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Question
I have two puppy mill survivors that I am trying to deal with.  They are both severly afraid of people.  I have been working with one for 5 months and she will still not come to me. (3 yrs ) She appears to also have some sort of off eyesight problems.  I can pet her and touch her only at night.  I pick her up and put her in bed with me.(Yorky)  The second dog is a Shiba 6 yrs old that is the same way.  Unless she is in her crate I cannot touch her.  When afraid she freezes then flight.  She walks on leash and on leash is fine.  If she is in the yard she will not come into the house unless I trick her.  I would like them to be able to join the family and be comfortable coming to me when called.

Answer
Unfortunately, I don't believe that "rescuing" puppy mill dogs does them any service. There are several critical periods in a young dog's life, and once those developmental times are past, without proper "input", they are pretty much lost forever.
http://www.mush-puppies.com/puppydevelopment.pdf

I would try feeding both dogs by hand; food only comes from YOU. Sit down on the floor so that you are not towering over them. Don't touch them during this time until they are used to eating from your hand, and even then, build up to it (touching) slowly. You might have to start out sitting on the floor with the food dish a few feet away from you as they eat, and then gradually sit closer and closer to the dish. Once they are comfortable eating with you next to the dish, then the food can come from your hand.

Never let them outside loose. Put them on a long line so that when you call, you can reel them back in. I rattle kibble in a metal dish to teach mine to come in quickly, and they get pieces of kibble for doing so. This would probably have no meaning for your dogs until they are used to eating food from your hand.

Everything you do with them must be done slowly, over a period of time. Good luck with them, and have a lot of patience. They will never be the dogs of your dreams, but maybe they will eventually tolerate being touched by you and feel safe enough to not run away.

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Karen Brittan

Expertise

I have been showing miniature schnauzers in conformation, obedience, and earthdog for forty years, and am a professional dog groomer. I am not a veterinarian and cannot answer questions of a veterinary nature. However, I can give my opinion or share some experiences on some health issues. Everyone should remember that this is a volunteer service, and few of us are up late into the night. Medical emergencies require a veterinary visit, or at least a telephone call... not an internet question which might not be viewed and answered until hours later. If your dog is sick or injured, it should be seen by a licensed professional for proper diagnosis and treatment.

Experience

I have taught obedience classes and have taught people how to groom for many years.

Learn more about me and my dogs: http://britmorschnauzers.com

Organizations
Member of: American Miniature Schnauzer Club; Twin Cities Miniature Schnauzer Club; Twin Cities Obedience Training Club; Elk River Kennel Club; Minnesota Professional Pet Groomers Association; Greater Twin Cities Earthdog Club.

Education/Credentials
Fifty-one years of living with, observing, and training dogs, along with numerous seminars during that time.

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