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Hi everyone! We just adopted a two year old (par the vet, although we were told three) Pug/Jack Russell Terrier. She is the sweetest dog to us (my husband and I). She loves belly rubs, and is a huge cuddler! She likes my other dog Barney, and together they will run and run at the park together. The one catch is she hates all strangers... as in everyone.

The guy passing us in the parking lot (while we sit in the car), the couple crossing the street, the person across a field from us at the park, our neighbors, the person out the window... and whenever she sees or hears them (even on TV!) she does a high pitched barking. She also gets extremely anxious every time we leave, especially my husband. He was the one who picked her up, and she has latched on to him. She is as good as his shadow.

The vet said the latching on, is very normal for rescue dogs. That they latch on to one person and prefer that person. But, how do we help her with her fear of people?

I started having all our friends give her a cookie when they come over, to show her that strangers bring treats. But, she gets into such a tizzy she doesn't even want to eat a treat!

We have next to no information on where she was before, but based on what we have seen it seems she was very neglected of affection and possibly strangers hurt her?

Has anyone dealt with something similar? How do we work with her to move past this?

One idea I had was to get a thundershirt (anxiety wrap). Has anyone used this before? Specifically for people anxiety and/or separation anxiety?

Thanks for any help you can give! I really just want to help her become a very confident, happy and comfortable dog! I know we love her, and she loves us, now I want her to be able to love other people as well.

Thanks! :)
Marilyn
 

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A rescue dog is like any normal dog. I find dogs, when in a new environment, show signs of stress when the humans leave (because they are not used to a routine yet).

I would look into Look At That training. If your dog is not paying attention to the treats, it means she is way over her threshold. Have her on leash, and when people are visiting, maybe meet them outside your home first. Give your dog enough distance so that she is not barking, just interested, and when she is looking at the person, mark the behaviour (with a "yes!" or a click or whatever you use), and reward by giving her a treat. Eventually she will look at the person and then look at you for a treat, in which case you can start moving closer to the person. You will have to keep doing this with various people to get her used to them.

Few other words of advice:
- When people come into your home, ask them to ignore the dog and not interact with her. Have them drop treats on the floor as they pass by the dog, but for them to NOT make any eye contact/try to talk to them/approach them face to face.
- Use very very high reward treats like cooked meat instead of biscuits, for example. The higher value the reward, the faster the results.
- You can also teach your dog certain manners for the doorbell/when people come. I have taught my foster dog (who barks at the door/at strangers) to go to her "place" near the door, and lie down in the bed and wait until people are in. She waits until I tell her "okay" where she is allowed to go and sniff the people (but no barking). The people drop treats for her, and don't interact with her, and she calms down very quickly and will even go ask for pets after the people have been in my home for about half an hour.
 

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One additional tip (that I recently read somewhere) is that you should give treats in the presence of "scary things" not the scary thing while you're in the early stages of training. Having a fearful dog approach a scary person to get a treat can be overwhelming and conflicting. I do think it's good for yummy things to drop from the sky when scary things are near (i.e., having other people drop treats).

More resources for you are Debbie Jacob's Fearful Dog web site and Ali Brown's Scaredy Dog web site, and Sophia Yin's videos on desensitization and counter-conditioning. I'd include links, but I think that's why my posts keep getting sent to moderation.
 

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I am watching this and reading with interest! We have had our rescue for three weeks. We also have a 10 year old lab mix (male) who we adopted at 12 weeks old, so we were able to socialize him. With our new girl, she is scared of our three kids. She used to just retreat, but now she barks and retreats or barks and growls and retreats. I am not sure what to do, as the kids are around all the time. SO, it's not an option for her not to get used to them. I don't expect them to be best friends, but the current situation is not working either. The odd thing is that she is very inquisitive and WANTS to be around them. If they are sitting, great. When they move, the barking and retreating starts. I don't even know where to begin. I have a trainer coming on Thursday for an initial consult, but I am looking for any do's and don'ts at this point.
 

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I would look into Look At That training. If your dog is not paying attention to the treats, it means she is way over her threshold.
You are getting great advice, though, at first, rather than "Look At That" I'd try "Look at Me". Neither of our fosters, nor Caeda are terribly scared, but thinking of threshold, Caeda sometimes gets SUPER excited at some stuff (well, the fosters too, but some of her antics come to my head more immediately). When she does I find if I can get her to look at me just before she gets over threshold she stays below threshold longer. It is like it helps to center her a little bit, THEN I get her to look at whatever it is, if she starts getting hyped, I get her to look at me again. Just a thought, it may make a difference, it may not. I try to use a fairly calm voice too, not the high pitched excited (gets her, and the others more hyped). Big thing is stay calm, don't add to the anxiety/fearfulness.
 
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