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Thread: Adopted rescue puppy scared of me

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Bunbury, WA

    Default Adopted rescue puppy scared of me

    Hi everyone,

    First time on this forum.

    So my partner and myself just adopted a 8 month old lab x. We don't know what's happened to her previously but when she was at the pound she was very skinny and under fed. We've had her for a week now, and i know things will improve with time but i just thought i would ask on here for any advice.

    Basically the first day we brought her home she hid in the very corner of our backyard for over 4 hours, she wouldnt move and i had to carry her inside.
    She gets very scared of any noise she doesn't know and many common items seem to scare her too. throughout the week she has gotten a lot better, shes more comfortable in the house. When my partner is here she will follow her around the house, and come when shes called. she seems to "feel safe" but if its just me, or if i wander around the house it scares the hell out of her, and she will run to either of her "safe places' which is either our bed, or the couch.

    The thing that confuses me, is if shes on the couch or our bed, or my partner is around she doesn't act as if shes scared of me, she will be quite affectionate and even cuddle up to me, sometimes when i walk up to her she will wag her tail as well.

    For example, i just brought her in from outside (my partner is at work) and she coward into the laundry and froze up on the floor, then when i walked away she ran into the living room and hid in the corner, she won't come if i call her, she wont even come if i have food.

    Does anyone have any advice on what i can do to help make her trust me, or feel safe enough to wander the house while i am here?

    I haven't done anything to hurt her so i think shes had issues with men previously.


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Melbourne VIC


    Good on you for rescuing a deserving dog.

    You are correct in that it will take time. It usually take about 3 weeks for dog to settle into a new house and start showing their personality.

    In regards to helping her there are a few things to try. I can't say for sure which will work or is best for your situation as I can't see your dog but considered these options for your circumstances.

    Not necessarily in this order:

    - have a lead tied tot eh dog so you can direct her to where you want/need her to be without having to invade her personal space.

    - tether her to you so she can follow you around without intimidation of face to face interaction with you. Ignore her when she is attached to you.

    - Provide her with her own special safe place, such as a crate or a pen. These are better options than a bed of her own in the open or a couch as a crate/pen has physical boundaries that should not be crossed when she is in there. It is her spot that she knows she can go to at any point to get space. This is also handy for when guests come over. You don't want her to become protective of her safe place. If the place is your bed or couch, this can create issues.

    - Don't approach her for affection, allow her to come to you. Try tossing her treats from a distance and as she gets more confident/comfortable, gradually decrease the distance the treats are thrown. Make sure wherever you are she has the ability to retreat when she is unsure.

    - When moving about the house, try to keep a certain distance from her and don't approach her from behind if you can help it. If you need to get past her, actively make it known that you are there so you don't startle her, don't give her eye contact and slowly walk past.

    - Make sure you are actively involved in the feeding, walking, play (if she plays yet) routines so she doesn't become dependent solely on your partner, which can happen.

    Did they shelter/rescue give you any advice in regards to her behaviour?
    I would strongly recommend contacting a trainer in your area to help with this issue, to make sure you start off everything the right way from the beginning.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Bunbury, WA


    Thanks for the help,

    They foster carer that we got her from did say she was very cautious, there was also a massive great dane there which she had taken to and was following everywhere. She wouldnt go anywhere that the great dane hadn't been first.

    I will try all the things you have suggested, she does play ball and is still cautious with me but i can see that she's getting better.

    So far i have been the one to feed her, and by that i mean i put the food in her bowl and put it down for her, she wont go near it unless i'm not there and she'll actually cry a little bit if she can't get from where ever she is to the bowl without running past me.

    I have found ignoring her and not making any eye contact seems to help and she calms down and will actually walk past me.

    We did try briefly introducing her to my mums old lab x staffy, and she growled a fair bit (Our puppy) but we might try again on neutral ground once she's settled in a bit more.

    We will also look into contacting a local trainer as well.

  4. #4


    Hi 'Shallana' and welcome.

    As 'The Pawfectionist' said it does take time to get a new pup to be comfortable in a new home.

    If you look at it from the pup’s perspective – she has gone from her first home –> her second home and now -> her third home. There has been no consistency or routine for her for quite a while.

    Draw a line in the sand and start working on what you have now. Don’t get all emotional or try to read from her about her supposed past life. She doesn’t know you, so it is up to you to prove to her that she is now finally safe.

    She is also coming into her ‘teenager’ time so have a look at ‘Puppy Development’ from the first link I put up for you below.

    I did a rescue 6 years ago called Riley. He was a 2 year old PITA GSP. His only saving grace was that my little 9 year old girl loved him to bits at first sight. It took 6 months for him to be comfortable and to trust me.

    So just a few things I did with him:

    1. Introduced him to the yard and the house. Showed him where the water bowls were and so on when we first arrived back. I basically ignored him and he just followed me and my other pup around.
    2. As he used to be an outside only pup – I started toilet training him using a cue word straight away. Something to remember is to always toilet train a new pup in your home. Even though the pup may be toilet trained – they aren’t at your place.
    3. I changed his name because it was broken. It is very easy to change their name as it is just a sound to them. But it must be a very nice sound to them. I did it very scientifically the 2nd night he was here and just called out names that I found on the computer. He showed interest with Riley – so that became his new name ! I would suggest that you do change her name. New beginnings – new name !

    I wouldn't look at getting a trainer or whatever to do a house call – I would suggest to you to join a dog training school in your area. Not sure where you are – but tell us – general area – and someone on here could suggest a really good dog school for you.

    Be careful with a pup this young fetching balls. She is not fully grown yet – so chasing a moving ball is not good for her growing joints and limbs.

    As usual with my posts - some reading for you !

    Puppies and Young Dogs | K9pro Training

    Three Ways to Confuse a New Dog

    Search Results | McConnell Publishing Inc.

    search | Karen Pryor Clicker Training

    Have a good look around this link and corresponding website – heaps of great information:

    Good Luck !

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
    Bunbury, WA


    Thanks for all links, will have a read through them tonight.

    We are located in Australind/Bunbury area, WA

    Regarding fetching of balls, would you recommend just limiting it until she's older?

    Also when she's constantly being scared by different noises she hears, eg someone sneezing, or the dryer making a thud. Would this be something she'll get over as she settles in?


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Hi Shallana

    I've seen this lady recommended for help with problem dogs. One of the regular trainers in here doesn't think much of her but I've heard her on the radio and think she's ok in terms of her training methods. She should be able to recommend someone in your area if she's unavailable or too expensive.

    Kathy Kopellis McLeod
    Kathy's Dog Training | Kathy Kopellis McLeod | Dog Behaviour Consultant | Dog Behaviour Problems | Dog Whisperer Perth | Dog Behaviour | Dog Trainers Perth

    You might also want to read the threads that Ados started - he got a 6 yo bitch from a breeder that keeps the breeding bitches in small pens and they don't get enough human contact.

    What Pawfectionist and Riley have said is pretty good.

    It's going to take about a month or so for the dog to settle in. My dog has her moments with blokes - and it's not because anything bad has ever happened to her but no blokes live here - so they're a bit of a novelty / new scary thing for her. She's better when they're on neutral ground or she's been properly introduced but new blokes - takes a while for her to be polite.

    I would try tossing really really yummy treats at her from time to time - pay attention to what she likes eg roast chicken, bits of fritz/devon/sausage, small bits of cheese... Don't make direct eye contact but any time she seems a bit less scared or is doing any behaviour you like - chuck some food near her.

    While your partner is home and she's a bit more relaxed - I would also play the "collar grab" game with her - put a lead and collar on (or get your partner to do it, and practice pairing saying her name, touching the collar and giving a treat. If you start off and you can only touch the lead and toss a treat that's ok - just gradually try to get a bit closer to a collar grab until she starts looking foward to the game. play for about five treats per session and then end the game and let her be.

    I would not be inviting her or allowing her onto the couch or your bed until she's really comfortable with you around - ie not this month. Maybe not next month. Not until she shows she's fine with you around even when your partner is not home. There is a risk that she will own and defend high ground and you don't want that.

    I would get her a soft sided crate (leave the door open) where she can feel safe like her own personal den. This is a pic of my dog's crate. There is a door on the left as well as the one that's rolled up on the side. She doesn't normally share but it's hard to keep either of these dogs out of that crate... They LOVE being in there. Cos that's where good things happen like treats... And they feel safe in there.

    With the ball - since she likes it, use it as a reward for behaviours you want to see. Probably starting with the "off" cue for getting off the couch... But you can use it (and food treats) for rewards for shaping games. Eg you say her name, she looks at you (not the ball), then give her the ball.

    Be careful about vigorous chase the ball games in the house or even the yard - cos those can lead to injuries. I make my dog do a sit next to me facing the direction I intend to throw - and sometimes I make her wait until the ball has stopped moving before she's allowed to go get it - you could work up to that.

    With her dinner - try to pair a word - permission to eat - when you put the bowl down and step away. You can later build up to her doing a nice sit-stay then you giving her the permission to eat word - before she starts eating. She is a lab (x) so when she feels comfortable it would be good to have a routine that encourages her to be polite around food.

    Do keep us updated.

  7. #7


    Quote Originally Posted by Shallana View Post
    Thanks for all links, will have a read through them tonight.

    We are located in Australind/Bunbury area, WA

    Regarding fetching of balls, would you recommend just limiting it until she's older?

    Also when she's constantly being scared by different noises she hears, eg someone sneezing, or the dryer making a thud. Would this be something she'll get over as she settles in?

    As far as trainers in WA - I will have to get back to you.

    I prefer to teach my 2 - ATM - to find something. Use your pup's nose and brain ! Much better for bonding - than the pup just chasing a bl..dy ball. I now prefer from experience - that my pups don't chase anything moving - particularly balls.

    So to answer your question - don't even limit it - just don't do it ! I now class pups chasing balls as laziness on the owners' part.

    My reason is - there should be - no repetitive motions, no leaping up in the air and hopefully no injuries for them.

    Something you need to realise is that our pups are better readers of body language than we could ever be. So if you are concerned about something - you pup would have known about it even before you were aware of it.

    Time for you to show this pup - she really has nothing to worry about and you will protect her and look after her.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012


    I am in that area. Jean Hydleman at wayoflifewithdogs FB page and a couple if others does training for relationship. They have been great with me and Maggie. Only snag is they operate from Capel/ Busselton but do some great stuff during the day like walking with other dogs while you get given VERY useful tips for developing a positive working relationship with your dog. Its not the standard obedience tasks. I would spend at least 2 to 6 months just doing one of their activities, not expensive as it is a group. She also has fabulous kennels in the bush, dog paradise. They are looking after my dog when I travel and I am very picky.97271347. Mobile 0410331744They also have training that runs between 4.30 to 7.30 timeslot
    I saw the difference they made in a dog that had been attacked by other dogs.they really understand calming signals.

    There are another 2 trainers here Bec at Dutchfield and Benottos. Both very reputable. But for your purposes, I really don't think you could go past Jean.
    Last edited by farrview; 03-16-2015 at 06:56 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Western Sydney


    Welcome to the forum Shallana and good on you for saving a life.

    It's only natural for most rescue dogs to act this way being in a strange place with strange people that might hurt them and from what I've seen in pounds and a shelter over the last few months I don't blame these poor it does take much longer for them to bond and trust again.

    A few years ago we adopted a young Rottie and named her Opal who was 14 mths old. She had been kept on a chain...bashed and starved.

    I'll never forget the first time I saw her...just skin and bones and very scared of me. Opal was very hand shy and if I raised my hands to pat or hug her she would hit the ground in fear.

    If I picked up a stick or ball she would run for her life and of course chains (check chains) terrified her. She also had chain chew as a result of having to chew nothing but the chain she'd been kept on. Opal had never been in a house...was scared of the TV and when I flushed the toilet she ran.

    I started getting her used to being touched and always telling her how good she was and giving her treats. I let her know that she was loved and no harm would come to her and plenty of TLC...she also had the run of the house too. Opal saw how my two GSDs reacted to me and over time this helped a great deal.

    It took over 6 mths for Opal to loose her fear and bond with me...then I started to teach her to walk on a lead with a collar and over time introduced her to a check chain. It's amazing how they learn to love and trust again especially the ones that have been abused...but it does take time and a lot of patience but in the end it's worth the my advice is treat her as part of the family and plenty of TLC.

    Opal died nearly two years ago aged 10 yrs as a result of cancer and we miss her every day...she had a good life with us RIP my beautiful girl.
    Chloe & Zorro
    Rottweilers and German Shepherds are Family

  10. #10


    Really pleased to see that 'farrview' commented on this thread.

    Someone who also could help you is ‘Kalacreek’. So if she doesn’t comment here, maybe send her a PM and ask what club she would suggest for you.

    I only know of a couple of places actually in Perth. Big help ! When I looked on the map and saw the distance - realized you would need ‘more than a packed lunch and a 6 pack’ to get there.

    So some links that may help you:

    DogsWest - Clubs


    Department of Local Government and Communities

    Locate Trainer Near You

    Go and visit the clubs near you, watch what they do and how they do it. Ask heaps of questions and Good Luck !

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