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Fearful Dog – Shelter Stories: Bailey


Hey everybody! Ian here with Simpawtico
Dog Training. we’re starting a new program on the channel today called
“Shelter Stories.” Now last January I was offered a position with the Chemung
County Humane Society and SPCA as their canine behavior and training manager, and
I thought it would be kind of cool to document some of the things we do with
enrichment and rehabilitation. Today we’re gonna start with a story about a
very special lady named Bailey. Bailey is an eight-year-old Shepherd mix
surrendered by elderly owners in Virginia who were no longer able to care
for her. Having been transported up to us just 24 hours after being surrendered
she was totally overwhelmed. Every dog is stressed out by the shelter experience
but Bailey was especially fearful. One of the first things after her intake was to
take her for a walk, but she wouldn’t even come out of the back of her run. Bailey was showing textbook signs of
fear including licking her lips, yawning, side glances, hunched head and shoulders,
and various appeasement gestures to ward off perceived danger. I came into her run
slowly and turned sideways to try and minimize my potentially scary silhouette. Out on her first walk here she seemed to
enjoy the space and freedom. I knew that outdoor activity was going
to be one of our linchpins with her. On this initial walk to get acquainted I
didn’t try to touch her or make her do much more than just move with me. Bailey
hasn’t eaten in the last 24 hours since she’s been here and I have a feeling
that a lot of that is just due to her high level of stress. I know that stress
suppresses appetite, so she hasn’t eaten any of her rudimentary work-to-eat meals,
she hasn’t eaten out of a bowl. We’ve tried hot dogs and Freshpet, and really
palatable stuff and she’s just not buying in. So, I’m gonna try taking her out for a walk I
want to get her out from the confined space and get her some fresh air. And I’m hoping that if I can metabolize those stress chemicals with a little activity then maybe she’ll take a little good food for me on the on one of
the trails back here or before we go back in. Just something to get a little nutrition into her, so, we’ll see what happens. On this second day, Bailey
was not as eager to walk and she was terrified. Her stress had reached an apex.
We did get her walking and although she wouldn’t take food she did appear to eat
some food later on that we left overnight. The next day it was time to pull out the
stops. First thing I did was try to help her calm down and get to know me in a
low-impact, non-threatening way. I just camped
outside her run and read to her. I just wanted the steady sound to help ease her
into feeling better about being in her run and for someone to be in front of
the run interacting with her. As you can see, she wasn’t too sure to begin with
but she eventually started to relax. Bailey was again starting to love her
walks she was getting to know the kennel staff and would come alive when she came
out of her run. All of the dogs get three walks a day and this was definitely her
favorite part. By now she’d started to warm up enough and she’d built enough
confidence that I knew it was time to bring her into the break room. Finally it
appeared she knew she was going to be okay. Now this moment right here was
significant to me because she initiated contact with our executive director, Tom,
whom she’d previously been very scared of. This to me, although brief, signaled a
tremendous boost in her confidence and curiosity. Coincidentally the weather had
cleared up and it was time for her to spend time in the activity pen, an idea
that she readily agreed with. No longer fearful in her run, Bailey was finally ready for the public. We got
her into a bigger run on the adoption floor and I suspected this would also
help give her a boost. We continued her work-to-eat meals for
enrichment, play times with other dogs, and of course her walks. Bailey blossomed into such an awesome
girl and it was so rewarding for all of us to see her become happier and more
carefree. A shelter, though, is no place for such an awesome dog. Bailey was soon
adopted by a loving couple. Nearly three weeks after leaving her old life, Bailey
had a new beginning. Well alright everybody—I hope you
enjoyed seeing Bailey’s story and I hope you enjoyed watching that progression
from fear to adaptability. One thing I want to mention though is that I am by
no means a one-man band in these situations. Working with a dog like
Bailey would be absolutely impossible unless it was a full-court press and so
this is a shout out to all of my awesome co-workers and colleagues that keep that
work going day in and day out. Definitely give some love to your local shelters
and rescues; I know that they deserve it and I know they’d appreciate it. Until our next video, guys, give us a thumbs up, make sure you’re subscribed,
and as always keep learning, keep practicing, and we’ll see you next time. Thanks for watching!

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