2 new rescue dogs reactive to other dogs - struggling to cope.

(14 Posts)
chickensaresafehere Tue 13-Sep-16 10:09:03

We lost both our elderly dogs last year (greyhound & JRT).
So towards the end of last year we rehomed a 18 month old JRT,she had some issues but we have worked at these & she is happy & settled.
We decided to rehome another sighthound & registered with some local sighthound rescues.
2 whippets (18 months old,brothers) came up&we have taken them in (obviously with a view to adopting them,but have not signed adoption papers yet),they have been with us for just over 2 weeks now &,for the most part,have settled in very well,i.e they get on amazingly with the JRT,they are settled in the house,fabulous with our 2 children & well housetrained.
But the issue is when we are out for walks they are highly reactive to other dogs,as in pulling on the lead & barking a lot.
Yesterday I fell over & injured my wrist,when 2 dogs passed us on the field,as together they are very strong.I have tried various methods to distract them (treats,turning & walking the other way)but I am wondering if I have taken on more than I can cope with?

BlueKarou Tue 13-Sep-16 10:35:02

Oh gosh, that sounds like a really hard decision to make.

For me, in my current situation, two in need of training would be too much for me to cope with. Might be different for you. Could you walk them separately so as to be able to work on their reactions without them buoying each other along?

It's hard to really try and give advice on this sort of things - some dogs will settle fairly quickly, others will be a lifelong struggle. All I can say really is imagine it's the worst case scenario; they don't get easier even with all the training in the world, could you make that work?

Resideria Tue 13-Sep-16 10:41:37

Can you try a halti collar?

chickensaresafehere Tue 13-Sep-16 10:51:32

I have been in touch with the lady from the rescue & she is going to put us in touch with a sighthound behaviorist.
BlueKarouI think thats what I've got to way up,one (with issues) I could probably deal with (as we did with the JRT) but when they react the JRT is reacting too(because of them),so it is creating a bigger problem sad
3 separate walks a day would be an option,but not an easy one.

I lay awake for ages last night,going over it in my head & could kick myself for thinking I could take 2 on.Feeling very stupid at the moment. But you are right I do need to think about the worse case scenario & the future that entails.
Resideria I have looked at head collars,so will ask the behaviorist about one

Blackfellpony Tue 13-Sep-16 11:18:45

I would consult a behaviourist and go from there.

Reactivity is not something that is easily fixed. It can be improved through a long period of desensitisation but in my opinion this would involve working with each dog individually and would take quite a bit of work.
As hard as it may be the dogs may be better off seperated so their issues can be worked on individually. Sibling pairs are even harder as they often are more bonded to eachother than you so it makes it difficult to be the thing your dog loves most- which is what you need for training purposes!

It is doable and mine is improved but is never 100% and we have to be very careful. If I let my guard down or loose consistency she reverts right back to before.

It involved lots of tears, hours of training every day and also seperste walking for a month or so. It also cost somewhere in the region of £200 for the consultations plus classes on top. I also can't walk in normal places or go on holiday as much as I would like so it has restricted us so much, something to consider if you could cope with long term.

The way I work is see dog in distance, ask my dog to sit, wait for her to look at dog then look back to me, treat, try and keep her focus while dog passes, treat and release. If she reacts I ignore completley, wait for calm and walk on.

Obviously this has took months of work and she's still not reliable at all and this wouldn't work for all dogs, but I found trying to walk while she was kicking off plus hold other dog was too much and it's easier to stay still.

Also look at the dogmatic headcollars, they are fantastic!

chickensaresafehere Tue 13-Sep-16 11:59:02

Blackfellpony
I feared it would be even harder with 2 dogs & especially because of the situation they came from,crated together for up to 7 hours during the day whilst the previous owners were at work,then obviously crated again at night.So all they have had is each other(from being pups) & are incredibly bonded,if separated they whine constantly until they are back together,

It's not looking good sad

Blackfellpony Tue 13-Sep-16 16:09:18

Can you gradually try and get them used to being apart?

Maybe put one in crate with a kong stuffed with something they love and work with the other for a short amount of time and swap the dogs? Build it up really gradually, minutes at a time?

I think being together maybe isn't the best for either dog as it will be really hard to find someone to take on 2 reactive dogs especially if they can't train them as they wont seperate. The dogs need to learn to be independant and the reactivity training focuses on building the dogs confidence with others by making the scary thing positive. It would be hard to do when they are feeding off eachother.

Is one more confident than the other? Maybe if you focus on calming that one the other will follow?

One of mine is upset when seperated from the other but sometimes ive had to just do it in order to make things better in the long run if that makes sense.

I must admit though that if I had my time again I would never want another reactive and definatley not two!

chickensaresafehere Tue 13-Sep-16 16:21:14

Our JRT is reactive to a certain extent,but it is something we 'were' working on & she was doing well.
In the write up for the 2 whippets,it stated good with other dogs,so in the back of my mind there was slight relief (as we've had to work at it with the JRT & didn't fancy it all over again,especially with 2.)
So I feel a bit let down by the rescue,but to be fair,I don't think they knew.But surely they should have tested them out first?!
I really don't think I can deal with 3 reactive dogs,as the JRT is still a work in progress,but this is definitely setting her back.
Will have to have a good chat with my husband later,as he will be reluctant to let them go,but I am their main carer,as I am in during the day.
They really need someone who is experienced in reactive sighthounds (our previous greyhound was very laid back & fab with other dogs) but it didn't state that in the advert.sad sad

Blackfellpony Tue 13-Sep-16 16:38:46

I think it's quite common in sighthounds and incorrect socialisation is really hard to do anything with, it's like working with something that's wired up a bit wrong and trying to correct it all the time!

With mine we have improved it but can't cure it, I don't think I could manage with 3- the evil stares from other dog owners with 1 is enough blush

I think your only realistic option for keeping them is a trainer, try and seperate and get husband on board for every single walk so each dog gets individual training and consistency.

Failing that perhaps rehoming is your only option, for your own sanity if nothing else! Owning a dog like this isn't fun I agree sad

chickensaresafehere Tue 13-Sep-16 16:55:44

I will definitely speak to the behaviorist about it,but it wouldn't be possible for husband to help with the afternoon walk,he works until late & we have a child with special needs,so someone needs to stay with her,as she cannot come out for a walk with us.He walks the dogs before work,in the morning,but it is early(about 6am) & he very rarely sees other dogs.
In retrospect we,or I've,taken on something I am struggling to cope with& I'm not sure we have the dedication to see it through & that makes me feel a failure.

SingingTunelessly Tue 13-Sep-16 18:37:41

Chickens, it sounds like you're doing the best you can for these two dogs but honestly I think you need to admit defeat. There's absolutely no shame in it. The rescue should have assessed these dogs far more thoroughly and imo even looked to rehome them separately. Two dogs bonded as deeply as these two with their severe reactive tendencies is a long work in progress for even the most experienced dog handler. flowers

Blackfellpony Tue 13-Sep-16 19:30:46

Your not a failure, at the end of the day you need to do what's best for your family and the dogs.

Reactive dogs are not happy. They are stressed and not coping with walks or whatever they are reactive to. There's no shame in admitting they need more than you can give them.

Having a dog like this is not easy. I find it restricting and embarrasing and feel like a failure when I realise I can't fix my dog after months of training. You've got think hard about whats best for you and if you could cope like this for the next 10 or more years flowers

chickensaresafehere Tue 13-Sep-16 19:45:49

Thanks Singing,we are going to speak to the behaviorist tomorrow,but I suspect he will say it's not going to be a quick fix.
In my heart of hearts I know I need to admit defeat,it's hard,as otherwise they are fab dogs.
They arrived at their foster home on the Saturday & were given to us the Friday after.In hindsight I should have said I need longer to get to know them before I can say we'll adopt them,but as I said up thread,we haven't signed adoption papers yet as they need to be signed off by the rescue's vets after their neutering & I have certainly learnt my lesson.
But I will certainly be having 'words' with the rescue,as I definitely would --NOT have rehomed them if I knew how reactive they were.

georgedawes Tue 13-Sep-16 19:47:45

It really sounds like they should be separated, I don't know whether you could or would want to keep one, but with two dogs so closely bonded and reactive I don't see how they can progress together. My dog came from a slightly similar situation (2 dogs went back to the breeder, close in age but not siblings) and she separated them for rehoming for exactly these reasons.

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