Overcoming The Fear

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Meg4809
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Overcoming The Fear

Post by Meg4809 » Mon Oct 05, 2009 2:07 pm

I have had my dog for just over 2 weeks now. For those familiar with our story, the dog's mane is Isaiah. I thought this dog was male, but in fact she is a female. She's very bright, very sweet, but very timid. A kind man at animal control says she has definitely been abused; she was in an advanced state of starvation when she arrived in my yard. Her weight is on, and I can hand feed her, and get her to play ball a little, but I cannot yet pet her. She is very afraid of close contact, and even in play, rapidly becomes nervous. I have given her oral flea treatment and will be worming her today, but she desperately needs a rabies shot and to be spayed, and I can't even touch her. How do I get past the fear? She's an outdoor dog so far, and my yard isn't fenced. We're in the country, well back from the road, so she's safe from everything but disease and pregnancy. She's 100% mutt, so puppies would be a terrible idea! I wouldn't dream of having more dogs suffer what Isaiah has! Please help.

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Nettle
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Post by Nettle » Tue Oct 06, 2009 3:27 am

You cannot fence your yard but can you build a pen with a roof on and a weatherproof area for her to go in as well? As you so rightly judge, it is too early for her to see a vet, and you don't want her pregnant. I don't know if you have roaming dogs where you are: if so, a pen where she can be safe from attack is vital.

Otherwise you are down to always having her on a leash or line with you when outside, and never leaving her alone outside.

I may be stating the obvious here - if so, please don't be insulted, but not everyone is aware that a ***** can only get pregnant when she is in season, which is for three weeks once or twice a year, depending on breed.

That leaves rabies - again, if she is always with you on a leash or line, she isn't going to get bitten by a rabid animal.

This is easy to manage if you set your will to it, and she can see a vet when she becomes more relaxed around people. Are you taking her for car rides yet? This is a good way of de-sensitising her to going out. Otherwise that first car ride to the vet may set up links in her mind that make her afraid of cars.

Let HER touch YOU. She doesn't know you are safe yet. Up to now, human hands have meant pain. This doesn't heal in a moment. Be patient: patience is a fine dog trainer.

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Meg4809
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Joined:Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:52 pm
Location:Rual South Carolina

Post by Meg4809 » Tue Oct 06, 2009 1:42 pm

I just hate to say this, but I don't have the money for a pen. As long as she's not in heat, she's pretty safe from other dogs. This was a response on my part to an emergency on her part, I had no plans for dog ownership. There is a really good online site for working with a frightened dog, and today, we had our first tummy rub. I slid up to her on my tummy, and she let me tough hers! Her eyes were hot with fear, but we did get that far. Its a disaster to force her, right? Traps have been suggested, but I don't want to aggravate the paranoia. She's incredibly smart, the fear is just heartbreaking. Here's a picture of her, taken in hae favorite safe zone

Image

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Nettle
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Post by Nettle » Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:47 pm

Yes it's a disaster to force her and you were very lucky you didn't get bitten when you slid up on your stomach.

Take it slowly, far more slowly than you are doing, or you will ruin what you are trying to achieve.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

mselisabs
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Post by mselisabs » Tue Oct 06, 2009 2:50 pm

Aww, look at that adorable drop ear! Too cute!

As far as 'forcing' contact, you're definitely right to do it on HER time. If she does let you touch her make it extremely short and extremely positive. A quick touch and then huge reinforcement is key. I'd suggest also rewarding her for smelling you, coming close to you, etc. If she was starved I'm assuming she's food motivated! You can also play lots of "games" that include no touching at all that can help build her confidence - Victoria had an episode where she set out a few solo cups and hid a treat under one and the dog had to "figure out" which one (aka smell..) but of course was rewarded because she always got it right. You can also find certain dog toys that are hollow with holes in them so she can roll it around to get out her kibble. Think of it this way - the more the dog is stimulated with non-stressful things (like human contact) the less she is thinking/feeling about being stressed.

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Mattie
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Post by Mattie » Wed Oct 07, 2009 3:28 am

having taken on 2 dogs that were frightened of people in the past, you are going far too fast and will lose this lovely little girl. You HAVE to wait until she wants you to touch her, at the moment you are doing this for yourself not her, you need to slow down.

I can understand why you are doing this, you want to cure this as soon as possible but believe me, it won't work. Having so much room to run away in won't help either, can you put up an area with chicken wire? She will need a "Safe" place for her, a comfy kennel, doesn't matter what it is made out of, anything will do as long as she can get in and be comfortable.

You can sit and read for as long as you want in there, this is the best way to bring her round, seeing you sitting quietly reading will tap into her curiosity and she will start to approach and eventually touch you herself. This works with horses that are frightened of being caught as well, turned many round like this :lol:

It may take months before she is happy to touch you, but it is rare it is this long. Just be patient and you will eventually have the loving dog that you want. She will get there at her pace, at your's you will always have a very frightened little girl.
[url=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/PIXIE.jpg][img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/th_PIXIE.jpg[/img][/url]

Meg4809
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Post by Meg4809 » Sat Oct 10, 2009 5:37 pm

Thank you all for your thoughts. Dogs are highly individual, and Isaiah is extremely special. She's very smart, very communicative, very gentle and very responsive. Allowing her to have a refuge in which she could decompress and sleep as long as she needs to has been of extremely high value. She gets up under the back porch, and no one can get at her in there and she knows it. Her sensitivity is a treasure; I was trying to get near her early this week, and she actually got the hiccups she was so afraid! I said "Oh you poor thing! What have you been through?" She must have understood the tone, because we have made huge progress.

I started out, by accident, actually, out in the back yard on a nice day. She approached me; I lay down, and she sniffed my feet. Then I discovered she likes to chase a ball, and play gave us a bond. The first 2 times I touched her, I was laying flat, and could barely reach her paw, I touched her paw gently. Feeding twice a day on a regular schedule has been extremely important too. I can read her signals, and always let her choose when to start contact and when to end contact. I can now pet her a little (she found tummy rubs are the best!)

If I had thought this dog was aggressive, I wouldn't have kept her. I could tell by the way she eats that she's wonderfully gentle. For all that she suffered greatly from starvation, she always eats slowly and always takes food from my hand gently. I know I was risking a bite, so I read her eye contact and body language very carefully with great respect, and still do.

I am so worried, though. She has something going on on her forehead, small dry looking bumps and one open sore thats getting larger and looks infected. She's had Drontal Plus and Comfortis for worms and fleas courtesy of a sympathetic Vet who understood that I can't bring her in, and her weight is really good at 3 weeks recovery so far. I'm treating the head wound (as of today) with Neosporin, and I think she might have noticed the difference, because she let me put more on a second time about 45 minutes ago (first time was this morning).

Again, I emphasize this dog is very special. It is a real privilege to gain her trust. I stand on the wisdom of allowing her to retreat to a place she knows she's safe, because she can let her nerves settle, and just like anyone else, a traumatized dog really needs that. There have been days she's slept for a good 16 or 18 hours out of 24, and I am certain the relaxation and sense of inviolable safety there under the porch has been key to her progress so far. She's an amazing dog, and I am really blessed to have her. This has all been so worth it! If I can get the infection on her head under control, she's going to make it just fine, and some day Isaiah is going to be about the best pet anyone could hope to have. I am really glad I saved her life!

Meg4809
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Joined:Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:52 pm
Location:Rual South Carolina

Post by Meg4809 » Sat Oct 10, 2009 5:52 pm

I can't seem to edit a post, so I apologize for a certain omission. I have a crawl space under the open back porch, and Isaiah found it on the first or second day. She can get way up in there, and you'd have to take the porch apart to reach her. She's well aware that when she's in there she's completely inaccessible, and that's her official "room". Her favorite spot is where she is in the picture, right next to her bolt hole (there's only one way in). I am sorry, I thought I had mentioned that. The neutral zone where I work with her is out in the back yard away from the house, and a ball is the play bond that eventually led to physical contact.

Isaiah's been a denning dog probably all her life. That really made sense when I discovered she's female after all, so did the gentleness and sensitivity. That first tummy rub happened because she chose to present her tummy. My response was very gentle stroking, and a soft scratching in that sweet spot that gets the leg pumping. One tummy rub led to another 2 days later, and now she's hooked! :D . I truly believe having that inviolable retreat space made a big difference. BTW, she does not come in the house at all, and I live alone, so there's virtually no drama at my place. Those things may have helped, because from the sound of things said above, I got close to her much faster than may be considered normal. Today is our 3 week anniversary.

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Nettle
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Post by Nettle » Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:42 am

You are so right - under the porch is a really good refuge. :D You are making great progress.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

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Mattie
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Post by Mattie » Sun Oct 11, 2009 3:52 am

WOW she is doing great well done.

Try leaving your door open when you are in the house, she may walk in one day, if she does, just take that as normal from her and don't make a fuss, just talk normally.

I can see her becoming a housedog before long. :wink:
[url=http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/PIXIE.jpg][img]http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v312/Nethertumbleweed/th_PIXIE.jpg[/img][/url]

Meg4809
Posts:29
Joined:Wed Sep 23, 2009 12:52 pm
Location:Rual South Carolina

Post by Meg4809 » Thu Oct 15, 2009 11:54 am

We are now at 3 1/2 weeks, and I took Isaiah to the vet yesterday. They gave me Acepromazine, 25 mg for a sedative, and I think that may have been a little much, but still, everything went really well. The vet gave her a very thorough exam; the good news, she weighed 40 pounds yesterday (she's growing very fast), and she's right about 5 months old. The bad news is she's got mange complicated by a serious skin infection, and her eyes are infected. The good news, she's responding well to treatment and has moved out of the crawl space under the porch to the sheltered nook on the back porch, where she has a bed. She's much more energetic and comes willingly to me, showing joy and affection. This is one great pup. Please stand against dumping pets in the countryside!!!

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