I'm working with dogs at a halfway home type thing - shelter dogs who aren't doing well at the shelter. The set up is crating inside at night and large pens by day. Our latest dog apparently has confinement issues - she has no problem jumping 5 foot fences and opening gates. Today in her pen she trotted back and forth and back and forth.

She's been with us 5 days and is otherwise happy - loves to play with the other 2 dogs, likes walks, eats well and is learning manners.

I'm new to this and am looking for reading suggestions, advice, massage techniques, flower essence ideas etc.
What can I learn to do to help this dog so she ends up in a wonderful home?
Peace,
Kate
I'm working with dogs at a halfway home type thing - shelter dogs who aren't doing well at the shelter. ... ideas etc. What can I learn to do to help this dog so she ends up in a wonderful home?

IME flower essences and the like (ie Rescue Remedy) don't work. I've heard people who swear by massage but am not familiar with it and, unless you have unlimited time to turn this dog around, wouldn't recommend learning a non-training method.
Since the goal is to get this dog adopted and there's probably some sort of time limit she can stay in the foster situation (as in not forever) I'd go the medication + training route. There are anxiety medications that work very well with dogs. By themselves they'll manage an anxious dog but when used in conjunction with incremental training they can help to cure a dog of confinement and/or separation anxiety.
Chlomicalm is one such medication that works well but its recommended that the dog be on the medication for about 10-14 days before its built up enough in the system to have any appreciable effect. My personal experience with the medication was that it was working enough after 2-3 days to be of noticable help.
Basically you want to administer the medication at its prescribed dosage prior to confining the dog. Then give the dog something positive to be with, do or think about while she's confined. Something like a peanut butter stuffed kong, a soft blanket with your scent on it or a toy she's shown an interest in.
The medication doesn't dope the dog into a zombie state so providing her with something inside the crate will be of benefit. Praising her when she enters the crate/pen and giving her a treat after she's entered are good ideas.
I'd recommend that the human in charge during the day, assuming someone is present during the time the dog is penned, take her out repeatedly, always praising & treating when she's penned again. Short spurts of confinement combined with release, attention & praise will work faster than expecting the dog to learn to not be anxious all on her own. Even if she's just taken out every 2-3 hours for a 15 minute break that will help.

Every couple of days increase the length between releases until she's worked up to a full day of confinement. Basically you just have to find a way to give the dog a positive association with her confinement and showing that she will be released, particularly often in the beginning, will help you reach that goal.

Tara
I'm working with dogs at a halfway home type thing - shelter dogs who aren't doing well at the shelter.

Would you please answer some questions first?
What exactly was your dog not "doing well" at the shelter?

Shelters are very stressful places for some dogs, and many dogs just don't do well at them, depending on their backgrounds, etc.
The set up is crating inside at night and large pens by day.

I understand the crating at night, if you're still housebreaking the dog, but why the pen during the day?
Aren't you trying to normalize this dog's daily routine?

Why aren't you working on incorporating this dog into your normal daily household routines?
Our latest dog apparently has confinement issues - she has no problem jumping 5 foot fences and opening gates.

Many dogs are escape artists, and may never be entirely reliable in a normally fenced-in yard.
Today in her pen she trotted back and forth and back and forth.

Again, confinement can be very stressful to many dogs.

Why are you confining this dog to a pen during the day, or did I misunderstand you?
Isn't the idea to make this dog adoptable one day?

That's not going to happen inside a pen.
She's been with us 5 days and is otherwise happy - loves to play with the other 2 dogs, likes walks, eats well and is learning manners.

Those are all good signs, but 5 days is not enough time to get a dog to settle in, especially when it sounds like she's spending most of her days and nights being confined.
I'm new to this and am looking for reading suggestions, advice, massage techniques, flower essence ideas etc.

Unless you're trying to make this dog become a canine hippy of a flower-child, I'd forget about the "flower essence ideas" and just stick to OBEDIENCE TRAINING.
With obedience training comes obedience, confidence, contentment and socialibility i.e., exactly the traits that potential adopters are looking for.
Gently massaging a dog can help, if you know how. Aren't you getting any help with this stuff from the shelter management?

If not, why not?

Handsome Jack Morrison
*gently remove the detonator to reply by e-mail
IME flower essences and the like (ie Rescue Remedy) don't work. I've >heard people who swear by massage but am not familiar with it and, unless you >have unlimited time to turn this dog around, wouldn't recommend learning a non-training method.

I've had success with flower essences a few times, once with a cat and the Rescue Remedy makes trips to the vet better for my dog, fwiw.
Since the goal is to get this dog adopted and there's probably some sort of time limit she can stay ... My personal experience with the medication was that it was working enough after 2-3 days to be of noticable help.

I'll look into this. This dog is definitely our biggest challenge so far, but hopefully we'll learn enough to help her and future dogs.
Basically you want to administer the medication at its prescribed dosage prior to confining the dog. Then give the dog ... peanut butter stuffed kong, a soft blanket with your scent on it or a toy she's shown an interest in.

We learned about the kong this week and have started implementing it.
The medication doesn't dope the dog into a zombie state so providing her with something inside the crate will be of benefit. Praising her when she enters the crate/pen and giving her a treat after she's entered are good ideas.

I believe she's being lured into the crate with treats and plenty of praise.
I'd recommend that the human in charge during the day, assuming someone is present during the time the dog is ... on her own. Even if she's just taken out every 2-3 hours for a 15 minute break that will help.

Makes sense. I'll see if we can figure out a way to do this.
Every couple of days increase the length between releases until she's worked up to a full day of confinement. Basically ... her confinement and showing that she will be released, particularly often in the beginning, will help you reach that goal.

Thanks Tara! I'll be printing out your post.
With hope,
Kate
I have to agree with Jack on this one. It sounds like she needs more hands on training in a home environment than being put in a large pen during the day. Obviously penning her up is making her anxious and the goal here is to get her socialized and adoptable. I would work more toward finding a foster home to take her in and to work with her.
I have a dog who was abused and mistreated and for her to be put in a kennel and left there for someone to adopt her it never would have happened. She had major trust issues and it took me almost 6 months to build up her trust in humans again.
Celeste
What can I learn to do to help this dog so she ends up in a wonderful home?

I'd try the power of kong. :}
A kong stuffed with luscious goodies, plugged up with peanut butter and frozen solid, can keep a dog occupied for a long period of time. And when a dog is occupied, she isn't worrying and pacing.
Whenever she is confined, throw her a frozen kong. When she comes out of confinement, the kong comes out.
It may be as simple as this. Or not. But I'd try simple first. :}

You also may want to look into something like Comfort Ease, a pheromone product, and Rescue Remedy, one of the Bach's Flower Remedies. I've heard a lot of success stories in calming agitated dogs with these.

Canine Action Dog Trainer
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You also may want to look into something like Comfort Ease, a pheromone product, and Rescue Remedy, one of the Bach's Flower Remedies. I've heard a lot of success stories in calming agitated dogs with these.

I'm curious about the contradictory results of using RR. IME both direct and as the person foster volunteers reported to, RR never had any effect on any Boxer it was used on, no matter how much given or for how long. I've also talked with a good number of other Boxer rescuers who've said the same thing.
Is it that Boxers are somehow immune as a breed or is it possible that people are seeing something that's not really there because they either already believe completely in holistic type remedies or because they've been told it'll definitely work?

Tara
You also may want to look into something like Comfort ... lot of success stories in calming agitated dogs with these.

I'm curious about the contradictory results of using RR. IME both direct and as the person foster volunteers reported to, ... really there because they either already believe completely in holistic type remedies or because they've been told it'll definitely work?

I can't say whether or not Boxers are immune as a breed, nor can I say whether people are seeing something that isn't there. Lots of Greyhound people swear by RR too; I have tried it on many dogs of different breeds without any effect.
Mustang Sally
Is it that Boxers are somehow immune as a breed or is it possible that people are seeing something that's not really there because they either already believe completely in holistic type remedies or because they've been told it'll definitely work?

I know a vet who stocked up on it because she said it worked for many dogs, and there are a lot of dog day care workers who use it.

I think it's one of those things that work on some and not on others.

Canine Action Dog Trainer
http://www.canineaction.com
It's A Dog's Life
http://hometown.aol.com/dfrntdrums/myhomepage/index.html Get Healthy, Build Your Immune System, Lose Weight http://www.re-vita.net/dfrntdrums