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New Rescue Dog - 1 week later - have we been doing it all wrong?

Discussion in 'General Dog Forum' started by LeanneBeats, May 2, 2021.

  1. LeanneBeats

    LeanneBeats New Member Registered

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    Hi there
    We rescued a 7 year old ex-stud Beagle last Sunday who has never lived in a house or with a human family before. He seems very anxious but in a very slow and silent way. He lets us touch him, lift his paws, pick him up etc - but i think this is fear tolerance rather than he actually doesn't mind it.
    He's not an affectionate boy yet, LOVES and lives for his food, but is very anxious in the outside world.
    Since he's been with us he sleeps almost all day on the sofa and only moves when we feed him, then he's straight back onto the sofa. We were trying to set him off with a good routine but i think that's put him back a bit and made him withdrawn as he now seems incredibly reluctant to go for walks. We were using treats to lure/bribe him off the sofa to then take him out but he seems to have cottoned on that's what we do. So we now are keeping him on a very simple routine - feeds only as he loves his food and then when he asks to go out - but he never seems to want to and can hold it for so so long!
    What do you think we are doing right and wrong here? We understand it is going to take a very long time for him to adjust but we don't want to start off on a bad footing so want to stop anything bad now.
    He sleeps with us in bed but i wonder if that's because we take him up there and he doesn't know anything else.
    He gets very panty at bed time and overnight, fast breathing but he seems to want fuss sometimes on his belly but perhaps he's just being submissive?
    Any thoughts or comments would be extremely helpful right now. Thank you!
     
  2. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Well done for taking on a dog who is a bit of a 'project' and wanting to do what is right for him. With rescues who have had a difficult past, less is more - let him do what he wants (as far as possible), only give affection if he seems to seek it (which might not happen for some time), let him choose where he sleeps (as long as it's somewhere you're happy for him to sleep long term). Don't walk him if he doesn't seem ready for it, and don't use food to lure him into doing something he doesn't want to do.

    So all pressure off, all demands off, just co-existence and food. Seven days is no time at all, and in a week... or two... or more... you should see him begin to relax as he realise he won't have anything scary imposed on him, and then his real personality can begin to shine through, and he will show you affection (in his way, which might not be the ways you expect - take what he can offer) and trust.

    Be prepared for the chance that he will be relaxed and trusting enough to tell you clearly that he does NOT want to be picked up, handled, have a lead put on or whatever. If that happens, then you'll have to work from scratch on those aspects, e.g. touch a paw and give a treat, repeat, repeat, till he LOVES having his paw touched. But we can give more details on working with things like that if and when they arise. For now, he just needs to learn that he is safe with you and doesn't have to be scared.

    How is housetraining going? Does he only toilet on walks? Do you have a garden, and will he go out there and toilet?
     
  3. LeanneBeats

    LeanneBeats New Member Registered

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    Judy, thank you so much for your kind and thorough response. That has been incredibly helpful and supportive. We're going to write the first week off and start again! And we are happy to start afresh, and learn all again. So yep, we'll keep it very very simple and just play the waiting game :)

    Housetraining seems to be going well, but then he does seem to hold it for so long until he's in the garden. When we were walking him he was going on walks, or whenever we've taken him out into the garden. He's just started to wander out there by himself as we were guiding him with a lead so we are pleased with that. But assume that once he's more comfortable with us, his housetraining may really have to begin as he'll be more happy wandering around the house. Only two wees in the house though and both completely our fault.

    With bed time, we're happy for him to either sleep in the bed or he's got his own bed next to us. Should we encourage him to use his bed and then he's got a choice? at the moment he jumps straight onto the bed, but could this be because this is where we took him to on the first night and he's just assuming that's the place he sleeps now? Also, as he doesn't know bed time is bed time, is it ok to take him upstairs using treats and then that can build a positive association with bed time as well? I'd rather have him sleep where i can see him, but i think he would choose the downstairs sofa if he could! I would be totally happy with him staying there but i won't be able to hear when he wakes up and needs the toilet. In bed with me, i seem to wake when his does (mother's instinct?!) so can then take him outside.
     
  4. LeanneBeats

    LeanneBeats New Member Registered

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    Also, do you think it best we make no eye contact and no talking to him? We do speak to him a lot in very silly high pitched and friendly voices but if it's best we just basically ignore him then that is what we'll have to do. Happy to do whatever is best for him and to make him as stress free as possible. Thanks again!
     
  5. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    I'm not an expert, so someone might know better, but my instinct would be to encourage him to be in your room, on his own bed. As you say, it can be really helpful if you can hear him at night. The advantage of him having his own bed is that some dogs get grumpy if you move around and disturb them when they're asleep - also, jumping on and off the bed won't be great for his joints as he ages. But if he seems to prefer sleeping on your bed and you're happy with that, go for it!

    I think I'd keep eye contact brief, and just use it when you're communicating with him directly, e.g. saying 'Teatime?' And I'd keep your tone of voice low key - friendly, of course, but not high-pitched. He might enjoy that later when he learns to play with you (I'm guessing he doesn't really play at the mo?). And don't talk too much, just use the odd pleasantry, like 'Good morning!' 'You look comfy there', etc. More like you would with your other half, rather than a visiting child.

    Again, I'm not an expert, so if anyone else suggests something different, listen to them too!
     
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  6. LeanneBeats

    LeanneBeats New Member Registered

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    Your advice is really really helpful, thank you, and is a long the lines that i've been reading up on so thank you very much.

    Up for hearing all and any advice, anything to make our boy happy.

    one area that i could do with understanding a bit more about is around the same time each evening his anxiety seems to increase quite drastically - racing breaths, panting a bit, and it's almost like he's having a deep deep dream but sometimes he appears awake. I wonder whether this has something to do with the darkness coming in, and something from his past. OR is it something we are doing? My partner suggests maybe it's because we're all sharing the sofa more in the evening and i'm wondering whether it's because he knows he'll soon be going to bed and fears that? I know it's hard to know without knowing the dog and seeing exactly his and our behaviour but any suggestions are much welcome :)
     
  7. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Have you any idea why he might be anxious about going to bed? You said something in one of your earlier posts about him continuing to sleep on your bed because he thinks that's the expectation - maybe it is too close to you for his comfort. Remember any creature is vulnerable when asleep so there is maybe an instinctive reluctance to sleep with you, but he isn't sure how to tell you 'no'. So, I'd second the idea of having a lovely bed for him near to yours. Reward him for looking at it, sniffing it, stepping into it and lying on it. I'd also make it available downstairs (or have a second one downstairs) so he can use that instead of the sofa.
     
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  8. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    Dogs can sleep with their eyes open, so he may be asleep when he has these moments in the evening. But dogs can also suffer PTSD, and he may have had some bad experiences in the past. As Joanne says, I'd make sure he has a comfy bed downstairs as well as up and hopefully he'll realise he can choose where to settle, and hopefully in time his demons from the past settle down.
     
  9. RGC

    RGC Active Member Registered

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    Well done, LeanneBeats, on adopting a ‘rescue’. I’ve bored everyone on the Forum with my experience with my rescue but, believe me, it’ll get better. Our whippet has two beds - one beside mine and the other in the crate (door never shut) downstairs in the study. At other times she rests wherever there’s access. In the mornings she’ll jump up onto the bed for a roll (on her back, not bread) and a cuddle. Everything’s on her terms - when she wants to be on her own we respect her decision, if she wants a cuddle or fun and games - whooppee, we’ll play with her. We’re currently on a break in Cornwall and it’s almost like having a different dog. 18 months ago she was anxious - car travel was impossible as she’d shake and throw up, playing was out of the question as, once again, she seemed suspicious of any direct eye contact. We’ve now driven for about 5 hours and she slept most of the way as good as gold. As soon as we took her onto the beach she went into hyperdrive as did her tail - I don’t think she’s ever seen a beach before. This is just to let you know that quiet patience has worked with the rescue - relaxed and confident. Still has a way to go but we’re on track. It WILL get better. Once again, hats off to you. Would include a photo but today I can’t get the hang of resizing.
     
  10. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    I was given a tip - if you are on a phone, and take a screenshot of the photo, that's a much smaller file and loads without having to faff around with resizing.
     
  11. RGC

    RGC Active Member Registered

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    Thank you, JoanneF. I need to attend a course for the IT challenged.
     
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  12. LeanneBeats

    LeanneBeats New Member Registered

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    Thank you so so much everyone for your comments and support - i am so grateful for them, and wasn't even expecting a reply let alone the great ones i have received so thank you again for your time.
    We had a bit of a break through over the weekend i feel, i think holding off on the 'scary' walks and just letting him get used to the house, garden and us has really built his confidence - and he's starting to show his cheeky side ;) He played with a tennis ball for the first time with me in the garden, only for about a minute but i was so so pleased. He's also for the first time today ventured off the sofa and has come for a day visit upstairs, all by himself. He's been snoozing on the bed for most of the day, whilst me and my partner work from our offices. So it feels like he wants to be closer to us, but not that close!
    He's also getting very very curious around the house, before he just went from sofa to bowl to outdoors to bed and didn't really venture anywhere else. Now he's getting curious about all the corners, and what we are up to in a room and what we are dealing with. I was telling him how the dishwasher works and what we put in there and he was looking at me as if i was mental! He barked for the first time last night as well - reflection in the window! I'm getting a glimpse of the type of behaviour we'll have to work with eventually - pretty sure he's going to want to 'play' with everything, last night he pulled my hot water bottle out from under the bed!
    So, thank you for letting me know that patience really is key here, and i've started to see that even over the course of a couple of days so it clearly works - it's baby steps, but i'm keeping a diary of all his little milestones and things he's overcoming.
    The night time heavy breathing almost floppiness - someone previously asked what i think that is and i do still get the feeling that he's anxious come the evening because before he would be alone for god knows how many hours and he's getting worked up thinking it's going to happen again. I may be completely wrong, but it comes on when darkness hits and all i can think of is that when he was at the rescue place, the workers would probably go home and then he wouldn't see them until the next morning, and he'd be all alone. I do feel, thankfully, that it's not the anxiety of him sooner having to go sleep in our bedroom because he never seems anxious or reluctant when we all go up, and the reaction to this would be so over the top. I know i can never say for sure what the cause is, but given it happens at the same time in the evening when darkness closes in - i feel like it must be something from his past.

    now he's building confidence around the home, when do you think it would be a good idea to slowly introduce him back into the outdoors? I thought i'd start with just letting him explore the front garden, lots of praise/rewards, and then back in the house, and build this up to just outside the gate and back, just a few metres up the road and back, etc. Does this sound ok?

    Thank you again everyone :)
     
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  13. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Sounds like he is making great progress.

    If he was mine, I wouldn't take him out of the garden just yet. The stress hormone cortisol stays in the body for several days after a major event, or a build up of smaller ones. In humans, it can take 72 hours to clear, in dogs studies are less conclusive. So I'd give him three days from the start of him coming out of his shell.

    But - it really is a judgement, and the best thing you can do is be really aware of his body language. Any hint of being uncomfortable (tension in the ears, around the eyes; or yawning, lip licking) just bring him back. It's when he sees that you are (a) listening to him and (b) respecting his fear and not pushing him, that he will start to develop more confidence because he will realise you are not going to push him too far too fast. So your gradual approach sounds good, as long as he doesn't get conflicted over the rewards - he wants it badly but has to do scary stuff to get it.

    But it sounds like you are doing really well with reading him.

    And we accept payment for advice in the form of photographs! :)
     
  14. JudyN

    JudyN Moderator Moderator Registered

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    I love that you're chatting to him about how the dishwasher works!

    What I would do is work on putting his lead on, and then just sitting in the open front door looking out, or taking him into the front garden on lead if he's confident there. You don't want the lead to become a cue that something scary might happen. Then, open the garden gate and stand there watching the world go by, or just stand on the edge of the pavement depending on the layout of your garden. You want to get to a stage where he can watch cars, people, other dogs, whatever go past without it being a big deal - this is better than if he decides to walk down the road and then something 'scary' appears.
     
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  15. arealhuman

    arealhuman Well-Known Member Registered

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    As someone with a rescue dog, I can relate to your concerns! The only thing I can add to the great advice already given is talking in a smooth, low tone of voice which gradually gets lower seems to wok with our dog, Jimmy. The lowering tone seems to indicate to him that he can relax in the situation he's in. We use chirpy, brighter and quicker speech if he's in a playful mood! As has already been said, letting them do things at their own pace when they feel ready is key, and as you've posted this seems to be paying dividends already.

    Well done on adopting a rescue dog. They can be hard work, but the rewards are worth it :)
     
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  16. Finsky

    Finsky Well-Known Member Registered

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    I've been following your thread and when you mentioned about talking about dishwasher workings, I thought 'YES!'
    In my opinion there is too many dog owners out there that do not talk enough to their dogs. Dogs might not understand many our words but during all that natter they pick up so many glues about us and our way communicating. Even it might not seem so....they do pay attention and what other way there is? Being silent limits their learning only to our behavioural and body language messages. I've seen too many dogs that don't get enough human interaction and they have 'empty eyes', like 'lights are on but there is nobody there'.
    Your dog might not understand much about your talk right now....but given time, you'll be surprised how little you can keep secret from her and you have to start choosing your words carefully around her;) They are more clever than we sometimes give them credit for, but to get there...their brains need exercised. Talking is good....
     
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  17. LeanneBeats

    LeanneBeats New Member Registered

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    Yes i think slowly slowly is the way, and i enjoy talking to him about the things going on and include him in conversations - not expecting an answer of course! but i will definitely talk in lower, calmer voice from now on and only use excitable voice when he seems playful.
    I have a week off next week so will try to start getting him used to lead and outside world again, but very very slowly. I so want to get back out onto our walks as he really enjoyed them when we were out, it was just getting out the house and past the scary road and all things that come with it, but i know that the best thing is to be patience and take baby steps.
     
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  18. JacksDad

    JacksDad Active Member Registered

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    maybe quieter, softer tones with a slower "cadence" to them are better words vs lower. low is a bit close to deep and both low and deep are drifting close to "threatening" tones.
     
  19. JacksDad

    JacksDad Active Member Registered

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    Taking it "slow" is an informal way of saying what trainers call "slicing". Slicing though is more precise because you are choosing a specific small goal and focusing on it until the dog has mastered that level before going to the next. The idea is breaking up the desired behavior into the smallest steps necessary for the dog to succeed, master the step and only then proceed to the next.

    For example, putting on the lead before going out. dog might be ok and even excited. Stepping through the door, same. still happy, excited, yippy we are going for a walk. you take one step forward...oops too much, dog stop being "happy" and wants to go back inside. ok. So you didn't know that one extra step was too much. no biggy, your not evil, just didn't know the dog's threshold yet. Just listen to your dog and go back in. Reset and start over another time.

    The next time you try this, you clip the leash on...treat, treat, treat. you open the door, treat, treat, treat. you take a quarter step out, treat, treat treat and go back in. pause...evaluate your dog. do they appear relaxed, if yes, take that quarter step out again...treat, treat, treat, and turn and go back in. evaluate how your dog did.

    if the dog is happy, taking a step out is a fun, safe game, lots of reinforcement... continue repeating a couple more times. Still doing good, maybe add another quarter step. If still doing good, repeat a couple times, end the session.

    what your are doing is making it safe, fun, and ending before it is too much for your dog. and building it slowly. it might seem slow and small to us, but to a fearful dog those quarter steps might be HUGE and CHALLENGING.

    you always work the dog in front of you, so you might actually be able to work in larger "slices", or you might have to work in even smaller ones. this is where the patience comes in. focus on how the dog is doing "this session" over "last session", that is your measure of progress.
     
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  20. CoCo2014

    CoCo2014 Member Registered

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    Rescue dogs generally take 2 to 4 weeks to decompress, in that time I advise the adopters to build a relationship with their dog by getting the dog to relax using TTouch massage & also start very short clicker training sessions following Karen Pryor & Kikopup
    I wouldn't start exposing him to street/outside walking until you've had him at least 4 weeks & always walk in a harness & lead & collar & lead for safety
     
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