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M&M
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M&M is offline  
Location: Massachusetts
Joined: Jan 2018
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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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Location: Dunstable UK
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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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