Extremely anxious dog - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-28-2018, 01:40 PM Thread Starter
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Extremely anxious dog

So my landlord rescued a shepherd mix from Texas during the hurricanes, and she's a total mess. Judy (the landlord) has had Izzy (the dog) for 6 months now, and Izzy barely knows her name. She is terrified of her own shadow. She has a phobia of strangers (barking, then booking it out of the room and hiding in the closet) and has zero food or toy motivation. She has severe anxiety issues. I honestly don't even know if it's possible for this dog to be calm and happy.

Anyway, Izzy is clearly very bored and is destructive, likely due to that boredom. Her owner has asked me to help figure out things for Izzy to do during the day to get some mental stimulation. Now, this dog barely knows her name, and you can forget come, sit, stay, down, anything like that. Whenever I have tried to train her to sit, she just looks at the food (a hot dog -- high value) and runs out of the room. She also has zero interest in playing tug or fetch or any other game with toys.

TL;DR:
How do I teach an extremely anxious and shy dog with no food or toy motivation, tricks and commands? What kinds of games can I try to play with her to get her brain working? I have never seen this shut down of a dog before. Any tips would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!

Forrest 9/1/2016 - 5/14/2017 RIP
UFO vom Wildhaus "Archer" 4/30/19
Brooklyn - Golden retriever 1/30/11
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-28-2018, 02:37 PM
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Awww I hate hearing about dogs that scared. A behaviorist is really needed for cases like this.

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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-28-2018, 02:54 PM
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I think the main thing this dog needs is more time. It has been through a very traumatic situation.

I had an experience that was somewhat similar. I was doing daycare for a labradoodle. I couldn't get this dog to do ANYTHING. You'd try to play ball with him -he'd just watch. Unlike this dog, he wasn't scared, just indifferent and shut down.

It took about a month and a half of him coming to the kennel about 2x a week. Suddenly, he got comfortable with me and my dogs, and began to play. He was too shy to run after the ball if my dogs were around, but when I played with him on his own, he would retrieve it.

I'd start off by taking her for walks, which was what I did with the doodle, even if it's just around the backyard of the house, or up and down the driveway. Let her know she can trust you.

If she's too frightened of you to walk with you, maybe just put her on her leash, and have her sit beside you, while you talk to her, and pet her. If she cringes from you hand, just talk instead. Don't force things, don't rush. When she's relaxed a bit, try dropping a piece of food in front of her.

I have also owned a dog that was too anxious to take treats when in a new situation. Eventually, with exposure and repetition, it improved. In place of treats, I used praise for every small act of obedience. (I also offered treats, even if she wouldn't take them.) It took about 4 weeks of obedience classes before she would take a treat from me in class, and 6 weeks before she would take one from the instructor or another person in the class.

You are going to need patience... a TON of patience, but I do believe things can improve for this poor dog.
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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-28-2018, 03:26 PM
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The second shepherd I ever owned was from the ASPCA in Dallas,Texas.She was terrified of everything.She spent all of her time hiding behind the couch unless I dragged her outside to potty.I would sit back there with her and hand feed her Gravy Train(Yeah,I know,lol!)I had no idea what I was doing,I just sat with her and took care of her basic needs.After a week of zero expectations she began to meet me at the door when I arrived home from work. Very hesitantly at first and eventually enthusiastically.I began to take her to the huge park across the street and did something else stupid - I let her off leash and she was absolutely thrilled to be able to zoom around in the grass.She never bothered anyone or other dogs,never went toward the road.It was wonderful to see her enjoy life again.She never wanted to play with toys and I never tried to teach her anything except to walk nicely on a leash.That was the best she could be,a content and loving companion.She taught me to accept and appreciate her true self.
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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-28-2018, 03:36 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks, guys. I think she needs more time as well. My hope is that she will just calm down more and more as time goes on. Thankfully her owner is the type that would never rehome a dog just because it's hard and would accept any issues that are a part of who she is. I know that her home for the next 7+ years will be a stable one, at least.

This girl is no longer afraid of her owner or me, and she comes running up to me for pets whenever I walk into the house. She is petrified of strangers though. She will also take treats from her owner and me, but she just runs off and hides with them, which is fine.

Izzy also gets one short walk a day at the nearby park. She is not overly thrilled to go, and often gets scared by any people, bikes, skateboards, loud noises, etc. We think that her previous owners stuck her in a backyard and never trained, walked, or spent time with her. She just doesn't know how to be a dog. I was just hoping there was something I could do to get her brain going as I know she's bored of laying on the ground in the closet all day everyday. You can tell by all the blankets and things that she shreds. Unfortunately, her owner is unwilling to kennel her and says she doesn't mind if Izzy destroys things. I can't get her to understand that it's dangerous for the dog to do things like that.

Forrest 9/1/2016 - 5/14/2017 RIP
UFO vom Wildhaus "Archer" 4/30/19
Brooklyn - Golden retriever 1/30/11
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-28-2018, 05:36 PM
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Is this destruction of things separation anxiety? If it is, maybe thats a good thing.

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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-28-2018, 09:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nurse Bishop View Post
Is this destruction of things separation anxiety? If it is, maybe thats a good thing.
Destruction can't be a good thing. That's how that dog vents stress. Destroying something takes his mind of life threating situation in which he is currently living (at least he believes he is living in it).
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-28-2018, 09:56 PM Thread Starter
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I'm not totally sure it isn't separation anxiety, and it could be a mix of boredom and not wanting to be alone at the same time. She does rip up rugs and carpets while people are home with her as well. That's why my first guess was boredom.

Forrest 9/1/2016 - 5/14/2017 RIP
UFO vom Wildhaus "Archer" 4/30/19
Brooklyn - Golden retriever 1/30/11
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-28-2018, 10:43 PM
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Is she on any anti anxiety meds? That might help with getting her to relax and focus a bit

Perhaps sit in a closed room with her, you sit and bounce the ball.... don't talk to her, don't look at her, just you playing with the ball for a little bit... perhaps she'll eventually try to interact with you and the ball and then you could roll it for her. I dunno really I'm not an expert at all, just an idea
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 03-28-2018, 10:52 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KaiserAus View Post
Is she on any anti anxiety meds? That might help with getting her to relax and focus a bit

Perhaps sit in a closed room with her, you sit and bounce the ball.... don't talk to her, don't look at her, just you playing with the ball for a little bit... perhaps she'll eventually try to interact with you and the ball and then you could roll it for her. I dunno really I'm not an expert at all, just an idea
She is not on any meds, though I think she should be. Her original owners actually ran over her with their car, took her to the vet to have her leg amputated, then abandoned her and never came back. I feel awful for her. I'm sure that's why her anxiety and fear is through the roof.

I'm definitely willing to try anything at this point to make her life better. She seems miserable. Thanks for the suggestion; I will try it.

Forrest 9/1/2016 - 5/14/2017 RIP
UFO vom Wildhaus "Archer" 4/30/19
Brooklyn - Golden retriever 1/30/11
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