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I made a mistake getting a dog. Maybe?

(20 Posts)
StressedRose Mon 20-May-13 16:02:55

We rehomed a rescue dog 7 weeks ago. My son (age 7) has wanted a dog for a while and as he is an only child I thought it would be good for him. So we now have Poppy, a year old cross. I have not been able to relax since she arrived. She is a good dog in the house with us. Sleeps ok and is generally ok'ish (aside from a bit of chewing). The main problem I have is she is now showing aggression towards strangers ( I think she is basically scared), in particular people who come to the house (barking, growling and lunging). It is scaring me and causes me serious stress. I am very worried she would bit someone if she managed to get over the babygate I use. I have not really bonded with her like I thought I would although I have been training her myself everyday. I could not bear for her to go back to the rescue kennels. I cannot afford expensive behavioural training either and I don't think due to mental health issues I could deal with it either. I don't know what to do. I just wish I could turn the clock back and I would not have got a dog sad

Booyhoo Mon 20-May-13 16:05:38

ok. what aftercare do the rescue offer wrt settling in? have you contacted them with your concerns? what help are they going to give you? they should have a behaviourist who deals with this.

Gingersstuff Mon 20-May-13 16:08:20

What age is your dog? Honestly 7 weeks to a dog that has perhaps had a very bad start in life, is nothing. You need to give it time and patience. Perhaps phone the rescue centre and ask for their advice, they will know a bit about the dog and it's circumstances and should be able to offer advice on how to handle it, or point you in the direction of help which needn't be expensive. Good luck.

BastardDog Mon 20-May-13 16:09:15

Contact the rescue centre and explain your concerns. Be honest with them, they'll have heard it before. Be honest with yourself too, if this is not the right dog for you it is kinder to the dog to admit that.

LEMisdisappointed Mon 20-May-13 16:09:36

Where did you get her from? Can they give you some aftercare ? I have to do school run now but i'll come back and see what i can think of. I had a rescue dog (rotweiller) who was seriously scary when we first got him - i suffer from anxiety - it came good in the end.

This is a blip - you'll get there and you'll be glad you did.

Pagwatch Mon 20-May-13 16:09:43

Yes. Contact the rescue centre and ask their advice.

StressedRose Mon 20-May-13 16:14:49

I got her from the RSPCA...they did not really know anything about her past. They said she was good with cats....she is not!

Pagwatch Mon 20-May-13 16:20:27

Have you contacted them explaining your problem?

idirdog Mon 20-May-13 16:25:30

You can not bear to get rid of her...
You can not afford to get training....

Well you have to do one of those things, decide which is best for the dog and you and put a plan in place.

All dogs will need training and work if you can not offer that then give back to RSPCA quickly.

Alternatively speak to a local dog training school (pm me and I can recommend a good one locally to you), meet some new friends and get a lot of advice and training that will transform your dog but you must be prepared to put in some work however tedious it gets

SunnyL Mon 20-May-13 16:25:46

As well as talking to the rescue centre look into dog training classes. If you are new to keeping dogs these classes are excellent at teaching YOU as well as your DOG. Just as you would invest time and energy into a new child you need to invest time and energy into a new dog. They don't just come pre-programmed to your moods and likes and dislikes. Please please spend the time and energy on this dog before you consider whether you have made a mistake.

Safepets Mon 20-May-13 16:27:24

Some decent rescues have attached behaviourists who help for free or cheaply. Unfortunately some rescues do not fully assess and some don't give you a handover plan to enable you to bond and help the dog in the first few weeks. A training class is usually about £5 a week, but I would speak tot he rescue first and see if they can send or recommend someone. I do have information on a dog behaviour assessment for £35 in your home in some areas. I won't post a link as I don't want to look like I am advertising, but there may be help available.

mistlethrush Mon 20-May-13 16:35:37

Our last dog was absolutely ideal as a pet. If someone came to the door you had to hold her collar to stop her erupting out of the door at them and she sounded really fierce. Actually, once I had greeted the visitor, I would let her go and all she wanted to do was to greet them herself - but it would not sound like that to anyone coming to the door. If you didn't know her, you would not have been able to tell this.

What is good is that she wants to look after you and your house - you need support on how to manage this so that it is acceptable to you and she learns what its acceptable. Hopefully a good dog obedience trainer doing classes in your area (which would be good for you if you've never had a dog before) would be able to help you. The RPSCA should also be able to offer you some advice.

The other thing to be aware of is that if you are feeling worried, the dog will pick up on that (and might think that you are worried about the visitor and so attack the visitor as they are the 'threat') so you really do need to get some help to get the two of you over this.

StressedRose Mon 20-May-13 16:50:14

I have been doing basic training. She sits, down, heels, recalls (most of the time). It is her nervous aggression that frightens me.

LEMisdisappointed Mon 20-May-13 16:52:39

It is quite natural to have some setting problems - my dogs problems ranged from attacking strangers (he had to be muzzled on walks) to shaking me like a rag doll and biting my head!!! This dog never even so much as raised an eyebrow when someone knocked at the door!

I had a rottie from a puppy, he was like a giant teddybear and was the softest dog you could ever hope to meet. Except when someone knocked on the door grin He would launch himself at it with a boom and be all bared teeth and snarls, truly terrifying - which was useful for cold callers grin but as soon as anyone was let in, all he would want to do was have cuddles and strokes.

I don't think you need expensive behaviourists, you just need to persevere and given time it will work out. My dog was sat in the car ready to go back to battersea on several occasions! It isn't easy, but its worth it.

Do you absolutely have to have the baby gate? That is probably antagonising her - can you train the dog that the door means biscuits? Get someone to knock on the door, instead of answering the door - go to the kitchen, get her special biscuits out - repeart until upon hearing the door she goes to the kitchen to wait for food (you will have to do this alot so will need a patient friend) Then after a while let the person in before you get the treat - you will need a dog confident friend to do this. Where are you? I would be willing to help. That way, you are training the dog not to run to the door the minute someone knocks. The person entering needs to ignore the dog when they come in, then after a while can pet her. She needs to learn that people coming to the door do not pose a threat, although to be honest, most dogs will bark and perfom when people are at the door - my dogs (i now have jack russels) go bonkers, one of them will be a bit shitty if he doesn't like the visitor but usually once the door is open they shut up - id be willing to bet most dogs do this.

LEMisdisappointed Mon 20-May-13 16:54:49

Crossed posts, it sounds like you are doing really well - what breed is she? The fact that you have mastered the basics means that you could easily adapt this to a routine for someone knocking on the door - at the moment i bet its a rush to get her to the kitchen and locked away? This is making her think there is a problem, she is reacting quite naturally. You have to let her know its ok.

StressedRose Mon 20-May-13 16:59:26

Thanks LEMisdisappointed. Very kind of you to offer. I'm in Sussex but would not want to impose. I am going to really try and make this work. I think part of the problem is me. I suffer from anxiety and worry about just about everything sad blush

Booboostoo Mon 20-May-13 17:29:57

Training classes are a must for any dog, especially if the dog is young, with an uncertain past (i.e. might not have been properly socialised or trained before) and with a first time owner. Training classes are about more than doing sits and downs. They should cover things like greating strangers, dog/dog interactions, etc. and you should definitely be able to ask for advice with such a problem from the trainer after the class.

Behaviourists are not expensive, especially given that you have taken on the costs of a dog for the rest of its life. What you describe is a relatively simple problem and a good trainer should be able to give you advice on how to deal with it in just a hour's consultation. Decent professionals offer a review service via e-mail or phone to keep in touch with your progress for no extra cost. It is really worth it.

Have you had a chance to take out vets' fees insurance yet? Vets fees can be a very substantial cost and you may want to be covered.

Having said all that if having a dog is affecting your mental well being then maybe dog ownership is not for you. Anxiety and worry are transmitted to animals and this young dog will be stressed already because of his background and the changes in his life. Talk to the RSPCA sooner rather than later because it is in the dog's best interests to be re-homed asap if things don't work out with you.

LEMisdisappointed Mon 20-May-13 17:39:55

Ah, thats a shame StressedRose - i am in kent so a bit too far. I too suffer from anxiety so like you, worry over a lot of things when on reflection i can see it was my anxiety. Are you on any meds for the anxiety?

It really does sound like you are doing well with the training already, so this is good. The only thing is, the dog does need socialising so that you can enjoy walks together and she can become part of the family. If you ring your local vets they will give you the number of local dog training clubs, not all of them will be expensive. It will be good for both of you.

I had a couple of behaviourists for my rescue rottie, the first one (the most expensive one!) was a total rip off and waste of time, the second guy was an ex police dog trainer and he was very good. He gave me his opinion that the dog was worth persevering with and he was.

You probably are letting the anxiety take over here - you are doing well, can you see it as a challenge? It sounds like your dog suffers from a bit of anxiety too, so you could help each other. I have two dogs and they pick up on my anxiety, but it has never affected their behaviour, they are my best friends.

34DD Mon 20-May-13 18:35:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Imsosorryalan Mon 20-May-13 22:41:11

I can't recommend doggy socialisation classes enough! Our rescue is fear aggresive and we ended up getting a behaviourist out.
She thought our dog didn't feel secure so we started crate training her. This helped with a whole host of issues.
Creating a nice dark den to help her relax

Taking the pressure off a new person at the door by not letting her greet/ growl at them. This one is important. We practiced with a friend and a kong! Every time we knew someone was coming over, we'd pop her in her crate a few mins before and gave her treats to keep her busy ( in her case, a kong full of peanut butter) when the stranger rang the door and entered, she was too busy to 'protect' her turf. Occasionally she barked what we told her a firm No.

Also, a crate ensures that you can put her away if you are expecting people visiting who dislike dogs as they can pick up on this nervous energy too. Same goes for if you have young dcs in the house.
The above alongside socialisation classes is improving her and she now seems much more relaxed and not always on 'alert' for every sound in and out of the house. grin

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