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Advice needed on an extremely scared rescue puppy

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by Ian Harrigan, Oct 20, 2019.


  1. Ian Harrigan

    Ian Harrigan PetForums Newbie

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    Hi all,

    So im desperately looking for some advice:

    A little over 2 weeks ago we adopted a little rescue puppy (chihuahua-terrier mix), he was (obviously) incredibly scared when we picked him up, it was extremely hard getting him into his box and getting him home and for the first few days he was extremely nervous about coming out of his bed. Fast forward a week and he had gotten alot better, he regularly runs up and down the house playing with the cat (also rescue cat we got at the same time), and doing all things "puppy".

    However, he still wont let us touch him (really) or even get anywhere near him. We have stroked him before, but very infrequently and he is always _very_ on edge. Most of the time he simply runs away. I think its probably clear he was hit or severely neglected. He is, for the most part, a very happy little puppy, hes very curious and looks like its aching to touched or jump up on the couch with us and the cat - but its like he wont let himself at the last minute.

    We've obviously been scouring the net for advice / pointers but it seems alot are hard to implement. Like for instance taking him for a walk. We cant even put a collar on him. Ive attached videos of me trying to put a collar on him, he tries to escape like we are trying to murder him. The first time he pooed and wee'd all over the floor, presumably out of pure terror. Are we doing something so terribly wrong? Is it just a waiting game? Are we moving too fast? Id like to point out that the end of the situation in the shower was me managing to inch closer to him and give him a stroke telling him hes a "good boy" - he even let me stroke him under the chin and "leant into it" - which is new, and a first. I wanted to make sure the end of that "ordeal" was, hopefully, something positive.

    So i guess my question is if there is any advice / tips on how to progress past this touch barrier so we might be able to put a collar on him, walk him and give him a shower (hes 3 months old and hasnt had one ever we dont think, so he certainly smells a little... ... ... a lot :) ).

    He doesnt spend all his time scared, he regularly walks up and down the house, is amazing friends with the cat, and when im working is usually sitting behind me on the carpet - so hes happy - its just when hes approached he "changes"

    Thanks for the patience with this _large_ post and thanks for any and all advice given.

    Looking forward to advice

    Ian Harrigan
     
  2. Ian Harrigan

    Ian Harrigan PetForums Newbie

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    I couldnt post the links to the videos :/
     
  3. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

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    I think a new poster is not allowed to post links or message anyone. Maybe someone with good internet will let you email the links to them
     
  4. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    I'd guess yes. First, can you get him into a safe environment where he can't do any damage to himself or anything else, and it doesn't matter if you can't collar him and he toilets? If you can, great. It takes up to 72 hours for cortisol (the stress hormone) to drain from the body - ideally you need to let that happen so that you are starting from an empty stress tank. During that time don't try to initiate engagement, let him do anything at his pace and of his own free will. Try not to even make eye contact because to a dog, that can be intimidating body language. Go in, sit facing away from him and if he takes any steps towards you gently place something fabulous like roast chicken on the floor between you and where he is (so he doesn't have to pass you to get it).

    A clicker might be useful. A clicker marks the exact moment he does something good (like a snapshot of the moment) and is always followed up with a reward. So first train yourself with your timing. Watch a tv programme and every time anyone says a particular word, click. That will fine tune your timing.

    Then 'charge' the clicker. Simultaneously click and deliver a treat like frankfurter sausage or roast chicken. Do that 5 times and take a break. Do that five times in the day (so 5 x 5) and now he knows click = treat.

    Now you can work on the behaviour. Put the collar on the floor (maybe with something lovely beside it). If he looks at it, click and follow up.with the reward. Sit on the floor. If he looks at you, click and reward.

    Then withhold the click (and reward) until he makes a step towards you, or the collar. This might take a few days, you are still not making eye contact.

    Try that for a few days and see how he goes then we can look at next steps - other members will have more / better advice.
     
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  5. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    I’d avoid approaching him for now, as that seems to freak him out.

    Sit on the floor and let him come to you if he will.

    Drop treats near him and slowly drop them nearer to you.

    Once he learns you’re not going to impose on him he should gain confidence and start to trust you.

    It’s still very early days and it could take a while yet for him to settle (especially if he’s had bad experiences in the past).

    If getting out for a walk is an issue as he’s scared of the lead and collar, just manage with going out in the garden for now by encouraging him to follow rather than trying to force him out.
     
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  6. MontyMaude

    MontyMaude PetForums VIP

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    How old is the puppy? you could possibly upload videos to YouTube and then post the links here.
     
  7. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    I don't think new members can post links until they have made 25 posts.
     
  8. Ian Harrigan

    Ian Harrigan PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for the advice everyone, as suspected its just a matter of time i guess. What i was worried about is by doing nothing we were somehow re-enforcing this anti social behavior and not correcting it, but it sounds like we just need to wait and be patient.

    The clicker thing sounds like a great idea - ill certainly give that a go...

    Many thanks!
    Ian
     
  9. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    No, I don't think so. In the first place it isn't antisocial behaviour - it's fear. And if you did force him to interact he might do so but not because he feels confident in doing so; it would be because he has no choice and that would be damaging to both his confidence and his relationship with you.
     
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  10. Ian Harrigan

    Ian Harrigan PetForums Newbie

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    Right. Makes sense - many thanks Joanne. Ill let you know how it goes with the clicker

    Thanks again!

    :)

    Ian
     
  11. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    I just reread my reply - to be clearer, if he is conflicted about approaching you for a treat at the stage of charging the clicker, put the treat on the floor so he doesn't have to take it from you.
     
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  12. Ian Harrigan

    Ian Harrigan PetForums Newbie

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    OK - good to know. I think he will be pretty fine with taking the treats off of us. He doesnt normally have too much of a problem with that, he just then moves away to a safe distance to eat it - which is fine. So i dont think charging the clicker is going to be all that difficult. It will be interesting to see if the clicker can then direct that positivity towards the collar / lead.

    He such a little sweetheart, i just want him to be happy and i think he would love going out for walks / runs, but i realise now that he needs to let us know when he is ready for that type of thing. The cat gets his final injections next week so then they can both go into the garden (the pup doesnt like going anywhere without the kitten - they are besties / partners in crime!)

    I really dont understand how anyone can hurt him like im fairly sure he has been - really makes no sense to my mind.

    Anyway, thanks again (and again)!

    Ian

    upload_2019-10-21_9-6-35.png
     
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  13. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    That's sweet but be careful he doesn't become so reliant that he can't do anything independently. Hopefully other people will have advice on that so tagging some people who may know - @Sairy @Jamesgoeswalkies @Twiggy - any thoughts?
     
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  14. Ian Harrigan

    Ian Harrigan PetForums Newbie

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    Hmmmm... thats interesting. Never really considered that. He is quite dependent on him already. If we close the kitchen door with the dog in the kitchen and the cat on the other side (so we can clean the kitchen and have the back door open) he does whine after the cat. Even howl sometimes. I never really considered it might be a problem down the line. He not always following the cat everywhere (the cat can be in the living room on the couch sleeping and Ben can be behind me sleeping on the rug in the office while im working), but when he knows he cant get access to him he seems to get a little sad / worried / something - we figured abandonment issues and it was great he felt he hate a friend in Frank - maybe not the case?

    Cheers,
    Ian
     
  15. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    Google Littermate Syndrome - that's my concern. It doesn't happen only with actual littermates.
     
  16. Sairy

    Sairy PetForums VIP

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    Is the kitten confident around you and happy to be touched? If so, and your pup has formed a bond with the kitten, the kitten may help with building the pup's confidence as he may not want to feel left out and it may encourage him to come to you a bit more. However, as mentioned, you do want to ensure that he doesn't become too reliant on the kitten so try and may sure they have a bit of time each day when they are apart and you are interacting with pup on his own. I completely agree with the advice given so far re. letting him come to you and offering treats etc. Just take it at a steady pace and don't push it. I often find that the animals who start off the most nervous end up being the most loving in the end.
     
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