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I am a dog walker and pet sitter. There us a dog I have been walking for 5 yrs. He is a rescue. He has one eye. He was very skittish at first. He was afraid of mail boxes and vehicles. We had actually made a lot of progress the first year. Up until last week, I rarely had any trouble . Since last week, I can't get him out of his crate. The crate is always open. He shakes. I now sit down next to his crate with a treat and he comes out. He has always shied away from the leash. Once it's on, he's ready to go. Lately he tries to go to the room after it's on. On the walks, he cowers when vehicles pass, his hair goes up, he barks, growls, shows teeth and shakes his body and head aggressively. He wont walk alone. He has to have his buddy, another dog. I have worked in this and I can get him 3 houses down. Ive tried different collars, leashes, treats, tone of voice, consulted my books. And nothing has worked. Last week it seems there has been a few steps back. This has happened occasionally, but not for this long. Any help would be appreciated. Thank you .
 

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Poor guy. Has the owner taken him into the vet to make sure there's isn't pain or a thyroid condition behind the sudden decline? Sounds like he'd be a good candidate for anxiety medication too, though of course that's not your decision.
 

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Poor guy. Has the owner taken him into the vet to make sure there's isn't pain or a thyroid condition behind the sudden decline? Sounds like he'd be a good candidate for anxiety medication too, though of course that's not your decision.
Or a decline in vision in his one remaining eye.

Definitely a vet check though - that's a good idea any time there is a sudden change in behaviour. I know it's not your dog OP, but maybe mention your concerns to the owners. If my dog experienced a sudden change like that to someone that they had previously been comfortable with, I'd want to know.
 

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He has been to the vet, Eye is good. He has had training. I question the training, because the trainer wanted to build his confidence by letting him"win" tugging on and playing with toys. From my experience, and I am not a trainer but just from experience, you show the dog you are the alpha and by being a strong leader. I am only there about 30 minutes per day. Theres only so much I can do. His human is aware. We have talked about what to do. The training facility did try the electric collar. I tried the collar in the palm of my hand, because I was a bit weary about it, it feels like a light tap. But because hes so skittish, it doesnt faze him. He is shaking and trembling and his head is going in all different directions that he just doesnt notice it.
As I am typing this. I am wondering if I can have his human put a couple drops of lavender in his crate in the morning?
 

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Well, alpha theory has been pretty solidly disproven by animal behaviorists and zoologists these days. Not going to go into detail, but the gist is: dogs know humans aren't dogs, feral dogs don't form stable packs let alone have a strict hierarchy, the "alpha" theory started in the 40s by observing unrelated wolves - not dogs - living in close quarters in an enclosure, and that when researchers actually looked at wild wolf social groups, they realized that they were actually parents and offspring, with the "alphas" simply being the parents. So while it's of course good to be a "leader" to dogs by being clear and consistent, it's not at all necessary to use intimidation - and especially not physical force as some popular "alpha" training techniques advise - to have a well-trained and well-behaved dog. Basically, it's totally fine for a dog to 'win' tug, and this poor guy sounds like he needs all the confidence he can get.

I have to ask: did the setback in his fearful behavior at all coincide with the introduction of the e-collar? Because while there are a few situations where such a tool is appropriate - or at least not harmful - I'm frankly horrified anyone would use one on such a fearful dog. Not only is it completely ineffective for rehabilitating fear, physical punishment like that runs the risk of significantly worsening it.

I know, I know. Not your dog, and you can't do much in the time you have. But he needs patience and understanding, as well as force-free training and handling based on modern behavioral research, if he's going to overcome his fearfulness. If you're interested in learning more, I find Dr. Patricia McConnell's books extremely helpful. She has one called The Cautious Canine, specifically about dealing with fear issues, and it's quite cheap and available as an e-book. I'm using her Feisty Fido book now to help with my leash-reactive dog's behavior.
 

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He has been to the vet, Eye is good. He has had training. I question the training, because the trainer wanted to build his confidence by letting him"win" tugging on and playing with toys. From my experience, and I am not a trainer but just from experience, you show the dog you are the alpha and by being a strong leader. I am only there about 30 minutes per day. Theres only so much I can do. His human is aware. We have talked about what to do. The training facility did try the electric collar. I tried the collar in the palm of my hand, because I was a bit weary about it, it feels like a light tap. But because hes so skittish, it doesnt faze him. He is shaking and trembling and his head is going in all different directions that he just doesnt notice it.
As I am typing this. I am wondering if I can have his human put a couple drops of lavender in his crate in the morning?
Fear so strong that he is shaking is unlikely to be noticeably impacted by aromatherapy.

What the dog needs is compassion, patience, and a sense of safety - which is definitely not created by being shocked by an e-collar, or by a human trying to be "alpha". A lot of the worst owner-surrender cases we had in the shelter were from owners who used dominance and punishment-based methods.
 

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Im sorry. I should have stated above that due to him not responding to the e collar, I dont use it anymore. Haven't used it for about 2+ years. What I mean by Alpha and strong leader is using basic commands. Sit, stay, wait, lets go. I use these basic 4 with all the dogs I walk. I dont use a condescending voice, or a soft voice, just a strong monotone voice. He responds to these. But not if he is having one of those days. If he cowers because of a car, I let him cower, wait until I see him calm down, I say lets go and hes back to walking. I have tried to keep walking and ignore the vehicle, but he doesnt ignore it and cowers to the ground. I dont tug or pull. I dont want to hurt him. There are the rare times that a car wont bother him, he looks at it, then looks away and keeps walking. I dont know if maybe theres a frequency he hears that I cant hear in other vehicles that scares him.
I have my own dog, who was abandoned on the side of the road, she had some issues as well. Shortly after we brought her home, we quickly realized why they had abandoned her. She had major food allergies, diarrhea, gas so bad it would clear a room, an immature and nervous bladder, domadex mange, and she was fearful. She is a small 12 lb dog, so when we reached to pet her she immediately peed on the ground. I made her a diaper, we gained her trust, put her on a raw diet, taught her the basic commands and shes the best dog. I have worked with other fearful dogs as well.
Im just worried about this specific dog Im walking, because he hasnt gotten past it this time. It normally lasts 1 or 2 days and then hes good to go. But this time, he hasnt. I am wondering if maybe I should spend more time with him, work on some reward based activities, cut back on walks until he gains back his confidence, some lavender for calmness, spend more time in the front yard, a different collar or leash for retraining, I dont know, I am at a loss of ideas. He is a great dog. Very affectionate. Always looking to be pet.
 

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I am wondering if maybe I should spend more time with him, work on some reward based activities, cut back on walks until he gains back his confidence, some lavender for calmness, spend more time in the front yard, a different collar or leash for retraining, I dont know, I am at a loss of ideas.
Those all sound like very good ideas. :)
 

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He has been to the vet, Eye is good. He has had training. I question the training, because the trainer wanted to build his confidence by letting him"win" tugging on and playing with toys. From my experience, and I am not a trainer but just from experience, you show the dog you are the alpha and by being a strong leader. I am only there about 30 minutes per day. Theres only so much I can do. His human is aware. We have talked about what to do. The training facility did try the electric collar. I tried the collar in the palm of my hand, because I was a bit weary about it, it feels like a light tap. But because hes so skittish, it doesnt faze him. He is shaking and trembling and his head is going in all different directions that he just doesnt notice it.
As I am typing this. I am wondering if I can have his human put a couple drops of lavender in his crate in the morning?
This is not a dog that needs "strong leadership." An E collar on this dog as you have described him is a disaster waiting to happen (and I use e collars and am not opposed to e collars). An ecollar will only cause this dog to trust even less. This dog needs confidence building and encouragement and to know you will be his advocate and protect him and that he can trust you. You being confident, quiet and calm will help him a LOT more than strong leadership.

I have a very nervy dog. She has gotten worse with age. She has had her thyroid checked. She is just what she is from her genetics. If I put an e collar on this dog she would be shut down and go hide. She is intolerant of any raised voices or any body language that says "I am annoyed" even if the annoyance is from bad news in the mail or a telemarketer calling!

Medication might help. If his owners are willing to give it a go.
 

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A little update.

I decided to go ahead and take things very slow. I shortened the walks by half and only do walks every other day. I only use the looped leash ( i cant for the life of me remember the name of the leash and its bothering me!) I sit at his crate with a treat and talk to him. During the time in front of his crate and walks, I have been using very positive words. So far so good. He stopped shaking, doesnt stay in his crate as long. He still cowers and shakes when certain vehicles come by during walks. He actually gave half a bark when he saw a person. This is a great improvement. His hair didnt even go up on end. I wish I knew what happened this time. I think about it and cant come up with anything. I truly wish I could help him get passed these fears. Hes just such a great dog. So, I have decided to keep the walks short. And I have come to the conclusion hes not being aggressive, hes scared. And I will be working on the fear. If anyone has a book or website or any suggestions on how to work with a fearful dog, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thank You
 

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I'm really glad you're seeing improvements! You'll probably never know exactly what happened, but it sounds like slow and gentle is getting through, at least a little. The Cautious Canine would be my first go-to for books, but fearfuldogs.com also has a ton of great resources, both on the site itself and suggested under the "resources" tab.
 
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