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So there's kind of a couple parts to this. My husband and I "rescued" a dog that we realized later was severely abused by his first owner and severely neglected by the second set of owners (i.e. he's a highly active Sheltie who was caged about 80% of the time and had never been for a walk at the age of 1 1/2). We really love him, and we think he'll work well for us, but let's just say he's a bit challenging. He's bitten several people in the two months we've had him, including my 4 year old nephew who wasn't even looking at him. My most immediate problem, however, is feeding him. He was literally starving himself, not eating his old food or the new food we were trying to switch him to, until I started feeding him wet food everynight. Then he finally started eating the dried food too, and gained some of the weight he'd lost back. But just within the last week or two, he's off his food again. He still wolfs down the wet food I give him, but he refuses to eat almost any of the dry food that's always down, and now he's starting snapping visciously (or so it seems to me) at my cats if either of them comes near something he has decided is his food. I've looked online and everything I find says to get him on a schedule, cut out treats or human food (already working on that one), and eventually he'll learn and eat when he's hungry. I'm certainly willing to do that, my problem is that I can't have him eating my cats in the meantime. I'm starting to be really afraid that he's going to hurt one of them, and I don't want to give him up, that's all anybody's done with him, but I just don't know what to do anymore. If anyone has any experience with abused dogs, I'm sorely in need of training assistance. Has anyone else gone through this before?
 

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You need the help of a professional behavioralist. Your MOST SERIOUS problem is the fact that this dog has already bitten several people in two months. You must prevent this from ever happening again. In most locals, dogs are put down for bites to humans.

This poor dog has many behavioral issues, which you will need to deal with through management right now. Keep the cats safe by making sure the dog cannot get to them. Your dog is resource guarding, and it could end badly for one or both of your cats. Keep people safe by containing the dog whenever someone is in your home.

I've worked with undersocialized, neglected, and otherwise abused dogs, so I understand your not wanting to give up on this boy. Get some help now.

Good luck to you!
 

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I agree, you need professional help.

One minor issue - Does he prefer wet food to dry because the dry food hurts his teeth... does he have a problem with his teeth ?
 

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Jaspershooman, I just adopted a rescue with "special needs" recently as well. I joined this forum and have been reading a lot to try to figure things out on my own, but the more I read, the more I realize how difficult it is to find credible information on the internet (not referring to this message board of course). I think I'm finally on the right track because I have spoken to a behaviorist so I have a better idea where to look for good information. I was hesitant to get a consultation with a behaviorist because it's expensive but I ultimately I realized it was the only option. Sounds to be the same for you because if he bites anyone else, someone might call animal control and you won't have a choice about keeping him. If you can afford it, I think seeing a behaviorist is the way to go.

I don't know if this comparison will be as meaningful to you as it was for me, but for example, I'm a mental health therapist working with children and families. If a friend told me her kid was hitting people and had anger issues and she read all about therapy online so she thought she could fix the problem herself, I would worry about them. Likewise, if she wasn't going to go to a licensed professional because it was cheaper, there would have no way of knowing if that person was staying up to date with research in the field. The real animal behaviorists aren't handing out their information for free on internet either, so we really need a professional to make us a treatment plan and be available via phone and email when we have questions along the way.

Hopefully this will convince you enough to cut out some of the extra steps in between. :D
 
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