Helping a rescue dog adjust to new home
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Thread: Helping a rescue dog adjust to new home

  1. #1
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    Helping a rescue dog adjust to new home

    My family adopted a Rocky, a 5 year-old springer spaniel from the Springer Rescue organization 3 days ago. As you can see from my avatar, he's an awesome dog! He's been great with the kids, is housetrained and is starting on his way with getting adjusted to his new home.

    I grew up having dogs. My wife and I got a puppy, Abbie, from the animal shelter when we first got married 14 years ago. Abbie passed away 2 years ago and it took us a while to decide we were ready to commit to a new dog.

    As I said, I think he's doing well so far. However, his previous owner let him develop some habits we need to help him break. He does OK on a leash but he pulls and won't heel. I'm pretty sure the previous owner let him sleep in her bed which isn't going to be an option for him here. Also, he has an old tennis ball that he's VERY attached to. I'm OK with that, but it's in pretty rough shape and I'm not sure how much longer it's going to last.

    As for the pulling, I've signed my 10 year-old daughter and me up for an obedience class which starts in 10 days. He seems to be smart and eager to please so I'm not at all concerned about him being able to pick up on basic obedience training.

    I guess we can deal with the eventual disintegration of the tennis ball when that happens. I just wish he had an attachment to something more substantial. I'm hoping someone has a suggestion about how I can get him attached to tennis *balls* rather than just one.

    Wanting to sleep in our bed is my biggest concern right now. He's really attached himself to me. He follows me wherever I go through the house including trying to go back to the bedroom when I go to bed. I don't think it's true separation anxiety as the worst he's done is sniff/whimper at the door when I close it.

    I tried just ignoring him at first but he was persistent. After about 30 minutes I gave up and slept on the couch so he could be with me. I tried not to but I felt like that might be a bit much to expect from a dog who was just taken from a home where he was "spoiled." Was this a mistake?

    We're planning to try crate training with him. I talked about this with my vet when I took him for a well-baby check yesterday. We bought a crate and I have it set up in my office. We figured that would be a good room for it because my son watches baseball there in the morning before we get up, someone is usually in there during the day, and I'm usually in there at night for a while after everyone else is in bed.

    I still think he needs some time to get used to the new home before we try to start training him. I guess my question here is how to know when he's settled-in enough to start and what to expect from a 5 year-old dog who hasn't been crated before and who seems to be used to being around people all the time.

    We didn't have any big problems crate training our puppy last time, but this is a different situation. I'm familiar with the process, have spoken with our vet and read a bunch of articles on the internet, but if I run into problems are there any other good resources for help with this?

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  3. #2
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    Re: Helping a rescue dog adjust to new home

    Your vet can probably and can only help you with that. Just follow what advised he has given you. And I am sure everything will go smoothly. This post will also help you by gathering some suggestions from pet lovers out there, they can help you in anyway.

  4. #3
    Senior Member BrittanyG's Avatar
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    Re: Helping a rescue dog adjust to new home

    Your Vet is not a behaviorist or trainer. Do not take his advice on training without checking it elsewhere first, like here. Many of us know what we are talking about. You may want to Google "Crate Games" DVD, I hear it works great for getting dogs to love the crate. Be ready for some sleepless nights, but stick with it.

    Dogs never bite me, just humans-Marilyn Monroe

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    Senior Member spotted nikes's Avatar
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    Re: Helping a rescue dog adjust to new home

    I'd get him a comfy orthopedic type dog bed, and put it on the floor in your bedroom. tell him off, if he tries to get in your bed. Bringing a longlasting treat in to bed, and putting it on "his" bed, will help.
    Spay or neuter your pet! Founding President Of Thread Killers Anonymous.

  6. #5
    Senior Member kitley2001's Avatar
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    Re: Helping a rescue dog adjust to new home

    We adopted a ten month old dog three weeks ago. Ginny was raised in her cage while left alone and also at bed time, for the night. Being a softie, I let her sleep with us the first night...then the second...then the third. You get the picture. Our last dog slept with us near the end , but he was 12 pounds. Ginny is 43 pounds. After a couple of weeks I was faced with what to do now...my own fault, of course. I did not want to crate her at night, as she was good uncrated, and our goal is to eventually not to have to crate her at all. I bought a big thick dog pillow and put it on the floor right beside my bed. The first three nights she got up on the bed twice, and was made to get down...with a verbal command. After that she just went to her pillow at bed time. Once one of us is up for the day, she can come on the bed if she wants, and she seemed to figure that was ok, by herself. Works for us, and her too. If I had switched to crating her...in the living room by herself, I am sure it would have been agonizing for all of us..and may have traumatized and confused her, after me first allowing her on the bed. After three weeks, I am now feeling that Ginny is quite comfy in our home,,,as she is not always on her best behaviour anymore...lol Best of luck.

  7. #6
    Senior Member Tavi's Avatar
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    Re: Helping a rescue dog adjust to new home

    Well I can't offer much advice on the crate training side, I let my dog sleep on my bed! LoL But I recommend just making going into the crate a game. Show him how to go in, throw treats in there, throw that tennis ball in there. You don't have to close it right away, just get him comfortable going in and out. And then increase the amount of time you have him in there. This is handy for when everyones out of the house as well as at night when you just want him off the bed!

    As for the tennis ball obsession, you probably won't notice to much of a freak out when the ball does give out, but if you're concerned. I recommend getting a couple more balls. When you're playing fetch, get him focused on his fave ball. And then as he's retrieving that ball, have a new ball ready to throw when he gets back. If he's showing that true spaniel retrieve drive he should still go get the new ball. And after having to retrieve new balls for a while they should be as nicely scented up as his current one.

    Good job on taking him to obedience courses, that will not only help with the basic stuff but also getting him to walk better and getting some great new socialization as well! I don't usually set a time on when to start training a new dog, even one thats older and already settled into their own patterns. Once they come into the home setting up disciple and explaining the rules for him are good things. Even if its different from what he's use to dogs are great learners and he'll feel better once he knows his place in your house as well! So for me I start training pretty much the moment they come home, of course I don't mean grill lessons into him until you both hate each other. But sitting before he gets a treat or leaves the house. Easy training. Lying down and waiting before he's fed. Simple stuff. And all stuff that shows him great boundaries for you and him!

  8. #7
    Member Jo Belle's Avatar
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    Re: Helping a rescue dog adjust to new home

    Have you thought of putting the crate in the bedroom at night?

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    Re: Helping a rescue dog adjust to new home

    Wow... thanks for all the replies!

    We're continuing to make progress. He didn't come straight to me when I got home today, preferring to stay on the couch with my wife and his head in my 8 year-old son's lap who spent most of the afternoon throwing the tennis ball to him. He also barked (appropriately -- stopped as soon as he was told to) when people came to the door today which I'm going to interpret as him starting to see our house as his home and something he wants to try to protect.

    He still hasn't eaten much except the treats we threw into his crate to try to get him to see it as a "fun place." Not too concerned about this, though. He'll eat when he gets hungry enough, I suppose. And, since the 5 year-old had access to the snacks, it might have been a pretty good meal.

    I'll follow with some specific replies to some of the suggestions.

    Quote Originally Posted by spotted nikes View Post
    I'd get him a comfy orthopedic type dog bed, and put it on the floor in your bedroom.
    I was able to pick him up from his previous owner before he went to a foster home (wow... talk about heartbreaking! But that's another story) and was able to get some of his stuff including the tennis ball and his memory-foam mattress. She told me he was good about sleeping on it and would go on command, but we haven't had any luck with that so far.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tavi View Post
    But I recommend just making going into the crate a game. Show him how to go in, throw treats in there, throw that tennis ball in there. You don't have to close it right away, just get him comfortable going in and out. And then increase the amount of time you have him in there. This is handy for when everyones out of the house as well as at night when you just want him off the bed!
    Have had some success with him going into the crate to get his ball and treats. Going to keep working on this and hoping to continue to see gradual progress.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tavi View Post
    As for the tennis ball obsession, you probably won't notice to much of a freak out when the ball does give out, but if you're concerned. I recommend getting a couple more balls. When you're playing fetch, get him focused on his fave ball. And then as he's retrieving that ball, have a new ball ready to throw when he gets back. If he's showing that true spaniel retrieve drive he should still go get the new ball. And after having to retrieve new balls for a while they should be as nicely scented up as his current one.
    We've been working on this as well. I have 12 tennis balls that I ran through the washer/dryer a couple of times to get rid of the smell new tennis balls have. We gave him his ball, then set up a triangle with me and 2 of the kids with him in the middle then throw the ball between us. At first he could care less, but with some time he at least started to watch us throw the ball. I feel like we're on to something with this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jo Belle View Post
    Have you thought of putting the crate in the bedroom at night?
    I did, but we really want our bedroom to be off-limits for him so I'm concerned starting with the crate there would be a bad idea.

    I got him to climb up in the overstuffed comfy chair and turned out the light before I started typing these replies. I hear soft snoring now. Poor guy... I don't think he's slept much since moving in with us.

    He's more than welcome to the chair. I think the white noise from the fan will help also. His house manners seem good, so maybe this can be an alternative to the crate as long as he's willing to share when my son gets up at 5:30 to watch the MLB channel.

    The last few days have been indescribable -- memories of Abbie as a puppy and the journey with her mixed with excitement of welcoming a new member to the family and looking forward to the time we'll be spending with him and the children. GOOD TIMES!

    Time to try to tiptoe across the hall to the bedroom. Please keep the suggestions coming!
    Last edited by Costanza; 09-01-2010 at 11:42 PM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  10. #9
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    Re: Helping a rescue dog adjust to new home

    A vet is there to help, they can suggest a proper training for your dog, yes they are not a trainer, however your vet won't bring you into harm, they too can suggest on what things to do, or who else they will help you choose with for a trainer. As what I have said, you can also ASK FOR HELP to pipz on this page, tehy know better.

  11. #10
    Senior Member kitley2001's Avatar
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    Re: Helping a rescue dog adjust to new home

    Costanza...glad things are going in the right direction for you all! Sounds like you have one lucky dog there, to have found such a caring family. What a blessing that he did not have the extra move to a foster home first...same as my dog. It broke my heart to drive away with her, taking her from the crying family who were unable to keep her. Best of luck.

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    Re: Helping a rescue dog adjust to new home

    You sound like a caring, committed and responsible dog owner. I'd love to be your dog. Or to take that one step further, I'd love to be MY dog.

    Best of luck.

  13. #12
    Senior Member Cracker's Avatar
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    Re: Helping a rescue dog adjust to new home

    Good for you for rescuing a lovely boy!
    First things first:
    With a new adoption of an adult dog it is very important to let him settle in for at least two weeks before getting into any serious training or socialization. This doesn't mean you can't work on simple stuff, like house rules, but instead means no formal training, no trips out in the neighbourhood or visiting of friends and family until he's settled. Moving to a new home is very stressful, even if it's "fun". Stress can inhibit behaviour and can also occasionally escalate it, so the dog you are seeing right now (clingy, doesn't go to his bed on cue) etc may not his real nature.

    Here's a link with some info on the "settle period" and some pretty impressive before and after pics of some bully rescues before and after the settling in period.
    http://www.nhpbr.org/two_weeks.html
    Maggi and Cracker, Dog about Rosedale


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