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Has anyone else had a breeder/previous owner/shelter be completely wrong about their dog's temperament?
When I got my Woobie 3 years ago, I was told that he was extremely aggressive with other animals and should be an only pet. He had been put in a position to fight with other dogs for food before he was rescued/surrendered so this made sense, but I was not notified of this concern until I had made the 5 hour drive to get him. By the time I was there and actually saw him I was committed, despite having a declawed rescue cat at home. They did test him with a cat at the shelter for me, but you could tell he was so terrified of the people in the room that, cat or no cat, he wasn't going to chance moving. I grew up with dogs and I feel capable of dealing with most behavior problems so I took him home. He was very fearful of people and actually passed out the first time I took him to the vet. I could see him looking more and more scared and when the vet actually went to touch him..he was out. He also hid in the corner of an upstairs room 99% of the time for the first few weeks I had him, and was, in general, behaving like a feral animal. He never did show any aggression towards the cats and after about a month I introduced him to my mom's dogs, and this was probably the first time I was able to see him completely relax and act like a normal dog - zero aggression. He has had a little doggy sister for the past 2.5 years and has played with dogs of varied sizes without any aggressive behaviors, in fact he appears to love other dogs. A neighbor down the road recently got two (very tiny) puppies, which I was unaware of when I stopped in their yard the other day. Woobie saw them before I did, because he apparently also loves puppies. He was right on the ground with them, nuzzling them, licking their faces, and letting them crawl on him.
I do believe that he demonstrated aggression in the shelter, and they were right to notify my of that, but I can't imagine how sad he would be if he didn't get to play with all of his doggy friends, and snuggle with his little sister. He has remained fearful of men, and is generally pretty distrustful of everyone but me (he is like my little shadow) but as for dogs, he has only love.
 

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Shelters are super stressful environments and many dogs shut down or act out because of that. It's pretty common for a dog's temperament to seem quite different once they are adjusted to living in a home.
 

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Shelters are super stressful environments and many dogs shut down or act out because of that. It's pretty common for a dog's temperament to seem quite different once they are adjusted to living in a home.
Very true. There are lots of dogs described as aggressive who never display it in their adopted home, and dogs described as shy who turn out to be anything but once they settle in to their new homes.

I have found, many, many time, that dogs described as "defiant" or "troublesome" or "impossible to train" are just underexercised and react poorly to punishment-based training. A few weeks of walking and treats and they're suddenly polite, well behaved dogs. It's magic!
 

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I've met some animals (mostly cats, but a few dogs) who were COMPLETELY different in their new homes (privately re-homed, so no stressful shelter in between). Brains are weird, who knows.
 

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Lenore went through a huge change after about 2 months in our home. I think part of it came from being sick when we adopted her (she had an upper respiratory infection) but the other part probably just came from being at the shelter for a while (over a month from what I understand). The shelter director had attempted to adopt her but her cat had been too aggressive with Lenore, that was one of the first things to change. While I wouldn't call Lenore high prey drive or bad with cats I can't imagine her allowing a cat to bully her. She is by no means timid, she does follow Hallow around and she will chase Hallow if Hallow runs (Hallow is super dog savvy and not at all intimidated by even large dogs). She was described as friendly, low key, crate trained, good with kids, other dogs, cats (possibly a bit afraid of them), and calm. For the first 2 months in our house that is about how I would have described her. She was cuddly, excellent with the kids, great with other dogs, fairly responsive, quiet, and fairly calm in the house. Then she got comfortable and while she is still a really cool dog we can certainly see far more of her personality. She is still cuddly, great with people of all ages (she loves kids and is super tolerant even seeks out toddlers to play with), she likes to nip in play (having a hard time breaking that habit), she loves to run and wrestle, she is tenacious, she likes to chew, she is by far not crate trained (she is house broken so it isn't a big deal but she flips out in a kennel) and she found her voice. She is also a stubborn little thing, training is hard with her, she doesn't take well to luring so it is mostly about capturing.
 

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I saw a private rehome happen that way. My ex-fiance had to rescue this dog. Lucy. Owner said she was great with dogs, kids, leash, housebroke blah blah.

Well 30 days later he returned her because she constantly attacked Royce, was afraid and growled at my daughter, peed everywhere, she wouldn't let us know she needed to go out, she would hide in a corner and pee or just do it in front of us. Wouldn't walk on a leash. It was awful, and she got worse by the day, she just hid constantly and growled at everything.

Now if they lied or she just lost her shit I'll never know.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I have had other shelter dogs but I guess this is the first time that the dog was pretty much the opposite of how he was while in the shelter. He has played with several dogs over the years in different environments, including random dogs at the groomer's, and has never exhibited any aggression. I'm just fascinated that he went from attacking other dogs to seeking them out. I initially thought it was pretty normal that he was fighting with the dogs that he came in with since he had been fighting with them for food (and he was not thin), and assumed he would have some resource guarding issues, but none of that either. Unless its a raw bone or favorite treat, he's a big pushover. My other dog was that a shy little thing that was huddled against her cage door, trying to cuddle with anyone who would pet her. A few years later and she is still the most cuddly dog I've ever owned. She did become extremely hyper, but she was only a few months old when I got her so I suspected that she would come out of her shell a bit. She has changed in many ways since I've had her, but her behavior at the shelter was fairly indicative of how she is.
 

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It can go both ways.

My dog Luna was more or less consistent with how she was in the shelter.

I've known other dogs that go batty in that kind of environment and end up doing much better in a home environment with regular attention and exercise.

You also have to consider that sometimes the shelter is getting their info from a 3rd party. For example, there was a dog at our shelter my friend wanted to adopt, but she had 3 cats and the shelter he was at before ours reported that the owner said no cats for him, so he had been marked as no cats.

They decided to test him anyway, and since they didn't see anything alarming, sent him home with her for a trial to see how it went. Well, the dog ended up being afraid of her cats for the most part, and they were snuggling together on the couch within a week.
 

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I'd never trust a private person rehoming a dog. They say they need to rehome their 'loving dog' because they are moving or somebody is allergic when the real reason is biting, barking, messing and/or eating the house and so on.

Ginger was exactly what I expected from what I saw at the shelter. She barked at a passing dog and redirected instantly when I ran away from her. She does the same now.

Bucky was exactly the same as I expected but early days. He was at the shelter for biting and clearly didn't allow handling as he had matting and ingrown dew claws. He bit because he didn't like getting grabbed to be manipulated, he is fine so long as I took my time and increased invasive handling slowly.

Max was a surprise. He came to me with my favorite tail wag ever, helicopter tail, but the following day his true colors came out - seriously fearful. He always trusted and clung to me though.

Sassy was described as a good family dog by the rescue who knew her pretty well as she came back at least once due to straying. Well she wasn't too large, she didn't bite, she wasn't a door bolter was always up for a walk but she was a major garbage hound, not safe around metermen, pulled on the leash, monster prey drive.
 

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I'd never trust a private person rehoming a dog. They say they need to rehome their 'loving dog' because they are moving or somebody is allergic when the real reason is biting, barking, messing and/or eating the house and so on.
This goes back to what I was saying, though. Does the dog really have behavioral issues, or is it just underexercised, understimulated and untrained? Would I "adopt" through craigslist? No, I want to support shelters and rescues and not shady people who may have stolen the dog specifically to sell it, but a lot of those "loving" dogs really are loving, they just need someone who will love them back.
 

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One of my favorite fosters who I would have adopted myself if I had more time to talk my brother into it before a family came along wanting to adopt him had baffling stuff in his profile. He had been adopted out from the rescue when he was about 2 years old and returned about 5 years later. They returned him because they got tired of paying the fee at the local pound picking him out when he got loose. On the surrender forms they ask for info about the dog. They said he had bitten them multiple times, chased the chickens, and a few other things I can't remember. I think to some extent people list some bad behaviors on the surrender paperwork to make themselves feel most "justified" for surrendering the dog. "See, they have all these issues! How am I supposed to deal with that? I just can't keep them." Honestly if this dog was snapping/biting these people I have to wonder what they were doing to him.

This dog was seriously one of the nicest and sweetest dogs to come through my house. He was at the shelter for about 6 months before I brought him home as a foster, I had him for close to 3 months I think. I saw zero resource guarding in him, with people or dogs. LOVED everyone. Well behaved in the house, not a single accident, never stole food, didn't chew on anything he shouldn't....except underwear... he would steal and eat the crotch out of underwear. His one and only vice which was easily managed. He got adopted by a family with a little girl and they all couldn't be happier together.


No big surprises with Jubel from his behavior at the shelter to his behavior at home. He did become a more bratty about 2-3 months after coming home and settling in but overall temperament is the same.
 
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