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Rescue dog ishoos

(20 Posts)
coldcomfortHeart Tue 21-May-13 10:45:08

After much thought about getting a dog, we rehomed a 9 month old crossbreed (dalmatian x supposedly GSD, but rescue shelter were not sure about the GSD bit) a few weeks ago. He had belonged to a couple who worked and didn't have time for him. He's had no socialisation with dogs and is quite shy of people initially, although he warms up if they are gentle. He was supposedly housetrained and neutered- both of these have proved to NOT be the case!

I had not ideally wanted such a young dog, but he was so good with the DSs (aged 4.5 and 2) and we had come across so few rescue dogs that were, that we decided to take him. He continues to be very gentle and friendly with the boys and visiting children (obviously everyone is supervised at all times!) Visiting adults and particularly men frighten him a bit but once he's had a few treats from them he is happy.

He lacks any kind of basic training (recall non existent, pulls like a train, only knew 'sit') and continually gets on the furniture and is a terrible food thief- we're talking food off your plate if you turn away for a minute, raw beetroot from the counter top in plain view, etc! He will just remove food (always very gently) from the toddler's hand too, even at the table. Although these are tiring and hard work, I feel we can make progress with these issues. He started socialisation/training classes last night and wasn't too bad.

But the toileting is driving me crazy. He is taken out regularly and given tons of praise/treat when he goes in the garden but so far gives no clues as to when he needs to go, and will merrily go in the house, sometimes going off out of sight, sometimes in full view. He is happy enough when left at home alone (2 hours the longest so far, which I worked up to gradually) but if someone in the family goes upstairs he sometimes (not always!) freaks out, whining and crying. If we are all upstairs he gets very upset and wees/poos, even if just having gone outside. I don't really know how to tackle it and in conjunction with all the other stuff, (not to mention normal family life) has left me feeling so stressed and that I have bitten off way more than I can chew sad

D0oinMeCleanin Tue 21-May-13 10:52:51

Poor thing is probably very confused.

Go back to basics. Take him out routinely through the day, click as soon as he starts to go and treat once he's finished (providing he knows what a clicker is? If not get working with one asap, it will do wonders for his confidence)

The best times to take him out is once every hour, just after waking from a nap and about 10-15 minutes after eating or drinking.

Don't reprimand for going in the house, he won't understand anyway, just quietly clean it up.

Food stealing is normal but can be trained for with a clicker. Get some food (it's easier to have one person holding the food, the other with clicker) every time he is not paying attention to the food, click and throw a treat away from the food.

You can do this to teach him not to steal from work counters too, it's the same principle, just leave food on the work top where he can smell it, but not reach it easily, don't look at the dog or the food, just watch discretely out of the corner of your eye, every time the dog is not paying attention to the food, click and treat.

LEMisdisappointed Tue 21-May-13 10:56:55

Lots of people will be here with useful advice i am sure.

Very irresponsible of rescue centre to tell you the dog was neutered if he wasn't, however, wouldn't that have been quite obvious? I am surprised they rehomed an entire dog, i always thought rescues neutered.

I laughed about the food thing, reminded of my rescue dog, i had a sandwich on my plate and the bugger just took it before i had chance to stop him smile Then there was the time he stole an entire joint of beef!! grin He had serious food aggression issues too so once he had something, it was his! It all worked out, with time!

One thing you could try to help wiht the anxiety is a DAP diffuser/collar, they aren't the cheapest thing in the world but i would wholeheartedly recommend it. We had this for our rescue dog, he had some issues (which we knew about) and he was basically climbing the walls, the DAP really helped. Its a pheremone that is released by whelping bitches and helps with anxiety issues.

I suspect the soiling is an anxiety thing too so sorting that out could put a stop to that as well. I think you just have to be prepared for it to take time. I thnk it took us about six months to get our old dog on track.

I hve anotehr rescue dog now, he is so funny, but does have his quirks and has destroyed my bed, glasses, phone charger - he soon trained us to make sure stuff is out of his reach, bedroom door locked etc. He doesn't realy do it so much now. Same with the soiling, after about two weeks he started going in the house (only poo!) I actually just ignored it and he stopped. I think that was luck more than anything else - one piece of advice i was told was to put the poo in the garden - let the dog see you do it, leave it there for a while then the dog learns that poo is for the garden and also the smell will be there (nice!).

GSDxDalmation - well, he will certainly be a character - Dalmations are mad as hatters and GSDs can tend towards nerviness.

HoneyDragon Tue 21-May-13 11:00:27

It's sounds like you've got a great dog, and you certainly Lund like a great owner......smile

HoneyDragon Tue 21-May-13 11:00:41

Lund .... Sound

mistlethrush Tue 21-May-13 11:01:07

We got a dog, initially fostered, last October who was probably 2 and a bit, and was not housetrained. In fact, she thought that 'inside' was where you did things - so we could go out at half hour intervals for 4 hrs and then she would perform in the house having just got in.

If she got up, I got up and followed her. If she started doing something I got her by the collar and took her out. However, what I did most was stick her on a lunge rein in the garden and simply spend ages standing around (in the cold and the rain) telling her to do something (we use certain commands) and praising her a lot if she (eventually) did it. We started picking up on the things that she did when she was about to go. She started picking up on the fact that we wanted her to go outside, not inside. It took a good two months before she was fairly safe, but she is now, and clearly shows us when she wants to go out. With a 9 mo dalmation cross (they are pretty intelligent) you shouldn't find that it takes as long if you are consistent and thorough. Make sure that you're washing the carpet with something that neutralises the smell though.

Food: our dog can jump onto the kitchen table as though its just a step up. However, she's not been up there totally for ages - and hasn't had her paws on it for at least 2 months. Again, you need to be consistent and remove paws and say 'down' or 'off' or whatever you choose to say. Ours is learning that plates on the table (at head height) are also not allowed - if I see her tempted I remind her, and if she leaves it, I take the plate into the kitchen and if she's allowed what ever is on it I put it in her bowl as a reward - she gets what she wanted but she doesn't get it off the plate on the table...

Even our last dog (who was absolutely wonderful with DS and so good with food) would gently take food from him - he liked feeding her so it became a game, and in the end I had to ban the dog from the kitchen when he ate. However, you might try alternatives - give the dog something tasty but time consuming to keep him occupied - eg a kong toy stuffed with kibble mixed with natural yoghurt and frozen - or something like that.

Why is he left downstairs when someone is upstairs? We let the dog upstairs (partly as we were burgled badly when I was younger and the burglers had free range upstairs as the dog stayed downstairs - all dogs since have been allowed upstairs). Our dog has decided that the place to sleep is in our room - when we got her this seemed to be the only option that was going to work so we've accepted it, even though its not ideal - better that than an unhappy dog. She now has worked out that beds are not an option, although she knows she can go on the sofa on her blanket.

It does get easier as you get to work out how the dog works and vice versa. If he is good with the children (and it sounds as though he's ideal) he's worth persisting with.

moosemama Tue 21-May-13 12:00:49

In a rush now, so can't help too much, but reading your post reminded me of when we had an older rescue dog. He had been trained in foster, but this wasn't followed up in his first home and he would just go wherever he stood when he first arrived.

We took him outside every 15 minutes in the first few days - not because we felt he needed to go that often, but because there wasn't much of a warning if he was going to go indoors and we wanted him to make positive associations with going outside and zero connection with going inside, kyswim. We would take him out, making ourselves very boring (ie no play or anything) until after he'd gone, then heaps of praise and treats, plus a game.

We gradually increased the time gap by 5 minutes at a time and that way were able to work out how long he could hold it for between visits. Getting him up to half an hour was really quick and from then he quickly progressed to an hour and longer. He was accident free in the house within 48 hours, despite the previous owners insisting he couldn't be housetrained. hmm

The advantage was that he never had the chance to get it wrong and go indoors, so he learned really quickly that going outside was rewarding and therefore what we wanted him to do.

I would second trying an Adaptil DAP Diffuser or collar for the anxiety. The soiling when you are upstairs or outside without him does sound like separation anxiety, but it's early days and he still has to learn to feel secure and believe you will always come back.

Stealing food while people are eating is one of those things that will require containment until you've taught him not to do it. So, everyone eats at the table every time, even for snacks and the dog has to stay either in his bed or perhaps behind a dog/child-gate until the meal is over. Similar for food being stolen off worktops and tables, you do get used to automatically putting things up high and never leaving anything near the front edge of a work-top and if he doesn't get the opportunity, you can teach him not to steal, by rewarding him for the behaviour you do want, as D0oin suggested.

With most things, it's preferable to orchestrate things to try and avoid the unwanted behaviour/s occurring as far as possible and then reward the desired behaviour, but if he does manage to circumvent your strategies, ignore it, rather than reprimand or punish.

It's very early days yet and it is intense when you first take on a rescue, but the rewards you reap for sticking with it and putting in the time/effort are massive.

Floralnomad Tue 21-May-13 12:01:45

Teach him a word to toilet to ,we use go quickly , sometimes that helps . He sounds lovely .

coldcomfortHeart Tue 21-May-13 13:06:32

Thanks so much everyone. I will look into the DAP diffuser thing, we live in a teeny cottage so one should cover the area. Our family dog eventually learned to wee on command, which I had forgotten, so a word might help.

I have zero experience with clicker training, but from wiki if it can teach pigeons to roll balls with their beaks I might manage to teach my dog the odd thing or two?! Is there a particular book/site where I can get the basic drift anyone can recommend?

The rescue were less than scrupulous, tbh. I don't think the SSPCA/similar would have let us near such a young and untrained dog with such a busy young household, and I'm angry at myself because I could tell that, but went for him anyway because of his sociability with the boys. They are going to pay for the neutering as it was a mistake telling us he was when he clearly isn't.

I'd honestly rather he wasn't upstairs, to save the duplo/beds etc! If it comes to it I suppose it might be manageable as a short term solution to his distress.

He is kept out of the kitchen by a baby gate at the moment as I realised every time he got a whole banana cake or bowl of cheesy pasta the reward far outweighed my stern NO and piddly little dog training treat for being in his bed!

Similarly he's out of the room when the DCs are eating to minimise temptation and inadvertent rewards. When we eat dinner together he's in as with DH there it's easier to watch everyone.

LEM his breeding does give me cause for concern I must say- not two breeds I had ever considered! Although I keep telling myself it's unlikely his parents were purebred Crufts winners and than there might be something nice and steady in there <prays>

He IS a good guy, with a lot to give. In the right hands he could be brilliant. I'm just not sure I can do him justice at times. I think if we put a plan in place and see some progress we'll all feel encouraged, so thanks for all of your advice.

LEMisdisappointed Tue 21-May-13 13:09:29

I think you sound like just the right pair of hands for him actually!

OrangeFireandGoldashes Tue 21-May-13 21:18:24

It does sound like the toileting downstairs could be separation anxiety. If so, this is one of the hardest behaviour problems to resolve and there is no quick fix unfortunately.

With some luck, this is mainly down to him being new to you, but if not it could involve a lot of work, however the same advice applies really whether its a major and long standing problem or just something new due to his situation.

Unfortunately for you the main part of this is going to be NOT leaving him alone longer than he can handle - the other part is stacking the odds so that he can handle it.

Can you leave him with something to do whilst you are gone - a stuffed Kong toy or other food dispensing toy is great for this and licking and chewing can be hugely stress relieving.

Start out with the Kong relatively easy to do if he is new to those (or whatever food dispensing toy you use) and make sure you know how long it takes him to finish his Kong, so that you can aim to be out for less time than that. Then using the toy to distract and reward him for being left you gradually build up the amount of time he can be left.

The other things you can do at home are to start making a point of NOT rewarding him for following you around the house, unless you invited him to come with you. Its easiest to implement this rule alongside a couple of short training sessions per day, where you don't invite him, then flit from room to room in such a way as is very tedious, annoying and not at ALL rewarding for him. Ie, youd go from living room to kitchen and each time stop juuuuuust long enough for him to settle himself on the floor, then move on again.

Once he has the idea that its really bloody boring to trail about after you, you can start giving him an incentive to NOT follow you - you can use a Kong or similar but the best thing to use is a raw meaty bone that is TOO big or unwieldy for him to cart about after you - then do the same training sessions again, flitting from one room to the next, never giving him a chance to settle if he is following, so that he thinks "this is BORING and... I have something better to do AND she will come back anyway..."

The final thing you can do is to incorporate the above with a visual cue that tells him "no matter what, you will not get any attention right now"; for example a traffic cone placed on the coffee table. It doesnt HAVE to be that, but it gives you an idea of how obvious the cue must be, and then you do some sessions where you put out the cone and you ignore him COMPLETELY for five minutes or so, and gradually build that up so that he learns if that cue is there, it won't actualy matter where you are, you are unavailable to him and thats ok.

Good luck, and well done for taking on a rescue in the first place. With some time, patience and consistency he'll reward your efforts tenfold.

mistlethrush Wed 22-May-13 09:38:13

We didn't have the 'messing downstairs' issue because the dog came upstairs at night with us - and I got up if she left the room (thanks to DS I am a very light sleeper and if I know I'm listening for a certain movement I can wake up). By doing this, and following her downstairs and catching her as she was about to do something and taking her out on her lunge rein instead, she got the idea. She's normally quite happy for a 9hr sleep now - and sometimes goes back to bed having initially got up with DS and me and gone down the garden.

coldcomfortHeart Wed 22-May-13 10:55:30

Some very good practical advice mistlethrush and OrangeFire, thank you, I'll try the moving around the house thing later today. also the big visual clue of 'I am ignoring you' is brilliant. Tonight when we're doing bed time upstairs (when he tends to get anxious and poo/wee) I'll give him his Kong and see if that helps. DH might have to do stories downstairs and just pop up to put DS1 to bed, a shorter time he could maybe deal with better.

Really notice a difference if he's well exercised. I had a vomiting bug on monday night so he only got 1 hour (usually gets 20 mins with DH in morning, an hour with me later and an hour in the afternoon) yesterday and he was pacing all over the house.

Only one wee inside yesterday and one overnight so that was good.

Argh this is bloody hard work! (Like having children, I 'knew' it would be, but I didn't really know)

Imsosorryalan Wed 22-May-13 14:35:02

Some good iadvice here, I expect a lot of this will calm down once he begins to relax and realise this is his home.

Please look up crate training ( it always seems to be my response on here! But it's great) I think this will help with the anxiety and toileting issues.

I don't allow our rescue upstairs and she has got used to it. It's nice to have some dog free areas so kids can play in peace / I can sit on something hair free wink
Good luck.
Ps. Kikopup on you tube has some brilliant videos for clicker training.

OwlLady Wed 22-May-13 14:54:49

I think after a few weeks/months of having a dog it is normal to have a crisis in confidence as it all seems new again even if you are experienced. Have a bit more faith in yourself and enroll in dog training, you will get there in the end, please don't worry

OwlLady Wed 22-May-13 14:55:38

Crate training helped withhousetraining with my dog as well

coldcomfortHeart Wed 22-May-13 20:59:39

Very reassuring, thanks- will look up Kikopup. And crate training too... so much to learn!

moosemama Wed 22-May-13 21:06:41

I second the Kikopup videos on YouTube. She only uses 100% positive reinforcement, no corrections at all - it's very impressive to watch and really inspiring stuff.

There's a good one for understanding the basics of clicker training here.

coldcomfortHeart Thu 23-May-13 10:04:23

That Kikopup woman is seriously impressive. I am ordering clickers!

emdottyjackson Tue 28-May-13 13:38:31

Hello, I'm new here and only have dogs at the moment, we've just started TTC, anyway I was drawn to the pets section first! We adopted another dog in March and he too messed in the house, the crate sorted it out no end, also we feed our dogs outside to encourage them to mark outside rather than in the house. Good luck xxx

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