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I don't know what to do

(34 Posts)
RescueDogWoes Sat 09-Jul-16 15:08:09

I've NC for this because I'm ashamed of myself.

We took on a rescue dog about six months ago. No real history on him, very worried and nervous soul. We were fine with that, we thought that he'd come out of his shell and be a gentle bugger. Rescue mentioned he was 'worried' by other dogs but not overly so.

He has come out of his shell in some ways - he adores me. But only really me - he's happy to see DP but pretty apathetic. Everyone else he ignores. Fine, he's not that outgoing but he's relaxed.

But he is awful to other dogs. Absolutely vile. He would bite them if he could. He's badly socialised, nervous and also a bit of a bully. All the dreams I had of walking a dog and nipping to the pub, making friends with dogs (pretty isolated socially here myself!) have gone up in smoke. We manage his behaviour out and about, but there's no joy in it.

He's not the dog I wanted. I take him to a rescue centre farm and he walks with the dogs that are waiting for homes. He's generally horrid to them, but calms down once he knows them. Off-lead he goes far too far in his play and it descends into aggression. However, he is making progress. But every time we go there, my heart breaks because the dogs he plays with are so gorgeous and friendly and he's this aggressive stand-offish little git!

That said I love him. He's a dream in the house, can be left, house trained, lazy. He's part of my life. But the idea of the next eight years or so being just managing his behaviour makes my blood run cold. It's so stressful.

I want another dog. The rescue thinks that when he's ready, a steady buddy dog will do him good. But I think part of my selfish drive is that I just want the dog for me. And that's so horrible of me.

I don't know what to do. I don't know if I could face rehoming him. He'd be so hard to rehome and he loves me so much. But he's just not what I wanted. And that is what makes me so ashamed, because this should be about him.

Someone give me a kick up the arse and tell me what to do. sad

DorynownotFloundering Sat 09-Jul-16 15:11:36

Get a good behaviourist to give you some one to one training so you have confidence with your pooch. It does take time but sometimes just a new look at things can help you get your head round it.

georgedawes Sat 09-Jul-16 15:12:12

Do the rescue have a behaviourist? If not could you afford one? I don't think you sound awful at all!

But I don't think I'd get another dog until you're happier with the current situation. It could make things loads worse!!

RescueDogWoes Sat 09-Jul-16 15:14:39

The rescue where I walk him (not the one I got him from, they were useless) are helping with his behaviour. He is improving, but he's never going to be the dog I wanted when I researched getting one. I will never trust him, and he'll never be the tail-wagging, says hello, likes people friendly dog. And I want that, secretly. That definitely makes me sound pretty bad!

gettingtherequickly Sat 09-Jul-16 15:19:38

We have 3 rescues, the latest is scared and dog aggressive outside the home. He adores me and the other dogs, DH and the kids, in that order. But I have to muzzle him if we have guests, he's never bitten anyone, but he growls and barks and I can't trust him.

gettingtherequickly Sat 09-Jul-16 15:20:37

Sorry, posted too soon.

I wouldn't be without him, but trips to the pub with the dogs have ceased, it's not relaxing for anyone.

witchofzog Sat 09-Jul-16 15:21:29

What breed is he? He sounds very much like my collie x greyhound. Although progress sounds slow going, he IS making progress. Please don't give up on him yet. I think you need to focus on him for now and stop thinking about another dog. Keep socialising him as much as you can and stop comparing him. The other dogs might be great outdoors but an absolute mare indoors.

If you are adamant you want another dog and feel it is 100 percent the right thing to do, make sure you secure a trial period first. The rescue I got my dog from allowed as many as required which stopped an awful lot of mistakes being made permenantly

RescueDogWoes Sat 09-Jul-16 15:21:39

He's fine with people. Honestly, if he reacted to people then he wouldn't have been able to stay. I'm a first time dog owner and I'm just not equipped or experienced enough for these issues. I asked the rescue for a 'first time' dog. I don't think I've ended up with that! I've spent most of the last six months researching things and training him.

RescueDogWoes Sat 09-Jul-16 15:24:51

He's a greyhound cross too. Found straying. Obviously not had a great life.

I think my options boil down to these:

Keep him as an only dog, keep training. Feel resentful that this is my 'shot' at having a dog and it's not the way I wanted it - just being honest here sad

Keep training him and try very hard to match him with a buddy dog. If it doesn't work then we're back to Square 1, with the possibility that he's been made worse.

Rehome him with the rescue I'm working with and they will match me with a dog that is better suited to us.

I don't know what to do. I know people deal with worse, but I also know that a lot of people would have returned him when he showed his true colours with other dogs...

georgedawes Sat 09-Jul-16 15:29:57

The first rescue sound terrible. I don't blame you for feeling the way you do, I too would find it very hard to deal with a dog aggressive dog. Especially as a first time dog owner.

The thing about getting another dog is your new dog could be influenced by your current dog and end up with 2 dogs with issues sad

Would it be better if you could get your dog to dog neutral rather than friendly? A decent dog behaviourist is definitely worth a shot.

Also, usual questions of what food is he on? Have you had a full health check?

witchofzog Sat 09-Jul-16 15:30:56

Mine hates other dogs too. It is stressful beyond belief. I kind of think no dog is 100 percent perfect and I adore my boy despite his very obvious flaws. I would however get a different breed next time.

Its such a hard call for you. If you decide to rehome him could you foster him until he finds his new home so he doesn't have to deal with living in kennels? It would make the transition a lot easier for him.

RescueDogWoes Sat 09-Jul-16 15:33:02

He's on pretty expensive grain-free wet food and grain-free kibble. He is very fussy and not at all motivated by food, so I can't even motivate him outside.

He's in rude health. Looks a damn sight better than he did a few months ago! Goes abroad with me quite a lot so gets a full check regularly.

I know I'll probably never get him to be friendly. Neutral would be the aim, but I will always be on edge. And that makes me very anxious.

I have booked a separate behaviourist but she won't come to the house, so I think I'll look elsewhere. She needs to see him in his own environment and on familiar walks etc.

RescueDogWoes Sat 09-Jul-16 15:34:21

Who would rehome him though, genuinely?! I think we'd be fostering him forever...It'd break my heart. I just don't know what's the right thing to do, for him or for us.

Scuttlebutter Sat 09-Jul-16 15:37:12

I saw a very useful post on FB recently, which stated about reactive dogs - "They are not giving you a hard time, they are having a hard time" and it's always worth remembering that.

Right - kick up the backside coming. Don't let your dog offlead where there are other dogs and he goes too far, and consider muzzling him while out too. Invest in some visible from space tabard for you and coat, yellow lead, bandana etc for him saying in 9ft high letters - Rescue Dog - Give us space.[[ ]] This will ensure other dog walkers at least know you are trying to deal with issues responsibly and will hopefully give you room.

Join the FB group for Secure Dog Walking Fields and make sure you use a secure offlead area regularly for your sanity as much as your dog's. It's very stressful for you as an owner when yr dog is reactive so a nice peaceful zoom in a secure paddock is lovely a couple of times a week.

Options for change - and yes they can work. Get in touch with ABPC member and talk to a behaviourist about helping your dog. Basically, it's about helping build confidence around other dogs and respecting choices.

We've had wonderful results with a technique called BAT developed by Grisha Stewart. There's a website, books etc.. worth reading and learning about. I would also have your dog checked again by a vet to ensure there is no physical issue affecting his reactivity e.g. undiagnosed arthritis or pain, failing eyesight etc.

And finally to cheer you up post-kicking, let me tell you about Mick, a very special boy who came to us as an emergency long term foster who we ended up keeping. Like many reactive dogs (including yours) he was utterly devoted to us but deeply reactive when out and about. We worked with our trainer using BAT (our trainer said our job was to be BAT ninjas) and I must admit I was a bit sceptical to begin with. We worked very hard and gradually we began to see changes and improvements. We went from a dog who would kick off loudly whenever a dog came near to eventually getting to the stage where we could walk him on lead calmly past virtually all other dogs and if you didn't know, you would never think he was anything other than an impeccably behaved elderly gent. My proudest moment came when we took him to a small local dog show (something unimaginable when he first arrived) and he behaved perfectly, walking calmly through people and dogs, relaxed and contented. He actually won a rosette that day in the Best Veteran class and ironically the judge complimented us on his beautiful behaviour. We lost him at the end of 2014, and he actually spent his last day at a charity event having fun with our other dogs and lots of other dogs playing on a sports field with much enthusiasm (I have a lump in my throat as I remember how happy he was that last day).

There IS hope for reactive dogs - you will have to put a great deal of work in and progress won't happen overnight but remember Mick. smile And the other spin off is that the work you do together will strengthen the bond between you in so many ways - you will become expert in reading your dog and understanding exactly when they are stressed. This will have enormous benefits both for your relationship and for any other dog you have in future. You will achieve a closeness that ironically easier dogs just don't match.

georgedawes Sat 09-Jul-16 15:39:09

Try and find a decent behaviourist, who isn't in to pack theory bollocks, and ask them if it's ever likely he will be dog neutral. At least then you know what you're dealing with and can make a more informed decision. Best of luck for what it's worth you sound a fantastic owner.

witchofzog Sat 09-Jul-16 15:40:22

You need to talk to specialist greyhound rescues I think. There are some but whether they are near you is a different story. They may be able to suggest breed specific tactics to try with him, even if they can't help with fostering.

Lots of people adore greyhounds. He is capable of love and of being around other dogs so is not a total lost cause. He might suit a retired person who can give him a lot of one on one time and who would prefer a lovely calm boy at home even if he is a little more challenging outside of it

witchofzog Sat 09-Jul-16 15:43:18

Mick has brought a tear to my eye. He sounds lovely. And fab advice too Scuttle

RescueDogWoes Sat 09-Jul-16 15:43:49

I've joined some FB groups, I've got a muzzle and a long-line. We never let him off unless there are no dogs about. He does enjoy a good run and he gets one every day. We go at about 8pm. Another way in which his behaviour is forcing us to adjust our lives. No midday strolls in the sun for us! He has good recall and actually usually walks to heel when off-lead, but I don't trust him. If a dog is in his space then that's that.

I thought about yellow dog stuff, but I've heard dodgy things about the legal implications - if your dog attacks another dog and you've acknowledged that as a possibility, that can put you in a difficult situation legally.

I've read about BAT and CARE and have tried to use stuff. He does not respond to any training when out and about - is very responsive and bright in the house though.

I will get him another vet appointment.

I can't really afford endless behaviourist appointments, I'll be totally honest. I can easily see the bill reaching hundreds and hundreds, if not over a thousand, pounds. I know that's a pathetic excuse but it just feels like another way in which he's stretching me thin. I've already spend a small fortune on harnesses and double-ended leads and head collars and muzzles. How I long just to walk him on a collar and lead!

RescueDogWoes Sat 09-Jul-16 15:44:47

Sorry, I'm not even saying thank you! Thank you all, I really appreciate all of your advice. You're fantastic star

gettingtherequickly Sat 09-Jul-16 15:47:34

Rescue, all ours are greys, and the other two are totally chilled. He is great with other greys, it's just none grey dogs he has issue with.

BagelGoesWalking Sat 09-Jul-16 15:53:42

If you have good relations with the rescue where you walk, I would talk to them.

As others have said, a potential owner may just come along, who would be able to fulfil the special needs of your dog. In that case, you could let him go, happy in the knowledge that his life would be much less stressful and therefore much improved.

I completely understand where you're coming from, esp as a first time owner, it must be very, very hard.

RescueDogWoes Sat 09-Jul-16 15:57:49

The rescue I walk him at say that we have a lovely bond and that he's a lovely dog, but that they can see that he wasn't the right fit for me.

They will take him and find me a better match if I want. Or they will work with me to get him dog neutral / paired up with a support buddy. They are wonderful. I just can't get my head around the first option.

Scuttlebutter Sat 09-Jul-16 16:06:31

Our boy Mick was a greyhound. If you are concerned about the legal issues surrounding yellow dog tabards, collars etc. speak to Trevor Cooper at Doglaw (leading dog law solicitor in UK who advises Dogs Trust, Govt etc.)

I think from what you have said you have come to the fork in the road. Yes, first rescue were crap but you are where you are. Are you willing to commit to changes and hard work with this dog but with the long term goal of calm, happy dog? If so, crack on. Of course he's not a first time dog, but you are already deep in this, and are well on the way to becoming your own expert.

If you're not, there's nothing wrong with that, but you need to rehome him sooner rather than later because it simply isn't fair on this dog for him to keep building bonds of love and trust with you. Rescues can find homes for these sorts of dogs (we are an example) - it's not easy and they are few and far between but they do exist.

And if he's not responding to training when he's out it's almost certainly because he's stressed, rather than anything else. You also mention travelling abroad regularly - my own take on this is that nervous dogs like this thrive on routine and frequent changes of routine, place etc will be unsettling for them. If you are keeping him, please consider reducing the frequency of trips for a bit so you can focus on him and his issues, and help him feel truly settled. Any rescue dog would find that a bit of a stretch when they were in a new home.

We actually needed only two appointments for our BAT work with our trainer plus a few phone calls - I'd committed to reading the book and studying hard. Think it was around £100 - which in hindsight seems a bargain considering you want lifelong behavioural change out of this. I certainly wouldn't expect to be spending thousands. You should also check whether your insurance covers any of it.

And finally, what contact have you had with first rescue? If he was sold to you as an ideal first time dog, do they have a behaviourist or trainer they can recommend? Are they a single breed rescue? I'm genuinely puzzled by their lack of support/involvement.

tabulahrasa Sat 09-Jul-16 16:10:43

I can't quote because my phone is being awkward...but just to add a couple of things.

Firstly behaviourist costs...check your insurance, good policies cover it. They often offer a discounted rate for rescue dogs and it's not regular appointments, they come out do an assessment, give you a plan and you go off and work in that with email and phone support, follow up sessions are done as and if/when needed and don't cost the same as the initial assessment.

Also the responsiveness to training when out, that's normal, either you're trying stuff outside too quickly after introducing it at home or you're trying things once he's already over threshold - you need to be further away or a quieter place or trying to reward smaller behaviour than you are...that's exactly the sort of stuff a behaviourist would help you with.

RescueDogWoes Sat 09-Jul-16 16:29:03

He loves going abroad. Loves it. He's a country dog really and we live in the city. He would be better suited to living there. He's a better dog whilst he's there and he enjoys being in the car.

I begged first rescue for a behaviourist, quite early on. They barely responded, then I got a phone call. It wasn't very helpful. They're a big rescue and I so wish I'd just gone with a smaller one like the one I work with now.

Insurance doesn't cover it, but is a good policy. If it'll only be low hundreds we can take the hit. I'll find a BAT person - any recommendations anyone?

He's definitely sometimes stressed out and about - another of my niggles (small one) is that he won't walk anywhere. Has to be driven to the walk, even if it's two mins away. Hates pavements. But once he's walking, he's happy as Larry. Just not interested in doing 'touch' etc, just sniffing and pottering. I can read him pretty well by now and I can see the difference in his interested behaviour and his stressed behaviour.

I know I'm at a fork. Or I suppose I will be soon. I need to try the behaviourist and plough on with the socialisation at the rescue. Then reassess. I suppose I need to know I tried everything I could manage.

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