Puppy Mill Cocker

bgaylene52September 18, 2010

Snuggling next to me on the couch is my daughter's first dog...she is 26 (the daughter, not the dog). He is a blonde cocker rescued with 15 other cockers. He was the last to be adopted because the others were younger and went quickly.

Question: Do you all have any suggestions to help him overcome his timidness? The shelter staff has him walking in grass, leash training is okay, shook endlessly at the shelter but is just snoozing away now. What can the pitfalls be with a puppy mill year and a half old dog?

My daughter was a gonner when she found out everyone in the batch had been adopted and he was left. Thanks for the help.

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Ah, bless you & your daughter!

The one suggestion I can think of is "keep things quiet & keep your movements slow & deliberate".

My Max, a Dobie, came from a puppy mill;
he was tossed out when he was between 1 & 2 years old because of a bad foot injury.

He was terrified of *everything* for a long time, & he still does better if things are very quiet, & of course the main thing he's afraid of is people;
even now, he sometimes eyes me furtively, ready to bolt at the first sign of an aggressive move from me.

The other night, a pack of wolves on TV started howling & yipping, & Max got very upset & agitated.

so keep that remote close at hand & be ready to hit the mute button!

    Bookmark   September 18, 2010 at 7:20PM
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first of all, thanks for rescuing this boy!! once he settles in, he will repay you a thousand times over.

i agree...keep things quiet, calm and laid back as much as you can. talk to him a lot, in a soothing voice. for now, avoid a lot of eye contact, particularly staring. dogs find that intimidating. figure out a treat that he can't resist and use it to your advantage. don't reward behavior you don't want, i.e., fear, barking a lot, etc. instead, reward him for calmness and good behavior.

since he came from a puppy mill, he most likely spent his life in a cage. you might think about getting a crate for him to let him use if HE feels the need. i assume he is housebroke or you are working on that now. you can put a crate in a quiet place, cover all but the front of it with a sheet or old blanket. let him see you toss a few treats in the crate and see if he will go in on his own. DON'T FORCE HIM. if he goes in, reward him again but leave the door open. the whole idea is to give him a "den" where he can go if he feels frightened or intimidated by something. all dogs need their very own "safe place" and depending on what is going on at any given time, that place doesn't necessarily have to be your lap.

take it slow and easy as far as socializing him. let him get used to you and your routine before you start taking him out to a lot of places. when he seems to be settling in (and this will take a few weeks!), then you can start slow...drive-through fast food for a plain burger, maybe a short walk in the park when there aren't a lot of other people/dogs out, things like that. you can work your way up to taking him to a dog-friendly store but don't rush things. you have to remember, his life up until now has been a solitary one with probably not a lot of human contact. things that the average dog will experience day-to-day could very possibly freak him out so you don't want to stress or overload him.

can you post a pic or two? best of luck with him and again, thanks for rescuing. you won't be sorry!!!

nina :)

    Bookmark   September 19, 2010 at 6:32AM
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Hoo boy! I wound up with a similar dog when our guard dog picked her from the available dogs at the shelter.

She was so skinny/scared she did not move(unless I picked her up) from the dining room floor for two days. She was so screwed up, the guard dog ignored her.

What I did has worked fairly well---but I also had Max's help.

What ninapearl advised is excellent. The hard part is to avoid feeling sorry for the dog and 'comforting' him. That is actually one of the worst things you can do. They cannot reason you are comforting them for past situations. They only 'get' the contact as being supportive or punishment for NOW---this moment. So, if he is scared and you pet him, you reinforce the scared.

Find something he likes doing. Running outside, playing with a ball/toy. Start that activity and praise him for anything positive. Go nuts at first. He grabs the ball, pet/praise and really pump up the positive feelings.

That will do two things. One, when the dog is really timid, take him to the fun thing and he gets an extra dose of good behavior stimulation. Plus the exercise.

Also, remember, breeders often breed in unwanted traits without realizing it. Puppy mills are the worst example of that. He may be instinctively timid and you will only be able to change some of his behavior.

I did other things, petting Molly under the chin instead of over the head. Using a different tone and pitch in my voice. One way for her, a different more dominant one for the much more dominant guard dog. It took a while for her to understand the difference, but when I strongly correct Max, it no longer affects Molly.

Bringing a scared/timid/ dog up out of than hole is much more difficult than softening a very aggressive dog. It takes longer and is much more work. It can be done, so don't give up.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 11:52AM
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Positive, positive positive, whatever it is, make it positive. Go slowly, be patient and KUDOS for adopting!!! Hope to hear more about your new family member in the near future

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 3:15PM
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You have been given excellent advice. I wish your daughter all the best with her new fur baby.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 5:09PM
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"Bringing a scared/timid/ dog up out of than hole is much more difficult than softening a very aggressive dog. It takes longer and is much more work. It can be done, so don't give up."

that ^ !!!!!

i can also tell you, from personal experience with my second great dane girl, it will be one of THE most rewarding things you will ever do! the first time the light goes on in his head and he looks at you with those big eyes and smiles, you will simply melt. :)

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 6:59PM
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Very good advise!
We got Daisy after she spent 3 years
in a cage doing nothing but making puppies.
She's a 16 pound westie.

We kept her cage.
It's her safe haven
and she still spends a lot of her time
in there even though the door's always open.

She has became our shadow.
We can't go to the bathroom
without her being right there.
I wrote on here soon after we got her
about submission urination.
All we had to do was just look at her
and she would pee.
I found out a lot of puppy mill dogs have that.
Owners smacking the top of the cages
to shut the dogs up.
Daisy now has a towel over the top of her cage.
and we have learned not to
bend down and pet her head.

We also have found out she'll go
10 hours with out peeing, too.
I can't.
We are very lucky she is potty trained.
Most are not.

It will take time and a lot of love,
and a lot of patience from your daughter,
but they are worth it!........cheryl

    Bookmark   September 20, 2010 at 10:55PM
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bgaylene you and your daughter have done a wonderful thing by giving this dog a second chance and trust me, he will appreciate every cuddle and pat you give him, rescue dogs are like that because they know what it's like to have a crappy life. I took in a little 6 year old dog that was so scared of people you could not get near her, she would climb over the furniture in a panic if you tried and she turned out to be the most affectionate and loving little dog. All it took was for someone to love her. At first I had to wait for her to approach me and slowly but surely she did. Once she was over her fear of being withing arms length, all it took were lots of cuddles and kisses and pats and she quickly blossomed into a beautiful even bossy little thing :) and once she learned to trust me she started gaining confidence with other people too, the confidence in herself just came from within. You have a little treasure who justs wants to believe in himself and being loved and cared for does amazing things for a dog's self esteem so I have no doubt he will turn around in no time in your home

    Bookmark   September 23, 2010 at 5:26AM
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