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Sally G.
Sally G., Animal Behaviorist
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 9508
Experience:  Service /assistance dog trainer,Therapy dog evaluator and trainer, AKC evaluator, pet first aide and member of PAS Animal Response Team.
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We adopted our dog from Wayside Waifs 9 months ago, and have

Customer Question

We adopted our dog from Wayside Waifs 9 months ago, and have yet to be able to feel her fur. She has obviously been badly abused by someone, (we feel a male), but appears to be a loving, fun, young dog, who wants to belong to her family. It took us weeks and weeks to get a collar and a leash on her. Now we can only get close enough to her to let her sniff our fingertips or to give her a treat. Within the last two weeks, she has decided she no longer wants to come into the house, and in spite of previously having been very afraid of thunder, has now spent two nights out in loud thunderstorms, and won't come in in spite of all our efforts to get her to do so. We are heartbroken over this dog, and are at a loss as to how to make progress on turning her into a member of our family. Please help us.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Dog Training
Expert:  Sally G. replied 2 years ago.
Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I have been in the dog field for 25 years. I am a Therapy Dog & AKC Evaluator/trainer/ specializing in behavior. It will be my pleasure to help you today.
Will she come in for some dinner such as canned food?
Do you have a collar on her or a harness?
Do you know how to make a slip lead?
Expert:  Sally G. replied 2 years ago.
it seems you may have gone off line and I have an appointment soon. I will post how to handle shy /fearful dogs.
What you will need to do is get the dog on a slip lead , this is basically making a loop out of the handle end of the leash. As you approach do not look at him , talk to him or try to reach out aside from putting the slip lead over the head.
When you have that on and can bring him inside put a harness on him. Attach a long piece of clothesline rope to that harness. This way you can always get him back inside. Do not leave that rope on when you are not with him, only when you are home.
There are steps to take with a frightened dog and though I know you feel you are doing right by soft talk , this actually makes things worse.
Below is my article on working with a fearful dog.
Shy dog training in the home
When you adopt a dog chances are the dog may be very shy or fearful. Keep in mind that one never knows the true history of an adopted dog. This means you will not know how they were originally trained, socialized, or treated within the home.
However some dogs just come with a fearful personality, so this can happen with a dog that is fairly young and has not lived with another family.
When you have such a dog you can work around this to gain trust, however, be forewarned that this dog may never accept a stranger, as strangers represent inconsistency and unpredictability.
In your own home with a shy or fearful dog you must represent structure, consistency and predictability in order for the dog to feel safe around you. Sometimes, even if everyone in the family does it right, the dog may still only take to one person in the home that they trust.
The three challenges:
1) Eye contact, 2) talking to, and 3) reaching out to pet. All of these actions to humans, is a way of comforting, however, to a dog they are challenges, and a fearful dog will magnify those actions times ten. So it is very important that you do not look directly at the dog, you do not continue to talk to the dog, and you don’t reach out to touch the dog, until such a time that you notice the dog is feeling comfortable.
Positive training is essential to boost a shy dog’s confidence, but if you can’t look at, talk to, or touch how do you train?
Start by getting down on the dog’s level on the floor. Do not look at the dog, watch TV or turn your head from the dog. Lay your hand out, palm up with a special treat such as a hot dog sliver or chicken sliver. Anything that has an aroma should work. Allow the dog to make its way over to you to take it. Continue this until the dog realizes that when it comes near you, you are not a threat or challenge, and something good is coming from your hand. Gradually as the dog builds confidence you will call the name and continue moving up the chain of perceived challenges. This can take weeks to get through and for some even longer depending on how much time you have to spend with the dog. . Dogs ,like humans, fear the unknown, so the more you can do this, the more you show predictability to the dog. If the dog knows what to expect it becomes less frightened.
This is one reason shy dogs have so many problems getting used to strangers out on a walk. Each person walks, talks, and moves in unpredictable ways to the dog.
Gradually you wan to move to daily obedience training, do it in short sessions, and do it several times a day. This shows the dog you are consistent. The positive training tells the dog that if it listens, some thing good happens (the treat comes). The more successful the dog is during training the more the confidence it boosted. Rewarding the right behavior, (listening to a command), elicits the reward, which builds the bond.
Punishment has no place in any dog’s life, let alone a shy or fearful dog’s life. . Remember that dogs act out for a variety of reasons. Fear, boredom, challenges, anxieties, and instinct for survival, are just a few. It is how you deal with it that can make it better or worse. \
As well, if you have gotten your dog to a certain spot of comfort, you can very easily make them take two steps back through punishment or dominance.
I guess you are wondering how to put a leash on a shy dog to take it out to potty if you cannot talk to, look at or touch! Here is a simple method, rather than trying to attach the clasp to the collar which can make a shy dog move away from your hand, flip the leash over so that you are holding the snap, pull it through the handle to make a loop. From above slip the loop over the dog’s neck. Very similar to a slip lead that is used in vets office. This way you can stand at a bit of a distance, you do not have to physically touch the dog, nor do you need to look directly at it. This can be done in your peripheral vision. Once the leash is on the dog drop a treat to the floor for the dog and then head out the door.
Clicker training, a positive method can be found here: For some dogs the clicker noise will frighten them so in those cases rather than using a clicker as a marker use your voice. Keep it to one word such as good or yes.
video’s to see how clicker training is done, scroll down to videos

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