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We rescued a 2 year old golden retriever in late February. She's a beautiful sweet dog but still very timid. She has made great progress in the last 2 months but jumps and startles if anyone moves too quickly around her. We are starting to work on basic behavioral training with her. Training with treats is difficult because she will not take a treat if she is too nervous. Clicker training is difficult because the clicking sound startles her. I think choke and shock collars are a huge no for a dog that has been abused. We give lots of praise for good behavior but have to be careful not to overwhelm her. We also have a 3 year old English Cream Retriever who is well trained. We try to use her to model behavior but that isn't enough on it's own. I'm looking for recommendations from others who have rescued. What training resources have you used and like best?
 

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The Control Unleashed program by Leslie McDevitt has worked wonders for my very anxious Golden rescue. I'm lucky enough to have a certified trainer in my area, but the books are good, too. I now have a toolbox of "games" (for lack of a better word) to use in stressful situations.
 

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Where are you located? I may be able to point you to some good resources


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I don't own a rescue dog but my youngest boy was purchased from a breeder when he was 3. He was loved and well cared for, but he was one of many dogs in the breeder's home and so didn't get a ton of in-house or one on one time. It took him at least 3 months to really seem comfortable in our home (he used to have a little anxiety attack every time he woke up - I think because he was still expecting to wake up in his own home), and it took me about 6 months to teach him some real basics (e.g., that fingers held out to him in a certain way would contain a treat, how to down on a verbal command, basic house manners). Even now, more than two years after I bought him, he still tends to stress in new environments (he hates going for walks and it takes him awhile to settle at new training venues). All of this is to say... give your girl some time. She's dealing with a lot of new stuff. Let her move at her own pace and you may be surprised at how far she's come a few months from now.

That said, I agree that Control Unleashed might be a good program for her (it's available as a book and, I think, a video, but some training facilities or SPCAs may also offer it as a class), and if you can tell us where you are located we may be able to make some specific suggestions for trainers or other resources.
 

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We rescued a 2 year old golden retriever in late February. She's a beautiful sweet dog but still very timid. She has made great progress in the last 2 months but jumps and startles if anyone moves too quickly around her. We are starting to work on basic behavioral training with her. Training with treats is difficult because she will not take a treat if she is too nervous. Clicker training is difficult because the clicking sound startles her. I think choke and shock collars are a huge no for a dog that has been abused. We give lots of praise for good behavior but have to be careful not to overwhelm her. We also have a 3 year old English Cream Retriever who is well trained. We try to use her to model behavior but that isn't enough on it's own. I'm looking for recommendations from others who have rescued. What training resources have you used and like best?
I had a similar situation with a dog that would startle when clicker was used. I replaced the clicker with a key word. I used “goooood” said quietly and drawn out. For example “Blackie sit” , dog sits, “gooood”, then treat. Treat can be placed in front of dog or tossed to him if he won’t take from hand. As he builds confidence and learns to trust you he will eventually take a treat from your hand. When treating is phased out you still have the key word to communicate that a behavior is correct “goood” lol
 
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