Mickey is slowly adjusting to our home and routine. He is the most scared and skittish dog we’ve fostered, and I would appreciate any advice from you dog-savvy fosters and owners regarding how you rehabilitated a fearful animal.
This dog is a submissive lover boy who adores getting pet, especially around his neck and face. He’s loosened up to the point that he’s very excited when someone comes home, and he jumps around in glee, landing in the play position each time. The change happens when people continue to move towards him. He retreats warily with his tail between his legs as though we have bad intent. It’s an even quicker retreat when we are holding something, be it a larger grocery bag or a wallet.
He walks well when surroundings are relatively calm. However, he is most scared when people approach him from behind. We had several runners pass us, and he gets terrified watching them get closer, trying to stretch as far away on leash as possible. My guess is that he’s had people chase him to beat him. His fear is nothing normal, nothing simply puppyish.
My stepsons experimented with running up to our forever furry, Frieda. She stood there with slightly raised doggy brows, looking at them like they were missing some marbles. A dog who has not been abused may show curiosity at someone’s approach, but there shouldn’t be any fear or fearful retreat. Makes me so angry to think that someone abused Mickey. He is as sweet as they come.
We will continue walking him, but I need more ideas for how we can help him at home. I feel like we need to put him in sit and have someone approach him from different sides, earning a treat each time he doesn’t retreat. I don’t know. This is new territory for us. He sits easily for food as opposed to without it, so we might lean heavily on training with treats for awhile.
I worry about him finding the right forever home, because if his new owners decide to coddle him, he will not grow out of his fears on his own. He will simply keep them and be a very insecure dog, and there is no quality of life in that. Worse, if his owners lose patience with him and decide to be more forceful with an already fearful dog, they will exacerbate his issues.
The ideal family for Mickey? One who already has years of experience with dogs–his issues need to be addressed by a confident dog owner, not by beginners. He is wonderful around kids and would be happy with other dogs. He needs someone who will actively bring him into different environments, as staying at home or in a yard all the time is not enough to address his fears. He needs continued socialization (don’t they all?).
If you have any advice on how we can continue working with Mickey while we have him, please speak up! And thank you in advance!