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E87W
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E87W is offline  
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Joined: Oct 2017
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07-03-2018, 01:09 PM

Severe anxiety.

Hi.

Firstly, I'm sorry this will be lengthy. I need to explain it all in full to prevent misunderstandings and unnecessary back and forth of questions and answers.

I purely joined here to get some advice on how to help my mum's dog's severe anxieties, as this seems a last resort before consulting with a trainer, which my mum doesn't want to do, despite my disapproval of that because her dog needs professional help, as well as the fact she, her partner and his son need to know what they're doing with him too.

He's a one-year-old Shih Tzu, and my mum and her partner got him at 8 weeks of age from a breeder who lived in squalor, apparently. They themselves live in a busy town, so walking him means passing lots of things he's petrified of. He hadn't been properly lead-trained as he grew up, so he doesn't take notice of you leading him, he's just intent on pulling* and cowering as he passes bushes, people, parked cars, even shop doorways. His tail is always down, he's skittish, and he's unresponsive (when he stops beside the curb to cross a road or you stop walking, he'll usually automatically sit down, which he's done from the word go). He's a bit hit-and-miss with other dogs.

(*I insisted last year that he needed a decent "anti-pull" kind of harness, but the one we settled on, my mum "can't figure it out", so he still has his puppy one, which gives whoever's walking him absolutely no hope of walking him properly. He does wear/use a collar (or rather I use that collar when I walk him) but he chokes himself on it. Also, I know how to walk a dog correctly, and I know how to lead-train a dog; it's about the only thing I know how to do in life. I know which harness/leads/collars/etc are okay and which not to bother with (I've thought about buying him a halti, which worked amazingly well for my family's old dog, but because of his short muzzle, I doubt it'd even stay on his face, plus I'd rather get to the source of his issues and fix them, than simply put a metaphorical plaster over them), but I know none of them walk him properly, so it doesn't matter what he's wearing anyway, and I can't be there to walk him every day.

The only time he's truly relaxed on a walk is if I take him round some fields where I live, and avoid many roads and cars and things that would scare him. Those times he's got his tail up, he's sniffing about, he's running for fun rather than trying to run away from something, and he'll take notice of me being there with him, so he becomes this completely different dog when in the open, countryside environment.

There's only so much I know about dog training too. I helped our old family dog with behavioural issues, but his were more to do with dominance and wanting to kill my small animals, for example, but I managed to train that out of him in a few weeks. With my mum's dog, he's not dominant. I'm told he's very carefree in the home; when I've been there, he seems very comfortable and calm. He's generally not a barker, he will jump up when I, or another friend/family member he knows really well (there's only a few of us he gets excited about seeing) goes to their house, but he's very subtle about this excitement, not obnoxious like some dogs can be. He's never once growled, bitten or lunged at anyone or anything when he's been in his anxious state, or any other time. Knowing what I do about dogs, I realise that could very well change one day if he's highly anxious and cornered, and he doesn't know what else to do.

Now, without going into detail, in order for anyone to potentially help, I need to explain some other things. My mum's homelife is difficult, she's not treated as an equal to her partner, his son is... to put it politely, an absolute nightmare, and her partner and his son are generally not the wisest of men. So, when it comes to things beyond basic house-training, it's all non-existent. For this reason, I warned her not to get a dog in the first place because I feared they'd likely become messed up themselves. As well as that, our previous family dog was quite messed up before we took him on, then my mum would become frustrated with him when he wouldn't do as she said (he wasn't trained...), but also mollycoddle him other times, which led to a whole load more issues that, when she left and moved in with her partner, I had to learn how to correct in him. I fear she's doing similar with the new dog because when no-one is around she gets annoyed with him for being anxious or "stubborn", as she says, then when others are there she'll fuss over him when he's anxious, so basically praising him for being scared - either way, he's just not learning anything and his anxiety isn't being fixed by any of them. (And I must stress that she, nor her partner or his son have abused him physically. What he went through before they got him, all I'm aware of is he was living in his own muck with his sister, the place was a tip, it stunk, and no mother was present at the time.)

And before anyone possibly suggests giving a stranger treats to show they're a friend or whatever, we've tried this many times and for many months; he won't eat when he's out. I tend to take a detached approach and force him to let people show they're a friend, and while his intense shaking he had for months has mostly gone in these situations, he still cowers and/or tries to hide from people.

I think I've covered everything necessary.

So, after all that, what can I do to help him, and help them help him too? Or would this have to be a job for a trainer to talk to them about?
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Chris
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Location: Lincolnshire
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07-03-2018, 03:04 PM
Unless you are willing to take him on full-time, I doubt there's much can be done to help him, unless your mother would listen to advice and that doesn't sound hopeful.

A decent trainer may be able to help, but if your mum won't listen to them or follow the advice given, it just won't work.

I feel your frustration. This sounds to be a lovely little dog that just needs some directed attention to help him over his anxieties
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E87W
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07-03-2018, 05:42 PM
Originally Posted by Chris View Post
Unless you are willing to take him on full-time, I doubt there's much can be done to help him, unless your mother would listen to advice and that doesn't sound hopeful.

A decent trainer may be able to help, but if your mum won't listen to them or follow the advice given, it just won't work.

I feel your frustration. This sounds to be a lovely little dog that just needs some directed attention to help him over his anxieties
Thanks for your reply.

Sadly I'm unable to take him on even if that was an option they would consider. I have a rabbit who is terrified of him so it wouldn't be fair.

I thought perhaps I could find some techniques to teach my mum, sort of slyly, without telling her I'd searched for help online.

And yeah, he is a great little guy, and whenever my mum says he's going to see me, he runs to the back door/gate thinking I'm there.

I think I'll have to have a tougher word with my mum about contacting a local trainer. Thanks again!
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Trouble
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Location: Romford, uk
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07-03-2018, 06:56 PM
Buy her a book that she can read when there's no one to disturb her, she might take advice better from a third party than you.
Click to calm by Emma Parsons might help.
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