You say that you have tried everything but what is really happening is you are saying why things wouldn't work or why you won't try them. I am not trying to be harsh with you but in all of years of working with rescue dogs and their people it is often the person's empathy for the dog that prevents the dog from forward progress. You feel sorry for her - not knowing what her past was so you assume the worst and don't ask her to behave like a normal dog. If you treat her like a normal dog that is what she will become. If you treat her like a hot house flower then that is what she will become.
At this point you have to think "I am so sorry for what happened in your past but today is a new day and I will never hurt you or cause harm to come to you. Trust me and things will be great." But living in the past, not even knowing what the past was, helps no one.
We worked with many Katrina dogs who were feral and had never been on a leash or even touched by human hands until they were captured. Within 30 mintues they were walking easily on the leash, and they learned to walk happily along and trust their people.
Often times people rescue a little puppy and resoundly say "this puppy was abused - that is why she is the way she is" We ask "do you know that for sure?" They typically say, "No, but she was abandoned and at the shelter, it must have been terrible, and see how shy she is?" In fact most puppies aren't abused they are just undersocialized and insecure - easy to fix. With an older dog it can often be the same - lack of socialization or lack of leash experience can look like abuse when the dog is fearful or refusing to move forward. In fact the dog is simply afraid of the unknown. It is your job to build trust and introduce the dog to the world in a positive way.
Start from scratch like you would with a new puppy. Put her on the leash in the house attached to an adult. Move about the house in your normal routine and she needs to be with you. Moving on carpet is much easier than a slick floor for a fearful dog - so try to keep things on carpet. Simply move around one room at a time - give her breaks to assess what is happening. Each time she moves with you praise her and relax. Then ask her to do a little more. You are building her trust in you, experience with the leash and confidence in the situation. Each time she moves forward and nothing bad happens she gains confidence.
When you feel she is moving easily on the leash in the house then head outside to your yard. Just the yard. Do not go out on to the sidewalk until she seems ready to move with you more willingly.
I promise you the faster you help her face her fears the better off she will be. I am not asking you to be unfair or mean, just a confident leader who knows that she is not asking anything unreasonable of the dog.
You are not going to drag her down the steet because she doesn't learn a thing and you just feel guilty doing it. She has to learn to give to the pressure of the leash. Dragging her offers no release of pressure. But you will need to pull gently forward and stick to your guns until she gives you a step forward. Then go to a loose leash instantly. Repeat, repeat, repeat until she learns that giving to the pressure of the leash feels good. Arguing with the leash does not feel good. It is up to her to choose.
Please feel free to call us to talk more about the process. 303-444-7780 - any day between 9am and 9pm Colorado time. I know we can help.
Love Them & Lead Them,
~Elizabeth & Doug
Dog Training the Way Nature Intended
Last edited by tenderfoot; May 6th, 2009 at 04:59 PM.