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Guest MercAndMoll

Help - Extreme Fear

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Guest MercAndMoll

Hello everyone - In desperate need of help with new Grey, Mollie

 

She came to us from a shelter about eight weeks ago. I've owned dogs by whole life, but not Greys.

 

We noticed in the shelter she was standoffish and would not come to us but thought she would settle in. She was okay in the house but very wary of the new situation, understandably. I would take her out for little walks but she was always reluctant re-entering the house. She was with us about 24 hours before she slipped her lead and ran off into the fields. She was loose for nearly four weeks in cold/wet conditions. We received calls and texts from the people in the community saying she had been sighted - we would try and catch her without success. Anyway, by accident she did find her way back to our property and was eating food from the back of the house which I left out for her - this went on a few days before we lured her back into the house.

 

She was emaciated scared and so, so tired.

 

She would have been more scared I think but the opportunity to sleep and eat meant she put up with the fear. I had the vet visit and was instructed in feeding her for recovery, which I followed. Gradually Mollie was able to regain physical health and she has become more and more comfortable with me in the house. We have a nice time chilling out while I work from home during the day.

 

There are a number of MAJOR issues now though. As she slipped the first lead, I ordered a harness and martingale collar so that would not happen again. It took some time to deliver (snow storms slowing things down more) and in the meantime she's been staying with me in the house. There is an empty room I let her wee and poo in. I couldn't really attempt toilet training anyway because she was eating such small meals for the recovery and needing to do small poos about 5 times a day. She has another small sleeping room that is her own and she has only pooped/weed in there a few times which I have discouraged.

 

Anyway, now the harness and collar have arrived I attempted to take her out to start walking her and to get the toilet training started. Unfortunately, she is now a 'freezer'. She stands outside and does not know what to do. She won't even walk a few steps. She is taking in the smells, the wind, the noises. But it is all too much for her. I cannot get her to move more than a few steps. My father in law wanted to give me some (very helpful advice) so approached us this morning while I was out with her. Her whole body was shivering in complete terror. I have to carry her in if I cannot get her to move. The sad part is once she is in the house she spends her time looking outside, it almost seems like she wants to be out there but when I take her it is just too scary.

 

The father in law who knows best says I should attached her (with harness) to a long rope and just let her chill outside in the garden while she gets used to the smells and wind and noise. I think she will just be more petrified.

 

There is no question of her pooing or weeing while outside currently, as she is far too scared for that. Every time a car drives past she gets completely distracted (this happens in the house too if she can hear a car). I have tried a few techniques outside to get her to walk - if she does a few steps I give her a treat. But when she freezes it's also like she dissociates so it's difficult to get her to focus. Really this is all way above my skill level or experience and I am just floundering and no doubt causing her more and more anxiety.

 

Some things I thought were positive developments in the house might also be just be signs of anxiety - shadowing me if I walk around, for instance. If I get up from my chair she also has to get up.

 

Another huge issue is her fear of my husband. She did not mind him the first day we had her - But after returning from being loose her fear of him is getting worse. When she hears his van pull up of an evening she runs to her bed, and has to be coaxed out for dinner. Again I notice her shivering a bit when he is around. Husband is losing patience, I supposes because the behaviour is inexplicable and getting worse for no apparent reason. My theory is he was the one out trying to catch her for those weeks she survived the elements and she is remembering some of that.

 

I also feel that her extreme hyper-vigilance is what helped her survive in the elements with no shelter or adequate food for weeks. So her adrenaline and fight/flight response served her well - but now it's just dominating her life.

 

So in summary whilst we are getting on okay in the house - I really need to sort out house training, I want her to be able to go for walks and get some exercise as I think this would help mentally and I would love for her to fear my husband less.

 

It's all so overwhelming. I feel like the shelter who provided her to us had not given her any type of behavioral assessment, which would have revealed some of these personality traits. But as we are responsible for the time she was loose I do not want to return her to the shelter more traumatized from her experience with us. It's my responsibility to help her but I'm finding it heartbreaking to watch her live in such a constant state of fear.

 

Please, please help me to help Mollie.

 

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That is quite a story, and there are lots of helpful people here that will give you some suggestions. How incredible for you and her!

 

Greyhounds are very different from other dogs and are highly sensitive (as you have discovered!). A shelter likely doesn't have the expertise to make an assessment properly of a greyhound that came into their possession in comparison to the groups that try to adopt them out. Many are spooks and have lots of quirks, mine for instance like Mollie isn't the biggest fan loud, big men - but loves women. He is also extremely fearful of big trucks, garbage trucks, white trailers, buses. He also cannot handle alarm noises, such as the fire alarm, or a loud unexpected beep from a kitchen appliance - I had to get rid of my Tassimo machine, because he couldn't handle the sound of it making a coffee. We will never know what they encounter during their time at the track or Mollie's time when she went for her walkabout, so certainly many things could have put fear into her.

 

What she will need is routine and to learn to trust you. This is not going to happen overnight and will take a lot of work on your part because it seems like she has been through so much psychologically. If she is eating meals, that's one thing less to worry about. Food goes a long way to increasing energy level and all around feeling better.

 

High value treats such as cut up hot dog will help you with coaxing and trusting and rewarding, but you'll also need to take it at her speed.

 

Many freeze on walks, we call it statuing. Very common and most times it just requires something to snap them out of it....a redirection by you with a piece of hot dog for instance. For me, I was stuck on a sidewalk for about 10 minutes until a pair of dogs came walking from another direction. The sight of them walking with their human was enough for my boy to get moving again and we trotted home the rest of the way in fear that he would freeze again for me!

 

I would not ever leave her off lead in your yard until this fear is gone and she calms down. People here that own spooks will help you more with that - as I have no direct experience.

 

Hugs and skritches to you and Mollie (well the hug for you, the skritches for her)


Proudly owned by:
10 year old "Ryder" CR Redman Gotcha May 2010
12.5 year old Angel "Kasey" Goodbye Kasey Gotcha July 2005-Aug 1, 2015

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Guest MercAndMoll

Thank you for your reply. Since coming home from her ordeal she has understandably been food obsessed. Sometimes I think the only reason she will stay in the same room as me is because fears missing out on a scrap or treat. Unfortunately she loses most interest in treats once she is outside - she cannot focus at all on them. She seems to be getting worse in the house with the sound of cars and has been running to her bed when a loud one comes near the house.


I should also clarify - what we do does not count as a walk. She takes two steps outside before statuing.

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Thank you for your reply. Since coming home from her ordeal she has understandably been food obsessed. Sometimes I think the only reason she will stay in the same room as me is because fears missing out on a scrap or treat. Unfortunately she loses most interest in treats once she is outside - she cannot focus at all on them. She seems to be getting worse in the house with the sound of cars and has been running to her bed when a loud one comes near the house.

I should also clarify - what we do does not count as a walk. She takes two steps outside before statuing.

Yes, I understood that it was in the yard....I was simply referring to a very similar behaviour out on walks. Statuing happens everywhere, most typically outside. Ryder can't redirect when a truck goes by either.....I have however been successful treating him more like a horse - you start him up in a circle to get him going.....and usually walk into another direction. If you can gently guide her into a circle into the direction of where she came, she might get moving.

 

Have you tried leashing her to be with you in the house so she can't run from the sound? Tether her to your waist.....I think that's what some folks do for spooks, but again you'll have to wait for them to respond. Stay tuned....their suggestions are often invaluable. You can also try to search the forum for spook, fear etc and peruse existing threads for some ideas.

Edited by XTRAWLD

Proudly owned by:
10 year old "Ryder" CR Redman Gotcha May 2010
12.5 year old Angel "Kasey" Goodbye Kasey Gotcha July 2005-Aug 1, 2015

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I adopted a dog exactly like this. Lots of love and patience. Take things at your dog's pace, not yours. Try to walk her at night so she can get used to her surroundings when it's quiet, and gradually switch to daytime. Don't go to her, let her come to you so she doesn't feel scared or threatened. I even went as far as to not make eye contact in the beginning.

 

I strongly suggest you read the website below thoroughly. Debbie Jacobs literally changed Iker's and my lives. Her Skype course is great, as is her book. You'll gain more understanding and acceptance. Please urge your husband to read it, too.

 

When she does come around, and she will, they will be the best moments ever.

 

http://fearfuldogs.com/

 

Edited to add that different dogs have different personalities, just like we do. Just because she has fear issues doesn't mean she's not a good fit at all. I would have been heartbroken if anybody had told me that Iker wasn't a good fit. We're a great fit, so don't let this discourage you.

Edited by robinw

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Xavi the galgo and Allen the cat. Missing Iker the galgo ?-Feb.9/19, Treasure (USS Treasure) April 12/01-May 6/13, Phoenix (Hallo Top Son) Dec.14/99-June 4/11 and Loca (Reko Swahili) Oct.9/95 - June 1/09.

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I second the fearfuldogs website recommendation. I had a dog a lot like your Mollie, and it did get better, but it takes time. And it is difficult for some people to handle that, because you don't get a lot back from the dog during the early stages. Most people want dogs who are bouncy and happy and eager to see them, and when you are dealing with a shut down dog, you don't get any of that.

 

Personally, and I don't say this lightly, given how extreme your situation is, I would talk to your vet about possibly getting some anti-anxiety drugs for your dog. Anything you can do to reduce the anxiety level will help with the dog learning new ways of thinking, feeling, and acting. I finally put my girl on Xanax, and it made a world of difference. I felt guilty doing it, at the beginning, like I should be able to just make her better with more effort, but I gradually came around to the opinion that her brain just did not make enough dopamine (the "happy" chemical"), and if I would give a dog who wasn't making enough of a hormone replacement hormones, then there was nothing wrong with doing the same thing to adjust brain chemistry.


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My blog about helping Katie learn to be a more normal dog: http://katies-journey-philospher77.blogspot.com/

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When she is obsessed with food is it possible for your husband to carry some super tasty yummie treats with him and accidently drop one whenever he encounters her - not looking at her, Not talking to her, just losing the treat. Even if it is from a little away so that she sees that he drops something tasty from her hiding place.

He can also sit with his treats and his back to her on the floor and justblay some treats next to himself - again deliberetly ignorant her, maybe reading, or just sitting on the floor calmly.

It may take hours or even days for her to come to him but she will with time and patience she will.

 

Perhaps try some Bach's rescue remedy in her drinking water until a vet can help you with anxiety medication. I always use Bach's flowers for emotional problems, with people, animals (and even on my plants) being a certified therapist.

 

The bach's flowers for panic and the feeling of being absolutely, completely und utterly on somebody's mercy is 'Rock Rose which is one of the 5 ingredience of Rescue.

Edited by smurfette

Sorry for butchering the english language. I try to keep the mistakes to a minimum.

 

Nadine with Andy (Riot Officer), Paddy (Zippy Mullane), Saoirse (Lizzie Be Nice) and bridge angel Colin (Dessies Hero).

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Unless you're madly in love with this dog, I personally feel a TOTALLY fresh start would benefit her.

 

Doesn't sound like a good fit at all.

 

And honestly, whoever sent you home with a greyhound and a regular old collar should not be allowed to be around greyhounds. Although reading any basic book on greyhounds in advance would have taught you never to use a regular collar on a greyhound.

 

I'm really sorry for all of you that this happened, but sometimes it's best to just start over--for her, and for you.

 

I readily admit this could be completely wrong--but I'm guessing you'll never really trust her, that her fear of men is actually a fairly big problem since you have a man in your house (see, I don't, so it wouldn't bother me, and in fact my male dog is afraid of men, and children. I don't have either, so I don't care!).

 

I'd also suggest that allowing her to use your house as a toilet is a horrible mixed message. And it sounds like your leaving her alone in a room for sleep? What a lonely, unhappy girl she sounds. Not your fault, but I don't hear a lot to grab onto as positives.

 

Please prove me totally wrong and go on to have a wonderful happy relationship with her--but remember, not every dog is right for every situation. New hound owners should really go through an established group who will match up the right dog with the right family. I would never put a spook with firsttime hound owners.



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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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The fearfuldogs website is an excellent resource, as is the book "The Cautious Canine" by Patricia McConnell. I urge you to look into both. You can also search the forum here for "spook," and "anxiety" for some further reading material and hints.

 

There's a difference, IMO, between a true spook and an anxious dog. A true spook is physically unable to calm themselves once they reach their saturation point. Their systems are constantly flooded with stress hormones and they are in a constant state of fight-or-flight. Usually their response is to run away. There may be a genetic component as breeders often see whole litters of extremely anxious pups, or it may be something specific to a particular dog. This is a physical issue rather than a behavioral problem and it usually benefits from medical intervention in the form of anti anxiety medication. I also found that using methods like many parents/carers of autistic children works as well. These dogs need a strict daily schedule, no surprises, nothing unfamiliar. They need calm every day.

 

An anxious dog will usually get better with time, and not worse, as long as they aren't flooded with new things too fast. They will benefit from behavioral modification exercises and de-conditioning. Their issues are mostly behavioral, and much more easily "fixable" by an owner. Sometimes anti anxiety medication is useful for a short while to help their brains understand their new training, but time and patience are needed as well.

 

 

Our spook was much like yours. She got away from her foster home and ran around for over a week before allowing herself to be caught again. She spent months in her "safe place," only coming downstairs to eat or go outside to potty. Months. We had to have her on leash all the time, even in our securely fenced yarded because a) she could and probably would have jumped the 6 foot fence given the right motivation, and B) she wouldn't come in the house on her own, and because of a) she couldn't just be left out there until she decided to come in. So we leash walked her for 7 years. We tried four or five different anti anxiety medications before finding the one that worked for her. After that, she got a bit better.

 

Some things in the meantime: Patience, patience, patience. And then add in some patience. There's no such thing as a "quick potty break" or doing anything fast. If you know she needs to stand on your porch for 10 or 15 minutes before she can go potty, then put on your heavy coat and take a book. Having her toilet in the house is an easy fix, but she's not learning anything. (BTW, tying her out is not a good solution either). If she is food motivated at all, use them all the time to reward even the most minor of positive actions. If she has difficulty accepting them at certain times, up your treat value significantly for those rewards.

 

So, using her most loved treat - hot dogs, rotiserie chicken, liverwurst, whatever - start taking her outside for potties. Reward her for stepping out the door, for stepping down into the yard, for every step along the way, and have a big praise party with more treats when she pees/poops. Take her out at the same time every day so the sounds are the same and she can become accustomed to them. Then make going back inside a good thing too.

 

Your husband needs to be on board with dealing with her. He needs to not take her actions towards him personally because they are not. Many dogs have difficulty with men - they are big, often loud, their voices are deeper and more "menacing," they move faster. And with a spook, it is definitely out of sight, out of mind, so he is literally a stranger to her every time he comes home. If she will eat when he's around, he should take over doing that chore, and feed her by hand if possible. He needs to carry good treats around the house with him, and toss one to her every time he's close enough to do so. Every time.

 

You don't say where you are located or why your greyhound may have been in a shelter as opposed to adopted through a group (does she have ear tattoos?). A good greyhound adoption group should be able to help you a bit more with advice and referrals to vets who are more used to dealing with these types of dogs. If you let us know your general location, we might be able to direct you to people who can help. Your first step is contacting a certified animal behaviorist to come and observe your dog and you interacting in your home environment.

But first you need to consider your level of commitment to this dog. Having a spook isn't for everyone - it takes a LOT of time and work to get these dogs to a place where they can live comfortably in a home environment. If this is your first dog/first greyhound, it's perfectly OK to not be up for dealing with what this dog is going to need - even if she is only a super anxious dog and not a true spook. Returning her to an adoption group might be the best thing for all involved.
Good luck and keep us posted!

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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You can try to get her adjusted to the outside at her own pace. Take her outside, as far as she will go, and take something for her to lie on and maybe a book and chair for you. Stand/sit there for 10 minutes (as long as she doesn't get scared) and then go back inside. Later in the same day, do the same thing but, for a minute or 2 longer. After a few days, try and go a few yards further. Keep this up and see if you can increase the distance and the amount of time she is outside.

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Whew.

I know nothing but I would make sure she is allowed to sleep within eyesight of you - not alone.

Martingales are not the be all and end all. Believe me I've been the one standing there holding a leash and empty martingale when a spook backed out. Greyhounds grow up wearing plastic buckle collars. I'll never forget a dog that I placed that was named Oneco Dothead. She arrived on the hauler with the most beautiful engraved leather buckle collar.
http://www.greyhound-data.com/d?z=yqmisu&d=Oneco+dothead&sex=&color=&birthyear=&birthland=

 

Can't help with leash walking issues but as far as day to day life it seems to me that just going about your business and letting the dog come to you sometimes works well. Like MaryJane said sometimes just sitting with a book with your back to her and tossing tidbits might work.

Edited by Hubcitypam

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You've received some good advice and I have just a couple of things to add.

 

Ignore most of your father-in-law's advice. Tying a greyhound to a rope is a big NO-NO. A greyhound can hit top speed (45 mph) in 2-3 strides so you are just asking for a broken neck. Her instinct is to run if something scares her (or if she sees something that needs to be chased) so DO NOT DO IT. But his idea of just giving her some peaceful time out in the yard is a good one. Put on her leash, grab a book and go as far into the yard as she can go without dragging, and sit there. Let her just look around and get acquainted to the sounds and smells. Maybe give her some tasty treats.

 

We don't know her history, but clearly she wasn't raised in a home as a pet. She may have been bred to be a racer (does she have tattoos in her ears?) or to be a hunter. Either way she is now in a completely different environment and everything is new and terrifying. If she was a timid girl to start with, it will take lots of work and patience on your part to help her be the dog that she can be. If you decide you don't have the time, ability or patience to work with her, please consider returning her to a greyhound adoption group, not the shelter you got her from. Greyhounds have unique needs and behaviors--it doesn't sound like that shelter had the knowledge to deal with her. An adoption group would probably put her into an greyhound-experienced foster home where she can be worked with and have other greyhounds to be her role models. Let us know where you are located and we will recommend a group to you. Even if you decide to keep her, the group can offer you advice and be a support for you and Mollie. Best wishes to you both.

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welcome to Greytalk!

 

You've got a lot to work on together!

 

Mollie may get a bit confused (and therefore scared) by the harness ... the first hound that I fitted for a harness 'statued' in the middle of a busy street on his first trip outside! But if Mollie is ok with the harness, you could consider leaving it on her while you're at home (just to have one less change leading up to walkies).

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Guest MercAndMoll

Thanks everyone for your considered replies, which I've been thinking about for the past few days. I had been considering adopting a grey hound for a number of years and had done research, but I realise now it was more along the lines of 'why grey hounds make good pets' research. We did have what we thought was an appropriate grey hound collar - those leather ones that are wide and taper towards the buckle. Anyway, now we have a martingale as well as a Ruffwear webmaster. I think she is slowly getting used to the harness which I leave on her for a while during the day. Unfortunately, its been snowing here (south east Ireland) so my opportunity over the weekend to spend much time outside was limited. But we did have a nice twenty minutes when mollie did some sniffing about. But again, when a car came by the shivering started again. Poor Mollie.

 

I've approached the shelter and explained the situation. They said I can return her which, as many of you have pointed might just be in her best interest. I cannot drive up there until the Easter weekend so in the meantime I will try my best with her and try not to traumatise her further. I'll also have to source some rescue remedy (for the both of us). Many thanks.

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