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Help - rescue dog problems

(203 Posts)
Catzeyess Wed 15-Jul-15 07:41:15

We have recently rehomed a gorgeous mongrel dog and he is really hard work. We feel a bit duped by the rescue as they told us he was a sweet boy who's only issue was pulling a bit on the lead and had no special requirements (we made it clear we were novice dog owners and didn't want a dog with too many issues).

Once we had taken him on it transpired he was a Romanian stray who has most definitely never been in a home. He is jumpy and terrified of everything, not used to being in a house and normal home noises are stressing him out. He likes being stroked and is gentle and friendly to everyone he meets but whines if left to sit on his own for a bit. He is not housetrained. He knows absolutely no commands at all. He doesn't understand toys and is not interested in food (tried to bury it) and so we are struggling to teach him anything apart from come.

Help! What do we do! We are close to just sending him back but don't want to let him down. Has anyone else had a dog like this and did they turn into a good family pet with a bit of training! What do we do!

basildonbond Wed 15-Jul-15 07:47:36

Poor you and poor dog sad

Firstly, have you contacted the rescue? Reputable ones will offer lifetime behavioural support

I think you also need to be honest with yourselves about how much time and effort you are able to put into this dog's training. It is possible to improve things but with such a poor start it's likely your dog will always have issues to a degree

TheoriginalLEM Wed 15-Jul-15 07:51:15

how long have you had him? poor dog sounds like he has had a terrible time.

Having had a rescue dog with issues and forking out £££ on behaviourists etc, we found the only thing to work was time.

i would suggest you get a dap (or adaptil) collar. These release calming pheremones and make a huge difference.

often dogs are subdued in kennels and really don't show their ttue personality.

Food is your friend. make sure everyone feeds him. if he has had no real home environment the one thing he'll underdtsand is food.

make sure the only time you touch your dog is to show affection. a house lead is useful for encouraging off of furniture.

the separation anxiety is understandable. uou need to build this up slowly.

give it time. you'll be glad you did.

says me whos dog was sat in the car more than once to go back!!

TheoriginalLEM Wed 15-Jul-15 07:53:55

missed the bit about food. try only feeding by hand. ours had severe aggression issues around food but with time it righted itself.

the previous poster is right. this wont be easy.

TheoriginalLEM Wed 15-Jul-15 07:56:05

come is pretty much the mist important comnand you need so well done for that. Don't push it too much teaching him other things until he is happier.

Catzeyess Wed 15-Jul-15 08:11:48

My DH recons he needs a home where someone can be on it all day with him. Whereas I work from home so need him to just nap quietly for a large chunk of the day. He is currently asleep at my feet. Although I'm no dog behaviour expert I think he is really anxious. The collar sounds good will look into that.

I just can't make up my mind what to do. I think my DH wants to give him up, but I feel really bad for the poor fellow

TheoriginalLEM Wed 15-Jul-15 08:17:33

Most dogs take a while to settle. do you think you might have under estimated what is involved? dogs will nap most of the day but need two good walks and stimulation.

invest in some toys to stimulate him. Kong toys that mean he has to work out how to get the treats. Something to chew. Does he have a crate.

Catzeyess Wed 15-Jul-15 08:22:08

We have had him 24 hours - he is improving slowly. I can get him to come fairly reliably indoors by crouching and tapping my knees and saying here (occasionally outdoors) he hasn't had a chance to learn his name yet. I got him to sleep on his bed with about half an hour of gentle coaxing and now he will happily sit there (he slept their all night)

He responds tentatively to my DH whistling (he is scared of men and cowers when DH makes sudden movements) When he goes to do something he is not allowed we clap and say no firmly and that seems to be working. He is just so anxious bless him.

I don't want to keep him for a month and then decide we can't deal with him because I think that will stress him out. but he is exhausting me at the moment and I guess I hadn't mentally prepared for this.

Catzeyess Wed 15-Jul-15 08:24:26

It's his anxiety which is exhausting me because I'm worried about him, not the training/walking

basildonbond Wed 15-Jul-15 08:26:21

24 hours is no time at all - his whole world has completely changed so it's no surprise he's anxious

This article is really useful - lots of tips on settling a new rescue into your home.

Basically give it lots of time

StarsInTheNightSky Wed 15-Jul-15 08:26:29

Yes, we rescued a dog with similar issues, she was also highly dog and human aggressive (had put five different reputable behaviorists in hospital needing stitches). She was about to be pts as being unhandlable. She's a Caucasian Ovcharka, so not an easy breed to keep or train and that's putting it mildly, especially since they have absolutely nzero interest in food or treats other than eating the minimum needed for sustinence, and will only obey their family,and only then if they respect and love them. She's currently sprawled around my feet snoozing as I type this.

It took a lot of time and patience, but she is now the most loving and fiercly loyal dog you could every meet. She's impeccably obedient and very confident, I've doing quite a bit of schutzhund training with her which she is very good at, it helped her to build her confidence and focus her mind, and got her used to taking directions from me.

With her and our other two dogs we didn't use food/treat based training, it wouldn't work (we have two Ovcharkas and one Fila Brasiliero, all rescues, all about to be pts for severe aggression) and I don't like doing it personally. Praise and affection work better than anything with ours, if they think there's a cuddle on offer they will abandon their food bowls, no matter how hungry they are. Oh, and none of ours have ever growled, snarled or shown any aggression to me ever.

Could you try praise training, so give the command then whatever kind of fuss he likes and plenty of it when he obeys? It will be a long road, but absolutely worth it in the end. We live in a country with a lot of dangerous predators, including human ones, and our dogs have defended DH, DS and I so many times, we would be dead without them. Sending flowers its never easy.

SquirrelChaser Wed 15-Jul-15 08:31:38

How do you know thereof is Romanian? Is it his accent?

Stars, how can you own a Fila Brasiliero as it is illegal to own one in this country? Or do you live abroad?

Catzeyess Wed 15-Jul-15 08:35:23

That's good to know stars although he is not at all aggressive, will let me touch him anywhere.

Praise seems to be the only thing he does respond to, I think I might give up on the food training. He definitely needs more time to learn that home is safe.

Do people recommend a crate so he has safe 'den' that he can go to? I wouldn't lock him in their but just have it as his bed? I dunno, as I said a novice! But willing to learn!

ender Wed 15-Jul-15 08:36:21

Its only been 24 hrs, most dogs would be anxious. New people, new smells and sounds. He won't be able to relax till he's got used to everything. My rescue dog just paced around the house sniffing everything and whimpering for the first few days and refused to eat, every loud noise from outside would set him off barking.
Just give hime time. Try to stick to a regular routine so he knows what to expect, and don't go overboard with the training until he's got used to his new home and people.

StarsInTheNightSky Wed 15-Jul-15 08:41:54

squirrel we live abroad, sorry, thought I mentioned that at the bottom of my previous post?

catz we've never crated ours, always made sure they had a place of their own but made it clear that it wass their home too and that they were free to wander, provided they didn't get up to any mischief of course grin. It really is tough, but he sounds like a lovely dog who just needs his confidence built up again. X

Catzeyess Wed 15-Jul-15 08:42:01

He has a Romanian passport which came with his documents (so it was an educated guess!)

ender Wed 15-Jul-15 08:42:35

Adaptil spray is handy to have, it seemed to help my dog. I sprayed it on his bed.

Catzeyess Wed 15-Jul-15 08:44:03

We will keep going with him! I'll let you know how he gets on and hopefully we can get him to be a lovely family pet. I guess it's not what we were anticipating but we owe it to him to have a go!

Mrsjayy Wed 15-Jul-15 08:44:07

Ok you have had him a day chill out he doesnt know you and he may not even understand you i know that sounds daft but he is romanian grin, you need to be patient firm loving give him space when he needs it show him what you want take him out to pee regularly im not sure what you were expecting him to do he is in a strange place with strange people of course he is going to be stressed. The rescue said to us that my dog would take 6 months to a year to settle we laughed we should not have laughed sigh

LetThereBeCupcakes Wed 15-Jul-15 08:46:14

Wow, that's a lot for a novice dog owner to have to deal with!

Our girl was similarly problematic. She was an ex puppy farm breeder rather than a Romanian dog, but same issues (not toilet trained, hadn't been in a house, fear of humans etc). We had 2 advantages though - we're experienced dog owners (I have some behaviour qualifications) and the rescue told us all of her problems from the start!

The biggest help to our girl was the dog we already had, which doesn't help you much I'm afraid - but the other tips I can share:

- At first, just coexist with him. Provide what he needs (food, shelter etc) but don't push the affection just yet. He needs to build his confidence first. of course if he's approaching you go for it! But don't rush up to him and start trying to rub his belly yet. YY to a crate - leave nice toys, stuffed kongs etc in there for him.

- Our girl needed to be alone to eat, so we shut her in a seperate room. If we so much as peaked in when she was eating she'd stop and that was that. It took a long time for her to be confident with her food.

- Where does he sleep? Ours sleep on our bed which seemed to really help with bonding. Even now she's more likely to come and cuddle up with us on the bed then anywhere else.

- Give it time. Honestly, he's only been with you a day! This is all so alien to him.

- Later on, when he's more confident, look for a reputable local trainer. I used to run training classes and actually had a lady with a dog similar to yours who was too scared to come to class. So she came along and handled one of my dogs, so she could learn how to train without stressing her dog out. Eventually he was able to join regular classes. Where are you? I may be able to recomend somebody.

Finally, if you don't feel you can cope, there is no shame in ensuring he goes to an experienced owner who CAN. Honestly.

PM me if you want to chat / more detailed advice.

villainousbroodmare Wed 15-Jul-15 08:49:05

It's only been 24 hours? Give him a week. Be really patient. Don't worry about commands. Keep it all very kind-hearted and low-key.

Mrsjayy Wed 15-Jul-15 08:49:39

My dog came crate trained poor thing wasnt he was just chucked in a crate he hated it he seems claustrophobic (im not sure thats a dog thing but we had to work out what was best for him he needs to have the livingroom door opened or he panics took us weeks to figure it out btw the doghouse was a lifeline to me lots of support

SunshineAndShadows Wed 15-Jul-15 08:54:03

Dogs that have spent long periods of time in the streets or years in shelters can be difficult to acclimate to a home environment. You'll need to toilet train him like a puppy - restrict him to a room with food and water and take him outside regularly. Lots of praise when he goes in the right place. Street dogs are usually toilet trained but they're not house trained if you know what I mean. He won't want to toilet in his 'home' he just doesn't understand yet that your house is home.

Spend lots of time sitting with him, chatting and building a bond, this is crucial and can take months. It took us about 6 months to get a decent recall on our street dog (she'd just go feral if spooked or excited) and about the same to get her to relax in the house. Street dogs are independent and have survived without humans so whilst they want human affection they don't need it. Fortunately affection is a bit like a drug and once they're bonded they're fab but you need to put the groundwork in.

I agree this is an awful lot for a first time dog owner but give it a few days and see how he settles, some dogs are much easier than others and it sounds like he already has made some positive steps. Pls PM me if you want more support, I'm fairly experienced with these issues.

Catzeyess Wed 15-Jul-15 08:58:27

Thank you so much everyone! You are all giving me hope!

WizardOfToss Wed 15-Jul-15 09:01:44

As it's only 24 hours, don't be discouraged. Please give him a bit longer. I agree with a previous poster - treat him like a puppy. You're starting from scratch, and that's ok.

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