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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone, I'm really new to this forum but I've found it quite helpful when I needed information.
My Golden Retriever Lilo was born Oct 3rd 2016, she's a fluffy sweet girl. However, she's terrified of almost everyone. I was shocked when she wouldn't allow anyone in the house to get close to her. She just bows down, ducks down, puts her tail down and her ears back. I am really worried that she might be traumatized from something. I don't want to believe that the breeder we got her from mistreated her, but that thought is starting to haunt me. When we call her she won't come, when we walk by her she runs away, whenever we approach her (doing it gently and slowly) she is terrified as well. I just don't know what to do, I had a dog for 15 years with me and I never experienced anything like this. Lilo sleeps with me every night, spends almost all day long by my side, plays with me whenever she feels like playing, and still she's scared of me. It's not that bad with me since she is by my side the majority of the time, but still, afraid of me. Have any of you guys had this problem? Do any of you have any suggestions? I would really appreciate any feedback, I want her to live a normal happy life and not be afraid of humans in general.
 

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I don't know if I remembered correctly, but I don't think Lilo had the best start in life? The breeder may not have been abusive, but didn't do any early socialization? That or genetics may be effecting Lilo's current behavior. You've only had her a short time but it seems like you're doing everything right. Keep working with her and introducing new things at her pace. Make every experience as positive as you can. I only have experience with one rescue dog, Lottie. She isn't a golden but she had a rough start, breeder didn't care about her or spend time with her and pawned her off at 6 weeks to save money. She's 3.5 now and although she'll never be the most friendly dog in the world, she loves and trusts me. She gets nervous around people that get in her space, she doesn't like to be patted on the head by strangers, etc but she's my girl and she snuggles with me in bed every night. Every dog is different but maybe Lilo won't ever be what you would have expected.
 

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Thank you so much! Yeah, Lilo lived in a farm surrounded by horses and other animals including her siblings. By the way she behaves I know for sure she wasn't socialized whatsoever, she knew her breeder and that was it. I don't even think she knew what a house was, which thinking about it now infuriates me. The first day we brought her home she didn't know what to do and just sat at the entrance looking around. Part of it I think is that he told us to go pick her up way too late, she was over 3 months and had already settled into her farm life. I've only had rescue dogs and Lilo is my first breeder pup, so going into it I didn't know much about it. Now, after getting Lilo and seeing the conditions the pups were in, I know that he wasn't a responsible breeder. I'm hopeful that she will eventually be relaxed around the rest of the family, even if she never behaves like a "normal" Golden Retriever. She's my baby and I don't care, as long as she's healthy and happy I'm good with her being shy and insecure. We're seeing that she feels more comfortable around other dogs than she does with people so we're thinking about getting another pup down the line, nothing set yet though. Although this time we'll most definitely do our homework and really look into finding a responsible breeder.
 

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Wendy
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It definitely sounds, like Lilo, wasn't socialized at all, unfortunately. My daughter went through the same thing, as you. She got her pup, at 4 months and all he knew, was his mother. He only felt comfortable, around other dogs. She would call me, in tears, because she couldn't get him to bond with her and he was terrified of everything. It took, several months and even to this day ( he's 11 now) he's a momma's boy, still is nervous, around new people.

It's good, you are able to, spend so much time with her. She will end up having a strong bond with you. You just have to work harder than most, to get her used to everything and go slow. It will get better.
 

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Lots of treats in your pocket, dispensing them when she's not expecting. Also sit on the floor and let her come to you. Hold a stuffie in your hand and play with it yourself, let her get curious about it. When she does approach you, give her the toy and a treat.

Don't feed her from a bowl, but rather from your hand.

Same thing for everybody in the family. Unless she's trained to come, don't call her to you because she will learn to ignore you.

The big thing right now is to get her to come to you out of her own volition and then reward her for doing it, same as everyone in the family.
 

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Lots of treats and encouragement but in soft voice. Though she is past the socialization phase, it is definitely not too late to still work on it.

Handfeeding is also a very good suggestion, to build trust between the two of you. And get other members of your family to give her treats too (not force her to take it, but rather let her come at her own pace).

Walk her out a lot by beginning in less busy areas. and then gradually exposing her to more.

Good luck!
 

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If you will let the board know where you are located, we can recommend some good trainers. I think you really need to have a trainer with some behavior experience get involved NOW, so you can start working toward solving the problem with advice and assistance from someone with experience.
 

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I agree, hand feeding is a great but often overlooked tool to form/strengthen a bond. I did it one kibble at a time for a couple of months with Maya, ensuring we made eye contact frequently and praising her repeatedly as she showed confidence in accepting food. Maya was not as frightened as Lilo, but was (and still is) easily spooked. Good luck.
 

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Puddles
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Me too Mayabear, my girl wasn't afraid of anything but acted like she hadn't been around people... uncomfortable when touched, no eye contact, no desire to interact. All meals were given one kibble at a time for at least 2 months. If she hadn't been hungry she would have just walked away, she had no use for people at all. I actually had to toss a kibble in her direction when we started. Eventually I could put down a kibble and waited for her to look up, no eye contact at first but looking in my direction earned a kibble & a "yes" good girl. Eventually she looked at me waiting for her kibble. So worth the trouble, the bond we have now is incredible.
 

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I am working with someone's dog right now on this. I am counterconditioning the dog. A good resource is HELP FOR YOUR FEARFUL DOG by Nicole Wilde.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Hey everyone, thank you so much for your help and suggestions. I had never experienced a fearful dog and I was kind of desperate to make her feel better and more relaxed. We have been doing the hand feedings and they are working wonders on her, at first she was insecure about it, but after just one day doing it she is doing better. She has been getting loads of treats every time she comes up to us and she has started playing with my father as well (until now she only felt comfortable playing with me). Today, after days having to carry her outside she decided to come with me, by my side and it was the most rewarding feeling.
I am going to get the books you have recommended and put them to good use, I am determined to make her life as stress free as possible.
The thought of possibly getting her a brother or sister down the line is still in our minds, do you think it would be a good idea? She feels more comfortable around other dogs than she does around humans, so we thought that getting another dog once she is more relaxed would help her. This time we would do our homework and find a responsible breeder that socializes and takes good care of the puppies.
Again, thank you so much for your help.
 

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Hey everyone, thank you so much for your help and suggestions. I had never experienced a fearful dog and I was kind of desperate to make her feel better and more relaxed. We have been doing the hand feedings and they are working wonders on her, at first she was insecure about it, but after just one day doing it she is doing better. She has been getting loads of treats every time she comes up to us and she has started playing with my father as well (until now she only felt comfortable playing with me). Today, after days having to carry her outside she decided to come with me, by my side and it was the most rewarding feeling.

I am going to get the books you have recommended and put them to good use, I am determined to make her life as stress free as possible.

The thought of possibly getting her a brother or sister down the line is still in our minds, do you think it would be a good idea? She feels more comfortable around other dogs than she does around humans, so we thought that getting another dog once she is more relaxed would help her. This time we would do our homework and find a responsible breeder that socializes and takes good care of the puppies.

Again, thank you so much for your help.


Good to hear she's improving!

I would not get another dog at this time. I would suggest she needs to bond with the humans in the family first before getting another dog. It sounds good to have a companion, but the bind to the human family should be first goal.


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Our dog, Rosey, was the same way as Lilo. She was a rescue and apparently had such a bad start to life that we were not privy to what happened to her for fear that we.....well I'm not really sure what they feared, but they wouldn't tell us. She was literally afraid of everything, including the wind. We got her at 8 weeks old and she's now 11 years old. She is the sweetest and best dog we've ever had. She was so incredibly shy she wouldn't do anything at obedience class but lay under a chair. It took her a while to get used to the family, but once she did she never left our side. As far as people went she had to see you many times before she felt comfortable with you and would come out of hiding for a belly scratch. Flash forward 11 years and she now is the first dog at the door when someone comes over. She will never get quite close enough to sniff them, but she's definitely not hiding anymore. She is extremely docile with kids, and she still doesn't care for walks. When she lost her best friend, Daisy, our almost 9 year old Golden in August, we knew she was depressed. We got our golden puppy, Rudy, in November and she perked right back up. Best dog we ever had and wouldn't trade her for the world. FYI we had her DNA tested and she ended up having Siberian Husky, Akita, and a little German Shepard amongst a million other breeds that were to small to detect. Good luck. It will be worth it in the long run. I believe they know they have been rescued and reward you with a lifetime of love.


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