MUR Adoptable – Josie

Dez KlippensteinBehavior, My Dogs, Rescue2 Comments

Hi friends!

I wanted to share about another beautiful adoptable from Manitoba Underdogs Rescue who has a soft spot in my heart, Josie. If it were up to me, I’d be adding Josie to my pack. Unfortunately my partner is at his dog limit (for now) so I have to settle for co-fostering Josie and helping with her training.

Josie before - note her body is very stiff, her head is down, and her ears are back

Josie before – note her body is very stiff, her head is down, and her ears are back

Before coming into care, Josie was living as a stray in a remote Manitoban community. She was terrified of people and we couldn’t get anywhere near her to catch her, so we had to use a humane trap. Upon arriving to the “big city”, Josie stayed at my house for a few days. I had a “safe place” set up for her including a crate, blanket, food, and water. Crating a dog has a bad rap for being “cruel”, but in reality, dogs need a safe place that is always available for them if they are feeling anxious, nervous, have a special bone to chew, or need to take a nap, most dogs love having a crate.

After an initial behavioral assessment, I determined that there wasn’t a mean bone in Josie’s body, she was just extremely afraid; understandably, as it was her first time in a car, crate and house. You never want to force a fearful dog to do anything, either lure them with treats or wait them out. With Josie, I wanted to take her outside, so I started with offering her food and water, then experimented with some other snacks. During this process I did not give any eye contact, I sat a fair distance away where she didn’t have to walk right to me to leave the room, and I had my side facing her. Body language, both yours and the dog’s, are very important when working with dogs like Josie. Turned out, Josie was a big fan of hot dog buns so I left a little trail of crumbs and eventually she came out of the kennel and off we went into the backyard.

At this point, Josie was a flight risk so even though I have a fully fenced yard, I kept her on leash at all times, even inside the house. Once outside, it was a bit of a challenge to get her back inside. I left a trail of treats going inside the door and turned my back as to not intimidate her, eventually we made it back in, and she bee lined straight for her kennel. That was what we did for the next few days, going out and back in, which got increasingly quicker each time. By the second day, she would even stop to check out the house before heading back to her crate!

It turns out that Josie LOVES other dogs, and her foster sisters have been great influences on her! Dogs can be the best teachers, or the worst, depending on their habits. Josie now walks right inside with my girls because she learned from them that it is safe to walk past me when I open the door. They also taught her to walk on the leash and that it is a fun activity rather than an intimidating, scary one.

Josie fitting right in with my girls at their favorite lookout spot!

Josie fitting right in with my girls at their favorite lookout spot!

Josie has now been in care for just over three months. I continue to work with Josie, getting her used to different items and experiences, like the collar and leash, and checking out new environments. Josie now walks right into my yard with confidence and molds right in with my pack. We even have her coming on our walks and greeting people at the door. Needless to say, when Josie finds that perfect family, she will also come with a couple of humans who will need some visitation rights!

Josie after - note her body language, ears perked, loose body, head and tail up

Josie after – note her body language, ears perked, loose body, head and tail up

Interested in adopting this sweet girl? Check out for more information!

Hope this blog is helpful for those who ever need to work with timid/semi-feral animals. If you’ve had your fair share working with timid/semi-feral animals, I’d love to hear what steps you took to help them transition to life as a pet!

2 Comments on “MUR Adoptable – Josie”

  1. Lori

    Thanks for posting this, I am currently fostering a dog with very similar fear issues. It’s good to know that we are doing the right things and to get other ideas on how to deal with helping them get past it all. Even though he was “owned” he wasn’t loved and spent most of his first year of life in a garage. When he first came into rescue he was afraid of people, other dogs, car rides, pretty much everything. He too had never been in a house and all 80lbs. of him had to be carried into the house that first day. He was afraid of it all, the back door, stairs, hardwood floors, the tv, you name it he was afraid of it. His first few days were spent in the living room until we figured out the floor fear. We solved that one with trails of area rugs, canvas paint tarps, etc. As long as he could reach from one to the other he grew confident enough to expand his world. We slowly removed one here and there and spread them further apart. It’s been 2 weeks but the trail is mostly gone with the exception of the rugs that were always there. Area rug trails on short flights of stairs is working too. Still hasn’t quite got brave enough to come all the way upstairs but he is getting close. I am happy to say that after a week and half he finally got over the dreaded back door. We had to live with lots of skeeters, flies etc in the house as we had to prop open the door for a few minutes every time our dogs went in or out, only to have to give in and go let him in or out the garden door which for some reason wasn’t nearly as scary. Then one day he just did it, though I think it helped that he could hear me getting the dinner bowls ready in the kitchen lol! We haven’t conquered the car yet and walks are still a bit of a disaster but we are gaining.

    1. Dez

      Aw that is SO great Lori, he is so lucky to have such a committed foster! The carpet’s are GENIUS! If you can get him comfortable in a kennel, his “safe” place, try putting it into the car he might feel more comfortable that way. Josie really learned that walking on leash was fun and not scary from my girls! If he likes other dogs, try taking him out with them and see if he will mimic what they do! Lots of treats and eventually he should get the hang of it! If he is even scared when you get out the leash, put it on him to just drag around the house so he learns it isn’t associated with something scary!

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