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The Fearful Dog Thread

48709 Views 903 Replies 55 Participants Last post by  KBLover
Would love to hear your prior success stories and current works-in-progress with dogs that have behavior problems which are fear-based. What fears did they have and what did you do/are you doing to get them through it? How long did it take to see drastic improvement?

I'll be back with mine tomorrow...
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It is becoming more obvious to me that as the years keep going by I am becoming more and more of a wimp. I allow things that I didn't in the past when it comes to training and or rehab. My current dog Oliver was a very badly abused little boy before I got him. He came with a broken jaw and fractured rear leg. It had been allowed to partially heal without treatment making it worse. He still has issues with his leg and has to be babied a little because of it. Usually it is best to not really dwell on the past with a dog. Oliver was so afraid of dog dishes when I first got him. He would NOT eat out of them and went days without food rather then get near a dog dish. My guess is the past owner kicked him when he went for the dog dish, breaking his jaw and leg then. I have sort of babied him through his rehab with dog dishes. He will now eat out of his dish but he still requires a few kisses on his ears while he eats. He will start eating by himself now but will walk away and come by me for attentions and praise if left alone for too long. Sometimes when he is really hungry he can now eat a whole meal without issue. It took a long time to encourage him and get him to be brave enough to face a dog dish for food or water. Stainless steel on the floor still freaks him out, but he eats great out of his raised feeder with ceramic bowls. :)
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So, question for those of you who have alot more experience with fearful dogs than I do...

Now that Brenna is to the point of being totally comfortable around me, follows me around the house and such, should I start taking her to places with people more often? In the two months we've had her she's been to the vet's office twice, a hiking trail with a fair amount of people walking past twice, and met a couple other people outside our church once. We've also had a couple people over for dinner 3 times. I've really been hesitant about taking her to PetSmart or the local feed store that allows pets inside because of the higher volume of people present. But I don't want to hinder her progress, either.

BTW, Brenna is not the aggressive sort of fearful dog, rather the type that shuts down or tries to hide when she is afraid. And she has never yet taken treats from me when we are in new places, so that doesn't seem to be a good source of positive reinforcement for her.

I guess if it were me, I would be working obedience with Brenna at home to help that bond even more and allow her to understand what I expect of her. 2 months is a very short time to have had a dog to know with any certainty how she will react around others. Once she is preforming obedience exercises proficiently at home, I might take her to a less crowded area to do the same. Once she is doing the exercises there, then it is time to move to a more crowded area. Remember to keep a close eye on her body language and if she starts to shut down again, back off and continue to work those exercises. Simple ones like "sit" If she is truly frightened I wouldn't ask for a "down" in public.
I prefer to take a slow approach to rehab, rather then taking steps backward when I don't have to. Just a thought.
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