Bonding with rescue dog

(45 Posts)
distantdog Thu 16-Aug-18 10:00:04

I know it's very early days, but DH (and I) has had a rescue dog (1 year old girl) for coming up to two weeks. She was very nervous when she came but every day grew happier and bolder.

As I say it's very early days but the issue we have is that she is still very wary of DH but she attached to me very strongly within 48 hours. We both work from home so are around a lot and together but she is suppose to be DH's dog!

He gives her all her food and treats and takes her out 80-90% of the time. He isn't heavy-footed (though he is very tall) and is so, so gentle with her but he barely gets a flicker of the tail or much interest from her at all, whereas she will follow me everywhere, sit next to me, sit outside doors whimpering if I'm in a room with the door shut (e.g. the bathroom).

As far as we are aware she has only ever had a female owner since she her pregnant mum was found on the street, so we assume it has much to do with this.

Anyone got any advice on how we can encourage her to attach to DH more? I don't want to ignore her as she needs to feel secure here (and I love her too), but equally I don't want to encourage her to continue to only come to me for fuss and attention when it's really DH who wants that role, not me!

OP’s posts: |
distantdog Thu 16-Aug-18 10:07:38

When I say "very wary" of DH - there have been occasions when she has seemed to want to approach him but then backs away at the last minute. She does follow him sometimes but keeps her distance and trots away if he turns around and notices that she has followed.

She is not cowering from him but she won't come and sit next to him when she is on her own with him and will go and wait by the front door for me to return, whereas she will actively seek me out and try to get on the sofa next to me etc. In theory she's not allowed on the sofa but I let her on last night and got DH to come and sit in between us gently and slowly and she immediately jumped off!

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Nesssie Thu 16-Aug-18 10:22:07

I would just carry on as normal, if he's doing most the work. It'll just take time and if she's only use to female owners, then men may be scary for her. Don't pressure her to go up to him, just go about a normal routine.

If you are thinking of taking her to training classes then that can build a nice relationship between dog and owner.

Hazardswan Thu 16-Aug-18 10:24:30

Is he coming across as a bit needy for her affection? It might be to intense esp for a rescue. Your laid back vibe might be suiting her more. Also of course she's going to like you, you let her on the sofa grin

She'll warm up to him im sure but she may just always like you that little bit extra.

Hecksonaplane Thu 16-Aug-18 10:25:46

Aww you've done a wonderful thing and a picture would be appreciated grin
I'd just say give it time.
We took on a 7 yr old dog 6 years ago (it's his 1st anniversary this week miss him so much) but those first three months he was a tinker. He was my husband's dogs really and at first he was great with him and funny with me but also no personality.
We had no real idea what he was thinking, we used to say he was the dog version of eeyore!
I got someone in from his breed rescue centre to come see him and check we were doing things right. I used to think how I'd feel if a foreign speaking person came and took me away and I had no way of communicating. It's all so new for your pooch and she's latched on to you, do you have any idea of her history?

Over about three months I saw such a difference in my dog, it happened in stages but it was noticeable and a joy to see! He was totally all for me in the end, my shadow grin

So, I think your husband should just chat to her and carry on what hes doing.

Sorry that was epic, did not mean to talk all about me and mine!

BiteyShark Thu 16-Aug-18 10:26:09

I agree with PP in that don't force it but continue as normal. Training is great for strengthing that bond so when she has settled and has a bit more confidence with your DH he could start to do some training with her.

OliviaBenson Thu 16-Aug-18 10:29:35

Sounds like you just need to continue as you are. Maybe he could play games with your dog to help build a bond too?


distantdog Thu 16-Aug-18 10:31:28

Yes I think maybe he is a bit "needy" even in his gentleness! I am a bit more robust with her and that's probably made her feel more confident to jump up at me etc. Plus I'm quite short and he is 6ft 6 and I think looms over her a bit! Doggie and DH training classes sounds like a great bonding exercise - especially as I'm too lazy to do it whereas he is just so KEEN that she loves him back! Bless. I think we both had visions of this being his new best buddy (we are both mad dog lovers but I didn't want the responsibility and he's been working on me for years to relent to get one) but she seems to have decided I'm the safe one pretty early on!

Thank you for advice and responses - really appreciate them!

OP’s posts: |
distantdog Thu 16-Aug-18 10:33:31

Olivia, yes I thought playing games with her would be their definite bonding moment... but she's got no interest in playing games! We've got her various things to chew (though she prefers shoes and cushions!!), a rope ball thing for tug of war, a ball... nope no interest! How do you teach a dog to play fetch?

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elQuintoConyo Thu 16-Aug-18 10:39:32

Chicken. It's the answer to everything.

Our rescue is suspicious of anyone over 1m50. She was found on the streets at 1yo, fostered by a nice woman with a greyhound for 2 weeks, then we adopted her. God knows what happened in her short life before us <shudder to think> but it took a while for her to trust us.

We started off by feeding, walking, tempting with chicken for a small chin tickle. But lots and lots of backing off and providing safe places for her (to eat and sleep away from then-5yo).

When she came, she sat in the garden whimpering and refused to come in. I got DH to take DS to bed and put a bit of my chicken dinner near her. After about 2 hours i'd got her in with the front door shut. Still whimpering sad

Nearly 2 years now and she's fabulous with all of us - still partial to chicken! Weirdly she prefers me slightly to DH which is odd as he does more walking.

Be patient, it will come brew

BiteyShark Thu 16-Aug-18 10:42:35

I can only tell you how I started with my gundog who naturally like fetching.

As a puppy we were taught to sit in a corridor and throw a ball. Because you are sitting down often they can't resist getting the ball and then coming and walking all over you. Don't take the ball away straight away if she comes back but gently make a bit of a fuss of her whilst she is playing or chewing it. Then you can gently take it back and throw it again. Do this a couple of times and then stop as you don't want it to get boring. Once she has the hang of it you can move to the garden, then when she is happy there you move to a park etc.

distantdog Thu 16-Aug-18 10:43:14

Hecks - sorry i somehow missed your post there. That's very reassuring to hear that it takes a few months for their true personality to come out. She did have a plane journey + 10 hour car journey to get here and I think it must all still be very new for her! The mum and litter were found on the street when she was very tiny and they were all absolutely covered in tick bites. They were taken in a treated by a woman who rescues street dogs, and I think spent one year being surrounded by lots of other dogs and this woman - now she's in a foreign country and it's just me and DH for company! She definitely gets a bit bolder each day - I think she's secretly an absolute pest who is just pretending to be sweet and shy at the moment! grin

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elQuintoConyo Thu 16-Aug-18 10:43:40

Oh, and she obviously had no chance to be a puppy as she is clueless when it comes to toys and playing fetch. Heartbreakkng, but she loves the beach and digging and running around DS, that's her form of play.

distantdog Thu 16-Aug-18 10:47:41

Our rescue is suspicious of anyone over 1m50

Yes, I really do think his 2m height might be an issue here! But again, so reassuring to hear that it will come.

Bitey - I did try similar with her (when it was just me and she was in playful mode). Just sniffs the ball, then ignores it and comes for a cuddle!

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LonnyVonnyWilsonFrickett Thu 16-Aug-18 10:51:44

Rescues take a really, really long time to settle - even if they've come from a loving home (our DDog was a straight rehome, rather than coming from any trauma).

DDog was exactly the same when we first got him and I don't necessarily think it's proper attachment, I think it was fear bonding - fear that he'd be moved on again if he didn't stick close to me. Also (I'm not really a doggy person) I didn't put any demands on him - I'm at home but I work, so I'm literally 'hiya dog, that you on the couch, awesome, I've got to work' whereas DH was 'play, play, play?'

Two years in and I literally do not get a look in. Honestly, I'm the invisible parent. So just chill, do what you're doing and the dog will work out what side its bread is buttered on soon enough.

BiteyShark Thu 16-Aug-18 10:51:58

Is she interested in the ball if you move it about the floor in your hand or move a tug toy on the floor like you would do with a kitten iykwim?

I am trying to get my dog interested enough to play with a tug toy (rather than a ball) for agility so I have to waggle it about like a snake on the floor and make exciting noises otherwise he isn't interested.

distantdog Thu 16-Aug-18 10:58:28

Ha ha Lonny - that's what I want to hear! Yes totally agree that it is fear/security attachment rather than true love!!

Bitey - the closest we got was me rolling it about on the floor as I sat by her bed with her watching, and then when I gently tossed it into her bed she did have a bit of a claw and a chew for about 5-10 seconds then lost interest. We introduced her to a kong and I think she gave up when she realised the ball didn't have treats in it!

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Aprilshowersinaugust Thu 16-Aug-18 11:02:59

When I met dh I had a ddog, they bonded over cuddles both lying on the floor!
Dh is 6'4 but on doggy level they were great!!

CMOTDibbler Thu 16-Aug-18 11:06:28

It just takes time, and if she's not known any men then she will be wary of them. Keep going as you are with dh giving her the extra special treats, but also being aware to not be in her face looking for attention. My wary foster pups like to sidle up to you when you are sitting and gently expand to touch you without you reaching out to them all the time

bertiecharles Thu 16-Aug-18 12:08:54

We've had our rescue for 6 months- he's only a year and as far as we know was neglected. He's a little dog but really shy with all adults, we're sure it's height- he'll greet and play with children no problem but adults are generally barked at and backed away from at high speed!

However, once he gets to know you- it took him a good couple of months to warm up to us, and now takes at least 6 meetings with an adult before he will approach them, e is he most loving and excited dog!

Patience and perseverance, and don't be too overwhelming- also, we found that down in front is lots less daunting than leaning over for a head pat!

DogInATent Thu 16-Aug-18 14:22:34

We've been lucky with our rescue staffy in that respect, she accepted us straight away and gave both of us equal attention. It was a good 4 weeks or so before she started to get excited upon seeing us. It's early days yet, just keep going as you are.

But I think she's something in common with yours, she didn't know how to play. She'll now occasionally have a game of tug. Will run after the tug if thrown but shows little interest in fetch. Tennis balls took a while before she'd interact with them - now they last about 5 minutes before she destroys them...

distantdog Thu 16-Aug-18 15:21:31

Thanks again for all advice and stories about your own rescue pups too - it's really helpful and have relayed to DH that we just need to be a bit patient and that she will warm up him.

The first two nights we had her she slept on her bed in the living room and in the morning would give either one of us a little tail wag when we walked in. Then suddenly she insisted on sleeping outside our bedroom. We left the door open and she would not come in if DH was in the room too so that was ok. Then she started to get a little bit bolder about wanting to come in the room with me, so we put a pet gate there so she can see into the room and she now has a sleeping blanket outside our bedroom and happily does her night time sleeping there and her daytime sleeping on her bed in the living room.

Poor old DH gets up to take her out and give her her breakfast and just gets a tiny flicker of a wag and a raised eyebrow. I then get up to put the coffee on and get full jumping up and down, tail wagging madly, HI! HI! HI! treatment!

But, got to keep reminding ourselves it's only been 2 weeks! We had been intending on going on a "staycation" somewhere in a month or so for some autumn country walks, but now thinking it's too soon and we've got to really let her settle here before putting her in a car and driving her off to a new place so soon after her journey to us.

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Hecksonaplane Thu 16-Aug-18 17:39:05

Ah no bother Distantdog , sounds like your pooch has had quite a start in life but also despite this sounds like she's doing very well!

I imagine she knows what she's doing, she has herself a man slave grin she's making the most of it! In all seriousness, reading pp advice shell get there and most likely soon too..

Best of luck to you all

DogInATent Thu 16-Aug-18 18:03:51

Two weeks in is maybe a little soon for a staycation, but have you tested how she is in the car?

We're just three months in, and have already done two weeks (two separate weeks) camping already - nothing like sharing a tent to bond with a new dog! Another month may or may not be too soon, it's entirely down to the dog.

Some breeds do settle quickly, but with a rescue you're never entirely sure of their history (or if you do know the history, the true impact it;s had on them) so you just need to play it by ear and not push either yourselves or the dog too fast too soon.

Btw, our dog will barely raise an eye brow when my wife gets up to make the coffee but will bounce like a loon when I show signs of going downstairs - easily explainable, I do the morning walk and she's intensely walk-motivated. If you know what motivates her an divide that between yourself and your husband you may find that her attention/affection is divided along similar lines.

dippywhentired Thu 16-Aug-18 18:15:54

I foster dogs for a charity and one of them we had for 3 weeks. She loved me and the kids, but barked like crazy at my DH, who is also v tall. She wasn't interested in toys/balls, etc. at all when she was with us, but I've heard from her adopters that she now plays with both, so just give it time. Also, if she has a Kong, you can put peanut butter in it and freeze it. Dogs love it!

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