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Riggles

Terrified greyt girlie

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We have been fostering a lovely greyt girl for the past 3 months but how do I get her to stop being terrified when I try to take her for a walk.  She shakes when the harness goes on and when she has been (literally) dragged out if a door bangs or someone approaches she jumps about two feet in the air twisting as she goes.  I find it very difficult to hold her as if I don't hold on to the harness she manages to slip it and if I do hang on to it my wrist gets twisted. 

We have had many dogs over the years but I have never had one that has been so obviously mistreated.  She is slowly gaining confidence in the house and will now wag her tail a little bit.  I know it will be baby steps but am I am really at a loss as to what to do as I feel she does need walks outside not just in our very small back garden where incidentally she is just as jumpy.

Any suggestions as to what I can try with her would be very much appreciated.

Thank you

Riggles

 

 

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First do whatever you have to in order to insure that she doesn't get away because that could be a death sentence. They make special harnesses called spook harnesses that they can't slip out of. I had one hound that I used to use TWO collars & TWO leashes with when I took him for walks so I could be sure he never got free.

Second she most likely is behaving that way from genetics and lack of experience in the real world and not mistreatment of any kind. It is classic behavior and not uncommon.  You didn't mention her age but she sounds like a young lady and that could be part of it too.  I adopted a young male once that was so terrified but I also had a very calm and confident and outgoing male too. The nervous one steadily improved until years later he was outgoing and confident as well! Never would have thought it could have happened but with love and time it absolutely did. Even his bark changed from a little high pitched squeak to a big dog low wolf. I also gave him a few drops of Bach's Rescue Remedy everyday until he got a lot better.  Bach's Rescue Remedy is a flower essence that is safe and has been effective in my experience for helping them get their energy balanced so they can become more stable.

If it was me I would just make my objective for every walk to be something the dog associates good things with.  Carry lots of really good treats and randomly feed them to her at different times during the walks if she'll eat them. And reward her when you pick up her harness and say some key word and banter in a squeaky voice and then when she gets back as well. Hopefully she will eventually make the connection that good things happen on walks and that will really help her moto and stress level. It takes TIME though. Don't rush things, placate her by talking to her in a squeaky voice and work on getting her as engaged with you as she can by feeding treats to her etc.  If you can keep her properly engaged with you she won't see or react to a lot of the things that may scare her now.  Three months is not that long and I wouldn't necessarily expect to have good engagement in such a short time. You want to get her to FOCUS on you; to learn that focusing on you brings treats and rewards and good things. And she will learn in so doing this that she doesn't need to be concerned with other things going on in the environment as long as you're there and that will really help. She will learn, if you develop good engagement, to almost be oblivious to other things in the immediate environment. Keep the dog focused on you and they won't see something to get upset about.

All the stuff in her world is new to her; she hasn't been exposed to it all before so just give her some time. Three months is not long.  I really believe things will work out for you two because she is lucky to have such a caring owner and love always wins! Enjoy your girl.  Watching her grow and mature will be like watching a beautiful flower bloom. It is priceless. And since you are her foster once she improves and learns these things it will be easier for her to transfer them to a different human as well.

BTW it goes without saying do NOT reward her for frightened behavior or it will encourage her to be that way and get much worse. You act calm, confident and neutral and show her and lead her through frights. Only reward her when she is NOT reacting to something in fear. Once she overcomes something then reward and celebrate the victory. Walking with you even if apprehensive is rewardable imo as long as she is not trying to flee or is out of control. A lot of dogs won't eat if they are too scared so if she will accept your treats at a reasonably quiet and uneventful time on your walks that is a good sign for sure :)

 

 

Edited by racindog

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Thank you very much for your advice.

I have never heard of spook harnesses as our old boys were so laud back nothing fazed them.  I've looked them up and as far as I can see there are 2 types - one with two bands and one with three and a grab handle.  I assume the three bands plus grab handle will be the best for me (being little and of a certain age) but was wondering what you thought.

When she is stressed food is a definite no no so I don't think that will work at the moment.  I do talk to her all the time but without having much effect at present.  Maybe in the future.

I hadn't really thought about her not experiencing the outside world very much.  She was fostered by a family for a few months but they returned her to the charity saying that they couldn't cope with her wanting to be up all night.  I assumed, obviously wrongly, that she would be fairly acclimatised to things outside.  She does go to bed at a reasonable hour now and will sleep through so progress is being made there.

We are giving her a specially prepared flower remedy.  It's got about half a dozen different 'flavours' in it including the rescue remedy and I have quite high hopes of it making a difference.

Thank you again.  I feel that we are doing some things right and you have boosted my confidence in this respect.

Riggles

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Great! I would say she is well on her way to her best life thanks to you. That is wonderful that you are treating her with the flower essences because they are effective for many dogs(and people).  I would think that perhaps just time will be the thing that can help most now. Of course there is always a chance that her genetics may keep her frightful but I would not believe that at this point. You should have seen Goldie, that little male I adopted that was sooo terrified- it was sad.  And slowly and surely he just improved and improved and ultimately was super stable and out going with a lot of confidence.  So you just never know but one thing is sure they deserve the best chance we can give them to move past their current issues and it sounds like she is progressing slowly and surely and is quite blessed to have landed in your care.

Don't know if you have ever read any of Patricia McConnell's (PhD) books but they are certainly enjoyable and I am pretty certain that would be a super good source of info for you on this. She is highly respected on a worldwide level. "The other end of the Leash" is a classic and there are booklets addressing specific topics as well.  One that would probably be useful to you is "The Cautious Canine." I think Amazon carries them to. The website has videos and articles that would probably be helpful as well. http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/

As far as the harness I have not used a spook harness so I'm not sure what would work best for you. I would probably get this one because I have purchased from Majestic before and I know them to have very good products of very high quality:

http://www.majesticcollars.com/harness.htm

Keep in touch. We would love to hear how she progresses. I'm thinking she is really very special!

 

Edited by racindog

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She may need much longer to relax. Ditto on getting the 3 band harness. She won't be able to back out of that one.

Forget Rescue Remedy.  You need to use these essential oils developed by a veterinarian, safe for use with all pets including cats.  https://www.animaleo.info/

Are you in the US? If not, I may be able to find Dr Shelton's vendors in CA, UK and AUS.

 


 

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