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We have just got a six month old rescue puppy from Cyprus. He was abandoned with his brothers when he was three weeks old and has lived at the rescue for just over five months of his life. He's a beautiful well behaved dog but his anxiety is a problem. We've only had him three weeks so I'm not expecting miracles, and anyway he is so good already. It's just that when I am trying to help him in situations with strangers to desensitize him he won't accept treats while he is scared. This I've read is while they are in fight or flight mode, they want to keep an empty tummy so It's easier to run, which makes sense. It's just that every training video I've watched involves using treats or distraction (toys etc) neither of which have any effect when he is spooked. Any advice appreciated.
 

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It's very normal for dogs not to eat when there nervous, I would just use your words, just sound really happy and excited about new things, make it a positive experience. Takes time and repetition but should work out :)
 

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It sound like you're doing the right thing except that your dog is already "over threshold". In other words -they're too close. You need to start the treats BEFORE the dog is stressed.

If it's a person he's afraid of, start with the person a block away and give your dog the treats. Ask him to sit, focus on you. If he can't, the person is still too close. Try again farther away.

If you observe him you should be able to see at what point he gets stressed out and keep him farther away than that. Eventually with treats/training you'll be able to get closer and closer, but don't push him too fast.
 

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100% what Jen said.

Only additional comment is that sometimes having a lickable treat can be helpful. So like a spoon with some peanut butter, low fat yogurt, low fat cream cheese, meat baby foods, ect.
 

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It sound like you're doing the right thing except that your dog is already "over threshold". In other words -they're too close. You need to start the treats BEFORE the dog is stressed.

If it's a person he's afraid of, start with the person a block away and give your dog the treats. Ask him to sit, focus on you. If he can't, the person is still too close. Try again farther away.

If you observe him you should be able to see at what point he gets stressed out and keep him farther away than that. Eventually with treats/training you'll be able to get closer and closer, but don't push him too fast.
Thank you that's very helpful. I think initially we were rushing things a little too much so we have had to take a step back and are slowing things down. I have a shop and he comes to work with me three days a week. One of the problems with managing the stress with the postman (who is desperate for the dog to like him) for example is that everyone seems to barge towards him, despite me telling them to give him some space. They're all just a bit too enthusiastic to welcome him to the village. He doesn't like crowds or being approached too quickly and for as much as I tell people that, they don't seem to digest it and go straight up to him which is is when he might for example submissively pee. He can manage if people are not too close, we can sit in a pub garden or a pub with him and he quietly sits on the floor.

The other issue is the car, he drools so much in it and shakes. It's breaking my heart to see him so anxious, but he needs to be in the car. I've read it could be because he's a puppy his ear canals are not fully developed so it could be affecting his sense of balance in the car and he gets motion sickness. I've tried wrapping a quilt round him and that seems to help with the shakes but not with the drooling. He is much worse on the way to work rather than the way home, which is we are trying to work out why. One possible explanation could be that the route home is on smoother roads but on the way it's via country lanes. I wish I had a magic cure to help him :/
 
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