Help with new rescue dog...WWYD? - Mothering Forums

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Old 09-26-2009, 05:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I could use a little feedback about our newest rescue dog. In 2006 we rescued a GSD, and I really appreciated the help I received in this forum. Anyway, about 6 weeks ago we adopted a 9 month old lab mix (some kind of bird dog) and 90% of the time she is just a sweet, happy dog who really brings us all so much happiness. Unfortunately, the few incidents we've had have me a little worried, and my husband is ready to give her back. So, here's the deal. Twice she has gotten into a real snarling, biting fighting match with our 8 yr old border collie mix when they were both eating. Most of the time they are fine together. They play and eat right next to each other, but those two incidents were really scary (for me and for my children who were all crying and freaking out). The second time my older dog was hurt and limping around - he's better now, but it was upsetting. The other issue is that she has nipped my 19 month old twice. We were up on the bed and the dog came over and sat next to the bed and put her face up on the bed, so I was petting her. My dd started to pet her and she was touching the dog's eyes, not hard but I'm sure it's annoying to the dog. Anyway the dog just quickly "nipped" her hand/wrist. Not hard enough to draw blood, but enough to scare me. At first I really wasn't sure if maybe I didn't see it right, but a few seconds later it happened again, and I put the dog outside and got myself calmed down, etc... it hasn't happened again (that was a couple weeks after we adopted her). Then two days ago she was laying under the table and dd was sitting next to her petting her and she growled very loudly at her. Again I immediately put her outside and told her no, but I feel like this situation won't work for us. I cannot ever leave the baby alone with her ( and I don't) and I don't blame her for not wanting the baby to bother her, I'm just wondering if maybe this isn't the home for her. Any feedback? Thanks in advance.

Tara
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Old 09-27-2009, 02:59 AM
 
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Well, for one thing, I wouldn't allow your child to touch the dog in such a way. Think about it - if someone was playing with your eyes, wouldn't you be more than a little irritated? Dogs can't say "stop that, please" in human language. They can only say it through dog language. Your dog's response sounds 100% natural to the incidents.

Also, whenever you have a baby or young child - you should NEVER leave them alone with a dog. Regardless of whether you have had that dog for months or years. I mean, I have a GSD. I trust him with my life. I have no fear about him being alone with a baby or a child. But, I will NEVER leave him alone with a baby or a toddler. Because no dog is 100% and no toddler or baby knows how to approach dogs in the right way.

In terms of the feeding issue - easily fixed by feeding the dogs in different areas. This is actually a common problem in multiple dog households, especially when introducing a new member to the family. Food is a resource, and it's a potential fight waiting to happen. So, feed in separate rooms: either one dog eats outside, and the other inside or feed them in their crates. Etc.

To me, these issues don't raise red flags. Your pup is young, and will be a puppy for awhile yet. Moreover, he's still new to the household and probably still in an adjustment period. I would do NILIF, I would feed the dogs separately, I would never leave the dog alone with a child, I would make sure the dog had enough exercise, and I would work more on teaching the 19 month old how to approach dogs and how to touch them. Your other two dogs may be used to the 19 month old and OK with her petting them in the way you described. But, this is a 9 month old lab - whole different story, and I definitely would not allow any eye poking or any petting that isn't appropriate.

However, obviously, if you don't feel the dog is a good match - call up the rescue.

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Old 09-27-2009, 08:40 AM
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Agreed. For how the dog was being touched, in a way he's not used to, he reacted appropriately for a dog even if it's not how you'd like. He can slowly be trained to handle this. In the meantime, so NOT let your child be alone with the dog or touch his eyes or feet. If the dog wanted to hurt your child, he would have. Instead he gave a warning.

Food-aggression is also common. Feed in a different area and slowly work on joining the two dishes by moving them closer. Not all dogs will ever end up eating together, and sometimes they'll be fine, then snap now and then at eat other. It's normal.
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you. I think you're both right about my 19 mo old - she needs to learn how to play with the dogs in a respectful way. I guess I was trying to gage how possible it will be in this house to keep them separated - I think a crate will be necessary. We only have the two dogs right now, as the GSD we adopted was an older dog and last year we had to put her down as her health had deteriorated rapidly. In any case I will talk with my husband and see if I can convince him that our new pup deserves a chance.

Tara
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Old 09-27-2009, 02:31 PM
 
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I think a crate is a great idea. It will give the pup a space to retreat to when overwhelmed by the kids. I would also feed her in there to separate the dogs at dinner time and also associate it with positive things. Many dogs really love their crates, I have one of those and she really views it as a safe place.

Aside from that I would do NILIF (basically get the dog to obey a command like sit or down before you give them a toy, food, pet them, or let them out the door). Also consider putting up any valuable dog toys to prevent arguments over them. You'll have to monitor the situation to see how it's going of course.
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Old 09-27-2009, 07:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have decided to keep her and tighten up our routine with the dogs. I think she deserves a chance because she's a really good-natured dog, and I don't think these problems have come from fear or aggression. Just basic kids and dogs/ dogs and new dogs kind of stuff. Your responses helped me to keep it in perspective. Having said that, we are aware that we have to be more vigilant while overseeing the interactions of both the dogs and the baby and our new dog.

tara
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Old 09-29-2009, 02:18 AM
 
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You can help desensitize your dog (both dogs, really,) to unexpected touch by hand-feeding treats while you touch lips, ears, paws, tails, and any other sensitive spots. First, offer a treat for a soft, gentle touch, but gradually up the ante, until you're grabbing those ears and lips, yanking the tail, and softly stepping on paws. Use high-value treats for a tough exercise like this, and plenty of praise.
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Old 09-29-2009, 09:58 AM - Thread Starter
 
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That's a good idea. I've been working on her to allow me to clean her paws as I found out that she doesn't like that (3 days of rain and lots of mud equals very dirty dog). When I tried to clean her feet she was nipping at me - not aggressively but still I wasn't thrilled with that. Anyway, I have a new concern/question. We got a crate for her and she is more than willing to go in it - I think she likes having a safe spot to go - but the problem is that my youngest (19 mos) wants to go into the crate, too. This would be funny/cute if I wasn't using the crate to keep them separated. It is creating a meltdown level tantrum every time I have remove the baby from the crate area, and adding stress to the situation. I think it's freaking out the dog even more. Yesterday she went after our older dog over a toy (not food). It was very quick, but the change in my older dog's behavior has me concerned. He is avoiding her, staying in the corner of the living room, etc... They were playing together yesterday morning, but after she "bullied" him (that's what my husband calls it), he wouldn't even look at her. I hate to see him like that, he's a really sweet dog. Anyway, what do you all make of that? And the crate issue - should I put it in a room and close the door to keep out the baby? I didn't want to isolate the dog from our family, but this child of mine is proving to be more of a challenge. My older two were just so much more easy going, especially about our dogs. Anyway, thanks for reading and any input will be appreciated.

Tara

FYI - I have to say again that the strange thing is 90% of the time this dog is wagging her tail and loving all over everyone, so when she snaps it's really out of nowhere.
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Old 09-30-2009, 01:24 AM
 
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Sorry, if this is really weird advice. But, I have a good friend who trains search and rescue dogs. He has twin toddlers, and his solution to them wanting to go into the crate was to get his toddlers their own crate. Now, when guests come over, it may look odd - the dogs in their crate, the toddlers napping in theirs ... but, he said it worked wonders. He did say he took off the door for the crate that his kids play in ... just in case, though obviously he supervises them 100% of the time that they're in there.

If you think about it, a crate is really a lot like a neat fort. Who wouldn't want to play in it?

I don't know if that's an option or if it sounds really bizarre to you ... but, I thought I'd mention it anyway. My friend says there was no other way to keep his boys out of the crates, so he capitulated.

Maybe a big box would work for you - may be even better than a crate. Big boxes are big hits with my nieces and nephews, lol.

I guess the main idea is to find something even MORE exciting than the crate like a fort of tepee, etc.

Food and toys ... well, they're resources. Sounds like your pup is just trying to fit into the dynamics of a two dog household. I think introducing new dogs is always tough. Sometimes, it doesn't work out, i.e. severe aggression on one or both of the dogs towards each other. Sometimes, after an adjustment period, it does work out. I'm not there to see the interactions ... so I can't really say what is going on. I would have plenty of toys around to choose from, just in case.

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Old 09-30-2009, 09:37 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Sailor - that is not a strange suggestion at all, in fact that's what my husband and my 8 yr old said we should do, LOL. I think that if money wasn't as tight as it is right now, I would do that for sure. For now I've been making sure that I close the door when the pup isn't in there so that dd doesn't go in and think it's her fort/cave. I also found a little corner in the living room where is fits and only the front/door part is "open". We will keep trying. Sadie (the dog) needs more excercise, so I'm trying to figure out ways to get us all out and walking more. We throw the ball for her in the backyard, but that's just not enough. I know that I bit off more than I can chew with this one, but I am going to see if maybe things will get better once we get through this adjustment period. It's only been 6 weeks, so I know that's not a lot of time. Anyway, thanks.

Tara
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Old 10-01-2009, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I just feel terrible. I called the rescue today and made arrangements to bring Sadie back this weekend. I have to admit that I was being very unrealistic when I decided that I had enough time to take on a new pet. My youngest is too young and I am homeschooling the older two and I just really should not have even tried to bring an new creature into our family. Sadie is a smart dog who needs some training and direction - and a LOT more excercise than we can give her, but I really should have thought about all of this before I adopted her. Anyway, just thought I would let you all know the outcome. Thank you for your advice and suggestions.

Tara
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