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Discussion Starter #1
At this point I am out of ideas. As some may remember Shadow bit a friend of my wifes a few months ago. We have worked really hard to get her use to being around other people and being friendly too, but we have only come so far. I am not sure if her fear of people will ever get to the point where she can be trusted or not. If someone comes over she will raise her hackles and bard like mad for the first 5 to 10 min's they are around. I have her on a leash to control her so she will not nail them. After that point she can be feed treats by whoever and she will just not trust them for 30 min or so. After that she seems fine and is playing with them and friendly and all. However this only last for the time there here. If they leave and come over say the next week she more or less starts the loop all over just get friendly with the person faster. The other issue is that she is a little too smart and it all most got her killed. She had learned to open doors and when she gets out she will not come when called. She let her self out for the first time Monday and play chicken with cars going 60mph. She was not hit and I got her after about 30 min's or so but I all most got killed myself in the process. She is not friendly with little kids and I live one block from a school. If she get one of them and bites I am done for. If the runs the other way she will most likely get hit by a car. I train with her a lot at home and she is good there, but as soon at the leash is off and she knows I can not enforce a command she is gone. My wife has CP and can not keep up with her if she gets loose when I am not home so I am really scared something is going to happen. There seems to be no easy way to fix this and I am in tears over what to do at this point. She is a ticking time bomb in my eyes but I love her so much. To make things worse the power meter is on the back of the house I just got and the person that reads it most of the time just leaves the gate open. So the first time someone forgets to check it she is gone and will ever end up ripping into a little kid or getting riped into by a car. I want to be a good owner and do what is right for her and I try my best to keep her safe from herself but everyone makes errors at times and I don't want anyone to get hurt. She makes it so hard to have people over and I guess we could lock her into a room when we do but I am not sure it is a fix all solution. So now what?
 

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Discussion Starter #2
At this point I really feel like I failed her. I wish there was more I could do but I just moved into a new house. I have all most no money wife does not have a job. I just want the best for her without putting my wife and me at risk. I would try just about anything at this point to fix this.
 

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Phazewolf, I can tell how much you love your dog, and I feel for you. As I'm reading your post, what jumps out to me is that all these problems can be managed and controlled with supervision.

Shadow will most likely never be trustworthy around people, so you need to be there with her ALL the time. It can be done. My rescue LOVES people, has issues with some other dogs, and is well trained. However, I NEVER leave her outside alone. I go out with her. I have her on a long-line as my place is not fenced. A quiet road on acreage, and I deal with her the same way if I lived on a busy street with no fenced yard. It will be a bit of life-style adjustment for you and your wife, but it seems to me it is an easy fix. It won't cost you much either, but it will keep her safe, everyone else safe, and give you peace of mind.

My suggestions are:

If she isn't crate trained, get a crate and start crate training her.

Get some baby gates to keep her confined to parts of the house where she does not have access to outside leading doors. OR, change the doorknobs and locks to different types. OR get those sliding chain locks and get in the habit of locking the doors from the inside. OR do all of the above!

When people come over, she is crated, or kept in another room. The more she is allowed to go nuts at people in the house, the more this behaviour will get ingrained. It is a cycle that needs to stop. In the crate, in another room, Shadow is ignored, ignored, ignored. This is YOUR HOUSE and YOUR GUEST, and Shadow needs to understand that it is not her place to have a say as to who is welcome, or who is trustworthy. I can tell from your post that you have worked with her until your brain bled, she will probably not change. Step in, and set rules for her. If crating and separating her away from people is what she needs, then that is what will help her. It might even make her happier and calmer to know that she does not need to worry about people in the house, because you are the one dealing with people from now on, not her. I know that you want her to be a part of your family and circle of friends, but how much fun is it for them to be barked at threateningly each time they come over? Even though she is a cherished family member, you still have to put boundries on acceptable and unacceptable behaviour, and enforce these boundries.

I bet she won't mind at all not having to deal with all these "scary" people. You might try bringing her out and meeting the guests that she knows after they have been there for half an hour or so. Sometimes it just takes some reactive dogs more time to process the situation, and can do it better when not having to make instant decisions, but can sit and observe in a safe place that all is okay.

One VERY important thing would be to NEVER let her out into the yard unsurpervised! ALWAYS have someone out there with her, wiht a long line. This will become routine after a while. It is less of a burden on you and on her to have these controls than for you to run the risk of her running loose, biting a kid, or getting hit by a car. Since she won't come when called, even more reason to have her on a line. ALL THE TIME. Plus you have the risk of the gate being left open. With the responsibility that a dog like Shadow brings into your life, you have to be 100% of the time, 100% in control of her. This can be achieved immediately by crating her when not directly supervised indoors, and keeping her on a long line and supervised outside.

Excercise her until she is so tired that her ears won't stand up! She has a lot of nervous energy that is expressed through fear and possibly aggression. Wear this energy out! Since she can't be trusted off line or around ather people, walks, jogs, and bicycling would be good options for your. If you are interested in bicycling with her, start a thread asking for help in getting started, many of us on the board can give you pointers.

If you need to, muzzle her in public.

She will thank you for keeping her safe, physically and emotionnally. Hope others have some pointers, but all the above is doable with commitment and love, and I know that you have plenty of that.
 

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Oh, and I forgot to add, are you familiar with Nothing In Life is Free, or NILF??? Great everyday training stuff to give an insecure dog security, and enforce you and your wife's Alfa position in her eyes with simple requirements, like sitting before being fed, etc.

Lots of info on the web if you want to google it.
 

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I agree with Castlemaid. She will have to be on a line in the yard even though it is fenced. This will take care of the running problem. Attach one end to the back door and the other to the fence at the back of your property. That way she will have lots of room to run but can't get off the run line.

I also had a dog that didn't like ANYONE in our house except us. I just made sure he was put in another room whenever anyone came to our house. He would just lay down and go to sleep and it made me feel a whole lot better having him away from people.

I would muzzle in public when you are on your walks too just to make you less anxious which make her less anxious too.

Good luck with all of this. You really sound like you are so upset and I hope it all works out for you!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks a lot for the info. I have worked with NILF on her and it did help in some ways. Luckly my friends are good about Shadow. Some that know her well just make her do some commands for food and that seems to get her under control much faster if the person she is barking at works with her even a little. This is how I have been trying to work through stuff. She seems to realize that if they are issueing a command like me or my wife and are offering a good treat just like we would that maby they should be trusted. I don't try this with everyone but when I can it helps. I was at the park the other day and a lady walked over to see Shadow and I told her that she would not be nice at all and what all was done to her as a puppy. But the lady still wanted to try and work with her anyways. So I had her get with in 5 feet and just not even look at Shadow at all. I corrected Shadow for barking at her and breaking sit and when she quieted down I told the lady some of the commands I use. I told her to try to tell her down and when she did Shadow tossed her self to the ground like a brick falling from the sky. I then had her walk around us in a circle. Then I handed her the leash and she walked at heel and was great. I think there is hope at some point with her I just need to find what works and never trust her even if I want to. I do love my dog and I just want to keep her and us safe.
 

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Agree with the others. One thing I would add is CONSISTENCY. 100% all the time. 95% consistent means you're inconsistent. Dogs who need structure need structure all the time, even when they're doing well and you think, "well, it'd be nice to give her a bit of freedom this once. Or, I'll let that slide this one time." You can't let anything slide. A sit always has to be sat. A down has to be downed. Every command has to be followed. If you can't enforce a command, don't give it. Start with the easy stuff and reward profusely. But expect perfection. Four feet on the floor at ALL times. Don't let her pull you when you walk. Don't let things slide. She needs to know where she stands. That she can trust you to lead 100% all the time.

If you're driving down the freeway, and the guy next to you decides to swerve all over the freeway "this once," it's terrifying. It doesn't matter that he's consistent 99% of the time, right? The structure of the freeway lanes make us feel safe, and they work. For dogs who need structure, they need it all the time. And frankly, most of our dogs do better with more structure, not less. NILIF only works if we do it right. Otherwise, our dogs don't get what the heck we're trying to do. Are there rules, or aren't there?

It sounds controlling and rigid. It sounds like she'll suffer terribly. But a dog that's desperately trying to figure out the world wants a strong leader. If you can clearly communicate that to her, she may quickly learn to relax behind her baby gates and in her crate. She will learn that she can be calm and the world won't fall apart.

I also would recommend that you don't let strangers decide what they're going to do with your dog. Whether this particular occasion worked out ok or not, you almost certainly communicated to your dog that you were uncertain in that situation, and this is exactly the message we don't want to give our dogs in ANY situation. There is nothing wrong with saying, 'no, I'm sorry, we're in a rush/we're training/ we're working on something special,' or something similar. Yes, this particular situation may have worked out ok, but at what cost to how your dog perceives you? I wonder....

I highly recommend classes, or a couple private lessons, which often cost about the price of classes. With the right training, with a professional you can trust, you will be able to relax and relay to your dog that you're calm and in control. That is likely a message that you don't communicate to Shadow often. Once you do, she is likely to respond in a whole different way. Is training expensive? It can be. But the agony of having a dog that we can't trust is, as you know, takes its toll in so many other ways.

I wish you the best of luck.
 

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Do you walk your dog regularly? I hear that walking regularly helps reduce their desire to bolt out the door and wander. It makes being outside less fascinating and 'cool', and satisfies their desire to wander and travel.

Introductions to things that scare your dog should be done slowly and methodically. You work on reducing even the most minor sign of stress in your dog. Basically, you find a distance between your dog and the stranger that causes no stress in your dog. Then step by slow step the stranger will walk toward your dog, all the while you continually give treats. Once the dog demonstrates a sign of stress (ear twitch, taking treats more forcibly, staring at the stranger, etc), the stranger will stop and you continue to treat until the dog calms down. Once calm, the stranger can take another step. Rinse, wash, repeat. I will take an extremely long time and many sessions, but it should reduce anxiety in the dog.

When in the home you can do similar things. Have someone stand outside the door, knock on the door, open the door a crack, open the door with the stranger still standing outside, etc etc etc. You would only move to the next step when your dog has calmed down.
 

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I'm also with the upping the exercise as much as you are able.

And did I miss who you are training with? What level obedience? Group classes or privates?

I know that when I have problems and am over my head, going to my trainer who's worked with hundreds of dogs and has a vast background and experience is a huge help (go figure
)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Me and my wife play with Shadow in the back yard for 20 to 30 min's at a time 8 to 10 times a day or more. Quite a wile ago we did a puppy class but no one else ever came so it became a private class. She did good and the lady teaching it loved working with me and Shadow. We also did 5 more private classes about a month or so ago. Again Shadow did really good and we worked on a lot stuff again. I want to do group classes with her but the problem is that I work 3pm to 11pm and all the classes that I have found around here are afternoon classes. I could have my wife that does not work take her but there are issues with that idea. First she had CP and it affects her left side both her arm and leg. She is able to handle Shadow but if the dog decided to try and go after someone her reflexes are not fast at all. One way or a other I will work through this and make stuff right.
 

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Take this with a grain of salt as I'm the last person to give any advice but..........

When Thor came to me (after months of severe neglect and a life alone) he grew very close to me. In the house, with me, he's an angel. But he's been anything but when out in the world, around strangers. And he barks like a maniac at anyone coming to the door.

The trainer and I know he's a sweetheart but only with me and close friends/family. We've come to the conclusion that part of his problem was that he lacked ALL socialization for the first year of his life but even after he came to me, he still effectively lacked socialization. I live a quiet life and the only time he saw strangers was on our walks (3 a day) and we never spent time with them, just walked by.

One of the things I noted from your posts is that you've only been able to have private classes with her. If it's at all possible, I'd recommend bigger classes, where Shadow would meet not only other dogs but other people too. It has made a difference with Thor. He's still excitable when he meets new folks (just ask Rowansd...*grins*) but he's not aggressive. And when we're walking now, instead of barking at every person/car/dog/bicycle that passes, he pretty much ignores them now...gives them a passing glance then goes back to sniffing whatever he was sniffing before. Maybe your baby just needs more familiarization with strangers (of any shape or size).

Along with, of course, all you've been doing with NILIF and training. I like the idea of crating him when folks first come in. The idea that you've taken responsibility for all those 'scary' strangers should help calm her too.

*creeps back into the background*
 

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Originally Posted By: PhazewolfMe and my wife play with Shadow in the back yard for 20 to 30 min's at a time 8 to 10 times a day or more.
Pure exercise is only one part of the equation. Dogs also need to wander and get away from their home, which is why daily walks are so important. Take one of those play sessions and walk instead.

While playing, do you also include some training? I found making Taedyn obey a command before I throw a ball very helpful in establishing leadership and that she has to listen to me. It's a part of the NILF philosophy.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Oh yes she has to sit or go down before I throw the ball. I make the choice of which I want and when she does it she gets the ball tossed. I do think long walks would help and I am going to see if my wife will start doing them wile I am at work. Just not in the direction of the school. Don't get me wrong she has got a lot better when someone comes over but she is going to learn that is my house and I will let in the door who I want not her. The thing that has worried me the most is when she gets loose. She learns from how she got caught and the same trick never works again. I don't yell at her when I get her I just grab the collar and walk her home. I used my Jeep to get her home this time toys or food she knows is a trap. I pulled up opened the back door and said come on lets go for a ride. I walked away from the Jeep and she hoped right in. I was just happy she was back it this point. Now for the queston. If I got her a e collar and the proper training with it do you think I could of used it to come back when called? As of now I can't because I have a hard time affording food but when things get better I could. She is great then I have a leash on her even if it is draging on the ground she will come when called because she knows I can make her do it. I was thinking that a e collar with proper training may be a all around good thing. Oh and thanks to everyone for all the help I really am happy people care to try and help me fix this before something bad happens.
 

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If she thinks she is being "tricked" to come back, then that means you and your home is not interesting enough for her - or at least, not more interesting than being outside at that moment.

Part of working on a good recall is also working on making you *awesome* in the eyes of your dog. Whenever she comes to you, even if it's on her own, greet her merrily. You can even do it while playing catch. When she's running away, be quiet, when she's coming towards you be fun and interesting.

Reinforce attention training. Treat her for staring at you, following you, etc. I always keep a treat bag on my belt, and will on random occasions start a mini training session. Or just when she's being a good girl, I'll give her a few treats. Get really yummi treats with a variety of flavors. This will help reinforce that being around you, and paying attention to you is a good thing.

When do you feed her? You could also try feeding her only after you come back inside. That way she knows there's always good stuff coming inside - food and water. Relating to food, you can try hand feeding her to reinforce a bond with you.

Both making you and your home more amazing (so she'll want to be with you), and walking her outside regularly (so outside is less interesting) will help make coming back to you when she gets loose better. Regular off leash play outside her territory may also be helpful to make being loose less interesting, so consider taking her to a dog park during off-peak hours.

As for walking her, you can avoid the school at first until she walks well on a regular basis, but afterwards you will probably want to work on her being calm around the school and children. You can work on that same slow treating method I had described in an earlier post, but instead treat her until she's calm and then take a few more steps towards the school and then treat her some more.

A "traffic" leash is extremely helpful. I have a 1' leash that I attach to my regular 6' leash and use that whenever we're in a situation that she could lunge at something. Holding the loop is much better on the hands, and is easier to have a relaxed hand and arm posture while still being ready if she starts lunging.

I personally use a prong to control lunging and other on-leash aggression issues, and it's been great. Others recommend the gentle leader, but I didn't have good luck with it because it didn't curb her aggression at all. The easy walk harness is also good.

The electronic collar is really a training tool, and probably wouldn't be as effective when she's loose without lots of training beforehand. But, the whole point of it is to have a better recall, so then you wouldn't need it for just-in-case anymore, as hopefully her recall would be working then. Does that make sense?
 
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