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Discussion Starter #1
My parents just adopted an adorable 1-year-old GSD mix yesterday from our local shelter. She's about 35 lbs, so she's a smaller German Shepard. She is very submissive and shy but has warmed up quickly to everyone in the house (including tour beagle and 3 cats!).

However, she has a MAJOR problem with being leashed. We got her outside yesterday on the leash with a secure halter and she was scared and very submissive, she would lay down and not move or she would wander into the woods and not want to come back toward the house. Every time I tried to get her to come (with a gentle pull, not an aggressive tug) she would lay down and look very scared. We eventually had to have my dad come out and pick her up and bring her in but she got very panicked and bit my hand as he was trying to do this. I know she is just very scared but we are not comfortable bringing her out unleashed because she might run (skittish behavior).

We'd eventually like her to come on walks with us and we have an electric fence installed that we'd also eventually like to train her on but she first has to do well on a leash. Unfortunately, we may have to surrender her back to the shelter if she does not start warming up to walking out on the leash just in the lawn because she won't even go to the bathroom outside right now...

She is not very food-driven either, when she gets scared enough, she doesn't care that we have treats. We think she has been badly mistreated in her past but we don't know much about her. I'm curious if there is something we can do on our own or if we should seek help from a trainer or behaviorist.
 

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Think you just need to give her a lot of time to get used to everything and start gaining confidence.

Did she have a 'harness' on around her chest? Or a 'halter' around her face?

I would only feed her from your hands right now too. No bowls and free feeding. So your hands and YOU will start being a good thing.

Don't worry about exercise, and I'd probably just have her on longer leash she can drag around so you aren't constantly haveing her at the end of a shorter leash and she can feel more in control rather than controlled.

PLUS, I would realize that alot of stuff for now is going to take tons of TIME while she calms and learns to deal with everything at a level she can think not just be in OH MY GOSH land.

Patience. Time. Patience.

I'd almost treat her like a 7 week old puppy and have closed doors/baby gates/ crates to manage where she is without you PHYSICALLY having to touch her.

Alot of the info on this 'shy dogs' website may help

click this ---> Shy Dogs: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Canine Dimensions In-Home Dog Trainers, Shy Dog Tips, Fearful Dog Tips

Approaching Fearful Dogs - How to Approach a Shy or Fearful Dog
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thanks very much, she currently has a harness around her chest. We need to get her a slightly smaller one as we are using one that's a bit too loose on her.
 

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Here are some helpful tips on what to do with a rescue dog. There are a couple different methods use what you feel is best for you and your dog. You are going to have to give her time to adjust. From what you said it was not a true aggressive bite, it was out of fear. Put her on a long line and if you can leave the door open for her to come in on her own without the tugging. There is one post in this thread about a dog that was fearful too... Just have to give it some time. Check out the links to the tips on 2 week shut down and the other about bringing home a rescue dog. Thank you for rescuing her she will be a good dog you may have to hire a trainer but dont give up on her yet :)

http://www.germanshepherds.com/forum/rescue-foster-adoption-information-general/263306-two-week-shutdown.html
 

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Thanks again!

I'm not sure if it's an issue of confidence, an issue of the leash itself or both. I don't want to push her too quickly. I've read that allowing her to wear the harness around the house is best at first, then to attach a leash and let her get use to how that feels then start walking her in places around the house. I think the more pressing concern is having her be able to go outside to do her business. I feel like we may be pushing her too much too fast by forcing her to go outside but I'm not sure what alternatives are besides letting her go in the house (which I feel reinforced bad behavior). Any tips?
 

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You dont want to let her go in the house, that is for sure. Does she have a crate? Her free time when not on leash you may want to put her in there and when she is out she is on leash (even if no one is holding it, let her drag it around) Pick the leash up (dont pull on it dont direct here just pick it up) reward her and walk away. Keep doing that and she will associate someone holding the leash as a good thing not a bad thing. Hand feed her piece by piece her dinner every time pick up the leash drop it hand her a piece of food. It will turn around quickly. Dont make her come back into the house by pulling her in HIGH value reward and coaxing. Might take 15minute might take 2 hours. I didnt see anything about her having trouble actually getting outside it sounded like the return back into the house was the issue correct?
 

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She does have a crate and has adapted to it nicely. She slept in it with the door open last night and she went in this morning before I left for work no problem. Her behavior in the house is pretty stellar for a dog who's likely never had a home which definitely gives me some hope.

It did take her a little coaxing to get her outside. We swung the door wide open and she didn't seem to have much interest in going, she tried to back into the corner by the door. If we nudge her a little, she will go out, we don't have to drag her. And I think she does associate outside with doing her business because she went to the door yesterday right before she pooped on the kitchen floor. But yes, getting her back in once she is out is very difficult. My parents tried to coax her with treats this morning and got her onto the porch but had to pick her up to get her back in the house. We would like to avoid picking her up because she was recently spayed and I think it hurts her a bit and she does nip and bite sometimes when being picked up but we also don't want to drag her because I think that's one of the reasons she hates being leashed.
 

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If she is already able to be coaxed that close, this will change quickly, she is in fear of something (if she could talk she would tell you but you just have to guess, maybe she was shut in the door and it hurt her once there could be a million reasons why) Work with her and holding the leash / dropping it / treat... Once she is ok with that then extend the amount of time you hold it from just a pick up / drop ... to pick up hold for a couple seconds / drop. The treat she was offered was not high value enough for her to risk going where she did not want to. The treat / reward has to outweigh the fear. Really think this dog will benefit from hand feeding Good luck keep us posted :)
 

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Does she seem comfortable in the harness around the house? Or does it seem to the be leash in particular, or going outside? If she's okay with the harness indoors, I'd leave it on her all the time, and also have her drag a lightweight leash around the house to get her used to the feeling. If she doesn't seem to like the harness you could try a martingale collar instead. It's a limited slip - martingales won't tighten up enough to choke her, but she won't be able to back out of it so they're more secure than a regular flat collar.

Halo hates harnesses and will droop and pout if I put one on her. Same with her backpack for hikes. I make her wear it anyway, and once we're out and about she has a great time and stops pouting but oh, the drama at first! :rofl:
 

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Does she seem comfortable in the harness around the house? Or does it seem to the be leash in particular, or going outside? If she's okay with the harness indoors, I'd leave it on her all the time, and also have her drag a lightweight leash around the house to get her used to the feeling. If she doesn't seem to like the harness you could try a martingale collar instead. It's a limited slip - martingales won't tighten up enough to choke her, but she won't be able to back out of it so they're more secure than a regular flat collar.

Halo hates harnesses and will droop and pout if I put one on her. Same with her backpack for hikes. I make her wear it anyway, and once we're out and about she has a great time and stops pouting but oh, the drama at first! :rofl:
She did not like the harness at first, she backed into a corner and nervous-peed the first time we put it on her. We did leave it on her all day and she eventually seemed okay with it as long as no one touched it. Once we put pressure on it or tried to adjust it, she'd cower again react submissively. I'm pretty petrified of putting her in anything she could potentially get out of, she did try to wriggle loose from the harness outside when she started to panic and she probably would have succeeded had I not been looking (we need to get a slightly smaller harness).

I think we're going to try the leash thing next. Once we get the new harness on her and she's comfortable again, we'll attach a leash to it and let her drag it around for a while, see what happens. And then try leading her a bit around the house. I think also getting to a point where we can coax her in and out of the house without touching her (dragging/picking up, etc) then she will be okay...I think it has to be on her terms and she's very fearful.

The sooner we can get her going in and out on her own, the better. My parents weren't really looking for a project dog but they knew shelter dogs can take some time and I think she definitely trainable and she's very good natured...I just want to make sure we're using the RIGHT tactics and not unknowing encouraging bad behavior or making the situation worse.
 

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I'm pretty petrified of putting her in anything she could potentially get out of, she did try to wriggle loose from the harness outside when she started to panic and she probably would have succeeded had I not been looking (we need to get a slightly smaller harness).
Oh absolutely, I totally agree. If you're not familiar with martingale collars, here's what they look like:



You can get them with chain, like the one shown, or with nylon in place of the chain. When the dog pulls, the collar tightens, so the dog can't slip out. They're also sometimes referred to as a "limited slip" collar vs a regular slip collar because it only tightens to a point and won't choke the dog.

Some options for harnesses that I like are the Sense-ation Softouch Concepts, Inc - SENSE-ation® Harness and Easy Walk Amazon.com: Premier Easy Walk Pet Harness, Large, Black/Silver: Pet Supplies

Both have the leash connection at the chest rather than the middle of the dog's back, and are faster and easier to put on than a traditional harness. You just pop it over their head and connect it underneath. I also like this one: Amazon.com: PetPDC ComfortFlex Sport Harness, Medium/Large, Saffron: Pet Supplies

It does have the back leash connection, but it also goes over the head and connects underneath, without having to lift legs through any openings.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks!

We are definitely going to buy her a new harness. She does better with the harness than the collar, even the people at the shelter said she isn't good with the leash on the collar around her neck.

I actually scheduled a call with the trainer from the shelter we adopted her from, I think she knows the dog so hopefully she has some insights into what the problems are and what steps we can take.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Thank you, everyone for your very thoughtful advice, this is Missy (shelter-given name) and she is doing SO much better. She has almost completely settled in now and is actually quite social. She LOVES our family and our Beagle (who has been a bit of a teacher for her). She still has some issues with the leash but after talking with a trainer, she is making a lot of progress. She has has almost a complete turn around in just a few days.

 

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Really? We've been trying to figure out what she is mixed with. I was thinking Shiba Inu but they just aren't very common in Maine, where I live, but I checked her paperwork and she's actually from Indiana.
 

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I was literally sitting outside letting my boy go potty and thought about you and was wondering how your pup was doing. Yes Shiba... Here is a pic of mine one of the breed characteristics is the spots on the sides of their heads. Very independent dogs, one of the hardest breeds to train

 

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So cute!

Yes, I definitely see some Shiba Inu in Missy but she doesn't have the personality of one and so far she has been very easy to train. Perhaps her personality is more on the side of Shepherd (or whatever else she's mixed with).
 

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I see a lot of Cattle Dog in your new family member. The shape of the head and the ears. It is wonderful that she is settling in better.

You know sometimes these dogs come into shelters and rescues and they have never been exposed to anything beyond the yard they were born in. It isn't so much that they have been abused, but they don't know how to be out in the world. We fostered a young Golden that was going to rescue in California. She had been purchased as a 6 week old puppy, put in the suburban back yard and that is where she stayed until the neighbor's complaints of barking a year later prompted the owner to surrender her to the shelter. She had the same responses as Missy. The leash terrified her, she would fling herself on the ground and roll, all the while squealing like a stuck pig. She would defecate in fear. Poor thing. Rescue was her only real chance, and thankfully they had room for her.

OP, good luck with your girl.
Sheilah
 
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