Severe Fear/ Shelter Dog

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by srdogtrainer, Apr 25, 2013.

  1. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    Does anyone know of some good videos or resources about dealing with severe fear without using food. I am trying to help out with a dog that has a severe fear of people and will not take treats. I even tried can food and freeze dried liver. If he even see's a person he will run to his out side run, or if someone is outside he will run inside. Any advice would be appreciated.

  2. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    I brought in hot dogs for him yesterday, no luck! :(
  3. Mutt Experienced Member

    I think the reason he won't take food is because he is that fearful.
    It doesn't allow him to relax enough to take the treat.

    So I would start with a very, very, very low stimuli trainingsession. Work on trust with one person and start from zero. If the dog starts to trust one person this will make things easier (so the dogs learns that he doesn't have to worry because that person will take care of the situation).
  4. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    I got permission to bring Gomer home for the weekend. He is very easy and well behaved, but of course that is only because he is too terrified to move. I hope he will begin to come out of his shell a little. He seems to like car rides pretty well. I caught him looking out the window on several occasions in the most relaxed posture that I have ever seen from him.
  5. blacknym Experienced Member

    Yeah id say the same as Mutt. One person should work with him right now and gain his trust and go from here. Very Very slowly id say.

    just hanging out with him...just being a presence might be all you can do at the moment. maybe when you see he is relaxed roll a piece of hot dog his way and see if he takes it. :)
  6. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    He actually has started taking meat treats. My house is pretty quiet so I think it is better then being in the noisy kennel, but he still is petrified. He spends most of his time in the crate in my room. The doors open so he has the option to come out but generally chooses not to.
    Pawbla likes this.
  7. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    He started only taking meat treats off the floor. Last night he took a few of the bigger treats out of my hand.
    I don't have a fenced in yard so I have to leash him and encourage him to follow me outside. He has gotten better about it, but we go very slowly and he spooks very easily.
    southerngirl likes this.
  8. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    I just saw a flash of little Gomer buddy. My mom was playing tug with River, I was rooting him on and Gomer stuck out his head to see what was going on. Then he dashed back to the room.
    southerngirl likes this.
  9. blacknym Experienced Member

    Yay!!!! That is such good progress. :D
  10. kcmetric Well-Known Member

    If he is not taking treats he usually likes it's because he is over threshold. If he doesn't take treats he's too close to the person, distance yourself a little more from that person with him and then treat. Sometimes a good reward for fearful dogs is actually walking away from the situation, do not do so until he has calmed down or focused more on you and then leave the tension.

    I highly recommend The Cautious Canine by Patricia McConnell, I haven't read it myself, my friend has, but I've read her feisty fido. Very easy to read with nice methods. She explains threshold levels, getting attention, etc. Also, google/youtube the "look at that" game.
    southerngirl and blacknym like this.
  11. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    He is my foster dog from a shelter so the issue isn't him seeing people on a walk and getting scared but rather he still doesn't trust me and he is not yet completely comfortable in the house. He spends most of his time in his crate (with the door open). He took treats from me once. He is eating his meals regularly when I leave the room or at night. He also eats a variety of treats that I leave in his kennel.
  12. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    I got Gomer to eat can food in the living room last night. I had given it to him and he wasn't eating it at first, so I had to pick it up because River wanted to steal it. River kept reminding me that it was on the table and telling me he wanted it. So I finally split it into two bowls and put one in front of each of them. River and Gomer were about 4 feet away from each other. River started scarfing down his food. Gomer watched him at first and then very slowly ate all of his. He also ate a few pieces of ground pork off the floor, which he hadn't really been taking at all before. Both good signs.

    Gomer is quite the challenge, I have never worked with a dog quite like him before. I have worked with a few dogs with severe fear that want to bolt away from things, but Gomer just needs to learn how to trust at this point. Most of the resources I have found for fearful dogs assume that it is your dog that you have a strong bond with and they trust you. I need more advice on building that initial trust, if there is any.

    The other problem I have is the only way to take him outside is on leash because I don't have a fully fenced yard. He is getting pretty good about maintaining a loose leash but he still startles when I step on a twig or something. He walks in a v in front of me and I am always trying to turn and not invade his space, but I think he views any tension on the leash or scary noise as coming from me. But I have to walk him outside so he can relieve himself. He actually is very easy in that he is very quiet and has not had a single accident in the house. Which is surprising because it took him quite a while to start going regularly on a leash. Now he goes about twice a day. He is also eating his meals regularly now when I close him in the room, so River can't bother him (or I should say bother his food). I left a little food in a bowl about 2 feet outside of his crate and he ate it!

    In someways I feel like progress is being made. Other times I feel like we start over every morning. He still has panic attacks at times. He is terrified of the back door. Which opens and then there is a large pane of glass. He also hates when the leash gets tangled around his back legs. Which usually it touches his back leg and then he ends up twisting himself in it more. So I have to very carefully untangle him.
  13. blacknym Experienced Member

    :( I really wish I could help. All I can say is patience and spend time in his presence. Just you and him. Sit in the room with him and read a book. Toss him some treat occasionally while you do that.

    Not sure if that helps but good luck!! Ill do some poking around and see if I can find some other info for your situation. :)
  14. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    Thanks Blacknym! I need all the help I can get!
  15. Amateur Experienced Member

    Yeah my first inclination was also just sit and read a book and totally ignore him
    toss a treat but dont even look at him
    let him come to you or look for a sign he is watching and becoming more relaxed in your presence
    then progress to small slow moves that do nothing that involve him ... stretch etc.
    Mutt likes this.
  16. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    Here is a video I made of Gomer. He is making some progress. He does really seem to enjoy walks better then being inside.

    brodys_mom likes this.
  17. blacknym Experienced Member

    Wow that was great to see. Thanks for sharing. I could see he was definatly nervous in your walk but at the same time he wantes to be there. What a sweety. :)
    srdogtrainer likes this.
  18. brody_smom Experienced Member

    It's funny how they can be totally different dogs depending on where they are. I guess people are like that too, but for us it's more about fitting in or making impressions. I don't think dogs have those same hang-ups!

    I'm curious as to why you have 2 leashes on him. We have a similar type of harness for Brody and he drives me nuts with it as he changes sides and turns around and I always have to untangle. I would go loopy (literally!) with two leashes. Yours seems to have a strap along the right side but not on the left. Mine just goes between the legs and along the spine with a loop over the neck and two buckles on the strap that goes around the ribcage. It becomes loose and twists around all the time. I can't make the neck part tighter or it won't fit over his head.
  19. tylerthegiant Well-Known Member

    What DOES Gomer like? I'd think long and hard about it and make a list (even if the list includes escaping from scary things) and use those things to create that bond to build on. It already sounds like I could list that he enjoys interacting or learning from the other dogs, car rides (looking out the windows), if you think he enjoys walks more than they scare him add that to the list, and try to do the things on the list as much as possible. I'd also try and associate treats with all these things, even if he only sniffs the treats, so he's building conditioning that treats = good things. Usually we use treats to condition that something else is a good thing, but there is no reason why we can't do it the other way around and condition them that something they do like is associated with treats, making treats more reinforcing by themselves.
    blacknym and brodys_mom like this.
  20. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    I use two leashes for him since he is very fearful. It's really a just in case measure. I don't want him to panic and get out of his harness or his collar. So I have both on to decrease the likely hood that he would. He is doing better then I expected but I just don't want to take any chances.
    blacknym, brodys_mom and Mutt like this.

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