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Rescue hiding under bed, scared to go on walks, starts shaking when he sees people

1664 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  crysania
So about a year ago, my roommate and I adopted an 8-year-old Spaniel/Terrier mix. He had been rescued from a hoarding situation about 3 months prior to us adopting him. The shelter representative said he would probably never be like a "normal" dog. Anyway, he's been with us for about a year now, and while he has improved in many ways, it feels like we've hit a wall. I take the most care of him, with my roommate occasionally taking him outside for a bathroom break. He starts shaking when he sees new people, but about 6 months ago, he'd gotten used to my roommate and wouldn't shake when we all spent time together. Now, whenever she's in the same room, he'll start shaking.

Additionally, we used to go on walks every day, and he used to be so excited to go. It was so hard to get him to come back inside, that's how much he liked walking. Now, we'll make it maybe about 50 feet down the sidewalk, and he'll panic and sprint back to the apartment.

Another thing that I have a concern with is that he hides underneath the bed. All day. He'll occasionally come out if we're cooking food or to get water, but I have to drag him out from underneath the bed whenever I have to take him outside to use the bathroom or to feed him sometimes. After this, he'll spend time with me on my bed, but if I leave my room, he won't come with me. He'll hide underneath the bed again as soon as I leave. He'll spend time with me in the living room, but if I'm in the kitchen, he'll scratch at my bedroom door to get in. Sometimes, he'll start digging at the carpeting when he's really stressed.

It's been almost a year, and we were improving a lot, but I feel as if he'll never stop hiding underneath the bed, and we won't be able to go on walks together again. Does anybody have any recommendations?

I appreciate all your help!
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Have you considered medication to help alleviate his anxiety? Medication can help take the edge off and bring his brain to a place that he can learn. Dogs can't learn when they are constantly over threshold (meaning it's just entirely too overwhelming), and based on his behavior it sounds like he's pretty overwhelmed with just being alive. It's something to talk with your vet about. It may never make him normal, but it will at least help him enjoy life a little more and be less concerned with normal, everyday things.

My guess would be that something occurred that caused the backslide in his progress. It may have been inconsequential to you but devastating to him. It happens sometimes. Continue to be patient and gentle with him. Reward him greatly with treats for doing simple things like making eye contact with you, not running away at a "scary" noise, standing outside and observing happenings, making it just a few feet from home, or maybe just looking at strangers. Try not to drag him out from underneath the bed. I know sometimes you probably have to, but avoid it if at all possible. Try to lure him out with yummy treats instead. Forcing him to do much of anything likely isn't helping and could possibly make it worse.

Have your tried giving him a special place of his own, like a crate? Place a cover over the crate and make it dark and comfy inside so he has a place to go to feel secure when he is scared. Might be more appropriate than under the bed.
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Yes, we have a crate for him that has treats and toys in it, and we cover it with a blanket, but he does not like going in there.

We've also tried hemp supplementation, but we used it for 3 months and didn't really notice a difference. I will try to get him an anxiety medication though!

Thanks so much!
Working with a veterinary behaviorist might be a good idea. They can both give you a training plan as well as prescribe medication that will help with the extreme fear. You can find a board certified behaviorist here. https://www.dacvb.org/search/custom.asp?id=4709
I agree -- don't buy into the "CBD is the cure all for everything that ails you." Definitely see a vet behaviorist and see if you can get some anti-anxiety meds and a plan. Hopefully that will help get past the hump and make him happier! Living in constant fear has to be exhausting. :-(
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