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New Rescue Dog, Issues with Adjustment...Advice?

2027 Views 9 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  aiw

I would love some advice from anyone with experience adopting rescues. My husband and I just adopted a 7 month old male Wheaten Terrier, Griffin, from a local rescue a little over a week and a half ago. His previous family was loving, but did not have the time to train him since they had young children.

We have been taking Griffin for 1-2 walks a day, enrolled and attended our first obedience class, and practiced training with him. We have him on a predictable schedule. We've also tried to engage him in games like frisbee. My husband and I have been gentle but firm with Griffin in enforcing rules around the house and telling him "no" when he playbites us, gets into something he shouldn't be, or otherwise misbehaves. Griffin tries to challenge us frequently, often repeatedly after he is corrected. He is definitely a more dominant personality.

Here's the situation: we've heard that Wheatens are friendly, playful, and devoted dogs. However, Griffin mostly ignores us. He will often sit in the same room, but if we attempt to pet him, he will typically get up and move a few feet away. He does not want to play with us, despite the fact that prior to his arrival we know he was incredibly energetic and playful.

I understand this may be part of an adjustment period, his disliking our rules, or possibly a result of his adolescent age, but I'm concerned that his mood has changed so dramatically. Obviously, we want to do everything we can to help Griffin take to us and become part of our "pack." Is this normal? Anyone have any similar experiences? Is it possible that he may never be interested in bonding with us? Any suggestions or thoughts are welcome and appreciated. Thanks for your time.
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Give it time! You just got him and it is normal for a dog to not totally trust you when you first get them. Just spend time with him, keep up the training and eventually he should come around.
I agree. Give him some time, keep on with the training, play, being gental & loving, and he should come around.

Give him time, a week and a half is nothing. The standard rule is that it can take close to 3 months before a dog will fully settle into a new home. Lots of progress along the way for sure but may not fully relaxing for that long. Keep doing what you're doing and he should learn to trust you guys and take comfort from the routine and structure you're providing. Some dogs come into a new home and are great from day one and others need time.
Give him time! he's confused and his whole life just changed. give him space. you can entice him to come to you for treats let him take it and leave without more forceful "affection".
Thanks for the responses, everyone! Really appreciated. This is our first dog and we really had no idea what to expect. It's been a few more weeks, same schedule, same efforts, but not much change. He loves to meet new people and let them pet him, loves to play with other dogs, but generally avoids us around the house and prefers to do his own thing. I've tried keeping him on a leash near me, but he hates it and bites at it.

Our trainer from obedience class said that we may have success ignoring him, and making him come to us for contact, praise, and other attention. I'm somewhat hesitant to do this because I don't want to push him further away from bonding with us... anyone use this "ignore" method or have any experienced thoughts?

Thanks again!
I would ignore him. Forcing him to interact will drive him away moreso than giving him space. You can also cut up a hotdog, or get soft treats, and just drop them randomly.
Stop with the corrections, even just "no". Some dogs are very soft and find that terrifying, and anyway, he doesn't know you, he doesn't know the rules. He's not "challenging" you. He's trying to figure out what you want. Dogs learn through trial and error, repeated trial and error. So the only way for him to know what you want is for him to try things, over and over again.

You are always training your dog, whether you mean to or not. So take advantage of that. Find a treat he loves, cheese, hot dogs, cooked chicken, whatever. If he does something you like, even just looking at you, give him a treat. If he does something you don't like, ignore him. Don't push affection on him, treat him for interacting with you. Make being around you the best, most rewarding thing ever and he'll want to do it more.

I've had Kabota for 8 months now. For two weeks, he wouldn't get off the couch except to eat or go outside. It was a month before he'd play with a toy, 2 before he'd play with me. He didn't start wagging his tail until 6 months. Now, he wags his tail when he sees me. He follows me around and he initiates play. These things take time, patience and a lot of kindness.
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Stop with the corrections, even just "no". Some dogs are very soft and find that terrifying, and anyway, he doesn't know you, he doesn't know the rules. He's not "challenging" you. He's trying to figure out what you want.
Thanks for the advice, Amaryllis! We were told that we should enforce our rules firmly, but kindly, from the very beginning by saying "no." For instance, if he jumps on the couch, correcting with a "no" and then asking for a sit and rewarding the positive behavior. For every correction, we always elicit two positive and rewarding behaviors. We've had him 5 weeks, and he is incredibly smart, so he knows most of the house rules by now and they need little enforcement.

My biggest concern is just the lack of "bond" that he exhibits at this point. I understand this may take time, as was your experience with Kabota. However, my concern is the possibility that he may never really fit with us? I would imagine that, like people, not every dog gets along with every person. This was a very happy, energetic dog when we first met him. And he has, for weeks now, been lethargic and unresponsive (the vet says he is otherwise healthy). He seems bored. We walk him twice a day, hand feed him, work on training, and while we give him space, do try to play with him and otherwise engage him.

Nevertheless, he would rather lay in his bed in a room away from us. When we pick him up from doggie day care, he tries to run back away from us to play with the other dogs. He generally seems to like everyone and everything but the two people living with him and caring for him. I don't know what Kabota's history was, but Griffin was previously with a family that took very good care of him, but due to time constraints, had to give him up. The foster home he was at for 5 weeks had 4-5 other dogs and I think he loved it there.

I want so much to make him happy and to make this work, however I wonder if he would benefit from a family with another dog since he enjoys other dogs so much. I don't want to give up on him too soon, but I want this to be the best situation for everyone (dogs included!) involved.
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Maybe you could contact the rescue and ask what Griffin was like at the foster home, its possible that he was detached at first with them too and they did something to draw him out. I think they could give you some valuable information and it would also give them a heads up that things have been difficult at your house.
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