Join Date: Jul 2010
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A lot of dogs with questionable pasts garner 'security' - courage (if you will) from the company of other dogs - they feel safer (as more often than not they have had few if any negative experiences with other dogs) and less anxious - so have an easier time paying attention to commands.
' Just her, she acts like she has no brain at all' and 'loses her brain on leash', suggests that she is extremely stressed in these situations. Stress can be displayed by hyper active behavior or by 'shutting down' doing nothing- in either case she cannot think or respond to cues. Does she get more 'animated'? or does it seem like she is 'ignoring' cues slows down or stops moving? Either way, she is telling you that she does not feel safe being 'alone' and on leash with a person..
To help her over come this. Start in the house where she feels 'safer', spend some time in a room with just you and her, block the other pets away. Sit on a chair or on the floor and over time, move to standing up. Don't ask anything of her, and avoid eye contact, just reward with praise and food rewards any behaviors you like. Toss her treats, feed her from your hand, walk around, just let her be. Attach a leash, but don't hold it, continue with the treats, over time, pick up the leash and just hold it and feed her more treats. Avoid putting any tension on the leash, move with her if she moves. Even if she is fine with this, continue reinforcing with calm praise and food rewards, the goal is to create positive associations and reinforce to her that with being alone with you and on leash is a good thing.
Then take her out in the yard, just the two of you. Start over, have her offleash and reward and praise, for her approaching, following, moving with you, anything 'positive'. Gradually build to where you can have her on leash and she is comfortable with that. It is very important that she have only good associations with being with you and on leash - avoid any type of physical (leash) or harsh verbal 'corrections', 'mark' a mistake with a verbal cue such as 'oops' or 'wrong' to let her know she made a mistake, and show her what you want her to do.
When you take her for a walk on leash, if you haven't been doing so, go 'solo', (short walks to start with) yes, she will be less anxious with another dog along, but she will benefit from the experience of doing it 'by herself' with you.
Trust and confidence in us is earned, through creating and reinforcing positive experiences with our dogs. It takes time, patience, and compassion - understand that her previous experiences with one-on-one interactions with people may not have been all good, understand also that you can change how she feels about those situations by ensuring that only good things happen when she is with you.
My rescue came to me, afraid of the collar and terrified of the leash, it took me six months to help him learn that just having the leash attached to his collar was not the end of the world. My other dogs helped teach him that people were okay, but learning to feel safe - one-on-one with me, took a lot longer, it is ALL about trust.
'Don't pity the rescue dog. Adopt one. And be proud to have their greatness by your side.'