Christine, that sounds very much like my older dog, although I did finally discover that he has a split second of stillness where his body sort of imperceptibly shrinks. We also learned that his triggers are relatively defined; he's reliably unreliable with strangers when on lead (though he has a perfect heel ) and new people in the house cannot reach for him under any circumstances-- not even to offer a hand to sniff, and no petting on the head by anyone but me . He has to be muzzled at the vet, much as I hate doing it. He needs his space and respect.
A dog like my Simon really dictates your life, especially when I am truly the only one he allows to handle him. But I've had him since he was 6 weeks old, and I love him so, so much. He was subject to a lot of training missteps, not to mention a backyard bred beginning. I didn't know about positive training methods then, and I try to make it up to him every day he has left.
I posted a while ago about some of the things I did with her here: viewtopic.php?f=19&t=25478.
I liked Nicole Wilde's book. It has a lot of good info about alternative type things to try in conjunction with desensitization work and counter-conditioning.
She was a stray when we found her, had never had a collar on, and crate trained pretty much immediately-- combine that with her fear of EVERYTHING-- she barks or backs away from posters on the wall at the drive-thru coffee shop, at trash cans, at something I couldn't even find on the ground last night at the park in addition to people, especially people that stare at her, which is primarily kids-- it all makes me think she spent the first 10-12 months of her life in a crate/cage or otherwise confined.
don't bog yourself down thinking that she's had a horrible upbringing. It certainly *might* be true...but then again, some dogs, just like people are genetically pre-disposed to being more worried/scared/frightened of things.
I'm scared of many things...I know it can't just go away...but we can have self-control and not freak out when we see/hear/touch things that scare us.
Don't get discouraged, and keep up the work you are doing---it is totally worth it. I wouldn't trade my Murphy-man for the world! Get the books. Good luck and keep us posted. It sounds like she is in the best, most understanding hands.
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