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Hi there,

I'm searching for help about a recent situation involving my new rescue dog, Monty.

Monty is a three year old mini Leonberger mix. As of today, he's officially been with us for three weeks. Monty is a rescue dog who spent a year and a half in a hoarding situation, and another year and a half essentially as evidence while the court case was settled-- living in a crate and unable to be adopted.

His foster dad had him for about a month, and he lived on a spacious plot of country land. We live in the city in an apartment. As Monty is a calm and non-vocal dog, no one imagined it would be a problem to transition him.

Monty's first week, he demonstrated signs of separation anxiety by barking upon our departure in a distressed tone and ignoring treats and toys left to make him more comfortable. Our neighbours have told us that this has improved dramatically, and he's almost completely silent when we leave now.

However, we now have a completely different issue to contend with.

On Monday of this week (6 days ago), Monty decided that he didn't want to walk anymore. Prior to this, Monty was an eager walker, who was totally fine to walk twice a day for half hour to 45 minutes. He was a little skiddish around noises (we would need to re-route if he saw a dump truck or heard a garage door close), but overall he was progressing well and becoming more polite on a leash.

Now, he's regressed to a point where it's almost impossible to get him outside of our lobby. He's terrified to walk through the threshold of the front doors. When confronted with it, he'll simply sit down and refuse to budge, or drag me back to the elevator (I'm a small 20-something girl and he's a Leonberger, not equally matched). We're doing everything we can to get him comfortable: ignoring his fear reactions, not pushing him past his comfort zone, rewarding good behaviour when he does show it. Nothing seems to be helping him improve and get comfortable going back outside. He is also too fearful to accept treats when he's stimulated. It's gotten to the point where I'm concerned about his physical health, as he is still housetrained and has had no accidents, so he's holding it until the rare occasion that we can get him outside (about twice a day with a LOT of patience).

We're totally at a loss and completely terrified about whether or not we can get through this. We're meeting with a behaviourist tomorrow, but at this point I'm looking for any advice I can get!

Thanks so much for any ideas or support you might have.
 

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it's not unheard of for a dog to seem like they have regressed after 3 weeks .. my very first training class that was mentioned and 3 wk mark was what was mentioned.. That a dog going along just fine learning their OB may seem like they know nothing and it was a time period to relax with them and not be over demanding.. then everything would come back to them.. Glad your meeting with a behaviorism. If Monty has come from the situation you have described then what your really looking at is time. and the fact that he may be a kennel dog that is in his own head as that is what a kennel dog learns in a kennel day after day after mindless day... think do and hear in their own head and not realize what humans are for. They also don't know how to learn that learning is getting and following information from you. it really is starting from scratch of an 8wk old in an adult body.. Kennel dogs I usually work on a lot of focus work.. finding mental games to engage them.. something silly as a shell game with a treat.. or which hand.. teaching clicker touch and try to build personal interaction which is why following you is not their first instinct.. Hope it works out for yall...
 

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Wow, this is an awful problem! How big is a 'mini Leonburger' anyway?

What about time of day? He's sound sensitive, perhaps a given hour is quieter where you are? Any other exit to your building you could get access to for this emergency?

I hope your behaviorist has some ideas for you. My only idea is to circle him around rather than pull. Max was worried about cars and even after he was brave enough to jump in he occasionally would get stuck. I'd circle him around and he generally was able to jump in on the next try. The other thing I did was put him in the car, have him jump out then back in again. I started out clicker training him with part of his dinner. We went outside and I first clicked looking towards the car and his reward of a kibble was rolled away from the scary car. In about a week he was able to put his feet up on the car floor continuing to reward away from scary car so it was slow going.
 

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I'm glad you're getting a behaviorist in! Someone qualified with experience in fearful dogs and lots of positive methods in their toolbox could really help you out.

Have you brought him to the vet yet, and made sure he's not in any pain or has any thyroid imbalances that might be making his fearfulness worse?

Other than that, all I can suggest is you may need to break this down into much smaller steps. Obviously once he hits the point where you see obvious stress signals and he's refusing treats, he's much too stressed to learn anything. But it might help to countercondition the things that lead up to going outside, before you see the stress start to stack - getting his collar and leash on, going to the elevator, going into the elevator, the ride down, leaving the elevator, etc. You can use his meals, even, and pick quieter times of the day to make sure he's super relaxed, comfortable, and happy with all those smaller steps. I don't know if it'll solve your issue, but it may at least reduce how stressful the whole experience is for him, and make him more willing to push his comfort zone.

Best of luck! And I, too, am curious to see what he looks like!
 
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