My current foster dog is named Tweed, I brought him into rescue 6 weeks ago. With permission from the president of the rescue, of course, I picked him up from the shelter that my aunt runs.
He was not doing well in the shelter environment. He was absolutely terrified of everything, including people. He freaked out at having a leash put on, because he’d never been walked on a leash before coming into the shelter. He would not approach me, even though I was using the most polite and non-threatening body language I could, and was holding a bag of high-value treats. I sat there for a long time but we made no progress. However, when I saw how he acted with his kennel attendant – happy, excited, and very friendly – I knew there was hope for him. So I said I’d take him. I photographed some of the shelters available pets before leaving.
Tweed bonded with me very quickly when we got home – he was scared, and I was someone he could cling to. He quickly blossomed after leaving the shelter, he was no longer terrified of the world, and had no problem with a leash being put on. On our first walk, he was prancing with his tail up. I wasn’t surprised, because the shelter environment can be especially hard on Border Collies. They are so sensitive to sights and sounds.
Unfortunately, he still had two major problems. One, separation anxiety. I was not able to prevent it, he simply started freaking out within 10 seconds of his first time being left alone. He is also still terrified of people, absolutely terrified. When I first brought him home, he would be over threshold every time he saw someone that wasn’t me. Ferocious-sounding barking, growling, stiff body with hackles straight up. It took him 3 weeks to stop doing this to everyone living in my house.
I am able to handle most behavior problems in dogs on my own, but not all. This is my first time working with a dog that is terrified of people, so I am very happy to know a professional trainer that is willing help me with foster dogs, for free. Tweed is making progress with both the separation anxiety and the stranger-fear, slowly but surely.