Just Labradors banner

1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
660 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Hello!

My boyfriend and I recently adopted a 3-year-old yellow lab from our local humane society who was part of a neglect situation. Because he was undersocialized as a puppy, he is very fearful of people. In the 2 months since we've had him, he's opened up to us a great deal, but still spooks quite easily and hides whenever there are visitors. Does anyone have suggestions on how to get him to open up? I realize that this is going to be a long process and that he's going to do it at his own pace, but we are wanting to help him overcome his fears.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,694 Posts
Hello...My name is Giuli and my dog, Apollo was abused/neglected and has many problems, just like your pup.

Here is what I would do.

1. Make your pup feel TOTALLY comforable around you. You want him to bond to you. Hold him, stroke him, talk to him, just be around him.

2. Once he's totally ok with you guys i would reccomend getting him out and about. Slowly introduce people to him. Something I say someone do is they went to petsmart, gave people treats and said..."please approach my dog, give him a treat, talk to him, and walk away." the woman did this EVERYDAY and soon the dog was ok with people. If your dog is TERRIFIED of people I would reccomend taking it slow and work up to this stage.

3. Another good thing to do would be to socialize him with other dogs. An obedience class would be EXCELLENT for this and it would help you bond with your pup.

4. If you notice he has any fears (apollo is scared of: his leash, choke chains, men, squeaky toys, water, the spanish language, and many other things) the key is to NOT validate his fears. If company or something else spooks him DO NOT comfort him, its hard, but all it does is validate his fear. Constant, gradual exposure to the things he fears will work to desensitize him. Take it nice and slow so as not to 'traumatize him' it will take a while but with food rewards, praise, and other things you will soon be able to desensitize him to whatever he fears.

Hope this helps. Hang in there, its not easy, but its so worth it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,662 Posts
When you introduce him to new people have them crouch down before you let him approach. Tell them to look at them out of the corner of their eyes not directly at him. Let him approach them at his pace. When it comes time to pet him have them do it while crouching down and pet him on the sides of his body and on his chest. Tell them not to stand over him to pet him and not to pet him on top of the head. If they meet him inside tell them to sit down and let him come them. Tell them when they look at him to cock their heads to the side. This is very disarming for a dog.
good luck
Olie
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,694 Posts
Thats a very good suggestion. apollo feels safe when we get down to his level and insted of looking him in the eyes we look at his collar. It really helps alot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
660 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Thank you so much for the suggestions! I am wondering how to get him to the point of even approaching a stranger though...he is so afraid that even with treats in hand, he won't come near anyone new. At home he'll run upstairs and hide on the bed, or he'll run to his kennel and crouch down in the very back corner of it. He once even hid behind the toilet!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,586 Posts
First of all, bless you for adopting this boy and giving him his first real shot at a happy life.

Secondly, what in the world could have happened to him to make him this way? It is so sad to think of. :'(

Both posters above gave you some great advice. I will only re-emphasize a couple of points:

1) No coddling when he is showing fear behavior, tempting as it might be. It is our instinct to want to comfort them when they are feeling afraid, but in doing so it only validates or rewards the behavior. So, keep silent and don't react. If you must speak at all, keep your voice normal and even, conversational.

2) Do see if you can find people to help you practice with him, but don't let them chatter at him, squeal, or speak loudly. It would be best if they could keep silent. Give them a few treats, tell them to sit on the ground with their side turned to him, and wait. No eye contact, no reaching out (especially not over the head), and no coaxing. Curiousity will eventually get the best of him, and when he approaches and is sniffing curiously, they may slowly offer him a treat. Quietly...still no talking.

My Simon was a bit shy at first, though not to the degree of yours. His triggers were anything loud - television, thunder, voices. He would sometimes run from the room with his tail tucked and hide in the half bathroom. I just let him go. He came back when he was ready. I think if I'd have followed him, especially if I were cooing and carrying on, it would have validated his behavior.

To give you hope, shy Simon who would pee himself if someone spoke loudly has most definitely come out of his shell. ;) He no longer runs from the room when the television is making loud noises. I have gotten upset a few times and raised my voice to either him or Angus and now he just looks at me and blinks like, "So what?" :p Never could have done that when we first brought him home. So, even though he is blowing me off at those times, I have to say it makes me happy to know that at least he is not afraid for his life anymore.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,676 Posts
I would PM Momma to J and A, she's worked wonders with a scared/shy dog adopted from my rescue. Tatum has come a long way.
 
S

·
Guest
Joined
·
0 Posts
Scout developed a pretty intense fear reaction @ 18 mos. She had knee problems that required surgery, so she coped with pain before the surgeries, and then afterwards there was a lot of down time for rehabing. Less socializing than planned because she was on crate rest and then she was only allowed short walks. We had a family of 4 boys and 2 small aggressive dogs next door for a while and when they were in their backyard the noise of the boys (oh they were rambunctuous!) and the lunging from the dogs - we think now it really affected Scout. At the time she appeared to not take notice of them, but the dogs would go up and down the fence and follow her. I laughed at how she seemed unphased - now I wish I had talked to the parents to work something out. Scout developed a big fear of small dogs, and she was uneasy around small kids. She lunged and barked at them.

Today she is doing so well. Last weekend a little girl came up to my daughter who was sitting with Scout at a dog show and asked to pet her. Scout's butt wiggled and she was very happy to get the attention. No fear reaction, none. Big and small dogs sitting right beside us in the stands. Scout lay down at one point and had a nap. I couldn't have imagined that 18 mos ago.

My obedience instructor said - take it slow, very gradual. Take her to parks and stay back from the kids - let her watch what goes on. Take treats and reward her for good behavior. Move closer gradually - weeks/months - and she will learn that all is fine. I got kids to throw treats to her. I threw the treats to them and they threw them to Scout.

I would get into obedience classes. It's so helpful to have someone see your dog and how he reacts and moves. The socializing alone of the classes will help, and you'll do some training for good house manners.

Good luck - I hope you have the same good results we did.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,123 Posts
Apollopuppy said:
Hello...My name is Giuli and my dog, Apollo was abused/neglected and has many problems, just like your pup.

Here is what I would do.

1. Make your pup feel TOTALLY comforable around you. You want him to bond to you. Hold him, stroke him, talk to him, just be around him.

2. Once he's totally ok with you guys i would reccomend getting him out and about. Slowly introduce people to him. Something I say someone do is they went to petsmart, gave people treats and said..."please approach my dog, give him a treat, talk to him, and walk away." the woman did this EVERYDAY and soon the dog was ok with people. If your dog is TERRIFIED of people I would reccomend taking it slow and work up to this stage.

3. Another good thing to do would be to socialize him with other dogs. An obedience class would be EXCELLENT for this and it would help you bond with your pup.

4. If you notice he has any fears (apollo is scared of: his leash, choke chains, men, squeaky toys, water, the spanish language, and many other things) the key is to NOT validate his fears. If company or something else spooks him DO NOT comfort him, its hard, but all it does is validate his fear. Constant, gradual exposure to the things he fears will work to desensitize him. Take it nice and slow so as not to 'traumatize him' it will take a while but with food rewards, praise, and other things you will soon be able to desensitize him to whatever he fears.

Hope this helps. Hang in there, its not easy, but its so worth it.
I'm happy I read this. I will pass it onto someone I know. Great stuff. Thank you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,694 Posts
I never planned to adopt a special needs dog..it just kidna...happened. We thought apollo was 'normal' when we brought him home, but turns out he wasn't. Boy was that a surpise. Having him has taught me love and patience. Best of luck with your new pup. It'll all work out in the end. Just hang in there. It can get really hard, trust me, i've been there, but its sooo worth it when they start to come out of their shell.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,928 Posts
Also PM einstein's legacy. Her Duncan was like that when she adopted him and has gotten much better. It takes a lot of time and patience. Bless you for adopting him!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,662 Posts
RukusandDozer said:
Thank you so much for the suggestions! I am wondering how to get him to the point of even approaching a stranger though...he is so afraid that even with treats in hand, he won't come near anyone new. At home he'll run upstairs and hide on the bed, or he'll run to his kennel and crouch down in the very back corner of it. He once even hid behind the toilet!
Let him do it in his time. I have a friend that adopted a Newfie that had been abused. She was always fearful around strangers. When I would go over to their house I would act as if she wasn't even there. The first couple of times she wouldn't come around. After awhile she would approach. When she did come up to me I put some food down on the ground for her off to the side kind of behind me. By having my back to her I was telling her that in no way was I a threat to her. After a few more visits she did warm up to me, but I always let her approach me.
Olie
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,645 Posts
Thank you for rescuing! You've already received great advice. I just wanted to say that Brigetta also has a strong fear of strangers. I couldn't even get her to come near me at first. When she is afraid, she is not food motivated, she would get so afraid around strangers when we were out that she would have diarrhea. I used a lot of the advice above; not coddling her when she was afraid (this was hard), taking things really slow. We would go to the park for a couple minutes at a time and build up to longer times, when someone comes in, I ask them to ignore her completely. I give them treats, when she is ready she will come closer (with some people it would take several visits before she would go near them), I also ask them not to stand over her, and only touch her on the side of her face or under her chin. She is still afraid of new people, but it's nothing like it used to be.
Brigetta is not only afraid of people, but of new places. I started taking her to PetsMart. At first we would only make it to the door before she would have an accident. Eventually she went into the store (we had several accidents, the people were so nice about it), the moment she would relax I would give her a treat. At first she wouldn't take them. Now she will sit and take a treat from a stranger in the store. There are days when something will spook her in there, so I just try again at another time.
I would look for a trainer who has experience with dogs who have fear issues. My trainer and the advice on this board have made such a difference for Brigetta.
Good luck! Keep us posted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,788 Posts
Have visitors toss treats instead of holding them... if the dog still won't take tossed treats, try giving treats yourself (as long as the dog is showing calm interest in the person).

Slow, gradual, positive and patient baby steps in every area are crucial. Never force the dog into something he's not ready for, and never punish him for being afraid (no coddling either!)

Highly recommend P. McConnell's book "The Cautious Canine" as well as Deborah Wood's "Help for your Shy Dog".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
660 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
Secondly, what in the world could have happened to him to make him this way? It is so sad to think of. :'(
From what we know, he and 50 of his "siblings" were owned by a breeder who fell ill and was no longer able to care for them. She must have lived on a farm b/c she was feeding them small amounts of cracked corn (no dog food at all). After the authorities were informed of the situation and gave her 30 days to get rid of all of them, a friend of hers took 25 of the labs to Minneapolis and adopted them out. The other 25 were brought to the humane society, which is where we found our Dozer. He and the others we saw all had the same sad mannerisms...tail between the legs, crouched to the ground, refusal to take treats from anyone and he wouldn't even look at us.

Aside from that he was also a physical mess...he was underweight, had whipworms, scars all over his nose from fighting at mealtime, a perfect bite out of one of his ears, his tail is permanently bent from being broken at one time, and the tip of it was chewed off. Most of his teeth are also worn down from chewing on his cage bars. The humane society also told us that none of them had ever had so much as a toy, so it was likely that they wouldn't know what to do with one.

Luckily he has recovered a lot in the month and a half we've had him...he's gained weight, the worms are gone, and his fur is growing in over the scars. He has figured out catch and loves to swim, and even has a favorite stuffed toy. Even though it's been a lot of work, being able to see the small steps he makes every day has been incredibly gratifying. It just breaks my heart to think of what he's gone through, and I want nothing more for him to be the happy, confident lab he should be. Thank you so much for all the suggestions, they will definitely help him to heal. :)
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top