Buddy2, shelter chow, still afraid

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rmb
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Buddy2, shelter chow, still afraid

Postby rmb » Fri Jan 23, 2015 4:26 pm

It's been 2 years since we adopted Buddy2 who had spent his first year in a shelter. In most ways, he has settled in really well but..... he is still afraid on walks. There are some places he knows, where he will walk comfortably, until he hears kids laughing or music or a door slam or - any number of things will make him shut down and just want to go home. I've taken him to local parks where he might be ok for a short while but suddenly stop & turn back towards the car. This is heartbreaking. Both because I want to walk the parks with him and because he is afraid. I thought he would grow to trust me enough to take him anywhere. The trainer we saw initially suggests the "with me" walk where he stays right by my side. That is not my dog walking style and I've walked alot of dogs for alot of years. I like to let them relax & sniff the trails. Another trainer I've consulted insists that every time I give in and take him home or back to the car, I am reinforcing this behaviour. I can't argue with that. Buddy2 is not at all food motivated. She says I should put on a choke collar and basically drag him when necessary. Really? He will sometimes respond to quick little jerks & "Buddy come" - but just for a few feet and then he stops & turns again.
Any advice? I would so love to walk the parks with him!

ski
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Re: Buddy2, shelter chow, still afraid

Postby ski » Fri Jan 23, 2015 6:13 pm

I am so sorry you are having such a difficult time. Bless you for rescuing him but I know all to well the baggage that comes with rescues but the payback is great! One of our rescues had a fear of doorways while another had a fear of anything with a handle. Is there a friend or neighbor who has a dog Buddy likes? Maybe if he had another dog walking along with him it would distract him from the environment? When we walk our chows they always seem interested in what the other dog is doing!

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Re: Buddy2, shelter chow, still afraid

Postby Rory's Dad » Fri Jan 23, 2015 7:43 pm

I like the suggestion of the 1st trainer only because it seems like it would give him a comfort zone to fall back on. But if that is not how you want to walk with your dog, then I would try to strike a balance. I understand the theory behind not giving into the dog, but not the 'drag him along' thing. Any chance that you could just stop the walk, calm him, and get him back to focus? If he's not food motivated, maybe something else that he is attached to and bring it on the walk to use in those situations.

Just a thought, but I have seen people talk about 'thunder shirts'. Never tried one, but they hug the dog and supposedly help them feel more secure.

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Re: Buddy2, shelter chow, still afraid

Postby maikinda » Fri Jan 23, 2015 11:03 pm

Sounds like Buddy found himself a great home. I think "ski" had a great idea of seeing how he does with a friend walking with him. Many times an insecure dog does better around a dog that is confident. I don't think forcing him is a good idea. If he feels better walking in the heel position why not let him? As long as he is enjoying the walk that is all that matters. When he feels the need to explore he will.

Thanks for adopting!

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rmb
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Re: Buddy2, shelter chow, still afraid

Postby rmb » Sat Jan 24, 2015 7:07 am

Thanks for your responses. We do start our neighborhood walks with our older arthritic chow mix, Suzy who is slow but has no fear. Doesn't matter if she is with us or has been dropped off (she can't go far), Buddy2 will startle, stop & turn. Not pleasant to have poor old Suzy heading up the street stretching to sniff something with Buddy2 headed in the other direction. One human, 2 dog walks are difficult. Usually, my husband takes Suzy & I take Buddy2, together for the first short stretch.
He does love to meet other dogs (while keeping distance from their owners). If I could keep a strange new dog in front of us on all walks, he may continue to move forward but that is not going to happen. He is not fond enough of any toy I've found to follow it.
I've tried patience, standing ahead of him with my back to him, waiting for him to catch up, for what felt like a long time. Occassionally turning to him with a little jerk & "Buddy come", he outwaited me. Maybe more patience? Maybe another year until he fully trusts me? Or it will turn into another year of him dictating where we go?
Thanks for reinforcing the fact that I shouldn't pull him. I really don't want to put a choke or prong collar on him.
He's overall a joy but still a work in progress.
Thanks again for your input.
Time to go for a walk. : )

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Re: Buddy2, shelter chow, still afraid

Postby CocoLeBear » Thu Feb 05, 2015 12:28 pm

I have a few suggestions. First, a general one. I just this weekend pulled a stray chow and spoke with a very good and well respected trainer, who suggested a DAP (pheremone) collar (any brand). It is like a flea collar but releases happy smells to them that are calming. They are about $12 at Petco and last 30 days. It is supposed to calm and make them more secure. She swears by them and uses them for any sort of transition for a dog. It might take a few weeks for it to kick in, but it would be something inexpensive to try.

Second, I completely agree with the trainer who pointed out the "reinforcement." I am not a professional but have years of experience training horses and I can tell you that if you give in to an animal when they are not doing what you want, you are conditioning them to realize that if they do x behavior, you will give in and give him what he wants. Sometimes this happens with animals because they are being stubborn, but here it is clear that he is just afraid (and cannot help it). To make sure you are not reinforcing bad behavior/sending the wrong message, try to put in a few steps that he has to listen to before getitng what he wants--example - if he wants to do a 180 and head home, get him to take a few steps to the sit and do a sit--something like that so he realizes that he gets to go home because he listened to him. But, I would keep it very small to start off with since he is scared.

Finally, since this dog is scared, he might just always be scared of loud noises. My dog Coco is very skittish like that--some dogs are just like that--overly sensitive--just like people. But, to make it more manageable for you, I'd try to find a nice spot, maybe a park, where the two of you just sit down with a nice bag of (very small but tasty treats) and then treat him every time there is a loud noise, kid, etc. Just do it for 5-10 minutes, a few times a week. Good luck!

rmb
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Re: Buddy2, shelter chow, still afraid

Postby rmb » Sun Feb 08, 2015 6:14 am

Thanks CocoLeBear, good suggestions. This guy though is not at all food motivated and won't take treats under stress, ie at the vet or from a stranger. I will try a command or two though before I allow us to turn around and the collar sounds like a good try too. Thanks again!

rmb
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Re: Buddy2, shelter chow, still afraid

Postby rmb » Sun Feb 08, 2015 6:20 am

quick afterthought - I am happy that he has finally started sleeping in the bedroom with the rest of the family. Took 2 years but these last few mornings I've woken to find him sleeping next to his doggie sister at the side of the bed, instead of in my dressing room next door. I've been inviting him but never pressured him to come in and "den" with us at night. Buddy2 just takes his own sweet time with things. ; )

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Re: Buddy2, shelter chow, still afraid

Postby CocoLeBear » Sun Feb 08, 2015 3:51 pm

Will he take treats normally at home? Can you do some wry basic obedience drills with him? For example, to give Coco a little quality time when I get home from work, I will spend about 5 minutes doing obedience drills with her (sit, lay down, paw, other one, touch--in various orders). She gets very little pieces of cheese for rewards (like bleu cheese crumble size). She is used to the game and loves it and can do it pretty quickly. So, for your boy, I would try to get him used to a very simple drill that can be practiced every night for 5 minutes, for a few weeks. Then, I would change up either the local or the noise. For example, play the drill when people are talking in the next room or if a friend with kids are in the next room (but still at your house). It won't be that scary for him bc he literally knows the drill and is at home. Or, walk him in front of your neighbors house and do the drill there (but dieing a quiet time with no strange noises). He needs to have enough "familiar" so that he can trust you and focus on the task in a slightly different environment. This will let him get used to slight differences and you can keep on making it more different.

It can take weeks, but it isn't that big of a deal if you just keep it to short and simple 5 minute daily sessions. Good luck!


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