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Scared 2 yr. old Leonberger

August 21st, 2006, 03:21 AM
I have just adopted a 2 yr. old female unspayed Leonberger. She was rescue. She must be at least 50 pounds underweight and I can only imagine what she has been through. It would appear that she has been used to breed with no regard to her health or happiness. She is extremely skiddish, frightened easily by actions and sounds and seems to like to go off by herself. She does not play. In attempts to develop a relationship with her I lay beside her and pet and talk to her, have her sleep on my side of the bed on the floor, I feed her .and spend a majority of my day with her. She has been with me 3 days now. Are there specific things I can do to assist "Cayla" in becoming more comfortable and trusting? Are there games I can initiate that won't scare her. Is there a way I can call her to come without "scaring" her?
All suggestions are welcome, I am committed to Cayla and am willing to do whatever it takes in order for her to enjoy the rest of her life.

August 21st, 2006, 04:57 AM
It sounds like you're doing ok.
I don't have much experience with mistreated dogs but I don't think I'd initiate any games with her until she's already comfortable with you and knows that you won't mistreat her, I doubt in the state she's in that she's really in the mood to play anyway :sad: .
As far as calling her to come without scaring her, I guess the main thing would be just to not make direct eye contact with her (I assume she's extremely skittish), don't make any fast movements.
What I've always done with fearful strays and such is slouch a bit (upright posture is agressive/dominant), look to the side with my head down slightly and hold out my hand (though make sure not to point at her) in a very relaxed manor. Then very quietly click with my tongue all while staying in a VERY relaxed posture.
I'm in no way a dog expert, but this has always worked for me.

August 21st, 2006, 05:47 AM
This is so sad, I am sick just thinking about what she has gone through. You'll get plenty of good advice here, but I would say consistency is the key. Sooner or later she'll figure out that finally, she's found someone she can trust.
You could try giving her some Rescue Remedy, which is a herbal calmant. Are you working with someone on her nutrition?

August 21st, 2006, 05:48 AM
First off thankyou for adopting a rescue, she sounds lovely and I bet she will come around in a few weeks when she knows that you won't hurt her, she will learn that hands are good things.

It sounds like you are on the right track, just be patient and she will come around, try not to reward her for her fears or she will think acting like that is ok, I know its hard because when they are scared it is our impulse to coddle but it just reinforces the fears. Try to put weight on her slowly, you will get alot of great advise on this board about feeding, training and any other issues.

I fostered a GSD that was abused and any fast movements would make him cowar, but after about 3 weeks he came around and is now a very confident self assured dog. We took it slow with him but he also ahd the company of my 2 females and I think they taught him alot.

I have always admired Leonbergers but ahve never met one in person. I would love to see some pics of your Cayla.

Good luck

August 21st, 2006, 05:53 AM
SHe is very new to you and your home and that can be very scary on it own and 3 days is a very short period of time to expect her settle with shy dogs it can take a month or 2 to start feeling comfortable in a new home.

Just keep doing what you are doing, be patient and give her time

August 21st, 2006, 06:40 AM
:thumbs up for you rescuing this giant beauty,
Just relax, I know this is stressful to you just imagine what it is to her, I wouldn't bother trying to get her to play right now like everyone else said, work on her comfortableness with you and her surroundings. New house new rules, whatever negative behavior that was acceptable in the past is no longer. Never,ever encourage negative behavior, do you know for a fact that she was abused (other than the obvious underweight/breeding?) This shyness might be apart of her makeup, when taking her out to potty have her on a lunge line or flexi so that when you do call her in, you can also gently assist if needed and reward, reward, reward! After awhile after you build up her confidence in herself and her in you start to venture out into the world, take her everywhere, expose her to everything, DO NOT CODDLE if she becomes afraid, act like nothing happened and walk by whatever freaked her out again and again until she can sit beside it and things are okay, make sure every outing ends on a positive note, a refresher course in obedience will also help build confidence, trust me, my big girl has/had alot of these same traits with time and understanding and tons of tips and advice things do work out in the end, do not have family/friends approach or corner her, let her come to them as you don't want to have fear biter issues, her true nature will take some time to come out, enjoy this gentle girl. You are more than welcome to pm me if needing, good luck:highfive:

August 21st, 2006, 11:28 AM
i myself just took in a dog who was abused about 2 months ago. everyday he is still coming out of shell bit by bit, but hes improved sooooo much. Just be understanding, make sure to go slowly. training can be a little more difficult at times, but take it slow and just use alot of praise and reassurance. slowly approach your dog and pet it alot, show examples of positive touch. but dont worry he'll come out of his shell. Braxton wouldnt play either when i first got him but now he does all the time. You'll also want to start socializing him with other dogs, abused dogs generally arent properly socialized, the other dogs can really be an example in how to let loose and have fun, I noticed braxton often mimed other dogs (which can sometimes be a pain) so start out by bringing him around some more dogs that you know and are gentle and well behaved. good luck, Im sure when he comes out of his shell your new addition will be the best dog youve ever had, he'll appreciate you so much

August 21st, 2006, 12:02 PM
Awww, poor Cayla. It's so sad to think of what she has been through :sad: and it was so nice of you to rescue her. :thumbs up

I agree with all the others. You are doing exactly what you can for her and it is just going to take some time to earn her trust. Patience and consistency are the key. Lay on the floor with her and talk calmly to her.

Leonburgers are gorgeous dogs and we'd love to see pictures of her. Some now and some when you fatten her up. ;) What are you feeding her? :dog:

August 21st, 2006, 05:18 PM
When we first rescued Duke we had the same problems. We couldn't call his name without him peeing. He was scared of any toy that made a noise until he saw another dog playing with them then it was great fun. The vet suggested to stay low and not tower over him. For the first while I just sat on the floor and kept talking to him in a happy voice and gradually he would come closer then he would finally lay own beside me. I just kept patting and talking to him. Even when he wasn't in the same room I just kept talking to him. It took about a year and a lot of patience but it was well worth it. He turned out to be a very good boy. I would love to see pictures. I have never seen a Leonburger.

Angies Man
August 23rd, 2006, 10:44 PM
Three days isn't very long. Especially in a lifetime of abuse.

I would pet her and talk to her in a very quiet voice. She'll be allright, but she needs time to realize that she's safe and that you are who you will be (her human.) Don't push it, she'll come around, you can help by talking to her all the time to let her get used to quiet tones and lots of "Good girl's" and over days and weeks increase the volume but keep it a happy voice, it helps her bond and helps her realize that your voice is an important part of her environment, not something to be afraid of.

Don't worry about play, treat her like she's been in a train wreck--first things are to get her calmed down and healthy. Play and happytime can come later.

You're doing just fine, btw.

I had to look up the breed. Wow! She's got potential!

Post a pic when you have one. . .

August 23rd, 2006, 11:18 PM
Thank you everyone for the great advice with "Cayla". I have nic named her "Boo"which I think she likes as she responds to it better than the name she came with. She has begun to loosen up, her and I definitely are bonding. I am going to use all the advice I received in this forum. All made sense to me. I talk to her alot and the one thing I have been doing consistently is laying with her in the back yard everyday, hugging, rubbing heads and telling her what a good girl she is. Feeding has been difficult. At first I was giving her meals in an ice cream pail and after a couple of days of her not eating much I was getting worried. For a girl so skinny she seemed picky however, when I accidently dropped a trial bag of food when I was opening it, on the patio, she gobbled the food right up. If I put her food in a long cake pan she seems to like that. My vet has recommended puppy food and to my surprise, Boo loves it. I was told this breed loves vegtebles but Boo won't touch them. Her teeth are not great either, vet said when I have her spayed (two months) then her teeth can be cleaned. At the moment she is laying beside my chair in my home office as I am writing this. Today I bought her some toys, a rope that has baking soda and fluoride in it and a ball. She knew they were for her and carried them around the yard. She also decided to lay claims on the toy I bought for Teeno (cat). It does break my heart when she exhibits a bad habit or is frightened over what seems to be nothing. I'd like to hunt the past owners down and do nasty things to them!
I am new to this forum (never used a forum before) so am not sure if this message should be posted in the training section and I am still not sure of how things excuse me if I do not follow protocol (I plead ignorance)
Thank you everyone for your support.......Vel

August 23rd, 2006, 11:55 PM
Glad to hear Cayla is starting to come around....keep up the good work. :thumbs up

Feeding has been difficult. At first I was giving her meals in an ice cream pail and after a couple of days of her not eating much I was getting worried. For a girl so skinny she seemed picky however, when I accidently dropped a trial bag of food when I was opening it, on the patio, she gobbled the food right up. If I put her food in a long cake pan she seems to like that.

I would buy some stainless steel bowls for her or maybe ceramic. Plastic dishes are not recommended for feeding.

Why do you have to wait two months before you get her spayed if she is already two years old? :confused:

What are you feeding her? :dog:

August 24th, 2006, 12:28 AM
My vet recommended that I wait 2 months to have her spayed as she is at least 50 pounds underweight and is being treating for ear mites and a yeast infection. He felt she should be healthy before the operation. I am using a metal cake pan to feed her now and am giving her puppy food which was recommended by the vet. The first thing I did when I got "Boo" was get her in to my vet for a check up and advice. Vel

August 24th, 2006, 12:50 AM
Sorry, if I had have re-read your post, I would have realized she's not healthy enough yet. :o

So, what brand of puppy food are you feeding her?

August 24th, 2006, 01:00 AM
Leonbergers are so awesome. Such big lovable goofs. :love: She should come out of her shell eventually, when she feels secure.

I don't know if it's 100% true, but two leonberger owners I know said that leonbergers change colors 5 times in their lifetime (mostly in the face).

Please post pics soon! :)

August 24th, 2006, 01:17 AM
Rainbow and Prin,
I purchased Purina puppy chow. I have been reading alot about pet nutrition on this website and realize this is not a good choice of food to continue her on. I have heard good things about Caninde (sorry about the spelling). I know there are raw food advocates and dry food advocates, I'm figuring that a healthy dry with raw vegtables (if I can get her to eat them) would be good. I've been concentrating on the three meals a day and getting her to eat more than what I've been feeding her. I know nutrition is key but the ear mites and yeast infection kind of were my first concerns hence my seemingly disregard for quality of food. All recommendations are more than welcome....
I had not heard about the coats of the Leonbergers changing. I'm going to see if I can find out more.
I just picked up a gadget which allows me to use my digital camera with the I need batteries...when I do get it me there will be lots of pictures of Boo and Teeno.....Vel

August 24th, 2006, 01:25 AM
Canidae is a good choice. :thumbs up
And some veg would be good too.
Post as many pics as you'd like.:) Personally, I like Boo pics. ;)

August 24th, 2006, 01:25 AM
I know nutrition is key but the ear mites and yeast infection kind of were my first concerns hence my seemingly disregard for quality of food.

The Puppy Chow could very well be the cause of her yeast infections so I would really consider changing her to a better quality food.

August 24th, 2006, 01:26 AM
Oh, and as a new super large breed dog owner, just in case you don't know about bloat, here's a really good link about it:
You should know what the symptoms are and the best prevention because she is such a big doggy.:)

August 24th, 2006, 05:22 AM
Low quality foods also aren't the best idea for very big dogs because they make the dog more prone to bloat.
Large dogs are already prone to bloat, and the more grains the more gas normally, so that's not good. Don't switch her too fast though because that could also cause excess gas. Pick a good quality food and switch very slowly, especially with a dog of this size, since they're prone to stomach upset.

August 25th, 2006, 08:34 AM
Getting her on a better food and adding yogurt to it would be great. Her system is rebuilding itself and yogurt would be great flora to help out.

Raw beef bones might be a good idea. Thaw one out and scrape out the marrow inside. SHARE the bone with her - you hold it while she chews it. This develops relationship and manners while cleaning her teeth naturally and exercising her gums. You might see some blood at first but the just means her gums are getting a much needed workout. Take little bits of the scraped out marrow and put it in her food each day to help introduce the rich nutrition slowly. If she gets the 'shoots' - canned pumpkin does the trick. Give her a couple of table spoons every couple of hours and it should clear right up. Its pure fiber and will push out the cause of the 'shoots' while creating a healthy stool again.

Put her on the leash attached to an adult. Scared dogs have 2 options - fight or flight. We can help her by teaching her that flight isn't necessary. If she is permitted to constantly flee from what she perceives to be scarey then we perpetuate her fears. But if we can calmly provide her with good leadership and help her move past her fears then she will gain confidence and calm down. Having her on a leash attached to an adult takes the flight option away. It also reminds you to provide clear leadership. Show her the world is a great place, give her lots of jobs to do (sit, stay, down..etc) - don't coddle her. The busier her mind and body are the less time she has to worry, AND with each little fear that she moves past the faster she will move past the next fear - now she is building confidence. Baby steps are important but try not to spend too much time at each step. It's a new day and a great new life - lets get busy. Obviously don't overwhelm her, but don't underestimate her ability either.

Angies Man
August 29th, 2006, 12:42 AM
Getting her on a better food and adding yogurt to it would be great. Her system is rebuilding itself and yogurt would be great flora to help out.

Raw beef bones might be a good idea. Thaw one out and scrape out the marrow inside. SHARE the bone with her - you hold it while she chews it.

At the risk of threadjacking a little, her physical health & nutritional needs are an important factor in her emotional health and welfare. So, here's a continuation of T'foot's food points.

My dog gets no-fat, unsweetened, plain yogurt every morning. It tastes like wallpaper paste to me, but the puppy loves it. I make my own, using nonfat dried milk, I make up a litre of milk according to the directions except I use 2 cups of milk powder instead of one. If I were you, I'd make it in 4 litre batches. I posted a recipe in the recipe section a couple of weeks ago.

Your big girl can probably eat 1/2 or 3/4 litre of the stuff a day for a while, when you put it in a bowl, add some a tablespoon of canola oil per cup of yogurt--you want no transfatty acids, so no hydrogenated veggie oil. But the oil will perk her up and give her some needed calories.

Dogs are creatures of habit, I wouldn't put the yogurt (or other supplements) on her kibble. I think it creates an expectation that kibble is going to have milky, oily stuff on it all the time.

Get some chicken breasts, some wild run salmon or steelhead (any wild caught fish will do) or lean meat, you can also make up a soup for her--make it with the breasts (minus bones) any giblets you can find, tomatoes, apples/ carrots/spinach/green beans/peas/a little sweet corn/brown rice and food grade bone meal. Some beans and lentils can go in, too. Once it's all cooked, mash it with a potato masher (or puree the veggies in a food processor before you put them in. Cook it with a little FRESH garlic and maybe some parsley, but no added salt or other spices. Meat and meat products should provide 2/3 of the bulk portion of the soup--2/3 meat, 1/3 veggies, fruit, rice, plus water. If you add broth, make it unsalted.

She needs vitamins C (I've read you can use Ester C,) E, a vitamin/mineral supplement, and some digestive enzyme supplements (Prozyme, or Doctor Goodpets for all of these.)

For treats, hard boiled eggs are good. Give them to her shells and all--dogs don't seem to mind the crunch and the shells are good sources of calcium. Eggs are a good source of phosphorous.

Probably if you feed her this stuff, she'll get some poopy gas and loose stools for a while. But if she's been eating kibble with lots of corn, soy, and added sugar, it's all part of detox and cleaning out her digestive tract. Her gut is probably full of slime from the corn which doesn't digest--it ferments. Within weeks, she'll feel better, smell better, and look a whole lot better.

Corn, soy, corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, sugar and artificial sweeteners are all really bad for your girl--the first three or four ingredients in dog food should be meat, fish, or poultry or by meat products.

So read the ingredients list and get her the good stuff dog food, any of the stuff the folks around here recommend is good. She'll probably be pretty hungry for a while, but good honest food can't hurt her, so let her eat pretty much as much as she wants for a while. Rule of thumb is that kibble from the pet supply store, discount store, or supermarket is terrible for your dog--and Science Diet from the vets is in this hall of shame as well.

Let us know how it's going with her.


August 29th, 2006, 05:24 PM
Sounds like Angie is spoiled rotten.:)

August 29th, 2006, 06:53 PM
mmm lucky Angie!

Store bought plain yogurt is fine, too, if you're not inclined to have curdling milk around hehe.

I just wanted to say, maybe she didn't like the ice cream container because she is still learning to trust her surroundings. WIth her head down like that, she probably couldn't see what was coming at her; the lower cake pan is probably better for her!

I also wanted to say Canidae is a great choice. Both my dogs are on it and loving it; it is a great food.

Good luck with your beauty! And congrats on the great job you're doing with her!

Angies Man
August 29th, 2006, 09:56 PM
Sounds like Angie is spoiled rotten.:)

Well maybe a little. :p

But if I had a neglected, underweight dog, I'd want to feed her the good stuff to get her back on track as quickly as possible and a varied (& tasty) diet has to help.

Chicken breasts, btw, have been $.99 forever here, large eggs have been .69 a dozen, and tossing leftover veggies and brown rice are basically free. It's how my grandma fed her dog back in the 20's and 30's. The dogs pot was never empty.

BTW, Angie had some chicken soup for dinner. :thumbs up

September 23rd, 2006, 02:24 AM
Well, thanks everyone for the diet advice...I have been doing a lot of reading and even more trials with Boo. She is very picky but I have been making her food for her by using pasta....a variety of different kinds, macaroni, spagetti, bows etc. and cooking roasts, hamburger, liver, chicken and sneaking in carrot. Tryed the yogurt.....neither her nor the cat would touch it...Boo doesn't like eggs at all, picks them apart and then leaves them all over the floor. If I diguise carrots by cooking and practically mincing them I can get her to eat them. I am also giving her a premium dog food which had chicken and chicken meal then I believe it was salmon listed as the first more Purina. I actually used alot of what I found on this website to pick out a dry food for her. I'd like to stick to the meat, veggie and pasta diet because she seems to really like it. As far as training goes I feel we are making amazing progress.....goes to show you what love and trust can do....Boo is by my side whenever she can be. I take her to work with me two afternoons a week (I work 3 days a week), she loves the car. We go to the park 4 nights a week where I have recently allowed her off her leash because she has been responding so well on the come command. She now will on command, sit, still working on stay, come, give paw. She is as smart as a whip and I find anything new she catches on to easily. I read the posts on almost nightly and have learned so much from everyone...Love this website......:pawprint: :ca:

September 23rd, 2006, 06:06 AM
Sounds like you and Boo are doing great, you could maybe try mixing some rice in there with her food my dogs love it but then again there is not much in the way of food they won't eat, raw veggies are a big hit at our house.

Thanks for the update and please post some pics :D

September 23rd, 2006, 05:37 PM
Thanks for the update on Boo and glad to hear things are going well. How much weight has she gained? And, please don't forget to post some pics. :D

September 24th, 2006, 12:49 AM
Thanks for the update! I'm glad things are going better.:)

September 24th, 2006, 04:03 AM
:dog: In the past month I'd say she's maybe gained around 7 or 8 pounds at the most. It's hard for me to tell because I am with her all the time but anyone who met her when I first got her has noticed a difference in the way she looks. Most common comments are that her coat looks good, that she has put on weight and that she looks happy. She doesn't look as gaunt as she did. I would love to post pics but can't figure out how to do it, but I did figure out how to get her pic as my avatar......:pawprint:

September 24th, 2006, 04:15 AM
Are you still feeding her the Canidae with all the extras? She should fatten up in no time. I wish I could help with the "posting pictures" but my computer skills are sorely lacking. There's lots of others here that will be able to help though. :D

September 24th, 2006, 04:39 AM
I am still feeding Boo the dry food along with the meat and pasta. And I am continuely experimenting with what extra's she'll like. I have tryed to entice her with banana, apple and raw carrot but she won't even touch her nose to those things....:pawprint:

September 24th, 2006, 09:42 AM
Yeah, Boos are hard to feed.:D :rolleyes:

September 24th, 2006, 12:07 PM
Hee hee, I haven't found a fruit or veggie (including lettuce) that both my boys won't eat. :crazy:

September 24th, 2006, 01:05 PM
Even raw mushrooms?

September 25th, 2006, 01:36 AM
We don't have mushrooms very often. They're kind of a luxury at our house so I'm not inclined to share. :D