So you've decided that your house is missing the warmth of a canine companion. In efforts to do the right thing, you make a trip to your local shelter to see what pooches are in need of a home. As you're looking, you see the saddest pair of eyes you've ever seen staring out back at you. You know in your heart that you've found your fur-baby, but you still get a little twinge of anxiety when the worker tells you that this dog has been abused.
It takes a huge heart and plenty of patience to adopt a pet who is a victim of abuse. Those who have been able to take on the task can vouch that there are few things more rewarding than bringing the joy back into a dog's life. So rest assured, your efforts will not be in vain to gain the trust of one of these shattered souls.
Because every dog and every situation is different, the time it takes to win over an abused pup is really all over the map. Some victims bounce back surprisingly fast, while others never fully recover from their past experiences.
Unfortunately, abuse happens to dogs of all ages. Older pooches have a lower chance of being adopted, so more rehabilitation happens in young to middle-aged dogs. That being said, young dogs generally have a longer road to recovery than canines who were abused at older ages.
Before you bring one of these babies home, you're going to want to be prepared. Your success will depend on how comfortable you can make your new family member, so keep that in mind. It's good to come into this relationship with the following:
Lots and Lots of Treats: Especially during those first few interactions, you're going to want to reward any contact the dog is willing to initiate.
Top-Quality Food: A lot of abused dogs have never been fed an appropriate diet. Many are even malnourished or super deficient in certain nutrients. Invest in a high-quality dog food or look into feeding your furry friend a balanced raw diet to combat any damage that has been done by a poor diet.
Realistic Expectations and Tons of Patience: It's best not to get your hopes up when working with an abused animal. Recovery looks different on every dog. But also do your best not to get discouraged either. As long as you are providing the pup its best possible life, your efforts are worth it.
Below are a few different methods you can use to build trust with an abused dog. You may need to try a few before you find what works the best in your situation.
We got Izzy on April 2nd. She was abused (kicked and hit is what we were told) in her past home. When Izzy is on a couch or bed and she doesn't want to get off, she will ignore you calling her and wag her tail. Then after many efforts, we will have to take her off and she as soon as we grab her, she will start peeing (still wagging her tail and staring). If she doesn't want to go in her kennel when we leave and ask her to go in, she runs to the couch and wags her tail while staring and we have to go through the process again. Same with going outside to go potty when it's raining (she hates the rain, but we live in WA so it is always raining). Some days she will go into her kennel no problem. But other days she won't. I have trained all my dogs I have had my self dealing with Separation anxiety, fearfulness, sassy dog syndrome (lol). But this one, I just don't know what to do.
Hello Emily, To avoid the peeing while still enforcing your rules, purchase a drag line and leave it attached to Izzy's collar whenever you are at home. A drag line is simply a four or six foot leash that does not have a loop or handle on the end, so it is less likely to get caught on things. If she is likely to chew on it, then you can purchase a chew proof one from VirChewLy or a similar company. You can also make your own by purchasing a thin metal tie out line, with rubber coating covering it, and then use wire cutters to cut the line into a six foot leash. If the end is sharp bend it against itself and use a metal clamp piece from a hardware store to keep it there and cover the rough end. Work on the "Off" command with her with treats, and the "Room" or "Kennel" command also with treats, and then after she knows those commands, when it is time to enforce them and she will not listen, quietly pick up the leash end without touching her and move her off of the couch or into the crate. If she obeys you when you tell her to move then give her a treat, if she does not and you have to move her, do not say anything to her, simply move her off of the couch and remain calm. With consistency and calmness Izzy should learn that she has to comply but because you are not touching her her anxiety and submissive peeing should decrease. You can use this same tactic for taking her outside. Simply grab the leash and tell her it's time to go, then take her out. If she pees in the rain, then praise her and give her five small treats, one at a time, to help her like it better in the future. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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the pitbull has just came out of an abusive situation and the other has been with me since she was 6 weeks old they play well together until one gets upset and growls but when i raise my voice even a bit my pitbull gets scared how can i teach them to play nice without scaring her?
Hello Jordan, Work on teaching both dogs the "Out" command, which means leave the area. When one of the dogs starts getting mad, tell the dog's "Out", then distract them with something else to do so that they calm down and leave one another alone at that time. To teach her an "Out" command, first call her over to you, then toss a treat several feet away from yourself while pointing to the area where you are tossing the treat with the finger of your treat-tossing-hand and saying "Out" at the same time. Use treats that are large enough for her to see from a few feet away and practice this on a surface where the treats will be visible, like tile, concrete, or light hardwoods. After she walks away from you and finishes eating the treat, tell her "Okay!" in an excited tone of voice and encourage her to come back over to you. Repeat tossing treats with the "Out" command and "Okay!" command until she will go over to the area where you point when you say "Out" before you have tossed a treat. Practice this in several areas of your home or yard, especially in areas where the dogs tend to play. If you tell the her "Out" and she obeys, give her a treat once she is out of the area and for staying out for at least five minutes. When she will leave the area when told "Out" before you toss a treat., then whenever you tell her "Out" and she does not go to where you are pointing, calmly and firmly walk toward her and herd her out of the area with your body - walking toward her so that she has to backup. You can also put a pillow in front of you and gently use that to herd her out. Adjust your body language and firmness to the dog - be more gentle with your scared dog while doing this and a bit firmer with your more confident dog - don't do this if either dog has a history of aggression though. When you have walked your dog to the area where you originally told her to go, then stop and wait until she stops trying to go back to the area that you made her leave - blocking her from going back there. When she is no longer trying to get past you, then slowly walk backwards to where you were before. If she follows you, then tell her "Out" again and walk toward her until she is back to where she was a moment ago. Repeat this until she will stay several feet away from where you were when you told her "Out" originally. When you are ready for her to come back, then tell her "OK" in an up beat tone of voice. Practice this training until she will consistently leave the area when you tell her "Out". When she will consistently leave, then practice the training with other areas that you would like for her to leave, such as the kitchen when you are preparing food, a person's space when she is being pushy, an area with a plant that she is trying to dig up, or somewhere with something in your home that she should not be bothering. When the dogs are rough housing and getting mad, tell them "Out" (after having practiced the above without another dog involved first). If they disobey, rather than getting between them to enforce the command, use a pillow to make one of the dogs back away and leave the area. The more you practice, the better they should get at listening to your Out command even while riled up. At first, they will likely not pay attention to it until they learn through practice that you mean it and will follow through with what you say. If the aggression is ever serious or the dogs draw blood, you need to take other measures to keep everyone safe though. The above method is for dogs that are mostly just annoying each other and pestering one another, and having little disagreements. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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So recently my husband and I adopted a dog. She was adopted as a stray so the shelter wasn't able to provide us any information of her past. We think she was abused or neglected as far as attention goes. She is skittish and quiet. She does not bark. Overall, she is a very good dog despite our lack of knowledge on her. Now, I am writing because I want to make sure I make her comfortable with us and I want to instill my authority. She has recently been ignoring my commands. Mainly at dinner time - she refuses to eat her food and insist on following us for table food. I want her to eat good, but I don't want to have to feed her nothing but table food or scraps. what can I do? Also, she will go to her bed and chew on it aggressivley, what could that be? I'm thinking a replacement technique for something, but I can't even imagine for what since there's no stimulus that causes her to do it - at least not that I know of. I read it could just be because she's bored or anxious? Do you have any tips that can help us gain her trust and respect for us as her "alphas" so that she listens to our commands and starts eating her own food??
Hello Freya, I would recommend teaching Freya the "Place" command and enforcing it very consistently. Have her lay on her "Place" at meal times so that she never expects to be given people food. After you are finished eating your meal, then put her own food down and release her from the place command to go eat her food. By that point your food should be put away and her only option is to eat her own food. She will also be learning to patiently wait for you to finish your food before she is fed at the same time, which will be good for her self-control. She might protest being ignored by continually trying to get up or by barking at first. Expect that at first and be ready to firmly send her back to her own bed. You can also purchase a chew proof leash called VirChewyLy and attach one end of it to somewhere by the "Place" and then clip her to it so that she cannot get off of the place. Do this until she forms a habit of staying there during meal times and no longer tries to get off, then you can work on enforcing her staying on the bed out of respect for you without the leash when she is less resistant and has learned not to expect food from the table in general. Right now while you are feeding her her own food during your meal time, it is normal for her to resist eating her own food because she wants to keep room in her stomach to eat yours, just in case you give in and give her some or she is able to steal some. Feeding her after you eat, making her wait on her place during meal times, and never feeding her from the table should help her eat her own food when you do give it to her. If she continues to be picky even after that, then consider switching her to another dry dog food. Some dogs will be picky because their own food bothers them due to an allergy to an ingredient or a specific formulation that doesn't agree with their stomachs. Often switching to another food will help. Look for a food that is a decent quality and has a different recipe. Make the switch gradually to avoid upsetting her stomach however. It does not sound like this is Freya's issue, but if she continues to be a picky eater after you have added the place command and changed her feeding schedule, try switching foods then. For the bed chewing give her an interesting chew toy to concentrate on while she is on there. She is young enough that it is normal for her to have a need to chew still. You can also place some of her own dry dog food into a bowl with water, let it sit out until the food turns into mush, and then loosely stuff a medium or large classic Kong toy with it. This will get her more interested in her own dinner and give her something to alleviate boredom with while you eat your own food. You can also make several of these ahead of time with multiple Kongs, freeze all of them, and then simply pull them out of the freezer at meal times while she is on her place. The bed chewing could be anxiety related but it is more likely that she simply enjoys the chewing with her age, and it helps her to relieve boredom. Giving her good chew toys like food stuffed toys and deer antlers will help with the boredom. To help her break the habit that she thinks is great fun, look into purchasing a more chewproof bed while she is young. PrimoPads makes firm kennel pad beds that withstand chewing well. Cot type beds are also good options. Once she is older, has developed a habit of chewing toys and not other items, and is less likely to chew, then you can reintroduce stuffed beds and see how she does. https://www.primopads.com/ To work on her general respect toward you without being overly harsh with her check out the article that I have linked below and focus the most on the "Obedience" method. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-doberman-to-listen-to-you For her "Place" you can use anything visible that is large enough for her to lay on. Something like a cot or PrimoPad will be more comfortable, but a mat or towel that is a clearly defined area will work. You simply want something that is big enough for her to lay on, stand on, or sit on. She can be in any position but she cannot get off of that place until she is release when you tell her "Okay" or "Free". Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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The shelter I got Finn from told me that he has been abused and left to die in the house by his previous owner. Considering that this all happened no too long ago, he is very sweet and loving and willing to learn. Everyone at the shelter told me that once he stopped growling at people they were able to take him out on a walk and after that he was totally fine with the ladies at the shelter. While adopting him he was very happy saying hi to everyone, but as soon as we got home I started noticing some major issues. Despite him trusting me and being ok around me, he does not like anyone else. He is afraid of my mom and of strangers (especially men). He will not allow anyone else pet him or approach him. He even growls at them and runs away. This is obviously totally understandable because all he has known in his life is people are no good. But, this is also obviously a huge issue. We got Finn for my self to have as an emotional support animal/service dog, so he needs to be ok around strangers and open to meeting people. I know this problem can be fixed or at least maintained. Right now I am using a lot of treats to encourage him when something new or strange is ok and good. He takes treats out of my moms hand and that's it. He is very curious and often approaches her when her back is turned so this is good. Anyway, I want to teach him that all people are good and new places are good. I am looking for a dog trainer now for a couple of one on one sessions but I am hoping in the meantime i could do something to help him. I am planning on taking him back to school with me, so the sooner I can start effective training the better. Thank you! Hope to hear from you soon!
Hello Taylor, Recruit friends and family members that he is frightened of to help you. Have the people, working with just one person at a time, meet you inside your home or while you are on walks. Have the person stay far enough away for Finn to not growl or run away but still notice the person. Whenever Finn is acting calm around the person, or at least tolerating the person and not growling, have the person toss treats over to him without looking at him. Have them do this with his dog food or treats for at least an hour. Other than tossing treats they should ignore him. When he is ready to approach them, then they can toss him treats or let him eat treats out of their hand. Once Finn is totally comfortable being near the person and comes up to the person for treats, then they can carefully add touch by feeding him a treat with one hand while gently and briefly touching him on the shoulder with their other hand. They should remove their hand as soon as he finishes eating the treat. You want to pair the touch with the treat and to take the training slow. Don't push Finn to quickly. Let him make the choice to approach the person or be touched in order to get a treat. If he likes playing ball, then when he is comfortable enough to approach the person, you can have them play fetch with him to help him relax around them. You can also have that person go on a walk with you, with Finn between you and the other person. Gauge this carefully though. Make sure that Finn is willing to be around the person before you have him walk so close to them. He doesn't have to let them pet him before you do the walk though if you are holding the leash. Practice this training with as many different people as you can, but only practice this with one person at a time and not a group yet. By having your friends practice the training at your home and meeting you in your neighborhood or other public locations that won't overwhelm him, you are showing him that guest in your home and strangers outside can all be nice. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hello. I rescued Buddy almost 2 months ago. He came from a not so nice situation. He was abused by a male. So now I have a poor dog with so much fear and probably resentment towards Men. He doesnt like my father. He will bark and scream and go after him nip him on his pant leg. He is alright if my dad is sitting down but if he gets up and walk around or even moves its all over. Buddy starts barking his head off. He was practically starving when i brought him home the picture on the left is the day I brought him home. The one on the right is him now. I had him neutered. He loves me and my mother but its not fair to my dad he lives here too. I just dunno how to break him or if i could. He doesnt like ppl going in and out of the house either. I told dad he has to work with him to gain his trust and not get impatient with him.. I just dunno what to do.. Please Help..
Hello Kimberley, First of all, get Buddy used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle (he should not mind if you introduce it slowly and correctly with lots of treats, rewarding him whenever he sniffs it, touches it, or lets you hold it against his face - take it slow over a week or two). Either have him wear the muzzle while he is loose in the house or keep him attached to yourself with a six-to-eight-foot leash. Being allowed to nip and rush at your dad needs to stop. There are two parts to dealing with aggression. The first is management - you would not let a German Shepherd bite or rush your dad so don't let a Miniature Pinscher. The second is dealing with the root cause - in this case fear, and treating the root cause - by building trust in this situation. While buddy is attached to you and cannot rush your dad, have your dad sit down - so that buddy is calmer, and have your dad toss Buddy his dinner kibble one piece at a time. Do this as often as your dad is willing. Keep enough distance between your dad and Buddy for Buddy to relax enough to eat the food. As he gets more comfortable, decrease the distance by tossing the treats slightly less far, so that Buddy has to come closer to your dad to eat them. When Buddy will come within a foot of your dad's chair to eat the food (while on leash so that he cannot bite if he gets nervous), have your dad start to practice this in other positions like standing up, sitting on the ground or laying down. When your dad changes positions, you will likely need to go back to tossing the treats further away again because the new position will probably make him nervous. Once Buddy will go up to your dad's chair when he is sitting or in one of the other positions (if he seems to need more time to adjust), put the muzzle and an escape-proof padded harness on Buddy. I suggest a harness that has a strap that goes under hid abdomen, behind his front legs and at his chest, with a chest piece in-between. Look for something like Ruffwear's Webmaster Harness (there are other less expensive harnesses out there that are even smaller - but you want something with three straps like that one, to make it secure). Clip his leash on the harness and go on a walk with Buddy and your dad. If Buddy is nervous, have your dad stay several feet away while walking in the same direction at first. As Buddy relaxes during the walk, gradually have your dad get closer until you can hand the leash off to your dad and let him walk Buddy alone - without you. This might take several sessions before you can do that without Buddy stopping when your dad gets close. Once Buddy will walk with your dad and get close to your dad to eat, have your dad hand-feed him the dog food and walk him regularly to develop trust. When you get that far, your dad can also teach him commands and tricks using positive reinforcement to further build trust. For the other people coming in your home, I suggest hiring a trainer to help you. Use a trainer who works with several other trainers also, so that they can all practice working with Buddy to help him get used to strangers. Make sure that they are experienced with fear aggression and have good recommendations in that area. You can also have friends and other family members practice the same type of training that your dad is going to practice - one person at a time, if you can find enough volunteers to stick with it long enough with you. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I just adopted her 4 days ago.She came from a puppy mill,then a dog rescue,then a private home for 6 months.She is so scared of people,noise,and everything including me that I don't know what to do.I think she acts like she has been abuse.She lays in a dog bed I got from past owner.She also Will pave back and forth in my dining room.She runs from me if I go near her.Please help me gain her trust.
Hello Suzanne, What she needs most is patience and time. If she will eat food when you are in the room, then find some of her favorite treats (like freeze dried soft liver of real chicken) and whenever you enter the room, she looks your way, or you are simply hanging out in the room with her, occasionally toss her treats without forcing her to get too close. As she improves, toss the treats a bit less far so that she will come closer willingly as she warms up. Spend time quietly being in the room with her, giving her occasional breaks to be alone so that she will completely relax, and letting her come up to you. Take it one step at a time, and realize that you being relaxed, quiet, calm and happy will be the easiest for her to accept. You sitting on a couch or seemingly ignoring her will probably help her warm up the fastest. You may want to hire a professional trainer with a calm demeanor around dogs to come to your home to help you longer-term with different areas of fear. Initially this person can help you with the process of getting her used to you, then getting her used to walking on a leash, being groomed, and finally being around other people and going places. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hello! I recently was given Nala on Christmas for free, to be trained as a service dog. She is such a sweetheart, but when it comes to new people, she is petrified and sometimes nips as a warning that she is afraid. The previous owners neglected and abused her and she was rescued from a puppy mill, so definitely did not get the correct treatment from birth. She has warmed up to me and my caregiver(mom) and sister/her kids, but to my dad and sisters husband she gets very scared. She seems to not do well around men, especially. When we first got her she was petrified of our steps, her food, and didn't go potty for the first 3 days. She is now going potty outside, eating well, and loves her treats and new toys we bought her. She such a sweet girl, I would hate to see my dad get rid of her because she nips when scared. How should we go about helping her feel safer around men and new people in general? She already is a great service dog, so I do not want to get rid of her over her having a difficult start in life. She deserves a loving family, as she has with us. Any help would be amazing.
Hello Hallie, Because you are wanting to train her as a Service Dog I highly suggest hiring a professional to help you in person. The public nature of Service Dog work requires a lot of adaptability and a solid temperament from a dog with even the best start in life. Service Dogs have to be around a lot of people and be able to handle surprising and sometimes unexpected or scary situations and the criteria for a dog like that is very high. Many dogs never make the cut. With that said, if you use her help primarily at home and not in public locations she can still perform tasks for you there even if you can't bring her with you in public. I suggest hiring a trainer and recruiting as many friends and family members as you can, whom she is not used to yet. Have one person at a time toss treats to her while ignoring her from a distance whenever she is quiet and calm. Let Nala decide when she is comfortable coming over to say hi. Practice with one person mutliple times and days until she warms up to that person. When she is comfortable with that person, practice the same thing with another person. Also, practice having people you know do the same thing with tossing treats to her in public locations like on walks, pet stores, parks, and other new places. Take her to a lot of new places but keep space between her and others at first, let her go at her own pace, praise and reward her for calm behavior, and try to act confident yourself. Don't pitty her or sooth her. Instead show her through your own attitude that she can relax and feel confident. Practice general obedience training with her to build her confidence as well. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We got our dog at the Animal Rescue Leauge of Iowa. I have been having trouble training him because we did not know where he came from previously and when we got him he had kennel cough and an ear infection. He would occassionally poop and pee in the house but we though it was just him being sick. He has gotten over the sickness but now we are having trouble because every time we leave he poops in the house (even though we take him out right before we leave) and he has torn down all my blinds in my house along with chewing a lot of things up around the house. We have tried multiple things but I do not know the proper way to train him because it seems to me that before we got him he had been abused.
Hello Hannah, He needs to be crate trained. Since he was likely not trained by another owner before, you need to go back to the basics that you would with a puppy. He does not know not to chew on things when alone, and it's normal for a young dog to look for something to do when bored. He also has probably never truly been potty trained. Crate him with food-stuffed chew toys while you are away. Check out the article that I have linked below and follow the "Crate Training" method. Since he is much older than the puppy described in the article, you can take him outside less often. When you are home take him to go potty every three to four hours. When you are gone he should be able to hold it for as long as six-hours in the crate, and eight hours once he understands what to do. After he goes potty outside and receives his treats for going potty, take him back inside (or on a walk or to play if you wish) and give him two hours of supervised free time. When the two hours are up, put him back into the crate until it's time for the next potty trip outside. Doing it this way ensures that he is not free while his bladder is full. The more accidents that you can prevent and the more successful times that he pees or poops outside and is rewarded for it, the quicker potty training will go. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside All young dogs should be confined when you are not there to supervise. He has not been taught what to chew (chew toys) and not chew (your stuff). Being given too much freedom can be life threatening if he eats the wrong thing, and expensive! Confining him now and teaching him what's okay to chew (by giving him food-stuffed chew toys in the crate) will help him have a lot of freedom when he is older for the rest of his life. Dogs that are not confined while unsupervised while young often have to be crated for the rest of their lives when people are gone because they develop long-term habits of chewing and destroying things. Do him a favorite and keep him safe with a crate now so that he will go onto enjoy more freedom later when he is ready for it. The crate should be just big enough for him to turn around, lay down, and stand up. If it's so big that he can go potty in one end and stand in the other end to avoid the mess, then it will not encourage him to naturally hold his bladder while inside. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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we rescued him Mookie from an abusive house. Apparently, the men in the house were emotionally and physically abusive to him. He was very quiet and skittish when he first came home to especially to others coming into the house. Now, he barks at everyone but still is not like a boxer who loves all... he is extremely afraid of men to the point where he will shake. Last night I had him in the car to pick up my son and he was barking at everyone walking by when one of the dads came over and he was barking aggressively and lunged at him. I am very concerned because he is such a loving dog within our family but so very afraid. do you have any tips??
Hello Julie, Check out the video linked below by Jeff Gellman, who specializes in aggression and reactive dogs. Here he demonstrated safety measures (a back tie), when to have people reward a dog (during calmness and not during aggressive displays), and how to appropriately use punishment when treating aggression (with good timing, calmness, and in combination with positive reinforcement for calm behavior and with the appropriate safety measures for your guests). Aggression video: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A You will need a lot of different men to help you practice this with him, practicing with one person at a time. I suggest working with a trainer who is extensively experienced with aggression and works with several other male trainers so that the various men can practice the training with him as well. Work on building his confidence in general. Practice obedience commands in a calm way, especially structured commands like heel, stay, watch me, sit, and down. Practice boundaries around the house, like respecting your space while going through doors, following you in a heel during a walk (and not being past your leg or pulling), and commands like off and other basic house hold manners things. You can also build confidence through things like agility courses, where he has to overcome obstacles and teaching him new things often. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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This is my mom’s dog and she just rescued her about a year ago. Izzy and my mom acclamated to each other and this dog loves and trusts my mom. I have recently moved in and this dog is absolutely terrified of me. She has scars all over her nose and legs and we really don’t know the extent of how she was abused. I don’t know if I look like the guy that abused or what but she is terrified of me and cowers, shakes and often barks or leaves a room when I come around. Over the past few months, she has become more comfortable with me, will let me take her on walks, will sometimes approach me and let me pet her, but as a a whole, she will often remain timid and act very unsure and afraid of me, often never letting me interact. Interested in finding out what we can do to help her trust.
Hello Ryan, If she has not shown any aggression, then there are several things you can do - Any fearful dog can act aggressively if pushed too far though so you should still be careful not to corner or trap her. First, continue the walks together. At first, start the walks out with your mom walking her and holding the leash and transition to you getting closer, holding the leash, then walking her alone as your mom goes back inside and you continue the walk with her. Go slowly with this and watch her body language to see when she relaxes and avoid overwhelming her too much at once. What is her favorite game? If she likes hide and seek with treats, fetch, tug, agility, or some other game, play with her and your mom. As she relaxes while playing transition to playing with her by yourself. If she is food motivated, carry some of her favorite treats, like freeze dried liver, in your pockets while at home. When you enter a room, before she has a chance to react badly, toss the liver to her ahead of you, so that she will begin to subconsciously look forward to you entering a room. It's important that you time this before she runs or barks. You can also do it when she gets calm again for a second if you need to - just make sure the reward isn't delivered while she is doing what you don't want. When she is relaxed enough around you to be within two feet of you and eat food that you drop for her, work on teaching her fun commands. Look into lure reward training and clicker training and use rewards. This training should be fun and relaxed to avoid intimidating her right now. Regularly training a dog is one of the best ways to gain a dog's trust and respect though, so this will be a big deal when she gets ready for it from doing the other exercises. When you have gotten to the point where you can do all of the above with her, then you can also use her meal kibble as treats for performing commands and tricks throughout the day as part of the normal routine. For instance, tell her to sit before taking her outside, to look at you before you toss a toy, to go to her bed, to come, ect...and be ready with a treat that was hidden in your pocket and reward her when she obeys. Doing this helps her also learn to listen to you without fearing you so that your interactions long term will be more peaceful when you need her to do something. You can use part of her meal kibble for these treats so that she is working for her food. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hello, I got my little pup from a breeder when he was 12 weeks old. He was extremely timid and a cowered even at that young of an age. But I fell in love with him as soon as I saw him. He's very intelligent, potty training was a breeze! He got very used to being around me and my schedule right away. But he's over attached now. He follows me everywhere, including the bathroom. If I leave the room, he rushes past me to go out first so he knows where I'm going. If I leave the house and put him in a crate, when I come back his eyes are red and he smells bad from stressing too much. When we go outside I used to have him on a leash in the yard until he got used to our place. He learned to stay by me and come when I called him. Now he goes out to go potty, but if he doesn't want to come back when I call him, he runs in circles (very very fast). Then he rushes past me runs to the house and hides under the bed because he knows he wasn't listening to me. He does listen most of the time though. But when he gets like that he also won't let me approach him. He just runs further away. If I try to grab his collar, he freaks out and tries to bite me. He's done this even in the house if he knows he was naughty (which is rare). If I try to make him come he cowers, and if I try to get ahold of him, he'll try to bite. But he's so smart, and most of the time he's such a sweet boy! I love him so much and don't understand this issue. My husband said that he thinks that Dobby is bored. I recently got him an 8 week old puppy playmate. They get along great now and I'm hoping this will help him to calm down a little bit. Any ideas on how to help the other problems?
Hello Stacey, For the running away and hiding I suggest keeping a drag leash on him without a handle. Look up VirChewLy leashes on Amazon. When he won't come, calmly walk over to him, step on the leash, pick it up, and reel him in. If he comes willingly when you first call him, then give him a treat. Decide how long the leash should be based on how close he will let you get before he runs off again. For the biting I suggest practicing handling him. At meal times whenever you can, feed him his food one piece at a time (measure it out, don't reach in his bowl). Touch him somewhere gently and every time you do, give him a treat at the same time. For example, touch his ear - give a treat. Touch his paw - give a treat. Hold his collar - give a treat. Start with areas he is comfortable with and progress to areas he is more worried about as he relaxes and begins to understand the process. Do this often until he enjoys being touched in general. Typically for a couple of months each day, and every once in a while even after that to maintain the training. For the clinginess, work on commands that build self-control and independence: Teach a long Place command where he has to stay on the spot while you move throughout the house. Teach a distance Sit and Down Stay using a long back-tie leash to keep him from following you. Practice structured heel during walks, where he walks beside or behind you and has to focus on you the whole time, and do sit, down, and watch me commands periodically during the walk (this is also a good way to stimulate him mentally). Practice him staying in the crate with the door open while you are home. Continue to give him things like puzzle toys, food stuffed chew toys, and to spend time training him to stimulate him mentally. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I adopted Peanut from the pound almost 3months ago and he is very skiddish and he won't let us touch him, he is very scared of loud sudden noises, we think he was abused. He has come along way since the first day but I want to hold and kiss him. Peanut loves other dogs, he plays with Chucka and they have a great bond. Please help. I give him treats throughout the day
Hello Tracey, Check out the video linked below. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bT0lyPdZ6mk I suggest working on obedience, structure, confidence building exercises, and things that challenge his brain and help build trust and respect. Continue using rewards but only give him those for things he does that are brave (like allowing you to touch him, approaching you, staying calm around a noise). Feed him his meal kibble throughout the day when he does something good like stay calm in a scary situation, initiate an interaction in a good way, act brave in some way, or tolerate touch. You want to reward a calm and confident state of mind and those types of behaviors - not fearful or aggressive behaviors or mindsets. Also, work on getting him used to being touched. When he is comfortable enough that he will approach you on his own, begin gently touching him in an area that he is more tolerant of while also feeding him a treat from your other hand at the same time (hire a professional trainer to help you with this if he has shown aggression though). Start with areas he is more comfortable being touched on and feed him his entire meal kibble this way, one touch at a time. As he improves, include touches in other areas too, starting with easier areas first and gradually moving onto more sensitive areas as he improves. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I just got him earlier this evening, his previous owners beat him, never gave him a name, never touched him lovingly or pet him, and he was outside 24/7. How do I train a puppy to listen to his name, and not be scared to step outside when he's only known abuse?
Hello Connor, You will need a lot of patience, extra effort socializing him, and rewards. To teach him his name find some small treats that he loves, or use his puppy food if he likes that. Say his name and make an interesting noise, like a finger snap, tap, whistle (change up what the interesting noise is but keep the name part consistent). Whenever he looks at you or comes over to you when you do that, praise him and give him the treat. Once he is pretty responsive to that, then only say his name without the other noise and give a treat and praise when he responds to his name all by itself. Have a few short training sessions where you practice this, then just practice saying his name randomly throughout the day when he is not expecting it, and rewarding him for looking at those times too. For the outside part, take it in small steps. If he is really scared simply sit on your door mat outside with him for a long time. Practice some fun, easy tricks or commands with treats (like "Watch Me"), play games that he enjoys like tug of war or fetch, bring a food stuffed Kong with you for him to chew on and get the food out of, and generally just make the experience outside fun and distracting enough that he is focused on you and your fun activities instead of the scary things around him. When he is more relaxed while outside close to home, practice the same thing further from your door. Continue practicing the fun outings in new places, starting with calm locations first and gradually moving onto harder ones as he improves. Try to act calm and confident when he is nervous, instead of babying him or acting worried. Try to help him feel up beat and happy, instead of being worried - your confidence will help him feel confident too. When he is more confident about going outside, start taking him to as many places as you can, starting with easier, calmer locations first and working up to busier/harder locations as he improves. Some good places to go with him are: -Friends' homes -Calm parks -Different neighborhoods -Pet Stores -Busy parks -Farmers Markets -Outdoor malls and shopping areas -Puppy class (I highly recommend going to one of these as soon as he can handle basic outings) -Tractor Supply Stores Reward him when he is being calm or brave about investigating new situations. Keep treats or puppy food in a baggie on you for several months when you are with him so that you can use them to help him associate new things with something pleasant. Have friends or any strangers who want to meet him feed him food when he is being calm. When he can handle basic outings, I highly suggest finding a really great puppy class that has time for off leash play, socialization, and if possible passes the puppies around the classroom and practices having human class mates gently touch them while feeding treats to get them used to being handled by other people too. See if there is a SiriusPup puppy class in your area, or look for something similar. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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we got our dog, Liza, as a rescue a week before Christmas. she is two years old, and think she has been abused. she is very skittish, especially with men. she will not leave my bedroom. if we make her leave, she has an accident on the floor. the person we got her from said she stayed in a back bedroom most of her life. how should we get her used to being out in the house with us. we take her outside regularly, but if we are even ten minutes late she will pee on the floor. how can we housetrain her? also, she will not walk on a leash. we can hook a leash on her, and she is fine as long as we do not try to make her go anywhere, but when I start to gently pull on the leash to get her to move, she starts jerking her head around and trying to throw the collar off. do you know how to help her get comfortable on a leash?
Hello Eva, For the leash walking I suggest practicing one of the methods from the article linked below to teach her to how to respond to leash pressure - she essentially needs to learn that when she feels pressure that that means walk toward you and she will get a reward, instead of thinking something scary is happening. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-your-puppy-to-accept-leash For the general fear I highly suggest hiring a professional trainer to help you. Look for someone who is very experienced with traumatized, fearful, abused, neglected, or otherwise extremely timid dogs. She likely needs a combination of things to happen to help her with her fearfulness. She probably needs to learn to associate scary things with pleasant things like food. She probably needs to build overall confidence through learning obedience, thoughtful games, and easy canine sports (like a small tunnel or tiny ramp set up in your bedroom for agility). She does need exposure to a lot of different things, but this needs to be gone in a way that challenges her but shows her that those things are also pleasant or at least safe at the same time, without overwhelming her or just avoiding everything. Honestly, don't expect results overnight. Be patient, knowing this type of fear can be a gradual process. It sounds like she was not socialized with almost anything during her life and that can take time to work through. The whole world is new and scary and she needs to learn through lots of little, frequent steps that the different things that make her nervous are actually safe. She also needs to build her bond, respect, and trust for you by gradually working on some general obedience or trick training (probably just in the bedroom right now). For the pottying, if you can make progress through very carefully adhering to a schedule, I highly suggest continuing with teaching her to use the bathroom outside. If that is simply too hard for her, then I suggest using the Exercise Pen method from the article linked below and a disposable real grass pad instead of a litter box or pee pad - you can use a litter box but it will probably be a bit harder to train than a grass pad. https://wagwalking.com/training/litter-box-train-a-chihuahua-puppy Grass pad (also sold on amazon) https://www.freshpatch.com/products/fresh-patch-standard?variant=3477439297&gclid=CjwKCAjwkcblBRB_EiwAFmfyy5IqYXhbsJRH0d6Z_vyyRbfRnKUevlhEHBGM7tcNQC09h-Rf3IQ2fhoCzAMQAvD_BwE Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hello I adopted two hounds from the humane society. One who is Toby who’s 4 and Rufus who is 2. Dog control picked them up and brought them to the humane society. The humane society believes that Toby and Rufus didn’t “cut it” to be hunting dogs, so they got dropped off and no one claimed them. My friend thinks someone tried to train them to become coon dogs and from what I was told to do that some people will beet them so they become mean. I adopted them both almost a week ago, I didn’t want to separate them from each other. These poor boys cower anytime anyone goes near them or if they hear a loud noise. Toby has gotten a little better and is now even excited when i get home from work and will come out of my bed room to visit with me (I believe this is their safe place), But Rufus still will cower anytime anyone goes by him or at any loud noises, all he does all day is sit in my room and hide until it’s time to go outside. But even then he’s scared with his tale between his legs and crouches when he walks. I don’t know what to do. I’ve tried treats but he won’t even eat them. He will sniff them and I will tell him it’s okay, I’ll even set it down on the floor and he won’t touch it. I know it will take time and I try not to get discouraged with him but I wonder if it would have been better if I just adopted one of them. Maybe Rufus would be better off with someone who can be home with him all the time and he can have the one on one attention he may need.
Hello Rececca, If it has been less than a month since you adopted them they likely still need time to learn to trust you. When a dog is overly stressed he will often not eat. As Rufus becomes more familiar with you, he may get to the point where he will take treats and let you work with him more. At that point to can do things like positive reinforcement training, treats for courage and friendliness, taking him on walks to calm places in the heel position (nervous dogs need structure), and eventually begin socializing with other things. Be patient if it's early and you are willing to work with him, he likely needs some time to settle in. It could be a long road ahead honestly, but some dogs will surprise you and make progress quickly once they get over the initiate fear of you. Whether or not you should re-home him will depend on the type of time and commitment you can give, but also whether you can find someone else who is more able to rehabilitate him. If you do decide to re-home one of the dogs, I suggest contacting a rescue that Foster's dogs. Many of them also let people do courtesy listings, which is where the current owner keeps and cares for the dog while the rescue looks for a potential adopter for them. This helps to take the financial burden off the rescue, doesn't require a foster home to be available, and still helps the current owner find a loving home for them. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We rescued duke a mix breed of chihuahua, pug, beagle about a month ago from the humane society. He came from a different state and no information was given on him. After being with him for a few days we suspected abuse and possible abandonment. He is a loving dog, but he will only let us pet him on his terms. He has tons of energy and loves to be outside in our fenced in back yard. I have recently started taking him to group training classes. The instructor confirmed our suspicions and said yes just by observing him she could tell he was abused. So training is going very slow. Since we are in a group training its hard to customize training to him. THe only issue i really need to stop him from doing as soon as possible is "play" biting. I have a 3 year old and he gets really rough and scares her. He is always mouthing my hands and jumping on her and trying to get her to play by biting her. when he gets nervous he also will nip at me. I know it takes time and patience which im willing to put in but i need some help now with how to let him know it is not ok to bite at all, even play mouthing or biting.
Hello Shell, Check out the article linked below. With his history I suggest working on the "Leave It" method, since that method trains his mind and is less physical or intimidating. While working on "Leave It", until he gets good at that and develops the self-control he needs to stop, also work on the "Bite Inhibition" method found in that same article. https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-shih-tzu-puppy-to-not-bite Finally, if Leave It will not work, then the next step is to work on "Out", and when he disobeys your "Out" command while biting your daughter (once you have taught him what it needs), get between your daughter and him and calmly but firmly walk toward him to herd him out of the room, to show him that you want him to respect her space. By doing it this way you are effectively telling him with your body language that she belongs to you and you want him to respect the space in front of her. This makes it so that it is his respect for you that helps with the biting and not just his respect for her. Expect to have to do this over and over again a lot at first until he sees that you are calm and firm and mean it. Consistency and a bit of stubbornness on your part are the keys here, instead of force and intimidation. Out command: https://www.petful.com/behaviors/how-to-teach-a-dog-the-out-command/ Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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This is my best pal Ducky. A while ago he wandered up to a fire station as a shell of the puppy dog he is today and was picked up by a coworkers husband, I then took him in. The vet told me he was almost certainly used as a bait dog in dog fighting. He had bite marks and open cuts all over him, torn up ears, broken ribs, burns, and was absolutely covered in fleas and demodectic mange. We spent a lot of time rehabilitating him physically and emotionally. Lots of surgeries and slow introductions later and he’s totally healed and okay with all kinds of people! He’s such a love bug and craves attention from everyone around. We only have a few remaining issues that I’m hoping to get some help with.
1. While he loves all kinds of people, he absolutely hates other dogs. He’s gotten better about not being defensive when he sees or hears other dogs, but if they get too close he loses it. Lots of growling, salivating, and firm in his stance. He has never lunged at another dog but did get into an altercation with one that lunged first (one of my parents dogs, un-neutered male). How can I help him with this?
2. He can’t be left alone at home. He’s gotten up on my table before and eaten out of a chocolate bowl we kept on there. He chewed blinds while sitting on the back of the couch so he could see out of the window. He’s scratched paint from my doorframe from leaving him in there instead of my houses downstairs. I’ve been reading up and it seems like leaving him in a crate while I’m gone is the best option but he just gets so anxious when left alone. I don’t love the idea of a crate but I’m open to it if there’s a way I could help him with the anxiety of being left alone, whether in a crate or not. He just cries all day and stresses to the point of making himself puke. What can I do?
3. I thought there was more but that’s actually it! He’s a perfect baby and I just want to do what I can to help him with his fear and anxiety.
Hello Marian, I absolutely recommend crating him. Check out the article linked below and follow the "Surprise" method to introduce the crate first. https://wagwalking.com/training/like-a-crate If he has true separation anxiety, then the surprise method will be a good start but likely not enough to completely solve the issue (for many less anxious dogs it is enough by itself though, so try that first). If he continues to have issues in the crate, then check out the separation anxiety protocol from the article and included video linked below. The trainer from the video can come across as harsh in his blunt teaching style with people but he is very experienced with highly reactive, fearful, and aggression dogs, and a standard separation anxiety protocol can take months or years to work. His protocol tends to work much faster - helping the dog feel calmer and less anxious in the long run. Working with a trainer on this could also be very beneficial, depending on your own level of training experience, whether this is something you feel comfortable tackling. https://www.solidk9training.com/sk9-blog/2013/02/21/separation-anxiety-im-not-seeing-it-at-my-place For the issues with other dogs, there is definitely trauma related to other dogs in his past if he was used as a bait dog, so his reaction is not surprising, it's actually a better reaction than many dogs with a similar history would have. I suggest hiring a trainer to help you with that so that you will have access to the resources you really need to help him. Look for someone who is very experienced using structure, boundaries, counter conditioning, desensitization, and confidence building exercises to help him. Essentially he needs boundaries, like learning a Place command, a very focused Heel, a long down stay and other things that challenge his impulse control, build respect and trust for you through stimulating him mentally, and encourage calm energy - anxious dogs tend to need extra structure. He needs counter conditioning - which is where you pair the presence of something he is currently afraid of with something he loves, but you do it at a distance that he can still react correctly at - meaning the other dog is far enough away that he notices them but doesn't act aggressively or dart away. As he improves, you gradually decrease the distance. The other dog that you practice with should be calm at first, and only reward him while he is behaving appropriately, which might mean rewarding him BEFORE he has a chance to react poorly, in addition to rewarding him after he calms back down or if he stays calm while looking at the other dog. You need to desensitize him, which is where you make the thing he is afraid of 'no big deal' and boring, helping the dog feel neutral about it. One way to do this is to practice something focused, like obedience commands in a location where other dogs are in the background but not being directly addressed. Work at a distance that is far enough away that your dog is able to focus on you still and the training you are doing with him, and decrease the distance as he improves. Another way to do this is to practice walking past the same dog over and over again with a certain amount of distance between them, rewarding your dog for calm responses and interrupting aggressive responses, until he can simply ignore the other dog and relax around them. Finally, work on building his confidence in general - which you may have already done. Teaching agility can help with this. You don't have to join an agility class to do this either. Creating a simple course in your own backyard and helping him overcome the new things can help with confidence building. Things like tunnels, jumps, A-frames, seasaws, and balance boards can all be a bit challenging and new and making it into a fun activity where you work your dog through it can help a dog feel more confident when done correctly. Some forms of trick training can also help with this too. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We just got this dog and he is very gentle, bit very nervous. He won't come anywhere near us unless we sit on the ground. My challenge right now is that I would like to take him on a walk or get him to the vet for his shots, bit I can't get anywhere near him to put the leash on. He also won't come into the house, even of I just leave the door open and walk away.
Hello Haylie, First, I suggest purchasing a chew proof drag leash without a handle, or a handle that can be taken off. Check out VirChewLy leashes - they can be purchased on Amazon and chewy.com When you are finally able to get close enough to clip a leash on, leave a drag leash on him while you are home to make working with him easier, and even more importantly, to help him get used to the feeling of the leash. Right now work on hand feeding him his meals (when he improves enough to take food from you), working on tossing him treats and his meal kibble whenever he is acting calm - so that he will associate your presence with something pleasant, and generally spending time outside with him relaxing - don't pay a lot of attention to him unless he asks for it, but spend time where he can see you to help him get used to your presence. As he builds trust for you, gradually get closer and closer to the door to go inside until he will follow you back inside. Once you have him back inside, I suggest using a long leash kept slack to take him potty outside (not a retractable leash but a training leash). A long leash will give less pressure while he is still adjusting to it, but allow you to get him inside again and manage him. If your yard is fenced, stick to only taking him into fenced areas in case he tries to fight the leash while adjusting to it and pulls away from you (using a long leash will allow you to pick it up again even if you let it go while he is in a fenced area). Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Oakley was abused a lot as a puppy by his male owner then was rescued by a vet who gave him the proper medical attention he needed. We then adopted Oakley from her and he came to live with us at my dads house, after about a 8 months we decided that it wasn't working well because the others didn't get along with him. So we then moved him to my moms house where he is the only animal and hes been there for a little over a year. When he first got there it was a challenge because he doesn't trust new people at all. After about two weeks we finally got Oakley to somewhat trust mom and he still doesn't trust my step dad. A lot of people come and go at moms house so hes been getting exposed to more people and we thought he was getting better, however, this past weekend he actually bit someone instead of just barking. The woman he bit he has been known for a long time and we don't know how to make him trust people.
Hello Christina, I highly suggest hiring a professional trainer who specializes in fear aggression to help you in person. Ask questions and look up reviews or request client referrals while looking for a trainer in your area. Not all trainers are experienced enough with aggression. Many trainers only handle obedience or sports dog training and not behavior issues. There are a variety of protocols you can do to help fear-aggressive dogs improve and better manage their behavior as well, but it's extremely helpful to have a trainer who is experienced with it and can adjust the training as you go, depending on Oakley's stress levels, tolerance, body language, and improvement during training. Unfortunately fear and aggression does take more experience to tackle sometimes. Check out the YouTube channel from the trainer linked below. Many of his videos are geared towards dogs with different types of aggression than what you are dealing with, but he also works with fear aggressive dogs and those types of dogs also tend to benefit from the same structure, confidence building exercises, and protocols that he does in general, including the video linked below: Aggression protocol with people: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Notice in the video above the use of a back lie leash and the tape line on the ground that keeps the "stranger" safe while practicing the training with the dog - in case the dog decides to lunge. Also, notice that the dog is only rewarded while he is being calm and tolerant and not while he is growling, lunging, barking, or doing something else that is unwanted. Always wait until a dog is displaying a behavior or mindset that you want more of before you reward the dog, even if that means rewarding during the one second they were doing well. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I just adopted Sweet Pea from a shelter. She is very protective of me and our other pup Drake who is 10 weeks old and growls at my husband. We took her to meet one of our friends child as we didn't know how she would fair with them and she growled and barked at the baby. She seems calm most of the time and I don't know what to do to get her to be less aggressive or to not growl at people. She is very skittish and when in a new place or meeting a new person it will take her about 30 minutes for her tail to come off of her abdomen. And even then her tail will not wag it will just hang there as if she needed to make it curl up again.
Hello Anna, It sounds like she is very fearful, lacks socialization, and is possessive of you - which looks like protectiveness but lacks respect for you and healthy confidence. She needs an intensive behavior modification protocol that involves confidence building, structured obedience, desensitizing her to fears, and a lot of consistency. She needs fears dealt with, respect for you and your husband built through consistency and obedience commands, trust build through consistency, obedience commands, and desensitization. Aggressive - possessive dog and structure: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/good-dog-transformations/the-good-dog-minute-111913-kellan-nervous-fear-aggression-case-comes-for-rehab/ Leash reactive fear aggressive - nervous dog - notice the trainers calm and confident body language, the structure, the consistency, and handling of the dog to set up the expectation to stay focused on the person and not other things. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i8WEi9BfTIc Heeling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hHwcvjWOaII Laying the foundation for a fearful, aggressive dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bT0lyPdZ6mk People Aggression and desensitization: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A I highly suggest hiring a trainer to help you implement the training and behavior modification needed - especially because she has shown aggression toward your husband. You husband matters more than the dog, as much as we love dogs!! Hire someone to help you to keep him safe. I also suggest getting her used to wearing a soft silicone basket muzzle around the house as long as she is still behaving aggressively toward your husband. You can use her daily kibble and treats to make the muzzle rewarding and introduce it gradually. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I rescued a three month old American Bulldog from a shelter, and he was terrified of everyone but me. we were really close for the first few days, I mean really close he only stayed by me. He would not go down the steps to go outside to the bathroom so I had to carry him myself, and he is almost 30 lbs so he is heavy. While we were going up the stairs, I fell backwards off the Deck with him. I actually broke my toe, but I broke his fall so he didn't get hurt at all. Now he is absolutely terrified of me, it's been a week now and I just can't get him to like me again. I've even cried over this, I'm desperate for help. Please if you have any tips.
Hello Shannon, A week is not a super long time for a very fearful puppy, so try not to panic. Trust is about being loving toward a dog AND providing consistent leadership that they can feel secure following. I am sure you have been very loving toward him. He may benefit from more leadership. First, use his meal kibble as rewards for him coming near you or simply being calm around you - feed him all of his meals when you can, one piece at a time whenever he is calm around you, you first enter a room and he doesn't run, he comes up to you, lets you touch him, follows you, or generally chooses to be near you in some way. When he is back to wanting to be near you - even if he doesn't fully trust you yet, then work on teaching him commands using his meal kibble, using lure reward training. When he resists something, very calmly let him work through it instead of giving up on that challenge most of the time. For example, if you were teaching him agility (which is great for building confidence) and he was afraid to jump over an obstacle, instead of giving up, lower the bar to the floor and hurry him across it several times so that he will see he can do it. Praise and reward when he succeeds. When he is more confident going over it that way, put it on the first notch so that he has to jump slightly when you run up to it. Gradually raise it as he improves, giving him baby steps to get there and being patient with him but still working him through his fears to help him overcome them instead of avoid them. He needs opportunities to gain confidence by gradually overcoming fears - instead of just avoiding them, but he needs you to be very patient, confident, and calm yourself to help him. Just remember that he was fearful in general when you got him - you didn't create that. He was more relaxed around you than most and something accidentally set him back, but you are not responsible for his scared personality right now. He was already fearful in general. Instead, try to focus on helping him make forward progress, knowing that him needing to build confidence was always something you were going to have to do with him - even if the stairs incident hadn't happened. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We just got Dozer about 3 months ago from a rescuer who said he was abused. He is a very sweet dog but our issue is that he screams (not barks but literally screams) at the slightest noise or movement that may startle him. I will take him outside and something will set him off and he will scream so loud several dogs on our block will start to bark. He goes on for a good 1-2 mins even when we try to calm him. When he does it while in the house the noise is deafening and he also pees every time he does it. This has been a problem from the beginning and I feel like we have tried everything and it hasn’t gotten any better whatsoever. Is there anything you could suggest we do? I absolutely hate that he’s so scared all the time.
Hello Paige, I suggest finding a trainer to help you in person both at their facility and coming to your home. Look for someone who works with other trainers and have access to dogs and a staff who can all work with him to help socialization. He needs a lot of confidence building, Desensitization, structure, counter conditioning, and to learn things that teach him how to cope with his own anxiety- like a long Place command. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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I've only had the dog for a week tomorrow (Monday). She's pretty skittish. It wasn't until yesterday Shes barked for the first time. Today when I took her for a walk near where I work I saw several interns from work and She started barking at people. It makes me nervous that she might become aggressive once she becomes comfortable around me. Is there anything I can do to help her not to bark when she meets people specifically Men?
Hello Bekah, She is likely barking out of fear. Many fearful dogs will act scary to keep people that they are afraid of away from them. The best way to prevent fear aggression is to deal with the fear. What you can begin to do is to make the presence of new people a very positive experience for her. Whenever she sees a new person, when she is still acting calmly while they are at a distance, praise her and offer her treats for looking at the person calmly and for looking at you for direction. As she begins to get more confident, then you can gradually decrease the distance between her and the strangers, keeping her far enough away still while you reward her, for her to feel safe and remain calm. Overtime that distance should gradually decrease. It is important to remain very confident, upbeat, and happy yourself while you interact with her and praise her. Do not baby talk or sound nervous or angry but simply confident and happy. If you can get friends or family to help you then you can also utilize their help to build her confidence. To do this, have them come over one at a time to your home or meet you in a public place, as if he or she is a stranger that you are meeting. Have your friend stand still and ignore your dog while talking to like normal in a calm and friendly voice. Allow your dog to approach him when she is ready, while your dog is investigating, have your friend toss treats onto the floor near her while ignoring her still. When your dog is acting very confident around that person then your friend can gradually increase giving her normal eye contact, talking to her, and eventually touching her gently. Allow her to initiate the interactions as she warms up though, so that she will feel safe. Have as many people as possible help with you, one at a time, focusing especially on men. If at any point you feel like she does have a true aggression problem, then I would contact a local trainer in your area with experience in dealing with fear aggressive dogs. Somewhere with multiple trainers might be the most helpful because they will be able to utilize lots of new people, who are all experienced in dealing with dogs. These new people will be strangers to your dog even though they are trainers, so can help with the socialization also. Best of luck in training, Caitlin Crittenden
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My boyfriend has three rescue dogs. Two are very calm, but the third, Penrod (female), was obviously horribly abused. She adores her ‘dad’ / my boyfriend but is terrified of me & all strangers. Making eye contact and offering an open hand to her will cause her to react out of fear. When Penrod & I are in the room alone, she growls and/or barks incessantly at me, even though I’m giving her lots of space and NOT making eye contact. Yesterday, I discovered that talking to her in a calm, soft voice upsets her/causes her to bark. When I was quiet/stopped talking to her, she calmed down & stopped barking (Penrod & I were in my boyfriend’s car while he ran inside a store for a quick errand). I always bring treats in hopes that it will help, but she won’t even accept treats from me.
Any suggestions you have would be greatly appreciated. I know she just wants to be loved but is gripped by fear. Ideally, I’d like to expand her trust circle to others once I figure out how to win her trust in me.
Hello Joanne, It sounds like she needs a lot of structure, confidence building, and work with aggression in general to create the foundation needed for her. Check out the video below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1IH8BFVKRk Check out this video by Jeff Gellman, who specializes in aggression. Here he demonstrated safety measures (a back tie), when to have people reward a dog (during calmness and not during aggressive displays), and how to appropriately use punishment when treating aggression (with good timing, calmness, and in combination with positive reinforcement for calm behavior and with the appropriate safety measures for your guests). Your boyfriend will need to be the one to work with the dog until she trusts you also, then you can continue the training when she is comfortable enough around you to be safe. Aggression video: https://youtu.be/mgmRRYK1Z6A Have him teach her a Place command and work on her staying on place for up to an hour, even when he walks into the other room for a minute. Practice crate manners. Work on teaching a structured Heel. Forget about getting places during a walk for a while right now, instead go somewhere open, like your front yard, a park, or culdesac and practice a heel where her nose does not go past his leg. You need to hire a trainer to help you with the aggression and you need someone who uses a lot of boundaries, positive reinforcement and fair discipline tactfully. Look for someone who is very experienced with aggression and different types of aggression - many trainers are only experienced with fear based aggression and you likely have some dominance- based or territorial aggression going on too, and they are treated a bit differently than fear. Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Heel Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OTiKVc4ZZWo Dog Training Do’s https://www.solidk9training.com/sk9-blog/2016/09/08/the-ten-commandments-of-dog-training-and-ownership-do-2 This is the foundation for working on the fear-aggression, but additional things will need to happen once a good foundation is set. You will want to gradually have her working for her meals, one piece of food at a time, doing agility obstacles with you when she is comfortable with you but needing to build confidence in your leadership, and practicing the above exercises with her when you are in a very good spot with her to build her respect and security around you. All of this needs to be eased into one step at a time. It sounds like you are at risk for being bitten so I recommend hiring a trainer who help you with getting her comfortable with you - any dog can bite and a fearful one is far more likely to. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hello! Henna is belived to be a blue heeler,pitbull, Australian Shepard and many more breeds. She is about 7-8 months old and came from an abusive home. As soon as I got her I noticed that she attached herself to me right away. She likes my fiance but acts differently around him so I'm thinking she was abused by men. I have also noticed that she pees all the time. I take her out every hour and she still pees on the floor in our apartment, which isn't good. My fiance says we need to get rid of her but I want to try and train her so we can't. With my other dogs they were already potty trained when I got them so this is new. I also bought her diapers to wear when inside and she just chews them off! She also acts like a shadow to me when I'm doing chores around the apartment and it drives my fiance up the wall. He doesn't understand why she can't just lay down. Is there anything I can do to help her in that situation as well!!
Hello Sabrina, First of all it I suggest a visit to your vet. If she is peeing more than once an hour, whether outside or inside she could have a urinary tract infection or other medical issue that needs to be addressed with medication to clear it up - I am not a vet so I highly suggest a visit to your vet to get that tested. There is also a place where you can ask a vet a question on the medical articles section of wagwalking.com but ultimately you will probably just need to see a Vet too. Once anything medical is dealt with, then you can pursue potty training more successfully. I suggest crate training. You can feed her her meals in the crate in stuffed hollow chew toys to give her something to do while in there. This will also teach her to self-entertain, self-soothe, and handle being alone better. The food doesn't have to be given all at once. Buy several hollow Kongs or other durable hollow chew toys and ration her food into them. Google different ways to stuff a kong for ideas on how to make Kong-popsicles, make the food last longer for her, add fun things, ect. Check out the Crate Training article linked below for details on how to potty train using a crate. Crate training will only work once any medical issue potentially present is resolved - if she can't hold it because of an infection then she will just have accidents in the crate too, but once anything physical that needs addressing is addressed and the issue is just behavioral, then a crate should encourage her natural desire to keep a confined space clean and 'hold it'. Check out www.primopads.com for a non-absorbent bed option if you need one. Do not put anything absorbent in the crate with her or that will mess up the training. Crate Training method for potty training: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-german-shepherd-puppy-to-poop-outside In addition to practicing the steps in the Crate Training article for introducing the crate, also work on crate manners, opening and closing the door, to decrease the amount of crying in the crate you may get. To learn how to do that, check out the video linked: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Also work on teaching her a long Place command and working up to her being able to stay on Place for 1-2 hours with a chew toy to chew on - you can also use food stuffed Kongs for this if you would like. A solid, long Place command is a great way to teach a dog to be calm and not pace in the house. https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-place-command-the-good-dog-training-tips/ In general, structure can benefit her anxiety, teach calmness, self-control, self-soothing, self-entertainment with chew toys, and keep your boy friend happy. Focus on potty training first. When she is ready for more freedom because she is potty trained, then give her a schedule where she is expected to stay calmly on Place or in the crate the majority of the time, but given time for learning new things, exercising, and simply hanging out with you guys in between the structure. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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We recently got our dog from a shelter, she is terrified of the two men in our family. Both have long hair and beards, we think she may have been abused by a male. She is absolutely fine with females, though new people she is always a bit wary of. What is the best way to help them build trust? She wont take treats from them and growls and barks when they walk in the door and keeps her distance. They have been trying to help her get used to them by sitting and offering treats but it doesnt seem to work because she can't calm down. What should we do?
Hello Cassidy, When a dog is truly stressed they will not accept food. Food will be a later step in their relationship probably. I suggest hiring a trainer who has a lot of experience with fear to help you. Anxious dogs tend to benefit from a lot of structure so I would suggest spending a lot of time teaching her structured things that build calmness, such as the commands I have linked below. Place is especially important - and you should work up to 1 hour plus long place to help with anxiety: Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Teaching her to work with you should help build her respect, confidence and trust in you - so that she can depend on your direction while nervous around others, and teach her how to cope with her anxiety in general a bit. I suggest hiring a trainer at this point who can help you incorporate the guys into the training sessions - things like having them walk parallel to you on the other side of the sidewalk and you calmly rewarding her with confident sounding praise while she is calm or a tug toy if she will play, and slowly closing the gap between everyone overtime. Teaching her how to perform some basic agility can help build confidence, like jumping over something, going through something, following your direction around objects, walking up ramps - you can build basic agility equipment, buy it, or use other obstacles that resemble agility equipment. When she can run through the course with you, then have the trainer show you how to hand her off to one of the guys and have them encourage her through the course. Be patient and don't expect up close interactions with the guys right away, this is more of a working relationship with a little space between them and her at first, and there is a task that she should be focusing on and rewarded for doing well at so that she has somewhere to direct her focus other than them - her reward may be a toy or praise until she will take food. Also give her time to warm up to them. Interrupt any aggressive behavior, telling her to cut it out. Don't act sorry for her, give her structure, and calmly and genuinely praise her for calmness tolerance, and any attempts at being friendly toward them and calm around them. When she relaxes around them more, then they can have her work for her meal kibble by doing tricks and commands for them that you have taught her, and as random rewards for her generally being calm - as a rule, don't reward a dog that is displaying aggression while they are acting aggressive - only reward during the seconds they are calm. You get more of the behavior you reward and you don't want more aggression and fear. You can use a correction to interrupt any aggressive displays - even aggression due to fear, but you really need a trainer to show you how to do this correctly, and how to also use a lot of positive reinforcement to encourage the behavior and mindset that you DO want so that the correction is brief and the main focus is positive reinforcement. Avoidance at this stage in their relationship with her is okay - aggression is not. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Hello! We just adopted Ernest a couple weeks ago, who was found as a stray in CA and sent up to the WA shelter we got him from. We obviously don't have much information to go on, but we think he may have been previously abused by men as he's less comfortable around me than my wife.
We don't force interactions, but he will give us a wide berth as we move normally through the house. Any approach triggers a retreat, even to give treats. (Which he will wait sometimes up to an hour before eating off the ground.) He'll spend hours (sometimes the better part of a day) in the bathroom just sitting there.
We want him to become more comfortable with us, and he seems to be very slowly warming up to my wife, but he still seems very wary and distrustful of me. I know it's going to take a while and I have no expectations of quick progress, but I would love to know some things we can do to help him on the avoidance behavior front.
Hello Jordan, I am actually going to give you similar advice to another who just asked about a similar situation. When a dog is truly stressed they will not accept food. Food will be a later step in your relationship probably. I suggest hiring a trainer who has a lot of experience with fear to help you. Anxious dogs tend to benefit from a lot of structure so as he warms up to your wife, I would suggest having her spend a lot of time teaching her structured things that build calmness, such as the commands I have linked below. Place is especially important - and you should work up to 1 hour plus long place to help with anxiety: Place: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omg5DVPWIWo Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Thresholds: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-w28C2g68M Heel article - The turns method: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Teaching her to work with her should help build his respect, confidence and trust in her - so that he can depend on her direction while nervous around others, like you, and teach him how to cope with his anxiety in general a bit. I suggest hiring a trainer at this point who can help you incorporate the you into the training sessions - things like having your wife and Ernest walk parallel to you on the other side of the sidewalk and her calmly rewarding him with confident sounding praise while he is calm, or with a tug toy or treats if he will take them then, and slowly closing the gap between everyone overtime, until he is going on structured heeling walks with the family - calm walks are a great way to build relationship once you can get close enough. Teaching him how to perform some basic agility can help build confidence, like jumping over something, going through something, following your direction around objects, walking up ramps - you can build basic agility equipment, buy it, or use other obstacles that resemble agility equipment. When he can run through the course with your wife, then have the trainer show you how to hand him off to you and you encourage him through the course. Be patient and don't expect up close interactions right away, this is more of a working relationship with a little space between you and him at first, and there is a task that he can be focusing on and rewarded for doing well at so that he has somewhere to direct his focus other than the fact that you are close by - his rewards may be a toy or praise until he will take food, but he will likely start to take food as things improve, which will make training easier. Also give him time to warm up to you. Any aggressive behavior can be interrupted carefully, telling him to cut it out. For both you and your wife, don't act sorry for him, give him structure, and calmly and genuinely praise him for calmness, tolerance, and any attempts at being friendly toward you and calm around you. When he relaxes around you more, then you can have him work for his meal kibble by doing tricks and commands for you that your wife has taught him beforehand, and as random rewards for him generally being calm - as a rule, don't reward a dog that is displaying aggression while they are acting aggressive - only reward during the seconds they are calm. You get more of the behavior you reward and you don't want more aggression and fear. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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Our newly adopted 6 month old puppy was adopted from a dog meat farm in Korea and has horrible trust issues with humans. She is also deaf which is an additional challenge. We currently have another dog whom we have had for 3 years now and is wonderful. One day, we had to go to work and leave the dogs at home. However, both of the could not stop howling and barking when we left the house. Because they couldn't stop barking and howling, I ended up not going to work and had to stay at home with them. This is definitely not ideal. We initially thought that having a companion for our other dog would be amazing but it seems to be doing the very opposite. It is very difficult to train our newly adopted puppy. We would hate to give up on her but we would love to somehow make it work as well. Please please please help.
Hello Natalie, A few things: I would work on confidence building exercises such as agility obstacles, trick training, and obedience that builds self-control and calmness. Add more structure into her routine, things like making her work for rewards like meals, walks, and pets. Working on "Stay" and "Place," commands while you move away or leave the room, and teaching her to remain inside a crate while the door is open. Structure can seem counter-intuitive but a lot of anxious dogs benefit from calm leadership that's super consistent. Crate manners: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-the-crate/ Place command: https://thegooddog.net/training-videos/free-how-to-training-videos/learn-to-train-the-good-dog-way-place-command-the-good-dog-training-tips/ Heel: https://wagwalking.com/training/train-a-poodle-to-heel Change your routine surrounding leaving so that she does not anticipate alone time and build up her anxiety before you leave - which is hard for her to deescalate from, and be sure to give her something to do in the crate during the day (such as a food stuffed Kong to chew on); this is the general protocol for separation anxiety. It is gentle but can take a very long time for some dogs. Another protocol involves teaching the dog to cope with their own anxiety by making their current anxious go-to behaviors unpleasant, giving them an opportunity to stop those behaviors long enough to learn something new, then rewarding the correct, calmer behavior instead. This protocol can feel harsh because it involves careful correction, but it tends to work much quicker for many dogs. If you go this route, I suggest hiring a trainer who is very experienced using both positive reinforcement and fair correction. Who is extremely knowledgeable about e-collar training, and can follow the protocol listed below, to help you implement the training. Building her independence and structure in her life will still be an important part of this protocol too. The protocol below is best followed with the help of an trainer who is very experienced with with behavior issues like fear and aggression. First, purchase a high quality e-collar with at least thirty stimulation levels and vibration. Look for a high quality brand such as E-collar technologies (mini educator), Dogtra, Garmin, or Sportdog. Pay attention to weight ranges on these when choosing one. High quality e-collars can give much smaller/gentler corrections and are far safer than random unknown brands bought overseas. Have her wear the collar around for a bit to get used to the feel of it. Next, find the correct level of stimulation to use for her training, called her working level. You can try just the vibration also, but some dogs actually find that harsher than a super low stimulation level - a high quality collar shouldn't be super painful just odd feeling and really noticeable for her to get her attention. Modern collars are not like the old fashion shock collars. To find the working level, wait until she is simply standing around acting boring and not distracted. Without saying anything, push the stimulation button for a second. Watch her to see if she responds. This response might be subtle like scratching, acting like a bug is on her, shaking her head, looking around, moving away from where she is, or something else. She might yelp out of surprise, but if you are using the lowest level and a high quality e-collar a yelp is typically due to surprise. If she seems overly sensitive to the collar you can use the vibration setting instead but vibration tends to be harsher than low stimulation for many dogs. Repeat pushing the button three times at the lowest level and watching for a response. If she does not respond, increase the level by one and watch for a response again while you test that level out three times. Continue increasing the level by one and watching for a response, until you reach a level that she responds too - If the collar you are using has a lot of levels, like the Mini Educators' one hundred levels, then many dogs won't even feel it until around level ten. It all depends on their own sensitivity level, which is why you find each dog's individual level. Check out the video linked below, demonstrating finding the correct level for a dog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cl3V8vYobM Next, set up a camera to spy on her while she is in her crate. You could use a GoPro with the Live app on your phone, two smart phones or tablets with Skype or Facetime with her end on mute so she won't hear you but you can hear her, a video baby monitor, security camera, or any other camera you have that you could watch her from outside on. Once you have the correct collar stimulation level and she is calm and relaxed again, start your leaving routine, put her into the crate, and go outside. Drive down the block and walk back if she isn't convinced you really left. From outside, watch her on the camera. When she barks or tries to escape from the crate, push the stimulation button on the remote for one second. Repeat the correction every time she barks. This will probably take a few repetitions before she starts to connect the stimulation on the collar with her barking. If it doesn't improve after seven corrections, increase the collar level by one, and again by one if she still doesn't respond. When she pauses barking for four seconds, while she is quiet, go back inside, sprinkle a few tiny treats into her crate without letting her out or talking to her, then leave again. Repeat correcting her when she barks from outside, going inside and sprinkling treats when she is quiet then leaving again; do this for 30 to 45 minutes each session. After about 45 minutes, while she is quiet, go back inside for good. Leave her in the crate and ignore her for ten minutes. Correcting with the e-collar without acknowledging her if she barks at you from the crate. After ten minutes, while she is calm, go to her and let her out of the crate using the method from the article linked below: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mn5HTiryZN8 You generally want to encourage calmness around the crate - being overly excited, anxious, or worked up can make separation anxiety worse because of the chemicals released into the body. Expect to need to repeat the crate collar training several times for 45 minute sessions for her to realize that the results are always the same and she needs to be calm and quiet in the crate. You can do this more than one time each day to speed up the process, just make sure she has breaks in between each session to unwind. When she is quieter in the crate, then when you leave, give her a food stuffed chew toy, like a Kong, to help with boredom and to automatically reward her for staying quiet. This method helps prevent her from working up into an anxious state and breaks the cycle of getting super worked up every time you leave, then rewarding her and calmly returning while she is calm helps her learn to stay calm while you are away instead. If you can break the anxious cycle the accidents in the crate should improve if they are anxiety related - which it sounds like they are. While practicing all the training you may want to keep a 4-6 foot drag leash on her around the house while you are home so that you can direct her easily and calmly. Best of luck training, Caitlin Crittenden
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