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Rescued a feral puppy...need help!!!

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I haven't been posting on the boards lately...but I'm been chasing a puppy for the last five months. The puppy looks much like my puppy Mattie that I rescued last December. Well, long story short, I finally caught her three and a half weeks ago. She was really sick, but that was handled and she's much better. She looks just like Mattie except a little bit smaller. I named her Marlie and she's about 9 months old.


What can I do to help her socialize? She is scared of most everything but my other dogs, she loves Mattie!!! So far, I haven't been able to pet her or give her treats. She will come up and smell my hand but thats about all. She has started coming in the house and if it is raining or cold out, she will sleep in the house. But, she runs away from me. Am I expecting too much from her too soon??? Has anyone else rescued a feral dog???


Animal Control was going to shoot her since they were not able to catch her. They told me a trap was set to try to catch her for over three weeks and they never got her. I set a trap and caught her in 45 minutes. I was told that even if they did catch her, they would have put her down because she was so sick.

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First of all, good for you on being able to catch this pup.


I've never had a feral dog, but Cricket, was very skittish when I first got her at 6 months old. You couldn't even sneeze without scaring her! I'm sure you will get lots of better answers, but if the pup is coming up to smell your hand, I think that's a good start. Maybe a really tasty treat in your hand would help. I'd say don't make any sudden moves toward her, don't try to pet her, give her time to decide for herself that you're okay. That's worked for Cricket and she is finally after 2 1/2 YEARS starting to trust other people (she's always been good with myself and my DH)

Good luck!

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Kudos to you for bringing this girl home.


Give her more time. Can't help myself here, so here's my dog Jill's story.


I got Jill when she was 8 months old. While she wasn't feral, her life up to then consisted of being crated, trained, or crated. Nil to very little socialization and when around dogs her owner inadvertently taught her to distrust dogs (feeding Jill's fear of dogs).


When I got Jill she was terrified of dogs, leery and untrusting of people, and just about scared of anything else. Our first year together was tough. She charged, snarling, barking, and nipping, at joggers, kids on bikes, our neighbors, and, one time, a freight train. Not because she was aggressive, but because she was scared. Left on her own, she would take off roaming the fields, eating dead and yucky stuff, staying just far enough away from me not to be caught and she certainly wouldn?t come to me. She didn?t want or liked to be touched. I often thought how easy it would be for her to go feral.


So here?s what I did. Main focus was to get Jill to trust me. Outside I walked her on a 30 foot line (not a flexi) so she had the freedom of the line but couldn?t go off charging at people or running off. I enrolled her in an advance puppy class in a school that used positive motivation and lots of treats. Here she learned other dogs weren?t so bad and sometimes friendly strangers give her treats. I slowly started to touch & massage her; first where she like it the most (the back of her neck), then gradually worked so I could touch her whole body. Jill has a fine sense of play and I used play anywhere I could to distract her from what might be scaring her. For good or ill, I never corrected her for her fear-based behavior, but praised her for any brave behavior. Oscar, my springer, is very stable and was a big help too. Long story short, after a year of very intense efforts, Jill trusted me, was relaxed in many situations, and looked to me on how to act in situations where she might still be unsure. She only got better with time and soon people *forgot* she wasn?t a normal dog. She soon trusted people enough that she?ll go up to anyone, and allow them to touch and hug her, and she loves male dogs (the flirt!) and is friendly toward all dogs.


Some things for you to try:


1) Handfeed her all her meals. Make sure they are very yummy meals.

2) Use your other dogs to help her feel comfortable. Does she seem interested when you play with your other dogs?

3) Keep her on a long line or a 6 foot leash tied to you as you go about doing your daily stuff.

4) Keep it positive and objective. Don?t baby her or tread on egg shells around her because of her past. She?ll sense that and it will only increase her worry.

5) Most of all give her time. It?s a big upheaval in her life right now.


It?s wonderful you pursued catching her and are willing to help this girl. Once you gain her trust you?ll have one of the finest companions that you?d ever want.


Keep us updated!

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Some good advice already. We got Shoshone at somewhere around 3 yrs of age or so. She'd been taken from a real hellhole where she'd had no contact w/her owner except when he showed up once a week to kick them. She was placed in a foster home, very well intentioned, but with too many dogs at any given time. Shonie had good food and a nice warm shelter to sleep in, but very little human contact. She was there for over a year.


So, when we got her, she was a semi feral, abused and very undersocialized girl. Slower is faster with these dogs. Do be very matter of fact and low key around her. Even moderately excited praise from you may be too much. Try hand feeding her, if she won't take food from your hand, start by tossing it to her bit by bit, and gradually toss is closer and closer to you until she's taking it from your hand. Do this for at least 2 weeks, longer if you can. When she starts approaching you with a wagging tail and excited expression at meal time, you can hand feed her the first half of her meal and give the 2nd half in her bowl. You may need to experiment with feeding her in a room by herself or closer to your other dogs, whatever works for right now.


If you can set a schedule with all of your dogs, and let her fit into that, that will teach her that she can predict mealtime, play time, alone time, etc. This is very, very reassuring to a dog, especially an undersocialized one.


Don't ask people over to meet her yet. If you do have visitors, confine her safely away, or ask your visitors to ignore her. She needs to really trust you before you add more humans to the mix.


We've had Shonie since Halloween of 98. She's very much the least affectionate of our dogs, but she's sharp as a tack and loves to train and very bonded to me.


Good luck, please let us know how you get on. And THANKS for taking her in.


Ruth n the BC3

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Thanks everyone!!!


This is what I have been doing over the last several weeks. Now, everyone keep in mind that I have NEVER had any contact with a feral dog before.


At first, I tried sitting in a chair in the middle of the yard, just so she would get comfortable with me. That didn't work. She hid in the corner of the yard behind the shed, for a week. So, next I put a blanket on the ground and sat on that. Usually I took a book outside with me just to give me something to do and so I wouldn't be making eye contact with her. My other four dogs, Ellie, Lucie, Pepper, and Mattie, loved the blanket idea and joined me for my daily "blanket sit." Mattie usually sat in my lap. What ended up happening was Marlie must of seen all the dogs around me and decided to come smell me, cause thats just what she did!!


Since the "blanket sitting" I starting leaving the back door open, so my other dogs could come and go as they pleased (which they didn't) and Marlie could come in the house, if she wanted to. It took a little over a week for her to come in the house and she only came as far as the washing machine, but she still came in. The next night, it was raining out and I was trying to get Mattie to come watch the Hockey game with me. (She's named after a hockey player) but she wouldn't come in the room. I finally got up to see why she wasn't listening, cause I finally got her recall down well, and guess what? There was Marlie and Mattie playing in the living room, on the tile...she was too scared to touch the carpet. But, once she saw me, she ran back outside. Everynight since that night she comes in the house to play with Mattie. On nights that it is cold or raining, she will stay in the house to sleep.


I have tried to give her treats, but realized just having them in my hand wasn't going to work. So, I put all the other dogs in the house and put the treat on the deck, making sure that she sees the treat that I have left her. I'm at the point now that I don't have to go back in the house for her to come and get the treat, she'll come and get it even with me standing on the deck a few feet away.


She will approach me and smell my hand, but she will not let me approach her. And, I try not to approach her cause I don't want to scare her.


Somehow, I have to get her back to the vet within the next week. I don't even want to go into the first vet trip, it took almost three hours. Anyway, she's got to have her booster shots and she HAS TO GET FIXED!!!!!!!! I'm a little worried about getting her there again and I don't think she falling for the trap again. I'm also afraid that might set us back if I trap her again.


I just want to pick her up and hug her and love her and tell her that everything is going to be okay, but she won't let me.

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Have you ever watched the dog whisper? Ceasar is just great, for dogs that are very shy, do to lack of socialization, he approaches them with his back to them. That way there is no confrontation. You could check out his website and maybe email him?

Thankyou for rescuing this dog. She really needs you.

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What about letting her watch you play with Mattie - but not taking part - so she can see the two of you interacting without the stress of being part of it? I used to have a BC that was very unfriendly to strangers - but one guy got the better of him - he let him watch (through the deck door) as he played with our other dogs. That was too much - Jack had to come and play fetch, too - and hardly even noticed it was a stranger.


Also, you might try just being there quietly - letting her come up and sniff. Find a place you're both comfortable with and just sit or read quietly, not openly watching her, and let her investigate you on her terms. Having special treats with you can't hurt - there's a lot to be said for bribery. Try pieces of chicken, liver, or even bacon - those seem to be the universal favorites around our house.


Try to interact with her in an open way - no trapping or cornering her (except if necessary). She has to learn to trust you - then learning to trust others and other situations will be easier. It's going to take time, but be patient - and good luck - thanks for being there for her and giving her a chance. Interesting that you could do in less than an hour what the shelter couldn't do in almost a month.

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I have never dealt with a feral dog, and my own fearful dog (the nephew of Deb's Jill, incidentally!) trusted me from day one. But, he is anxious about most new people. Solo lived in an isolated backyard kennel from the time he was a puppy until he was almost a year and a half old and his socialization during important periods of development was practically non-existent.


I find that the best way to handle dogs who are fearful of strange people (that includes you right now) is for the person to pretend that the dog is not there and not force any interactions, or even perhaps not even initiate interactions as much as you can possibly avoid them. The dog has to become desensitized to your presence before she can decide if she likes you or not. Right now you're in the category of "might be dangerous, and some dogs need a lot of convincing before they are willing to put someone in the "safe" category.


If she likes food, and you can keep the other dogs from getting the treats, I would try going about your daily business and dropping treats as you go along -- really good treats. Don't offer them to her directly, just make them be something that happens when you are around. My fearful dog responds well to this method for making him happy about new people. What he doesn't respond well to is the new person offering him treats. If treats "happen" around a new person enough times then he'll move up to liking the person enough to take treats from him or her directly. Eventually he does learn to like new people and when he likes someone, he really likes that person -- wants belly rubs and love and all that good stuff -- but he takes people one person at a time and everyone else remains in the "no thanks" category until further notice.


It's also important not to push things. People who try to go too far too fast with Solo remain on his "no thanks" list for longer than they would have if they'd just gone easy on him in the first place.


Good luck with the new pup.

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Thanks everyone. I wish I knew how to post pictures so everyone can see her and the improvement in her coat during the month that I have had her. I think she has gained about 10 pounds in the last month, it helps to get rid of all the worms!!!


Here's another question...


Is it normal for her to eat ALL the time? I don't want her to feel like she is ever without food but she eats EVERYTHING I put out for her, sometimes she eats four times a day!

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Originally posted by lucieluv2:

Is it normal for her to eat ALL the time? I don't want her to feel like she is ever without food but she eats EVERYTHING I put out for her, sometimes she eats four times a day!

I was just going back a re reading :rolleyes: and wow is what I have to say. you are doing such a great thing and when you finally gain her trust i bet you'll have a best friend for life


as for the eating alot...

I can't say if its normal, but I can say that my new foster Pete does it to. He'll eat his food, then eat shelb's food, then when I put more food down for her to eat he'll eat it to. lol. it worries me, but I think it may have to do with the lack of good food on a regular basis? the food to them may seem like a Great Big Bowl-O-Treats:D

Thats just my thought anyway :D

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Wow. Think about it. You are doing jsut what our early ancestors did - the first ones who domesticated dogs. Sure, they had caves or huts instead of a nice house. But it was probably the same from the dog's point of view.


I don't at all mean this in a negative way: but it's like reinventing the wheel. It's sort of miracle work.


You should write it all down and write a book later. This is really special.

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