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Unread 09-21-2012, 12:29 PM   #1
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Question Blue Heeler/ Border Collie mix

We adopted a 6mo. Blue Heeler/ Border Collie mix last Friday at a National Adoption Event. We named her Frightful, after the book, "My Side Of The Mountain". They really didn't give us much information about her personality just how those breeds act and such. She was pretty scared of all her surroundings. There was a lot of loud dogs and people, I was getting over whelmed too lol so I understand how she was feeling. We were told she would settle down once we brought her home.

Once we brought her home and now that we have had her for a week she has opened up to me quite a bit. We found that she is undersocialized. She is wary of strangers, pretty scared of men and she tends to gravitate towards children and dogs. She is not treat or toy motivated and really calm. She doesn't play much at all.

I have two children and am married to my husband Ryan. She is still pretty scared of Ryan. She goes back and forth about it. She hides under the bed most of the time when he is home. A few times she has sniffed him and taken a treat. I have started closing all the bedroom doors and such so she has to stay in the living room or kitchen to see everything that goes on so she can get used to seeing him while he is home up and about ignoring her and doing things. She sleeps with both my husband and I at night. I take her every where with me so she can get used to seeing people. I have been really trying to socialize her and even though it has been a week I feel like I'm losing hope. Will this get better with time?

My husband and I have started taking her to a free obedience class on Tuesdays. It's for people who have adopted a dog. It is pretty packed with people and their dogs and I feel they can't really give us one on one very much. I have also heard mixed reviews about the guy who does it. I still plan on taking her just so we can get what we can from it and so we can socialize her.

I was told to teach her to pay attention to me and to look me in the eyes and to get her to ignore her surroundings. Every time she looks at me in the eyes when I say her name I click the clicker and give her a treat. I have been working on this since Tuesday and she does it sometimes. When there is stuff going on she ignores me. I don't know how to get her attention. She is not very treat or toy motivated. She does like to be pet and loved on so I have been doing that but it doesn't always work.

She doesn't know any other commands and I would love to teach her more if I can get her attention. I would love to teach her a lot! She is very smart. You can tell by just looking at her. She is house trained. Almost leash trained. She is learning to stay on one side of me and she mostly stays behind me. She is pretty submissive and sensitive to punishments. I don't really know where to start in training her.

Where do I start? I don't know what kind of questions to ask I just need help. From what I have told you how can you help?

Thanks so much!
Ashley

She's the one in my picture We love her so much.

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Unread 09-21-2012, 12:30 PM   #2
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Just to show how sensitive to punishment she is I just caught her chewing my shoe and I took it away while saying no in a stern voice and she went and hid under the bed all hunched over.

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Unread 09-21-2012, 12:59 PM   #3
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Welcome to df rah08! Lots of nice people here and will be on later to help with your question.
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Unread 09-21-2012, 02:08 PM   #4
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Ashley, welcome to the forum! Congrats on adoping Frightful and giving her a forever home. We have some excellent trainers on this forum that could give you some great tips for getting started. Have you thought about bringing in a professional trainer to do an assessment of your dog? It may be a great place to start.
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Unread 09-21-2012, 02:25 PM   #5
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Thank you

DeeLind7-

I have thought about getting help from a professional trainer that is licensed and I looked into it, but right now we are tight on money due to the cost of the boys schooling. But we will sometime soon be able to save up more and maybe bring in some extra help.

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Unread 09-21-2012, 04:32 PM   #6
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It sounds to me as if she may have been abused. Maybe not severely but enough to make her wary.
How old is she?
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Unread 09-21-2012, 05:35 PM   #7
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It does sound like she was either abused or is a puppy mill rescue and had been kept kennelled/crated her entire life with no socialization to either people or other animals.

Either way it sounds like she needs to be allowed as much time as she needs to get used to her new surroundings. You've only had her a week - that's barely enough time for a well-adjusted dog to get used to a new home let alone one that's obviously got some socialization issues.

IIWM, I'd relax a whole bit about trying to teach her stuff and getting her out with other animals and people. Let her learn one thing at a time - first thing being comfortable around her own new family. Not saying you can't or shouldn't work on basic skills like sit/stay/come stuff but that until she's relaxed and comfortable around her new home and her new family, don't expect too much of her.

At six months she should be very much a lively little mischevious puppy. That she's not is indicative of her need to become more comfortable with one thing at a time.

She may always be a bit sensitive and shy, it's too early to tell. Give her time, lots of TLC and the opportunity to become all that she can be.

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Unread 09-21-2012, 06:55 PM   #8
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They found her at 3 mo. old as a stray with her mom. She was adopted at about 4 mo and sent back to the shelter at 5 mo. for chewing. Now we have her at about 6 mo.

We love her to death and want the best for her! I guess I feel that she might stay this way if I don't get her out socializing early. She has been opening up a lot with me, a little with the boys and once in a while a teeny tiny bit with my husband. How will I know when she is ready?

I work at a pet grooming shop and I took her with me the two days I worked and she had fun playing with the dogs that came in. Should I leave her at home until she is more comfortable with us? I only work about 4-5 hrs a few days a week...

I looked up some videos online and I found this The Manifesto | Dogmantics Dog Training She has a lot of videos online and it sounds like she has had some of the same experiences with scared/shy dogs as us. What do you think of her? I think I may try this type of training once Frightful has opened up to all of us.

Thank you for your advice and help!

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Unread 09-21-2012, 07:04 PM   #9
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If she is having fun with other dogs, I would continue taking her to work with you. She needs socialization with dogs, as well as people. I have to agree, she needs time to warm up to her new home and mostly people. Don't push her and try to find a high value treat that she may really love. Moo is a trainer on this Forum and she swears by bits of hot dogs. You may want to try that when she is at home. Sooner or later, she will come around. She just needs to get used to her surroundings, and learn to trust her family.

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Unread 09-22-2012, 12:38 AM   #10
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Hi rajh, and congratulations on your new family member. You have been given some good advice by Kenzie's Mom. It is very early days, and your dog needs a little time to adjust to the stress of living in a new environment. It does sound like she is under-socialised, but unfortunately after about 4.5 months of age, you can no longer bombard pups with as many experiences as possible like you can with the tiny pups. Once they are a little older, you can risk 'flooding' them which will actually sensitise rather than desensitise the dog to the new people / places / noises etc. With a worried dog over 4.5 months you have to socialise very carefully and can really only take things at the dog's pace, so it's a long haul commitment rather than a sprint.

It worries me that you describe a 6 month old herding mix as 'calm'. My guess is that your dog is a little withdrawn and shut down behaviourally rather than truly calm. Most behaviourally healthy 6 month old herding mixes are dynamite on legs - the very opposite of calm. I am also guessing that the lack of food drive is also due to the dog being too stressed to be overly concerned with food right now.

I think your first priority is getting your girl used to all the household members and your daily routine. I would suggest you don't try to force any proximity between your husband and dog, rather allow her to retreat and hide if she feels the need and wait for her to come out in her own time. I would when possible have your husband feed her so she forms a positive association with him. He shouldn't try to approach her, rather wait for her to come to him, and make sure he has something yummy for her when she does.

The attention exercise you describe is an excellent one, and is basically the foundation of all other behaviours - including very significantly a solid recall. I would persist with rehearsing that behaviour as often as possible, and in as many different locations as possible, and make it as reinforcing as possible.

You need to work on building some food drive (and hopefully later some toy drive too) to make training (and later counter conditioning to address her fear of men etc) easier. Is she eating her meals or are you free feeding? What are you giving her? What have you tried so far as treats? It is very positive that your girl is enjoying and actively seeking your touch - a really good thing - but even the most smoochy of dogs can be trained faster and more efficiently with food and / or toys. Also I do find that the love of being petted is situational. Whilst one of my dogs loves nothing better than a snuggle on the couch in the evenings whilst we watch TV, she isn't keen on being fussed during a walk or whilst she is in 'work' mode and in fact she actually finds it annoying rather than reinforcing in that context. Think about it we are pretty similar and probably wouldn't wish to be hugged and kissed in the middle of a busy meeting or whilst during a workout at the gym.

The link you posted is Emily Larham, who is an absolutely first class trainer, you can't go wrong with any of her videos.

It's hard to comment on whether the group training and taking to work should continue or not without assessing your dog in person, so all I can suggest is that you watch her body language very carefully and make sure she is not shutting down in either situation. Be prepared to decide that fifteen minutes in class is enough and quietly leave part way through if the whole session is too long for her at this early stage, and perhaps have a covered crate somewhere very quiet at work so she can be given some down time when required. Food is usually a great test, if you dog refuses a high value food treat that she would usually love, then she is probably feeling stressed and overwhelmed and it is time to get her some space.

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