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We adopted two, 3-yr-old bonded Spoo brothers four months ago from a rescue group. They were given up by someone who traveled for work and wasn’t home much. They were supposedly kept in a bedroom for weeks on end, with the only human interaction being someone who came to take them out and feed twice a day. We were told this went on for a year or more. These wonderul boys have obviously had training and are very mannerly in the house. They are very shy, untrusting and unsocialized, although are wonderful with us and have been from the minute we met. They didn’t respond to their original names at all. They have since learned their new names, which makes it easier to get their attention when needed. The negative issues we are having is the loud, uncontrollable barking at anything that moves outside, and walking on a leash. I walk both together as it causes them great anxiety if separated. They know what “Heel” means, but are so distracted by everything around them, that they can’t concentrate. They pull horribly on the leash. I have tried walking with treats in my hands, which works if they are not distracted. I know they will become more and more secure and confident with time, but I after almost getting pulled down yesterday during an aggressive outbreak from seeing another dog on a leash, I am considering a corrective collar. I’ve been reluctant because they seem like torture devices to me, but I’m getting desperate for improvement. We walk two miles a day, and at the end of the walk I am exhausted from wrestling them. I would welcome any advice.
 

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For these dogs I would not use a "corrective" collar (which I am not sure what you mean by that term) at this point. I would not use any aversives at all until you work through more confidence building and bonding. I think collar corrections could really interfere with them building their confidence at this point in their resocialization.

I would work on developing relationships that will allow you to work with/walk each dog separately so their relationships separately with you and other people in your home are much stronger than their relationships with each other. Play lots of brain games that have fun moments in them and you will build the relationships you want and need. This actually should reduce the amount of time and distance you spend doing low thinking walking. Don't walk much at all if there are going to be reactions that are undesirable behaviors such as barking, pulling to the point of knocking you off your feet or being reactive to other dogs. On leash reactive behaviors are usually fear responses to be avoided as best you can.

Look around on PF and you will find discussions that talk about focus and attention. Work on those games as much as you can do. Those games will solve many of your problems.

Patience persistence connection
 

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It sounds like they might benefit from just sitting quietly somewhere and watching the world go by. I agree with walking them separately, both because they need to work on bonding with you and because it is much easier to manage one dog at a time. Is there a spot you could walk to with the dog and then just sit and watch people and other dogs walking by? A front clip harness helps a lot with the pulling without being aversive.
 

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I agree with lily cd re. Since these dogs are under-socialized and skittish, I think you want all their interactions with the wider world to be as pleasant for them as possible. Aversives at this stage IMO have a likelihood of reinforcing bad, fear based behavior instead of correcting it.

Have you consulted a dog behaviorist?
 

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I think it’s wonderful you adopted these siblings. You’ve had them for 4 months so you should have seen some changes in their personality as they settled into your home.

I agree with lily cd re too. While I don’t think you need a vet behavioralist (a veterinarian trained in dog behavior like a human psychiatrist) I do think it would be helpful to have an experienced dog trainer who knows how to handle situations like this to help guide at the beginning.

ReRaven is right, you need to be able to work up to walking each dog separately.

Instead of long walks you could substitute brain games. Thinking uses a lot of energy and you can replace the long walks for short potty breaks. Brain games could be teaching obedience commands such as sit, down, go to mat etc. or other tricks as well as learning to focus on you.

As for barking, my own dog doesn’t bark so I have no personal experience. I’ve read people say if you can teach your dog to bark on command the. You can use an release work to get them to stop. Sometimes acknowledging them when they bark and letting them know you have been alerted and it’s okay can help them stop.
 

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Do you have more than one person who can walk the dogs in your house?
Like the others, I think you need to work on separating them, and avoiding places/situations where they 'practice' the reactive behaviour. You would want to slowly reintroduce these settings at a controlled distance, far enough that they don't react.
If you have a backyard, or another space that is fairly distraction-free, what about having someone sit to the side with one dog, while you work on heeling and other commands with the other dog. Slowly increase their distance from each other (just inside the back door for example).
 

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I love the advice you've gotten here. This is such a wonderful forum. And kudos to you for taking on such a big challenge. They sound like lovely boys, but certainly not easy.

All that time spent cooped up with no stimulation has probably left them in quite an obsessive state. I'm not surprised they're constantly on alert and being triggered by even the smallest sights and sounds. I imagine they passed the hours waiting anxiously for something—anything—to happen, fixated on any indication that someone's arrived to let them out.

So I'd shift their brains away from their eyes and ears as much as possible for a while, and try to engage their noses. Really let them be doggy.

I like to play "Find it" with Peggy, asking her to wait while I hide a treat or toy and then releasing her.

Games like that will a) remind them of the joys of being dogs and b) tire them out without the stress of walks.

When you do walk, I'd focus on slow wanders, just noodling about on a long lead. Lots of sniffing. LOTS. And in a space with minimal chance for close encounters with dogs or humans.

Absolutely I'd steer clear of aversives. I'm amazed these dogs aren't already completely shut down. You want to keep encouraging them the way you're doing, urging them forward and out of their shells, teaching them that the world is safe and good and fun to explore, building their confidence.

But I do recommend working on all this with an excellent positive reinforcement trainer, at least for a few sessions. One who's experienced in behaviour. Maybe you could even do some nose work classes?

Please do share your progress with us! We're here for you.
 

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I am so appreciative of all the great advice! I have been researching brain games, and we have been playing ”hide the treat” as some of you mentioned. They are loving it, and so is my 14-yr-old Lhasa! I have also ordered some treat puzzles. I really appreciate your helpful comments. I think I was too focused on making them good leash walkers, which is obviously too much to ask at this time in their re-socialization. Yesterday we went to the dog park for the fourth time. They are slowly getting a bit more confident in approaching other dogs and people, although Archie is painfully shy with people, especially men. (Angus is more social with people, but he is shy around other dogs.) We also went to Petsmart which is also fun because of all the dog-lovers! Angus and Archie are such an arresting looking pair, and everyone wants to talk to them and hear their story. I take treats with me and hand them out for people to give to them. Archie actually took one for the first time yesterday! Baby steps... I am trying to ensure that I do not cause any more stress or encourage bad behaviors in these amazing boys. Here is a pic with my daughter.
 

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Such a cute crew of dogs you've got! I'm glad your Lhasa is joining in on the fun. :)

It sounds like the adjustments you're making are positive ones—easing up on the high-pressure walks and lowering your expectations a little.

Just be very careful with dog parks. The dynamics can change in an instant, and the last thing you want right now is a traumatic encounter with aggressive or poorly socialized dogs. Dog parks are known for such things.

A better, safer option would be a controlled environment with dogs you know and trust. Doggy mentors can be great helpers!

There are also differing views on having strangers hand out treats. Some encourage this method. Others suggest it can be damaging, as it tempts a nervous dog to move out of their comfort zone. Then, when the treat's been consumed, they suddenly find themselves too close to something scary and this creates panic, thereby reinforcing their fear.

An alternative is to have the stranger toss treats. This works especially well if the person is coming into your home. Or you feed the treats, reinforcing yourself as an ally and saying, "Look! How fun! Good things happen when people come around!"

Our dog Peggy isn't a rescue, but she's prone to fearful growling and barking, and has been since she was a very small puppy. Her temperament has taught us to keep things light and positive, and honestly has probably made us better people. We've also really enjoyed taking classes with her and have learned so much. Seeing her blossom has been a joy.

I think dogs come into our lives for a reason. :)
 

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I also would not take them to dog parks, at least not until you have worked out most of the other concerns. Personally I almost never go to dog parks, like once every few years if I am with someone who is visiting from out of town and wants their dog to have a run. My two boys are intact and therefore not welcome. For Lily if someone has left a ball for some stupid reason she will find it and then obsesses about finding people who will throw it for her. Most people get tired of her long before she is tired of her end of it and they throw it super far and while she is off fetching it they move so she can't find them. Then she has to recruit a new person. She often ends up very disappointed.
 
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I would invest in a front hook harness for them. I also used a 'calming cap' for my little chihuahua. A mesh fabric goes over the eyes. The dog can see, but not a a distance. It worked great. Another choice is the kind that loops over the dogs muzzle, attaching to the collar. I can't think of the name. If the dog pulls, he turns his head . A 'head collar'. The dog really should be slowly introduced to it.
 
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