Puppy Forum and Dog Forums banner

1 - 7 of 7 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
On Friday of last week I adopted a year and half old miniature rat terrier who had spent more than two weeks at the shelter. My decision to adopt was based on observation of the animal as well as spending one on one time with him, and I felt fairly secure that we were going to be a good fit. From here the story starts to go downhill: he is so shy/frightened that he hasn't left his crate without assistance since Friday; he has eaten a total of a half-cup of food (though he has taken small bits of cheese from my hand); he has learned that I am afraid of being bitten and that I will back off with just the slightest bit of exposed teeth; since Friday he has gone from being relatively interested in being moved from place to place or held, to digging in deeper in the crate and cowering when I attempt to approach him; on his first outing he walked into the grass, did his business, and then bolted for the farthest corner of the backyard and buried himself in a pile of wet leaves for 7 hours; during this time he did some damage to my arm when I attempted to get him to come back in the house;he has been holding his functions until night and going when it is dark and I am sleeping (similarly drinking from his water bowl); he was secured in his crate yesterday for a couple of hours while I was shopping with no difficulties, but today he is going to be confined for 11 to 12 while I am working, and while I'd like to think it will be status quo, I fear that this will damage our already tenuous relationship.

I'm sure that most of this is my own insecurity in response to the actions of a dog that may very well have been neglected or abused before coming to the shelter. Since 1997 I have had two dogs, both adopted from shelters, and both were exceptionally easy transitions, but I am curious if anyone else has experienced this kind of anxiety or apprehension in an adult shelter animal before, and if anyone has any suggestions on how to try breaking the ice.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,282 Posts
Honestly, I'd just leave the dog alone for a while and let him settle in. He sounds "institutionalized," like he's not accustomed to having open spaces or choices or attention.

I am not a trainer, but I'd use a slip leash to take him out (so you can just put it over his head without touching him) rather than letting him loose in the yard, for now. I would also spend time with him acting like I was ignoring him, and just letting him negotiate things at his own pace, maybe disinterestedly tossing treats out for him to get, from time to time. I suspect you will get further, faster if you DON'T force things or try to accelerate the process.

Given that he prefers his crate even when you're home, I shouldn't think that closing him in the crate while you're out or working would be a problem.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,911 Posts
First of all, I think you need to cut him a little slack. The last month of his life has been very traumatizing and it's not surprising that he's afraid of being in a new environment with a new and unfamiliar person.

That being said, a few things you have said may be holding the key to his seemingly increasing fear: "...he is so shy/frightened that he hasn't left his crate without assistance since Friday..." and "...during this time he did some damage to my arm when I attempted to get him to come back in the house...."

His crate should be his safe haven and you should never "assist" him in leaving it with force. I believe you have scared him when you have forcibly removed him from his crate, which is why he now cowers when you approach him when he's in it. Also, many small dogs find being picked up and handled scary.

You have mentioned another thing that threw up a red flag to me. He's going to be confined for 11-12 hours straight when you're at work? Is this a long-term plan? Do you have anyone who can come over in the middle of the day to let him out? That's simply too long for a dog to be confined without a break, especially a year and a half old terrier mix.

If you want to 'break the ice' and have a healthy relationship with your dog, you first need to give him space and time to adjust. Do not force him to leave his crate. Do not pick him up. In fact, don't force him to interact with you at all. Instead, carry a pocket full of tasty treats and drop them when you walk by. Pretty soon he'll realize that he gets good food when you're around and that you aren't going to barge into his safe place and lift him high into the air.

Also, I'd recommend driving home on your lunch for the first few weeks to get him outside until he seems to settle, and then getting a friend or family member or dog walker to let him out midday in the long run.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
Well that supports alot of what I've been thinking. I have tried to have a small interaction everyday so he gets used to me, but I am also just letting this take it's course in hopes that he will eventually feel comfortable enough to venture out on his own. At the moment I am a little afraid of outside after our saturday experience and I have puppy pads down (which he used overnight last night) for him to use until we are sure that he will be secure in the yard. He also was found stray with another terrier, perhaps a littermate, and they have been separated, which may have caused him some disorientation as well.

Thank you for your response. I am truly hoping that he will see that I mean him no harm if I just let this happen in it's own time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
8 Posts
One thing that can be helpful is for him to be able to approach you and observe you without you reacting. For example, sit on the floor and read a book. You can even put a few pieces of food around you. Just ignore him. Let him freely approach you and sniff you, then leave.

Obviously you should avoid grabbing him unless you have to, but you may find that you have to. We found it helpful to put a harness on our skittish dog so we could grab her when we had to and she had "handles" so we weren't grabbing her collar. (BTW, we were giving her meds, which is why we couldn't just leave her alone.)

Do you have some kind of pads you can put down? Perhaps it will be better to let him go on a pad in the house, and wait until trust has been established before you being earnest potty training.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,227 Posts
Bucky didn't cower in his pen but I couldn't touch him when I adopted him. He is apparently a small spaniel mix with feathered ears, tail and legs and came here with a lot of ugly but not dangerous or painful mats and painfully ingrown rear dew claws as not tolerating handling was clearly a pattern in his old residence.

He loved putting on a slip lead and going outside though. I used a treat in my hand to lure his head through the neck loop and took him outside every hour to try to potty. Whenever he performed he got praise and a cookie. I did keep him in the pen most of the time, that isn't a problem. New dogs do need a safe place and have no need to be out with or without you near by. He was either leashed or crated, never free so he couldn't get into any trouble and got lots of treats for doing things I liked.

Continue to use food to get him where you need him to be. Face away from him and use gentle soft praise as he eats.

You might invest in a few cans of a firm canned dog food and feed him tiny bits from a spoon to give him more space for right now. It's stinkier and easier to swallow. That way you know while he may not be eating much at least it is a balanced diet. New dogs often don't eat well. My first dog was quite the food seeker but she didn't figure out meal times for the first week. Bucky didn't eat his regular meals for a couple days, just treats. I used cooked chicken breast as low fat, low sodium stuff is less likely to upset the stomach than string cheese, my usual super easy to deal with high value treat.

I worked on handling him very cautiously as he was taken to the shelter as a biter. Small dogs have to be very trusting to allow picking up. I did want to be able to pick him up but first I had to be able to handle him all over. With the aid of a bit of treat in his face I would touch his back. When treat was gone my hand was off him. Sounds tedious but I was able to cut the mats in half so I could start brushing them out, brush him, look in his ears and mouth and pretend to file his nails inside a couple weeks. I did have an accomplice feeding him when I cut the mats so he wouldn't be 'helping' me with the scissors. I wouldn't be trying to do this until your new little guy is readily taking food from your hand. At least with a short haired dog you aren't looking at mats! I did not deal with the ingrown dew claws, he went to the vet for that and had complete circles that dug deep into the pads cut from them. I'd look at your new dog's feet, if the nails are super long then I'd have somebody trim them, long nails are very uncomfortable for the dog and you don't want to be the one doing the first trim possibly ever. I pick him up now but always with a cookie at his nose and give him plenty of notice. He did have to 'hold' my hand in his mouth a couple times early on but I froze, he released and I retreated. Strangely I repeated the forbidden action right away and it was allowed each time. Guess he was testing to be sure I knew what that 'hold' meant? He hasn't had to snap at me as I pay attention to head snaps and yowly snarls and change my plan of action if he is forced to resort to doing such things.

Bucky is afraid still. He shows whale eye, avoids looking at people, flicks his tongue a lot. Even with me if he's under stress like there's food within reach the tongue flicking and gaze averting is positively creepy looking. He's been here 8 months and it may be time for medication. He has come a long way though, at first he was unable to lay down out of his pen and now he can be super cuddly even though he is tongue flicking away. He flung himself to the end of the leash in panic when out of the house, now can loose leash walk for 20 minutes before his brain gets fried and head and tail are up and lots of frantic lunging. Just today his behavior dramatically changed for the worst at exactly 25 minutes out. He is a sponge for learning but fried dog brain if he works too long. Sort of amazing as he's been angling to get to my lunch plate for an hour now, different sort of attention span I guess.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Just joined this form and reading rescue threads as we just adopted one. How is your dog doing now and what tricks/tips do you have that you found worked?

Kath
 
1 - 7 of 7 Posts
Top