Severe Fear/ Shelter Dog

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

  1. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    Good advice! Thanks.
    So far I would say he likes meat treats, walking (particularly on trails), seeing other dogs/ greeting other dogs (potentially will play with other dogs), I've only taken him on a few car rides but he seemed to enjoy them, sniffing (when he is mostly comfortable in his surroundings), hiding, running away from scary things, pacing, walking in a v shape, being in enclosed spaces such as the kennel, he also has a curious side and some commotion brings him out of hiding. He also really likes the small, soft rug in the bathroom.
    tylerthegiant likes this.

  2. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    I've heard dogs compared to children with autism. Gomer would definitely seem to be a perfect example.
    He is very sensitive to loud noises, and very sensitive to touch, (cringes). He likes enclosed spaces. He is also intrigued by anything stimulating and in the back yard he tends to walk in a repetitive v shape. (He goes out to the right then out to the left over and over again.

    What do you think about dogs and the comparison to people with autism? Actually I don't see it in most dogs, but since I started working with Gomer I keep thinking how he would be a perfect example. It could just be his severe fear makes him over sensitive to everything and he is always in extra high alert. Anyway, I am curious to hear your thoughts and insight on this.
  3. brody_smom Experienced Member

    My understanding of autism is that it is a LACK of sensitivity to the environment. The children are in a bit of a bubble. They don't notice the little things that signal changes in mood or emotion. They have no knowledge of safe/dangerous. I saw an episode of "Dogs with Jobs" where an autistic boy was paired with a dog for his protection. He kept leaving the house on his own and wandering down the street. The parents could let their guard down a little and relax because they knew the dog would provide those sensitivities that the boy was lacking.
  4. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    I have been teaching Gomer to run next to the bicycle. It seems to help a bit with his confidence. As you can see he is very good about loose leash walking as long as he is not panicking about something and he is very confident with the bike as long as he doesn't look back and realize the bike is behind him. I have to keep him on my side or behind me and he does very well. He does well on walks. He is doing better in my backyard (he didn't like the swoosh of the grass). He is doing better with stairs and is getting good about going behind me and slow on the stairs rather then panic, sprint up the stairs as fast as possible. The only thing is that when we come inside the house he still wants to go hide in the bathroom (his favorite room). He is still a work in progress, but he sure has come a long way. As for commands he knows sit and will sit when we come in to get his leash off. He also seems to know wait (I am going to stop so wait for me) and lets go. He is learning jump on, and he will sometimes lay down when I pat the floor. I use phrases like on the grass, get out of the road (he's on leash but decides to step in the road sometimes) and back on the sidewalk.

    He is still not very food motivated and things like eating meat treats in different rooms in the house is a very rare occurrence. I think if he was food motivated he would be able to adjust faster, but I know it takes time.
    He does LOVE seeing other dogs and it is the only time I have seen his tail wag or any kind of play response (brief but still wonderful!).

    I have to say working with Gomer has been a very interesting experience!
    Oh, almost forgot! Here is the video I made today of Gomer riding at the park:
  5. threenorns Well-Known Member

    is he used to his harness or is it new to him? if he didn't have it before, i'd lose it for the time being as it might be just a bit too much with everything else - just go with two leashes and two collars. if the other dog is very calm and helps reassure him, you might even try a generous tether to the other dog's collar (that's one way they train border collies - tethering the collar of a new dog to the collar of the lead dog so the lead dog can show the new one the ropes).

    what if you dialled it right back to the beginning? make a list of all the things you want him to accomplish and do it one thing at a time: instead of walking him on a busy road, take everybody to a quiet country lane or a quiet park and walk him there until he's settled into the routine. then take him to a busier environment until he's settled, then to a busy road and so on.
  6. threenorns Well-Known Member


    that's not quite accurate. autism is a spectrum thing. they say if you meet someone with cancer, then you know about cancer but if you meet a child with autism, then you know that child. i have two kids with high-functioning autism (aka asperger's syndrome). my oldest daughter cannot listen to soft, quiet, "easy listening" type music, especially anything with strings and flutes or piccolos - it puts her in the *filthiest* mood. she only listens to hip hop, heavy house, hardstyle, etc, and it has to be LOUD. it's a neuro-regulator thing. my youngest, otoh, can't stand loud volume - her laptop is set at 38% at the most - and won't listen to anything with snares drums in it.

    it's also outdated information about autistic kids being oblivious to their environment - the problem is they're aware of *everything* and can't filter. its' all too overwhelming so they shut down.
  7. blacknym Experienced Member

    You guys are so cute biking around. Lol :)

    Gomer is doing great!
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  8. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    I have not been using a harness in the last couple of weeks. He seems more relaxed with out it. He is on a martingale style collar that he can't slip out of. Gomer seems to be doing fine by busy roads. He just is not happy being inside. We come in and he wants to run and hide even though he has just done fine outside. He also does well at fenced dog parks. One day I let him go in with other dogs because he was just so excited to see them. He is more likely to follow me around in a fenced yard now. I used to be afraid to even let go of the leash because I didn't know how easy it would be to get him out. He has been fine with that though.

    My main thing now is his fear of being inside. I would think since he is inside more then he is outside he would have gotten used to it faster. It probably is because he was so terrified at first and spent time inside and walking in the backyard that he has more anxiety in these places. Now that he has more confidence he is better in new places and going for walks off the property. Does this make sense?
    jackienmutts likes this.
  9. srdogtrainer Experienced Member

    He also did not like stopping. He would be completely fine walking where ever we were and then if I came to a stop for any reason he would go into panic, flight mode. He has gotten better about it. Although he still tucks his tail anytime we come to a stop.
    jackienmutts likes this.
  10. threenorns Well-Known Member

    ..... i wonder if abusive methods were used on him for "sit"? it's SOP that a dog sits when you come to a halt - if he was treated harshly (some ppl like to kick a dog's legs out to make him sit or even kick the back legs under while dragging directly up harshly on the leash), he may have negative associations with sitting and, by extension, stopping. if he was abused for chewing things, having household accidents, getting on the furniture, getting into the garbage, etc, that would explain why he doesn't associate the house with security - it was basically a torture chamber for him.

    what about just starting with "sit", then? spend a few days just happy-happy "sit! oh, good boy!" and treat, treat, treat with really great quality treats? whenever he sits, give him a treat. it doesn't take long to overwrite associations and before long, he'll try soliciting treats by making sure you see him sitting ("see me?? look at me! i'm sitting! aren't i a good boy?"). when you walk, every time you stop, give him a treat so he has a pleasant association with stopping. then start phasing the treats out and only giving them when he sits (which he will do, having worked out that sitting gets the treats, sure as shooting).

    while you do that, btw, use a word - mine is "yumyum" - that is bulletproof. every single time, no exception, he hears that word, he knows he's getting a treat and it's gonna be a good one: bacon, gravlax, hot dog, whatever his drug of choice is. make it a word you don't use in everyday conversation because that gets awkward and expensive.

    once that word is bulletproof, then you can relax a bit about him being offleash or roaming because all you have to do is yell the bulletproof word and he'll come flying (this really does work - i do it myself - just make sure you have treats and praise on hand!).
    jackienmutts likes this.
  11. orpheum Well-Known Member

    Is he accepting treats without hesitation nowadays ??
    Because training with food is okay, but he needs to feel free to take the food.
    Otherwise the food is not a reward, but another stresspoint in his life.
    I would not use any type of vocal encouragment, let him figure it out himself.
    Mutt and jackienmutts like this.

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