Hi all!

I have come to this forum desperately seeking help for my girl!

My corgi had a really bad experience at a boarding facility a couple of years ago while we were on vacation. Before dropping her off, I made sure to make the request that she NOT be put in an area with other dogs as I knew that a stressful new environment with strangers would not make any meeting end well. Plus, I know that strange dogs are unpredictable - especially when they are being supervised by people who do not know their behaviors and thresholds! I did all the research I could on the facility and took every precaution I could to make sure she would have a positive experience, but sadly, her stay ended up with her coming home with broken blood vessels in her eyes and new fearful behavior as a result. I am not sure what happened exactly as I was never able to find out, but from what I have seen behaviorally and physically, the employees at the facility did not uphold my request and threw her out with other dogs - effectively ruining her confidence and trust in others. 

She used to love meeting, playing, and being around other dogs. She was very well socialized as a puppy and loved every dog and person she met. She was very submissive to other dogs and never showed any sign of fear or aggression. However, after her experience at this facility, every time she meets another dog (even my boyfriend's dog who she grew up with and has spent a lot of time with), she begins displaying nervous behavior. Her behavior changed in the blink of an eye. She still has the desire to meet and play with other dogs, but once they are interacting, she seems to become overwhelmed after the initial greeting and results in yelping and snapping the air. She has never once aggressively gone after another dog, but I am afraid that it could one day escalate to that if I do not do something. It is very disheartening to see her behave that way to a dog she has known and loved her whole life. 

To get to the point, I am looking for anyone who has had experience dealing with the same kind of behaviors and advice on what I can do to help her become a more confident and less fearful dog. I am just at a loss as to how to help her as I am not a professional myself and I have never dealt with this type of behavior before. Fear is something not easily remedied. My hope for her is that one day she will be able to co-exist with other dogs without reacting fearfully and that I will be able to take her on walks with my boyfriend's dog again, but I know that may be a longshot.

**I have tried to seek the help of a professional, but the cost of each session is just too expensive for me right now as I am on a college student budget. I have also tried calming collars and the Adaptil collar, but that does not seem to make a difference. She has also been checked out by a vet to rule out any physical pain and has a clean bill of health.

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Ok, I was going to suggest training classes but I see that won't work for you.

Here is what I would suggest to start.  Find a couple of knowledgable dog owners with well-behaved, leash-trained dogs who have quiet confidence.   This is not the time to meet the neighbor's eight-month old boxer.   Explain your situation, and your dog's behavior and ask if you can meet a couple times a week for joint leash walks.  You, your dog, one other person, and one other well-mannered calm dog.   

DO NOT LET THE DOGS MEET.   Walk them together, with a dog-person-dog-person formation.  Give some treats on the walk but don't go overboard.  Reward her calmly for exhibiting calm behavior.   Repeat, repeat, repeat.  

IF she reaches a point after several sessions where she is super relaxed and wants to briefly sniff the other dog, let her but immediately after greeting, while she is still relaxed, take them both their separate ways.   What you would ideally see here is a stress-relieving shake after the encounter, and she then looks at you and smiles.   Do not progress further than that for quite some time.  If you can rotate out maybe two or three dogs to do that with, it would be ideal.    What you are doing is rebuilding her confidence by showing her she has control over the situation and will not be forced to interact past her comfort levels.

You may never get past the point with strange dogs where expecting her to ignore them but stay calm is the best you can get but hopefully you can get her to have a couple of dog "friends" that she is ok interacting with.

Never do a dog park, never let her meet unpredictable dogs.

I am sorry this happened.  The kennel we use will never allow dogs to play together unless they live together even if the owners say it's ok, for exactly the reasons you describe.  Unfortunately more and more facilities have thrown hundreds of years of understanding out the window as people start to treat their dogs like preschoolers and expect them all to want "play dates".   

Im sorry I cant be of much help aside from veeer gradual desentizing, but I would sue the heck out of that place

One of my guys is an insecure dog and did not get along with my red headed tri.  One exercise I did with a behaviorist was to put both dogs on a leash.  Tie the insecure dog to something solid like a closed door or table she can't move.  Have access to a lot of food-I use a higher quality kibble.  bring your boyfriend's dog near and give them both kibble.  Keep about a foot between the dogs.  keep giving them kibble.  With time and repetition, you can bring them closer.  Work up to being able to give your girl part of her breakfast/dinner while she's tied and give your boyfriend's dog part of his breakfast/dinner about a foot away.  Food makes the situation tolerable and eventually more comfortable.

Obviously, you can't do this with every dog, but it will help with your boyfriend's dog.

Next exercise: take your girl for a walk.  When another dog comes near, put her in a sit and give her food as the other dog passes as long as she stays in the sit.  Eventually, she'll associate other dogs passing by with food and calm down.

Good luck.


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