Restore/build Confidence in Rescued Dog. - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 05-14-2010, 11:18 AM Thread Starter
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Restore/build Confidence in Rescued Dog.

A guy who rescue dogs and give them for adoption came to me, because my girl behave so nicely he thought I was a professional trainer which I am not, I just train my dogs.
However he came to me to ask me if I would be interested in adopting a pure breed GSD, he said have problems with the dog because is so scared to the extreme with everything, I went to see the dog and the poor thing was shaking and petrified, I thought she was a new arrival, but the guy explain to me she actually has been for a full month and she has not changed a bit.
I would love to help the dog, but positive training is not my thing, and I am afraid that any other method could be worst for the poor thing, but so far nobody seems to be interested in this poor doggie.
Is it possible for a non professional trainer, mean home pet trainer, to build/teach confidence in a extremely shy dog?
If so, how to do it?
Any Video recommendation?

Thanks!

Frank
Savannah's Dad
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 05-15-2010, 02:58 AM
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I dont have any videos for you I'm sorry. However yes a home trainer CAN build confidence in an extremely shy dog. Its really not toooo hard but it is work, time and patience. Some of the essential things first is to gain the dogs trust and confidence. If he has had her a month and shes still cowering in the corner then he's not doing a lot of things he needs to (sorry but it's true) I used to foster and while some may not agree it's the best way this is what has worked for me.

We had 2 great dane females come to us they were extremely scared both hid under the tables (as much as they could fit lol) and would just shake like crazy if someone even tried to enter the same room or the room next to them they would take off and hide somewhere else. Neither one really ate but when they did one sister always bullied the other one away and had food aggression issues. Well the more dominant one started to come out but the extremely fearful one was who I focused on and they both would come around together.

When the house was calm (normally had hubby take the kids and other animals outside) I would calmly walk into the kitchen and sit on the floor normally with something yummy like pieces of cheese or whatever else I had that was yummy. I would toss a piece to her and let her eat it. Then I would lean in part of the way until I saw her body language saying she was ready to bolt out of there and I'd toss it the rest of the way. When she got used to that I started going further making sure not to push her comfort zone would go to the edge then stop. Finally I was able to lay under the table with her and give her the pieces out of my hand then worked on feeding with one hand and petting with the other. Kept working on this over a period of time then she would come out with everyone outside then got to where she would come out with everyone inside but she would basically crawl on her stomach and hugged the walls and would go to the corner or behind the couches. Kept working on just letting her interact with me with others in the house even simply laying on the floor and touching her I preferred when she would turn her head and like nudge my hand with her nose showing me she was looking for the attention. By this time I was able to work with her and her sister around the house actually going through rooms then was able to get them to interact with other members of the house. After that I did basic obediance in the house on the leash some sits, heels, and come and made her walk by my side throughout the house then turn and go back. Praise her for doing good and it built up her confidence in the fact that she was doing something right and when she made a mistake I didn't scold her I would simply have her do the act again and then praise her for doing it right. Then I addresses the sisters food issues (I free fed) so I would sit next to them as they were eating and when the more dominate sister would growl the sub. one would back off I would pull the dom one away and encourage the sub one to eat then if the dom one was doing good I'd let her go back to the bowl it taught the dom one she didn't get a say so on what was going on and the sub one got more confidence in me that I was in charge and not going to let bad stuff happen so she trusted me more.

Its really all about baby steps and being positive you have no clue what kind of life the GSD had before being put into a rescue so you don't went to set off a trigger really or reinforce whatever was done previously in her life.

Once we got good inside I would do obediance outside in the yard more smells and distractions but same commands. Then we'd start going for walks down the street where she saw other dogs and people in their yards but we didn't interact she just saw them and realized they didn't do anything. Then limited interaction with other people on MY terms. People that I knew I could "control" and have them approach her and do what I wanted them to instead of what they wanted to so she didn't have a bad experience. Then we got deeper into going out someplace a little more crowded such as a store or park but not anywhere packed. I didn't let anyone get near her we just walked through the store kept her focused on her pace and the commands while walking then left on a positive note. I generally knew the store owners/workers so I would set something up where I would be allowed to grab a couple little treats from the bulk bins to give her on a walk through then later would buy a big bag and pay a little extra to cover the treats during training. On a walk by we could stop I would grab a treat from their bin give it to her then keep walking she saw this as a great place. People were there dogs were there no one bothered her and she got treats and praise it was great. Then I would allow a worker I knew to come up and interact with her some and leave it at that.

Dogs are actually pretty darn resilient especially rescue dogs its just a matter of someone taking the time and effort to show them the world isn't a bad scary place.

Towards the end I could take her and her sister outside without a leash they would run off a little playing with each other then the dom sister would explore on her own and the more sub one would come back to me and walk with me (well more on me as she was a master at the dane lean)

Hope this helps some, if you have more questions or specific things you want to know I'd be glad to tell you as much as I can.

I'm sure there are a million people here with more experience then me though that will probably have access to some videos and more recommendations.

Thanks for having the heart to at least try to help this poor baby out.
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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 05-15-2010, 03:35 AM
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Originally Posted by new_wind View Post
A guy who rescue dogs and give them for adoption came to me, because my girl behave so nicely he thought I was a professional trainer which I am not, I just train my dogs.
However he came to me to ask me if I would be interested in adopting a pure breed GSD, he said have problems with the dog because is so scared to the extreme with everything, I went to see the dog and the poor thing was shaking and petrified, I thought she was a new arrival, but the guy explain to me she actually has been for a full month and she has not changed a bit.
I would love to help the dog, but positive training is not my thing, and I am afraid that any other method could be worst for the poor thing, but so far nobody seems to be interested in this poor doggie.
Is it possible for a non professional trainer, mean home pet trainer, to build/teach confidence in a extremely shy dog?
If so, how to do it?
Any Video recommendation?

Thanks!

Yes it is possible. I am not a professional trainer (thinking about it though) and I've restored my males confidence. He was somewhat the same. Scared of his own shadow.

It will take a LOT OF TIME!!!
What that dog needs is one person that he can trust and rely on.

Having that dog for a month doesn't mean anything. It won't just go away in a month.

What has he done?
How has he worked with her?
That is important information that we need to know.
Can you take a video?

I can only speak from my boy. He's been one of those cases.

My mom told me that shes looking for a good place and asked if I knew somebody. I looked at the boy and was like "Yes, ME!"
She agreed and told me"Let him get used to you first. He went through a lot, you can't just take him with you."
First of I thought she was doing her usual thing... because it's always hard for her to let go of a pet that she learned to love. But with the time I realized that he was different from all the dogs we ever had. He was scared and didn't have to do with weak nerves. So we went there for weeks, took him out for walks before we took him with us.

Once I took him home I saw how bad it was. He didn't even know how to play with a ball. He was scared of every individual out there, jumped from his own shadow (I kid you not), was especially scared of men and wouldn't play at all. He didn't enjoy life at all. He was scared of everything.

I took him for long walks on the leash only. I went somewhere, where I knew I wouldn't meet a lot of people because first the bond between us had to be sealed. I then took him to agility and obedience classes. First everybody was like "Oh man, we don't know if we can get him out of his shell..."

The first couple of times he was only watching and we walked up and down the training area. We didn't push him, we let him get accustomed to the club so he had a good experience. The secret is to NOT EXPECT ANYTHING!!! Let the dog show you what he is comfortable with. Don't do to much. BABYSTEPS, BABYSTEPS, BABYSTEPS.

It takes a lot of work, lot of patience and sometimes you have to go back and start all over again. But it is possible. I've been on here writing about Yukons journey and recovery ever since I got registered and others went through the same thing.

After the third or fourth time we first started with agility. He didn't know how to jump. Can you believe it? A dog doesn't know how to jump? He was four years old and didn't know ANYTHING but pain, beating and crushing him down.

I started taking him dowtown, to malls, but left him alone (meaning no expectations). Again, I didn't expect anything from him. I gave him the time he needed to adjust to the situation. I rode the bus and train with him and did lots and lots of socializing.

The hardest thing to get out of him was his fear of human beings. He wouldn't trust anyone but me so I started to tell people to give him treats. Usually you don't want strangers to give your dog treats but he was a different case. He needed to know that only good things come from strangers. Of course there were some idiots who thought they know everything better.

STAY AWAY FROM DOG PARKS!!! Do your dog a favor and stay away from them. I made the mistake and went there and it threw me almost back to the beginning where we started off.

Let him only get together with other dogs you know. And only while everybody is under control and on the leash.

It's been more than ten months that I have him. He is almost back to normal. He still has his moments but those are flashbacks and I am not sure if we will ever get rid of them too. However he even started to have fun with doing Schutzhund. Well you can't really call it Schutzhund yet because all we do is building up and do a little bit of bitework but that's it. We, again, do Babysteps.

It takes a lot of babysteps, sometimes you have to start over, lots and lots of praise, like more praise than you would give to a "normal" dog. NEVER EXPECT ANYTHING from him, lots of patience, like really a lot of patience. NEVER GET FRUSTRATED (Been there, done that... not good for the dog, absolutely natural because you think "Gawsh.. we've done it so many times why is he still scared?") if you get to the point, STOP!

Give the dog time, for example, I didn't went to any club at all during the wintertime. Instead I let him enjoy the snow. We went hiking, lots of hiking. I gave him a break from all the training and it was the best I could have done. He was lightening and completely opening up.
By that time I already had a second dog that gave him the security he needed. He had not only me to lean on but also a strong female on his side that gave him a lot of strength.

However, time, patience, consistency, no expectations and more time and patience is the key.

Last edited by Mrs.K; 05-15-2010 at 03:39 AM.
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 05-17-2010, 05:45 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot, such a great information, I think i will give it a try!

Frank
Savannah's Dad
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