Today I’m meeting a dog that is afraid of “everyone and everything.” I have met a number of these types of dogs over the years. It is a sad state of affairs, taking a great deal of patience from a committed and caring owner.
Most of these dogs were “created” by early puppy neglect. They were either allowed to live as a feral dog in the streets or the wild, or they were totally isolated from any kind of compassionate contact and socialization during the early months of life. As such, they are afraid of everyone and everything.
I’ve worked successfully with feral dogs before. It is a slow process, and you typically have to assume 1 year time frames. The first year is building trust and getting the dog to not be afraid of basic living and handling. By about the six month interval, you’ll usually be able to begin some social work in public. With severely neglected dogs, the time frames are less certain, especially if they are from protection/ guard type breeds. Any of these dogs, feral or neglected, can sometimes lash out very aggressively, and people can get hurt.
You don’t want to get into this kind of dog with a punishing type of approach. The dog isn’t disobeying you, being stubborn or needing you to dominate them. All that is going to do is damage your ability to bond with the dog, and very little gets done when you can’t bond.
If you have such a dog, please contact me, and we will begin the slow process of unraveling this problem. Your dog, most likely, will never be as social or calm or non-reactive as s/he could have been if it had been raised properly. However, there is no need to give up on such a dog. You can make progress if you are willing to provide the time, resources and necessary step-by-step training.