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Danny was doing so well, but now all of a sudden he's regressed. We went from being able to walk out back without him being frightened of every noise, to not wanting to go out at all. When I force him out, he just stands there like a statue, staring at me. I force him along, trying to get him to do his business, but it's such a huge effort. He'll go pee, but pooing is an issue. He's now had many accidents in the house, although we go out a lot! I'm so afraid I've taken on more than I can handle! It's wearing me out. I am not an expert on feral dogs, and am afraid I'm not doing it right, but there's no going back now. He's part of me and I love him....I just don't know how to help him. :(

 

Any suggestions would be appreciated. I know I've asked before and have gotten lots of support.

 

Thanks.

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I think there will be set backs. I just heard Gypsy was doing well and then We didnt get the full update as expected. It could be their hopes were too high for a damaged dog. I do know that the black and white female that went home with the Red and white merle frequently displayed the behavior you describe.

 

The woman would put her in the fenced yard and she was too fearful to leave the porch all of a sudden again for some reason. The Red dog never experienced these problems like she was never at swaffords. This leads me to beleive it's all in the dogs personality and experience not breeding.

 

Hopefully Angela give you advice too Ody just had a 14th birthday and he has been with her for almost 2 years.

 

I know it's frustrating but, they cant be rushed.

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My female is a formerly feral dog. There was alot of one step forward, two steps back at times. The best advice I can give you is patience, patience, patience. Georgia is a dog who who just 'disappear' at times. Just trying to be as invisible as possible. You just have to take it very slow and very steady. Georgia used to be nearly paralyzed by her fears. She is quite the social butterfly now. Still has her quirks but I couldn't be any happier with her.

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Hi, Diane--sorry to hear about this setback, and I definitely know how exhausting and frustrating things like this can be. Shortly after we brought Ody home, the retina on my husband's good eye detached, leading to emergency surgery and a long convalescence...between trying to integrate Ody into the household and trying to help my husband recover, I nearly lost my everlasting mind. :o

 

I really like Barbara's idea to have your vet consult a behavioralist so that you can get some good strategies for continuing to help Danny. I will admit that there was a time, a few weeks into the Ody Adventure, where I marched him into my vet's office and proclaimed that one of us was leaving there with some drugs so that I could sleep through the night. :lol: And I am not a person who turns to drugs as the answer right off the bat--I hardly even take aspirin, myself. But I was at the end of my rope. And, as it turned out, I never had to use either of the meds we came home with, but knowing I had them if needed in an emergency gave me a second wind and some more patience.

 

I know you won't be able to get the expert advice immediately, though, so I wonder if there are any other adjustments you could try for now? Does Danny respond any better when other members of your family try to walk him? If so, could that person or people take over the walking, to give you a break? Is there anything (a toy or treats) that Danny really likes? If so, could you use those items to encourage him to relax when he's in the yard?

 

Again, I'm sorry you're facing this challenge. With Ody, we call similar episodes his "crazy switch" getting tripped, and we just try to manage them as best we can. But, luckily, his episodes are more minor inconveniences. I'll keep thinking to see if I can come up with anything else, though, that might be helpful.

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Thanks everyone, for your inputs. I know it's going to be slow and I certainly don't mind that. I will definately try a behaviorist who can tell if I'm doing anything wrong and give me some advice. Since we don't have a fenced backyard, I wonder if doing that would help. It's an itty, bitty, townhouse yard, but maybe it being enclosed would help Danny feel more secure. I don't know. But then again, I'd hate to spend all that money, only to have him still not like it out back. All I ask of him is to go out and go potty, then he can be safe and comfortable in the house again.

 

Knowing it's ok for him to be different and knowing it's ok for him not to go for walks, or parks, or car rides, makes me feel a whole lot better. As long as he's happy and feels secure, that's all that matters.

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Baby steps. I volunteer with a bc rescue. We had a bunch of dogs come in from a close to feral situation. (there were 120 bcs running loose on an acrage) The rescue of the dogs started in July 2009 and we have just three of the dogs left for adoption right now. It's taken alot alot alot of time for these dogs to adjust to being part of a family and a household. Some of the dogs are living a completely normal life, and some of them will probably never be completely normally outgoing, but their new owners are ok with that :)

 

I think the biggest thing is to not coddle them, and let them experience the world - and more and more of the world as they are ready too. As well as having trust in you.

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I don't know the history of the dog, but it could very well be that he'd prefer to not go in front of you. If you were able to safely leave him out there (ie in a securely fenced area) he may well go. Is he going in the house in front of you, or when your back is turned?

 

Another thing to consider (and this may be far fetched): I have a dog that just WILL NOT GO if he thinks I'm anxious for him to go. If he gets even the smallest hint that *I* am focusing on him doing some business he puts a cork in it. This was a cause of many frustrations until I finally figured it out. I know it sounds weird but he was totally reading my vibes on this.

 

I force him along, trying to get him to do his business, but it's such a huge effort.

 

It could be that there is just way too much pressure on the going potty thing.

 

It may behoove you to mentally go out with a "la la la, going for a walk, la la la, smelling the flowers, la la la..." sort of attitude.

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I force him along, trying to get him to do his business, but it's such a huge effort. He'll go pee, but pooing is an issue. He's now had many accidents in the house, although we go out a lot! I'm so afraid I've taken on more than I can handle! It's wearing me out. I am not an expert on feral dogs, and am afraid I'm not doing it right, but there's no going back now. He's part of me and I love him....I just don't know how to help him. :(

 

Any suggestions would be appreciated. I know I've asked before and have gotten lots of support.

 

Thanks.

Lots of good ideas, and here's another one. Pick a time when you're relaxed, put him on his leash, open the door, lead him outside - lure him with his very favorite treat/reward if that's easiest. Say something cheery, (my dogs are used to "wheeeeee!")treat/reward, give him a "Good Boy" and go right back in. Do this several times a day.

When you need him to relieve himself, take him to a different spot in the yard, keep up the relaxed mind set, and again, reward when he performs.

If there is someone else who can do this with him as well, that's great. What this will do is get him out of the anticipation that going outside is awful and lasts a long time and gets more awful. You're changing that to "going outside is not that big a deal, I'm getting a lot of practice, and it's getting easier."

Are there any other doors you can use to take him outside? He might have had something scare him, even a little bit, right at the back door and he might be better at another door.

Good luck - I know it's a hard road sometimes. And if the vet behaviorist recommends meds, give it a try. If if doesn't work, you can discontinue them, but meds might help Danny a lot.

 

Ruth

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Lots of good ideas, and here's another one. Pick a time when you're relaxed, put him on his leash, open the door, lead him outside - lure him with his very favorite treat/reward if that's easiest. Say something cheery, (my dogs are used to "wheeeeee!")treat/reward, give him a "Good Boy" and go right back in. Do this several times a day.

When you need him to relieve himself, take him to a different spot in the yard, keep up the relaxed mind set, and again, reward when he performs.

If there is someone else who can do this with him as well, that's great. What this will do is get him out of the anticipation that going outside is awful and lasts a long time and gets more awful. You're changing that to "going outside is not that big a deal, I'm getting a lot of practice, and it's getting easier."

Are there any other doors you can use to take him outside? He might have had something scare him, even a little bit, right at the back door and he might be better at another door.

Good luck - I know it's a hard road sometimes. And if the vet behaviorist recommends meds, give it a try. If if doesn't work, you can discontinue them, but meds might help Danny a lot.

 

Ruth

 

 

My suggestion exactly! All of mine are taken out on leash to go do their business. We have a set schedule and a set place! I have been doing this for years. With the dog being on leash, you know exactly who do what :rolleyes:

And as an added bonus cleanup is confined to a small area :lol:

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He sounds exactly like Thea (imagine that). I have a fenced back yard, so my situation is a little bit different. With Thea, I found that I needed to take her out alone because, invariably, one of the other dogs would bark at something real or perceived and it would send her running for the back door where she would hunker down and not budge. It takes a lot of time because you have to wait them out until they poop, so that you can reward it. I would also take Thea for long walks about 45 minutes after she ate in hopes that she would poop so that I could reward it. If she pooped, then she got to go back inside and had free reign of the house. If she didn't, then she'd have to go back in and be crated, if someone couldn't be right there watching her every minute.

 

I also agree with the advice not to coddle them. The best thing that I've found for dogs like Thea and Danny is to continually expose them to new experiences and ignore them when they act nervous. Obviously, you don't want to flood them, but they need to be continually chanllenged by new experiences, otherwise they'll never have the opportunity to get past, or at least learn to function, with their fears. I'd be taking Danny on walks, car rides, to the park, etc. Just be careful not to overload him.

 

Good luck. I know how frustrating and exhausting it can be to work with dogs like these. I commend you for being willing to take on this challenge.

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I don't know any of the back story on your dog, but I do know that there is a yahoo group that did me a world of good when I had my semi-feral foster dog. A lot of the people there have mill dogs and there are also a variety of other fear issues etc. It could be an excellent resource for you. As would the website listed below.

 

http://pets.groups.yahoo.com/group/shy-k9s/

 

www.fearfuldogs.com

 

If you do a search on the yahoo list, you'll find some info and great insight on my foster dog Cash.

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Thanks again for all the wonderful advice. It's so nice to be able to ask and receive help from people who have walked in my shoes.

 

Danny is doing a little better. For those who don't know, we live in a townhouse without a fenced backyard. So some of the advice won't work in my situation. Here's where we're at. He will only go out the back door and walk along the woods in the common area, which isn't too big. He also likes to go into the woods to do his business, which is fine. As soon as a dog barks or there's some sort of noise, he's off like a shot, trying to get in the house. I've started just standing still when that happens, until he calms down then we continue on. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. As for being able to take him for longs walks, we're not there yet. He won't go out the front door, which is the only other door we have. I try to get him to go out on the sidewalk by going between the townhouses, but he puts on the brakes. I did make it out front one time, which was very exciting, but a car drove by and that was the end of that. <_<

Good advice about trying to be nonchalant in our walks...I'm sure I set off vibes when I'm overwhelmed and just need him to GO! I'll try to do better. And I'll try not to coddle him. :rolleyes:

I am, right at the moment, looking for a vet behaviorist. If nothing else, just to come and assess my situation and let me know what I'm doing or not doing right.

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Is he worried about a leash. Can you walk him inside the house with him being relaxed and comfortable. If not then I would sure work on that and maybe invest in an outdoor kennel. If he would do his business unleashed in the kennel that would be great and you could gradually give him fun things to do there also so the 'outside' was not so scary.

 

There are man made dog pheromones that some dogs seam to really do well with. They have a calming, relaxing effect for the dogs that they help, other dogs don't seem to change one way or the other. There are diffusers so you can simply plug them in the outlets in the house and there is spray and collars. It is great if the respond to them because then you can spray the car before the dog gets in and they are more relaxed, you can spray a bandanna and the trip to the vet is easier ect. I know of vet clinics and boarding kennels using them with good success. There is no down side to using them like meds. The dog product is called DAP, can't recall what it stands for. If you can't find it let me know I'll make a call to the vet office.

 

Denice

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DAP might be very helpful, can't hurt to try.

 

Another idea to try - take him out, jolly talk him one or two steps beyond the freeze/digging in the heels, then back inside. Repeat, repeat, repeat. He'll feel like he has a little control over the situation and that might help him relax more.

 

All together now: "La, la, la, no big deal, la, la, la. . ."

 

Ruth

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Dogs with true phobias do not respond to many of the training techniques that work with normal dogs. If you push them too hard they get much worse. Be careful with advice to "not coddle" unless you are sure you are talking about a dog with a lack of socialization as opposed to a phobic dog. I speak from both personal and professional experience on that one!

 

When walking a dog outside that is afraid of something, take other dogs for example, you should stay calm at all times. If you see another dog act very happy but relaxed. I'm not very good at this myself, so I sing to my fearful dog. (I know, embarrassing, but it works.) They are just made up songs, but they help me regulate my voice. My own dog was too fearful to care about treats or toys, even on meds that boosted his confidence, so my praise and support were critical.

 

Don't force a phobic dog to confront its fears. Trust is critical when working with any dog, but especially so with phobics. They need to know that you have their back. Sometimes that means taking them away from the stimulus to avoid panic. How you retreat is critical though.

 

Example: On a walk and you spot a dog.

Me: "Oh look! There's another doggy! What a nice looking doggy! Do you see him Sage? Look!" I point at the dog.

Sage: Looks at the dog.

Me: "Good Sage! Aren't you a brave boy!"

Sage: Gets tense, moans, clearly over threshold.

Me: Retreat 10 yards and stop. "Where did the doggy go? There he is! Look!" Happy chatting and singing continues. Offer treats.

Sage: Refuses treats, still tense.

Me: Retreat another 10 yards. Repeat as above.

Sage: More relaxed. Willing to to take treats and wags tail with praise (dog is no longer over threshold).

At this point I practice the look (at the dog/human/scary thing) command with lots of praise and high value treats.

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If nothing else, just to come and assess my situation and let me know what I'm doing or not doing right.

 

I think this is a wonderful idea. I was worried at the beginning with Cash, that I wasn't doing something right. We has a trainer come in who was experienced in dealing with fearful dogs. She watched how I was working with him, gave me pointers and confirmed for me that I was working in the right direction.

 

Someone mentioned issues with the leash being part of the problem. For us this was a huge hurdle. He was absolutely terrified of the leash. Well, he was terrified of people and social pressure made him shut down completely. He had a 6ft rule for months, so I really had to work on him trusting me and allowing me to touch him before I even attempted the leash.

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Dogs with true phobias do not respond to many of the training techniques that work with normal dogs. If you push them too hard they get much worse. Be careful with advice to "not coddle" unless you are sure you are talking about a dog with a lack of socialization as opposed to a phobic dog. I speak from both personal and professional experience on that one!

 

When walking a dog outside that is afraid of something, take other dogs for example, you should stay calm at all times. If you see another dog act very happy but relaxed. I'm not very good at this myself, so I sing to my fearful dog. (I know, embarrassing, but it works.) They are just made up songs, but they help me regulate my voice. My own dog was too fearful to care about treats or toys, even on meds that boosted his confidence, so my praise and support were critical.

 

Don't force a phobic dog to confront its fears. Trust is critical when working with any dog, but especially so with phobics. They need to know that you have their back. Sometimes that means taking them away from the stimulus to avoid panic. How you retreat is critical though.

 

Example: On a walk and you spot a dog.

Me: "Oh look! There's another doggy! What a nice looking doggy! Do you see him Sage? Look!" I point at the dog.

Sage: Looks at the dog.

Me: "Good Sage! Aren't you a brave boy!"

Sage: Gets tense, moans, clearly over threshold.

Me: Retreat 10 yards and stop. "Where did the doggy go? There he is! Look!" Happy chatting and singing continues. Offer treats.

Sage: Refuses treats, still tense.

Me: Retreat another 10 yards. Repeat as above.

Sage: More relaxed. Willing to to take treats and wags tail with praise (dog is no longer over threshold).

At this point I practice the look (at the dog/human/scary thing) command with lots of praise and high value treats.

 

This makes sense. I like your example.

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Is he worried about a leash. Can you walk him inside the house with him being relaxed and comfortable. If not then I would sure work on that and maybe invest in an outdoor kennel. If he would do his business unleashed in the kennel that would be great and you could gradually give him fun things to do there also so the 'outside' was not so scary.

 

There are man made dog pheromones that some dogs seam to really do well with. They have a calming, relaxing effect for the dogs that they help, other dogs don't seem to change one way or the other. There are diffusers so you can simply plug them in the outlets in the house and there is spray and collars. It is great if the respond to them because then you can spray the car before the dog gets in and they are more relaxed, you can spray a bandanna and the trip to the vet is easier ect. I know of vet clinics and boarding kennels using them with good success. There is no down side to using them like meds. The dog product is called DAP, can't recall what it stands for. If you can't find it let me know I'll make a call to the vet office.

 

Denice

 

 

It's not the leash with Danny, he's fine on it, even puts his head in the harness when it's time to go out. It's everything ELSE outside that he's scared of. Some days he's fine, like yesterday, some days he's not, like today. :( I'm hoping once it gets cold enough, people will start to stay inside and I can work on him more.

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Some days he's fine, like yesterday, some days he's not, like today. :(

I hear you--it's really hard when you can't see consistent progress, isn't it?

 

One thing I wish I'd done with Ody was keep a journal of how things were going day to day because I think having things written down would have helped me see the trajectory of his improvement (and, some days, remind me that he had gotten better, overall, even if that particular day included "backsliding" behavior). I record details about my dogs' physical health in a little notebook all the time, so why it didn't occur to me to do this with Ody's mental health and behavior is beyond me.

 

But maybe having some sort of journal for Danny would help on days like today when things are frustrating? And possibly it could help you track any patterns of things that seem to set him off or make for less happy days? Just tossing ideas into the mix and thinking of you and wishing you and Danny more good days ahead.

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I hear you--it's really hard when you can't see consistent progress, isn't it?

 

One thing I wish I'd done with Ody was keep a journal of how things were going day to day because I think having things written down would have helped me see the trajectory of his improvement (and, some days, remind me that he had gotten better, overall, even if that particular day included "backsliding" behavior). I record details about my dogs' physical health in a little notebook all the time, so why it didn't occur to me to do this with Ody's mental health and behavior is beyond me.

 

But maybe having some sort of journal for Danny would help on days like today when things are frustrating? And possibly it could help you track any patterns of things that seem to set him off or make for less happy days? Just tossing ideas into the mix and thinking of you and wishing you and Danny more good days ahead.

 

A journal is actually a great idea. My husband tells me on days when I'm flustered and think it's never going to get better "I wish we had a video of the first week we brought him home. Try to remember what he was like then, compared to now." And he's right...we have come far in three months. I just need to remember that. :)

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I think a journal is a fantastic idea. I have a feral stray myself and after 7 years together he such an amazing dog that I forget about everything we've accomplished together. My best friend found him and because she doesn't see him all that often anymore she can really see a big difference. But even after all of this time he has an occasional backsliding moment or a meltdown and I wish I had a journal that would remind me how we tackled it in the past or what the trigger was back then. He's gotten so good and stable that people (including myself sometimes) forget his background and some of his special needs.

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Dont know the backgroud info or what you have tried...

 

Is it possible to desenitized him to the noises using a CD with outside noise on it? The kind they use on puppy to exposed them to different noise. Sorry I can't think of the correct terminology for it. I know a lot of breeder use them.

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I think a journal is a fantastic idea. I have a feral stray myself and after 7 years together he such an amazing dog that I forget about everything we've accomplished together. My best friend found him and because she doesn't see him all that often anymore she can really see a big difference. But even after all of this time he has an occasional backsliding moment or a meltdown and I wish I had a journal that would remind me how we tackled it in the past or what the trigger was back then. He's gotten so good and stable that people (including myself sometimes) forget his background and some of his special needs.

 

Good for you in helping this dog! In the end, it's all worth it, huh?

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