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Adopting a troubled dog

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Sus, Jul 11, 2022.

  1. Sus

    Sus New Member Registered

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    Have taken over the care of an 8 yr old small jack russel type dog who is overweight, scared, stressed and unhappy. Her owner was an old lady who had medical problems and ended up in hospital and can now no longer care for Biddy
    She had not been walked at all for a long time and her owner had frequent falls at home so whether this scared her I do not know
    Her tail never goes all the way up, she cowers down in a submissive way when you greet her. If I say her name she freezes and turns her head away. She always looks terrified. I think she had a hard homelife the last few years and has been passed around 2 homes in the last 3 weeks before coming to me
    Have got app with vet tomorrow for general check, in the meantime I have been taking her out for frequent short walks, will do longer ones when I know how far she can go
    She likes playing ball in the garden but her tail still doesnt come straight up
    I am feeding her only dog food, no snacks
    I was advised to buy her a donut bed which she loved from day one and an anti stress spray which does not seem to have done anything
    I think my main concern is that she loses weight but without going hungry and for her to relax and become more confident
    She may never be able to get over her past completely but I want to do the best i can for her without causing her any more stress
     
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    If you are looking for suggestions (and I'm not sure whether you are, or just introducing her; so forgive me I feel I have misinterpreted this) I'd start by capturing and rewarding any engagement with you.

    So any time she looks in your direction, give her a calm 'good girl' and toss a treat away from you. That may sound counterintuitive but tossing it away from you means she doesn't have the conflicting drives of wanting the treat but having to approach you to get it.

    I know you want her to lose weight but right now, building a bond is perhaps more important. You could use tiny pieces of lean meat which won't add too much to her intake.

    I'd also suggest being very conscious of your own body language, remember direct eye contact or being face on is quite intimidating to a dog.
     
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  3. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Oh, and this

    download.png
     
  4. Sus

    Sus New Member Registered

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    Thank you so much Joanne for your advice, I welcome any tips or suggestions. That is a good point about her weight at this time, I have just given her some chicken I had in fridge. I will definitely get her some treats next. I am trying to let her do everything at her own pace but realise I am probably pushing her a little. I will back off for now. She just looks so scared most of the time. Will try to be far more patient
     
  5. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    To remove as much pressure as possible, you might even avoid making direct eye contact with her (by all means respond if she makes eye contact with you, but keep it brief). Any interaction should be on her terms, so let her tell you if she wants to play, or to go for a walk.
     
  6. Sus

    Sus New Member Registered

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    Thanks Judy I realise now that I have been making too much eye contact with her and trying too hard to get her to connect with me. Will back off and let her do her own thing.
     
  7. Tinytom

    Tinytom Well-Known Member Registered

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    We have a very nervous jack Russell who we have had since he was 12 weeks old ...he has lots of exercise but we have always had trouble keeping his weight down ...he is now on royal canin satiety I know alot of people dislike this food but it works for him and he is actually calmer on it as it makes him feel fuller to any other food (my others have raw food)
    He can be anxious in new situations...we let him do what he likes as pushing him only makes him more unsettled..
    Great that you have rescued this girl and I'm sure she will come around in time ...what about giving her a new name to match her new life
     
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  8. Flobo

    Flobo Well-Known Member Registered Partner

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    Really lovely to hear you've adopted this troubled little soul. I can't really add anything other than reiterate that patience and keeping a calm environment for her is key. It is very early days and as you said you are her 3rd home in as many weeks on top of whatever went on with her original owner. She's taken to the lovely bed you have provided and is playing ball a little in the garden, two small but positive steps...you sound like a very understanding person who only wants the best for this little dog, take one day at a time and at her pace and fingers crossed in time you will see her start to relax with you and that little tail may wag again!
     
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  9. Hemlock

    Hemlock Well-Known Member Registered

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    As others have said: this will take time. Less is more with these troubled little souls. Re: her name - it may have been used in ways that distressed her previously. They quickly associate the old name with being screamed at or punished. No harm at all in either changing it or temporarily using other words "here's your dinner, little one" stuff like that. Many years ago I took on a terrified young lurcher who had two previous names, and I changed hers straight away.

    The hardest thing to do is nothing - or almost nothing - the more you try to be friendly, the more nervous she is likely to be. Like waiting for the fallout again! Keep contact to a minimum, let her progress in her own time, and it won't be long before you discover her snuggled up to you.
     
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  10. Sus

    Sus New Member Registered

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  11. Sus

    Sus New Member Registered

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    Thank you all for your replies and positive thoughts and suggestions. I am trying my best now to not fuss and just let her do her thing but the most weird thing has just happened.
    I waited till later this evening when it had cooled down a bit to take her out again and decided to just let her go where she wanted and she certainly did, not where I would have gone, down towards town, through a car park and up many steps before I directed her towards home
    When we got in she obviously wanted something so i started to open a pouch of food for her when she just ran away and I heard her running upstairs where she knows she should not go. I went after her and could not find her at first and even came back down to search garden, went back upstairs and found her cowering under the bed in spare bedroom right up against bedside table which is why I did not see her first time.
    She has not done this before and I cannot work out why she did that. I carried her downstairs and let her go into her cave like bed (I have kept it so that she can go in there to hide when she wants) She stayed there for about 5 mins and has now come out and is sleeping by my feet (I put a fleece there hoping she would settle there for comfort)
    I do not know what to think, there was nothing that I can think of that frightened her and so do not know how to avoid that happening again
     
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  12. Tinytom

    Tinytom Well-Known Member Registered

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    I wouldn't over think any of her behaviours at the moment and I wouldn't even worry about taking her outside if it makes her feel insecure until she feels more secure at home ...it will be baby steps and her weight loss will come when she feels comfortable...
     
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  13. Sus

    Sus New Member Registered

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    Re changing her name. I am not sure about that, she has had that name for 8 years and though she has not had the best life for a while her owners did not deliberately mistreat her. When they got her as a pup they were both elderly but fit and active. Over time the male owner became ill with parkinsons and other health problems had a few falls and hospital admissions and sadly died. His wife remained active after his death but then became ill herself and was badly let down by the local hospital. She was obviously neglected but not in an intentional or horrible way.
    I'm still finding it hard to know what to do for the best.
     
  14. Tinytom

    Tinytom Well-Known Member Registered

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    Lots of older dogs are found stray and receive new names with which they happily respond to if ger name is biddy you could try milly ...betty ...something that sounds similar ...
     
  15. Hemlock

    Hemlock Well-Known Member Registered

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    A baby gate at the bottom of the stairs will prevent her going upstairs to hide. Under something and pressed up against a wall is typical of animals/humans who have been overwhelmed (not saying you overwhelmed her - just that sometimes we think we can cope and suddenly can't, and it's the same for animals).
     
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  16. RGC

    RGC Well-Known Member Registered

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    You’d probably be surprised how far you’ve come within just a few days. I can’t add anything re helping your situation apart from endorsing what others have said. For what it’s worth we took on Mabel in November 2019. She was 3.5 at the time, grossly overweight (19kg), frightened and very unhappy. In the car she’d start shaking, drool and then throw up so I walked her everywhere. We were her third home. For the first two months I had my head in my hands wondering what in God’s name what had I done - we’d had two rescued whippets before with no such major problems. Mabel showed big improvement before too long. Although still nervous and suspicious, within a few months she settled. She realised that car journeys had positive results - walks, meeting other dogs, etc. - no more throwing up. We gave her a routine which she seemed to appreciate. Never any raised voices. If she destroyed anything that was our fault not hers - she went through Panama hats, my Latin textbook and homework (honest, prof) and drumsticks. At first she bonded with my wife - I was the spawn of Satan. It has only been in the last nine months that she’s started to trust me and now she’s something of a Daddy’s girl. Sorry if you or anyone else has lost the will to live having read so far but the purpose of this screed is to demonstrate that from the perceived mother of all blunders we’ve come through. I’m sure that you will. Just takes patience and calm. Best of luck.
     
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  17. Sus

    Sus New Member Registered

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    Thank you so much RGC it is so comforting to know that nervous unhappy dogs can come good. Am going to post an update on new thread as have been advised that folk maybe do not pick up an old thread
     
  18. Sus

    Sus New Member Registered

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    Does not appear that I can start a new post so will carry this one on
    It is 12 days since I have had Biddy now. She is still nervous frightened and anxious although I think she may be a little better, but seems like one step forward and three back
    Been to the vet and she is on antibiotics for a possible tooth abscess, she has to go back in a month for wisdom teeth extraction and scale and polish, I am applying ear wash to her right ear for wax (badly I think) and she has to lose 0.7kg in weight before teeth extraction
    I am feeding her more than the vet advised (which was quite small) but she is now getting lots of exercise so hopefully will be ok
    She has been to the groomers today, even though it would have been so easy to bathe her myself, I cannot do it as I need her to trust me. I also took her ear wash which the groomer agreed to do and told me that i was probably making things worse if I did not act confident when washing her ears (which I was'nt)
    She does not seemed to have gained any confidence, will not come when called, buries her head when she hears her name, will not eat her food until I turn around or leave the room, gets so excited when she sees her lead and wants to go out, but tail is only partly raised when outside, froze twice on walks out and would not move
    Just not sure what to do next, she seems totally contented in her bed at the moment but I just want her to come to me when I call, understand the basics ie sit, stay, lay down
    Any advice welcome as I am a complete novice and am happy to give Biddy a home for life but would just love to be able to leave her off the lead and know she would come back to me
     
  19. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Honestly, it is very early days, and she's having to deal with the vet, ear wash, and groomers, also antibiotics can affect how one feels. And a tooth abcess can be extremely painful. Are the grooming and/or ear washing essential?

    As has been suggested, I would give her a new name, but maybe just don't use a name at all for now - if she's still scared to come to you, the new name could also be seen as negative. Forget about sit, stay and lay down, and recall for now, and keep her on lead until she is happy to come to you more generally (e.g. if you call her to you for a treat). She can't learn while she's scared.

    A friend of mine adopted a traumatised street dog and didn't even make eye contact for a few weeks - the dog would stay in her crate and would only come out at night to eat the food left down for her. It took her months to feel safe, trust her owner and enjoy life. 12 days is nothing.

    Are there any treats that Biddy particularly likes? Maybe cheese or sausage? Something that if you drop it next to her when she is on her bed and then walk away she would eat?
     
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  20. Sus

    Sus New Member Registered

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    Thank you Judy, I guess I am just impatient
    I took her to the groomers because she was really smelly. I realised it would be traumatic but the lady that did it was so kind to her. The vet said her ear needed clearing of wax, maybe I could leave that till a later date
    I will stop using her name from now on
    I have eventually found dog food she likes and have got some low fat treats which she loves, she also loves chicken.
    I just have to learn to wait and let her do things at her own pace which I admit am finding hard, but I will persevere
    It is just so strange as she was never abused by her previous owner, just neglected I think
    I am probably fussing too much and just need to be more laid back
     

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