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When Tender loving care is not enough The Cure Part 1

Owners often ask me after starting a program of retraining is “Is it normal to suffer feelings of being mean and guilty towards their dog as if they were now making them suffer”. Yes, it does feel like that but this is only because the canine view of the world is different to ours. We must learn to communicate with dogs with actions they can readily understand making it less stressful for them.

Following on from last weeks article about the caring shelter worker trying to rehabilitate a badly abused dog that fears men in baseball caps, hates going down stairs to the cellar and is becoming so attached to the lady that it was suffering separation anxiety we can start the cure.

How do you solve such problems? The main thing was to change the attitude of the lady and the way she was working with the dog. First, I sent her my articles on Dog Whispering to show her how to demand that the dog sees her as the leader. Next was to ask her to always make the dog come to her, never go to the dog. I also asked her to never have eye-to-eye contact with the dog. I also wanted her to pretend to eat the dog’s meal prior to giving it to him. All this was to impress upon the dog that she was a leader to trust. I also asked if she had a dog that it could play with that would stabilise it and act as interpreter.

I also suggestion was for her to obtain many baseball caps and leave them all over the place. This would dilute this trigger of fear towards such caps.

For the fear of going down stairs to the cellar I suggested she practiced on all sorts of stairs all over the place and constantly walk him down them until it is time to try her stairs. The previous owner may have thrown the dog into the cellar on occasions and why it was so terrified of them.

For this case, I will use the ladies own words, as I believe she explains very well what was happening as it happened.

The dog arrived yesterday afternoon.  He is a beautiful animal and has a great personality.  He seemed to want to bond with me shortly after his arrival.  He follows me everywhere and as long as I am using a quiet voice, he is fine.  He cowers at any sudden movement and shows aggressive behaviour at any male.  I spent a lot of time with him yesterday in the pen and he did come to me numerous times.  He desperately wants and craves attention.  I gave him lots but only after he sat and calmed down.  He picks up fast and still wants to learn.  I wasn't sure if this is the proper start but I couldn't leave him alone.  He was terrified.
I did some basic obedience with him in the pen and he does know it.  My concern is that it was beaten into him and I would like him to do it because he wants to.  I'm hoping with your help he will.  I have praised him more than he's probably every heard and he loves it.  He will actually start to whimper when praising and rubbing him. 
When I fed him (I will change this and do as you suggest), I called him, asked him to sit, placed the food in front of him and let him eat.  Poor guy was starving.  I stroked him while eating hoping to show him I'm on his side. 
I'm so worried I'll do something wrong.  I'm used to working with alpha dogs. This poor guy is at the other end of the spectrum for me!  In addition, I changed his name and he picked it up right away.  Different name, different life?  I did not want to use the old name in case there could be some association with past?  I wasn't sure and figured it couldn't hurt.
He is desperately trying to make friends with one of the cats and is having a hard time of it.  The cat is used to dogs but is acting strange around this guy.

I needed her to distance herself from the dog as anxiety was setting in. We all know a bitch will push her puppies away when it is time for them to fend for themselves. A dog with a perpetual umbilical cord just cannot cope and lives in fear if left alone.

I also wanted her to walk about as if the dog was not there. Only when he was away from her at different times in the day she should then call him to her for lots of fuss and praise providing he came to her quickly. If he did not she should ignore him.

Things are going very well at the moment.  Captain has been neutered, healed and is ready to go.  I have had him out for runs (no leash) and he is wonderful.  He will come when I call him but he will not let me out of his sight. If I hide, he will come looking but it seems more out of curiosity than fear or worry. 
You are right.  He is attaching himself to me at the hip.  Therefore, I have been making him stay while I go to a different room, potter around, and then come back.  He is adjusting well, but cries if I go downstairs to the basement.  He is deathly afraid of the stairs. I have tried him in all sorts of light, at night with the light on, during the day with and without additional light, all to no avail. He digs in his hind legs and has not intention of going there. The basement has a walkout to the outside and he has come in and gone up the stairs just fine.

I'm confused.  Bribery gets me nowhere, nor does any kind of encouragement. We did manage two stairs but that was his limit.  In addition, he will cry when I leave for work in the morning.  I ignore him before I leave as I have done for all my dogs. My boarder informs me that the duration of the crying is getting shorter.
He is very eager to learn but when corrected will drop to the ground (head and body).  I use a soft monotone voice when teaching, as he seems to respond best with it.
In addition, I have been having my boarder (a male) and my friends work with him when available.  It seems that since I started letting him out of the pen and in the yard with the other dogs, his confidence has greatly increased.  He is much more receptive to strangers.  I have taken to wearing a ball cap when outside and he looked at it a few times and seems fine with it.  I will place the caps around so he gets used to them. (Great idea)
One thing I'm not sure of is when I am giving him one to one attention, after a few minutes he will start to cry and tries to climb on me.  I have been putting him off and stopping the attention when he does this. 
I will be going out of town for four days so Captain will be staying at home with the boarder.  I have instructed him as you have instructed and things seem to be well with both of them.

She thought she was supporting the dog cuddling it whilst it was eating but what she was doing, which could have been dangerous, was showing the dog dominancy signs touching his head and neck. This was actually reinforcing her as the dog’s leader. For the stairs blindfolding the dog will not work because it would not have known it had succeeded in going down the stairs.

Next week we will see how she gets on.


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