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Hello,
My dog Camo is an enigma to me and I can't figure out his behaviors. Some are causing some problems.

First, he's shy of basically everything and everyone. If he feels cornered, he tries to get out of your way as fast as he can and he'll knock stuff over or slide on our hard wood floors. How can I help get him over his fears?

Second, he has no drive? He will chase lights or reflections and sometimes shadows, but I don't encourage it and we all try to stop him from doing it. But with toys, or stuff he should chase, like maybe a lizard? Nothing. Sometimes he'll jump for a ball, or chase it once and never bring it back. But other than that? Nope. Doesn't care, not interested. Same goes for playing with most dogs, he won't really do it? His lack of drive and energy is concerning as he isn't two yet, and it's hard to train him.

Third, he hates a lot of treats. He has no interest in them, he will take it and drop it immediately, or not take it at all. I've tried a lot but after 5 or so of the same treats, they lose all value. It could be cheese, chicken, bil-jac, doesn't matter. How do I solve that problem?

Fourth, his food. He has to be grain free, but recently he started taking mouthfuls of food and leaving them all over the house. He'll just drop them. Like big mouthfuls. I recently put him back on Pure Balance Gran Free wild and free, lamb and salmon, he gets a small can of Crave wet food. He only eats the wet food and tries to steal the other dog's food. When he does eat, he eats too fast. He'll drink too much and burp up his food and water. Not often, but it's gross. I'm scared he won't take to a slow feeder, but he might?

Fifth, training. He recently decided to not listen to a command I give him. And he has an extensive vocabulary.
His name, come, sit, stay, wait, tuck, under, off, paws up, leave it, shake, other paw, etc. But I'm not sure why he's acting up? He's become a total buttface. He's a jerk right now.

He also lacks focus, and that has gotten worse with his refusal of commands.
We recently moved and he had 3 dog friends at the other house (my grandparents dogs, we're down the street) but when we visit, he doesn't play with them.

I feel like I'm letting him down? Like I failed him?

His background if you're curious:
He was abandoned in a canal in Phoenix, AZ. For a couple months, so his "rescuer" said. They had him for four months? The first month he had to live outside, then he lived inside for a month. He was in training, doing great, etc. Then they moved to an apartment and all of a sudden, he starts submissive peeing and stuff. Weird, because he also hides in his kennel, their dog suddenly doesn't like him. All sounded fishy. I take him home and have his old owner on Facebook. Within a week she has another two dogs she has rescued. But in a month their gone. I can't count how many she's rescued and rehomed in the past year that I've had Camo. I got camo and he was underweight. He wasn't super bad when he was abandoned, but in her care he lost A LOT of weight. He's bonded to me, but I think she also neglected him. She also said he was 3 years old but I told my vet I had him for 11 months (just a few weeks ago) and got him they said he was 3. But he said he isn't even two yet, meaning he was just a big puppy when they got him. And they never took that into consideration. He's a mess. And I don't know what to do. He's so scared of new people, I want him to go to a board and train facility for a few weeks but I don't know if it'll help. He continues to surprise me and get better but I don't how to help him, it's getting past my experience. Obviously, I need a trainer, but I don't know what to do at home as his person to help.
 

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He'll drink too much and burp up his food and water. Not often, but it's gross. I'm scared he won't take to a slow feeder, but he might?
What you're describing is regurgitation -- it's a classic symptom of a very serious-but-manageable condition that needs to be investigated.

Please find a good vet that's very familiar with diagnosing and managing a condition called Mega-Esophagus. The first step will be a set of xrays. (Many general practice vets don't know much about it other than what they learned in vet school -- go on a Mega-E board or FB pag and ask people to recommend a vet in Phoenix, and drive a little if you have to get to a vet who knows this condition well.)

It's basically a pocket -- imagine a sock -- that forms in the esophagus on the way down to the stomach. Food and water don't make it into the stomach fully and get stuck in the pocket. It can be genetic, or acquired later in life secondary to another condition -- a good vet will know this and try to figure out which kind it is. Sometimes it can be fixed surgically, occasionally it can be reversed if its secondary to something else, and other times it's just there and has to be managed forever. It IS manageable though, with a good vet's guidance.

Aside from the regurgitation, Mega-E it would make a few things here line up: they tend to need soft food (it goes down easier), they have trouble putting on weight (chronically skinny until they get under good management), they are often hard to motivate with food.

Most mega-E dogs need to have kibble ground up with water in a blender to make a "kibble shake" (or else they get fed an all-wet diet -- like the Honest Kitchen). They are either fed and watered in a Bailey Chair or a homemade contraption like the top of a kitchen step stool to get them as close to vertical as possible. Then they are kept close to vertical for a while (I didn't have a Bailey chair for a foster dog, so we sat on the sofa with the dog between our knees, put his paws on the coffee table, and gave him a chest and tummy massage for about 15 minutes to let gravity pull the food down).

That won't solve the other stuff, but I think it's very important to figure out if there's a health problem intertwined with all the other stuff.

For the fearful shyness, give him time, don't force him, and just build up confidence, a day at a time. I've fostered lots of these "pulled out of canal" type dogs who had been nearly feral for a while....and they just take time. Nearly all of them come around, but it's on their terms, with lots of patience. In a year, most of them are unrecognizable, after they've learned to trust and perceive their new world as predictable and safe. Don't give a dog like this "commands" -- set him up for success with rewards for things you set him up to do. FWIW, I think clicker training can really help some of these "lost" dogs learn to connect cause and effect and understand their humans a little easier.

They have to learn how to learn as adults in a way that makes training much slower. I started OB once on an ancient dog that was baffled by the idea of getting or not getting a treat for "sit." She thought I was just teasing her with the treat and got frustrated. It took 3 months before she got it -- but we did a lot of just watching her as she was about to sit, saying the word and giving her a treat for something she was doing anyway.

Many dogs have no interest in playing with other dogs when they grow up. If he was separated from littermates early and solo as a stray for a while, I wouldn't expect him to be interested in play with dogs. The fact that he tolerates being around them and isn't reactive or defensive actually excellent. Count your "wins" where you find them!

UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES would I send a dog that's fearful of people to a force-based board-and-train facility. You can end up in a much worse situation with this dog. He needs to bond with YOU. You can fix him. A good trainer who understands how to work on confidence-building and bond-strengthening would be a real asset, but I think it's very important for YOU to be the one to engage in the rehabilitation and make the journey with them. You may need a little help and coaching from a good trainer, but it's very important for your dog to bond with you in this process. You'll lose that opportunity if you send him away for training...and risk all sorts of bad stuff happening.

Patricia McConnell has a wonderful booklet that summarizes advice for working with fearful dogs. It's very short, and written as a step-by-step how-to guide. She's a brilliant canine behaviorist who's written widely (all of her books are worth owning) -- this is just a very short introduction to her work, with an action plan -- the link is to her site, but the booklet is available on Amazon or as an e-book:
http://www.patriciamcconnell.com/store/The-Cautious-Canine.html
 

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mag has covered the bases on the Mega very well. Its sounds like a possible case of Mega E.

Here is a good read up on it to start.

https://veterinarypartner.vin.com/default.aspx?pid=19239&id=4951482

yahoo has an old antiquated group that specializes in Mega. Before you sign up for it make a new email. Its a really annoying set up. It has some great people and a vet that runs it, Dr Kathy. I offered to and they refused to let me build them a forum for free. You will get massive amounts of emails.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/megaesophagus/

Hopefully someone can direct you to a local vet that knows about Mega E if it ends up being that.
 

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Of course ruling out any medical reasons for your dog's behavior is a first! I'm guessing though that you've been to the Vet a couple times at least, given you've had the dog for almost a year. Was everything okay? Anything at all in the way of medical issues since you've had him?

Beyond that, I read your post several times, and, while it would be difficult and probably not so helpful to try and address each question individually, without seeing the dog, a couple things jumped out at me. It's pretty uncommon for a dog to remain overly fearful after being with you for a year, for other than genetic reasons, but certainly not unheard of. Has there been any improvement at all in that time? Did you allow the dog weeks of down time when he first arrived, or jump right in trying to train and or socialise? Have you done any desensitization work with him at all? By that I mean exposing him to things that bother him at a distance he's comfortable with and slowly moving closer over time. IMHO it's best to tailor your approach to his particular needs, and help him by (a) not babying him when he's freaking out, but (b) knowing his threshold for things and not pressing him too much. You can't "force" a dog to "get over something", it takes time and patience, and the first one is always the hardest! From there one success builds on the previous!

The other thing that struck me was your comment about him chasing lights, reflections, and shadows. This is pretty typical behavior in dogs that have been played with with laser pointers, and it can cause all kinds of other behavioral issues. Definitely continue to discourage his chasing these things, and hopefully he'll get over his fascination with them.

It's difficult to say why your dog is ignoring commands. It could be an age-related stage, or it could be for other reasons. As you acknowledged, a good trainer should be able to determine what's going on and help you get that resolved pretty quickly. Good Luck, and thanks for rescuing him!

Edit: Just wanted to strongly agree with @Magwart on not sending this dog to a board and train of any kind! They are not all bad, and for some people and their dogs it is a good option. But in this case it could really backfire. Work with a trainer, but definitely be involved in the training!
 
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