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Is my dog fearful?

Note: This is a guest post by Rachel Duncan who writes the blog, Bakedblog. Her story proves that just because a dog has had a rough start doesn’t mean we have to feel sorry for her. If we can move on and give a dog a second (or third) chance, the dog can move on a lot easier.

I just got a new dog. She is a poodle mix. I got her from our local human society. When we decided she was the one we wanted, we knew nothing of her history, just that she was only 6 months old. Before they let us hold her or anything, they sat us down and explained that she was rescued from a puppy mill in Virginia along with 800 other dogs. They explained to us that she had been through a lot and was “fearful” of people and shy.

I accepted all of this and they finally brought her out to us. In a little room with just my son, husband and me, we started a bonding process with Bella. She was shy, that was easy to see, but I wasn’t sure she was fearful. She wanted to play and to touch but she didn’t seem sure. I got down on her level and let her come to me; even my son was gentle and took his time.

We fell in love with her and decided that we would bring her home. Bella was not in the best shape. You could tell she had been neglected. Her hair is long and matted. I can’t take her to the groomer until she gets her stitches removed from being fixed. So I took a pair of scissors and cut off as much of the matted hair as I could.

They gave me a package on fearful dogs and sent us on our way. Once we got home, I set Bella down and let her start to explore. She seemed to be doing great, the only time she even expressed a fear was when you would lean down to pet her. She would move away, not sure of our intent. I have to be honest, I didn’t read the packet. I just kept taking things slow with her, and within two days, Bella didn’t shy away anymore from me, my husband or our son.

She has come a long way in such a short time. She had some eating problems but today she ate with a gusto I haven’t seen before. I don’t think Bella was as fearful as they thought she was. I just think that she needed love, patience and a little time. She even readily accepted new people into her life just two days after being in her new home with us when we had family visit.

Do some dogs have fear problems? I think dogs that have been mishandled, beaten, and generally treated rotten may, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t work with them and get them to trust and love again. Giving a dog a second chance at a happy life is so worth it.

Chocolate miniature poodle lying on a blanket

Lindsay Stordahl

Friday 5th of September 2008

Poor Eris had a rough start. That's a good story about her and her tennis ball. It breaks my heart knowing that at one time she didn't know how to play. I'm glad she is living such a good life with you and your other dogs now.

Saint Lover

Thursday 4th of September 2008

Luckily she is just fearful and not fear aggressive. Fear aggression is a whole 'nother can of worms.

My Eris was a puppy mill breeding dog. She didnt come to me til she was four. She had no social skills what so ever... didn't even know what a toy was or what to do with it. I still remember the first time she picked up a tennis ball and hid under my desk with it to give it a good chew. I cried.

Take it slow and steady and you will have a wonderful companion that thinks you are the moon and stars for many years to come!

Saint Lovers last blog post..Paws in the Pool - Groveport

Lindsay Stordahl

Thursday 4th of September 2008

Thanks to Rachel for sharing her story and photo of little Bella.


Thursday 4th of September 2008

So cute! It's wonderful that you are working with her and she is responding!

When I was a teenager, my dad brought home (unexpectedly) a standard chihuahua that he had adopted. She had been a breed dog in a puppy mill situation. She was very fearful. She didn't like any changes, loud noises, didn't know how to play, etc. She never fully got over her fears, but she grew to love us (especially my dad - her rescuer) I taught her to play! She was a good little dog. I'm glad we were able to give her a few years of a good, loving life. Her first seven were miserable. Her last seven were happy!

Tammys last blog post..Use Plastic Wrap for Clean Prints


Thursday 4th of September 2008

I do a lot of work with rescues and placing them in good homes. I am always amazed at the way the dogs react so quickly to loving homes.

jans last blog post..If there are standard Poodles, are there substandard Poodles?