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I can't do it anymore :-(

(20 Posts)
ruledbyheart Tue 30-Oct-12 09:03:45

I rescued a dog from terrible circumstances 8mths ago she was 9 mths old and had been kept in a crate for most of her life, she was a terrified shaking, dirty mess.

I never planned on keeping her but couldn't get her a rescue space so worked as hard as I could with her and she is a fantastic lovely dog for most part now.

BUT she is terrible when out with other dogs and needs muzzling and short lead, fine ok I can deal with this, but she is also not good with my DCs I have 3 under 5yrs and she will growl if the DCs come within two feet of her, not all the time but at least 4 days out of 7 are like this I keep the DC away from her and they pretty much ignore her, they have been around dogs since birth and know not to tease them etc.

I have had 3 behaviourists tell me to basically put her to sleep which I will NOT consider, but I have no idea what to do now.

I have tried the local rescues (suffolk) and 2 will probably put her down as she is fear aggressive with unknown dogs and some strangers.
The others around here aren't some where I would send a dead dog let alone this gorgeous girl.

I have tried to rehome her properly with a return contract, homechecks etc to a single or older couple with no other dogs or children but its not easy.

I am at the end of my tether and don't know what I can do now, I feel like I am putting my kids at risk and I can't do anything about it.

Rhinestone Tue 30-Oct-12 09:10:54

Wow, it sounds like you're done a marvelous job so far and given this poor girl some love and affection for the first time in her life. However she's obviously not happy around other dogs and children and I'm not surprised you're worried about your DC.

Tbh, it sounds like she needs a very special person and you need a very special rescue. Have you tried Many Tears? Hopefully the likes of Scuttlebutter will be along and may be able to direct you to previous member of Doghouse, Val / DBF who may be able to work wonders.

lucyellenmum Tue 30-Oct-12 09:10:54

Oh, you poor thing. It will be practically impossible to rehome a dog with a history of aggression. There are no-destroy rescues such as the dogs trust but they probably wont take her.

It is very worrying that she is growling at your children, what sort of dog is she?

It sounds like you have done a great job with her so far. But i would be worried about the children i have to say.

The only thing i would say in the light of "hope" is that she is a doggy teenager now and this is the most difficult time. I know this seems to go totally against what you would want to do for her just now, but do you have a crate for her? That she can go to when she chooses? This is not the same as a dog that is in a crate ALL the time, a crate can be great for a dog as it gives it its own space.

I wish i could be more help but im sure there will be plenty of people along with some good advice soon.

Aw ruled sad What a difficult situation you are in. I wish I knew what to advise. Hopefully someone will be along soon to give you some back up.

CalamityKate Tue 30-Oct-12 09:19:17

PM'd you.

ruledbyheart Tue 30-Oct-12 09:23:36

I have a crate but she has never used it, I can't blame her really if I was shut in one room for 9mths I wouldn't want to go in it again.

She is a miniture poodle x chinese crested both are very timid breeds if not socialized properly anyway so this is a nightmare mix, she has been a stroppy teen since she has been here lol but she is a fantastic girl once the kids are in bed and loves curling up on your lap and cleaning your nose, it really breaks my heart to let her go anywhere but I know in my head I'm taking a risk everyday with her.

She lives with two other dogs with no problems she is great with them mostly although she is dominant.
Its strange dogs that are a problem.

Rhinestone Tue 30-Oct-12 09:33:47

And don't for one minute blame yourself for any of this, the person to blame is the one who kept her in a crate for 9 months.

Scuttlebutter Tue 30-Oct-12 09:52:24

Firstly, please do NOT attempt to rehome her privately.

This is also one of those "Don't Try This at Home" moments - again, I'd never recommend attempting to "rescue" a dog with multiple and complex needs singlehanded, especially with 3 small DC and 2 existing dogs. Unfortunately, as in this case, rescues are eventually asked to step in and help pick up the pieces.

I'm very surprised that three reputable behaviourists would recommend PTS as an option - the best ones are members of the APBC - see website here link. You can search for a member in your area, and the website also has some useful resources including a guide to safety for dogs/children interaction.

Getting used to other dogs is a solveable problem but you will need to do a lot of work on this and you need to be honest with yourself if you really have the time or the commitment to put this in.

If she is growling at your children, in one sense that's good, as she's telling them she is not comfortable around them. Please carry on keeping them as separate as possible and reinforce that they are not to touch, pick up, or play with her.

I wouldn't send her to MT - they are not a no kill rescue, have put down dogs who bite and are a volume organisation who handle thousands of dogs a year - I doubt they'd have the time to work one to one with a dog with these needs.

Please also drop any ideas about dominance. If you are training using dominance ideas/methods, then you will be making things worse.

In terms of rehoming, rescues will need to know:-
ARe you willing to travel to get her to a place of safety?
Is she up to date with vax, worming etc?
Is she chipped and spayed?
Do you have any proof of ownership e.g. receipt if you bought her?
Also helpful if you can provide a short honest account of how you got her, what training/socialisation she has had so far, any classes attended etc. How does she behave in the car, any separation anxiety, health issues etc.

midori1999 Tue 30-Oct-12 09:53:02

Where did you find the behaviourists? Did they suggest any strategies at all for dealing with this as they don't sound very good if they simply suggested you put her down. sad

midori1999 Tue 30-Oct-12 09:53:30

Where in the country are you?

ruledbyheart Tue 30-Oct-12 10:09:52

I'm in suffolk.
I wouldn't of needed to touch the dog if the RSPCA had done their job in the first place, I am not a novice dog owner and have studied dog behaviour and training for 10yrs although obviously I'm still learning.

The behaviourists I have dealt with are baffled as she isn't motivated by anything outside the house so positive reinforcement is a struggle and the turning and walking is no good if she can spot a dog a mile off and start.

I have commited everything to her for the last 8mths and yes rescues will pick up the pieces unfortunatly but if they had taken her months ago she would have been 100x worse.

I have had her fully vaccd/ spayed/ chipped.
She is good in the car, but I don't drive.

She hasn't been to classses as they don't allow dogs over 6mths here and the older classes don't allow aggressive dogs.

daimbardiva Tue 30-Oct-12 10:13:27

Have you spoken to The Dog's Trust? They were extremely helpful to me in a (sort of) similar situation.

Really feel for you - you have done a wonderful thing, but your children must come first x

Rhinestone Tue 30-Oct-12 10:18:33

Apologies for the MT recommendation, I didn't know that they aren't no kill. Am not in UK so not very familiar with UK rescues, just thought they were highly regarded on here.

Good luck OP.

midori1999 Tue 30-Oct-12 10:25:05

I am not a behaviourist, but I have seen good and bad 'behaviourists' and there is a huge world of difference. I also own a rescue dog that is very fear aggressive/dog aggressive, but ok with my own dogs. He is OK with my DC/our family, but he would probably bite a stranger if they did something to make him feel threatened enough, and he is a big dog, a lab/staff/collie cross, so we have to be very careful with how he is managed.

Do you think your dog isn't motivated by anything out of the house or that she is too nervous to even focus on anything, let alone be motivated by it? We had this and it was suggested that we have a period of not walking the dog and not allowing him in the garden even except when absolutely necessary for toileting, so we could build on his confidence. It is taking a very long time, but we have now gone from a situation where any dog, no matter how far away or behind a closed door/outside if he knew it was there, would cause a huge reaction of barking, lungeing, growling, leaping about, snapping at me etc to maybe a bark or two at dogs on the other side of the road, but I can get his attention. He would still bite/attack a dog if it came close enough and so far, despite extensive efforts he won't accept wearing a muzzle. I think the chances of ever walking him near other off lead dogs are minute, but things have improved hugely.

I do realise it must be exhausting, but I do think the right behaviourist would help. You mention your dog being 'dominant', but what you describe is the behaviour of a very nervous dog.

ruledbyheart Tue 30-Oct-12 10:46:00

Midori its like you have just described my dog, completly.
She is very nervous outside and its nearly impossible to get her attention, she has to be muzzled because I have had some close calls with off lead dogs.

In the house she is very playful with the other dogs and will happily run around with them all day.

lucyellenmum Tue 30-Oct-12 12:12:08

Am just trying to picture your little demon dog - chinese crested x poodle, i bet she is very pretty.

She sounds like she is pretty stressed in the day with the lo's around, do ou think there is any way that you could introduce a crate for her in the day? That was she will feel safe, i know it seems contradictory after what she has been through but she is behaving like this because she doesn't feel safe.

Do give the dogs trust a try they have some excellent behaviourists who im sure would be only too willing to help you keep your dog. They also might be able to put you in touch with foster carers etc as this poor dog really does deserve a chance. You have been amazing so far and no one would blame you if you did call time, you have to think of your children but you can minimize the risks. The issues with other dogs are more managable i think.

Its funny, my JRT is a shit with other dogs but he tolerates all sorts of crap from his "little brother" and never retaliates with aggression.

SpicyPear Tue 30-Oct-12 13:06:39

Not a behaviourist either but I have a very nervous dog (noise phobia rather than other dogs) who hates being outside the house when her anxiety levels are high and will not show any interest in food, toys or praise outdoors on these occasions.

Like midori said, she is basically completely occupied by her fear. I was also advised by a behaviourist not to take her for walks so as to build her confidence levels and also (sorry, this will be a very amateur description) to reduce exposure to the fear stimulus to allow the levels of stress hormones in her system to gradually reduce. That way when she was eventually taken out she wasn't already on the edge of a fight or flight response. If being around children causes her fear/anxiety, it will be hard to achieve this in your home as she has nowhere completely 'safe' to relax in.

Please do not feel bad about trying to find a rescue to find an appropriate home for this girl. It really isn't possible to love all dogs better and you have clearly done your best for her, but just don't have a set-up that is likely to allow her to recover.

midori1999 Tue 30-Oct-12 14:19:37

OP, it's very, very difficult having a dog like this. I do know where you are coming from. Do you really want to rehome the dog or do you think you can find a way to cope? What helped me was to relax about it all and realise that although my dog lives a different life to most dogs but that is fine for him, it's a compromise. (he can never go off the lead, or at least until we find somewhere safe for him to do so, for example, he and now the other dogs as a result spend the days in the kichen/utility so that there is no chance of anything happening with the DC. I do trust him, but one of my DC is a toddler, DS3 has Downs Syndrome, so I can't really trust them not to do something. He also cannot be walked when my DH is away working and my DS3 is off school as DS requires close supervision/hand holding and it just isn't safe if we see another dog)

I do occasionally get days when I feel I can't cope with him. I even reached crisis point once when he was fighting with one of my other dogs. However, in reality, I know there just are no other homes for him and if I didn't keep him in all probability he would be put to sleep and that isn't what I want. I also have to face the facts that any rescue organisation that wouldn't kill him is likely to keep him in kennels very long term and that would just be too stressful for him. sad So, we just potter on. Sometimes he does things that make me love him soooooo much, I can't believe I ever wobble about keeping him.

Can you do some clicker training and maybe some agility in the garden with your dog? It will help build her confidence and also help with your bond with her.

ruledbyheart Tue 30-Oct-12 18:50:28

Some days I think I cope really well but others I don't.
I think that rehoming her is best for her sake, I haven't got anywhere I can shut her during the day as its a two up two down house (kitchen and living room downstairs, bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs), she did have the kitchen when we first had her but my sons have since learned to open the dog gate and its a bloody nightmare as well as pointless now.

I don't think living with the one thing that makes her nervous is going to help as she can't gain confidence if she isn't comfortable.

The selfish part of me is going "but she is my dog now I don't want her to leave" but the sensible part of me knows what the solution is, I feel useless I have put in everything I have in the last 8 months and I can't help her...

daimbardiva Wed 31-Oct-12 09:52:04

I could have written your post above ruledbyheart. In January I had to make the decision to rehome my beloved dog for the same reasons - I could not guarantee my children's safety, but also - crucially - because he was no longer happy living with us. It absolutely broke my heart, but it was the right decision all round. Saying goodbye to him was the hardest thing I've ever done, but at the same time a weight lifted...Dog's Trust really were invaluable to me at this time.

PM me if you want to talk more.

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