We have discussed unsocialized timid dogs here before. My most recent placement is 15 months old. He had never seen any people but his breeders until he came into rescue (at age 11 months) and is afraid of strangers. He spent several months with me and made great strides. I have now placed him and within a couple of days he had bonded to the wife, but two weeks later was still afraid of the husband.

The husband is a very nice guy, but the wife is much more active - runs with the dogs, works out in the yard with the dogs for company, etc. The husband works all day and really only wants to sit and watch TV when he gets home. It is okay with him if the dogs are closer to the wife -- he just didn't want to feel that the dog was terrified of him. Now that the dog had settled in, I put together a list of instructions to try to speed up the bonding process with the husband.

Wife to wear one of husband's shirts at night, he puts it on in the morning and when he gets home in the afternoon.

Wife is to have the minimum of contact with the dog - no eye contact, no petting, no feeding. Dog is to rely on the husband for all good things: food, treats, fun and exercise. Husband has to walk the dog twice a day.

Food -- Carry high value treats at all times and reward for any tiny sign of progress (i.e., just not slinking away is a sign of progress).

Meals Step 1 - Husband sits in a chair and the food (with treats) is scattered around his chair - no eye contact - reading paper, watching TV, whatever. The other dog in the family and Nicky are allowed to compete for the food for a couple of meals (no food agression problems by either dog).

Meals Step 2 - Husband does the same while the wife has the other dog out of the house. When the dog is approaching close to the chair, move to Step 3.

Meals Step 3 - Husband holds food in hand while reading paper, watching TV, etc. Dog is on 6 foot leash, but husband is not to do anything active .. just hold the food. If the dog won't eat, put the food away until the next meal.

Meals Step 4 - Once the dog is eating from his hand without any resistance, start making him "sit" before he gets his food (this is the one command he really knows solidly) and after a few days, start training some other simple commands - lie down, stay, etc. No more free food.

Meals Step 5 - the husband and wife can alternate feeding the dog and practice calling the dog back and forth between them for bites of food to enforce "come."

Crate - Husband is the one who lets the dog out of the crate - no fuss, but still .. the person who grants his freedom.

Leash -- the dog is attached to the husband by a 6 foot leash all the time the husband is home. Husband is not to try to pet or even look at the dog until the dog interacts on his own, just have him with him wherever he goes, until the dog starts soliciting attention. (However, offering a treat now and then without looking at the dog, is allowed.)

I am very relieved to report that one week after the new regimen, things have improved a lot. You can see his tail again (previously tucked so far under his belly, you wouldn't know he had a tail). He now hangs around with the husband even off leash (previously taking one look at him and heading in the opposite direction.) The husband has him sit for his food and treats and he is now able to have him sit, stay, back away and then call him to come for a treat and he eagerly comes running to sit for his treat (the magic of food). Husband gave him a bath last night (he loves baths .. and especially being towel dried).

I have been particularly on pins and needles with this one because the wife is a co-worker. There is nothing like coming to the office every day wondering what the progress report will be (or, lack of progress report).


Sidney Hardie
Southwest Airedale Terrier Rescue
www.airedaleterriers.org

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The ATCA Rescue & Adoption Committee fulfills the Airedale Terrier Club of America, Inc. ("ATCA") obligation to protect and advance the interests of the breed by providing services to lost, abandoned, abused or unwanted purebred Airedale Terriers.
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