Out of ideas

Hello all,

You all have been such a wonderful source of information and tips that I would like to put three more questions out to you for your expert opinions and suggestions.

Question #1 - Our rescue dog, Wrigley, has been with us for about six weeks (we got him from BRAT). All we know about his past is that he was found on the side of a busy highway. Anyway, when we first got him he was very very anxious. He paced and paced around the living room etc. He has gotten better about that but another anxious behavior has not gotten very much better. Wrigley will not come in the french doors from our backyard unless he is very uncomfortable outside (rainy, extremely cold etc.). He will sit on the steps looking in, shivering, which of course makes us feel soooooooooo bad. Eventually if we leave the door cracked he will come in but watches to make sure we dont shut the door again. We have to sneek over to it to get it shut. With the weather getting worse and worse we cant just leave the door cracked all the time. We have tried putting leash on him and dragging him in but we would really like for him just to come in like the other two b's we have (he doesnt like running in our backyard with the long lead on). Also, we have tried putting treats down to try to get him to come in and he just sits there and looks at them or , in true b fashion will find the one time we look away to sneak in and get his goody! Any suggestions – have we not given it enough time --- should we just leave him out there until he really wants to come in?????

Question #2 Wrigley is very scared of men. He will not let my hubby touch him without flinching and running away. My DH had a few friends over for poker the other night and I ended up taking all the dogs upstairs because Wrigley became so anxious. Should we have made him stay in the room with them or did I do the right thing by taking him out of the situation that scared him so much? What can my DH do to build that trust up with him ( he has been the one to hold his leash on our walks but even then Wrigley wants to be close to me).

Question #3 Wrigley has been growling at my son when he enters the room. We have been telling him no in a stern way but it has gotten to the point where my son stays in his room (more than usual for a 17 year old) because it upsets Wrigley so much when he is in the family room iwth us. Any suggestions?????

  1. Have you used something super good, like liver, or turkey breast to treat him with when he comes in?

  2. God, no! Don't make him stay in a room where he is scared…that won't help at all. Next time, start with the dogs somewhere away from the company, until you have him at a point where he can tolerate that level of intrusion.

  3. Please quit telling him 'no' when he growls. That is like you being scared of someone on the subway, you get up to move away and your husband yells 'no' at you. Does that make you more comfortable? This is a complex issue, and you really need a behaviorist to visit, evaluate, and make some training steps for you. But every time Wrigley growls, he is practicing a behavior you don't want to see. Has your son tried tossing really yummy treats (liver...not liver treats, but cooked liver) to him every time he enters the room? If Wrigley is too nervous to eat when son tosses food, I would start with this...you start feeding Wrigley liver treats as son approaches room. Son gets to entry way of door, and turns and leaves..when son is walking away you stop feeding. Doesn't matter what Wrigley is doing during this time, it is an 'open bar' of liver when son is approaching. Don't get hung up on 'but I am rewarding him while he is growling'...he is not making a choice to growl, he is terrified...you are changing the association with your son from negative to positive.

THEN...Wrigley should have a crate, or safe room where he can go, so you can spend family time with your son in the room. Eventually the goal will be for everyone to be together, but right now that is too much for the dog...and you won't make any progress with him at this level of stress.

Hope some of this helps.

Thank you Andrea,,,,I have read many of your posts and respect your opinion. We will try your suggestions immediatly. About the behaviorist though, I will look on the net and in the phone book for one but we are in a very rural area in southeast Ohio and Im not holding my breath that we have someone like that around our area.

Thanks for your kind words. Contact me privately if you wish, let me know where you are, and I will see if I can find anyone close by, otherwise, I will try to help from a distance 🙂

If you have a BRAT person who knows basenjis in your area, they might be willing to come over and visit.
I do this up in the PNW and am glad to share what I think with folks.
This boy sounds like he has had very bad things happen in the house.
So, my advice is light happy voices, lots of special treats when he come in, have hubby/son toss them to him…with no direct stares..just a happy, glad to see you, glance out of the corner of eye, treat, ignore, and if the dog moves in again, repeat.
Hubby/son should be sitting or still, and no direct face to the dog.
Hope this give you a bit of help.

Thank you Sharron. Just as I said to Andrea, I have read many of your posts as well and appreciate you advice. I will try to find someone close. I looked online and found a behaviorist about 45 minutes away from us. Her rate was $425 for three sessions. Does this seem high to you?

That is a lot of $$$…but if the person does the job you need, it would be worth it.
I would sure get some references!
Damaged dogs really do want to be part of the pack and we need to help them by reading the signals they give us.
It's not an easy thing.
Using baby, or "its ok" voices make sense to us, but it makes the dog even more scared.
We need to use, your so silly, this is a good thing tones, and have our bodies saying the same thing.
Direct stares, for a scared dog are a threat.
Hard voices or force are also harsh teatment imo and I am not a trained person..
Scared dogs need calm, space, and consistant behavior from the humans that they are watching so very closely.
I understand that people have friends in...but this is a major issue for a dog who is not settled in the house.
I am not trying to dis you..honey, I only want to help any dog and family who needs it.
I wish I was more trained.
Let me know if this post helps.

It does sound like a lot…but it may depend on how long the sessions are. I charge about half that for three one hour sessions regarding aggression. I also charge by the session...so if the people only want one session to get some ideas, I will do that. But one reason for that, is that I am building my business, and another is that I don't have the long-held, great reputation that my mentor had (before she moved out of state). Other trainers in our area, who really don't like to do aggression cases, charge much more than I do. So, yes, it can be expensive.

I would also recommend 'The Cautions Canine' by Patricia McConnell PhD and 'Help for Your Fearful Dog' by Nicole Wilde. That will cost you less than $50 from Dogwise.com And you will be on the road to a whole new understanding with dogs 🙂 The books can't replace time spent with an experienced and knowledgable trainer/behaviorist...but if you are a good book learner, and willing to put in the work, it may be the answer you need 🙂

We sure do want to share our knowledge with you and find out what works for your dog.
This will help other dogs in the future.

Thank you so much Andrea and Sharron! And Sharron, I didnt think you were trying to dis me,,,,,,:). I guess we just had it so good with our first two b's that Wrigley has thrown us for a loop. We just want the best for our new boy. It is really sad to see him so scared – when someone new comes in he immediately gets really gassy and anxious (I know people think Im lying when I blame the smell on the dog,,,,lol). Anyway, thanks for all the tips. We will do what we need to to get Wrigs settled in and confident.

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