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Growly rescue dog - wwyd?

(24 Posts)
EllenTheEgret Sat 14-May-16 09:16:07

This will be long - sorry!

Approx 3 weeks ago DP and I took on a 6 year old rescue lurcher as a "foster with a view to forever". She was a stray so no history, and came straight from the rescue's emergency kennels. She is a lovely, lovely dog and we have totally fallen for her. She is perfect in the house, incredibly affectionate (does the lurcher lean thing which is adorable) and loves all humans, including children and the postman. The problem comes with other dogs. We live in London near a big park which is very popular with dog walkers and where 90% of dogs are exercised off lead. Every walk involves at least 5+ dogs coming bounding up to her (she is on lead as her recall is not great and she has a very high prey drive), she is usually OK with a quick nose to nose sniff, but as soon as they move around to sniff her bum she starts to growl, and if not moved on very quickly she ups the growling and has even snapped once (at a poor little dashound).
I'm not sure if she is afraid, or just grumpy.. Yesterday it was a little KC spaniel about 1/4 her size who ran up and rolled in its back at dps feet (so cute) she sniffed it for a few seconds seemingly OK but then growled sad.
She does seem better with sighthounds, although we've only met 2 when out on walks so it might just be fluke.

I just don't know what to do! If she stays like this she'll have to stay on lead avoiding other dogs or having growly interactions on every walk for the rest of her life - and that is no life for a dog! We do have a garden but it's not huge and she can't get up to full speed when running there. We love her but I don't know of this is the best environment for her.. We are taking her to obedience & socialisation classes, but can an unsocial 6 year old dog really change? Maybe she would be happier in a quieter area? In a house with a big garden where she can run? Obviously the ultimate decision is down to the rescue centre - we have discussed it with them and they suggested training etc but it would be great to get some other opinions.

Nb - she is not yet spayed but the vet has checked whether she is extra sensitive due to coming into season and thinks not.

Also - even if we decide we are not the right home for her she won't be going back into kennels - she'll stay with us until a more suitable family can be found.

What do you think?

BlackMarigold Sat 14-May-16 09:43:28

A lot of dogs can feel very vulnerable when on a lead if other dogs come up to them, because they're trapped. My rescue GSDx used to go ballistic if he even saw another dog when he was on a lead. He's fine now.
Its very early days, she's having to get used to so many new things, it sounds like she's behaving reasonably under the circumstances.
Don't let off lead dogs run up to her, if you can't stop them maybe you need to stop going to the park. Walk her somewhere where she'll see lots of other dogs on leads and get to know them from a distance.

tabulahrasa Sat 14-May-16 11:25:21

I'd tell the other dog owners to control their's perfectly fine to not want strangers rushing up to you and being pushy.

OliviaBenson Sat 14-May-16 12:11:57

How would you like it if some stranger came running up to you, licked your face and started sniffing your bottom, and you couldn't move away because you were on a leash?

That was the question our trainer put to us when our rescue dog exhibited similar behaviours. I think you should take him to a quieter area to get him used to dogs in his own time, that's what we did and it worked. We had to build up the bind between us so our dog knew he was safe.m

Good luck.m

Bubble2bubble Sat 14-May-16 13:03:04

its early days, and you have no history but for her sake I would ask ther owners to keep their dogs back because yours is nervous.

Parallel walking with another on lead dog can really help , or allowing friendly on lead dogs you meet to just have the very quickest of sniffs before moving on.

So many dogs are not great at meeting others on the lead, but completely fine off lead. I certainly wouldn't write her off as unsocial yet, she may just be lacking in dog experience.

Wyldfyre Sat 14-May-16 13:53:56

Letting your loose dog go up to an on-lead dog is very bad etiquette amongst most dog owners - they are on lead for a reason (whether that's illness, injury training or because they are reactive). Also a growl is her way of telling the other dog she is unhappy with the situation so it's really important that you do not react negatively in these situations - either in body language or tone of voice (hard I know)

In the first instance I suggest having a look at the Yellow Dog Project and possibly getting her one of their "I need space" jackets.

You appear to have two training issues that you want to work on - recall and reactivity.

For recall, start with a long line lead (not an extendable one) call your dog and treat and make a massive fuss of her when she comes to you, even if you've had to ask her 100 times - you want her to think that you are the most fun place to be and eventually you will need to ask less.

For the reactivity this is a little harder for me to advise as its not something I have a huge amount of experience of, or rather my experience is more dogs that react to just seeing a dog rather than one that reacts to them going to the rear. The principal is desensitisation - normally I'd work with a known dog and walk towards them. Every step where there's no reaction I treat. If there is a reaction then retreat to a point where it stops, repeat.

There's some good advice here:

Wyldfyre Sat 14-May-16 13:54:53

What Bubble said. Just sounds like she hasn't learned to be a dog yet

Booboostwo Sat 14-May-16 13:59:09

This is a very common reaction.

What is she like with other dogs off lead? If she is fine the problem is the lead then you need to understand that the lead makes her feel restrained and unable to manage the social situation with the other dog. There is some good advice on overcoming this problem here

In general it is bad manners to allow an off the lead dog to approach an on lead dog and for the short term you need to ask the other owners to recall their dogs.

If she has a problem with other dogs off lead then it's best to get advice from your trainer who can evaluate the situation. In the short term keep her on lead and ask other owners to recall their dogs as above.

In the scheme of things it's quite a minor problem, especially considering you have taken on a rescue with an unknown past. Are you nowhere near more isolated areas where she could have an off lead run?

MaynJune Sat 14-May-16 14:21:06

She sounds wonderful, and I'd be loathe to give up a rescue dog for this when she's so good in other respects.
She may well be more tolerant of other sighthounds. Along with everything else you're doing, many greyhound rescue centres have a greyhound walk every month. You could check if there are any in your area.

Greyhorses Sat 14-May-16 16:12:07

I have a bitch who is very dog aggressive especially on a lead. She has a great life and can still run off lead...just not around others without a muzzle smile

Mine has improved lots with training so I wouldn't give up just yet.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Sat 14-May-16 16:21:04

Every dog I've ever had would growl if on the lead and other dogs came up to them.

I know it's hard with sighthounds, I used to have one and I did let her off lead in fields, well away from roads. Sometimes she used to bugger off out of sight for ages agpfter a hare but she always came back. But I know that wouldn't work for every sighthound.

Even if she does have to stay on her lead for ever she can still be happy. Lots of areas have secure sighthound paddocks you can pay to use for an hour so they can have off lead runs.

TrionicLettuce Sat 14-May-16 16:31:38

A lot of sighthounds prefer the company of other sighthounds, or take more interest in them than other dogs. It's also not unusual (or unreasonable) for dogs not to be keen on complete strangers invading their personal space uninvited.

This FB page has a list of secure fields which can be hired for private use. It's worth having a look to see if there are any local to you so you can let her have a run without worrying about her recall or other dogs.

stonecircle Sat 14-May-16 17:36:46

We have a rescue who is not very good with other dogs and does more than growl if they come up to him. Fortunately we have a number of areas we can walk him where we don't encounter too many. Bit of a catch 22 really as he's usually fine if he's off the lead but always reacts badly if he's on the lead and they come up to him - I assume because he feels more vulnerable.

I'm not at all adverse to shouting to inconsiderate owners to call their dogs back. Usually they respond saying their dog is 'fine' hmm and I say that's great but MY dog isn't!

He's also very jealous if our other dog or I show another dog any attention.

No advice though - sorry!

EllenTheEgret Tue 17-May-16 07:44:34

Thanks for the advice all.

We actually took the dog to meet people from the rescue at the weekend, and she got to meet quite a few dogs while there as well. She does seem better with sighthounds (although not hugely interested), and was also OK with an enormous staffy (although he was on lead also). The rescue lady's theory is that she has been attacked by dogs in the past and she now likes to asset herself over dogs where she thinks she has the upper hand, but not so much otherwise.

There is another potential "forever family" who have a lurcher already, live in the country and whose garden is probably much bigger than ours, so I think the rescue will speak to them and see if they want to visit her.. I'll be gutted to lose her but if she does get on with their dog them I think life will be better for her there.

In the meantime we'll do our best to stop dogs running up to her (not always possible, sadly, as not all dogs are fully under owners' control and there really aren't any isolated areas around here), and I think I might post on the local doggy fb group to see if there are other sighthound owners who also exercise their dogs on leads and want to meet up for walks as I think that might be really good for her. We're also working in recall but I think that will be slow progress!

Thanks again.

Booboostwo Tue 17-May-16 13:13:04

I am not too sure why you are considering giving up on her over these common issues but if you do decide it is too much for you please think long and hard before getting another dog.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Tue 17-May-16 14:29:24

Rtft. Op is fostering with a view to keeping which is different to getting a dog

Booboostwo Tue 17-May-16 15:18:10

I have read the thread which you would know had you noticed that I had already posted on it earlier. Your point is irrelevant, the OP should not foster with a view to keeping another dog either if she gives up this dog for such common problems. Even fostering would be questionable as I'd expect fosterers to be knowledgeable in terms of assessing the dog and able to start basic training to address any issues.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Tue 17-May-16 15:42:03

Posting on the thread doesn't mean that you'd read the whole of the op. People often miss stuff but I apologise if that isn't the case. Guess we have different views of fostering for a rescue. Plenty of people foster with no intention of keeping the dog. I think it's better for the dog to be fostered rather than in kennels. This is no different.

Booboostwo Tue 17-May-16 19:45:49

'Taking on a dog' and 'fostering with a view to keeping' seem pretty close though don't they? I would expect the person doing either to have decided to commit to the dog barring serious problems or insurmountable incompatibilities. All I am suggesting is that the problems the OP has encountered are common, minor and can be overcome with training. If she finds them to be too much for her that is fair enough but she should reconsider before taking on another dog as it is likely to also have common, minor problems.

As for whether it is better for a dog to be in kennels or fostered, for the dog it's hands down better to be in foster care but if the fosterer is inexperienced they may put themselves in harms way with some extreme cases of problem dogs.

WhoTheFuckIsSimon Tue 17-May-16 22:14:50

Ime most rescues dont do fostering with a view to possibly keeping so they must see there's a difference. OP has said she's going to dog obedience classes and socialisation classes so they're trying. But if dog doesn't overcome it (and they don't all overcome it, I had a fear aggressive dog for two years who never improved and current dog is still very fearful of strange dogs after two years) and csnt be let off lead then maybe the dog would be better off in a family with a big garden where it can run more. Which is something the OP can't offer.

gonetoseeamanaboutadog Tue 17-May-16 22:25:51

This is a catch 22. Many very friendly dogs will growl if they're on a lead - because they feel trapped and vulnerable. Yet if she's off the lead you've lost all control, do see that.

I think you need to find out what she's like off the lead.

gonetoseeamanaboutadog Tue 17-May-16 22:28:42

Sorry missed your update. You're right to think this could be a fairly major issue for you - don't feel you're giving up easily if it doesn't seem the best fit. She's growling because she's stressed and you don't want that for her.

I hate to say it but another family who have a lurcher already and a lifestyle set up to exercise a lurcher does sound rather perfect.

EllenTheEgret Wed 18-May-16 01:05:40

We're not giving up on her - honestly! She is a wonderful dog and if I didn't think she would be happier elsewhere then I would fight to keep her.

I'm sure she could have a decent enough life here, but there are a combination of factors why the other home might be better for her. The lead aggression is one thing, but given her prey drive we're unlikey to be able to let her off lead in our local park, our garden is only small and we don't have a car to get to any other exercise areas on a regular basis. As much as I'd love her to stay I want her to have the opportunity to run around properly. I would also love her to have a lurcher friend.

Boo - you are right to say that she should really have gone to an experienced foster home of course, but the rescue didn't have all that many options and I'm confident that she's had a far better few weeks here than she would have had in kennels.

kissedbyamoonbeam Wed 18-May-16 01:25:58

You learn by experience. She sounds an ideal dog to start with. I would just like to point out that the dog has no idea it's fostered so actually that's irrelevant. It's good you are thinking things through and putting the dog first. Should you decide to keep the dog, if you can afford a behaviourist, that would help. If you decide the other family are a better fit, you've gained a little experience and can take another dog. I foster. I find it ridiculous how precious people get about not giving up on dogs. I try to get dogs permanently homed asap. Not always possible. I know of dogs who have been fostered for over a year and rehomed. I read angry posts about owners trying to rehome dogs that they cannot look after properly. A happy foster dog is going to be more affected than an unhappy 'forever' dog when moved. Do what is best for the animal. Which seems to be your aim. (I read a thread once where a family made the very difficult decision to rehome because their adoptive child was hurting the dog. The dog was deeply unhappy. Several posters seriously suggested re homing the child.)

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