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our first rescue pup

817 Views 3 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Uncle Foster
My husband and I both grew up with dogs. Our last dog was a Yorkie, Sophie, whom we put down 7 years ago (she was 14, blind and deaf). We now have three kids, an 8-year-old son, a 5-year-old daughter and a 1.5-year-old son. The older two have been talking about how they wanted a dog and my husband and I thought we would start checking the website of our local shelters.

This last week we came across a sweet boy. A poodle/shih tzu mix we have named George. He's about 7 months old. He was neutered before we took him home but over the weekend I noticed that the incision appeared open. This morning, our vet said that it was slightly infected and got him some antibiotics as well as cleaned up the incision and stapled it closed so it could heal better. Poor guy is sporting the cone of shame because he won't leave the area alone.

The problem is the growling and barking... He has really taken to me, wags his tail, runs to me, is like my shadow. It's almost like a battle of wills between George and my youngest. Now, George doesn't show any aggression toward him and seems rather patient when our youngest says "doggy" and goes to pet him (yes we are constantly telling him to be gentle, and overall he has been good.). However, George tends to growl and bark at my husband and our two older kids. Sometimes when George is in the kitchen and he's up against the cabinets or a wall, I get that them walking in could scare George. But there are other times where that isn't the case. Or the doorbell rings or any door opens and George goes nuts.

I realize that this is all very new to him and he's stressed and overwhelmed. The cone, I'm sure only makes things worse. I would appreciate any tips or suggestions to redirect him when he growls or barks. I overly praise him when he's around the other family members without growling or barking. I have had them give George treats when he doesn't growl at them. And if George does bark/growl I leave where I'm sitting (if George is sitting with me) or put him on the floor and walk away.

This morning George followed me into the bathroom and freaked out when I got in the shower. Up on his hind legs scratching at the door and crying. Is this normal or does he have a bit of separation anxiety?

The lady at the shelter said he and what they assumed was a sibling were brought in by a guy who said he found them at a park. She figured though that they may have been his. My thoughts is the first part of his life was not stable and he was probably abused/neglected.

I do feel badly because while I love the fact that George likes me and feels safe with me he is so wary of our other family members.

thank you in advance <3
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This sounds like genetic fear/anxiety issues to me. It's not always caused by abuse or neglect (although it can be exacerbated by abuse or neglect), sometimes they're just born with it. It's a sad reality of poor breeding practices.

So, your dog may warm up to the other family member once he learns they are part of the family, or he may not. He has only been with you a week, so he is still probably getting used to his new environment. There's no telling. Have the family members he doesn't like basically ignore him. They can only give him attention when he asks for it. They can drop treats as they walk by.

I wouldn't let your youngest son pet the dog, either. It sounds like he...tolerates your youngest son, perhaps because he is a baby, but doesn't really enjoy it. That might be an accident waiting to happen.

How does the dog react to strangers? Is he fearful, barking and growling?

The freaking out at the doorbell is kind of a normal dog thing and can be fixed with counter conditioning. I have no idea what's up with the shower! Has he ever been left home alone before? How did he react?
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It can be expensive, but you might want to take him to a behaviorist. I ended up taking my rescue to one after I got her due to high anxiety and fearfulness. She was scared of EVERYTHING. She didn't bark or growl she was just scared. She would sit on the couch and just shake. And she freaked when I got into the shower as well. The behaviorist helped quite a bit. Molly, my pooch, ended up on medication (prozac) for a bit, but after she was taken off it, she was better. She will never be a "normal" dog, but she is our sweet soul. Good luck.
Sounds like George got a raw deal early in life.
You will be amazed how dogs like this can be repaired with time, love and structure.
George needs obedience and the whole pack needs to participate. You, your husband and your two older kids. The little one needs to learn to be gentle as I understand you are doing.

I bet George would do well with a nice properly sized crate. He will need a proper introduction to the concept.
How To Crate Train Your Dog in 9 Easy Steps

Uncle Foster

Ooops, almost forgot Clicker Training
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