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Confidence with a Rescue

(11 Posts)
PartyPooer Fri 27-Nov-15 10:17:59

I rescued an 8 year old terrier mongrel last week. I was told he had possessive tendencies so taken precautions not to put him in situations where he could get aggressive as in I haven't bothered him when he's eating or given him high value treats too much.

Last night he was given a chew and took it into the bedroom where I was doing some tidying. When I finished I left him on his own to chew it but then I had to go into the bedroom for something. As soon as I walked in the door he was really viciously snarly and growling. I left him to it and closed the door. A bit later he came out when he'd finished and was very loving.

But the snarly growly incident has really shaken my confidence and I am worried that the dog can pick up on my anxiety. I am a natural worrier and anxious person anyway. I know all the tricks to address resource guarding and possessive behaviour because the dog has been given a behaviourist to help him settle in so I am not really asking for advice about that.

I just want to know if other people with rescues have ever had their confidence knocked and how long does it take to feel comfortable and confident with the dog?

PartyPooer Fri 27-Nov-15 10:51:16


pigsDOfly Fri 27-Nov-15 13:19:31

I think most new owners at some point have their confidence knocked in the first few months, whether it's a new puppy or an older rescue, everyone gets those, what the hell have I done, moments. And when a dog has 'issues' it's going to be even more difficult.

I was going to suggest a behaviourist, but can see from your penultimate paragraph that that's already in hand and you're on top of it.

I would just take this as a normal part of getting a new dog. I suspect virtually every person who has ever become a dog owner has been there.

Sneeziemcweezie Fri 27-Nov-15 13:29:56

Two rescues and yes, definitely felt my confidence knocked with the second one - for a really long time. The first rescue was brilliant and is a super reliable and very easy going dog - so good we decided to get a second. That experience couldn't have been more different. He's a really messed up dog (because of bad treatment by humans) and there were many times I wanted to take him back as it was really hard work and terribly unrewarding. But we did stick at it and I worked hard with him. He's still really messed up compared to many dogs, but he is happy and has a good life. I am glad I stuck with it.
With anything new, be it a pet, baby, job etc there is time getting used to new routines and adapting, and its not always plain sailing. But remembering that the difficulties will pass allow you to stick at it and get used to it. And one day you realise its not such a big deal anymore. But there are definition ups and downs along the way
Do continue to work with the behaviourist if you can as that will build your skills and confidence. We had a dog trainer come to our home - that was so helpful and well worth the money in terms of setting us in the right direction.
Good luck, enjoy your new dog!

honeyroar Fri 27-Nov-15 13:44:47

You've only had him a week, so you're all still settling in and finding boundaries. The more training you do with him, especially with a good behaviourist, the better he will get, but it will take time. In the meantime don't create situations where it can happen. Feed him and leave him him. Don't give him bones or chews (I have one that can get possessive and these chews always bring it out, I don't give them nowadays). Get out on long walks, that way you bond and tire him out, which is a key to behaviour in most dogs. Good luck. I'm sure you'll get there.

TheoriginalLEM Fri 27-Nov-15 13:58:22

I had this with a rotweiller that we took on from battersea. He had serious possession (and general lunatic) issues so we had to be very careful at first.

We tried everything from scatter feeding (total disaster as the poor thing was so stressed trying to grab every last bit of food) to hand feeding. Swapping from one bowl to another. Adding to his bowl so that every time you approach is bowl he associates you giving rather than taking.

In the end, the only thing that worked was time, we just had to give him enough space to realise that we weren't a threat to his food. We never took anything away from him unless it was a swap. No games of tug o war and treats were ones that he could just eat rather than have as a chew.

I don't want to worry you but i wouldn't be totally surprsed if this behaviour doesn't escalate over the next week or two as he finds his feet. But DON'T WORRY you are doing fine and it will pass. Don't put the dog, or yourself under undue pressure.

We had behaviourists too.

First was a total waste of time and money.

Second was excellent, ex police dog handler, specialising in aggressive dogs. We only had him a few times, but it was enough to give ME the confidence that our dog wasn't inherently aggressive and it was worth persevering with. He had bitten me a few times and with a 50kg rottie i wasn't risking being eaten!

It took about six months i think but one day i was loading the washing machine which is by the back door, the dog had pushed his bowl to the backdoor and there is limited space. My head was inches from his bowl and he was fine, no rushing his food, no gaurding and no eating mumma! That was when i knew it was ok, neither of us thought there was a problem with me being around him when he was eating - six months previous, we had to put the food down and then leave the room before we let him in for his dinner.

It is a very common thing to have collywobbles when you get a new dog, especially a rescue. It'l be grand - well done for giving him a second chance.

PartyPooer Fri 27-Nov-15 14:38:17

Wow, thank you all so much for your comments. As weird as this sounds, it's good to hear other people have had problems. When you watched things about rescues on TV there's always that perfect happy ending that gets shown without the set backs in between. I know set backs will come of course but those kind of programmes give a very warped view of how much hard work a rescue can be.

It's good to hear that it's taken a while for a lot of people.

As a PP has said, I'm avoiding giving him chewy things that take him a while to eat so he doesn't have any resources to guard. Treats are those that can be gobbled straight up.

I just worry though that if he hasn't got anything to chew on like a kong or one of those puzzles, he might get bored. I walk him every morning and at midday if he wants to go (sometimes he only wants one walk a day) so he does sleep for much of the day but when he's awake, I don't know what to give him to keep him entertained but not bothering me for fuss. Any ideas?

Today he's been great and I've been making efforts to be relaxed so he can pick up on that although he's gotten very very clingy today.

TheoriginalLEM Fri 27-Nov-15 16:30:21

What is he like with toys? so if he has a raggy type toy, he may be possesive over it, but more likely to give it up for another raggy toy or a treat, wheras he may be more reluctant to swap something yummy. The reward is in the play then, rather than the tug. So throw him something, if he brings it back to play great, but he has to leave. To get him to leave you need another toy - dogs aren't mind readers he wont know what leave means. So he comes for the other toy, when he drops the first toy - say "leave" and throw the other toy, make it fun and exciting. If he doesn't leave it, no biggie, but no game either. If that makes sense. He will soon learn that leave = game and fun.

PartyPooer Fri 27-Nov-15 17:20:27

Theoriginal He's completely destroyed nearly every toy we've given him. We can't give him fabric ones as he just tears them apart, not viciously though.
The RSPCA were doing work on him swapping toys for treats which he seemed okay with but I feel like I need to build my confidence with him to start doing this.

TheoriginalLEM Fri 27-Nov-15 18:04:06

something like this is good as they can't tear them up. I agree re the soft toys though as they are not safe when they get pulled apart - my jrt will destroy one in 10 seconds flat.

Don't make it about challenging him to give something up. You can work up to that. But really for now, its just about him finding his feet. He will have been moved from place to place but once he realises you are mum and a bond develops, the trust will follow.

TheoriginalLEM Fri 27-Nov-15 18:05:28

try to get one that is not too heavy. They aren't what i call "high value" toys as my dogs can take them or leave them, but thats a good thing. Try to rotate the toys as that keeps them fun and new.

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