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Anxious Aussie

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Kameron Brunow, Dec 30, 2018.

  1. Kameron Brunow

    Kameron Brunow PetForums Newbie

    Dec 30, 2018
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    First let me introduce myself, my name is Kameron (Kammy) I recently adopted an adult dog in craigslist, one because Ive always wanted an Australian Shepherd, two because in her craigslist pictures she seemed afraid and confused and I could tell by her body language that she wasnt in the best home for her type of dog. So I got the dog and my fiance helped me get her as a christmas gift. Note I'm NOT giving up on her.

    When she first came here she was super shy and timid Ive had her for almost 2 weeks attempting to gain her trust, however I learned quickly this wasnt going to be easy. The dogs name is Star, she was bred by a breeder and he couldn't afford any of his dogs after sometime therefor this older couple bought Star.

    Now I'm not saying these people are bad, but its clear they didnt do their homework on Australian shepherds before getting her. However...shes a sweetheart, so Im being patient. Here are some of her issues

    Trust issues, she somewhat trusts me after two weeks of removing Matt's, brushing her, feeding her treats and normal kibble, helping her gain weight (she came in at 30 lbs and an Aussie I saw should be around 40-55lbs for a female) shes not spayed either, I have yet to get that done. Ive pet on her and spoken calmly and been super patient. However she still won't come on command, she's still scared to directly approach me except in very rare occasions.

    Second issue...the leash, they brought her on a leash, first few days she walked great on a leash and sometimes she seems to be relaxed and loves walking and being outside, but she also gives me allot of trouble when I pick up the leash. She runs, she runs back and forth and its a game of tag, Aussies are fast and Im pregnant, so this is difficult, shes still not use to the house because she stays in two spots ; my room beside the bed and the blanket beside my desk, these are her " safe zones" and by the time I catch her ...she squats and pees and poops on the floor, so morning potty business is now a mess in my home. She cant help it so I clean it, tell her gently no, and then go back to doing my own business I know full well I cant give into her nervous behavior or she will think she is being rewarded. Once the leash is on, shes fine, but let her see you come after her with a leash? Hell to the no, shes gone, I have to trick her but when I do its OBVIOUS she takes this to heart and now she wont lie beside the bed, she cowers by the door I closed wanting to run to the desk. I feel ive lost progress.

    Third issue, shes not aggressively fearful, but if she sees a man or a crazy toddler, she will fight to get away or flee immediately at all costs and shes almost gotten out of her collar, I have yet to get a harness. I'm getting one tomorrow. I even made training treats she likes, but funny and difficult fact about Star? She doesnt understand treats. She wont eat them when "treated" for something good she did she just looks away and ignores it and stays alert and looks around nervously. This is bad, Idk how else to work with her if not with treats...occasionally if I toss the treat in front of her she will slowly consider it.

    Tomorrow im getting a clicker (which im sure at first she will fear), a casual leash (since the retractable isnt really good for keeping her at my side instead if hiding, i need her to see the household is safe and not a bad place.) Im getting a harness tomorrow hoping this will help her feel comforted, I'm getting her a crate next week when my fiance gets paid again and slowly work on that. However reading all of this how would you guys go about this? Shes super sensative and clearly she was neglected and possibly abused by the male owner.
  2. Jamesgoeswalkies

    Jamesgoeswalkies PetForums VIP

    May 8, 2014
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    Hi and welcome to the board.

    You haven't had your dog very long - many dogs take a lot longer than two weeks to settle or feel calm in a new environment so it is important to take it slowly.

    She does sound very anxious and if as you say she was bred and kept by her breeder for a while I suspect that she wasn't properly socialised as a puppy (thus the anxiety around children and strangers etc when out). This part of her training will take a while as she slowly realises that 'strangers' are ok but don't be tempted to try to 'socialise' her (encourage people to interact with her or go where it is busy) instead look to keep a distance from things that she is fearful of and teach her that walks are safe.

    However some dogs are shy by nature so this is something that you will have to work with.

    In regard to treats, when a dog is anxious or over threashold they often will not take treats so let her see how lovely treats are when they are scattered (away from you) and then let her come to you of her own accord for more. She will when she is ready. Often the harder we try (by leaning into them or calling them into our space) the slower the progress. When out walking. the quieter the walk (away from scary things) the more likely she is to take treats and be rewarded for walking on nicely.

    By 'looking away' I suspect she is telling you she is uncomfortable with the close interaction of being given a treat (it's a calming signal). You can throw treats at this stage and reinforce with verbal praise.

    The issue in regard to the lead and her running away when you go to catch her - work on this gradually - do not chase her or else this simply increases her anxiety (thus the peeing and pooing when you 'catch her'). Practice during the day when you are not going out for a walk and throw treats to reward her for coming near you, eventually this should lead towards her coming to you voluntarily. Pop the harness and a house line on her when she is calm so that when you do want to go for a walk you can pick up the house line rather than chase her around.

    Mainly though i would say just give her time. How old is she btw?

    Jenny Olley, Burrowzig and Lurcherlad like this.
  3. Kameron Brunow

    Kameron Brunow PetForums Newbie

    Dec 30, 2018
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    She is 2 from what her former owners told me.
  4. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

    Jan 5, 2013
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    As JGW says and just give her time and space to adjust and learn to trust you.

    Perhaps have her bed etc. in a room with easy access to outside so you can take her outside often for toilet training.

    Praise her for toileting outside but just ignore accidents. Don’t even tell her no as she won’t understand and it could actually make her feel punished which can make things worse.

    Put a baby gate on the door of the room so she is still part of the family but is confined when you can’t be focused on her to avoid accidents.

    I’m sure you know, but crate training must be done gradually so it doesn’t cause any stress or anxiety so start with it being left open in her room and as a comfy den for her.

    Out walking keep everything quiet and low key, avoiding close contact with dogs, people, etc. so she can relax - then you can praise/reward her calmness and build on that.
    Jamesgoeswalkies likes this.
  5. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

    Feb 1, 2016
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    The earlier replies have covered it really but I just wanted to pick up on something you said.
    Her nervousness is based on an emotional response, not a behavioural one. She isn't choosing to feel like this so you can't look at it as rewarding or not. By taking things slowly, not putting her into a situation where she is nervous, her confidence that she won't be forced into something that scares her will increase. And that will help her learn to trust you.
    #5 JoanneF, Dec 30, 2018
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2018
  6. Chatcat

    Chatcat Guest

    This was exactly my rescue when I got her three years ago. I'm sorry to say, but two weeks is NOWHERE near enough time. You might get lucky in two years! :confused: If she truly has been abused and not just neglected you will need to wait a lot longer. You have to change your mindset so that you spend a lot longer just getting her relaxed and trusting you. It isn't going to be a two week job. Just don't walk her yet, if you do, you are just reinforcing her nervous behaviour. Try to play instead, this is very bonding and much more fun and useful. Do you have a garden? Many people just get up and let their dogs straight out for that first wee, and go for walks when they are ready. if you don't have a garden just take her outside the front door and then straight back in.

    This is because she doesn't trust you yet.

    Dogs are super clever, don't trick her, she will remember this a long time later. You have to get her to WANT to please you.

    This is classic nervous behaviour, and not eating is way down the line. Look online for the nervous ladder picture, it starts with licking lips, and goes onto to barking and biting.

    Again, you need to be in a position of her WANTING to be by your side, rather than using implements to 'keep' her there.

    She needs a den, a dark, covered area which is hers. An open crate with a blanket on it might do. But do take crate training very slowly. Again, it needs to be a place she wants to be.

    Spend a bit of time researching adrenaline and cortisol in the nervous dog, it is a bit long winded for here, but basically, she needs to relax inbetween each scary thing that happens to her, or her adrenaline levels get higher and higher - hence all the nervous behaviour.

    Good luck with your dog, she does sound lovely, but you are in for the long haul, and it is worth it in the end. :)
    #6 Chatcat, Dec 30, 2018
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 30, 2018
    JoanneF likes this.
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