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Sally G.
Sally G., Dog Training Consultant
Category: Dog Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 9257
Experience:  Service/assistance dog training/ behavior /obedience/Therapy dog Evaluator/AKC Evaluator
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At her work my wife, Rosemary. in early July began feeding a

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At her work my wife, Rosemary. in early July began feeding a stray German Shephers mix, male dog, and for the next 3 weeks it came and went as it was ultra people shy and would run after eating the food she left for it. She missed it for several days in a row in mid-July, and discovered it has been picked up and was being held by Animal Control. At the end of its hold time, in order to prevent its being euthanized we adopted it and we are now caring for it at our home. We are in process of re-homing him, and I would like your opinion about his behavior as I have observed it as I am concerned that his lack of nourishment while he was stray.
He is very people phobic. He will avoid us but will approach his food bowl when we back away. If we wait until he settles indoors on the floor and approach him on hands and knees, he will alert and prepare to run, but will one time out of three remain to let us get close enough to pet him and place a collar or halter for walking.
Then when walking leash is in place he will not move very easily. He simply lies there — limp sack of potatoes. If he does walk he will only cover a few feet before lying down once again. He will carry this routine down the street until we actually have to pick him up and carry him home if we don’t want to spend hours doing his “walk a few feet — lie down” routine.
He will bark at our approach both indoors and outdoors when we walk around the house and yard — day or night. Barking persists for a few minutes and then he will run around the house and hide in shrubs. If we sit in patio or come inside he will come around us and even lie down near us until we rise at which time he gets up and runs to a distance of about 15 feet. He enters and exits the house via doggie doors excessively during this “escape and return” routine.
When he does allow us to pet, he goes into “malaise” mode and will simply lie still. His leg muscles flinch noticeably when we touch is upper leg or paw area. He does not make eye contact during petting, ear scratching. He is not aggressive — no snarling, growing at all. He is not food-possessive. He mingles with our other three dogs without any aggressiveness. He does not play or respond to the dogs playing. I have noticed he does not show a “happy tail” wag when we our voice tone signals praise of play/walk time. He is indifferent to tasty treats.
He appears to be about 10 months old. We had him neutered, got his rabies, distemper and bordetella as part of the adoption process during week of August 12. He weighs 25 lbs., dramatically under weight for his breed/age. Can you address the question: Would his being on the run during month 10 and perhaps 9 of his life, and his being under nourished have damaged his mental, emotional development? To what extent would it have affected development of nervous and muscle systems, brain and internal organs?
Thank you.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Dog Veterinary
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.
Hello and welcome. The original expert you asked for is not online. My name is ***** ***** I have been working with dogs for 25 years.
If the Vet check did not yield a health problem for being malnourished, then being on the run could contribute to the fear factor, however it would probably only contribute if people tried to scare it off their property.
Most dogs that are fearful are born that way and then it gets worse when the dog leaves the litter before it learns social skills from the litter mates. From that point it is up to the owner to help the dog get some courage or accept the dog for who it is. Just like humans , dogs come with their own personality, and it is how that personality is nourished over time that can help or hinder the dog.
Generally we greet shy dogs differently than we do a dog with confidence.
As for it not interacting with your dogs , many dogs that were not brought up with other dogs, and that are shy, do not know how to interact with other dogs. Again it is the socialization that they learn from litter mates.
Keep in mind that dogs see three things as challenges and they are usually what humans do to each other to make others feel better. Direct eye contact, talking to or reaching out to pet/stroke a dog are all challenges that a shy dog certainly does not want to take on, so they are always on the watch for your body language.
Also shy dogs need to learn the family's consistent routine before they are comfortable. So if the family is always on the move with different daily routines, a shy dog won't settle in so easily. Kids also are a challenge to shy dogs because kids run on impulse and are never consistent.
Expert:  Sally G. replied 1 year ago.
I'm just following up on our conversation about your pet. How is everything going?