My husband and I just adopted a four year old german sheppard mix from the pound. He is lovely and happy as a clam until either of us picks up a dog toy. He will pick them up of his own accord but the second either of us goes to touch it or pick up one on our own he scatters away and refuses to come near us. How can we help him overcome this fear if we can't even get near him with a toy!?!

When you pick up a toy, do you sit or stand? Try picking it up while sitting and don't do abrupt movements. See his reaction. If he isn't afraid, take a treat in your other hand or in the same hand if possible and offer it to him. See if he comes closer to get it. Be patient as it may take a while, and don't move towards him. It should be him who comes closer. The idea is to associate a toy in your hand with something positive. When you sit you don't look too big and intimidating so it should be less stressful on him. If he comes and takes the treat, praise him profusely. Repeat this exercise as many times as possible and let us know how it goes.