I don't know whether to send my rescue dog back - so upset(13 Posts)
I have had my rescue dog for 3 months she is a little stray from Romania. When we got her we told she was very calm and good around other dogs and people. For the first few weeks she was the perfect dog but then she started showing aggression to other dogs on walks. I have to keep her on a lead at all times and i find walking her very stressful due to her snapping and lunging if another dog is nearby. She lived with other dogs in Romania and was fine so it's only since she's been with us that she's started this . I think i have inadvertently made the situation worse as we thought she had kennel cough when she arrived which meant I would tense up and pull her away from off lead dogs that would run up to her (we only walk her in a park where dogs need to be kept on lead but not everyone abides by this!) She still has her cough now and the vet has said it isn't kennel cough so I made the situation worse for nothing .
I could put up with her being scared of other dogs if this was her only problem but she has recently started becoming aggressive towards visitors to the house and i'm really scared she will bite someone. I have thought about crate training her so she could go in a crate when people come round but i'm not sure how practical this is if my kids want to have friends round for the day or to sleep over. Also my son is on the autistic spectrum and has adhd so it's highly possible he would let her out of her cage if I wasn't in the room.
She is the sweetest, most loving dog when she is at home with just family and I love her so much but I just don't know if I can cope with this for the next 10-15 years. I feel she would be better in a home with experienced dog owners that don't have lots of children visiting. I also think she needs an older dog to lead her and show how to behave around other dogs. We have been taking her to training classes but it isn't helping and I can't afford a behaviorist. I don't know what to do for the best, I don't want to give her up but I don't think i can live life like this either. I feel really out of my depth.
Short term, are you using a muzzle to prevent her actually biting?
What about yellow dog scheme while you are out? And yes, a muzzle
Do the rescue you got her from offer support?
Does your insurance cover a behaviourist? (some do).
Have you actually contacted any behaviourists? As some offer reduced rates for rescue dogs...also do you realise that it's a one off payment and you then implement the behaviour plan, the next session would only be as and when needed, not regularly.
No i haven't got her a muzzle as I always keep her on a lead when we're out and if we have visitors i shut her in another room but I am thinking a crate would be more secure. I walk her in a park where dogs are supposed to be kept on a lead but if I see another dog loose we try and avoid them. Most of the time she won't try and get to another dog unless it comes up to her first. I really don't want to be walking a dog with a muzzle as i think people will think badly of her and me. Her aggression is fear based, she will tremble and shake. She is worse with men and will be shaking like a leaf the whole time someone is here. I have heard of the yellow dog scheme but apparently a lot of people don't know about it so i'm not sure how effective it would be...
I am using a dog trainer who advised that we get between her and the other dog and say "no" loudly but this isn't working. In fact it seems to have made her worse. I contacted the rescue who suggested we try and offer her treats as a distraction and avoid other dogs wherever possible. This is working better for us but I don't want to live like this forever, I find walking her a constant source of stress and anxiety and I got a dog so that I could enjoy it which i'm not.
I will look into behaviorists, I didn't realise some of them offered reduced rates for rescue dogs. I am not sure we can cure her though as surely it is just a case of managing her behavior rather than curing her? I am a very anxious person by nature so I think i'm probably making her worse. As much as I love her i'm not sure i'm the right person to help her.
I feel your pain!
I am a bit further along with various dogs with issues. We have one that has to be kept on the lead.
I got a tabard from Amazon for about £6 and I wear it saying 'space please'. Money well spent as its high vis.
I found the yellow dog scheme bandana encouraged people to lean in for a closer look
"I am not sure we can cure her though as surely it is just a case of managing her behavior rather than curing her?"
Not necessarily whether you're up to it is a different matter, but an assessment from a behaviourist would give you behaviour modification plan and you'll then be able to judge whether you can do that or not.
I'd seriously consider muzzling her though, it'll take about a week to muzzle train her (if you google muzzle training you'll find some videos on it)
It really doesn't matter what people think TBH and if they do think badly of her...well, they'll keep their dogs away and it'll be easier for you anyway.
Anyone worth caring about will ask you about her, those that don't - stuff them.
I do feel for you OP it must be stressful.
At your puppy classes do they get your dog to walk past other dogs in a controlled manner? If not ask if you can do this every time you go. It just entails you passing next to another dog without any interaction likewise other dog passes yours. Dog is then rewarded with treat. Give it a go. I'm sure given time she will learn.
As for muzzle yes I would do this. It will give you peace of mind when out walking even it's only short term,
Have you tried her with any calming remedies like zylkene or rescue remedy, or wearing a thundershirt? I have an extremely nervous, reactive rescue dog and he is much calmer and happier with all of these
I have a rescue and a son with ASD. My behaviourist has been worth her weight in gold. She's helped me see that ds stresses ddog, because his autism makes him unpredictable and hard to read. So we're training ds to be a 'dog detective' and to really watch out for behaviour cues - I didn't know what these were myself! She's also helped us create 'rules' to keep everyone safe.
My dog came directly from a family btw, he wasn't a stray. I know his history back to front (which you can't do with a stray) and he's still got his issues. I can't recommend a behaviouralist enough. Mine gave a discount and some work directly with rescues.
I have a rescue who did the same thing, was perfect with other dogs and then all of a sudden was incredibly reactive to them.
He doesn't like big black dogs, labradors and most importantly dogs who have bad manners. So if they come running at him head on he will freak out. Same if they approach too quickly and don't let him sniff first. His reaction is also worse when he is on the lead because he can't run away so will try to bite the other dog.
So now I feed him the majority of his meals while walking. Anytime a dog is near and he has spotted it I keep the lead loose and say in a happy voice, "it's a puppy! good boy!" then throw down a handful of food for him to eat and so he is turned away from the approaching dog. I make sure to scatter it so he really has to work to find it all. The combination of food and then sniffing keeps him calm and he is OK with dogs passing closely. He no longer needs a muzzle and is now happy to greet smaller dogs and he has a few doggy pals. However, his reaction can sometimes still be quite severe (very loud barking and a few growls and snarls) with certain types of dog that just run straight up to him and give me no time to scatter food.
For your dogs other issue I think a behaviourist would be the way to go but in the mean time a crate would probably be a good option. It would be a nice, safe space for her where she doesn't have to worry about strangers. So just avoid the problem until it can be addressed by a professional.
My daughter had a rescue dog from Romania and had exactly the same issues. Sam was hyperactive, a chewer and suffered from anxiety issues about people, traffic and other dogs. He would bark hysterically at small children. She tried everything; treat based reward system (a failure), medication from the vet (a failure), working with a behaviourist (a failure), working with the charity who brought him into the country (a failure). To top it all Sam made my autistic grandson's behaviour worse as Sam used to jump on top of him and nip him. Finally my daughter admitted defeat and asked the charity to take him back. The charity refused and she ended up taking him to a rescue centre where he was rehomed. His new family have older children at university, the daughter is training to be a vet, and her persistence with Sam has paid dividends. He is much more settled. My daughter was heartbroken for over a year about her failure with Sam. She now has a Dalmatian that she bought as a puppy who is superb with the grandkids and has no issues.
My advice would be to get your dog re-adopted into another home. Your instincts are right on this. Sometimes, no matter how much we love them, certain dogs and breeds have different requirements that might not suit your family setting. It's sad, but you are not alone in this.
Thanks for your advice. I ordered a crate from Amazon which came today so going to try that for when visitors come round and see how we go. I do feel out of my depth but I don't think I could give her up as I love her too much.
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