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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We rescued an intact 2-3 year old female Gordon Setter. I don't know many of the details of how she was kept, but when we got her a month ago, she didn't know how to be a dog. My understanding is her life was pretty miserable. We had to teach her basic commands like 'here' and 'sit' - we were either given the wrong name, or she didn't know she had a name. She was pretty much house trained, but there were some accidents early on. She now responds to 'Lady'. She has a sweet disposition, is very loving, and has no problems with our other dogs.

I'm not a professional dog trainer by any stretch, but I have attended training classes with other dogs (with good results) and I feel like I know what I'm doing. This is my first 'troubled' dog - so any advice I can get, I'll listen to.

When in the house, she comes when she is called - if she wants to. But on walks, getting her to engage with us at all usually doesn't happen. She has got out of the yard a couple times and does not come when called. She isn't playing 'chase me' as we've seen other dogs do - when we do finally catch her, she comes along happily. She just wants to see the world.

I don't think she's particularly frightened of the outdoors. She likes the back yard and is very happy to go on walks. But she does not engage with us - and is so intense she won't take treats. She usually loves treats. She pulls on her leash - hard.

She doesn't like to be trained. I worked with her a couple days on 'sit' and 'down' - now if she thinks I'm going to train her, she'll avoid me. If she's on leash, she usually won't obey any commands at all. Because she's a rescue and had been abused (probably), I'm not pushing her. I do take her on at least 2 short walks a day (or 1 very long walk) to try to desensitize her to the outdoors - but as far as engagement, we've made no real progress on regular walks. I try to get her to engage a little, with treats and praise. Sometimes I'll get a wag when I call her name, but usually not. On regular walks, she won't take treats. I'm not constantly badgering her - just once or twice on the walk, after we've been going a couple blocks, I'll attempt to get her attention. If I get any response, I'll give her praise and pet her and usually offer her a treat (which she won't take). But as a rule, she ignores all of it.

I mentioned above - she pulls on the leash. A lot. Because of her history, I'm not bringing out the prong leash yet. My goal is just building trust and communication - but I wonder if there is a better, more effective way. As I said, we've been at this a couple weeks and I really don't see we're making progress. I'm happy to keep at this - but if there is a better way to get her to engage enough so 'real' training can begin - I'd love to know about it. Lady deserves a happy life and I'm determined to help her get it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
One thing I wouldn't do with a dog like this is use a prong. With rescues, even those with no abuse history, I used a clicker to teach the easy things like sit and down. Use lots of treats and make training worthwhile from the dog's point of view, and her attitude towards it will change.

Fix your yard.
Yard is fine - she gets out when we're not paying close enough attention to the doors
 
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