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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a medium sized mixed breed rescue dog named Shippo. she was probably attacked by a dog because she has scars on her face so I wasn’t expecting her to like people and dogs but she completely freaks out even when there’s a person on the other side of the river. I’ve tried giving her food but she completely ignores it only taking food inside the house (We’ve tried very tasty food). When she sees someone she starts clawing at the ground with all her energy to get away. She is especially terrified of bicycles and jumps in all directions to get away, she might hurt herself and just seeing her constantly stressed out in walks isn’t nice.
She only growls slightly outside when someone’s really close to the house and barks if she‘s in the house but dosnt show any aggression outside her little space, just fear. We live in a tourist area so in the summer there’s going to be nowhere for her to go without there being people. If anyone knows how to help please let me know!
 

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Start by having a barrier, such as a see through fence, between her and a threat. I would not comfort her but I would enlist the help of another person. Have them stand quietly with their back to you and the dog (and have them at some distance). Relax. Let your dog look. When she is calm have the other person walk away from your dog but NOT if she is barking (you don't want her to start reactivity and thinking she drove thrm away). Keep EVERYTHING calm and quiet. You must act confident and relaxed. If the other person cannot move because she gets worked up, just keep the second person stationary.

When your dog is relaxed, put her up.

Once she is accepting of this, repeat with the other person closer and keep their back to you. Eventually she may relax enough for the person to walk past NOT looking at the dog. Coming toward your dog, turning and walking to the side is last.

Doing same with dogs and bicycles.

If she relaxes enough to take food you know you are making progress.
Don't use store bought treats. Use something REALLY good.. deli turkey, roast beef, string cheese.. and do this exercise with a hungry dog (skip the meal or even two before starting this work.. and do not feed immediately after the work since you do not want the dog associating going in the house away from the threat with food).

It will take TIME. The point is to put your dog up when she is relaxed. The barrier often helps a dog with confidence.
 

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I'm not sure how long you've had her, but if she's very new to your household you may see some of the intensity of her fear lessen as she gets used to you and your household and routines, and learn that she's safe and secure.

When a dog is so freaked out they can't eat, we call this 'over threshold'. What this means is essentially the dog is completely overwhelmed by emotions (fear in her case) and can't learn or even think clearly in this moment. When she gets like this, the best thing you can do is give her a lot of distance from the trigger and/or get her behind a visual barrier (like a wall, a big tree, etc.) to let her calm down. To actually work on her fear, you'll want to find a way to expose her to people/dogs/bikes a large distance away so she knows they're there but doesn't go full-on freakout, or even behind a barrier like a window.

Because she's so stressed outside that she won't take food outdoors at all, and especially if she's been with you some time and hasn't shown any sign of relaxing about these scary triggers, it may be worth talking to your vet or - if you have access to one - a veterinary behaviorist (a vet with a specialization in behavior and behavior medicine) about anxiety medication. A lot of people resist medicating fearful dogs and see it as a last resort, but my feeling is that if her fear is impacting her quality of life and making it nearly impossible to enjoy her normal daily routine, if she's having fearful episodes almost every day (or will once tourist season arrives), she may need pharmaceutical help to get her brain in the right place to learn that the world isn't scary.

I recommend Dr. Patricia McConnell's book The Cautious Canine either way. It's fairly short and written in a very straightforward, digestible way and covers fearful behaviors and how to recognize them, how to work through them, and why she recommends the methods she does. It's a good primer - some dogs will need more specialized techniques or even in-person professional help, but it'll give you a lot of tools for working with her and understanding her right away. As a bonus, it's fairly inexpensive and available as an e-book, so you don't even have to wait for shipping.
 

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I would not comfort her
I completely agree with the rest of this post, but would like to point this out. While I realize that there are very smart scientists and very good trainers who hold to both sides of this issue, I think the view expressed here may be a bit incorrect. Recent animal behavior studies seem to show that it is okay to comfort a scared dog. You actually can't reinforce fear. This is a genuine fear response from your dog, and they don't like being scared- that unpleasant emotion definitely outweighs the comfort you can give them, so they aren't going to think "oh, when I'm scared, the human gives me pets and makes a fuss, I should be scared more often!". Comforting them will show them that this scary thing isn't a bad thing, because when its around, they receive good things, like being pet. It will also show them that when they're worried, they can come to you.

Now, I'm not saying that you should make a big fuss and get down on the ground and cuddle your dog, and try to say things like "oh, it's okay I'll protect you, it's fine" in this worried, loving, coddling way, because, yes, that will just show them that this is scary, because even the human is worried. So I do agree that you should be calm and collected. But it's okay to pet your dog, praise them, and tell them (in a calm, happy voice) that it's fine. And this may even be what 3GSD4IPO was saying, I don't know.

Feel free to correct me if you disagree, I'm always open to other ideas :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ack I forgot to respond and I have some updates. She‘s been with us for about 2 months but her fear has not gone down at all maybe even worse because people are already coming over when the weather is good and surround the whole house causing her to bark non stop we don’t know any people so I don’t know how to get her used to strangers if we don’t have one to help. we found a way for her to take food but we have to be extremely far away from people and even then her attention isn’t completely on us. It does seem to help a little when I try to comfort her when shes inside so I don’t think it’s worsening her fear. if she keeps barking indoors and my family gets more frustrated with the noise I don’t know what will happen I don’t think they’ll give up on her but I am scared. We plan to take her to a vet once the country is no longer in lockdown so ill see if they can help.
 

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It sounds like she has made a teeny tiny bit of progress, if she is now willing to take food at a large distance. You really don't know anyone to practice a stranger meeting? And- sorry if you explained this- why are there so many people around your house? Is there any way to avoid this? Any excessive exposure to her fear trigger that is above her threshold- which it seems this is- is certainly not helping things- in fact, it could make the situation worse.
Have you tried an adaptil collar or some kind of calming chew? And has the approach where you distract her before the trigger appears (and of course keep her attention on you throughout) not had any results?
Good decision to speak with a vet(y). Is there any kind of online vet consult/video chat type thing that you can do?
 

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Glad you're speaking with a vet. With her not being able to get any break from her anxiety, even at home, medication would be high up on my priorities to consult a vet about. This should be actual anti-anxiety medication - as opposed to a sedative like acepromazine - and the idea is it'll bring her brain to a calmer, more stable state where she can actually start learning that things around her aren't scary and benefitting from the training you're working on much more. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to find the right drug and dose, and like with humans these meds need to 'on board' for a period of days to weeks where they build up in the system to reach peak effectiveness, but they're an enormously helpful tool with the kind of sustained, universal anxiety you're describing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
It sounds like she has made a teeny tiny bit of progress, if she is now willing to take food at a large distance. You really don't know anyone to practice a stranger meeting? And- sorry if you explained this- why are there so many people around your house? Is there any way to avoid this? Any excessive exposure to her fear trigger that is above her threshold- which it seems this is- is certainly not helping things- in fact, it could make the situation worse.
Have you tried an adaptil collar or some kind of calming chew? And has the approach where you distract her before the trigger appears (and of course keep her attention on you throughout) not had any results?
Good decision to speak with a vet(y). Is there any kind of online vet consult/video chat type thing that you can do?
Yea we don’t know anyone unfortunately and we live next to a hotel and two construction sites. the house is facing a popular walking area and people like to sit in the wall next to the house sometimes bringing dogs so they bark back and forth. I haven’t heard of the collars I’ll look into that it sounds helpfu! I’ll try the distracting method I think that’ll be good for when we walk past the construction sites from a distance. So I’ll continue getting her used to outside and wait to take her to the vet for now.
 

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Yea we don’t know anyone unfortunately and we live next to a hotel and two construction sites. the house is facing a popular walking area and people like to sit in the wall next to the house sometimes bringing dogs so they bark back and forth. I haven’t heard of the collars I’ll look into that it sounds helpfu! I’ll try the distracting method I think that’ll be good for when we walk past the construction sites from a distance. So I’ll continue getting her used to outside and wait to take her to the vet for now.
Oh, wow- that does sound difficult
Ok, great! Glad to be of help. I'm sure you saw the post from @DaySleepers , I definitely agree that you should get a real prescription once possible. But hopefully the collar can help for now. Good luck!
 
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