My journey to win over the trust and love
of abused and rescued mill breeder Shelties.


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   "Help for your Shy Dog"
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Welcome to Winning Duncan Over! You will find in these pages the story of a Shetland Sheep dog who spent 8 years as a puppy mill stud dog before being rescued. Duncan's rescue is only the beginning of the story however. A great deal of time, work, love and patience is needed to turn an abused puppy mill dog into a happy and healthy pet, and that is the story told here. If you would like to read Duncan's full story I recommend that you start in the Archives at the left with February 2007 - when it all began for me, Duncan's guardian. Thank you for visiting Duncan's site, and please tell a friend!

Monday, December 21, 2009


This is so very amazing! I just spent 45 minutes brushing Duncan! Seriously!

If you remember, Duncan absolutely HATES being brushed. He jumps away from the brush, snaps at the brush (air bites) and sometimes snaps at me too. It's a terrible struggle, and he just has not let me do it. The last time he was at the groomers was absolutely horrible. (Sorry Brenda!) His undercoat is getting terrible and he looked like a raggamuffin. So awhile back I asked my Vet about a mild sedative to try and see if that would help with brushing him and for during thunderstorms. I tried it last night and it seemed to have little to no impact on him. He was still up and moving around the house like normal after two hours. I didn't even try brushing him. So I talked to my Vet today when I picked up Debbie's ashes I asked him about this and he told me I could double the dosage and try that.

So I gave him the double dose tonight and it still did not seem to have any more impact. But I decided to try anyway. I leashed Duncan and took him in the bedroom and shut the door so it was nice and quiet for us. I took his brush and a bag of soft dog treats. We sat down on the bed together and I started out just giving him a few treats, which he loved. Then I started brushing.
I kept to his head and ears and under his chin at first because if I ever go straight for his body he flips out. It was horrible as usual at first. He snapped at and bit the brush several times and even jumped at me and snapped the air too. I firmly, but quietly told him No, each time and took a few deep breaths and continued. Once he let me do a few strokes without reacting at all I gave him some small bits of the treats. That got his attention. So I filled my left hand with a bunch of small bits and gave him one for every few strokes that he remained calm. We kept doing this for a few minutes and then I started to move on to his neck, and eventually his back. I kept refilling my left hand and he kept taking the treats as I brushed his back, getting all that nasty undercoat that was peaking through out. He even let me move down to rear-end! He's usually so sensitive about anyone touching him anywhere near his hind-quarters, but as long as I gave him bits of the treats every few strokes or so he remained completely calm and let me brust him. By the time I decided to stop he was half way in my lap licking my left hand for the treats and I had a pile of Sheltie fuzz sitting next to me! He looked so much better already, with his reddish coat showing nicely instead of messy undercoat.

I did not try to work on his skirt at all, or on his belly. I want to make sure he remains calm for the easy part and that he has a good experience before I move on to the hard parts. Those will be more scary and more difficult for him to allow me to do.

I'm not sure how much affect the sedative had or did not have on him. I think I'll go back to just the regular dosage and try this again in a day or two and see how that goes. If that continues to go well, I'll work on weaning him off the sedative at all and see if he can handle it with just the yummy treats. Who knows, maybe I'll be lucky enough to get him to actually enjoy being brushed. But for now, we had a very positive experience that I can hopefully build on. I am so excited!

posted by Tatha at 11:35 PM
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Anonymous Ellen Leigh said...

Great Tatha! Sounds like you may have found a way to gain his trust! I found this same method worked for Byrdie, although I didn't need the tranq's. She now does very well with brushing, and lets the 'Pedipaws' be used for all four paws with no problem. Treats go a long way in them learning that tolerating stuff they hate gets them good stuff. Bea is better too, but nails are still a chore.

10:48 AM  

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