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From: Georgi (
Subject:         Advice for Training frightened (abused?) dog
Date: May 3, 2009 at 9:06 am PST

I adoped a 2 year old English Pointer from a shelter approx. 8 months ago. I was told she was surrendered by the breeder/trainer because she'd been traumatized by some sort of trap door falling on or near her face and would not hunt. I question whether that's the whole story, because she seemed frightened of everything when she arrived at my home. She had walked with me on lead at the shelter, but now freezes like a statue if I try to take her on lead - either that or she bolts, breaking her collar - and runs away.

She has made some progress - baby steps - but still won't come to me when called. She is a wonderful loving dog when in her "safe places" - i.e. my bed and under my desk -but is obviously uncomfortable/fearful when going between the two places.

Oh, and she's not housebroken as I was told. She'll "go" outside when it suits her. But if it doesn't suit her, she just pees, etc. wherever. She's RUINING my floor.

I've gotten myself hooked up with a trainer who apparently has some 20 years experience training dogs and horses. He says he trains bird dogs. I told him I didn't want a bird dog/hunter...I wanted a companion. He said he could accomplish that.

We've had one 2 hour session, and I have misgivings about his methods...particularly since reading up on training. He told me it would be hard for me to watch - and I would have to "take my heart out of it..." So, I prepared myself. When she wouldn't follow us outside on lead, he "half hitched" her in the rear and dragged her ass over tea kettle through the door and down the steps. We started by "base loading" her - feeding her treats while using a clicker to condition. But when it came to getting her into a crate, he would walk her (actually drag her) on lead up to the door of the crate and throw her in (because of course she stopped short, froze and wouldn't go in) - often hitting her head or face on the crate door. He did this over and over again. I have since read that forcing a dog into a crate will have the opposite of the desired effect - i.e. to make her look forward to her crate time.

I also read that a crate should be situated in rooms where I spend time. He wants to isolate her from me, move the crate from room to room over time - purportedly to get her comfortable with places other than where she's comfortable now.

He says he's trying to "embolden her" and take away her fears. I'm not so sure he's not going make those fears worse. But I just don't know - I'm obviously not a professional trainer.

I just don't know what to make of this. I need to train my dog, because she's just a mess right now...a loving mess, but a mess nonetheless. But the last thing I need to do is cause further fear through inappropriate training techniques.

Anyone out there experienced with training fearful/skittish-to-the-max dogs? Do these methods seem appropriate to train a companion animal - not a hunting dog? Should I look for other trainers? If so, how do I go about finding someone who can deal with these issues? I love this animal, but she's in desperate need of help to become the sort of animal that makes a good companion.

Please, anyone out there got any advice?!?! I need help!!



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