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Cat-dog, GSD spayed female and Tornado-dog, JRT mix, neutered male
712 Posts
It sounds like he has had a very difficult life up to now. Kudos for taking him in and trying to help him.

With that, I would switch out the crate for an exercise pen. Set it up in a corner with a comfy bed, water and food, and pee pads. Make sure to put his bowls away from his bed so he has to get up to eat. He may only do so when you are not in the room, but even that will help him learn that he won't be beaten, etc for moving. During the day, just walk by (not too close) and drop treats into the space without acknowledging him. He will start to realize that your walking by means treats, but he doesn't have to actually interact or approach you to get them. As he gets comfortable with that, you can sit near the pen and toss in treats while otherwise ignoring him. Another trick is to simply sit nearby and read out loud. He'll start to get used to your voice. Always have treats on hand and toss them to him while you read, specifically whenever he is calm and relaxed.

Your goal is to get him to become neutral to you rather than acknowledging you. Once he is neutral, you can start working on the acknowledgement.

The reason I suggest eliminating the crate is that it can make a timid dog into a fear biter. If you have to get the dog, the only way to do so with a crate is to put your hands and face directly in front of him. And that can be seen as a threat for a timid dog - one that he cannot get away from, so he will fight. I had a foster who had done so at another home to the point she attacked and bit the foster every time they tried to take her outside to potty. She came to me sans crate and I closed closet doors etc. Suddenly at potty time, she just walked out on her own without issue. She never once snapped at me, let alone bit me - even if I picked her up. And she never took issue when I attached the leash.

I second the idea to see about creating a secure place outside for pottying. Even if it is just setting up an exercise pen around the patio (make sure the door opens directly into the confined area). With that, as he neutralizes towards you, you can just encourage him to go out and potty without having to leash him. The more you make things a choice for him, the more he'll start to try them.

Also, as he likes dogs, use that as an incentive. One thing I have always done with my dogs is to use a double leash for walks. With this, the confident dog actually does the "directing" rather than me. You can actually attach the timid dog to your dog witha "leash extender" (length of leash with a snap on either end) and then just put the leash on your dog. As you walk, your directing only affects your dog, but your dog's actions will direct the foster dog. The foster will be more likely to go along because he doesn't connect you to the behavior.
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