I just adopted a new dog on Friday, and unfortunately for my sanity, I had fallen in love with one who has some pretty difficult issues. I know some of this will improve as he settles in, but some of it is going to take some major work, and I'm prepared to put in as much time as necessary to help him learn to live in the world. I've already sent an email to a behaviorist, so if his problems are severe enough that I can't handle them on my own, I'll have help.

Bodhi is a ~16 month old ACD/BC mix. With that, of course, comes a 200 doggie IQ and enough energy to power a small town. He does have a great "off switch". When I'm relaxing and Maggie (ACD/Rottie) is resting, he'll lay down and rest too, so he's actually a surprisingly good apartment dog for his mix. On the other hand, I'm not sure he is capable of being tired, but I'm trying.

Unfortunately, for such a great dog, he's had a rough past. When he was about 6 months old, he was attacked by his neighbor's dog. I don't know all the details of the attack, but I know he needed some stitches afterwards. To make matters worse, his previous owner was so terrified that she kept Bodhi completely isolated until he made it to rescue 6-8 weeks ago. He never got to meet any more dogs, met few people, and got no exercise. If you guessed that this isn't the best way to raise a puppy, you guessed right. Here are the major issues right now...

1) He has no idea how to act around other dogs, and when another one gets anywhere near him, he's way over his threshold from either fear or excitement (hard to tell sometimes). He'll start barking/screaming when the other dog gets within 20 feet or so. He has a very loud, piercing bark, and that's not pleasant for anyone. I've had one successful introduction to a random dog on the street, but I'm not sure what caused it to work. I usually just try to avoid other dogs for now until I figure out what to do. I'm planning to introduce Bodhi to the calm, well behaved dogs I know, but unfortunately I only know a few of those, and I think he needs a lot more practice than that. This issue is made much worse by living in a building where dogs are allowed, and right next to a popular park. Helping him with this is absolutely priority #1, for his happiness and my sanity.

1b) Maggie has gotten very protective over him. If another dog scares Bodhi, she tries to chase the other dog off. Without Bodhi around, Maggie is very dog friendly, but she won't tolerate anyone scaring her new brother. Maggie has shown some protective behavior with me 3 times, when other dogs have acted aggressively near me, but it's much easier to deal with 1 protective dog by herself than one protective dog and one dog having a panic attack. Maggie hasn't shown any actual aggression, and if she gets to the dog she doesn't attack. She's just trying to make it leave. For now, because of Bodhi's bathroom problem (below), they get walks together, but Bodhi gets his bathroom breaks by himself so I don't have to stop and wait anywhere with both of them.

2) Bodhi is housebroken, but needs a little work. The big problem is he might not go at all when we go out, even if we're out for an hour. He drinks more water than Maggie despite being 10 pounds lighter, so I can't imagine he's ever incapable of going. This would only be a minor problem if I had a place to let him wait 10 minutes without encountering other dogs. As it is, I can't wait for him to go with Maggie around, and this is making life difficult. He did have one accident yesterday, which I'll take the blame for, but it was less than 2 hours after a 1 hour walk where he didn't go at all. I'm considering just treating him as a puppy and trying to shape his bathroom habits into what I want (aka like Maggie, who goes straight from the door to the nearest grass and gets it done). There are dozens of potty training strategies though, and I'm not sure which would work best in his case.

3) He's displaying some signs of OCD, or some other repetitive type of behavior. He'll spin in circles, especially when he's stressed or confused. It appears that he may be trying to play with his shadow, which would make sense for a dog who had been isolated. Each time he spins past the shadow, he'll snap or bark at it. I'm hoping that this is going to fade away as he gets comfortable in his new home, and his stress level decreases with increased socialization.

4) (General version of 1) The entire world is new to him, so outside my condo, he's always overstimulated, and within an inch of his threshold. A moving bag might set him off. He's made a giant step towards loose leash walking, but he won't be able to get there until he calms down. When there aren't dogs around, he's pretty clearly just extremely excited. He wants to see everything, and he wants to see it all right this second. He needs his exercise and I'd really like giving him that exercise to be a pleasant experience, so if there's anything I can do to help raise his comfort level more quickly, that would be great.

So I've obviously got a few issues to deal with, but Bodhi has shown me signs of being an absolutely amazing dog once he gets through all of this. Any advice on how to make his transition into his new home easy on him and help him get over his past would be very much appreciated. I know most of it is just socialization, but it's hard to socialize a dog who tries to deafen everyone within 3 blocks when he gets pushed over the edge.