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We adopted our dog from Houston. She was a stray rescued…

We adopted our dog...

We adopted our dog from Houston. She was a stray rescued from a high kill shelter. She was flown to us in the PNW. The rescue shelter owners and a trusted friend in Houston that she stayed with her for a week described her as nervous, but who loves people. She does love people. But in the month that we have had her we've seen her get progressively more and more fearful. Within a couple of days it was difficult for us to get her to come into the house. She was afraid of having the door closed behind her. She got better for a while and would come in for me but not my husband. Now it's getting progressively worse and she will not come in for either one of us. We live on 3 acres and she is fast. We cannot make her come in if she doesn't want to. If you can get the door closed she is happy to be in the house and doesn't want to go back outside again. She wants to be near people but will only come in as far she can run back out before you can close the door. Outside she will come to you as long as she does not have a sense that you will try to take her back in.

Veterinarian's Assistant: I'll do all I can to help. Strange behavior is often perplexing. I'm sure the Veterinarian can help you. What is the dog's name and age?

Lacey. She is approximately 1.5 yrs old.

Veterinarian's Assistant: Is there anything else important you think the Veterinarian should know about Lacey?

She is believed to be a lab Doberman mix. Nothing is known of her past, but based on her condition, they do not believe she was a stray for very long.

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Answered in 2 hours by:
3/13/2018
Sally G.
Sally G., Dog Training Consultant
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 9,950
Experience: Service/assistance dog training/ behavior /obedience/Therapy dog Evaluator/AKC Evaluator
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Hello and welcome. My name is ***** ***** I will be working on your question.

Can you tell me what you have tried so far?

Have you worked with training her?

Is it necessary for you to let her loose in the yard?

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
When we first got Lacey, she would not come inside. Or rather, she would come in part way or just far enough that she could run back out if you made a move to close the door. She wants to be inside but she does not want you to close the door. Once you do, she relaxes and it's hard to get her to go back out again. We left the door open for ridiculous amounts of time, despite that it was freezing outside and we live in the woods with all sorts of critters. We lured her in with treats but she soon saw those as traps and it stopped working. I scooped her up and carried her in until she stopped coming to me outside. Anything we tried to trick her into letting us close the door soon stopped working because it only took her once or twice to see through it. I did some research and made a lot of progress. I started by calling her to one door and sitting in one spot far away. I tossed treats close to the door and let her eat them and go back out. It took me a couple weeks, but I eventually worked up to giving her three training treats by my feet. She would eat them and then stand back and let me close the door. I also taught her to sit and finally got to a place where she would come in and sit and I would close the door and give her a treat after.All of this progress happened when my husband was away. He is a pilot and gone several days a week. Lacey will not come to him. She never has. When he is home she would go back to not coming in the house unless he's behind a closed door for a while or in the garage, and it takes me forever to coax her in. When it was just the kids and I, she would have moments where she was relaxed and playful and happy. Not all the time. She still got nervous sometimes and still wouldn't come in easily all the time, but that was steadily improving.When Brian was home she always had her guard up. she was scared of him, but when he wasn't around showed signs of separation anxiety, especially at first. If he went outside, she would want to follow, but not let him touch her. If he was inside, she would watch him from the windows and keep tabs on each of us the best she could through the windows. The first few times he left, she would stick to me like glue for the first day. If I was not paying her complete attention she would poop and pee in the kids rooms and chew things. After the first day she would relax and we had a couple days of mostly normal dog behavior until he came back and it started all over. She stopped pottying in the house, but still gets anxious when he leaves.Our house is on 3 acres. about a third is manicured lawn and the rest is natural and forested. About an acre is dense with balckberries and impossible in some spots for people to cross. The whole thing is surrounded by field fencing. When we first brought Lacey home, we were concerned with giving her run of the whole property. We put a temporary 50ft tie out in the yard. She hated it. She cried the entire time and paced and tangled the line. She refused to go potty. She would hold it for hours and then come in and immediately go in the house. After a few days we let her loose in the yard and she did so much better. She stayed close and came when we called her, even if she wouldn't come in.Leaving was a struggle. If she was in, I would crate her, but she hated it. She cried and howled the whole time, even though she sleeps in it willingly at night. She got to where she could sense when we were leaving and would not come in. Leaving her outside seemed better at first, until she started escaping the yard. Luckily she came back, but it was nerve wracking. After patching a couple holes, we realized she was making the holes. She is strong enough to bend and break the wire. We went back to trying to crate her. Eventually she started defeating the crate. She kept meeting me at the door. She disconnected the sides. I ziptied the heck out of it. She opened the door. I fastened it with a carabeener. She bent the bottom. The house was always miraculously in one piece, but I kept expecting the worst because of the separation anxiety. She also started getting braver when we were home. She was getting into the neighbor's yards running out of the gate when people pulled their car out.
Customer reply replied 1 month ago
At the time, invisible fencing seemed like the best answer. I was uncomfortable with it. I do not like the idea of shock collars or invisible barriers, but this seemed more ok because we were using it to reinforce the existing barrier. We ran it along our entire fence line. It was more cost effective than putting up a fenced in area and didn't take away the space she already had or obstruct our view of the forest. On the first day, less than a week ago, Brian had her on a leash. The directions say to walk her towards the fence and pull her away when you hear the beep. He tried, but she bolted towards the beep and got a zap while he was still holding the leash. By the second day she wasn't going near the fence. I was walking my son to the bus stop and she stopped following us several feet from the gate and lay down in the driveway. We were on the other side of the gate and she suddenly ran full steam at it. I couldn't get back in to stop her in time. :(Now we are back to square one or worse. She wouldn't ever let ***** *****dle her, but now she won't even come when he calls. She will come to me but getting her to come in the house and let me shut the door is back to being extremely difficult. If she is in the house with the door closed or out in the yard away from the house, she will let me handle her a bit, but nervously. She cowers and puts her tail between her legs. She will follow us from room to room from the windows if she can and scratch like heck at every door, but won't come in. Sometimes she gets frustrated and barks or grabs shoes or toys near the door and runs outside with them. Brian has been home the last couple days and I haven't been able to get her in with the door shut since. Last night was the first night she didn't sleep inside. She will come in and lay down in her bed or crate, but if I so much as blink, she is running for the open door. I worried about her all night long. In the morning, I was able to approach her in the yard and take off collar that sets off the fence because it's only supposed to be on her 12 hrs or less a day. She is still giving the fence a wide birth, so I am hoping she doesn't realize she can escape now.Obviously in hindsight, the invisible fence was the wrong choice. We destroyed the trust we had and I'm not sure we can get it back. I'm thinking our yard may have been too big a space for her. She can easily run away from us. I feel like she is almost back to being a stray and we are dog catchers. She does still trust me some, but not much. Putting up a small fenced area for her is not really an option at this point. Between flying her here, crates, toys, beds, invisible fences, up coming obedience training, etc. we have poured a lot of money into this dog. Brian has all but given up on her. He has never been able to make a connection with her and if it was up to him we would rehome her. I really don't want to do that, but I also don't want her to be fearful all the time.I purchased an areal dog run. It's 100ft long and attaches from one tree to another. It has a 10 ft lead on a pulley and she should not be able to tangle herself. I also bought a high quality padded harness that is meant to be worn instead of a regular collar. I was thinking I would leash her from house to run and back. But I'm not sure if that will make things worse at this point, especially given her reaction to being tied up in the beginning. I would have to force her through the door.In February, we signed her up for obedience training. It starts at the end of this month and goes for six weeks. Brian has agreed to come. I'm not sure that's a good idea anymore either. We haven't tried putting her in the car since we brought her home. If I take her off the leash at training, I don't know if I'll get it back on. After traumatizing her with the fence I'm questioning every decision. Sorry this is so long, but I'm hoping all the detail created a clear picture.

Thank you for that information. It is likely as you suspect, that you may have lost some trust at this point so the next step will require a lot of patience.

I would pick a place in the yard and just sit there and allow her to approach you. Give her a yummy piece of food such as small sliver of chicken for coming over to you. Then just get up and walk away. Repeat this often so she sees you want nothing more from her at this time. Begin to move your sitting closer to the house but do not try to get her inside. Instead reverse and go back out to the yard and start again.

When she is comfortably coming to you, begin asking her for a sit and then reward her for that. If she knows other commands ask her to perform a few and mark the behavior with a “Yes” and then reward her with the chicken.

If she is fine being out all day then I would make a day of this. When you do get her inside the tie out from the back door might be your best recourse but you want her to try to come in of her own free will. When you take a dog’s free will away they will not trust you. So prop the door open and lay the chicken pieces on the floor leading into the house and walk away from her so she has that choice to get them. Do this for a few times and then just stand at the door and allow her to walk in and take the chicken then close the door and take her off leash.

Training can boost a dog’s confidence and that is what you want, but if the trainer is old fashioned and uses the tug on the collar type training for correction then don’t use them. I would postpone the formal training for now and instead, for now, start doing clicker training which is positive based reward system. Some dogs are afraid of the sound the clicker makes and this may be the case with your pup since she was shocked by the collar. So instead of the clicker use the marker word “yes.”

I will direct you to a link on clicker training which spells out how to do it with a clicker. You will just replace that sound (the click) with a “yes.”

Train inside the home to begin, have patience and wait for her to figure out what you want from her. At this point though I would not include Brian into the mix. She has to start with trusting one person. If she is good with your son and he is young enough (7-11) invite him to help you as dogs don’t see kids as much as a threat as they do adults. In the house for reward you can use something like Cheerios or small soft dog treats.

Keep in mind that dogs see three things as challenges, direct eye contact, speaking to (more so in a firm manner) and reaching out to touch. (which is what you do to put the leash on) A dog that has trust issues and is fearful to begin with, will magnify those challenges and try to flee. So when you do talk to her if she is acting nervous keep an upbeat voice, body language is to be very loose and calm, and turn your head to the side so you are not a threat.

Clicker training/positive method training/ print off

http://www.clickerlessons.com/

video’s to see how clicker training is done,(go to videos )

http://www.clickertrainusa.com/clicker-training-videos.htm

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Customer reply replied 1 month ago
Thank you. How long do you think it will be before she trusts me? Him?

It can take a couple of weeks for her to come to you willingly. It depends on how much time daily you can spend on the training. Each time she comes to you after that training you have to then make a big of her coming to you. Dogs that have a hard time coming to the owner were likely mistreated when they did go to them. Sometimes owners get mad or scared when the dog does not come and so when they get them they yell , treat them roughly by the collar, or hit them. This then ruins it for life. Always treat your dog like its the best thing you've seen all day when it comes to you.

Sally G.
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