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I have a foster dog that we absolutely know was beaten regularly by her owner. She is under two years old and pregnant. Her former owner got mad that she wasn't caring for her last litter of pups so he threatened to shoot her. She ran away, leaving her one day old pups behind and hid out in the woods for 7 or 8 months which is where she got pregnant again. She had to be trapped in a humane trap to get her into rescue.

Since I have had her (one week) she escaped, thanks to some carelessness on my husbands part. Miraculously, she came back and I captured her when she entered into my basement to eat. She's very smart and knew where to get the food. I feel very fortunate to get her back.

I have not cared for a dog this abused before. We connect with one another, but she gets nervous with ANY movement I make, even if its to get up from a sitting position. She will eat food from my hand. But she doesn't really want me touching her. She'll touch me and sniff me. The one time I did get my hands on her to scratch behind her ears, the tail was wagging. I see evidence that she has played with toys in my absence.

I bought a DAP plug in, hoping that may help. Is there anything else I can do to help Mandy? I would like to be able to handle her before she delivers the pups so I can assist her as needed. I may have another week before she delivers. Suggestions please.
 

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I would basically "ignore" her as much as possible, and let her settle in some more and just get used to you and your movements. Perhaps you can tie her to you with a long line? This will help her to bond with you, and as she gets more familiar, she'll get more comfortable with you being close, approaching her, etc.

Obviously, lots of positive encouragement, TONS of food/praise when she takes the initiative to come to you, even if it's just to sniff you and dart away. She'll quickly realize you are there to help her. Thank you for taking her on!

ETA: Also, does she have a "safe" place to retreat to if she's stressed? I doubt she is crate trained, but perhaps you can set aside a room or corner of the room she can hide out in when she's not attached to you.
 

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First of all, thanks for taking her in. I would concentrate first on just getting used to you being there without trying to do anything with/to her.

If she has her own room, I would just sit down there on the floor and hang out (read, whatever). Don't make eye contact and allow her to come to you. I would put treats on your body. I'm not kidding--on your shoulder, legs, etc. and let her take them if she's comfortable. If not, then gently toss or roll them to her. I would get the yummiest thing possible--bits of cheese, sandwich meat, cooked chicken, jerky, etc.--because you want her to think of you as things good.

When you get up or move around be sure not to look at her.

You can also try using calming signals. Check out Turid Rugaas if you're not familiar with her work:

http://www.canis.no/rugaas/onearticle.php?artid=1

And here is an excellent website by a woman who has an extremely fearful border collie: http://www.fearfuldogs.com/


Keep us posted.
 

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Christi....

I've been working with an abused, troubled dog too...for a month now. I can empathize with you, gal. Just as with your baby, Seamus didn't want me touching him at all, hated being leashed (the bruise on my thigh is still evident from where he tangled the leash around my legs and we both tumbled down a flight of stairs).

Pinkanml has offered some very useful suggestions and I agree with all but the tying her to you with a leash until you know how she behaves on one. But I'd like to add some of the things I've been doing that are very successful so far.

I didn't try to pet him in the beginning. He's in a long wide hallway and I would simply go and sit on the floor and talk quietly to him while he ran around like a lunatic. Occasionally he would come close enough to touch me but he'd romp off quickly. After a month of letting him come to me when he was ready, he now sits next to me and even lets me hug him along with running my hands all over him. He's even making a lot of eye contact now, something he never did in the beginning. He'd look anywhere but AT me. And when I say talk to him, I mean I talked to him, about the weather, the other dogs (calling them by their names) and the cats, how he was feeling....totally inane stuff but just quietly letting him hear my voice and always using his name over and over again so he now knows who he is when I say "Seamus".

I used the same NILIF techniques I use with my other two dogs, especially at food time. He had to sit and stay until the bowl was on the floor and I released him. It took a lot of pulling the bowl back and waiting for him to get the idea but he knows now...and sits and stays until I say 'alright'. Same with his leash if he wants to go out...he has to sit quietly and stay while I hook it on. And I've found that if you do things at roughly the same time each day (walk, feed, water, play, etc.) it sets parameters for her which gives her a sense of security in that she knows what to expect; i.e. she realizes that every meal is not her last one, for example.

Pinkanml mentions a safe retreat...what I call Seamus's 'hidey-hole'. He's had a small niche in the hall that he would hide in head first (his butt stuck out but I never mentioned it to him...*grins*) when he was scared or nervous. I'd try not to push her too much, let her come to you and let her decide when she feels comfortable with your touching her. Begin with quick scratches, when you get the opportunity, under her neck. That seems to be non-threatening to frightened dogs unlike head pats which scare them.

Mostly I'm just trying to make him feel secure and safe and after a month, he's coming along quite nicely. He's actually becoming a sweetheart. Now if only I could resolve his issues with my dog Thor.

P.S. I was about to post and saw that BowWowMeow beat me to it....so we're saying much the same things. *laughing*
 

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I've had a little work with this - unfortunately it didn't work with the one GSD I had that escaped/disappeared but it has worked on others.

Sitting down on the floor and hand feeding her - I worked with one dog for a few weeks outside trying to get her, just sitting on the ground. Initially I set a small bowl of food down then as she realized I = food I started holding it out to her. I didn't try to grab her - just let her see that being with/near me and touching didn't mean hurt but rather something good. Letting her approach you leaves it in her court and lets her come at her comfort.

The one I had, once she accepted being touched I'd massage her head and neck - giving her the option to retreat. The crate safe spot is a great thing also...*her* spot.

Some dogs it seems voice really calms them - even nonsensical stuff just to hear a calm voice. With puppies on the way it's a fine line of caring for them without pushing her,especially if a bad situation before. But then too as their eyes open and they get friendly it may instill more confidence in her.

Abused dogs take time and patience but are so worth it. Sometimes just when you think you're not getting anywhere she'll make that leap forward and initiate contact.
 

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I would suggest hand-feeding her and basically letting her take initiative.
I rescued a dog that was on her own in the woods for 4 years and was trapped finally. She came around very nicely in a few months. You cannot really rush things with these dogs.
Having the pups can make it both better or worse. My previously angel Alma would not let me touch her puppies for a week.
Good luck to you.
 

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Lots of good advice above. Body language is important when you're working with an abused dog. When you're walking around the house stand tall and confident, and keep a happy demeanor about yourself. Smile if it helps. You're whole posture will change when you smile. You want to look like your in charge. But when you approach the dog, do NOT stand over her or pet her from above. When the dog is ready for this she will initiate it.

It's important that you don't "mope" around looking depressed and feeling sorry for her. This is weakness and will be picked up by the dog. My methods for working with a skiddish or hand shy dog is this.

- You MUST walk the dog. Just one on one, at least 45 minutes a day. Walking time is bonding time.

- Make most of your touches "accidental" until the dog becomes more comfortable with you. While she is walking beside you, graze her ears lightly with your hand, but don't look at her. Just pretend it was an accident. Do this often.

- Hand feed the dog one on one. You'll want everyone in the house to take part in this. The person feeding her needs to be alone with her without distractions.

- When her confidence gets built up a little you can try petting her. Sit down on the floor and call her to you. You can also leash her and slowly pull her to you while calling her name. Pet her on the chest ONLY.

It will take a while to gain her trust but be patient. Thanks so much for taking her in. Abused dogs are the toughest type of dog to work with...even an aggressive dog is easier to train because aggression has it's uses and outlets.

Example of an abused dog;

petting from above. You can see she is cowering under my hand.



Now I'm sitting on the ground petting her chest. Her mouth is open, her ears are up, and her tail is straight down (not tucked).



 

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I've had much less experience than the others who have responded, and their ideas all seem very sound. My first abused GSD was 18 months old when I got him, and it took 6 months for him to wag his tail. Key things for him included a calm, quiet atmosphere. If I rattled a newspaper or picked up a flyswatter or broom, he flinched and took off to another room in the house. Moving slowly and talking quietly both helped him become more confident in himself, and realize I wasn't going to hurt him. He became my shadow, and sadly, he died last fall at age 11.

My second abused GSD is now 2 and is sleeping behind the couch in the livingroom. He has been here a year, and is a harder nut to crack in some ways. Raised in filth in a crate, it took about 10 months to housebreak him! He is friendly with me, and enjoys being petted, but prefers the company of other dogs. We are both grieving over having to put down my 10 year old GSD last week. He is now the only dog , and needs a companion to play with. Since it is just the two of us right now, I am trying to get him a little more people oriented.
 

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And she delivers in a week?

Have you had puppies before?

I like the idea of sitting down with her there but ignoring her and letting her make the move toward you.

However, when she has her puppies in a week, you will need to handle them right away and often. So hopefully you can dedicate this week to making this bitch comfortable with you. Where does she sleep? Have you set up a whelping box of some sort yet? If it were me, and I did not have to work, I would be spending 24/7 in her presence, getting her used to me, but not pushing her to accept me. Treats are nice, but I would probably set them in her dish and not try to get her to take them off of me and not throw them toward her. I would set them in her dish and ignore her. I think the quickest way to get her to trust you is to let her come to you on her own.

If hand feeding will stress her out, she does not need that right now. In fact, try not to stress her at all. She needs food and plenty of it. Also, it may be a nice idea that after you finish your meal, you set your dish on the floor for her to finish, again with no strings attached. When preparing her meal, use your hands, put your smell all over that kibble. She needs to know it comes from you. And she needs to associate your smell with good things.

Do your absolute best to walk slow, move slowly, talk in a subdued voice all the time. High pitched, excited talk, yelling, loud boisterous talk, all of that can do harm right now, even if you are not in the same room. Give her plenty of warning when you are moving to get up or down. Quick abrupt movements will not help her trust you.

Good luck with her and the litter.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Originally Posted By: selzerAnd she delivers in a week?

Have you had puppies before?

I like the idea of sitting down with her there but ignoring her and letting her make the move toward you.

However, when she has her puppies in a week, you will need to handle them right away and often. So hopefully you can dedicate this week to making this bitch comfortable with you. Where does she sleep? Have you set up a whelping box of some sort yet?
Thank you for your thoughts. Yes, I have whelped probably about ten litters over the years, mostly foster German Shepherds. I am pretty much the maternity foster and puppy person for German Shepherd Rescue of Central Alabama. I have a commercial whelping box that was donated to me that a breeder no longer needed.

I have it set up so she will get used to the sight of it. Her food bowl and water bucket is in the same vicinity as the whelping box and several times a day I plant some tasty treats inside the box so she'll venture on in. I hope she gets comfortable with it.

I will handle her kibble. I had not thought of that. She takes boiled chicken, cheese cubes from my hands now. She will take them from off the sofa next to me. The biggest thing that seems to scare her is my movements, so I have slowed them down a little. And I tell her that 'I am getting up now' so she'll be prepared for my movements. I act nonchalant when she reacts to my movements also. The key does seem to be letting her come to me as she is comfortable. She is no where near me reaching out for her.
 

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Ya'll don't forget about me and Mandy here in Alabama. She's getting bigger by the minute!! I saw the babies moving in her belly this AM. Twice in the past two days, the bedding has been messed with in her whelping box. I believe she's starting to nest.

I think I need some Rescue Remedy myself. I am starting to feel nervous that we have not made more progress than we have. I know we are making progress because she follows me everywhere I go and is very curious about what I do. I have been a human treat dispensor for the past week now and she wags her tail, noses me - actually touching me on her own, takes food out of my hand, lets me bring my hand closer to her with food in it and she comes toward me slowly to get the food, rather than going in reverse.

Mandy has become more relaxed. She will lay down soon after I come into the room. She keeps her eyes on me, though. THREE times now she has not gotten up from a laying postion when I have risen from the couch to leave the room. Before she was darting away when even I breathed differently, much less moved. She still doesn't want me to reach out and touch her just to pet her.

I know there is progress made, especially after I see what I wrote, but I feel the birth will take place very soon and I don't want to upset her in any way.
 

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Do you think the Bitch has every had a littler before? If yes then odds are she will know what to do. There was a gal that got a rescue last year and the female had pups I believe on St.Patricks day. The bitch was very uncomfortable having her to close while she was whelping. We had tons of posts back and forth during whelping. Just relax, be there or as close as she is comfortable with you being. If she isn't comfortable with you messing with the pups to much, then unless one of the pups is in problems let them be.
 

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Originally Posted By: ChristiI have a foster dog that we absolutely know was beaten regularly by her owner. She is under two years old and pregnant. Her former owner got mad that she wasn't caring for her last litter of pups so he threatened to shoot her. She ran away, leaving her one day old pups behind and hid out in the woods for 7 or 8 months which is where she got pregnant again. She had to be trapped in a humane trap to get her into rescue.
Mandy has a history. I totally understand why you're nervous Chris. Staying clam is good advice though
 

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Right now, as I type, Mandy is having her pups. I am so nervous. All I know is I have seen one puppy and it appeared to be healthy and clean. And Mandy didn't hop up and leave her nest when I entered the room. Once slight change of plans.... she opted against using the whelping box that was set up so comfy cozy. She knocked the cushions off the sofa and is having them right there on the couch.

I had been gone since about noon today. Just got in at 6:30 PM and was feeding everyone. Then I went downstairs to feed her and walked into a big surprise. My gut is telling me to give her space to do this on her own, but I don't know if that is the right thing to do. If they'll nurse and nuzzle tonight, I can disturb her tomorrow.

They can't stay on the sofa. Once they start moving, they'll fall down and that won't be good. Since she chose her area. I think I'll bring the whelping box to her and put it across from the sofa where she was so comfortable laying before. Do you think I should go sit down there with her? Maybe try to read a book and not interfere?

I usually don't get nervous during whelping, but this time I feel sort of helpless. I think I know her enough to know what she wants me to do. But I am also wondering if she needs me and chose to have them on the sofa where I used to sit.

I need to go check the whelping box to see if she had anything there and just accidentally had this one on the sofa.
 

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Chris how are you and Mandy doing??

Just a thought, do you have any Vanilla Ice cream in the house? If yes try coaxing her to eat a good heaping table spoon after she has a puppy cleaned up. The calcium in the Ice cream will help keep the contactions coming, the fluid will help her her hydrated and the sugar will help keep her energy up.
 

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I can go get some ice cream. Since she decided to have them on my sofa, I quietly sat on the dog bed across from her. I just saw pup #2 be born. She did a fine job. She isn't acting nervous, actually calmer than I have ever seen her. I have seen the older pup nurse, the newer one is moving about too. I have just left her and feel alot better about seeing how she handled a birth.
 
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