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Discussion Starter #1
Hello all,

We adopted Mayzie on Saturday. She has a heart of gold and looooves people but is quite fearful of all the new things in her life. She was taken from a bad situation and acts like she'll do just about anything to keep from getting into trouble.

Well, there have been two scary (for her) situations that have happened around my husband. The first was that yesterday he was laying on the bed and she tried to jump up over the footboard, misjudged it and actually ran right into the footboard. She immediately went into her crate and it took him 15 minutes to coax her back out.

Then today when he took her for her walk, he had her on a retractable leash (which I am NOT a fan of). He accidentally dropped the leash and of course it scared the crap out of her. So she took off running and he took off running after her. She finally got tangled up in something and he was able to catch her.

Well, now it seems she associates him with these two fearful incidents. She won't come out of her crate no matter how much he coaxes her. And if she's sitting up in her crate when he walks by, she cowers down. The GOOD thing is that she isn't so afraid that she won't take food from him. When I got home at lunch, I got out some chicken and she came out of her crate. I handed it to him and he fed her and she let him pet her.

I'm thinking that we just need to let him be the only one to give her the high value treats for awhile. But does anyone have any other ideas how he can gain her trust back after these two incidents?

Thanks so much!
 

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The most important ingredient is patience. She's only been in her new environment for 4 days and she's still trying to figure things out. It will take time but she'll come around (and maybe become more confident than you want! :D)

When we adopted Mabel she was scared to death of me and would "submissive pee" if I so much as looked at her. Within 3 months she was Daddy's girl, following me everywhere.

Positive re-enforcement (treats?) when she's doing something good will go a long way to building her confidence. Look into clicker training. It's amazing how clicker training can establish positive associations in the dog's mind. (but test the clicker with her first...she might be afraid of the sound; our Mabel is terrified of any metal-on-metal sound).

It sounds like you're keeping a close, observant eye on what upsets her. That's great, since so much of the harm is done just by not being observant.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks so much, Bob. My hubby is nuts about Mayzie and it's killing him that she is associating him with scary things happening.

And you're right...it's only been four days. I guess my hubby and I both get worried that stuff like this is going to set her back forever. This morning, she came into the kitchen on her own (big!) and we did a very brief training session. I think it left both she and I feeling happy. Then when I came home at lunch, she wouldn't even come out of her crate to see me. It's like one step forward and two steps back.

I love hearing stories like yours because it gives me hope that this is all going to work out. Thank you!
 

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It will be okay. As Dog Tracks said, patience is definitely key. Keep up the treats and don't pressure her when she's feeling afraid. If she's really terrified of him right now, tell him to not make eye contact with her and instead just casually drop treats on to the floor.

Also, check out this site:

www.fearfuldogs.wordpress.com They have a lot of good tips for dealing with fear.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
MissMutt - Thank you for that link. It's VERY helpful and I've signed up for their yahoo group.

I bought some hot dogs after work. We warmed them up and he sat in the floor and she came up to him and took pieces from him. And they're sitting on the couch together, although not right next to each other.

The worst thing is that when I got home, my husband said he took her outside and she just shut down. This is huge because she has really shown NO fear of being outside. In fact, she almost seems like a different dog outside...much more confident. Sigh. I hope this is just a passing thing.
 

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How old is she? Some dogs go through fear periods in their adolescence. She could have been going through something like that, and then it was only heightened by the loud noises startling her.

What makes her most happy? Food? A squeaky toy? A chew stick? Use this to your advantage.. she needs to basically re-associate your husband with a good thing. I am working on doing that right now with my father.. and for me, it's a lot harder, because he forced himself on my dog at the beginning, so we've got some big obstacles to climb.

Don't give up. Working with fear problems take time and consistency but they can be done. In a year I've accomplished more with my fearful dog thatn I ever thought I would. The rewards are seemingly endless. :)
 

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I've had a couple fearful (shy) dogs and found the best things to do are (1) never coddle or reassure the dog, (2) build confidence through daily obedience training and nilif, and (3) patience. And, once the dog knows basic obedience, sign up for agility classes.
 

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You've had the dog for less than a week so she's still adjusting to everything. I would avoid giving the dog affection/attention when the dog is scared. If you do you're just encouraging that behavior. Let the dog go in her crate if she wants and then ignore her until she comes out again is what I'd do. If the dog sees that you're not uneasy or scared it will rub off on her.
 

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Sooner -- The training sessions are great builders. It's real important to keep them short and always end them on a high note (when she's done the right thing and knows it). So, "short" might be one minute, or five minutes; rarely more than ten minutes. My favorite way to end the session is with some rapid-fire treats.

It's great that you're being so observant of your puppy's reactions. You'll start to pick up on when she's "getting it" that she's doing the right thing, feeling safe or scared, etc.

Main thing is to take it slow. Don't be discouraged if she has little "regression" episodes. My dog-fear-aggressive dog, Mabel, has come a long way to tolerating other dogs (a lot of work on our and her part) but occassionally reverts back.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Great, great information here. I'm passing along all the tips to my hubby.

Yesterday was just a hard day for her. First, the retractable leash. Then, we had a snowstorm move in and we could NOT get her to pee in the backyard. I put her on a leash and walked her around, but nothing. So we decided to take both dogs around the block in the snow with the wind howling. She was clearly miserable and kept trying to turn around and go back to the house. But finally at the end of the street, she decided to go. Whew!

Then this morning, she wouldn't come out of her crate. So I had to tempt her with food, get a leash on her and take her back out into the snow-filled backyard. At least she went this time!

We're going to try to make sure all her interactions with my hubby are positive ones and he is going to try not to pressure her to interact with him. She and I had a little treat/play session this morning and that seemed to relax quite a bit.

Oh, and Miss Mutt, she's probably between one and two years old. Would there be a fear stage at that point in their development?

Paws crossed!
 
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