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My Pet World: Reader offers more tips for a dog afraid of his home

Cathy M. Rosenthal, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Cathy,

I read your column about the dog who is afraid of his own new home. I have two tips that worked with a dog we adopted who had been rescued from a hoarder. Princess had never been outside that house. She was terrified of our backyard and any normal noises, even birds chirping. After a week, we decided to put a Thundershirt® on Princess, which we had used for our other dog who is afraid of fireworks. As soon as we put it on her and opened the door to the backyard, she followed our other dog outside. We used it for two more days and never needed to use it again. It might work in reverse for the dog who is scared to come into the house.

The second tip: We never used crates for our dogs, but the rescue organization suggested we try it for Princess. Amazingly, as soon as we set the crate up, it became her sanctuary. Since the scared dog in Wisconsin also hides under the bed or behind the couch, maybe the crate is what he’s looking for.

Princess has now been with us for ten happy years. Hope these suggestions help.

— Eileen, Massapequa Park, New York

Dear Eileen,

Similar to swaddling a bay, Thundershirts® and Anxiety Wraps® are wearable solutions that help anxious dogs feel more secure in stressful situations. So, this is a good suggestion for a dog adjusting to his new home. (You can also learn how to create a calming wrap with an ace bandage. Just google “DIY homemade anxiety wrap for dogs” to watch a YouTube video on how to do it.)

As for the kennel, it’s true that dogs who are kennel trained find great comfort sleeping in their safe spaces. All of my dogs have been kennel-trained, and they always know whose “room” is whose. If they were suddenly without their kennels, they might look for a more enclosed space to rest, as you noted.

These are good tips. Thanks for sharing your experience.

Dear Cathy

You had a question from Wisconsin about a rescue dog who was scared of his home, but fine everywhere else. I am having the opposite problem. We rescued a mixed Terrier two months ago from Texas. She is now nine months and healthy. She is very good with my husband and me but is scared of anyone else, including my 20-year-old granddaughter who lives most of the time with us.

 

We take her with us whenever we can, but she growls and barks at other people. She is not mad, just scared. She doesn't like treats (and I have tried so many). Otherwise, I would carry them and have people give them to her and tell her "good dog."

She doesn't even want to go out to the bathroom without us having to just make her go. If there is anyone outside, she will run for the house. She is getting better with our 20-year-old cat but is very jealous. She loves to sit with us and if I am on the computer, she is right at my feet. She loves toys. We went to puppy kindergarten and passed but she was nervous. I don't know how to help her feel less nervous.

— Dineen Rivera, Portland, CT

Dear Dineen,

I think you’re right; she’s afraid. She’s experienced a lot in her short life, but there are several ways you can help her adjust. First, dogs who don’t like treats simply need a more high-value treat to tempt them. Look for dog food in a roll (sometimes in a freezer in the store), slice it into discs, and then cut it into further bits. Hold off on feeding her, so she is hungry enough to try these “treats” and realize she likes them. It also can help to delay a meal when she is meeting someone new, so she will be in a better position to accept the treats from the others.

Stick with the training. It helps build her confidence and creates a bond with you. Ask your granddaughter to help train her. You can always replace a treat with a pat on the head after each command, but high-value treats usually will work.

Also, consider over-the-counter calming chews and, in this instance, the calming shirt/wraps, as noted above.

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(Cathy M. Rosenthal is a longtime animal advocate, author, columnist and pet expert who has more than 25 years in the animal welfare field. Send your pet questions, stories and tips to cathy@petpundit.com. Please include your name, city, and state. You can follow her @cathymrosenthal.)

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