Rescue Dog Having Troubles Adjusting... Help!
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Thread: Rescue Dog Having Troubles Adjusting... Help!

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    Member musapan's Avatar
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    Rescue Dog Having Troubles Adjusting... Help!

    I'm at my wit's end, honestly... I'm constantly stressing about this, and I need some feedback.

    I just adopted a 6 year old doberman/shepard/shar pei mix from the Doberman Rescue. He's a big sweetheart. However, I've never adopted a rescue dog before, and I'm not used to the way he's acting.

    He came home on Friday morning. Of COURSE I knew he'd be anxious/unsure that first day and into the second day... Although he's more comfortable here now, he'll still occasionally walk around the house whining, looking lost, or lay in front of our bedroom door and gently 'woof' at it, as if he hears someone coming. I feel helpless when he looks at me or paws at me, gently whining, because I don't know him well enough yet to know what he wants or how I can make it better!

    His foster mother told me he was very well crate trained... That doesn't seem to be the case. When we put him in his crate, we always end up giving in and letting him out, because he whines and barks to the point that we think he might hurt himself! We've been letting him sleep in our room on his bed on the floor. (Which is okay, we don't mind him sleeping in the house at night, we just wish that he could be crated if we need to leave the house during the day.) I know this is a terrible behavior to teach... That's just teaching him that every time he whines and barks, he gets to come out of his crate, but we really didn't know what else to do.

    He was happy and playing this morning until my fiance left for work... Rex instantly became anxious, although I'm still here. He's whining and staring at the door and pacing around.

    I just really need some feedback about this situation, because I feel at this point like nothing is going to get better. Is he still adjusting to life here? Is he still missing his foster family?

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  3. #2
    Senior Member FilleBelle's Avatar
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    Re: Rescue Dog Having Troubles Adjusting... Help!

    I would say it's going to take considerably more than a weekend for your new dog to adjust, but the more you stress about it yourself, the more he is going to stress. Just know that he'll settle in on his own schedule and relax!

    Some ideas:

    Follow a very structured routine. All dogs like this, but I've found rescues like it especially, since it provides some stability in what is otherwise a volatile situation.

    As far as the crate goes, you have several options. You could just toss him in and wait for him to be quiet. Kind of sucks for you and the dog, though. Instead, you could go back to crate training 101. Invest in Susan Garrett's Crate Games, feed Rex in the crate, and start building up the duration of time he can be in it. Toss a treat in and close the door behind him. Leave him in for a minute or thirty seconds or fifteen seconds or however long he can be in it without fussing, then let him out. Over the course of a couple of weeks, build up that amount of time he can be in the crate without whining. Or you could abandon the crate entirely. When you leave the house during the day, could you put in him a dog safe room instead of the crate?

    You say you feel helpless when Rex comes and paws at you. There's no need to feel that way. Instead of sitting there and feeling sad for the dog, do something! Spend 10 minutes working on a new trick or go for a little walk or take him outside with you while you garden or put a bully stick in his crate and see if he'll chew on it quietly. Your attitude is going to have a profound effect on this dog, so if you are feeling sad and helpless all the time, he's going to feel anxious in response.


    RIP Clifford, who never met a stranger

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    Member musapan's Avatar
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    Re: Rescue Dog Having Troubles Adjusting... Help!

    When he paws at me, I'll strike up a game of fetch or take him outside, so I suppose 'helpless' was a poor choice of words. ^_^ I just hate that he feels out of place at all. DX

    I've been trying to reward him while in the crate, giving him his Kong filled with yummy treats, giving him praise when he goes near it or in it... It's not making much of a difference. I do like the idea of putting him in another room. We'd have to do some moving around, but I think there's a perfect room for him to stay in. He may still whine and feel sad, but I'd feel better if he had the whole room. We'll have to experiement with that and see what happens.

    I'm doing my best not to stress, but I just get that way when it involves my babies! ^_^;; I think I go braindead when something happens with my animals, even if I know that it will be okay in time. XD I'm mostly sad that my kitty is still in hiding... I miss her, she hasn't slept with us for three whole nights!

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    Senior Member FilleBelle's Avatar
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    Re: Rescue Dog Having Troubles Adjusting... Help!

    My #1 dog dislikes my #2 dog enough so that if I am not at home, he refuses to be in the house with her. It's been three months now and I still come home from my night classes to dog #1 standing forlornly in the cold, dark backyard, avoiding dog #2. Dog #2 who, by the way, I have never witnessed interacting with him, let alone in an irritating fashion and who is often locked in the bathroom when I am not at home. The first couple of times this happened, I felt awful. My 13 year old dog kicked out of his own home by this newcomer...

    Then I just started to get irritated.

    I'm not kicking him out. She's not kicking him out. He's kicking himself out. There's no actual reason for him to stand outside in the cold, especially when she's locked in the bathroom. So, you know what? Get over it, dude. I put a dog house out there for him, he can use it if he wants to or he can suck it up and come inside. Some tough love never hurt anyone.


    RIP Clifford, who never met a stranger

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    Member musapan's Avatar
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    Re: Rescue Dog Having Troubles Adjusting... Help!

    That's good advice. ^_^ I have to keep reminding myself that I can't control how they're ('they' being my cat as well as the new dog) acting, all I can do it make sure they're as comfortable as they can be, and know that things will probably work out. I think most of my anxiety is coming from the fact that I haven't *really* seen my cat in days. But I'll have to let it all happen naturally and stop stressing about it.

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    Member bigdoglover620's Avatar
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    Re: Rescue Dog Having Troubles Adjusting... Help!

    I just wanna say thank you for adopting a rescue doggie,also please dont give up it will take time and lots of patience and s consisty.By the way love your doggie's name...lol,thats my dog's name to we also call him Rexy or Rexy poo...LOL.my son loves dinosours and his favorite is the t rex so we named our dog Rex.we rescued him at 6 months old and we had lots of problems its been 15 months he's been with us and people would never thought he had problems.

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    Senior Member spotted nikes's Avatar
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    Re: Rescue Dog Having Troubles Adjusting... Help!

    It'll take time, but make sure you are walking him briskly about 40 min twice a day. There's a lot to be said for getting enough exercise to tire a dog out which will reduce his stress levels and anxiety. Plus it'll help him bond to you, and help him learn to trust you. Make sure you have a collar with ID tags on him that the leash is NOT attached to and then the collar/harness that the leash IS attcahed to. Nothing is worse than having a new dog in an unfamiliar environment slip his collar and have the collar with the id tags dangling at the end of a leash with the scared dog running off the other way.

    Try a peanut butter stuffed frozen KONG for him to chew on in his crate.
    Spay or neuter your pet! Founding President Of Thread Killers Anonymous.

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    Re: Rescue Dog Having Troubles Adjusting... Help!

    This is a little long -

    I am having a similar problem. Two year old Terrier mix - adopted from a No Kill shelter a week ago. Dog (Annie) had been at the shelter for 7-8 months. Prior came from the home of an elderly lady who had three other dogs. The shelter was out in the "country" and we live in the city on and next to some busy streets.
    Annie is very loving, but walks around most of the time with tail between her legs. Will lift her tail and wag when she sees wife or I. Has been spending much of the time "hiding" in small places out of the main "family" room area. Spends parts of her day in a wire "crate" in the family room when we are gone. Does not seem to mind that, though she does not always go into it willingly. Sleeps at night in a bed next to ours. Is scared to go outside into a fully fenced (solid wood fence) yard. If she goes out on a leash she fights to get back in the house. If we get her out the door by herself, she will press her face against the window in the door. Getting her to go potty outside has been a challenge, though in one week she only has had two accidents inside. Every little noise scares her. Trying to get her to walk on a leash is a battle. Walked her for two miles one early morning after we had her a couple days did pretty well. The other day I took her for a walk and after five blocks she had to get home, and drug me all the way back.
    We are trying a "tough love" approach on going outside. We put her outside and then leave the room so she cannot see us. Leave her out for 15-20 minutes and then let her in. This seems to get her to at least potty outside (based on what is in the yard afterward). When outside she will go to any window she can find and try and look in and see if we are there.
    Getting frustrating, but it has only been a week.

    Any other suggestions? My wife ordered a "Thundercoat" for the dog. Figured that we would try that.
    We have had two other dogs previously and their big problems were potty training. They loved to go on walks and go outside by themselves.

    TIA
    MHG in Texas

  10. #9
    Senior Member spotted nikes's Avatar
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    Re: Rescue Dog Having Troubles Adjusting... Help!

    Maybe try a DAP diffuser or a littel Rescue Remedy in her water...

    Teach her a couple of commands inside (Look at me, sit, shake, down, catch), and then when she is good inside, do a little training outside, using high value treats, like tiny pieces of cut up hot dog. Having good experiences outside, will help build her confidence. Right now, she is scared, and being thrown outside by herself to deal with it is only making her more scared. Maybe giving her a peanut butter stuffed frozen KONG outside, while you sit with her (at first) will help her learn to associate the backyard with good things. If you have a friend with a vaccinated healthy, socialized dog, you might see if they'll come over and let them play inside at first, then go outside when she is comfortable with the other dog. Sometimes they can gain confidence with another dog that has the attitude that something isn't a big deal.
    Spay or neuter your pet! Founding President Of Thread Killers Anonymous.

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    Senior Member FilleBelle's Avatar
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    Re: Rescue Dog Having Troubles Adjusting... Help!

    I'm with Spotted Nikes on this one. I probably wouldn't toss her out in the backyard and leave her there without you when she is clearly extremely uncomfortable there. It will only reinforce her idea that the backyard is a bad and scary place to be. Many dogs who have spent time in shelters are reluctant to be alone inside OR outside, presumably because it is so reminiscent of their original abandonment at the pound. I would follow Nike's advice about hanging out in the yard with her and making it a fun place to be. I especially think pairing her up with another friendly and well behaved dog is a great idea!

    As for the walks, don't force her because, again, it will only reinforce her idea that walks are unpleasant. You said after five blocks she's ready to go home. So...walk her for four blocks and then turn around and go back while she's still wanting more! Bring treats and give her one every few steps. I would also suggest waking the same route every time, so that she's not dealing with the stress of a new environment at the same time as she's dealing with the stress of walking on the leash. If, after a week, she's becoming more enthusiastic about walking those four blocks, add a fifth. Wait a week, add a sixth, etc. When she seems to be comfortable with the distance you'd like to be walking her, start switching up your route, but be prepared for her to freak out a little.

    Dogs have a remarkable ability to bounce back from bad situations and adapt to new ones, but no more so than young children. A three-year-old adopted out of the foster system will likely adjust to a new home much faster than a 13-year-old, but you still wouldn't just leave her at an all day preschool without explanation the day after the adoption...right? Cut your pup some slack!


    RIP Clifford, who never met a stranger

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    Re: Rescue Dog Having Troubles Adjusting... Help!

    Quote Originally Posted by musapan View Post
    I'm at my wit's end, honestly... I'm constantly stressing about this, and I need some feedback.



    His foster mother told me he was very well crate trained... That doesn't seem to be the case. When we put him in his crate, we always end up giving in and letting him out, because he whines and barks to the point that we think he might hurt himself! We've been letting him sleep in our room on his bed on the floor. (Which is okay, we don't mind him sleeping in the house at night, we just wish that he could be crated if we need to leave the house during the day.) I know this is a terrible behavior to teach... That's just teaching him that every time he whines and barks, he gets to come out of his crate, but we really didn't know what else to do.


    I just really need some feedback about this situation, because I feel at this point like nothing is going to get better. Is he still adjusting to life here? Is he still missing his foster family?
    One idea about the crate...I had a German Shepherd once who hated the Vari-Kennel type crates. She fought so hard to get out, she pulled the bolts out. After trying several other solutions, I finally tried a wire crate. She went in, stayed in it all day, and eventually learned to just go in and lie down in it. Seems she had some claustrophobia. Find out if you and the foster home have the same type of crate, and change it if necessary.

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    Senior Member poodleholic's Avatar
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    Re: Rescue Dog Having Troubles Adjusting... Help!

    Congratulations and kudos to you for providing a forever home to a rescue!

    Keep in mind that you're new to him, the environment is new for him, and understand that it's going to take time for him to adjust and settle in. The kindest thing you can do for him is to be consistent, patient, and provide him with daily structure and routine, which will help him feel safe and secure. You set the tone - if you're worried or anxious, he's going to pick up on that, and behave accordingly. Teach him house rules, boundaries, and be clear and consistent with your expectations of him. No need to stress over him; it doesn't help him, or you!

    Dogs don't like being alone, especially in a new environment. My dogs, and those I foster, sleep in my bedroom; my dogs sleep in bed w/me, but the fosters sleep in crates with no complaints after the first 12-24 hrs (because I'm consistent, and remain calm, relaxed, and matter-of-fact). I ignore whining and reward being quiet during crate time. Whenever I "catch" the dog(s) exhibiting wanted behavior (sitting quietly, or laying down, etc.), I praise and/or treat. Dogs do what works. Ignore unwanted behavior, distract, redirect, and follow up with positive reinforcement for compliance. They quickly learn what behavior does, and does not get them what they want!

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