Rescue Dog - shy and a little skittish - Advice? UPDATE #13 - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 16 Old 07-03-2009, 11:24 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I am so glad to have found a forum on here for pets!

Does anyone here have any experience with dogs that are shy/skittish? We went to visit a dog yesterday and I absolutely fell in love with her! The only issue is that she is very shy - she did warm up though. And she's a little skittish with noises and such. The rescue she is with is ok with her going to a home with children, since her first foster home had young children, one being autistic and she did very well with them. She's a smart dog - knows sit and lay down. She's housetrained and loves to snuggle (when she warms up).

It is such a big risk to take in a dog that you don't know it's history, etc. She would be perfect for our family - if I knew that we wouldn't completely overwhelm her.

Does anyone have any advice, suggestions or experiences to share? I would very much appreciate it!

Thanks!

Aly - wife to Mike Step-mommy and mommy to 4 wonderful kiddos! 11, 10, 4 and 1
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#2 of 16 Old 07-04-2009, 01:14 PM
 
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I don't know that the lack of history is such a bad thing - you already know what you need to know about her current personality. I'm not sure exactly what shy and skittish means but I personally wouldn't adopt a dog like that if I had children. Many/most? bites are fear based and you can't control the circumstances all the time.

Sorry, I hate to be a downer, but while I am 100% for adopting adult rescue dogs, I think personality is most important and this would not be my choice for a home with children.
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#3 of 16 Old 07-05-2009, 01:01 AM
 
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Lack of history is not always a bad thing. I volunteer heavily in a GSD rescue near me, and we don't always know the dogs history. However, we ALWAYS know the dog. We do a thorough evaluation. I go there (almost) daily to do basic training and exercise with the dogs. I know every rescue is different, of course. But, I think, most rescues really work hard to match the family to the dog. We want that second home for the dog to be a forever home. So, we're really OCD, almost, about perfect placement.

I think being skittish/shy is not necessarily a bad thing. It could be the dog's nature. But, it could also be the fact that the dog is 1. in a new environment, 2. meeting new people, 3. is a rescue.

There will definitely be an adjustment period of a few weeks when the dog goes home with you. She may have accidents in the house, may be even more shy and skittish, may be afraid to go into certain areas of the house, may forget some basic commands, etc. This is all fairly normal in an adjustment period.

I would worry about taking a highly anxious dog into a home with children. But, if she's shy - that's different.

How long ago was she in that foster home? Are we talking a matter of a few months ago? Or years? People who foster dogs wouldn't lie about her being OK with kids. So ... if she just left that home a few months ago - I'd be OK with taking her in.

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#4 of 16 Old 07-05-2009, 02:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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She left the previous foster w/kids about 2 weeks ago I'm waiting to hear back from that foster - out of town for the weekend. I'm waiting to hear why they had to get her a new foster. She's not skittish to the point of being aggressive. She was just really reserved with her affections. She took treats from our hands and then came back for more pets. She was shy enough that she'd like to go back to her foster mom and hide behind her - peeking out at us. She wasn't shaking or hair sticking up on her back. She did kind of startle when my water bottle fell (stainless steel). But she didn't run away or hide. Her foster mom said she did run back up the stairs when she had dropped a bone earlier that day.

So - I'm just wondering if this should be red flag behavior - or if this behavior could stem from lack of a "forever home" for her. Oh - also when we were leaving, her foster asked if she wanted to go outside and she totally perked up. She got on her leash - went outside and did her business and just pranced in the grass - tail up, ears up, happy as could be. Could this be indicative of her potential? To me, I take this as a good sign that she could get used to our family and do well. But I don't have any experience with rescued dogs.

Aah - I don't know. Maybe I'm just fishing...

Aly - wife to Mike Step-mommy and mommy to 4 wonderful kiddos! 11, 10, 4 and 1
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#5 of 16 Old 07-05-2009, 05:51 PM
 
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It doesn't sound like a problem to me. My GSD, who is a very dominant dog, when he was a pup, and I first got him, would hide behind me when people approached him. He grew out of it. But, this is not uncommon in dogs, and it can stem from not having a stable living situation. I think any dog would startle at a stainless steel water bottle being dropped - even my dog would! Heck, I would too.

I don't think the dog sounds like a problem. The shy/skittish behavior that you're describing is very different than, say, a highly anxious dog. Also, since she's been in that foster home with kids ... obviously the situation is OK. No rescue would lie to you about that!

I think it's a good idea to find out why she left, though that could be a random thing - in our rescue, sometimes dogs switch around in foster homes to make room for dogs that can only go to that specific home due to X issues.

Anyway, I don't see any red flags in what you describe, but obviously I am not there in person. The foster parent and the rescue should know the dog best. If they think the dog is a good fit for you, again, it's not something they would lie about.

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#6 of 16 Old 07-05-2009, 11:35 PM
 
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Skittish of loud noises is a whole different ball game (at least to me) than being shy of people. I guess that's what I thought when you first said shy/skittish, that she is fearful of people and avoids them - which I still think would be a bad quality to have in a home with children as you can't always trust them to have the self-control and ability to read the dog that an adult would.

One of my dogs is afraid of loud noises and while she has gotten over a lot of it (microwave, popcorn popper, vacuum were all very scary at first) some stuff still freaks her out (fireworks, traffic noise). However noise sensitivity does not IMO make her an unsafe pet in any way.

Sorry if I interpreted your original post incorrectly!
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#7 of 16 Old 07-06-2009, 12:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sorry if I interpreted your original post incorrectly!
Nope - no biggie! I didn't take offense to it or anything like that. This is the internet

I do appreciate the insight from everyone though - having zero experience with rescue/shelter animals, it's really helpful to hear others' experiences. Thank you!

Aly - wife to Mike Step-mommy and mommy to 4 wonderful kiddos! 11, 10, 4 and 1
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#8 of 16 Old 07-06-2009, 01:14 AM
 
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It sounds like your big concern is your family being too much for the dog.

Is she crate trained? Would you be willing to crate train? Can you give her a place to get away from it all?

Does the rescue worker think it would be a good fit? Most rescues are sincere about making good placements. Most rescues will steer you to a more appropriate dog, even if you have your heart set on one whose needs aren't compatible with your lifestyle. But...there are also rescues that just want to move the dogs through. I think the second type is less common--but I did once get burned. All's well that ends well (I love my dog : ) but the rescue did misrepresent a major health issue (advanced heartworm disease) in order to place her with me.

If evaluating dog behavior is brand new to you, it may be easier to evaluate the rescue and decide if they are trustworthy or if they just want to make a placement.

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#9 of 16 Old 07-06-2009, 01:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Her foster said she has a crate and is fine in it, but that since she's been with them (the last two weeks) she's been spoiling her and letting her sleep with them in bed. So - I dunno. I would prefer to crate train her though, if we ended up adopting her.

How do I find out more about the rescue? They seem like a decent rescue - they have seemed open so far about her (temperament, her treatment for heartworm, etc.). Are there places I can check with? Or are there things to look for in a quality rescue?

Aly - wife to Mike Step-mommy and mommy to 4 wonderful kiddos! 11, 10, 4 and 1
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#10 of 16 Old 07-06-2009, 10:42 PM
 
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I would expect certain things from a reputable rescue: a comprehensive interview, a home visit, detailed and accurate health records from the time the rescue became responsible for the dog, good information and honest descriptions from the foster family...they should also be able to give referrals to local trainers, groomers and vets....

I think what is more telling is the answers they give to your questions. It's important to ask what happens in adoptions that don't work out (they want the dog back is the only good answer.) I would also ask how often they turn away a potential adopter (shouldn't be a huge number, but also should not be "never.") I would also ask what happens if a family has their heart set on a dog whose needs don't match with their lifestyle.

I think most rescues are genuinely interested in making the best, permanent placement. Rescue is just such hard, hard work. I think what happens is that sometimes rescues get in over their heads with too many dogs, too few resources, and they just have to move dogs through to get back to a manageable work load.

Hope this helps!

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#11 of 16 Old 07-06-2009, 10:47 PM
 
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My first dog as an adult was a very shy/skittish dog who we named Aspen. Blades of grass could scare him.

He was SO lovable, but so easily freaked out. What he wanted was some place to call his own where he could escape.

God, I loved that dog so much, and he was SO shy. But he loved his people.

Hippie sympathizer and mom to L, 4.8.10.
Pet-mom to Squirt with FLUTD & Maya the deaf wonder dog .
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#12 of 16 Old 07-07-2009, 03:01 PM
 
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We got a dog from a rescue about 9 months ago. She was about a year old at the time. She was initially somewhat shy and a little skittish. She'd back away if you tried to pet her over her head. Dh spent a few hours with her at the adoption clinic, walking her around, scratching her, etc., and she was pretty calm, but not outgoing.

She'd been with the rescue for a couple of months and they had a couple of small kids and thought she'd be fine. She was completely housebroken (has never had an accident) but had no training at all otherwise.

She is fine. She's still not thrilled to death to meet strangers, but she's much better than she was, and she's not really scared so much, just a little reserved. She's OK with strange dogs. I think somebody used to not be so nice to her in her former life. It took her a few weeks to feel totally at home with us, which I think isn't unreasonable. Basic obedience training seemed to help give her some confidence.
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#13 of 16 Old 07-07-2009, 03:12 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Ola_ View Post
I'm not sure exactly what shy and skittish means but I personally wouldn't adopt a dog like that if I had children. Many/most? bites are fear based and you can't control the circumstances all the time.

Sorry, I hate to be a downer, but while I am 100% for adopting adult rescue dogs, I think personality is most important and this would not be my choice for a home with children.
I'm afraid I'd agree with this.
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#14 of 16 Old 07-10-2009, 02:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well - she got adopted while we were thinking about it. Her foster mom adopted her! Which I think is great - and actually very sweet. So - off we go on our search for our new friend!

Thank you, btw, for everyone's feedback and input. I very much appreciate it!

Aly - wife to Mike Step-mommy and mommy to 4 wonderful kiddos! 11, 10, 4 and 1
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#15 of 16 Old 07-10-2009, 06:31 PM
 
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ohhhhhhh so sorry. I do believe in fate with dogs. the right one will be there.

I just adopted a shy skittish dog the other day. When my dd came home from school (she's 8yrs old) the dog went right to her and licked her. She's great with cats and dogs and everyone......just super shy and in her shell. Ive seen dogs that are fearful, that bite.....but its different than shy. And dont forget to bring the family to meet the dog too. thats usually a good indication.

I adopted a super shy dog before, and she turned out to be the best dog I ever had. IT took a while, she was mostly shy with other dogs, but socializing and lots of attention brought her around. NOw ive got another one and Im up for the challenge bc i know the results will be worth it. Even my cat, who hates everyone, loves loves loves this dog......

good luck in your search! youll find the right one!!

heres a link to my dogs pic. trying to pick a name

http://www.petfinder.com/petnote/dis...petid=14078790
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#16 of 16 Old 07-10-2009, 11:31 PM
 
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Well, I'm glad the dog found a home even though it didn't happen to be yours.

Just to put my two cents in:
When we adopted our Huskey we had to literally move in slow motion for the first couple of days. He would run out of the room if I grabbed my drink too quickly (that was no where near him). He was afraid of everything! But after about a month or so, he started to get comfortable with us and his new home and a whole new personality came out! He is now a confident and calm dog all around.
Sometimes rescue dogs have had their whole world turned upside down they don't trust anything or any one. I'm not saying you should ignore signs of skittishness but the evaluation from the foster family should be a good guide too.
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