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Abused dog - where do we draw the line?





Idoru
Hi!

We have two dogs, one I've told you a bit about here earlier. The other is a mixed breed, 50% BeardedCollie, 25%
BorderCollie and 25% EnglishSetter. She's a year of age now, and we've had her about six month's. She was beaten in
her first home, and moved back to her breeder when she was somewhere around four to six month's. When she
first got there she was so afraid of the leach that she hid and wet herself, but after lot's of work it became handleble.
We saw the adds for re-location and after we tried out if this was the right place for her she moved here. In the beginning
there was lot's of problems, but she's a dog that's very found of life and extreamlly happy. That makes it worth a lot of
extra effort.

She wasn't house-broken, and we still haven't gotten to a perfect record, even if it's a whole lot better. We have to
run in and out with her like a puppy to keep accidents from happening. She's obviouslly afraid of people she doesn't
know and there is a lot of barking when we get visitors. It takes quite a while to make her calm down, and the other
dog doesn't make it any easier. He's the 'cop of the family' and tells her in his own rough way that her behaviour
is unwanted, with the consequence that she gets even more afraid. She's not aggresive, yet, but if she notices that
someone is unsure of her, she tries to take control by barking even more and jumping towards that person.

On top of it all she's very found of chasing the cats. We have a few living with us, all kept indoors, so peace in the
household is very necessary. The other dog we have had the same problem in the beginning, but since he hadn't
been abused we told him quite firmlly that it wasn't accepted, and he learned. With her, that's our greatest concern,
where do we draw the line?
We don't want to scare her or make her loose the confidence in us, but we have to get her to behave better.
There are many children playing here, and though she likes them, it's worse with their parents... A bit aquard when
they're picking them up or dropping them of.

Since I've seen that there are some dog-behaviuorists here, I hope to get some input on this post. All reasonable
opinions are welcome. Very Happy
Bikerman
You've taken on a big project.
Let me share my own experience - it may help.
We took an abused dog (Max - welsh collie cross) from the RSPCA 6 years ago. He was about 6 years old, had been badly abused and spent over a year in the RSPCA kennels. He was very jumpy around men in particular and would growl if I sat on the sofa next to my wife. He didn't like or show much affection and would hide under the coffee table most of the time.
The regime we implemented was;
1) Regular walks - on the lead twice a day. After a few weeks he was allowed off the lead when safe.
2) Training sessions twice a week at our local club. General obedience training (also allowed him to socialise with other dogs and owners), and agility training with the local agility club.
3) Everytime he growled at me he was put outside for 15 minutes. This was a real pain in the ass, but we persisted. It took over a month.
4) No violence, threats or even raised voices at all. Firm and consistent boundaries - so Max knew if he behaved in a certain manner then certain consequences would follow (like being put outside).
5) Fed twice a day at regular times (8am and 6pm) and after feeding put out into the back for 30 mins. It took him about a month to realise that was time 'to go' if he needed. He is now perfectly house trained - in fact he would rather bust than go inside.

All in all it was a long slow process. He is now a completely different dog. He is a complete cuddle-monster - can't get enough hugs and strokes. He still has some habbits which will never be completely broken - he is wary of strangers, although he will now tolerate being stroked by a stranger - something that would have resulted in a nip before, and he doesn't like to play with our other two dogs (I don't think he ever 'got' playing because of his early years). Other than that he is a normal happy dog. He competes every week in agility trials (although he is now a 'veteran' so he lollops around rather than tearing around at top speed). He also won a place at Scrufts (the dog show for mongrels) two years running.

The secret is patience, consistency/routine and love.
Idoru
Thanks!

Though I don't think we'll implement any new methods your post is good to read. It strengthens our position a bit
and ligths a spark of hope. We do see changes and that we've succeded in some manners, but there is still a long
way to go. The walks can be a real pain, since she refuses to understand that she have a lead on. She almost
strangle herself and I feel like crap having to force her. But, I do, and slowly, slowly, it get's better. She is jumpy
and prefers to walk in front of me, wich she may not do. Without the lead it's a compleatlly different dog. She loves
to run and to play with our other dog, but has a hard time of talking no for an answer. She get's uncertain when
other dogs doesn't play with her, and barks to get action. I don't allow it, that is, when it get's to bad. A few barks
are okay, but uncontrolled barking isn't. The problem lies in how to get her attention and to get her to remember.
But again, like you said, to be patient and concitence.

The food-routine is already active, and no violence. Raised voices though can't be avoided with children in the
house, but it works for her. She doesn't react on that. Training is a problem, since she likes to jump up and lick
my face. I think it's a way of her trying to release tention and make sure I'm not angry with her. But, ofcourse,
it isn't allowed... (Again, makes me feel like crap).

I'm afraid that one reason to her behaviour is accepting myself and my wife as leaders, since she can be very
hard to reach sometimes. We work very much with that finding some help in the TV-show by Cecar Milan and other
sources of dog-phsycology. Have been reading up a lot on that subject, and if woundhealer reads this and remembers
I must say that I've changed opinion as of how it shall be implemented and been helped by it.

Once again, Bikerman, thank's for your answer. It feels good to read and hear about the progress you made, and that
you know what your talking about.
NixNox
If there's one thing I've learned with animals, particularly pack or herd animals, it's that it is absolutely necessary you assert yourself as the dominant figure in their lives. You are pack leader.
When you have a dog that's incredibly shy of you; it can be difficult to assert yourself as both pack lead and the "shoulder they can cry on."

When she's behaving well and being sweet: love on her. Spoil her with treats and throw her favorite dog-toy. Give her all the appreciation and attention she craves and let her know you'd never hurt her.

By the same standards, however, if she adopts a dangerous or perhaps inconvenient behavior, then it is your responsibility to assert yourself as lead. This is your household; she must be made to know that there are rules to live by.

When you're in tenative situations where you don't want to go overboard with the disciplinarian attitude (such as this) I'm a big supporter of treats and "likes." Make it a routine. Whenever a visitor comes to the door, distract her either with something she enjoys or a favored treat. I once had a dog who, if you hand-fed him a bit of kibble, it was just as good as a treat.
For those of your guests that do not have a pre-conceived fear of canines: encourage them (once she has associated their arrival with treats) to even pet/spoil her as well.

Do this until she actually looks forward to visitors.

Other than that, what Bikerman said before is absolutely true. And if you can spare the time- walks are a must. If you cannot take her for a walk then take her for a car ride. I'm not sure about over in your area, but I happen to work at an agricultural supply shop and we openly welcome pets of all kinds there.
It gets her exposed to others. Other people AND other animals.
Idoru
Thx NixNox.

There is (ofcourse) constante progress beeing made! Very Happy
The visitor-part is still a big problem, but the 'chasing cats' is getting better. She is only allowed in one part
of the house, now-a-days, and the cats didn't use to go there much. Now there are almost always 2-3 of them
there, sometimes in the shelter of hights, but often also on the floor, even seeking contact. Surprised
When they chase around out of reach, and she isn't allowed to participate, there is a clear frustration. Not to
strange, though.
Ah, well, regarding the walks, they are regular. Perhaps not as long as they aught to be every time, but I can see
the healthy part in them. The weather also changed to summer here, so the dogs are out-side alot, tied to a hook
in the ground. Our back-yard lies next to a tennis-court, and there is a wall to practice on right next to where
the dogs are. We've actually taught them both to not bark at people training there, and not chase after balls
struck at the wall. Quite an achivement, I'd say!
Also, people pass right beside the back-yard relativelly often, and also there, there is progress. Some faces
have become familiar, and generally, the attitude is much less hostile when encountering something outdoors. Smile

We feel pride and hapiness, even if there is lot's of work left to be done.
Idoru
The situation developed and changed...
We decided that having two dogs that required lots of attention didn't work. At first we thought that keeping the
BorderCollie would be what we wanted, but after a while we decided to do the other way, to keep the BeardedCollie.
We've tried to have only the border, but didn't manage to activate him fully even then, plus, he could be placed
in another home, witch she couldn't. If we doesn't succed with her it's the end of the line...

So, here we are, with only the BeardedCollie, she who got me starting this thread of posts. When we left the BorderCollie
she crossed a line. It took place at the countryside, at a friends place, in a stressfull situation. New people for her were
visiting. We had been putting about half an hours effort in getting her to say hello to them, and finally succeded.
When they were going to leave our BeardedCollie of some reason attacked the young woman from behind, biting her
buttocks. We were taken totally of guard and surprised, since she already accepted the woman just a minute ago.

As a result of this, we now have just one dog with problems to focus at, but we doesn't trust her 100 %...
She is wonderful when we are only the family, and after she became alone she is also house-broken (over a year old...).
She have as good as stopped chasing our cats and all is progress - but for the people-skills...
She barks at people and tries to scare them. If she feel that they are insecure, she gets aggresive, and we don't
feel good about how things are, despite of all progress in other areas. Crying or Very sad
Any ideas of how we can get to trust her again, if ever?
As it is now it is not far away that we give up on her.
paul_indo
That is a sad story. I think it is always hard with a dog that has been mistreated.

When I was a kid we got a Basenji about a year lod who had been mistreated. At irst she would oten snap and she bit me a few times, not badly though eventually she relaxed but she was never a normal dog.

I have 3 dogs now. A Rottweiller, a Jack Russell cross (I think) and a brown and white medium sizes mutt. Kara, Snoopy and Charlie.

Snoopy was given to me as she was unwanted by her owner and rarely fed. She is a very well behaved, happy dog but still gets scared easily.

Charlie was thrown out of a car when he was very young 2 or 3 months and was brought to my house. He is nearly 2 years now and he still wets himself when he is scared. Most of the behavioral problems with Snoopy and Charlie went away when they reached around 2 years although Charlie still has a little way to go, still jumps up on me sometimes when he is told no.

I have been lucky in that none of them seem to be biters, except of each other occasionally.

They sometimes bark at a person who they don't trust and I can't figure out why, but they are dogs and I don't expect them to behave perfectly, after all how many people do? They are fine with anyone they know and love to meet new people. None of them have ever tried to bite anyone, luckily.

Don't give up too soon. It has taken over three years and a lot of frustration to get to a stage where all my dogs are pretty well behaved. Each time I thought I was there another dog arrived Laughing Laughing
Idoru
Nice to hear of your progress, always strengthening, and a very good reflection of behaviour. Laughing
All too true!!

Here the situation is strange. One part can't trust her, and that's tough. Another part is glad, and can see the
'new' dog she blossomed to be since she got alone here. But still, since she became alone she has tried to bite
two guests we've had. One of them my sister, and she understands and takes her time to listen to an explanation.
The other though, a brother of the young ones friend, coming here to pick up his little-brother... Not as easy to
manage, and it doesn't feel good. But still, we have some more patience to give her. Just hoping - and working - for the best.
jwellsy
I love watching the dog whisperer Cesear Milan.

She's still young, it's good to see you're so patient with her.
Idoru
Thx.

We also watch Cesar, and have gotten some useful tips there. He's really dedicated to what he does, and seem
to have a great philosophy not only on dog-behaviourism, but on life in whole. Unfortunattley I don't have all
the time I wished I had, or the possibility to bring the dog along to work. My wife is home with her during the
days, and she is also devoted to her, but can't walk her in the same way I do. On that point he's right, Cesar,
the walk matters a LOT. Smile

It's funny, has happened a few times, and happened yesterday aswell, we met a man with a dog during the
walk. We said hi and the dogs said hi and we talked for a while. If that would have been someone without a
dog it wouldn't have worked, but now, she didn't even take notice of the strange man standing right beside her... Laughing
paul_indo
Good luck and I hope your patience is rewarded.
Idoru
As it turns out this didn't become a sunshine-story with happy ending. We had to put her down. The aggresive behaviour
escaleted and she bit, so we didn't manage to keep her.
I've cried my eyes out in anger and sorrow, for this beeing diserved so much better.
Filled with life, joy and energy - destroyed and driven into not trusting the world before life even began.
I wish it could have been different, and that people abusing animals (and other people) someday find themselves
in a position where they can realize what they have done.
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