Extremely shy rescue dog - need advice

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by MissRancher, Mar 31, 2008.

  1. MissRancher

    MissRancher New Member

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    We are fostering (and most likely going to adopt) a rescue dog, Illy. She's 2 and a lab/pharoah hound mix. We were told she was shy at first but will warm up. She was living on a farm with about 40 other rescue dogs, and some cows (not rescue cows, just cows) but apparently didn't have very much human interaction.

    She is very skittish - she is afraid of doors and any sort of noise, even the floor creaking. She doesn't like us standing up over her so we tend to crouch next to her before we pet her. She wags her tail when we pet her, and her ears are perky, although she does lick a lot, which I thought was a sign of stress, but I'm not sure, given her ears and tail behavior.

    The problem is, we can't really get her interested in coming out of her crate. She just lays in there all day unless we get the leash out, and then she slowly comes out, and wags her tail a little bit. If we approach her quickly or from the front, she cowers and runs right back in her crate. So I slowly walk around her and approach from the side, and she's fine. She's good on the leash. But then when she comes home, it's right back into the crate. Sometimes if I lie down in front of the crate, she'll ease her way out and start licking my face. I can't tell if she really likes getting petted or not, and saying 'Good Girl!' doesn't elicit a reaction. She does not really notice when we talk to her or call her name. She mostly just lays in her crate all day, and I feel like she's miserable, but I guess it's her safe place? She's happy when she's outside, sniffing at everything, but we can't leave her outside all day.

    We introduced her to the neighbor's dog, because the woman at the rescue organization thought she might be missing her 'friends'. They sniffed each other and then ignored each other. We went on a walk together and another dog came to play. They all sniffed each other, then those two dogs went off running and playing, and she was just sniffing on the ground, doing her own thing. So I don't know if taking her to a dog park (eventually) will be beneficial.

    I'm hoping she'll eventually get used to us and want to come out of her crate. But what can I do in the meantime to help along that process? I hate thinking that she's miserable.

    She doesn't know what toys are or what to do with them. She really has no interest in treats. She doesn't get overly excited about them. She'll nibble one if I put it right next to her, or even eat it out of my hand, but if I put it on the floor farther away, so she has to move to get it, she has no interest at all.

    So trying to build her confidence by having her sit and then get treats doesn't work, because she's not treat motivated. She's not affection motivated - she doesn't even notice when I say 'Good girl!'. I tried using the clicker but the noise startles her and I can't click and treat, because she ignores the treat.

    Any advice? What should we do, or not do?
     
  2. inspector16

    inspector16 New Member

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    So how long has she been with you? If it's only been a short time, maybe she just needs more time to come out of her shell on her own?

    Have you tried hand feeding her meals to her? I know you mentioned that she's not treat oriented, but if she has a healthy appetite, then I wouldn't be surprised if she'll eat her meals from your hand. If she will let you hand feed her, then it will go a ways toward helping her trust you.

    If she won't eat from your hand, then you can try lying flat on the ground, with a piece of something really good in your hand. Something like real chicken. Lying flat on the ground will make you as non threatening as possible. Then just lie there, ignoring her, and don't look at her or in her direction. Make her feel like she can sneak up and steal the food from your hand. Whatever you do, don't encourage her either. She needs to do this on her own. Then, if she can do that, you can try putting the food on your chest or stomach so she has to touch you to get it.

    This might help her to at least start trusting you more so that she can start to open up more.

    Eventually you can move on to having her push into you while you're hand feeding her. But that's later on down the line.
     
  3. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    One of my students got a adult puppy mill rescue, this dog was raised and then bred in a puppy mill for the first 4-5 yrs of her life. All she knew was a cage, she was terrified of being outside of a crate/cage and the outdoors.
    When they got her, they put a crate in each room of the house for her. She would scramble from crate to another for many weeks. She also didn't know how to play with other dogs and it took a couple of years for her to learn how to play and to play with toys.
    It took about a year to socialize her and given enough time they took her everywhere. They were very active in flyball with their other dogs and she went to almost every weekend when they competed. They tried to train her for flyball but it didn't work.
    Then they came to me for some agility training, her owner felt that she would never do agility but wanted to have some one on one time with her. Because I train with only positive reinforcements and never ever was she corrected, she did learn agility.........she morphed into a stinking fast, happy little dog that had all the confidence in the world. Happy to bounce up to strangers.........she was no longer that poor little rescue dog. In agility she competed, she won and she earned Qualifying scores.
    My point is give your dog time, socialize her slowly and within her comfort zone. I agree hand feeding is an excellent idea.

    Lynn
     
  4. MissRancher

    MissRancher New Member

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    Thank you for the replies. We've had her for only four days now. I hope she will eventually come out of her shell - she just seems so depressed and has NO interest in her surroundings at all. She does have a decent appetite, and she will eat out of our hands. So maybe we'll try doing more of that.

    The agility training sounds interesting - is there anything I should look for in a class or instructor? Any licensing or certification? We live in Northern VA, if that helps. I have seen a few sites advertising agility training, but I want to make sure, if we go that route, we choose a good one, that won't end up doing more damage to the dog.

    She is TERRIFIED of doors. Any idea on how we can help her get over this? Forcing her in and out repeatedly seems cruel, but I have no idea how to get her to see that the door isn't going to hurt her, and going through it won't hurt her. I can't offer treats after she goes through it, because she's too scared to eat.
     
  5. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    you live in Northern Virginia????? ummm... what are you doing this Saturday??? We're having quite a few chazzers in the Northern Virginia area meeting up and we could probably talk more about your dog and how to open her out of her shell?
     
  6. MissRancher

    MissRancher New Member

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    Wow, fortuitous! This Saturday I am volunteering with the rescue organization in Chantilly from 12 - 3pm. I'm taking her with me, as part of the foster contract, we have to bring her to two adoption events a month. Unless we fill out an application for adoption in which case we'll keep her. I still might bring her just for socialization.

    Where are you getting together, and when??
     
  7. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    I can help you find an agility club in your area... I know there's one called "A click above".... I know a few people that do agility with them. There's also one I believe in Clifton and another near Manassas. Let's talk. I'm planning on doing agility with Bamm, but I want him to reach a point where he is ok around other dogs first. I at least want to get him to where he can focus on me and not worry about the dogs around him. I'm going to be doing a private agility class to start him off and then the instructor is going to add one to two more dogs and go from there.
     
  8. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    I think we're meeting from 12-3... I think in Arlington or Alexandria is where we decided. I have to double check the PM that Lilavati sent me to see just where exactly. If not we should definitely still plan on meeting up sometime. I hang out with Nolu sometimes and just recently got to hang out with Sweet as well.
     
  9. MissRancher

    MissRancher New Member

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    Perfect, we live in Manassas! That would be ideal!
     
  10. MissRancher

    MissRancher New Member

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    That sounds great. We were thinking about going to the dog park in Herndon, she seems to get along with other dogs but I'm wary of taking her off leash, even if it's enclosed. She does not come, or even acknowledge when we talk to her or call her name. And I've never been to a dog park before, so not sure what to expect! But I would love to hang out and have her meet some other dogs in a controlled environment, and get some advice!
     
  11. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    WOW. I live in Manassas too. I live right off of 66 and 234. Right near the NOVA campus sorta.
     
  12. MissRancher

    MissRancher New Member

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    That's where we are too :p Well we're south of 66 and I think you are north? We are by the Best Buy.
     
  13. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    wow... you are soooooo close. Do you know where coverstone is? It's right off of 234 and the pizza hut is right there? I believe the TGI Fridays is across 234 right there... I live right off Coverstone.
     
  14. MissRancher

    MissRancher New Member

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    Ha yeah - we are on the other side of Sudley from you! Are there any good places to walk in the area? We have been walking Illy around our subdivision but were thinking about going to Bull Run Park or somewhere. We should meet up sometime!
     
  15. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    I take Bamm to the Battlefield all the time. There's tons and tons of different trails all over the place. So wait... do you live near Carlyle Station apartments? That's off of Williamson Blvd which is the street directly across Sudley.
     
  16. MissRancher

    MissRancher New Member

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    No, we live a bit further down Williamson in some townhouses before you hit Sudley Manor.
     
  17. skittledoo

    skittledoo Crazy naked dog lady

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    oh wow... still that's very close...
     
  18. MissRancher

    MissRancher New Member

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    Yeah, crazy! Do you have to pay to get into Bull Run Park? Maybe we can meet you there sometime, or meet up on a walk somewhere else. I'd love to have Illy meet some new friends! :)

    Anyone else still reading this, sorry for hijacking my own thread - I would still love any advice on how to acclimate her to doors and not be scared of them. Right now I'm just acting nonchalant when we have to go through one, but if there's something better I could be doing, I'd love to know.

    Thanks!
     
  19. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    I think, if she does like food and treats, clicking would be good. As a sort of desensitisation (i slaughter the spelling of that word every time, sorry). If she'll eat her meals near a door, put them maybe a few feet away, and the next meal move a little closer, until she's eating in the doorway. If she's hesitant, move the dish back a bit. Be very quite during this and don't make any moves or noises that might scare her.

    Obviously she needs to go through doors to get to the walks which she seemingly enjoys...pretty sound she'll probably learn doors = good things.
     
  20. MissRancher

    MissRancher New Member

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    Ah, great idea on the eating near the door. She's not a GREAT eater - she'll eat but noises do send her back to her crate. She ate out of my hand pretty well today. The clicker always startles her so I need to try muffling it a little bit.

    I took her around the house today on the lead, because on her own she won't leave a certain square area. She was nervous at first but then started sniffing and I kept praising her when she relaxed and her tail was wagging a ton. So I thought that was good. Of course, as soon as I dropped the lead she ran off into her crate.

    But I THINK that's a step forward!
     

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