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We've just adopted a 9-month old doxie about one week ago and I was looking for some advice as he is displaying fearful behaviours that I know are to be expected in a new home but want to make sure I'm doing the right things not to prolong him being afraid. I have had dogs before but all have been pretty easy to train so I wouldn't say I'm a behaviour expert.

He was shipped on an airplane when the intended owner backed out and we were offered to take him so I know it will have been a bit of a traumatic experience for him.

The current situation is that he stays in one area of the house where we can't see him and won't move of his own accord - we tried waiting him out but he didn't move from morning until night. When we approach that area he sometimes (but not always) growls. He doesn't approach us and no amount of or quality of food entices him to come near. Sometimes he seems ok when you approach, other times very scared and backs away. The breeder he came from recommended to sit on the sofa with him so he could relax around us and in the times he seemed ok on the approach, he was also ok to be picked up.

Picking him up and sitting with him he is very calm and does lie down. He relaxes but not enough to go to sleep. In these situations he eats from the hand no problem but as soon as he's on the ground he wouldn't come to you even if you were offering him a full steak. When we put him down again he might wander around a little bit before heading back to his normal area. If he can't get to that area, i.e. door his closed he will normally walk up and down the home or sit by the oven and sometimes whine a bit. He seems to like places we can't see him and places that have a reflection, ideally both. On the first day he sat by the mirror a lot but has moved in from that now.

In terms of taking him out, we've kept it very simple so far and very close to home so as not to overwhelm him with new sights and sounds. Again he seems ok most of the time but sometimes backs away from me. Every time on returning back home he digs his heels in when we reach the door.

I've tried to give as much detail as possible as I've found cookie-cutter advice in a lot of online resources is difficult (and possibly incorrect) to apply to his particular situation.

Does anyone have any advice on what we should try to improve his trust?


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Patience and time. Quiet movements and more time.

The only time I would feed him is from my hand. If you throw food across the floor (just a little ways) will he chase it and eat it (I mean like 10-12 inches). You could start there. I would do this on a hard surface floor where there is nothing to hide under and keep it very low key. Do not look directly at him and do not lean over him.. both things are threatening.

Again, all the food he eats is from your hand and away from where he goes to hide.

Give it a couple of weeks and let us know how you do.

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Hi Phil,

First of all congratulations on getting a new member in your family.

I really appreciate your concern for Doxie. Please do not worry. May be this is your first time. Just treat doxie like you'd treat a baby. Pups are not too different from human babies.

They need the same amount of time, love and care that a baby needs. Slowly he will start trusting you and will start opening up.

Here are a few things you can do to bond with doxie:
1. Make him feel comfortable in your presence but not by leaving him alone. You may feel that he wants to be alone and that he is comfortable being alone, but that's not the case. He wants to be alone because probably he doesn't trust you yet but that has to change.
2. To build trust and closeness make doxie sit close to you with you but give him his space. Remember dogs are good at watching and they can understand emotions. Praise him in between and feed him too. Move around slowly. Speak softly in front of him.
3. With time start reducing the distance slowly and increase your praises.
4. Call him frequently by his name.
5. Once he gets comfortable with you and start trusting you then it's time to introduce him to the outside world. You can take him out in the garden and try to play with him if he wants to or let him just explore. That would also be the time for his potty training. Potty training works if you stick to the food timings and his potty timings. So choose these timings carefully. Choose the time of the day when you know you'd always be free for doxie.

Signs that Doxie is trusting you and getting comfy with you:
1. He will try to approach you to Play or to receive your love, touch, hug etc.
2. He follows you everywhere
3. They know their food timings so if he follows you in the kitchen know that he is knowing your moves.

All the above tips will surely bond you two at some level. The more you put in the efforts the better the result would be.

Also, please remember that all love and no training will only spoil the pup. So make sure you create a balance between love and discipline.

When it come to training and discipline I suggest you train doxie at home. I personally don't like them handing over to trainers, as firstly they are expensive, second the dogs kind of become aloof or scared of certain things or they start relying heavily on treats to learn anything. Also, understand that a trainer won't be able to train a dog completely. The basix training they give are like to follow simple commands, to be off leash etc.

I like giving pets the freedom that deserve and like to be their friend and teacher both.

If you are good at training doxie, it'd be great. If not here are some trainings you may want to consider that would come handy and won't be expensive as well:

If you'd like to go for a training that's without treats then this would be a good one:
Training without treats

However, if you wish to build a great bond and understand how your pup thinks, you may want to consider some brain training for him. This training is great and the training materials are well crafted with easy to follow instructions in video lessons. Moreover, you can go through the training at your own pace:

Hope the above helps.
If you think I have been of some help to you, do offer doxie an extra treat from my side or even a hi-fi would do :)

Good luck!
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