New rescue dog - support and ideas needed!

(22 Posts)
ImaginingDragons Mon 02-Sep-19 13:34:46

Apologies for the length of post!
We have recently adopted a 10 month old GSD/Collie cross, but we are at the stage where nothing seems to be working and we have had lots of conflicting advice. Also, he is very aggressive with resource guarding and has bitten my son and me quite badly.

We were fully aware that for his age and breed that he would be lively, but that is what we wanted in a dog - we were told he likes lots of long walks, mental stimulation, lots of people being around (busy household). We were given a timetable for walks and play which we stuck to. However, he was becoming more and more rough in his play, jumping, mouthing etc. I spoke to the rescue behaviourist and apparently we were doing it all wrong, he was wired on cortisol and needed 18 hours sleep a day! We have reined everything back, and he has seemed better, but evenings and nights are still challenging, won't settle, roughhouses at 2am.

He obviously needs exercise and play, but we are questioning everything we do - is it too stimulating or not enough? We have had him for 11 days, so still early days, was just looking for any ideas how to provide what he needs?

A behaviourist is coming out to see him but not for another 10 days.

We are also feeling disappointed that the description given by the rescue centre seems to be the complete opposite to the dog we have. We were told he 'nipped' the previous owner in an incident where a cat was getting his food - completely understandable, leave him alone while he's eating. We then found out from the centre after the aggressive biting of my son and I that this had happened before - not what I would call a 'nip', and certainly not a dog described as suitable to be around children!

Thank you for taking the time to read, any suggestions gratefully received!

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HungryHiker Mon 02-Sep-19 13:57:59

Is the rescue you got him from Dog's Trust by any chance?

I only ask because we adopted a 10 month old from our local DT center. We were strict with what we were looking for and they said this pup was perfect.

Long story short, they lied. And didn't tell us the pup had already been returned!

I spent every day in tears at one point on the phone to their center speaking with a behaviourist. Nothing they suggested helped. It was all so conflicting advice wise - don't over stimulate or under exercise, don't under stimulate or over exercise, they should sleep 18 hours but have plenty of interaction, distract when they're misbehaving but don't reward with attention, etc etc.

The visit from them just repeated all the same advice, none of which helped when we tried.

Sadly we had to return the poor dog as we just were totally the wrong household for it. He's very happily re-homed now so it was the best decision - just wanted to say I feel for you!

Our rescue had many, many issues but was never aggressive or bit - are you sure it's genuine aggression rather than energetic puppy mouthing?

HungryHiker Mon 02-Sep-19 13:59:58

Oh if it is the Dog Trust, ring them and tell them you're returning him immediately; the behaviourist will magically be available sooner and you'll be offered a visit this week.

Scattyhattie Mon 02-Sep-19 14:00:01

Tbh I think you should return this dog, if its bitten both you & ds badly rather than a warning/over excited nip as it sounds like your the wrong home for this dog.

Most rescue tend to be over cautious with any bite history even if believe it likely to fictitious to justify rehoming, so definitely wouldn't then home with a child & make adopter aware as is often a situational problem & solved by a different home. Its good they're sending out a behaviourist but it seems they've dropped the ball & better to reclaim dog back for further assessment than put at risk of further bites happening.

CokeZeroHero Mon 02-Sep-19 14:00:40

If he's bitten you and your son ( who I hope is your adult son and not a child) then he needs to be returned. Are you mad?

Booboostwo Mon 02-Sep-19 14:36:16

Start with the most important thing: this dog bit someone before you got him and has now bitten your son and yourself (in two separate incidents?). I assume you mean these were purposeful bites (did he break skin) and not the dog catching you while playing, pulling at your clothes, trying to grab a toy, etc.

Are you competent enough to deal with what sounds like a very challenging dog? How old are your DCs? Will they be able to stay safe around a challenging dog?

Getting a behaviourist in is always a good idea, and no one can assess the dog from the internet, but going by his biting history alone you may have a dangerous dog on your hands. Please think long and hard whether this is something you can deal with. Also be very very careful until the behaviourist gets to you.

ImaginingDragons Mon 02-Sep-19 14:57:57

Thank you everyone, I think you have summed up what I knew deep down, I don't think we can keep him.

It was Dogs Trust, but he had only been in kennels for 10 days, so maybe not time enough to assess him properly? It was my adult son that was bitten, through a hoodie so did not break the skin for him, but did for me (separate incident) . We don't have young children in the home, that's just how he was described. The biting was very different from rough play - my DH came running downstairs as the noise was so different.

OP’s posts: |


HungryHiker Mon 02-Sep-19 15:07:55

Sorry to hear that, OP. Definitely sounds like a serious issue, no one would judge you for returning him.

How long have you had the him for?

HungryHiker Mon 02-Sep-19 15:08:32

*him, not 'the him'! blush

ImaginingDragons Mon 02-Sep-19 15:18:20

We've only had him for 11 days, so still early days. It seems like he is the complete opposite of the dog we thought we were getting - maybe with the right owners he might be happier.

We have been told that if he gets anything that is not 'poisonous or precious' to let him have it - sonetimes he can be distracted, but it means that he is not being taught boundaries. He has today learnt to jump over the baby gate, so nowhere is out of bounds!

We lost our Labrador earlier in the year, we are

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ImaginingDragons Mon 02-Sep-19 15:19:47

Sorry, posted too soon - we have a lot to give as a family, it all just feels so difficult!

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HungryHiker Mon 02-Sep-19 15:29:29

It seems like he is the complete opposite of the dog we thought we were getting

If it helps at all, I felt the same after bringing our Dogs Trust rescue pup home.

His description on his page and from what the staff said just did not match the dog we had. At all.

11 days isn't long, but it's long enough to know when the fit is really wrong. We kept ours for 2 months, trying everything we could.

My only regret now is we didn't return him sooner - I think when you know it's the wrong fit, it's heartbreaking but there's nothing you can do to change it.

Good luck with whatever you decide, I know how horrible it is to make that phone call. The staff were surprisingly lovely when we returned ours; they agreed we were the wrong fit and even offered a refund (I didn't accept, felt wrong) - it was tough but no where near as hard as I'd thought.

Veterinari Mon 02-Sep-19 15:30:46

The behaviourist is right in that sleep is important, as is reinforcing calm, quiet behaviour. This of course should be interspersed with appropriate exercise.

11 days is still very soon and he won’t know his head from his tail! Focus on going back to basics: basic clicker training for obedience - sit, stay, lie down, heel, wait, paw etc. Repeat these sessions frequently through the day and use them to build your relationship with him. Practice recall around the house and garden. Remove any high value items that may cause resource guarding. Avoid rough-housing.

Teach a leave command to avoid accidental overexcited biting when ball throwing.

How did he bite you/your son? Ensure he's Completely I disturbed when eating. Resource guarding can be counter conditioned fairly well but it takes time and trust.

It sounds like he needs some work but is young and has the potential to come through - it really depends on whether you feel you can invest the work/time he needs

Raphael34 Mon 02-Sep-19 15:37:03

You need to return this dog immediately! How dare this rescue place you and your child in danger! This dog is not suitable for your, or perhaps any family. If he can be rehabilitated with a behaviourist then it needs to be done at the rescue where he is not going to be a danger to anyone else. Even if you did wait another ten days for the behaviourist, they are not going to wave a magic wand and fix him. You will be living with a very dangerous animal with no guarantee the aggression will stop. I personally can’t believe you didn’t return him the second he attacked your child

Bookworm4 Mon 02-Sep-19 15:51:57

I would look for a local recommended behaviourist rather than DT one

Veterinari Mon 02-Sep-19 17:37:51

I personally can’t believe you didn’t return him the second he attacked your child

Did you read the part where the ‘child’ Is an adult male? hmm

sillysmiles Mon 02-Sep-19 17:46:29

What do you think this dog needs? As in do you think he is over stimulated or under exercised? You've had dogs before - watch his body language and trust your instincts.
Also I think in your situation I'd be getting an independent behaviorist in.
Also - it is only 10 days.

He may be the wrong dog for you but personally, I'd try a behaviourist first before anything drastic.

GrumpyMiddleAgedWoman Mon 02-Sep-19 20:00:36

This dog - a combo of two quite high-input breeds - has bitten two people in 11 days. I'd be seeing a behaviourist tomorrow, and considering returning the dog if I didn't see a dramatic improvement within a few weeks.

How is he with strangers and other dogs? Because that would also influence my decision. Dogs that have to be kept away from other dogs are bloody hard work.

Raphael34 Mon 02-Sep-19 21:27:44

Yes I did read the part where her child was an adult male. Does that mean it’s ok for the dog to bite him? I don’t get what difference it makes what ages the people are that the dogs attacking. And certainly not the sex. Would it be worse if the op’s child was an adult female??

redthefraggle Tue 03-Sep-19 11:30:04

We have a GSD/Collie cross, also from Dog's Trust. We've found that mental stimualtion is as important as physical activity, if not slightly more so. Lots of back to basic training, teaching 'tricks' and treat based hiding games seemed to do the trick as they are a very intellegent breed and prone to boredom. Ours did come with a number of issues based around nervousness and had the potential to be a very highly strung dog but once the puppy months passed is one of the most placid dogs I've ever owned; we've had her for just over four years now. However, not saying that this will be the case for you and if it's not the right fit for your family it would be best long term if you returned him.
Vetinari's advice is excellent.

ImaginingDragons Tue 03-Sep-19 21:59:46

Thank you everyone for all your wise words, lots to consider and things to try. We are all devastated at the thought of giving him up, but I don't think I could have a dog that I couldn't trust.

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redthefraggle Wed 04-Sep-19 15:24:54

There's a Shollie owners group on FB that may be able to offer you some more specific advice, though be warned, there's a lot of showing off photos.

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