Cuebill, RedwingWinter, anyone else know of any quick fixes for fearful dogs?(18 Posts)
Silly question I know there probably aren't any quick fixes but just in case.
We have a very short term foster dog atm. Short term as in she is hopefully, if things go to plan, only going to be with us a few more days.
She was severely beaten by her first owners and is scared of everything apart from children. Especially men and Devil Dog
She spent the first day refusing to eat, wouldn't go for a walk, she curled up on one of our dogs beds and literally spent a full 24 hours refusing to look at us and growling at Devil Dog.
She will now wander around the house when I am in alone, but DH cannot get her to move for him. We can't get her to go out for the loo unless Whippy takes her out, she seems to have attached herself to Whippy somewhat, although is slightly nervous of her too, just not as scared of her as she is everyone else.
We've been doing calm voices, lots of treats, no one is forcing her to do anything or shouting at her.
Is there anything else we can do?
Oh bless her. She sounds just like our girl when we first brought her home. TBH I don't think there's much you can do in such a short space of time. Has she got a nice secluded space she can go to whilst she's with you? Ours really appreciated a dog bed right behind the dining room table, and when she was in there we didn't approach her at all - that was her spot.
With dogs like this I think you have to give them time to undo the bad associations a bit before you can start building up good ones, if that makes sense. Hope the new owners can help her through.
Can you give her some one on one time with you and Whippy, maybe in your bedroom with the door shut? Let her just play with Whippy whilst you're there so she gets used to you.
And can you let her sleep with you, in your bed preferably. Works wonders for fearful dogs!
Also don't overdo the quiet voices and tip-toeing around, she has to learn that normal family noise poses no threat.
Also feed her out of your hand for a few days so she learns that people can be a source of good things.
rhinestone we had our girl in bed with us - she got up of her own accord the second night (slept on the floor in the corner on the first night). It was definitely the first place we saw real progress with her and for a while it was the only place we could do any training!
It's amazing how effective it is! Maybe because they see you asleep and vulnerable and thus not scary anymore?
Doesn't have to be your bed, just in the bedroom is a good start and then as you found out, they'll often get up of their own accord.
We were really surprised! Our other dog slept on the bed anyway so it had always been our plan, but when the behaviourist at the rescue centre suggested it we were dubious. Even now - a year on - she'll sleep curled up in DH's arms, with her head on his shoulder, but won't get on the sofa with him downstairs.
I don't think there are any quick fixes for fear, but remember she has also just had a big transition to a new home so once she feels safer in the new house, she might start to warm up a bit more. Since she's only with you for a few days you'll just have to see if it happens in that time or not - just don't push her to do things too fast. I'm sure you're doing all the right things already. I don't think you can be expected to work miracles in a matter of days.
It's great that she has found a friend in whippy Hopefully she will trust whippy that everything will be okay and you guys are okay
Well Whippy is a nervous dog by nature and very suspicious of anyone new, so the new dogs calming signals were reciprocated madly by Whippy. It was quite educational watching them yawn and tongue flick incessantly at each other, it's just a shame I can't cite "Whippy and Floss, 2013" in my essay Devil Dog is not so hot on calming signals, he was never socialised properly in the first few years, so still needs some guidance on how to behave with other dogs.
I spent yesterday teaching Devil Dog to sniff the ground every time she growls at him and that seems to have had some effect. She can now be around him without growling at him so long as he is calm, if he starts bouncing she growls again, although after his training he stops bouncing and sniffs the floor, rather than growling back, so they're okay being together under supervision now, which is an improvement on Friday night, when poor Devil Dog was booted out of the living room
She could sleep in our bed, in theory, but it's taken me two days just get her to leave the front room, which she clearly has decided is the safest place in the house, possibly because it is where the children spend the most time and instantly trusted the children. I'm not sure I could convince her to come upstairs.
Will start feeding her by hand. She has been owned by a new owner for the last few months, so has had some good experiences of people with her, unfortunately this lady was made homeless on Friday, although is being rehoused and will be coming back for her dog, she's not in rescue to find a new family, which is good.
Glad she will be going back to her owner when she is rehoused. I think it's fantastic for the homeless lady that you/the dog charity is providing this support for her. And the dog is in the best possible hands
It sounds like you've made great progress already. It was good thinking to get Devil Dog to sniff the floor and look calm. It's a good job your children are dog-savvy.
Whippy and Floss, 2013 - I like it
Give the dog a safe space to hide where they can see what is going on. Under a table is a great place if they have a wall behind them. Then the hardest bit of all but the best thing for the dog is ignore ignore and ignore!
No eye contact, no talking to the dog although general calming conversation is good so the dog knows the atmosphere is calm, drop the occasional treat near you other than that ignore.
When the dog approaches look away, lick your lips yawn throw all those calming signals back at them, do not touch, or no eye contact.
She's under the coffee table atm. We put the bed under there and she happily went under it.
She will now get out from under the table if she sees me go near her lead or if I bring her food in. When the children are in the room she will hop up onto the sofa with them, but if DH moves while she is out, she will cower
My main problem is getting her to go out for the toilet. She will not move off the bed for love nor money on an evening and seems to 'save' her toilet up for when we are in bed, we have hard floors and a decent mop, so it's not an issue on our part, but the look of fear on her face when we find the mess is awful. She's obviously been beaten in the past for messing in the house. If we could get her to go outside for the loo that would be so much better for her.
She won't toilet on her lead, she never has done according to her owner and if I put her on the lead and let her off in the yard, she will simply hide behind the bin until I go back in.
She's followed Whippy out twice now and ran to Whippy's toilet corner, but whether she is doing anything round there is anyone's guess. We can't follow her because she panics and runs to the bin and it takes us ages to convince her to come back out.
I hope she's able to go home soon. Her owner has offered to come and visit her, but I'm thinking her owner turning up and then leaving her again would make her worse, no?
Not easy with this weather but can you just leave a door open for her to sneak out when she is happy to.
Where do you fed her - does she fed happily? Could you fed her outside in a safe area eg small space and leave her to see if she wees after her meal.
I would let her owner come and see her - if she took her outside to wee etc it may help her to see it is not scary etc.
Hard work for you though but I expect she will improve daily and get more confident.
You DH May not like this but could he wear your dressing gown or coat - if he smells different she may relax to him quicker (not that I usually encourage cross dressing but needs must)
If the owner wants to come and visit, and you've got the time, I would let her since it is her dog after all. It might help the dog realize that you are all okay.
Can she be in the yard on her own? I mean can you leave her hiding behind the bin and go in and leave her out (with whippy) and leave the door ajar for her to come back in? (I know you will freeze). If she can't escape from the yard she might go to the loo then.
Cuebill's idea for your DH is a good one (a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do ...) or you could try banishing him for a bit in the evening
I've told her owner she can come and visit. I'm sure she knows her dog well enough to judge whether this will upset her and as I've been typing this she's just got up walked into the kitchen of her own accord
She hasn't made it to the yard yet, but it's progress. She's moving further towards the yard.
Sounds like you're doing a great job :-) a good "quick fix" for anxiety is a thunder shirt. Basically a snug fitting light coat. You can buy them in various forms (equafleece do good ones) but as she's only with you for a short time you could just use a child's top or snug vest - depending on her size!
they're great for fireworks etc but work really well for general fear and anxiety. When I used to foster dogs we'd often pop one on when they first came - and when of my current dogs wears a fetching pink vest around bonfire night!
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