It’s been 11 months since Wheaton came to us. He’s made so much progress I sometimes forget what it was like when he first came for his trial visit.
There are still a lot of things that we need to work on, it’s very apparent he’s a rescue with some lingering issues. Truth be told I don’t know if the lingering issues will ever be resolved…they may just be who he IS now.
I don’t know if the touch factor will ever get better for him. He still ducks his head or cowers when you touch his head. He still flinches when you touch his body. I try to tell everyone to NOT come at his head from over top…bring your hand to him from under…scratch his chest (not his head) and he’s way more tolerant. He still freezes when I touch him, he still scuttles away from me when I want to pick him up (not as bad or as far as he used to), there is still fear and there may always be. I move slow, I crouch down so I’m not over top of him, I speak to him and as I reach to pick him up I turn him to face me and I tell him, “You don’t have to be afraid, I will never hurt you. You never have to hide in a corner again.”
His other issue is still other dogs. On his leash, other dogs are a huge threat to him. I am at my wits end trying to figure out a solution for this problem. To be honest, I’m avoiding. If I see a fellow dog walker coming towards us I cross the street, or turn the corner, or stop beside a parked car and wait it out so Wheaton doesn’t see the other dog across the street. But avoidance is NOT training. I just hate being “that woman with the out of control dog” now. I’m embarrassed. Wheaton freaks out at EVERY single dog, every single time. He doesn’t even acknowledge familiarity. Like if we have encountered that dog and Daisy likes that dog and the dog is fine…Wheaton is still freaking out. We can’t stop and have any interaction. None.
He has had socialization with other dogs. Off leash he is fine. He plays and runs and is friendly. Restrain him on a leash and forget it, other dogs and strange people become the enemy. I don’t know what to do anymore. I may need to consult a professional trainer and do one-on-one work. I accept defeat, it’s beyond my capability now. I want to help him be a better dog…help him feel secure and confident. I know his behaviour is out of fear and not true aggression.
I want to enjoy our park walks again. And I want both my dogs to enjoy them as well!