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M&M
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Location: Massachusetts
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12-01-2018, 06:44 PM

How much training will a rescue absorb?

About 2 years ago my husband and I wanted to add to our dog family and rescued a corgi/terrier mix. The rescue we got her from explained that they weren't completely sure of her past, as she was found on the streets, but were sure she was abused and/or neglected. We were determined to give this dog a good home, and were told that with extensive training she could overcome her issues (weariness of strangers-specifically men, other dogs, and children).

My husband and I got started right away with her training. In the past 2 years, overall, she has come a long way. She has moved past her panic attacks, food aggression, loves being around all people, including men, and allows me to touch her paws so I can clean her.

With all the training she has had, there are a couple things we haven't been able to overcome, which I'm worried may be because of her unknown, most likely abused, past.

She still has control/territorial issues with our other dog. She randomly lunges at him without provocation (our other dog could literally be getting up to stretch and she suddenly just lunges at him, growling and scaring him off), and keeps him from certain areas of the house if she doesn't want him there.

Our second issue is that she still doesn't get along with children. We have children in our home quite often, as our friends have children, and they don't need to be doing anything other than breathing to get her growling and ready to lunge at them. The place we rescued her from claimed she loved children, but were weary of them and had to be approached a certain way, but this is not the case with the dozens of times we've seen her interacting with them.

My husband and I are not sure how to provide additional training to help her overcome these issues. We adopted her at 4-5 years old, therefore we're worried whatever past she came from is ingrained in her and perhaps cannot be trained (and if that's the case, need to be told the cold hard facts from someone that has had experience working with abused dogs).

Our other dog is starting to show signs of anxiety and stress due to her bullying antics, which is worrisome because not only is he scared to go anywhere near her in fear of her lunging, but there are times where he won't eat and has been having digestive issues.

I'm hoping someone here has had experience training dogs that have come from a rough, abusive past, or at least has had experience training a dog that seems to have issues with other dogs and children. My husband and I are looking to have children soon, and want our dog to be prepared for a child being in our home 24/7. We're hoping these last two obstacles she faces can be overcome with training, but if not, we need to know.
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Besoeker
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13-01-2018, 05:48 AM
Originally Posted by M&M View Post
About 2 years ago my husband and I wanted to add to our dog family and rescued a corgi/terrier mix. The rescue we got her from explained that they weren't completely sure of her past, as she was found on the streets, but were sure she was abused and/or neglected. We were determined to give this dog a good home, and were told that with extensive training she could overcome her issues (weariness of strangers-specifically men, other dogs, and children).

My husband and I got started right away with her training. In the past 2 years, overall, she has come a long way. She has moved past her panic attacks, food aggression, loves being around all people, including men, and allows me to touch her paws so I can clean her.

With all the training she has had, there are a couple things we haven't been able to overcome, which I'm worried may be because of her unknown, most likely abused, past.

She still has control/territorial issues with our other dog. She randomly lunges at him without provocation (our other dog could literally be getting up to stretch and she suddenly just lunges at him, growling and scaring him off), and keeps him from certain areas of the house if she doesn't want him there.

Our second issue is that she still doesn't get along with children. We have children in our home quite often, as our friends have children, and they don't need to be doing anything other than breathing to get her growling and ready to lunge at them. The place we rescued her from claimed she loved children, but were weary of them and had to be approached a certain way, but this is not the case with the dozens of times we've seen her interacting with them.

My husband and I are not sure how to provide additional training to help her overcome these issues. We adopted her at 4-5 years old, therefore we're worried whatever past she came from is ingrained in her and perhaps cannot be trained (and if that's the case, need to be told the cold hard facts from someone that has had experience working with abused dogs).

Our other dog is starting to show signs of anxiety and stress due to her bullying antics, which is worrisome because not only is he scared to go anywhere near her in fear of her lunging, but there are times where he won't eat and has been having digestive issues.

I'm hoping someone here has had experience training dogs that have come from a rough, abusive past, or at least has had experience training a dog that seems to have issues with other dogs and children. My husband and I are looking to have children soon, and want our dog to be prepared for a child being in our home 24/7. We're hoping these last two obstacles she faces can be overcome with training, but if not, we need to know.
Hi and welcome from me. I'm sure others will be along with their welcomes too.

Well done for the rescue. Sorry about the remaining issues you have. Good that he has progressed under your care but growling at the children would worry me.

Ours also came from a rescue centre when he was about a year old. And, again like yours, was picked up as a stray, so no prior history. He was a shy, timid fellow but we took him out a lot so that he could socialise with other people, including children, and dogs. Came completely out of his shell fairly quickly. Loves children.

To the point where he can be a bit of a nuisance if we have visitors - getting under there feet. We use distraction to reduce/avoid that. Giving him a carrot works.
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Ptolemy82
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13-01-2018, 02:17 PM
Welcome to the forum. Well done for taking a rescue (rarely easy in my experience), I fully appreciate the work you have put in so far and I know what this means in terms of patience, persistence and just plain hard work.

So that I can understand this better, some more information, if you don't mind. How have you worked with her so far? How did you manage to get her through the panic attacks and food aggression? You've obviously done a lot of work involving other people, how have you appproached this and how have you dealt with it if she's not keen on the person?

I can't attempt to give specific answers as, to do this, I would need to see your dogs, at home, observe your interaction with your dogs, their interaction with you, their interaction with each other, take time, get a lot of history, etc. Not geographically likely.

When a dog has been abused or ill-treated, I don't believe they forget, but with the right approach, they are often able to move on (my rottweiler was VERY hand shy around her head when I first got her and now, 8/9 months on, she is comfortable with my hands and the hands of people she knows, but if a stranger approaches and reaches out towards her head, she will often cower).

Some dogs are still not past their problems 5/6 years on but these are SPECIFIC, RELATED issues (one dog, kidnapped and recovered, has a fear of SOME cars in specific situations, but change the car, or put the same car in a different situation, then there's a different reaction).

My point here is don't dwell on her past, in the main she should have left it behind because things have been so different for the last two years. Concentrate on the present and deal with that.

"She still has control/territorial issues with our other dog. She randomly lunges at him without provocation (our other dog could literally be getting up to stretch and she suddenly just lunges at him, growling and scaring him off), and keeps him from certain areas of the house if she doesn't want him there."

When this happens, what is your response? How have you tried to address this? Has anything worked, if so, what?

My general "rule of thumb" is that when a dog saves up his/her pennies and contributes to the mortgage, he/she can dictate who does what and where. Up until that point, my mortgage, I'll decide. To clarify, this has NOTHING to do with leadership or dominance or a pack. The same sort of rules apply to my children.

"...she still doesn't get along with children...growling and ready to lunge"

Again, when this happens, what is your response? and how have you tried to address this? Has anything worked, if so, what?

To understand and adjust/change a behaviour, you should be looking at the ABC of what has occurred.

A - antecedant - what happened immediately beforehand (what were BOTH dogs doing)?

B - behaviour - what behaviour actually occurred (forget things like control and territorial; forget "ready to...") "she lunged at him, did/did not make contact, barked, growled, etc.?

C - consequence - what did she get out of it, i.e., what was the reward (other dog moved, ran away, cringed, etc.)?

When you change a behaviour, you change the consequence. If all you do is change the consequence, or react after the consequence, you are not likely to change the behaviour as some behaviours are "self-rewarding" (think about a hug - makes the other person feel good, but also makes YOU feel good, i.e., it's rewarding YOU and them).

@Besoeker touches on part of an answer with carrots. Assuming your dog likes carrots, other dog comes in, she gets a piece of carrot. Starts to associate prescence of "other dog" with something she likes. Doesn't feel the need to lunge/growl/etc., because if she scares off the other dog, no carrot, therefore "unwanted" behaviour doesn't happen. Not quite so simple, but you get the idea.

To answer your main point, training will improve your situation, but no trainer in their right mind will guarantee your problems can be completely "cured". All dogs are different and what works for one may not work for another.
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DogLov
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10-02-2018, 02:46 PM
I agree with what has been said so far too. I'd like to add that you have to assess your own thoughts and responses as well.

Do you get tense when the other dog comes in the room? Are you expecting your rescue is going to automatically lunge at your other dogs?

Don't expect bad behaviors to happen. For one, your dog can sense it and on top of that, it will react according to your own reactions.

If you're getting nervous, you're telling your dog it should be nervous and a protective dog will protect you from the 'threat'.

Don't bail out and give up either because your dog will be upset. Think about how you feel when your going for something, have support then all of a sudden that support is dropped. Your dog feels the same way.

Also, one technique that I found worked really well with my dogs that couldn't stand to be around each other was to walk them on a split leash or just use two separate leashes. This way they get comfortable with each other's presence.

Hope this helps
DogLov
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Gnasher
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12-02-2018, 12:09 PM
I took on a rescue about 6 years ago - Ben. Very coincidentally, he turned out to be our previous dog's son, but that's another story. For the first 3 years of his life he had been abused - tied up in the back garden on a running line, living 24/7 on concrete with no shelter. He was never walked, his life existed just running up and down the length of the rope. Following that he was rescued by a lovely family, who worked through some of his issues but were forced to rehome him because their Rottweiler bitch kept beating Ben up - unsurprisingly because he was really not a very nice dog. He then ended up with a friend of our's who gave him no discipline, spoiled him rotten; they adored each other but our friend had a very bad accident and was hospitalised for many weeks, and we ended up fostering Ben whilst his owner was in hospital. Ben formed a very strong bond with our boy Tai, so we ended up keeping him. Then the fun started.

Ben had issues - he had issues with other dogs, he was not very reliable with children and it was clear he was frightened of them - a dangerous situation. He is a very large powerful dog, an alaskan malamute wolf cross, and therefore needed to be mended very quickly. My advice to the OP with regards to aggression to other dogs, is stick with it; socialise the dog as much as you possibly can - pubs are excellent places for this - you will have to keep him on the lead in public places, but don't shy away from situations - if someone has a very friendly dog who wants to come and say hello, that's fine. If your dog kicks off, so what? Dog goes for another dog. Headline news!! Don't panic, keep calm and explain the situation. With Ben we always made sure that we were ready to pull him back and get between him and the other dog - effectively blocking him whilst telling him no. If he carries on, as Ben used to do, continue to block, he will get the message. Don't let yourself get panicked by other people's hostility, just ignore them and concentrate on your dog. You are giving him a very important lesson by staying calm but at the same time showing no fear. It took us probably a few months to get to the stage where Ben's behaviour was reliable.

With children it is slightly different - you cannot have the situation where children have approached your dog and get barked at. We handled this by inviting children who wanted to pat Ben to approach him. I would have hold of him very firmly by the collar whilst he was patted and stroked. Almost immediately Ben knew I would not allow these children to mistreat him in any way, and would relax such that I could let them stroke his tummy ... Tai of course was a very good role model for Ben, but even so there were frequent occasions when Ben kicked off in the pub and Tai would join in just for the hell of it. We then had 2 very large wolfie dogs kicking off at some poor unsuspecting labrador who had just come in. Same solution, stay calm and block and do not allow other people to flap you with stupid remarks about dangerous dogs.

The only way I believe to ensure the safety of children and other dogs is to jump in the deep end and do it. If you are really fearful, then as a last resort muzzle your dog to start with, but this is very much a last resort. Blocking an aggressive dog with your body, keeping your vulnerable fingers out of the way, makes it nigh on impossible for either you to get bitten or the other dog.

Keep the faith - and don't be alarmed if your dog growls at a kid who has been rough, stepped on his tail or whatever. Dogs are entitled to express their feelings, and defend themselves, and there is nothing wrong with a warning growl. Children have to learn to be gentle with dogs as much as the other way round.

Never, never, never leave your dog alone with a child or children - I have a 4 year old grandson who Ben adores, but they are never left alone, even though ben is 100% trustworthy, it is just not worth the risk.

I do hope this helps you - I know how embarrassing it is when you have a dog who kicks off in public at other dogs, but with calm, firm consistency you will get there; do not avoid public places, expose your dog as much as you can to walks with other dogs, pub lunches and dog training classes - a great place for a dog aggressive dog to learn some manners.

Good luck!
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Besoeker
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12-02-2018, 03:54 PM
Originally Posted by Gnasher View Post
I took on a rescue about 6 years ago - Ben. Very coincidentally, he turned out to be our previous dog's son, but that's another story. For the first 3 years of his life he had been abused - tied up in the back garden on a running line, living 24/7 on concrete with no shelter. He was never walked, his life existed just running up and down the length of the rope. Following that he was rescued by a lovely family, who worked through some of his issues but were forced to rehome him because their Rottweiler bitch kept beating Ben up - unsurprisingly because he was really not a very nice dog. He then ended up with a friend of our's who gave him no discipline, spoiled him rotten; they adored each other but our friend had a very bad accident and was hospitalised for many weeks, and we ended up fostering Ben whilst his owner was in hospital. Ben formed a very strong bond with our boy Tai, so we ended up keeping him. Then the fun started.

Ben had issues - he had issues with other dogs, he was not very reliable with children and it was clear he was frightened of them - a dangerous situation. He is a very large powerful dog, an alaskan malamute wolf cross, and therefore needed to be mended very quickly. My advice to the OP with regards to aggression to other dogs, is stick with it; socialise the dog as much as you possibly can - pubs are excellent places for this - you will have to keep him on the lead in public places, but don't shy away from situations - if someone has a very friendly dog who wants to come and say hello, that's fine. If your dog kicks off, so what? Dog goes for another dog. Headline news!! Don't panic, keep calm and explain the situation. With Ben we always made sure that we were ready to pull him back and get between him and the other dog - effectively blocking him whilst telling him no. If he carries on, as Ben used to do, continue to block, he will get the message. Don't let yourself get panicked by other people's hostility, just ignore them and concentrate on your dog. You are giving him a very important lesson by staying calm but at the same time showing no fear. It took us probably a few months to get to the stage where Ben's behaviour was reliable.

With children it is slightly different - you cannot have the situation where children have approached your dog and get barked at. We handled this by inviting children who wanted to pat Ben to approach him. I would have hold of him very firmly by the collar whilst he was patted and stroked. Almost immediately Ben knew I would not allow these children to mistreat him in any way, and would relax such that I could let them stroke his tummy ... Tai of course was a very good role model for Ben, but even so there were frequent occasions when Ben kicked off in the pub and Tai would join in just for the hell of it. We then had 2 very large wolfie dogs kicking off at some poor unsuspecting labrador who had just come in. Same solution, stay calm and block and do not allow other people to flap you with stupid remarks about dangerous dogs.

The only way I believe to ensure the safety of children and other dogs is to jump in the deep end and do it. If you are really fearful, then as a last resort muzzle your dog to start with, but this is very much a last resort. Blocking an aggressive dog with your body, keeping your vulnerable fingers out of the way, makes it nigh on impossible for either you to get bitten or the other dog.

Keep the faith - and don't be alarmed if your dog growls at a kid who has been rough, stepped on his tail or whatever. Dogs are entitled to express their feelings, and defend themselves, and there is nothing wrong with a warning growl. Children have to learn to be gentle with dogs as much as the other way round.

Never, never, never leave your dog alone with a child or children - I have a 4 year old grandson who Ben adores, but they are never left alone, even though ben is 100% trustworthy, it is just not worth the risk.

I do hope this helps you - I know how embarrassing it is when you have a dog who kicks off in public at other dogs, but with calm, firm consistency you will get there; do not avoid public places, expose your dog as much as you can to walks with other dogs, pub lunches and dog training classes - a great place for a dog aggressive dog to learn some manners.

Good luck!
Excellent advice as always.
You know the dog we have. Gentle, patient, tolerant. But you are right. We would never leave the grandchildren alone with him.
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Gnasher
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12-02-2018, 06:00 PM
Thanks so much - yes, I do know the gorgeous Max ... and you are very wise. NO dog is 100% safe with kids - just like NO dog is safe to walk beside a busy main road off lead - it just ain't worth it.

I have to say I am rather pleased with what we have achieved with Ben. He is what CM would have described as a red zoner, but he is a delightful member of society now and is feted wherever he goes. God he was a nasty git when we took him on!

I hope his story helps the OP.
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