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Unable to put a lead on the dog


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Noah is a 24 week rescue puppy we have had with us for 6 weeks. When we first had him he was very nervous (we are told his two siblings were too). Over the weeks he has grown into a happy dog that plays well with our other dog, will now sleep anywhere rather than his safe place, will sit on command and takes treats nicely. The problem we still have with him is that we cannot touch him; he just shies away. My wife has had some success with touching his cheek while feeding treats but we need to get him happy with being handled and onto a lead.

We are experienced puppy fosterers but have not met this problem before and cannot currently think of the best way to proceed. We fear that forcibly catching him may undo progress so far.

Can anyone offer any ideas about how to resolve the problem?
I’ve not encountered it quite as bad as you have but when I took in one of my dogs, he was a bit aloof. He also didn’t enjoy being petted much either. The way we got round it was to sit on the floor with him in the same room. I used to sit for hours with treats and just let him come to me and leave me if he didn’t. After a while, he got used to me being on his level and accepted me into his world. Moving very slowly and using their favourite toys also helped a bunch.
Good luck ;):D
Maybe not a short term solution but if you do manage to get a collar on him, it might be a good idea to have 6” of ribbon on it so you can get him without touching.

Have you seen Chirag Patel's bucket game? That teaches dogs consensual handling.
What do you know of his background before he came to you? Also, does he have a collar on at the moment?
What do you know of his background before he came to you? Also, does he have a collar on at the moment?

Three puppies and their mother were found abandoned in the street, running in the traffic. They were collected by a friend who does such things. The mother was lovely and quickly rehomed. The puppies were all very nervous; one was rehomed although still very twitchy, one is still with our friend and improving and we agreed to foster Noah. We have since asked to keep him. He does have a collar; we had to catch him and cut the old one off as it was far too tight, which did not help with his trust!
There's a post on Romanian and other street dogs here: Romanian and other street dogs Chances are most of it won't apply to your pup as he might not have been a stray for long, but there might be something that resonates with you.

Six weeks is probably simply not enough time for him to learn to trust. Some rescue dogs can take 6 months to show much improvement, or even longer. It sounds like you're doing the right things, going at his pace rather than trying to push ahead.

I also wouldn't be in a hurry to get him out on walks, as that is likely to be overwhelming in itself. You could get him used to the lead simply by having it next to you when you give him treats, then maybe moving your 'lead' hand closer to his neck area, but also going at his pace. But again, every step needs to be one he's comfortable with - one bad experience with the lead and it will be harder next time.

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