The months following Kita's "breakthrough moments" were a continual, joyful (and sometimes challenging) push-pull with a dog whose sweetness and willfulness were pretty equally matched.
Truth be told, she was very uncertain, very frightened of people, and by all appearances had every reason to be that way. So, I told the kids I needed their help to give her a chance to trust us, but without our being forceful. However long it took, we were going to wait her out. Persuasion.
I also took it on myself to watch carefully where her comfort zone was, and to keep moving the bar higher. Her first terror to conquer was Walking Through Doorways. When we brought the other dogs in, Kita would hover at the back door, too anxious to pass across the threshold. The only way to get her in was to put the entire family in the backyard, and close in slowly until someone either caught her, or she felt pressured enough to run through the door on her own. One very rainy day was enough to expose the flaws in this plan. "Thanks very much" Kita said, "but I would be just fine living out here." Nope.
So we started rewarding her, making a big happy fuss every time she entered her crate. "Go to bed! Go to bed!" Reward. Reward. Pretty soon, the idea of the Go To Bed Reward was enough to induce her through the back door -- and straight to the crate -- on her own volition.
Kita spent a weekend with Becky, who texted me to say that she was worried something was wrong, that Kita was moaning in her crate. "No, nothing's wrong -- she just wants you to reward her for going in!" Once it was clear that Kita had decided to use her crate entry as a Reward Procurement System, it was time to move the bar higher.
I decided the next step needed to be for her to spend some time outside of the crate but in the house, not just dashing from outdoors to crate and back outdoors again. Now, to get the reward, she had to go in the crate and come back out into the living room. I think we spent 5-6 weeks on this one. For a few days, she only had to stick her neck out. Then, she had to reach her front paws out, and so on. We all took turns sitting at increasing distances from her crate, enticing her to come out for treats and petting.
Once she mustered the courage to come out for treats (always dashing right back in), I decided to close the crate door behind her. Poor Kita -- she was nearly beside herself, and spent several long minutes pacing in circles around the sofa before I opened the crate door again. Safe at last! We spent 2-3 weeks doing this routine, gradually increasing the time she spent outside the crate. The children were so good about not trying to touch her or chase her while she was out. I wanted her to learn that it was safe to be out, and the kids were wonderfully on board and self-controlled about this.
After a few weeks, we decided to try petting her while she was out of the crate -- in hopes she might eventually warm up more to us. We dangled our hands over the side of the sofa with snacks (a single hand being much less threatening to her than a whole human) and tried to sneak in a stroke or two while she took the treat. Kita had a sixth sense about this, and usually managed to slink down just out of reach. I am sure her acute awareness of the environment had a lot to do with her survival pre-shelter.
After a couple of weeks of this, she began to accept some affection. She would come up and lick our hands, then scamper away - but now without slinking down - as we reached out to pet her. It was a puzzle -- she seemed so much to want affection but wasn't sure how to be where she could get it (except for moaning in her crate). I decided to teach her to sit, thinking it would be a way for her to learn to stay in one place as an alternative to the constant indoor pacing (trying to find the active answer to her fall-back habit). I believe I saw relief on her face when I started practicing with her. At last, something to DO -- somewhere to put that energy! It took all of two sessions on two days for her to execute "sit" perfectly, and very consistently. Through this I learned how intelligent, how observant, and how eager to please she really was. Once sitting, she was very happy for everyone in the family to pet her -- in fact, loved it (for short bursts).
Step by step, Kita was becoming ours.
[Kita, Bilbo and Lucy - a snow day in 'Bama]