Looking for ideas to help with a dog that has been abused - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-25-2011, 10:40 PM Thread Starter
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Looking for ideas to help with a dog that has been abused

On sunday of this week my wife and I brought home from a shelter an approx. 3 year old GSD.
The story we got about him was that the previous owner had beaten him with a shovel after a puppy aproached his food while eating and he showed some type of agression towards it. This man and his son supposedly took turns beatin this poor boy. These things lead me to believe that Bali (as we now call him) has been treated horribly most of his life.

So when we arrived to meet Bali he was the sweetest loving boy that there could be. He seemed to understand that our 2 year old daughter needed to be loved to and instantly was very sweet to her. Of course we watch them both like a hawk any time they are in the same room but haven't had any issues there so far.

After bringing Bali home (couldn't stand to leave him there to be PTS) we have found him to be a leg magnet, most of the time when I walk the top of his head is hitting me in the back of the leg. He is afraid of most movements we make and cowers until we get close enough to show him that we aren't going to hurt him.

We had to clean him up before bringing him inside and he was deathly afraid of the hose and tried to climb the walls of my shop to try to get away from the water. He eventually did give in and stop fighting us over the bath.

I am trying to figure out how to go about teaching this boy some manners. His doesn't pull too bad on a leash but leans on my leg so much it hurts my knee. I tried a prong for a minute but as soon as he puts the slightest pressure against it he stops immediately and submits on his back so any correction at all would be pointless.

How do I go about teaching manners to this guy who is scared for his life most of the time? He will sit if I pull pack on the leash and push down on his back end but when I tried to do a little work with some training bites to reinforce the sit command he was so anxious (translated: afraid) that I didn't have his attention in a positive way.
While I am cooking and chase him out of the kitchen he has figured out the he is supposed to leave but the instant I turn my back he is trying to come back in to be next to my leg.

I know that its only been a few days and he needs time to trust us so we will be persistent in trying to find what Bali responds to however I do want to start early not just for his benefit but for ours.

Does anyone have any experience with this kind of thing? I have read a couple of the threads about anxious dogs but none of them seemed to really encompass what I have going on here.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-25-2011, 11:02 PM
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I rescued my lab (he is a pure bred English Lab) from the dog pound, he was found running around the streets by himself, and he was a puppy about 6 months old at the time. Because he was a stray, there was no owner to give account for his past, but he showed signs that he had been abused. He was afraid of us, always so scared that he was going to be in trouble. Terrified of the broom, and I teach my dogs that when I raise my hand straight out and up in front of me that that means sit. When I would try to train the lab and would extend my hand, he would roll straight onto his back and submit. He always walked with his head tucked low and was so humble and scared of getting into any type of trouble. I couldn't really get anywhere training him until he learned to trust me. This took some time, a few months before he completely gave his trust to me, and once he did-he gained confidence. He has no fear issue's whatsoever anymore, and I was able to proceed with training. One thing you will find about a rescue dog is that they are so grateful to you, that they are eager to please, so this translates into easy to train. Right now concentrate on gaining his trust. Thank you for rescuing that GSD!

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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-25-2011, 11:12 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks germanshepherdlova
Your comments help me to believe that he will begin to trust his new family some time in the future
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-25-2011, 11:16 PM
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I think you have to forget about his past and move on as if he is just a dog that need some training, confidence building and keep him busy. His true personality won't show til he's been with you for a few months, so be aware that you'll need to re-adjust again at that time.

Practice NILIF and don't coddle his moods/anxiety or fear. Show yourself to be a strong leader so he will look to you for anything and everything, that will build his confidence!
Keep everything positive, and watch his body language to see if he is overwhelmed, but don't let him feel it if you feel anxious or nervous due to his behavior. Just redirect him if he is doing something inappropriate, don't correct, and praise him when he is doing what is right. Praise goes a long way.
If you haven't started with a crate, I would try one or a "go to your place" mat, bed. He'll know that is the place that is safe for him with proper conditioning and when you are in the kitchen or when company comes over and you don't want him underfoot, his place is a comfortable place to relax.
Buy him a nice fresh raw knuckle bone for this or a deer antler chew. Make his place a good place!
Once he really trusts you, he will show you who he really is. And you want to let him know that you are there for him so he won't feel anxious, or threatened and feel the need to react on his own.

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-25-2011, 11:34 PM
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Sasha was beaten when I got her, and it took her a while to warm up, and understand he was safe. I actually had a little bit of the opposite problem. I had to leash Sasha to me just so she wouldn't run around the house unsupervised to get away from us (didn't want her to have any accidents when she was out of my sight). I practice NILIF with her, and she picked up on it pretty quick, and it really helped with impulse control. As far as leash training goes, I don't know too much about this as I've never had a dog with this problem, but could using a harness instead of a collar be less threatening for a dog like this? (more experienced people feel free to jump in.) I'm just thinking that maybe something around his neck (like the prong collar) might be too much right away. Like I said though, I don't know about this. I know with Sasha I didn't do any really leash involved training right away. I actually didn't do any training for her first 2 or 3 days. I just let her take it all in. Then once she seemed not to fear me as bad I worked on sit, but it was very casual. I had a treat (She's highly food motivated); I asked her to sit; I waited until she did it; I told her "good sit"; gave her the treat; and repeated.I also made it seem like her sitting or doing whatever I asked was just about the most exciting and wonderful thing on the planet, happy tone was used (she now knows the difference between the happy tone and the I can't believe you just did that/really?/ticked off tone lol). This was all done indoors though. When we went out I basically let her do what she wanted; (She wasn't really bad on the leash...no pulling etc.) I just let her explore her new environment as much as she wanted, and everything was a game. We ran through snow drifts, things like that, just having fun and me showing her that people can equal good. It wasn't until a little later that I started really asking things of her, and expecting consistent results. I had to build the bond first.

Good luck with your pup!

~Sasha~{GSD}~ 3ish~Gotcha day January, 29, 2011
~Monte~{Golden Retriever}~ (RIP)~ 1997-2009


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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-25-2011, 11:42 PM
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My foster, who was picked up as a stray was very collar/grab shy. I put him in an adjustable martingale collar that he couldn't slip. That was the best collar for a dog that may try to back out. I'd never put a prong on a new dog. A line wrapped around their abdomen will keep them from pulling if you feel you don't have control. I had a long thick rolled leash that I used when I pull dogs from shelters~ that I have no relationship with or know their temperament. It is calming and will slow them down if the have been chained out(strong desensitized necks)

If your shelter or rescue has a trainer to recommend, please try them! If you don't feel comfortable, you can always go elsewhere.

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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-25-2011, 11:58 PM Thread Starter
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onyx' girl: I have been practicing NILIF (hadn't heard of it until I found this forum) and it seems to be effective in what little time we have had
Helps to hear from someone with experience that I don't need to correct
He has been in a crate during the night and when I am not home, as well as some times like you mentioned.

NewbieShepherdGirl: I think I need to get more excited like you mentioned, maybe sometimes I am worried about doing the right thing.

This is all kind of alot for me to take in right now I just want to make sure I do the right things and I thank you all for the help
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-27-2011, 03:41 PM
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I adopted a rescued doberman 12 years ago this weekend. He was 1.5 to 2 years old at the time. He had been found wandering the streets. The rescue could tell that he had been abused because he was so terrified of men that only women could approach him. When I took him home he was so sweet and a very gentle dog. When he was walked on lead however he would try to run in the other direction if a man approached.

I got him a large crate and put a sheet over it so it was dark and private. He loved it. It made him feel so secure that I could have men over to fix things and so forth and Val was comfortable and did not bark or act scared as long as he was in the crate. I did not worry about obedience at first. Certainly did not do any kind of NILIF type stuff. I just was gentle and postive until he relaxed. Then I took him to obedience class for further bonding. He was really easy to handle and didn't really need correction of any kind.

Then I had a male neighbor come over for short periods. Val gradually accepted men. I married 11 years ago and Val is very attached to my husband. So time works wonders. Val is still with me at 13.5 or 14 years old -- truly ancient for a dobie.

Some dogs may need NILIF and others like Val don't. Trust your instincts based on your dog. Thank you for saving this dog.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-27-2011, 09:03 PM
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I agree, don't coddle him or feed into his fear by trying to baby him through it. Approach everything in a happy, confident manner and speak in a happy, confident voice.

I would also recommend a training class. Giving him some reliable obedience skills will provide something familiar and structured to fall back on when he is fearful, and it will help build his confidence. Depending on how timid he is, you might need to start with private sessions. But group classes would be an important step at some point, too.
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 05-28-2011, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks everyone for all your input.
Bali seems to be responding positively to NILIF and it would work even better if I could successfully explain it to a two year old.
Sometimes it hard to remain completely calm with a dog who has never learned ANY house manners won't keep his nose out of the wifes potato salad but I am determined to remain positive while trying to teach him some manners.

I appreciate everyones comments these things help me to find the right things to do while working with my new boy.
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