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New foster problems(long)

733 Views 5 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  Rescue-mom
I am getting a new foster but she has problems so after reading the email from her current foster mom any suggestions?I want to be as prepared as possible before she comes home to me.The rescue is talking to a behaviorist to assist if needs be :) So this was the email about Annie.

Annie was surrendered by a man who was physically abusing her. That was her third home. She is incredibly smart, very pretty, passionate about fetch, curious about everything and afraid of nothing, and when she is on her best behavior, she is an awesome dog. She is completely house trained and she shows no inclination of jumping the fence. She responds very very well to praise, and that works wonderfully to reinforce her good behavior. But, she has a lot of issues.

First, she does not like to be confined by herself. I've tried confining her in my kitchen, for instance, which is the largest room in my house, and I used tall baby gates (she will jump over the short ones), so she could definitely see out of the room as well. She did not handle this well and tried to dig a hole through the door jamb. I assumed it was separation anxiety, but I've since learned that she was confined alone for long periods by her last owner, and it's more about being afraid of being left there alone for a long time, rather than separation anxiety.

Annie also needs to be the leader of the pack, and she and I struggle terribly over that. She is not inclined to let me have a position of authority over her. I use a water bottle a lot to get her to listen to me.

Once she establishes herself as leader of the pack among the dogs, she gets along relatively well with them. I have two other beagles. Archie is the lowest member of the pack and she squabbles with him only occasionally, and usually over the ball when we play fetch. Otherwise, they play together beautifully. Gabe was the leader of the dog pack before Annie came and she and he still squabble more than I would like. Gabe is afraid of her and tends to give her a wide berth. Often he does not understand why she is going after him. Most of their squabbles are over food, where they are both around my feet while I cook, hoping I will drop a crumb.

Annie does not like "accessories" and does not like people touching them. She does not like being strapped into a harness, and does not like wearing a coat or sweater. She does not like having her collar touched. I realized just recently that the way to train her re: the collar is to make a point of taking it off and putting it on frequently, and rewarding her with praise and esp. treats every time. However, I did not have a chance to start doing this.

I muzzle Annie to bathe her. I have had absolutely no luck trimming her toenails. A muzzle might work for that too - haven't tried it.

From all this, you probably gathered that Annie will bite if she perceives a threat. She has bitten me several times, always hard enough to draw blood. She is MUCH better than when she arrived, and we have gone as long as 7 weeks without any bites. A lot of that is due to my knowledge of her triggers. For instance, she does not like to be touched when she is tired or sleeping. It's never a good idea to touch her in the morning. In general, I only touch her when she asks me to. Kisses are okay though. There is always a reason for the bite; she doesn't bite indiscriminately. She just uses her teeth much more forcefully than she needs to to make her point.

I've had a trainer give us one on one lessons re: the aggression and the most important thing I took away from that was the water bottle, and it does work very well.

I also had a psychic reading done, and the most interesting thing that came out of that is that Annie volunteered that she does not like wearing stuff (including bandanas) because her last owner used those against her. eg, holding her down, or holding her back. I'm still not sure how much I believe in psychic readings in general, but I did think it was very interesting that Annie offered up this tidbit of information when I never asked any questions about that, or indicated in anyway that she was uncomfortable with having her "accessories" touched.

One other thing that her new foster parents should know is that I reinforced her bad behavior by trading her treats for stuff she takes. Eg, she will take anything she can get her paws on, including shoes, mittens, keys, remote control, books, magazines, towels, etc. etc. etc. and will carry those off to her bed. She will not relinquish the "treasure" unless she gets a treat. At the beginning, she "stole" multiple things every day. Now she takes something maybe once a day, or once every two days. If she hears something fall on the floor, though, she is on that lickedty-split, with hopes of carrying it off.

She is very high spirited, and I think if someone had the correct knowledge and patience to deal with this, and lots and lots of time, she would turn out to be an awesome dog. For the time being, she still needs a lot of help. As much as I need her to go, I feel it would be unfair to send her off to someone who didn't know all of this. I learned the hard way. I did a lot of things wrong when Annie arrived because I had no experience with a dog that bites and no knowledge of her background. I think if someone else walked into this, knowing about all these issues, they would have a better time with her and would find it easier to win her trust. I did things at the beginning that caused her not to trust me - eg using my hands to physically separate her from my dogs when they were fighting. Although I do that with Gabe and Archie when the squabble, I didn't realize that Anna would associate that with being abused. Or, if I stumble over her - or once, I was putting sheets on the bed and backed off it, and accidentally kicked her because I didn't know she was sitting there - and then I reach out to give her a pat and say "sorry!" only she doesn't take that the same way my dogs do, and thinks I am going to further the "abuse."
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sounds like she gave you quite a bit of info .... she must care about the dog as much as you will ... i persume .... do you have pics of the precious 'ANNA' ...? you must keep us updated on this post!!! when do you actually get her? what kind of dog is she?

She is a beagle,It is hoped by everyone to have her to me next week.

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AWWWEEE .... what a precious girl ... how could have anyone ever thought of abusing that precious girl? .....
She looks so sweet and yet sad in the second picture. Bless you for taking her in. I'm glad the other foster mom is being so candid about her issues. Please post updates on her progress.
I get her easter weekend and we have already been talking to a behaviorist who thinks she is dominant aggressive which is a start :) I will keep you all updated.
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