I need ideas on leash training a physically abused pit puppy. The puppy is around 8 months old, scars over face, rescued from "fighters". This puppy has bonded with me wonderfully, but completely freaks out when a leash is even shown to her.
Buy him a special soft place to go and start throwing treats there in his presence. When he gets on the couch, say bed, and throw the treat on the bed. Make sure the bed is special, a soft dog bed or a couple of folded comforters. You can get them from freecycle.org if you can't afford them. He needs a special place, he probably feels he cannot be hurt if he is "up". I would myself, make a chair or couch in there for just him. The special, soft, dog bed, when he gets praised for going over there to get treats you put there, will serve just as well unless he feels safe only off the ground. If this is the case it is cruel to keep him if he will have to stay on the floor where he feels in danger.
Rawhides, treats to eat, Kongs with stuff in them frozen, etc. make really good treats. Again, make sure the little darling is not being traumatized by having to be on the floor. Check out leerburg.com for using food rewards and marker training. Make sure the comforters or dog bed is huge and comfortable.
By Robyn Fed
Here is the answer to the leash question. Hold the leash in your hand, not on the dog, but just in your hand. Call him and have him come to you. If he does, then throw down a treat in front of the leash, where he can see it. If he does not come over, then throw down a treat for him near the leash to make him come over.
Say "yes" when he does something remarkable. Praise him calmly, and only throw food down when he steps forward. It may just be one step toward you, but throw the treat down for it. I would use cut up cooked hot dogs into little bitty pieces he can chew up quick and then be looking for more. Cut up into about twenty pieces. Go to leerburg.com for more info. I might look up the dosage of Benadryl to give dogs also, sometimes it helps for anxiety. My shepherd is on it for bad skin, but it calms him down, too. The dosage is on the net under Benadryl dose for dogs.
By Robyn Fed
I'm going to offer some ideas that I would try if this were my dog. I have taken in a dog or two in the past that was abused, but not to the extent that your puppy has obviously been abused, so I'm no expert (just someone offering some ideas).
First, I believe that (to her) the leash represents an inability to escape from danger. If that's what is going through her head, desensitizing her to leashes would be a good thing. So that she can come into contact with leashes that "do not" cause her to be unable to escape from danger, you could have a bunch of leashes just laying around the house. Seeing that the leashes aren't moving or doing anything to her or keeping her from fleeing from danger, she may realize that the leashes are not bad.
The other thing is that her former "owners" probably used some sort of collar around her neck attached to the leash. If she pulled on it, it likely strained around her neck, choked her neck, pinched her neck, or poked her neck. I prefer collars to harnesses when walking dogs, because I think dogs typically train better because there's a negative reinforcement if they pull on the leash. But, in the case of your dog, I think a harness is a better route to go because any negative reinforcement on her neck is just gonna bring back bad memories for her. If she's on a harness, you can keep the harness on for a day or two before ever even attaching a leash, and it might not bring back any bad memories, then when you attach a leash it might be different enough from a collar/leash setup that she might not be so upset.
These may or may not work, but it's what I would try. I'd also consider not actually holding the end of the leash when you give that a try. Whenever I have leash trained young dogs, I have attached the leash and allowed them to go about their business for a while before I ever pick up the other end of the leash. It seems to be a smoother transition.
I think it's wonderful that you are taking this dog in and giving it a warm, loving environment. Keep in mind that some of the awful stuff from her past is likely to always be a part of who she is. If anything will solve her issues, though, it is patience, kindness, and loving discipline. My hat is off to you for welcoming her into your family. (09/07/2009)
I have 8 previously abused dogs and 1 abused cat and I find that each situation is different and there are always going to be some permanent scars. My Dobie will not be yelled at or whipped in any way and I have owned her for 8 years and bonded so deeply that when I was in the hospital my husband had to carefully get her out from my room because mama left her there. She is bonded with him too, but mainly to me. You just keep doing what you are doing and don't push her she will come around for love. She won't forget so remember that if you ever get her on a leash.
I have also retrained horses that were abused horribly and they all will bond without pushing. I have 2 dogs that won't tolerate leashes at all until I put them in the truck and when I carry them into the vets office I put a leash on them. You have chosen a large task and it is not impossible, but you will have to be patient and know that scar goes deep.
I get a calming capsule from my health food store you may want to try, but I wouldn't push the lease. Fight dogs are bred to fight and baby one day will defend herself, just be careful. As I said my Dobie would still bite me if I went to strike her or yelled at her and kept doing it. Fear the most horrible fear in their life and they have to respond. Don't put her into that situation till you can handle her in every other way and she trusts you for anything. This is important. I have 3 brindle Bulls and only one had been abused, but she is unpredictable with anyone, but me or my husband.
TLC is the best cure and try the harness after you have her confidence. Don't push too hard as you are her only chance. (09/07/2009)
I want to thank everyone for their wonderful ideas. Unfortunately, the leash being on the floor in a different room was enough to cause her to attack. By attack I mean she jumped up in the air and lunged for my throat. After numerous bites (the puncturing kind) and a somewhat intense struggle, my oldest pit came to my rescue and got the new puppy off of me. I say pup, she was 8 months old. She continued the attack behavior even after all leashes were removed from sight, ie. placed in drawers.
I found out through investigating this poor baby had bitten its previous owner. The previous owner said they had never had a problem with her. Not only did that irresponsible woman put her 2 children (under the ages of 5) in danger, she put me, my children (my daughter was attacked, also) and anyone who came in contact with this poor pup in danger.
I am sorry to say that after attacking my daughter I had no choice, but to have her euthanized (God forgive me I abhor that word). It was no easy decision and I still cry over her. Please keep pets in your prayers.
Thank you. (09/08/2009)
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