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Will lots of love and attention solve this?

1039 Views 12 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  luvntzus
I just brought home a newly neutered, 55-pound 1.5 year old Afghan-hound mix. When he's out in the open living room, he barely knows what to do with himself. He turns in circles or else glues himself to my side. He only lays down for some much needed sleep after neutering when he's in his crate. He probably spent most of his life in a cage.

When outside, everything scares him: cars, the train overhead (we live in a densely urban part of Chicago)... understandably so. He came from a shelter in the south and likely was some kind of farm or suburban dog before that.

Will lots of love and attention build his confidence? What else can I do? My heart is absolutely breaking when I see that he doesn't even know how to handle having a little free space. He's already piddled on the floor either because it's a submissive gesture (or maybe he had to go really bad -- he was WAY too scared to potty outside with all the noise).

I already love my big buddy and I just want him to feel happy and safe. Any advice is appreciated.
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Aw, poor little guy. :( I'm so glad he has you to love him!! You've gotten some great replies, so I just wanted to give you some encouragement that he CAN overcome his fearfulness. Our older dog, Dixon, spent her early puppy months in a home with a woman who is VERY loud, screechy, she stomps around a lot, etc. (She happens to be my mother-in-law. :D) Every dog she has ever had ended up being a nervous wreck.

Dixon was definitely no exception. She was the most skittish dog I'd ever seen! She's 7 now, and even up until earlier this year, the slightest sound would make her jump/send her cowering. We worked with her so much on it, gave her lots of love, and although it got a little better, she stayed fearful of loud sounds.

Then, in January, we brought our two new puppies into our lives. I never expected this, but those little puppies helped her overcome her skittishness. The two puppies are confident and fearless... seriously, nothing phases them. And Dixon has been picking up on their confidence! It's amazing. I always dread the Fourth of July because Dixon freaks out and hides under the bed, but although she stayed inside with my husband and me for the most part while the puppies went out (totally unphased by the booming -- they would cock their heads curiously then go about their playing), she wasn't trembling and cowering like she always had.

So, I guess I'm saying that lovemygreys is 100% on the money with this:
I truly believe a pack is the best way to "heal" a shy, undersocialized dog.
Of course, I realize it's not always practical to bring another new pup into the home, especially when you just adopted one, but there are other ways to give him this confidence-building. You could seek out a confident, well-behaved dog in the neighborhood and let them gradually get to know each other. With regular play dates and maybe even walks together, it could only be good for your pup. Obedience and/or agility classes are another great confidence-booster.

In the meantime, giving him plenty of love and positive attention can only be good for him. He's so new to your home, part of his anxiety is probably the anxiety of being in a completely new place. As he gets used to his surroundings and gets love from you, he will relax a bit.

I feel for you... I know it's heart-breaking to see a dog being so fearful... but I know he can get better... I'm so glad he's got a great, loving Mom now to give him the wonderful life he deserves! :)
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The best thing you can do is be a strong leader. It will give your dog more confidence and that can help them to be less fearful. The worst thing you could do is give "love" in the form of petting or telling the dog "it's okay" when they're afraid. That is actually praising them for being fearful.
Being a strong leader and giving love and comfort are not mutually exclusive. I do both and the result is extremely confident dogs.
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