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Hello, My name is Heather. Me and my husband bought a 5mo Scotts American Bulldog who we named Darwin. The problem we are having with him is he is EXTREMLY shy/fearful. He has been a kennel dog all his life so I understand this is all new to him and probably very scary. If you look at him or talk to him he ducks his head or turns around to face the other way..if you walk to him (to take out and go potty) he runs and hides. He seems to want nothing to do with us. Now when we put him on the bed with us he snuggles and loves but anywhere else its nothing but shying ducking and hiding. Walking outside he pretty much belly crawls across the ground. My question is A: is this somthing that will work itself out over time or does he have a chance to be this way his whole life? B: Does anyone have any tips and tricks to bring this beautiful boy out of his shell? We have only had him a few days but I just want to make this transition more easy on him.

 

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To a large degree, fixing a fearful dog is a matter of time. It takes about 6 weeks for an adopted dog to settle in and get comfortable with his new family, though it can take much longer than that.

I've had Kabota almost 7 months now. It was 2 weeks before he'd get off the couch. It was a month before he would play, and 3 months before he would play with me. It's only been in the last month that he's been happy and confident, wagging his tail, smiling, initiating play, etc.

You can help him get there by setting a schedule. A schedule allows a dog to know what to expect, 3 walks a day, 2 meals, first thing in the morning we do this, after dinner we do that, etc.

You can help him with clicker training. Training allows you to communicate with your dog, staying positive and only using removal of attention as a punishment is key for a fearful dog. Any sort of "real" punishment, yelling, leash checking, nose tapping, etc. will simply make him more afraid. Keep training sessions short and begin and end with something you know he can do, even if it's just responding to his name. If you try a new command and he doesn't get it within one or two tries, just move on to something else. Fearful dogs don't take frustration well, and can definitely feel it in you, upping their fear.

Make sure to make yourself as unthreatening as possible. Keep you voice low, don't make sudden movements, don't loom over the dog, don't pet the dog on the top of the head. Looming loud humans shouting scare dogs. You want to be as soothing as possible.

Good luck!
 
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