prepared by Karolin Klinck
Bella presents as an extremely fearful dog. She is shut down and spends most of her time in ‘her’ corner in the bedroom. She comes for Leslie when she calls her to go for a walk but presents fearful body language. During the walk Bella is very stressed and shows fearful body language (tail down, fast walking with pulling on leash (flight), nervous head movement, whale eyes (showing the white of her eyes, not interested in her environment, no sniffing)).
Bella eats her food when Leslie puts it on her bed and sits in the room but Bella would not get up to go to her food as long as Leslie is in the room.
Bella started taking chicken from Leslie’s hand. Still reluctant and not consistently. She did not take it when I was in the room but ate it after we both left the room.
Bella is not moving around the house unless it is to go outside. She doesn’t leave her room to go outside when someone else besides Leslie is home.
When I observed how Bella is reacting to Leslie’s touch and approach, I saw a shut down dog who is uncomfortable with any interaction.
She did not growl or show teeth. I didn’t see any signs of aggression.
Due to the severity of Bella’s fear, I highly recommend a consultation with a veterinary behaviorist.
* Show Bella that she has choices (if she comes out of her room to go outside, take her. If not, leave her. If Bella moves her head towards your hand with the chicken, give it to her. If not, just put it near or. Don’t touch her unless she moves towards you)
* Show Bella that making a choice never hurts (none of her choices will have any negative reaction from humans. I don’t expect Leslie to punish Bella for anything but wanted to mention it!)
* Pair Leslie’s approach with good stuff (Leslie enters the room, offers chicken. If Bella moves her head towards her, she give it. If Bella doesn’t, she puts it on the bed and leaves.)
* Teach her that moving around the room is safe (one of her meals is being put two steps away from Bella’s bed, so she has to get up to eat. For now, Leslie will leave the room during that meal time. (the other meal is given on her bed but with Leslie in the room)
* Show Bella that her bed is her safe heaven (don’t sit on her bed. That’s her space. Don’t let visitors in ‘her’ room)
* Keep the walking routine the same, so Bella can start feeling safer on her walks. Routine gives safety!
* Give her all the time she needs to break out of her shell – Bella decides when it’s safe to make the next step.
* Read to her (but don’t sit on her bed)
* Suggested reading: Debbie Jacobs ‘Guide to living with and training a fearful dog”.
* A great website is: fearfuldogs.com (there is also a facebook group that has a nice webinar)
* A fantastic resource for body language is: ispeakdog.com
* Consult with a veterinary behaviorist to get medication started to give Bella some relief from her severe anxieties.
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