Jump to content
BC Boards

Recommended Posts

Hi!

 

Does anyone have any success stories they can share with me on rehabilitating a fearful dog into one who is able to enjoy life outside the home?

 

Here is what's going on with us: I recently rescued a young border collie at about 8 months old. He is now about 10 months. So only had him a couple months. He had almost no socialization in his early life. I feel his fears are much more strongly nurture than nature. He isn't what I would call skittish because he doesn't jump up and dash when he hears a sudden noise and he slept through the fireworks this 4th of July, he just cannot handle new outdoor situations very well and gets very weird around new kids and unfamiliar big men. In these outdoor settings he will refuse treats and toys. I have gotten him to play ball a bit at a nearby park after a few times going there and getting him used to the park. But he is still wary even as he goes for the ball. I am wondering if this is a dog that will ever be able to do things like agility etc. I mean he may warm up to one training facility but in competitions the locations are always new and different with different dogs and people. I am currently doing sheep herding with him which is the only thing he seems to show no fear with and he has shown interest in working cattle but I will wait on the cattle.

 

I realize this may be a fear period but I feel its more just lack of socialization. Wondering if he will be able to walk out my front door with me happy and excited to see what fun things I have planned for him rather than slinking out the door looking over his shoulder all worried. Also I know I have not had him long to I may be expecting too much too soon but I am just wondering if others have had a similar situation and had a great outcome with time and patience.

 

Thanks!!

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes. Shoshone was terrified of everything, she spent the first couple months with us in her crate. The door was always open, but she'd scuttle inside and hide out at the back. On the advice of a trainer, we started luring her out and closing the door behind her, just for a minute at first, then longer and longer. Food treats helped immensely. Once she figured out that approaching humans = food, she became more sure of herself.

 

She never became affectionate, but she loved to train and loved, loved, loved to go for rides. Very little bothered her. I used to joke that she'd approach Idi Amin if she thought he had a cookie!

 

Time will tell. From what you write, it seems that he is making progress. It's very good that he's comfortable w/sheep. Give it more time in the strange places, and don't rush him. Slower is faster here. Good luck, and let us know how you get on.

 

Ruth and Agent Gibbs

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the reply! Maybe ill make a blog of his progress.... hmmm ^_^

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes! You can absolutely get to a place where your dog manages the world and is happy. Chin up!

 

My guy was so fearful early on (growling and acting aggressive at all strange dogs and humans) that I spent the first couple weeks with him driving around, worried he'd bite someone and I'd have to have him put down. Even months on, the thought of being able to take him into a strange environment and have him interact with strangers (especially men) was unthinkable - I couldn't imagine a world where Buddy could just relax and enjoy himself. And now, more or less, I live in that world.

 

There are great, long threads in this forum about extremely fearful dogs and their progress. Here is a fabulous one - we all followed Kelso's story and happy ending:

 

http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=31080&hl=%2Bpuppy+%2Bmill+%2Bdog

 

Keep a running post of what you do. I'd love to follow another happy ending with your dog. :)

 

If you need advice, there are loads of us who've been in your shoes, too. Feel free to ask specifics.

 

Mary

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yes, absolutely. My guy was scared of all men and children, then just children, then little boys with blond hair... I suspect he was mistreated at some point. I had to be very consistent with him and only have him around people that I knew loved dogs... He finally gained confidence through lots of reassuring and work. It took a better part of a year with him though... Head up, be consistent with showing him only good things and you'll get there.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

IMO, your dog is young enough that you should be able to 'socialize' him into a 'normal' or almost normal dog - although their may be a few quirks remaining. But I think all dogs (and people) have quirks.

 

Be patient.

 

Be positive.

 

As Ruth advised, take it slow. Or another way to think about it is to progress in very small steps. For example, don't expect him to run around in the dog park and be happy the first time (or first few times) you take him there. From his perspective, he has gone into a strange environment and he is way over his comfort threshold (he would not take treats). Expose him to new experiences from a distance and/or for very short (then gradually longer) periods of time to let him get used to them. Add in lots of treats. If he stops taking treats, you have gone too close, too fast.

 

Invest in lots of treats and/or toys. Whichever makes him happiest.

 

Best of Luck,

Jovi

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks all! So encouraging! I have been reading Kelso's story all morning with my coffee. ^_^

 

What am amazing story. I think I have an easy case compared to him.. I do want to eventually do BC rescue when we get a small ranch (future plan!) so hearing stuff like his story will give me the tools and encouragement I need when I have more difficult cases. Also I plan to have sheep on my property to work with any rescues who are interested and build their confidence! cant wait...... anyone in real estate in So Cal? lol. Anyway!

So I will be posting progress and pictures. Today we had some progress. He is now walking out my door happily into our little enclosed communal courtyard. He's gotten to know the neighbor kids who play with my kids so he's ok with them now thank goodness. But today I sat in front of my door with him on a long line and read Kelso's story ignoring my dog who is named "BLAZE" by the way. I also had his favorite toy and tossed it for him now and then as a reward for being calm. So the kids started frantically running back and forth in front of us screaming and laughing and jumping and he simply watched with ears up but didnt go into prey drive! I praised him heavily and massaged him and he relaxed even more! thats HARD for a BC to watch little kids being crazy back and forth like sheep! lol. I was so happy.

 

The second step in the right direction he made was not growling aggressively at one of the men in the studio across from us. Blaze was very anxious around him only yesterday (growling, sulking...). With a second exposure today and a little more distance than last time he simply watched him intensely but no growling or hair raising! Again heavy praise and massage. I am going to get some hot dogs tonight as rewards and see if he likes that. He's not very food motivated to we will see. For now he does enjoy praise and a good scratch in his sweet spots or a massage.

 

I am so grateful he is wonderful with our own children... my 7 and 3 year old hug on him and kiss him right in his face all the time and he seems not to mind and actually wags his tail as they approach! I cant wait to do sheep herding with him again and build his confidence even more.

 

Will update soon! Thank you ALL! :lol:

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

All three of mine have/had some degree of fearfulness or shyness. Georgia was a feral dog. She adapted to home life much more quickly than I thought she would. She was much more fearful than shy. Today she is the life of the party, everyone she meets is long lost family. Tex was very shy and...I don't want to say fearful...maybe overly cautious with men. He had a very specific way of meeting them. Today at 6 years old, he's very friendly to most people. But I never force him into a situation. If he doesn't want to meet someone, that's fine with me 99.99999% of the time. Faith...my work in progress...is very shy outside of her familiar places and away from familiar people. We're moving very slowly, in centimeters not meters, but we are moving forward. When we initially started going to an obedience class, we were just sitting in a chair and watching. Anytime someone walked toward her and she didn't growl or react she got a treat. We are now able to happily participate in class. She was initially very nervous and scared around my husband (a very loud human being). Not anymore. She's very bossy at home. Especially with my husband. As she gets comfortable with her world, I'm just making it a little bit bigger, then a little bit bigger.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It will take some time but keep working and socializing your border collie. We have a rescue dog, Comet (She is a retriever though) and it took us a long time to work through her fears. She gets along great with our border collies.

 

Just keep doing what you are doing and be patient.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


×
×
  • Create New...