Approximately 3 months ago my girlfriend and I took a terribly abused 2.5 year old female named Rosie in as a foster. Rosie has scarring all over her legs (I suspect bait work) and I know that she was used as a backyard breeder dog. We decided that she is too special and we are going to keep her. Rosie is an incredibly submissive dog and she is perfect with my girlfriend and I. We are her world.
However Rosie is far from perfect. She is definitely timid around most strangers, especially men. Although she does much better when outdoors, she is very fearful with people when first greeted. When almost anyone walks into a room that she is in, she will bark a few times and growl nervously (she has never shown her teeth or bitten). This does not appear to be normal human aggression. If I were to reprimand her during this behavior, she seems to get even more nervous and uncomfortable. I believe that at this point Rosie can only exist comfortably in a stable environment, and when someone enters into a room, that stable environment becomes chaotic.
Another aspect of her instability is her protectiveness over me and my girlfriend. For example, if someone were to shake my hand too fast her hand something to me, Rosie may be inclined to jump up and bark at that person. I know that once she realizes that people are ‘good’, this will improve. I suppose that I need some tips (besides just treats) that will help her learn that people are ‘good’.
In particular, Rosie has a thing for my brother. I have tried every trick I know of. I have had him give her cheese every time he greets her and she is still scared of him. Because we work together, and Rosie comes to work with me, this has become a major problem. I suppose I need advice from someone who has worked with an abused dog and has experienced this type of behavior before. I definitely need some tips on how to make Rosie feel more stable and comfortable when indoors.
Although I have plenty of experience with training and socializing dogs I must admit that I am stumped and I am grateful for any advice that can be given. If anyone can help us out I would really appreciate it. Thanks guys.