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Some of you might have read my introduction of my two foster girls. The major project is Linda, she is so fearful and scared of everything, you can not touch her. When she first came, the only place she felt safe in was the kennel. My goal is to work with her, resocialize her, make her comfortable with touch, a leash and the house. I do have some sort of training idea/program and so far, everything works amazingly well and she is making wonderful progress. Being aware that this is an extreme case (or not?) I would be interested if anybody has had any similar experiences. For those who are interested some of my personal experiences with this dog in the following paragraph.

Linda is a bit like a wild animal, I sometimes think. I have read a lot of books about fearful dogs, but most of them left me a bit at a loss – they presume that at least you are able to put a leash on your dog or communicate directly. But none of them told me what to do if the dog keeps a permanent safe distance from you and runs away as soon as you walk towards her. Linda first kept a permanent safety distance of at least 6-8 foot, mostly more. But her character is working for me, makes it easy in a certain way to work with her: she is curious, wants to get in contact, she has a positive attitude and she is not aggressive. With every step she makes forward she thrives and wants more, so this is of course not as hard as it could be.

When I started I sat down in the kennel (which was open all the time during the day) with my laptop and worked there just to get them used to my presence. This is not necessary any more. Her fear of humans slowly subsides, she comes closer and closer, sometimes she looks directly into my eyes. After weeks of work she manages to not run away every time she comes closer. Instead she more and more often manages to hold the tension and stays put, barking and jumping up and down to get it done (which is very, very sweet).

Right now she manages to give up the 6-8 foot safety distance and more often comes closer. After almost two months she is even in the house now and lies down on a specific spot she likes – but still runs away every time somebody comes too close or triggers fear in any other way. To not make her panic, the patio door is always open for escape. In the beginning I was focusing on touching her, but I learned quickly that this puts too much stress on her. Instead we now focus on socializing and keeping her close so she looses her fear of people and the surrounding things first.

Even a recall works nicely, when called she comes happily and takes her treat, but then goes back to her safety distance which is fine. We now also offer her a nose bump contact, we hold out the back of the hand outside of her safety distance and more and more often she comes and bumps. No hand moving during this event. And a general rule: contact is always initiated by the dog. Now we step by step initiate contact ourselves, but when we started, the best thing was to ignore her, especially when she tried to come closer. Any kind of attention was too threatening for her. I do not want to forget to mention that the second dog plays a crucial role in the whole thing. Linda needs guidance and somebody to follow, without the second dog Belle, all the progress we had so far would have not been possible. When we started I was wondering how many months or years I will need to make her enter the house. Since she is snoring in a dog bed in one corner of the living room right now, I am wondering what a wonderful dog she might become in the future, healing is possible.

Well, this is not all, just to give you an idea. So if somebody has made any specific experiences with a fearful dog of this kind, I would be happy to hear the story.
 

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You are doing great! :)

We had almost the same experience with a Chocolate Lab we adopted. She was literally afraid of everything and every one. She was a lot younger than your girl.. she was 6 months old. Being that young helped, I think..in getting her turned around a bit quicker.
Her name is Zoe. My kids were older teenagers when we got her, and Zoe fell in love with both of them. It didn't take long. However, it took Zoe more than a year before she would go anywhere near my husband. Now, she adores him.

Zoe now lives with my son and his wife. She is the biggest, happiest lug of Lab now. It just took a lot of patience, love and gentle discipline.
 

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I think you are doing really well with her! I had a foster Dane that wouldn't let me touch her or get near her, but that was only for a couple of days lol. At first, I was really anxious to get the leash on her, but realized that wasn't happening so I decided to go at the pace that she wanted to go. I completely ignored her and finally she initiated the contact and I was able to give her treats. I think time is key and just letting her move along at a comfortable pace for her. I can't imagine what she's been through to make her so skittish, but once she figures out there are good humans out there, I bet she will be a terrific companion! Good luck Violet, and post some more pics when you get a chance ;)
 

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sandy2233
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Emily was very fearful of strangers when I started training with her. But she had someone that did not rush her and it was 3 months before she was comfortable enough for him to touch her. She'll do a stand for exam now for most anyone. So don't rush this. Thanks for being a good doberparent.
 

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I don't have a lot of advice as it sounds like you are doing everything right...I just wanted to say THANK YOU for being so willing to help this poor girl! I'm sure it's not easy and I really admire you for your willingness to work with her :) It takes a special person to foster!
 

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Hi Violet, I wish I had some words of advise but it sounds like you are making fantastic progress!

I had missed their introduction and just went back to read it. Wow, it sounds like they really had a rough go of it. How incredibly fortunate they are to have you come into their life!

Thank you so much for all you are doing for them and I am sure they will continue to show great progress.

Please keep us posted! And more pictures is always nice too. Hopefully one of these days it will be a pic of them both all curled up and cozy on the sofa, comfortable as can be. :)
 

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Paralibrarian
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Oh, poor girl! I don't have any specific advice, but want to agree with everybody else that it seems like you're doing the right thing and taking it slowly. The progress you've had sounds fantastic, and must make you really excited!

PATIENCE, space, and treats seem like the way to go. Have you found a treat or a food that she seems to like in particular? Have you noticed a specific situation yet in which she relaxed?
 

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GingerGunlock: Yes, you are right. Well, we are watching her all the time for things that could make her life more easy, comfortable, fearless and so on.

The food question is easy, she really likes food and we can make her happy with a lot of stuff, right now we have cooked green beans and potatoes and we gave her some pieces as a treat - she loves both. She even started an attack at the fresh bagels at our breakfast table yesterday, that was the first time she dared to be naughty and try to steal something from the table (which she didn´t) ;-) and I love to see that, it all means she is coming back to normal.

Regarding situations that make her relax, that´s not that easy. The most important thing is still space. Also chewing helps to release tension. She could chew all day long. I give her knuckle bones but I try to not let her chew all day long, so after a while I take it away from her and give it back later or the next day. In the house there is a blanket that is free for chewing and biting. Keeps her from chewing the bed or other things.

I also ordered DAP the other day. Since her fear increases when she is tired or feels weak, I thought I give it a try and put a diffuser next to her bed. Which brings me to -

Have I told you that they spent the first couple of nights in the house? I scattered a couple of beds in the living room and Linda liked one place. Also closing the doors is no problem, as long as we leave her her space and don´t corner her. Yeah :)


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PATIENCE, space, and treats seem like the way to go. Have you found a treat or a food that she seems to like in particular? Have you noticed a specific situation yet in which she relaxed?
 
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