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Hi there!
I recently adopted a rescue dog, he is 9 - a real sweet boy. He is shy and fearful from his past but not at all aggressive. He mainly runs away and hides if he is afraid.

He has really become very attached to me and doesn't venture more than a foot away from me (unless I command him to stay, but I can see he is uneasy). He is quite afraid of all men in particular. He got along great with my husband when we met him in his own environment, and he interacts well with him in public - but at home he is really afraid of him - shy's away, trembles and in certain situations will let out a growl (I've narrowed these down to when he feels like he needs to protect me - like when my husband comes home in the middle of the night after shift work).

It has only been a week but we have been sure to make it so that my husband is the ONLY source of food and treats. He feeds, gives treats (without eye contact), delivers all high value items like filled kongs, chews etc, and takes him on all of the walks. Basically, everything good comes from him.

I have contacted a trainer but I am curious if they are going to charge me $600 to come and tell me to just keep doing what i'm doing or not :)

Does anyone else have any ideas of things that we can add to the ritual of making my husband the "santa" of the house? Is there anything that I am doing wrong that is adding to the problem? Advice and experiences are greatly appreciated :) We have gone through this with a cat but they are obviously very different. We knew this issue going in and are very committed to helping him get through it so that they can be at least aquaintances.
 

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It sounds like you're on the right track! I'd only say to make sure that the dog always has a choice whether or not to approach your husband, rather than the other way around. It's okay if that means he has to gently toss treats on the ground and then leave for the first little while. It might also help for him to spend time in the same space as the dog but not interacting, like sitting on the floor a ways away and doing something non-threatening like reading a book.

A good trainer or behaviorist with experience with fearful dogs may have a lot more tricks and advice, though! Just make sure you've got someone who uses force-free reinforcement training and doesn't subscribe to any "dominance" or "pack leader" nonsense. A qualified professional working with your dog in person is always ideal, imo, especially for issues that make the dog's day-to-day life difficult.
 

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A week is nothing, keep up the good work. It can take a really long time for a new dog to settle in. Ginger was 5 years old when she came and I noticed basic calming down for at least 6 months. She's quite a stable dog that dropped into life here as if she'd been here since a pup too.

I'd back away from husband doing everything if dog is not happy about that. If dog cowers and then rushes to the food or quivers when leash is put on then it likely would be better for you to walk him and feed him and have husband drop treats whenever he comes in the room or passes him by. You want dog to be confident and happy about things from the start of the behavior if possible. It's possible you are misreading the situation when out of the house, my fearful dogs cling to safe and your husband may just be safer than outside. I know Bucky snuggles with my daughter when I'm out but he still is worried about her when she comes into the room. She's safer than being alone I guess.

Bucky and Max before him startle easily, part of their fearful nature I suspect. After thinking about this for years and years I wonder if having a lot of warning before a scary person bursts into the room would help. Yes I know good and well your husband is not actually stomping, running and slamming doors and such but the change from door shut to door open and large person appearing seems to be an issue with my fearful dogs. In nature a hunter attacks from close up, a friend is in sight from a distance, right? Bucky is better if daughter opens her door and he can greet her from that point. Even having the hall door closed which is all of 4' from her door makes him really nervous. Can you think up some way to announce husband's arrival in the middle of the night? Leave interior doors open and have some lights on maybe? Perhaps he can linger in the entry to take off shoes or jacket or something? I would hope desensitizing to doors would work and suggest you work on this but this is something really deeply embedded as animals that don't flee are dinner! You would close the door and when opening it toss a treat to the dog. Once an opening door is a good thing then have husband as far from the door as possible as you open and close it. Then he moves forward a step at a time as you open and close door. Once he is close enough and you know from this working elsewhere then husband can toss the treat. Transferring this to middle of the night is another matter.
 

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really early at only a week... Ignore and stillness are excellent tools.. I wouldn't over do it with force interaction even if it is for all good things.. it's still forced interaction on them... it's good to do them if your picking up the leash and able to get their willing participation of coming or following you to the door to get their leash on.. that is what I would be looking for.. some sign of willing participation response.. You offer and let them meet you the other half of the way.. If they don't,, let it go and walk away at that time.. that means alot to a dog, that they can refuse and you will respect their choice.. that is how they gain confidence is being able to leave choose for themselves.. the next time they have confidence to try a little more even if they bolt alway.. and nothing comes after them.. they building confidence that no matter how scary it maybe they area always safe to leave.. too early to be dishing out 600.00
 

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Thank you for the replies!

I know that a week is not long at all - I just want to make sure that I am doing the right thing from the beginning :) We are prepared for the long haul by all means. The reason I know for sure that he has an issue with men and not that I'm misreading it is because this is why he was surrendered, and the experience at the foster home - and an issue that we knew we would have to tackle. I am asking so early because I want to make sure I do the right thing from the beginning and not do things to make it worse right off the bat :) Not because I have any thought that it should be better in a week.

Announcing his arrival at night is a great idea. Since it is a regular time, perhaps setting an alarm for myself and go sit downstairs in the living room (near our front door) where my husband can come in and greet with treats would help - instead of staying in bed and my dog wondering why im not taking the midnight intrusion as seriously as he is. I will give that a try!

I will also slow down on having him deliver all things good. If my husband presents him his food he slowly comes to take it and sits down and eats with him there - he doesn't hide and then scamper to the food when he leaves. I'll also take those tips on the door desensitizing - thanks! He doesn't seem to care about the door at all unless its in the middle of the night when he thinks I should be worried about it (I get it - especially if hes not used to it), but that wont hurt im sure.
 

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It's possible you are misreading the situation when out of the house, my fearful dogs cling to safe and your husband may just be safer than outside. I know Bucky snuggles with my daughter when I'm out but he still is worried about her when she comes into the room. She's safer than being alone I guess.
That makes SO much sense!!
 

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your welcome you got the right ideas... I wouldn't have your husband stand their while they eat.. dogs have natural space issues you wouldn't want some one on top of you while you eating that you really didn't know.. Think it's great that the pup comes to him when he has the food.. and I think it will improve greatly if your pup comes for food and he puts the bowl down and leaves... That would be ideal... your pup gave,, and your husband gives the perfect reward from the pups idea of reward and that is your husband leaving.. Little tweaking I used this on my adult Clydesdale that i brought in (how to make her leave) he loved it and picked up so much so fast... cause I gave him the one thing at that time that really meant something to him.. What I think really great doesn't matter lol... ..
 

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your welcome you got the right ideas... I wouldn't have your husband stand their while they eat.. dogs have natural space issues you wouldn't want some one on top of you while you eating that you really didn't know.. Think it's great that the pup comes to him when he has the food.. and I think it will improve greatly if your pup comes for food and he puts the bowl down and leaves... That would be ideal... your pup gave,, and your husband gives the perfect reward from the pups idea of reward and that is your husband leaving.. Little tweaking I used this on my adult Clydesdale that i brought in (how to make her leave) he loved it and picked up so much so fast... cause I gave him the one thing at that time that really meant something to him.. What I think really great doesn't matter lol... ..
Excellent!
He doesn't linger for long but once the dog comes to get the food he kind of stands there for just long enough to say "good boy" a few times and then leaves the room (to feed the other dog who has food aggression issues, haha)

Do you think that is okay/beneficial, or should he just reward him with silence and booking it out of there?
 

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We had some roommates move in downstairs when Atlas was about 6 months old. He's a confident pup and has no fear issues - and loves the roommates, but them coming up the stairs after everyone was in bed to use the washroom was cause for some very loud barking! Of course, once he realized who it was, he was all bum wiggles and happy... didn't really help me much when he's woken me up from a dead sleep! :p The husband said he used to try and come up quietly so as not to wake us up, which obviously backfired. So he started to make just a little more noise on his way up and it didn't take Atlas long at all to figure out what was happening/who was coming. I'm sure your new guy will be the same once he settles in.

The other suggestions have been spot on, my only addition would be maybe if he could call out a bit when he comes in the house every time. The roommates have two of their own dogs, and when they first moved in the girls would bark like crazy from downstairs when we'd come home - a quick "It's just me girls!" would quiet them instantly. Now they don't bark at all when I come home the majority of the time - they just whine so I'll come let them outside faster so they can pee! Definitely isn't "the" solution, but it may not hurt either way.

Hopefully he will settle in soon and you guys will be able to look back and realize how far he's come! :)
(Some family friend's adopted a border collie who used to be terrified of men - we witnessed it when we went to visit them the first few times. Once she settled in to their house, she came the husband's dog! She obviously doesn't love every man she sees now, but she has improved a million times over since they first got her.)
 

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Excellent!
He doesn't linger for long but once the dog comes to get the food he kind of stands there for just long enough to say "good boy" a few times and then leaves the room (to feed the other dog who has food aggression issues, haha)

Do you think that is okay/beneficial, or should he just reward him with silence and booking it out of there?
That sounds fine.. if your hitting the timing right for the dog at the level they are you should see changes.. speed of approach,, body posture confidence.. everything takes time... and if goodness forbids something ( un) expectant happens and something startles them just act like nothing happen'd... :) time...
 

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There's a lot of good suggestions on this thread.

Something else that might work is get hubby a nice thick book and some treats of varying value. Let hubby start at let's say the door and drop a low-value treat, move a step or two then drop a higher value treat (rinse and repeat) until he ends up sitting flat on the floor in a corner reading his book with a very high value treat within his touching distance but not against his body. With a bit of luck the dog's nose will kick in and follow the ''trail''. The key part will be for your husband to ''ignore'' the dog when he gets closer and leave it up to the dog to decide how close is close enough. Since your husband will be in a corner he can't back out further but the dog has all the space (and time) in the world to decide how to approach your husband. It will take time and patience but it can be done. Another thing that might help is for you or your husband to not react too loudly to any encouraging sign but to keep it a bit muted at first.

You can't control what happened in the dog's past so you have to work with what you have at that particular moment.

I have to congratulate you on taking on a dog that clearly will take some work to rehabilitate...I'm not sure I would be up to that task.
 
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