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Rescue still cowering

November 16th, 2004, 01:35 PM
We rescued our dog Oct 1 from the city pound. She ia approx. 5 years old and is the best loving and affectionate dog ever! She is a yellow lab x.

The sort of good news is (not for me) that I have been home for three weeks with a broken foot. She is also suppose to be resting as her front left leg is sore (Vet said 6 weeks). But I was hoping that she would come out of her shell by now. She has obviously been abused somehow as she cowers and hides when someone raises their voice even a little bit. (Hard to keep 5 and 6 year old boys from being loud). If I even discipline her a bit by saying "no" she lies on her back and just shakes. It is very sad. We have been as loving as possible but she just lacks so much confidence.

Maybe I am expecting her to adapt too soon. Any suggestions for confidence building would be great.

November 16th, 2004, 01:44 PM
I've not rescued a dog before, but my boss has. Her dog is pretty much the same way yours is, and has been that way for a long time. Her dog was physically abused to the point of near death and has vision problems because of it. Taking it slow, and I mean SLOW, is the way to go with a dog like this.

Your dog will take a long while to learn that you aren't going to hurt her. Don't raise your voise at all when you say no. Simply sit where you are, give her a shameful look and go "awwww" in a low tone. But don't move. She knows by the tone that you're displeased. If you don't move to her, or hover over her, she'll learn that you won't be like her old home. All you'll do to her is show displeasure, not anger.

But, like I said, I've not rescued before, so my way might not be the way the others here, who have rescued, would do it.

I'm sure you'll get great advice here from many more knowledgeable people.

Good luck with your very lucky dog!

Lucky Rescue
November 16th, 2004, 01:44 PM
Thanks for giving this poor girl a second chance and a loving home.

Maybe I am expecting her to adapt too soon.

Definitely. It could take months or even a year for her to learn to trust and behave normally.

Here are some tips for helping her get some confidence:

Make sure she is on a strict schedule - same thing at the same time every day for now, including food, walks, playtime, bedtime etc. If she knows what to expect it will help her adjust and make her less anxious.

NEVER comfort her when she is acting scared or submissive. Dogs take this as praise for their behavior. Ignore her fear and carry on as normal.

Get her into obedience school. THis is great for bonding, teaching her that you will protect her, and for her confidence.

Never scold her. If she is doing something she shouldn't, redirect her with a toy or bone then praise her for taking the item offered.

When the kids are being noisy, distract her with a ball or a favoured object to teach her to associate the noise or yelling with something good. You can also practice obedience with her, using lots of praise and treats. Always end any session on an upbeat note, by having her do something she is good at. Make her successful!

I'm sure with time, patience and lots of love, you will have a sweet devoted pet who will overcome her fearfulness.

November 16th, 2004, 02:10 PM
NEVER comfort her when she is acting scared or submissive.

Really? When she is shaking and scared, I have been really loving her up. (holding, trying to calm her, soft voice, re-assurance...).
This will be difficult for me to ignore but I can try. I could see where this might be a learned behavior. Thanks.

November 16th, 2004, 02:13 PM
LR's right. If you cuddle her when she cowers, you're letting her know that cowering is good. Only reward her good behavior. Ignore her when she cowers. Let her see for herself that there's nothing to be frightened of.

Lucky Rescue
November 16th, 2004, 06:12 PM
Really? When she is shaking and scared, I have been really loving her up. (holding, trying to calm her, soft voice, re-assurance...).

I know it's very hard not to comfort a frightened animal, but look at it this way: A dog does not understand English, but it does recognize tones.

When your dog does something good, you might coo, 'Oh what a gooood girl! That's my good dog".

To a dog that sounds just the same as "OH, it's allllll right. Don't be afraid."

So what the dog perceives is that it is being praised for acting scared and that it should continue to do so.

Comforting this dog is reinforcing her fear.

You must ignore fear.