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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have a new foster dog. He is a 2 year old, 30(ish) pound mixed breed (REALLLY Mixed). The rescue I work with took him in from a veterinary school. He was purposely bred for research and purchased by the school for the students to practice giving immunizations, neutering, taking blood pressure, etc. He was however, never used for this purpose because he is so skittish. The students were uncomfortable working with him.

He is a sweet little guy... gets along really well with my dogs. Today was the first day he had ever touched grass in his life - he's still not sure what to make of it. He's not very trusting of humans, does not come when called (in fact backs away) and never seems to feel at ease.

He, in essence, does not know how to "be a dog". He doesn't know how to play, is not potty trained, doesn't particularly enjoy being pet and responds with fear to just about all human interaction.

Does anyone have any advice, thoughts, ideas about how we can make him more comfortable? I have a large travel carrier that is his "bed" - thinking that the closed sides might make him feel more secure. Any other ideas to make him comfy?
 

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Oh that is really sad :( I don't think that is right. Backs away when called? That is really sad....oh my goodness, the poor thing :mad::(

My only advice would be....be very very patient. Let him get used to you, trust you a little...then I would maybe try training. IDK, it sounds like it will take a long time, if he gets trained at all. Poor thing....sigh. Us humans...think we can do anything...
 

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Curb beat me to it. That site will give you all you need to know.

Just remember... do things slowly.. patience is a virtue with a fearful dog. Find out what the dog loves most (food, a toy, etc) and use that to help you get him through potentially scary situations.
 

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Good link above. Good luck w/your pup. What vet school is this? I've never heard of a vet school buying purposely bred "practice dogs." They usually get them from a shelter and pet them out or euthanize them at the end of the semester. With a steady stream of homeless dogs, there's really no point in purchasing these dogs unless they need a controlled/known medical history for actual research (not just student practice).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the link - I'm reading through the website.

lovemygreys - my understanding is that the veterinary medicine and the research facility were housed together until recently - which is why they bought research dogs but that now that they have their own facility they will be allowed to bring in dogs from the humane society.

The students are given first dibs on taking the dogs home at the end of the semester, but this poor little guy was left behind. The owner of the rescue that I work with attended the school and remains in contact with the staff - they called her when they couldn't find a home for him.

I agree with you that with all of the homeless animals out there - they should certainly be able to use them as practice animals.

Honestly, until yesterday - I didn't even know that there were animals bred for research. I have yet to form an opinion on the matter- but I have to say, it makes me terribly sad to think what the animals are put through in the name of science.

My little guy has made great strides in the time I've had him at my home (less than 24 hours)... he's gone in the grass on his own, run around our yard, barked for the first time, allowed me to pet him, taken a treat from my hand and played with a ball. He's now taking a nice nap!
 

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Yes, animals are bred for research, because in research as many variables as possible need to be eliminated to get true, dependable results. The genetics and background need to be known. I honestly have no problem with it as long as it's MEDICAL research, however, I don't approve of it for things such as the cosmetic industry. I also don't think it's necessary for vet students when a shelter dog would do, or even cadavers as are used in human med school. It's not necessary to use a research dog for practicing shots or to try to hit a vain and cadavers need to be used for surgical practice to reduce the possibility of causing pain, at least at first.
 

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He sounds like he's doing good now, at least he's got a loving home and someone who really cares for him.
That website really is fantastic, I have two fairly skittish dogs too so I was glad to grab the link.
Good luck with him, he sounds like a real sweetheart.
 

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There is a place here (about 20 miles from where I live) where they produce animals for medical research. This particular place breeds rats and mice and it is just as Carla says.

Yes, there are facilities that do breed animals for research. It is mostly rats, mice and rabbits but there are other species including primates.

Good luck with your new dog. There are Puppy Mill breeder dogs that are very similar to your dog (never walked on grass etc.). Good for you and for anyone who takes on the challenge of these animals.
 

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I don't know much about these 'practice' dogs, but I'd reserve judgement until we know more. From what you're describing, it sounds as if these animals are likely treated pretty well; there's not much benefit to a 'practice' dog that is abused or neglected, especially if they're eventually offered for adoption to the students.

Many aeons ago, I briefly worked in a lab that used nude mice - that is, mice bred specifically without an immune system. It sounds horrific - and, truth be told, sometimes it is - but the fact is you really can't learn about a disease, or its treatment, without observing its progression under a controlled environment.

Every lab has protocols - rigidly adhered to - meant to minimize the suffering of the lab animals, but the integrity of the data always takes precedence. It's not pretty, but I remain convinced that it's necessary, and I'm grateful for the people who do it. And I have nothing but contempt the terrorists - not activists - who break into labs and destroy the very research which may save not only their lives someday, but the lives of the animals they claim to support.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I don't know much about these 'practice' dogs, but I'd reserve judgement until we know more. From what you're describing, it sounds as if these animals are likely treated pretty well; there's not much benefit to a 'practice' dog that is abused or neglected, especially if they're eventually offered for adoption to the students.

Many aeons ago, I briefly worked in a lab that used nude mice - that is, mice bred specifically without an immune system. It sounds horrific - and, truth be told, sometimes it is - but the fact is you really can't learn about a disease, or its treatment, without observing its progression under a controlled environment.

Every lab has protocols - rigidly adhered to - meant to minimize the suffering of the lab animals, but the integrity of the data always takes precedence. It's not pretty, but I remain convinced that it's necessary, and I'm grateful for the people who do it. And I have nothing but contempt the terrorists - not activists - who break into labs and destroy the very research which may save not only their lives someday, but the lives of the animals they claim to support.
I don't disagree with you... like I said, this was the first time that I was aware that they bred dogs purposely for research and it makes me sad - that doesn't mean that I don't see the need for it.

That being said - I don't think that the school mistreated him in any way. However, from my research - dogs bred for research are generally not given a lot of attention and affection, it makes researchers uncomfortable to do research on a dog that acts like a companion animal.

This little guy is certainly a new experience for me. He does not want to be "alone" - but also doesn't want you too close. He loves other dogs but is terrified of people. The TV was a brand new experience. We were watching a Red Sox game the other night and at the first crack of the bat - he hit the ground. He has allowed me to pet his head - and you can tell he LOVES the contact - but he is still braced to run at the slightest provocation. He will not come inside if you are at the door... so I have to open the door and walk away so he can feel comfortable coming in.

It's pretty obvious that right now it has to be about gaining his trust. The part that makes this tough is getting him in his cage at night and when we need to leave... we have to first catch him, coax him to the bed and get him in... once he's there, he's happy as a clam... but until then - he's stressed to the max. We are keeping a leash on him at all times so that we have a "handle" - I tried walking him down the hall the other day and got bitten. There are lots of treats being used in our house right now!

The owner of the rescue that I work through thinks he'll be ready for adoption in 2 weeks or so... I really don't see that happening. I honestly think he's going to take several months to get comfortable - IF that ever happens. It's ok - he can stay with us as long as he needs to...
 

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There was a really great article in Clean Run about teaching a dog to play. One of the things that I found most interesting was the idea that our over enthusiasm/encouragement often causes the dog more stress and/or fear and a shut down.

When you call to him I would start over with completely new words that he hasn't been called with before and look kind of past him. Use a very casual tone of voice. If he backs away then just ignore him and walk away, but if he stays put or doesn't react in a negative way then gently toss him a treat. Eventually tossing the treat closer to you so that he has to walk towards you get it. I would try keeping the praise sounding very casual as well until he is more comfortable.

Also you can try petting him under his chin or chest instead of on top of his head because some dogs will accept this a lot better. Its great that he has improved so much so fast!
 
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