit of luck and hope fervently that I am wrong and your dog does a 180 degree turn around and becomes an amazing dog.
As someone with an anxious dog, they can still be amazing and good, fun pets. My dog has so much anxiety and is medicated for it and no, he isn't the dog I can take everywhere and do anything with that I maybe imagined when I got him. But he's incredibly smart, loyal, and loving and when you earn his trust and get past the anxiety, he is one of the most wonderful animals I've ever been around. He is fantastic with children, patient, learns things without me even trying to teach him, and has so much character. Just wanted to let you know OP that even crazy anxious dogs can be worth the time, though it sounds like you acknowledge this and kudos to you for giving this girl a chance!

As for your dad, the one thing I would add is treats and lots of them when they are in the room together. Quill has anxiety meeting new people, and I always make sure both they and I have a lot of treats in hand so if he goes to greet them, he is instantly rewarded with treats. Otherwise you are doing it just right. I tell people not to talk to Quill, touch him, or even look at him while he's learning they are safe. Let the dog decide when they want to approach the person. Your girl sounds really smart, so observing and seeing that your dad isn't a threat will likely help her learn to trust him in the long run. But she may never be as comfortable with him, so something to keep in mind!

For the food, if she's happiest eating in her crate, I don't really see an issue with that if you're okay with it. Crates are generally their "safe space" (Quill retreats to his anytime he isn't super comfortable with a situation) and that's likely why she's so attached to it right now. As she gets more comfortable with you and the house, she may start to come out more frequently. I know for things Quill is extra afraid of I use treat trails (he hates baths, for example, so I lay a trail of treats to the bath and then shower him with them once he willingly jumps in...then we DON'T give him a bath, so he knows that every time he goes in he gets something good and he doesn't always have to have the thing he hates). Maybe you could try a trail of treats out of her kennel leading to an EXTRA good treat (a little chew bone or something?) to show her the benefits of coming out of the crate?

I wouldn't worry so much about training other things via clicker training until she seems more comfortable in her new setting, honestly. As she gets more comfortable and realizes you are her person, she'll likely be easier to get to focus on you. When we move, Quill can take ~2 weeks to adjust to the house and that's for a dog moving with a person he knows and all his things he knows. I would imagine for a fearful dog who has just entered a completely new house with new people, it could very well be even longer for her to adjust, so patience is key!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thank you Marvel, this is really helpful!

I wish you every bit of luck and hope fervently that I am wrong and your dog does a 180 degree turn around and becomes an amazing dog.
As someone with an anxious dog, they can still be amazing and good, fun pets. My dog has so much anxiety and is medicated for it and no, he isn't the dog I can take everywhere and do anything with that I maybe imagined when I got him. But he's incredibly smart, loyal, and loving and when you earn his trust and get past the anxiety, he is one of the most wonderful animals I've ever been around. He is fantastic with children, patient, learns things without me even trying to teach him, and has so much character. Just wanted to let you know OP that even crazy anxious dogs can be worth the time, though it sounds like you acknowledge this and kudos to you for giving this girl a chance!

As for your dad, the one thing I would add is treats and lots of them when they are in the room together. Quill has anxiety meeting new people, and I always make sure both they and I have a lot of treats in hand so if he goes to greet them, he is instantly rewarded with treats. Otherwise you are doing it just right. I tell people not to talk to Quill, touch him, or even look at him while he's learning they are safe. Let the dog decide when they want to approach the person. Your girl sounds really smart, so observing and seeing that your dad isn't a threat will likely help her learn to trust him in the long run. But she may never be as comfortable with him, so something to keep in mind!

For the food, if she's happiest eating in her crate, I don't really see an issue with that if you're okay with it. Crates are generally their "safe space" (Quill retreats to his anytime he isn't super comfortable with a situation) and that's likely why she's so attached to it right now. As she gets more comfortable with you and the house, she may start to come out more frequently. I know for things Quill is extra afraid of I use treat trails (he hates baths, for example, so I lay a trail of treats to the bath and then shower him with them once he willingly jumps in...then we DON'T give him a bath, so he knows that every time he goes in he gets something good and he doesn't always have to have the thing he hates). Maybe you could try a trail of treats out of her kennel leading to an EXTRA good treat (a little chew bone or something?) to show her the benefits of coming out of the crate?

I wouldn't worry so much about training other things via clicker training until she seems more comfortable in her new setting, honestly. As she gets more comfortable and realizes you are her person, she'll likely be easier to get to focus on you. When we move, Quill can take ~2 weeks to adjust to the house and that's for a dog moving with a person he knows and all his things he knows. I would imagine for a fearful dog who has just entered a completely new house with new people, it could very well be even longer for her to adjust, so patience is key!
 
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