Post # 1
We have a rescue adult dog (4 year old female rott mix). We’ve had her for almost 5 months and don’t know much about her history.
My theories are:
1) She was abused (she did a lot of cowering and seemed particularly scared around DH)
2) Does NOT know how to react to other animals (had her first doggie play date with a friend who has a submissive dog and she seemed unsure of what to do (ie: barking/lunging/growling) – eventually, she figured it out and the two were happy campers, but it took some time
3) She is jumpy at most things (noises, small dogs, the water hose, birds, trash bags flying in the wind, leaves, the UPS truck, etc)
….I want to try to socialize her as much as possible. DH and I took her with us on vacation a few weeks ago and she seemed to do well in most situations (where we had her mobile/moving).
She’s relaxed around people as long as they are not running toward or away from her quickly.
She doesn’t care about some dogs, but others she immediately has a reaction. Becuase of this, we haven’t tried dog parks or even places that are dog friendly that don’t have an easy ‘out’ (where we can do an about face). We go to PetSmart and she does well there (for the most part).
I try to take her with us to as many places as possible, without getting her into a zone where it sets her up for failure. I’m just not sure of more specific things we can be doing to help her with her coping skills.
Any thoughts or ideas??
Post # 4
@oracle: First of all, good for you for rescuing an adult dog! I also have an adult resuce who I believe was also abused becuase she exhibits a lot of the signs you mentioned as well. From experience, I’ll tell you my dog does not do well at the dog park. My dog also doesn’t like dogs running by quickly, and it is almost like she tries to herd them at hte park. Also, she was very scared when dogs were chasing her wanting to play. One-on-one play dates are what work best for my dog. But, I also hvae two rescues and they are best friends so we don’t really have many play dates for them.
Congratulations on the new addition to your family!!!
Post # 5
@OtterHalf: Thanks for sharing your dog park experience. We’ve taken her to the parking lot of the dog park 😉 and she did NOT do well at all – I think it was way too overwhelming. Plus, without knowing the temperment of the dogs at the park at the time, I would hate to put her in a position to have to defend herself. Thank you for the idea of one-on-one play dates – I think that’s the route we’ll try! 🙂
Post # 6
what is your goal? not all dogs are dog park dogs. not all dogs will like other dogs. mine only likes SOME dogs.
some dogs just have that sort of disposition. my friend has a dog who is extremely tempermental (i accidentally stepped on his paw once and he wouldn’t look at me for the rest of the night. no lie- he was pissed.)
i suppose you have to show her that you are in charge and there to protect her. you can give her this confidence with obedience training. she will know what to expect from you. if you have her trained to focus on you, when something scares her tell her to”SIT” and then make her look at you. these are guesses- i’m certainly no dog behaviorist!
also, in terms of her feelings towards other dogs, i say just accept her quirks and try to save her from situations that are not comfortable for her.
Post # 7
Do you have a PetCo nearby? I know ours runs a puppy playtime (dog socialization) for free every Saturday.
Post # 8
With an adult rescue, I would avoid dog parks at all costs. Its not a bad idea for a puppy that you raise and socialize from the begining. For an adult dog where you don’t know her history it tends to be a disaster waiting to happen. Especially when you don’t know how the other dogs there have been raised and socialized.
For adult rescues socialization I like side walk cafes or park benches where we can sit down and watch the world go by. Walking trails are also good because we will encouter lots of people and dogs, but the dogs are leashed and under control. For actual dog/dog interaction and playing, I look for a friend with a dog willing to come over and introduce slowly.
I think it comes down to your goals. Are you looking for a dog you can take anywhere and let loose around strange dogs? Are you just looking to get her comfortable so that she doesn’t freak out on the leash when someone walk by? Do you have big family gatherings she needs to behave at? Depending on what you are trying to achieve there are different things you can try.
Post # 9
Update to include GOAL: my goal is not to get her to be a dog at the dog park – but to have less anxiety around other dogs when we encounter them (ie: on walks) and to become more comfortable around things (like big scary trucks or birds, etc) 🙂
I fully expect to always have to ‘protect’ her in public situations – so, I don’t think she’d ever be the type of dog that I can let my guard down with… but it would be great if I could teach her coping skills of some sort.
Post # 10
I’m a professional dog walker and in the past I’ve taken on these types of dogs.
I find a small group that the dog is comfortable with and slowly they build up their trust and confidence.
Would you consider hiring someone who does small group walks once or 2x per week? Walking next to other dogs with forward motion and fairly brisk steps has a calming effect.
I also agree with PP not to take your dog to a dog park…you’d be setting her up to fail.
Post # 11
I just want to say that just because she is timid or scared of men does not mean she was abused. Our girl is VERY shy and she has NEVER been abused. It may just be her personality coupled with lack of socialization.
I would get a good behaviorist in to work with you and your pup.
Post # 12
If you’re goal is to get her calm on walks/ on leash around other dogs I would start with putting her in a sit anytime you see a strange dog approaching. Have her work on a skill she is good at, and give lots of treats and praise. This gives her something to focus on other then OMG OMG DOG DOG DOG. As she gets more used to dogs walking by being a good experience, reduce the treating/praising until you get to a point where you can put her in a sit and she just watches the dog go by. The thing about this is putting her in a sit gives her time to evaluate whats coming at her and not be surprised by it.
When she is succesful at dogs going by while she is in a sit, you can move onto dogs passing her while she is walking.
Post # 13
@nikkialys: I realized on this morning’s walk that what you described was ABSOLUTELY my goal! 🙂 I hadn’t heard of putting her into a sit or a sit/down as the other dog approached and I will definitely try that. I’ve been doing the sit/down after I notice her getting nervous/excited, so she can calm down a little, but never before. Thank you VERY much for the specific advice!
Post # 14
@oracle: glad it helped! We are working on the same skills right now with our german shepherd- she’s a rescue we’ve had for about 3 weeks, and we are working on being calm when meeting new people and dogs. With her its all “i want to sit on you and give you kisses and get scratched and love you forever” which is great at home with us, but no so good for the random people we encounter on a walk lol. Just be patient and keep working- things will improve as long as you stick with it!