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First, I think this forum is the best fit for my questions. Background: I had one lab mix, and two full-blooded labs since I grew up. I'm 26 now. The situation I am in now is truly new to me.

I have been dating a woman for three months now. She owns a miniature dachshund and it is possibly the worst dog I've ever been in contact with. :rolleyes:

She picked this dog up when it was 7 months old. I have no idea what happened to it between the time it was born and when my girlfriend picked it up, but it could not have been good training if any. I'm thinking this dog may have been the product of dog owners who thought it would be "cool" to have puppies. She picked this dog out while it trembled in the corner because of its breed and it was a girl. Myself, I never would have chosen a dog that acted like that at least not at that age. Now onto her description.

As I sit here typing this, the dog, Sophie, is whining almost nonstop has the girlfriend is at work. This dog has known me for 3 months now and I stay the night here between 4 to 5 times a week. So, I'm not something terribly new.

Problem two: she hates going outside (read terrified). If its windy, she's terrified. If there is anything alive in view, she terrified. She hates school buses because children get off them. If you walk any amount of distance she very soon stop and need to be picked up in order to get her to move anywhere. So, the dog stays home if we go anywhere outdoors. Oh, and she hates the dark with a passion.

She took the dog to training classes when she first got her. The trainer told her the classes were making her worse because of how petrified the dog was.

I have never had problems like this with any dog my family owned. I had them house trained and walking well early on. Of course, the dogs my family had were all taken home at 8 weeks.

I need some serious help with this dog. Its not going to cause relationship problems, but I would like to help make her a better a dog if I can. BTW, my girlfriend is the classic example of the owner who thinks their dog is so cute that they have trouble disciplining it. I'm fairly sure that my girlfriend is not helping anything with the way she acts towards her dog. I'm working on that.

Thanks for ANY help!
Justin
 

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Before ANYTHING I would get the dog to a vet and make sure there are no physical issues such as Thyroid imbalance or blindness etc.

I am not sure what you mean by discipline for a dog. I will only say that you should never hit, spank, prod, poke, yell at, scream at, pester, scare or whack the dog.. (not saying you do, just saying it in general).

I would guess that this dog spent most of its formative months locked up somewhere with little contact with humans. The dog sounds like a product of a Puppy Mill or some situation where she was not handled at all.. rarely saw people and was confined to a very small world.. like a cage or a room. This is a complete Guess.

Dogs that are scared do not take to most discipline involving any sort of intimidation. I would try to train this dog to a clicker. Get things very consistant and get the dog operant in a home environment where the dog is not terrified. If this means only the kitchen, then only train in the kitchen. The point is to get the dog to trust you. Trust is not built by coddling. Trust is built by consistant handling of every day to day thing associated with the dog and the consistancy must be the same for anyone handling the dog.

There is a good sticky here on dogs that are fearful: http://www.dogforums.com/3-dog-training-forum/17428-desensitizing-dog-inanimate-objects.html

I would also recommend the books listed in the sticky: The Cautious Canine by Dr. Patricia McConnell; Click To Calm by Emma Parsons; Scaredy Dog by Ali Brown. Books can be gotten at www.dogwise.com. You may want to take a look at Karen Pryor's site www.clickertraining.com and there is the stickie here for Free Clicker training: http://www.dogforums.com/3-dog-training-forum/33841-free-clicker-training-course.html

The other thing you may need to look at is getting a Behaviorist in. Forcing this dog to face what it fears (since it seems to be afarid of almost everything) will only make matters worse. The dog needs to be shown that good things happen when introduced to Scarey things.

In reading your post I must assume this dog is not house trained.. a dog that fearful probably is not asking to go outside to pee or poo. So, b4 worrying about any of the other things, getting the dog confident enough in the house and with both people so that house training can happen is probably the first training goal.
 

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Excellent post Elana! I agree this is a socialization/confidence issue. It sounds like the training class environment overwhelmed Sophie....too many dogs, too noisy, too much activity. Introductions to one scary thing at a time needs to be done...building confidence.
I sense a disturbing perspective though in the post...." Sophie, is whining almost nonstop has the girlfriend is at work. This dog has known me for 3 months now and I stay the night here between 4 to 5 times a week. So, I'm not something terribly new."
Here's a dog crying out of fear, loneliness...wanting attention....wanting to do something/anything...begging to learn. You couldn't ask for a better time to train but, I get the feeing that you find the whinning annoying and something that perhaps needs to be disciplined. Maybe I'm reading too much into this but, if I'm right, that's part of the problem here.
 

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Take this dog to a behaviourist, it will be well worth it!!

This dog cannot handle the world around it, it is as simple as that. It feels that you and your girlfriend are not reliable enough to look after it so it has to look after itself, but it is not capable of doing that because it obviously understands nothing of the world of humans.

Find a behaviourist that can help you gain the confidence and trust of your dog before you get the dog to face its fears. Once your have the dogs confidence and trust when it is faced with a situation it cannot handle it will look to YOUR reaction and change its own to match.

BUT you need a behaviourist to help you with the finer points!!

Good Luck
 

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For whatever reason, the dog has obvious confidence issues. I'm not opposed to punishment myself, but it's certainly not appropriate to deal with any of the issues you're having. How does your girlfriend or yourself react when the dog shows fear? Do you comfort the dog? This is a mistake as you're rewarding the fear. Use the tools that other people have already suggested and also make sure that you are always projecting confidence around the dog. Dogs pick up and often reflect their owners mood.
 

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Hi Justin. In addition to the other advice you've recieved, make sureyou aren't inadvertantly reinforcing her fears by "comforting" her when she's in a fearful state. She may feel that that is approval for what she's doing. My Siberian was fearful when I got her too until she learned to absolutely trust me. I had to work hard for that trust as she'd been neglected and abused. Use lots of positive reinforcement when you catch her not being fearful.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I know its been awhile, but I want to say thank you for everyone's replies. I learned something new when I dug a little deeper.

According to my girlfriend, Sophie was the one of two puppies that the breeders hadn't been able to sell yet. They did absolutely no socialization with this poor dog between the time it was born and my girlfriend picked her up at 7 months. I couldn't believe it, but apparently the unsold puppies were kept in the same crate with their mother as the mother gave birth again and began to raise the new litter. Sophie and her brother were never let out of this crate. I guess there somewhere around 6 dogs in this kennel. Unbelievable to me, but thats how it was.

As a disclaimer, yes I find the dog's habits to be annoying. However, I have no desire to hit or do anything that would make her worse. I realize that hitting a dog in discipline doesn't help, so I don't! And I don't like doing that to begin with.

I'm going to try and use the suggestions everyone has given and I will hopefully have good news to report at a later date!
 

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Thanks for the update. How terribly sad. :(

It's good, though, that you know more about the dog's history. It sounds like everything is new to her, so you'll want to proceed slowly. I'm glad you're committed to helping. As others have suggested, I would use a clicker and see if that helps.
 
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