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Hi everyone this is my first post and it is a long one but I hope that it is taken in the spirit it is meant as I don't need to be told what an irresponsible owner I am because we are trying really hard.

My daughter (11) and myself are first time dog owners, literally know nothing about owning dogs, she decided she wanted a dog and I told her we can get a rescue dog as all my animals have been rescues.

When I was searching on my list was could live with cats, has to travel in car well and no behaviour issues willing to take on mild training as I didn't feel confident as again first time owner other than that, breed, age etc completely open and I told them that.

We adopted from Dogs trust about 6 months ago and was told the 8 year Lurcher that we adopted was a "green sticker" dog so no behavioural or health issues. Sorry naivety was at 500%, we took the dog for the designated two visits but each time she was trembling, weather was frigid so I thought she was cold. Being a Lurcher she was thin but I was told her was in the normal weight range however in hindsight I believe she was underweight as you could see 5 ribs and 3 bumps of her backbone very prominently, however we took her home based on their assessment with her.

When we got her home, we knew there would be a settling in period but we have realised it is much more than that now, we have a highly fearful dog on our hands.

We have worked very hard with her and we have been taking the patient, rewarding desirable behaviour route as suggested by the behaviourist we are working with but honestly I am exhausted and I am thinking of taking her back as I specifically did not want such a responsibility as a first dog.

We have worked through many behaviour issues but each time we seem to get a breakthrough another arises.

She was scared to walk and constantly freezing, it took us 45 minutes to walk 50 metres to the end of our road. Now when it is just us, she is bouncy and walks confidently but now she doesn't freeze but instead displacement behaviour anytime ANYONE is around, even across the road or far away, ears go to skull, tail between legs, head down and eyes in different direction and starts sniffing whatever is in reach.
She used to freeze solid when a dog tried to interact with her, now she is more comfortable she gets aggressive and barks at them if they go near her back region despite showing signs of interest when the other dog is far away, I am constantly turning trying to avoid altercations and the venom from other owners when I say she is nervous (we have the yellow nervous lead) so we would rather walk on sorry, response along the lines is don't worry our dog is friendly she barks, they get offended, or a dog off lead comes charging at her she gets aggressive and barks I actively avoid parks now.

She was well toliet trained for the first few weeks we had her, now she has started I don't know what to call it, female equivalent of scent marking ot anxious peeing??? every time we go out and inside now as well but I think indoors is because of the cats. Careful introduction technique, we have now reached the stage where she has contact with the cats but they have a distant respectful relationship at the moment, the cats move very carefully around her although I only allow them in the same space when I am around as I think it is too early days for otherwise but so far I am happy.

She comes in the house and immediately her body language goes from anxious to what we deem as depressed, her eyes get huge, she chooses to stay in one room rarely interacts, I call her if I am in another room trying to get her to explore the house, she stay for a few seconds then runs back in the living room to lie down on the duvet and stays there until either going out or bedtime.

We bought her lots of different toys, Kongs, lickimat, soft sqeaky, tennis type ball, puzzle treat toy, snuffle mat and a bone, she does not show any interest in anything, she doesn't want to play.

Her stools were liquid when she came but I put that down to stress, she refused to eat the food the shelter gave her, I extensively researched home made food recipes and I now cook all her meals, she now has solid normal stools and has put on weight which I believe she is in the normal range now.

It took us a while to get her in the car, she immediately lay down, she started getting confident and started sitting up and taking everything in but now she is back to square one again and straight down. She doesn't go in the car if anyone is around.

She is scared to step on any surface that is not carpet or concrete, I have had to put down many mats on my laminate flooring as I wasn't able to get her out of the house or upstairs. She will not go on the tiled floor in the kitchen unless it is covered.

I try to get her to explore the garden thinking it might be more comfortable for her than the constant stimulus of taking her out. I open the door while I am in the kitchen and sometimes going out with her, trying to encourage her, if I put her on lead she puts her head down and big eyes with tail between legs and refuses to move and off lead she gets nervous and runs back in the living room after a minute or two.

The stairs, well she was petrified of the stairs, it was a two person job, took about a hour I had to literally move her one leg at a time up 14 steps and that took over an hour, many hot dogs and over and over a month to get her go up but now she will only if told.

We had a crate for her and she was afraid to go in there until I covered everywhere apart from the door.

She never shows any interest in anything, she never explores or follows you around, she literally goes from the duvet in the living room to the crate and that is her chosen existence. No amount of coaxing is encouraging her to interact more or feel more at home, I am feeling very overwhelmed and honestly it is emotionally exhausting and extremely time consuming trying to constantly manage all of the various scenarios, we cannot go for a walk like normal if your walk is 30 mins ours takes at least a hour as you are constantly stopping and having to consider her anxious moments.

I am not enjoying owning her at all and she just seems miserable, it is extremely stressful and already impacted our life in such a negative manner, my daughter is nervous to even interact with her even though I am always there because of her behaviours. I could probably deal with separation anxiety as she is with me all the time so it wouldn't be too much of an issue or overexcitement but this...

I feel like she is stuck and although working with a behaviourist and given a clean bill of health I don't feel I can go on like this for much longer, her default is to go into this state, she is so sensitive she even gets nervous of the birds singing.
What else can I do, I just feel I cannot manage her in the long term. I was not expecting a perfect dog, like I said all my animals are rescue and have had quite a few but I feel she should have been written down as severe behaviour issues only for owners with experience of nervous dogs, I would not have taken her, we were searching for a dog for over a year as we wanted to find the correct dog for our home, going to the Battersea, Blue Cross, Wood Green and Dogs Trust several times but she was exhibiting these behaviours when at the shelter and I feel duped because in hindsight I noticed them but did not know what they meant at the time.

Thanks in advance for any helpful responses.
 

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Have you talked to the rescue about returning her? Often, part of the option agreement is that she must be returned to the rescue if you have to surrender her.
 

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There is absolutely no shame in returning a dog that isn't working out for your family, especially as a first time dog owner. Fearfulness is very hard to deal with, even for experienced owners. It sounds like the dog needs to try some medication and needs counter-conditioning training, and it's perfectly okay if that is something you do not want to deal with. You were very explicit with the rescue about your wants and needs, and they were not met. That is not on you. And it sounds like you really tried to help her by getting a behaviorist. If you choose to surrender, the rescue you got her from likely has something in their contract where you have to return to them. Make sure you explain her issues, give the contact information of the behaviorist you were working with, and provide any vet documentation.

Additionally, do not feel bad about telling people not to interact with your dog, no matter how "friendly" their dog is. It is YOUR dog and therefore you get to decide when she interacts, if at all. It is okay to say no. It is okay to be rude when they insist. Who cares if they give you bad looks? Not you, and your dog will appreciate it because you are advocating for her and showing her you will protect her. Even if your dog is the friendliest, most social dog in the world it is okay to do this, because it is YOUR dog. If you are really opposed to being rude, you can also say something like, "Oh, we can't meet, we're in training for the CGC" or other acronym that you make up that sounds important.

If you ever decide to get a dog again, trust your gut. Try adopting dogs that have been in foster homes, as the fosters will have a better idea of their actual personality. Even friendly shelter dogs might be nervous in a shelter/kennel environment, but how are you really supposed to know?
 
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