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From: DarylMB (
Subject:         Re: Scared dog
Date: January 19, 2013 at 9:55 am PST

In Reply to: Scared dog posted by Angela Barczyk on January 13, 2013 at 6:03 pm:

A dog that has spent its life in a hoarding environment will likely not have the proper social skills for dealing with normal family life. Household activities and patterns that are familiar to home-raised dogs can be quite frightening to a dog from a puppy mill or hoarder environment. People who adopt retired racing greyhounds often have the same trouble. The greyhound hasn't necessarily been abused or neglected, but they have never been exposed to life in a home and it takes a while for them to adapt.
I suspect it's the same thing with your dog. Given her behaviour around your husband, there may have been some abuse involved, but wondering and dwelling on her past won't help your dog. People tend to spend too much time feeling sorry for what happened in the dog’s past or asking themselves why a dog behaves the way it does. Since you’ll never know exactly what type of environment she came from, there’s no point in dwelling on it. You have to focus on the present.

The first order of business is to help your dog become comfortable around your husband. The best way to do this is to have him become her primary caregiver so that she learns to look to him for her needs. You and the kids can certainly interact with the dog and play with her, but for the time being your husband must be in charge of her care. Your husband will feed her, groom her, walk her and spend quality time with her. By quality time, I mean anything from taking her for a ride in the car to feeding her special treats to having her sit on his lap while he watches TV.

Another thing that everyone can do is to make sure your dog has a routine for her daily life. Dogs are like small children; they thrive on routine and structure. If a dog knows what is expected of her and knows what happens at certain times of the day, this will help her feel more at ease. Your dog should be let out to relieve herself at the same times every day, she should be fed at the same time (and in the same location) every day and she should be taken for walks at the same time every day. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of walking your dog regularly. Not only will it provide her with the exercise she needs, but walking with a dog is the best way to establish a bond. If the whole family wants to take her for a walk, that’s great, but for the first while your husband must be the one who holds the leash. Your dog must learn that your husband represents all the great things in life.

The other thing that helps a dog understand its place in the household is to make her “work” for the things she wants. By that I mean that everyone should adopt the “nothing in life is free” training method. Teach your dog to sit on command and then make her sit every time she wants something. She will have to sit before being let outside, she’ll have to sit before you feed her, she’ll have to sit before getting a treat, she’ll have to sit before you go for a walk, etc. It all comes down to structure. Routine and structure make for a happy and contented dog.

It may take a long time to bring your dog out of her shell, but it will happen so have faith. If she doesn’t want to play (or doesn’t seem to know how), don’t force the issue. When she becomes more settled in your home, you might try having her interact with another dog that is social and likes to play. Play is something that dogs learn as puppies and your dog may never have learned how. Interacting with a playful dog may help her learn how to play.

Good luck and keep me posted!

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