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Discussion Starter #1
Hey all!

I just adopted a now 13 week old mixed pup from a local shelter two weeks ago. She arrived in NJ from TX the morning I picked her up and she was super mellow. I figured she was tired from her journey and sure enough, after a few days, my sweet little girl started to open up. In that time, I had her wear a harness several times to go outside in the yard (which is fenced) and out on a walk. While on the walk, we encountered a very loud small dog that scared my much larger pup.

Now, any time I try to put on her harness, she runs away. I decided to try the collar which she seemed less afraid of. She allows me to rub it on her and will take treats off of it (even enjoys trying to play tug with it) but will back up suddenly when I try to buckle her quick release collar. She is fine when it is on the back of her neck but once it reaches under her throat, she is backing up and heading the other direction. Once it is time to take it off, she will yank herself backwards almost choking herself to get away from the collar. If we scratch her around it, she is fine.

Once she has the collar on, she is fine, doesn't even scratch.

Unfortunately, she is fearful of other dogs; she once urinated when one large one walked by her in PetSmart and will run to the back door if she is outside when she hears one bark. She is also fearful of strangers, seeming to freeze when adults come up and backing away fearfully when children come to her.

In our house, she is wonderful with me, my husband and my two young kids. She plays, eats, wags her tail, is crate trained and is doing well with learning to sit and "drop it".

Here is my dilemma:

Even though we have made progress with her getting used to the collar being near her we are nowhere near her wanting it on. If my husband holds her, we are able to get it on pretty quickly. I fear that by the time I get her to that point, her window of getting socialized really well will have closed and I will be working to undo all her fears. I have had two other shelter dogs but they were 1 year old and already had their problems: from there it was my job to undo that. I really wanted to give this pup a strong beginning!

Do I force a collar on her in order to take her out on walks or keep going slow and hope that in coming weeks or months she will be ready to accept the collar process without backing away from me?

Also, if I get it on her, should it just leave it on? I am nervous doing that hearing about how some dogs have gotten them stuck on their crate. Since she is so young she is in her crate at night or when I have an errand to run so I don't know how that would work.

If anyone has any advice, I would really appreciate it!
 

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Personally,I'd perceive with the harness instead.
The way you describe her, it sounds like a much safer bed than just a collar... more difficult to escape from and less likely to cause injury to her delicate neck should she freak out and start wiggling/thrashing.

Leaving her without walks isn't going to help the situation, but you don't want to terrify her by just shoving it on... hmm...
I'd probably try slipping it on really quick (if possible!) without making a huge deal of it, then getting her really engaged in something, play etc, to take her mind off it.
Once on, take her to "safe" places for a while and try to avoid things that you know will frighten her so she doesn't immediately associate harnesses/going out with scary things.
Carry her at first if you must like you would for an unvaccinated pup so she can feel safe while still seeing the outside world (although don't go picking her up every time something scares her)
 

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She is probably not used to collars so that's why she is reacting. I think you should leave the collar on full time and get her used to a harness for walking as well since she may back out of the collar the way it sounds. I have always left the collar on my dogs and my last two were crate trained. If for some reason she gets out the door at least she has a collar (also needs an ID as well).

One thing I do want to say is if your dog hasn't had it's full series of puppy shots and I don't think at 13 weeks she does - don't take her out all over until she does. Pups are susceptible to parvo and it sounds like its a nasty disease. Ask your Vet about the possibility of catching parvo in your area.

As far as everything else - she is a baby, just took a big journey and is new to you and her surroundings ...as she gets accustomed to everything she may break out of being fearful.

I have to say - waiting 2 weeks for your pup, WOW. When we adopted Zoey we had to wait 2 days and I was anxious to get to the shelter and get her when we could!
 

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I think you should leave the collar on full time and get her used to a harness for walking as well since she may back out of the collar the way it sounds.
That would be my suggestion too. Here are a couple of links that may be of some help. A video on counterconditioning a dog to a harness https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7edMjwEY1c . And a breakaway collar which might put your mind at ease and lessen the chance of catastrophe http://breakawaycollar.com/ .

Also, I wouldn't advise trying to socialize or work through her fears at petsmart, at least not yet and perhaps never. Most other dogs you'll meet there are far too amped and ill-behaved, it's really close quarters physically speaking, dogs can appear suddenly from around aisle corners, owners are generally inattentive and preoccupied with shopping etc. Frankly it's just not a good environment for young and fearful dogs imo. Personally I'd look for an experienced trainer to guide you, via one-on-one lessons or group classes designed specifically for dogs such as yours, in conjunction with researching sources such as http://fearfuldogs.com/, and Ali Brown's book / dvd Scaredy Dog for example. http://www.reactivedog.com/about/ali-brown/
 

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I use a slip or martingale lead when I am out and about, my dogs dont wear collars in the house because I am quite forgetful and am afraid i will put a dog in a crate with a collar on by mistake, and since I have fluffy dogs and its easy to miss collars, I use slip leads. They are usually very soft material (mine is cotton) so they wont irritate the neck and its great because they cant back out or wiggle out of them (my boy is a champion at wiggling out of a leash).

And yes he did fight it, but they dont fight forever.
 

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I use a slip or martingale lead when I am out and about, my dogs dont wear collars in the house because I am quite forgetful and am afraid i will put a dog in a crate with a collar on by mistake, and since I have fluffy dogs and its easy to miss collars, I use slip leads. They are usually very soft material (mine is cotton) so they wont irritate the neck and its great because they cant back out or wiggle out of them (my boy is a champion at wiggling out of a leash).

And yes he did fight it, but they dont fight forever.
I can't help but think something tightening indefinitely on an already fearful pups neck isn't the best of ideas. Imagine the damage if pupster flips out at something then completely panics at the thing squeezing its neck :/
 

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I can't help but think something tightening indefinitely on an already fearful pups neck isn't the best of ideas. Imagine the damage if pupster flips out at something then completely panics at the thing squeezing its neck :/
Martingale isn't a big deal because it won't tighten indefinitely, but yeah. No way would I use a regular slip on a dog without really good leash manners. I use them for Kylie some and I use them in agility pretty consistently but I would in NO WAY use them for every day use on a dog who wasn't really good on a leash - and really good at NOT panicking in general.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thank you all so much for your responses!

She is definitely head shy so I am staying away from a slip leash or martingale collar of any kind. By using teamwork, treats and me picking her up, we were able to get her harness on yesterday and took her for two short walks. she did great! We kept telling her "go for a walk" while putting on the harness and leash in the hopes she starts to associate it with fun. I plan on buying a breakaway collar too (I never knew that existed!) and have her water it all the time.

It seems we may be in the right path! Thanks again everyone
 
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