<I just rescued a dog.>
Thank you for rescuing
<He went outside to potty, but if we got a leash out he froze. We had to carry him.>
You might want to weigh the trauma of picking him up several times a day vs the possibility of having house training issues. I'd seriously consider giving him an indoor toilet until things calm down a bit
Ideas for a "Safe Room" here:
Info on leash acclimation here (to be done later)
<My husband and I have let him stay in his safe spot.>
<he gets outside and literally freezes>
I would seriously consider the indoor toilet. Getting that scared all the time will really slow down progress
If he won't go indoors, then try to work on setting up a safe feeling area outside. Maybe a tent like structure, a covered exercise pen, etc.. Something that help him feel not so out the in the open and vulnerable.
<Day three...showered him>
For now, I recommend no baths and very limited handling. Actually only handle him when absolutely necessary
<we rubbed him and tried to reassure him. >
I recommend not petting for now. Most scared dogs do not find petting reassuring. They would prefer space.
<I would like to ask what the best plan is for a dog that I think has spent most of his two years>
Go really really slow. Let him learn his new world in teeny tiny stages
<does respond to massages and head rubs, not affectionately, but it helps him relax a tad more.>
I would hold off on petting for now. What looks like calm is probably a dog who is shut down.
More on petting here: http://eileenanddogs.com/2012/08/29/does-your-dog-really-want-to-be-petted/
Info on desensitizing touching here: http://www.stubbypuddin.com/2013/11/desensitizing-touching.html
<Last Foster put him on SamE and a natural calming spray. Recommended Prozac, which I do not want to do.>
Alternative meds under vet supervision are fine
Psychotropic drugs like Prozac (under vet supervision) is fine as well. But these medicines don't work by themselves. They need to be used in conjunction with management and desensitization and counter conditioning. I recommend a consult with a board certified vet behaviorist.
Info on counter conditioning here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL70eA_MZvAVoG4wVvh0DaIRBvYpZLW7M0
<I will not give up on him, just want to make sure I am doing the best thing for him.>
Take things super super slow.
Completely ignore him for a couple of days.
The just walk by him without looking and drop a tasty treat
Later approach with 10 or 20 feet. Toss a treat (if it doesn't scare him), and leave
Later approach a bit closer, toss a treat and leave.
Later if pup decides to approach, toss a treat way and behind him. That way he gets rewarded for approaching but also gets relief.
Have a good trainer or vet behaviorist help with this
More in desensitizing touching here: http://www.stubbypuddin.com/2013/11/desensitizing-touching.html
Info on finding a skilled force free trainer here: http://www.stubbypuddin.com/2012/09/hiring-training-where-to-start-your.html
Also includes a link for finding a board certified vet behaviorist