He's always been a tad nervous, but settled really well (he was six months when we got him). These past few months, we've had occasional barking or growling at visitors, and once or twice growling and/or air snapping at the kids. Seemed to get a little worse with time, in spite of all the training, all the love, all the carefully researched advice.
dh (who is most bonded with Mouse, as walks him most) thought I was being neurotic, worrying about him
Then when we were on holiday, the dog-sitter (who loves him) reported growling at children who petted him nicely at the pet shop, and at her adolescent son when he visited (lives with his Dad). We took advice from the rescue, who said he hadn't been socialised early on, and to go back to basics - get kids to ignore dog except to feed him his meals, give treats, hold the lead on walks: ie positive things all the time.
Two weeks of no problems, and all visiting kids asked to help feed Mouse, but ignore him otherwise.....then Mouse jumped up at/snapped/barked at the vet's nurse, who runs their puppy training classes. Then he growled at another vet nurse. She was shocked, but helpful, and said he was a lovely boy and deserved to be helped asap - so made appointment with vet, who has referred us to some very experienced, accredited behaviourist who should be in touch next week. Apparently they have a lot of success with fear aggression (which it probably is - he only reacts when petted too long/by strangers) so I suppose I should hope it'll be ok.
Problem is, I feel a bit hopeless...and anxious..for Mouse, and for us, and also guilty. I feel I've let him down, let our family down for choosing an unsocialised pup (I swore I'd only take a dog fostered with kids...and he wasn't).
Any happy stories about behaviourists helping turn this kind of problem around? He really is a lovely boy in so, so many ways - great with dogs, obedient, full of beans. I'm worried sick it won't work
Firstly he is not the first and most certainly won't be the last dog that doesn't like vet nurse there are some days where I feel like growling at my nurses. Secondly you are doing the right thing seeing an accredited behaviourist it won't be quick and it probably won't be easy, but this kind of problem can be resolved. Good luck on your journey.
No advice, but I can do handholding. Dont know if you remember, but we had our pups around the same time, via the same place.
I did exactly the same as you. I have young children and our pup came straight from the centre so not fostered with kids. He was actually not fostered at all so not used to home life, so probably a bigger risk than yours..
We were lucky and he has been amazing with them, adores the kids and we've not had any problems. I'm not saying that to make you feel bad, but to show its the luck of the draw. You could have just as easily spent years researching breeds and breeders, and find that dogs from the same litter had different personalities. Please dont blame yourself.
You are dealing with it, and I'm sure the behaviourlist will help. You are doing the best you can for the dog and your family which is more than a lot of people would.You have nothing to feel guilty about and I'm sure things will improve soon
I'm sure you will overcome this. One of our dogs arrived with us, a year old, and completely unsocialised. He was alarmed by pretty much everything he clapped eyes on and as well as being physically completely unbalanced (he kept crashing into things and falling over), he had the concentration of a fruit fly. He had lived with us for a couple of years before children and when dc#1 arrived home for the first time his eyes came out on stalks. Although he is now getting on a bit, he is still quite growly, and doesn't like being touched unexpectedly. He has never hurt anyone or anything and is a delight to live with. All dogs are so different. I thought I had learned quite a lot through this particular one. Then we got another. Keep watching, keep asking, and I'm sure you will find your way through
Can I give you a talking to as well while I am here? Do not feel guilty, do not feel anxious and do not blame yourself. You have given Mouse a fantastic home and have done all you can to help him.
He has a few behavioural issues that can and will be rectified by correct behavioural treatment and management. Some dogs have them regardless of upbringing some dogs have issues before you get them. However you have wasted no time but to get professional help again just what caring, good owner should do.
Whilst waiting for the behaviourist I would personally completely take the pressure off Mouse. Do not let him interact with new children etc or put him in situations that he finds difficult.
Mouse is actually being very polite and telling you in his only way that he feels uncomfortable in certain situations. He could have done much more - so the bond you have with him is paying off.
The behaviourist will be able to recognise the body language and give you ways to manage and for Mouse to gain more confidence. Hang on in there Mouse is very lucky to have you and Mouse will repay you with being a great family dog again (he may not always love new people though but again that shows he is getting all he needs from you)
Let us know how you get on.
I always work on the theory that you get the dog you need and that you will always benefit from that relationship. You will learns loads from owning Mouse and he will repay you.
Aw, Elibean, I got Jas just before you got Mouse I think. A whole year of doggy mayhem! We've had the odd bit of iffy behaviour from Jas, but towards other dogs rather than people, so I understand your worries. But you're doing everything right, and I'm sure with the right advice you can build up your boy's confidence and it will all settle down.
Thank you, my paw feels totally held! Yes, to all those who got their woofers around the time I got Mouse, I do remember you - and your woofers - very well.
It makes such a difference feeling there is no blame on me, or on Mouse - blame is such a destructive thing, never ceases to amaze me what a bit of non-judgemental support can turn around! My turn to pass it on to Mouse (and ok, perhaps dh and the kids too ).
He came and sat by me and demanded petting for half an hour after lunch today, so he's not totally touch-averse....and the kids are very good with him, never pester him. He still jumps at unexpected noises, and when I get cross with the kids occasionally he cowers. So I am quite sure its just fear related growliness/barkiness, and not anything else...
How old is he? We took on our youngest when he was 6 months. They learn an awful lot in those early times. Horror dog learned to be fiercely independant. Today he legged it. He totally ignored me, and I saw him doing it. Must get back to more training as he's a clever boy and wants to know what to do. I think he understands that running off isn't a Good Thing. He's nearly 3 now. It's ok at home, but not safe away from where we live. We are very lucky where we live as he has about 4000 acres of relative safety to belt about in. Most places we go don't have this! He also took another piece out of our oldie boy's ear last night, and the house looked like a crime scene.
He is 18 months now, was about 5-6 months old when we got him. He was found in a dustbin with his litter sisters, then put in the pound for a few months, then rescued and brought back to the UK (from Ireland) by MTAR, then fostered out for a couple of weeks - which is where we came in.
He was adorable. Golden retriever/staffy/ragbag-terrier/bit of hound. Looks like a small tan labrador with slightly wider head, long legs, and big floppy ears
dh just dropped a saucepan and poor Mouse jumped 6 feet into the air and cowered off into the corner....still very anxious, but far far better than a year ago. When we first had him, he would try to refuse to leave the house and widdled everywhere from fear
Out on walks he is confident and happy and plays beautifully with all other dogs - never seen a whisper of dog aggression whatsoever. So thats one major plus.
Still waiting on visit from behaviourists, who were very positive on phone.
Took advice from here and have kept stressful situations to absolute minimum for Mouse....hence, golden boy and no incidents. He is calmer, seems more comfortable being stroked/petted generally, and hasn't growled at visitors. The only times I notice any possible aggression is when there is an atmosphere of excitement around - eg when kids are getting ready to go out, and everyone is hyper. He's also not keen on being petted when on his bed, but no one does that except me
I still know he's got a sort of tightly defined comfort zone around him, iyswim...so still going ahead with behaviourists, but its a bit like taking a sick kid to the GP. You know, when they suddenly run around as though they were never sick at all....
Yes, he has.....no pain, but I do think he was a lot more edgy in hot weather.
When we first got him, his foster carer said she thought he may have been mistreated around the head/shoulder area - she had noticed him flinching/scared around there. She was very vague though. As he was found in a dustbin as a new born pup, then moved to a pound for 3 months, I'm sure he wasn't brilliantly treated in any area
Behaviourist lady was lovely. I wish we could adopt her, or at the very least keep her here after school hours so the dds could see the way she is with Mouse.
She confirmed a lot of what we've learned: Mouse is a very nice boy who does all he can to avoid conflict. He's not confident, though a lot better than he was, he was castrated far too early (no blame attached - rescues are desperate to do what they can to control situation), and he isn't particularly gregarious with humans.
So he has a limited desire for interaction - not a cuddly, lapdoggy type (though will come and seek affection on his own terms). Bit but hey, people and dogs are who they are.
She also gave us some top tips for managing child visitor situations, suggested we move his bed into a quieter room, and changed the way we train by not giving too many commands - just rewarding him when he behaves the way we want (eg bottom on floor when greeting). He is hugely food driven, so all good there
As for the vet nurses who fuss over him (he does have big eyes and floppy ears ), they are to be told to feed not fuss, apparently!
And we will have the behaviourist back when we are ready to move on to the next stage.
I feel so reassured to have had her input, just wanted to share so anybody out there with doggy behaviour worries knows there is a lot of hope - and SO rewarding to be working with the Mouse we have, rather than moping over the Mouse we thought we wanted, iyswim!