New rescue, anxious established dog

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tinshee
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:24 pm

New rescue, anxious established dog

Post by tinshee » Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:38 pm

Hi! I'm new here but this looks like a great place to get advice. :)

I have had rescue boxers for almost ten years. Most recently, we had Max, an 11 yo boxer we rescued through a breed rescue from a shelter when he was 5 and Ally who was rehomed directly to us from her first home when she was 7 months.

Ally has a TON of anxiety issues. We've worked with a behaviorist and a trainer who specializes in BAT (though she determined that was not the best option for Ally and so we used other training with her) and it has made a big difference in Ally's everyday demeanor. But we believe she'll always be an anxious dog- it seems to be how she's wired.

She and Max, for the most part, really balanced each other. Unfortunately, last month we lost Max to dilated cardiomyopathy and congestive heart failure. </3

Ally has been lost without him. I really believe she does best with another dog, but it's complicated by the fact that she can be anxious around other dogs. We also wanted another dog. We're definitely a 2 dog household. (I'd probably get even more, but 2 is our max based on our lifestyle. :) )

So we just rescued Wero through a rescue. His previous owners said he's a boxer, but I think he's a mix. He is very sweet and laid back. So far, we haven't had any issues with him. But Ally is FREAKED OUT. Which we totally expected. We introduced them outside, and she lunged at him. We have the house set up right now so that she is in the living room, he is in the kitchen, and they can interact through a gate. Initially she was on alert constantly, but now, 24 hours later, she's doing much better.

Ally is crate trained. Wero was not, but we introduced the crate to him and he's taken to it immediately. He goes in there and hangs out. He's eating his dinner in there. He slept in there last night with very few complaints. (We put the crate in our bedroom, and Ally slept in the dog bed next to the bed like she usually does- no issues.)

I read on one of the articles I found that this set up should be used for at least three days.

I have also taken them outside on leash, and just worked on calm behavior, with treats. Overall it's gone well, though Ally is very aware of any movements Wero makes and if she thinks it's sudden she'll lunge at him. But through the gate she has playful body language and seems to want to play with him. (Which we haven't allowed, obviously, as I don't think she's actually ready for it.)

I know it is also suggested that you parallel walk with them, but Wero is really strong and Ally is so reactive, and we have 2 young kids, so the logistics of that are not possible. It's also still really snowy here in WI where we live, so while we have a huge yard it's basically unusable right now.

Sorry this is so long! I am just looking to get feedback on what we're doing and am open to any suggestions as to other/different things we should be doing. I'm trying not to be impatient about it, but I'm just anxious for this to work out. :)

Thanks!
Last edited by tinshee on Sun Mar 09, 2014 5:11 pm, edited 1 time in total.

CarolineLovesDogs

Re: New rescue, anxious established dog

Post by CarolineLovesDogs » Sun Mar 09, 2014 7:13 pm

It sounds like you are doing a lot of great things. Particularly the calm behavior. If you work with each of the dogs seperately on calm behavior, and get progressively closer while keeping the dog's attention on you, you will probably be able to get the dogs comfortable standing in close proximity to each other. Of course, end the session on a positive note- don't make the sessions last too long- and stop if you see any signs of stress- such as wide eyes showing the whites, tense body posture, lip licking.

The next progression that I have seen done several times would be to work with each dog seperately and teach them to target (touch) an object. At first, it could just be the end of a smooth stick. Then you could move on to your hand, and practice on other objects. Now here's the tougher part: Think if there is any dog that Ally is comfortable and relaxed around? Is there any dog that Wero gets along with and feels comfortable around? This will only work well if the dog they get along with is also fairly relaxed and able to calm down around other dogs. So once you have established a dog that Ally is comfortable with, teach her to target that dog with her nose (so for example, teach her to touch the dog's side). Then have the other dog target Ally. Do the same thing with Wero. Here's an article on teaching your dog to target: http://www.clickertraining.com/node/289

The only reason I suggest starting with dogs that are not your own is that your dogs may already have formed positive relationships with these dogs and would find it easier to practice the targeting behavior on. Then, once they know how to target a dog's body, and Ally and Wero are acting calm and relaxed around each other, you can transition them to targeting each other's bodies. Remember, don't go too fast and watch out for any signs of stress.

As for the leash walking issue, teach each dog to walk on a loose leash seperately before you take a walk with them both together. Then you could walk the dogs near each other but each with a different handler, and then transition them to each other. Here is a link to a short article on teaching your dog to loose leash walk. http://www.clickertraining.com/node/541 However, if you need more in depth, information, there are several great articles on training loose leash walking on Dr. Sophia Yin's blog, with some especially devoted to reactive dogs. (If you want those links and can't find it, just post and let me know).

And lastly, you mention that you have been keeping the dog's seperate at night (one confined in the crate, and the other not) and read that you should continue this seperate sleeping arrangement for at least 3 days. To be honest, I think it is best to be on the safe side and never have the dogs out together when you won't be there to supervise. So maybe one night you crate Wero and Ally can sleep outside of the crate on a dog bed, and the next night Wero can sleep on his dog bed in your room while Ally sleeps in the crate? I think it's always better to be safe rather than sorry in preventing a scuffle- or wose fight- in a multiple dog home. And I like how you say you are feeding Wero in his crate; it is usually wise to give the dogs valued resources like food or toys when they are in seperate rooms or crates so as to prevent scuffles that may arise from desire for the valued object.

I don't want to bombard you with links, but I only included ones I thought would be helpful, so please forgive me for the long post with all the links. I do hope this helps though, and if you have questions about clarification of anything I said, please do ask. Also, if the situation gets more serious, I think it would be beneficial for you to work with an experience force free (positive reinforcement) trainer. And lastly, I want to say that it sounds you are doing great and keeping the dog's apart is the way to go when you can't supervise. I wish you the very best!

tinshee
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:24 pm

Re: New rescue, anxious established dog

Post by tinshee » Sun Mar 09, 2014 7:49 pm

Thank you so much for your reply!!! And the links. :)

I have them separate all the time right now, not just at night. That's the arrangement I read should continue for three days. I don't know if this will work, but here's a photo of it (you can see Ally's nervous in this pic. It was first thing this morning. I just took another where they're laying relaxed next to each other on opposite sides of the gate, though I think it was because each wanted to be near me.)

Image

In terms of sleeping, I don't know if this is one of those human-projecting-onto-dog things, but I didn't want Ally to feel displaced, so I've tried to keep her sleeping situation the same as it's always been.

ScarletSci
Posts: 463
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:44 pm

Re: New rescue, anxious established dog

Post by ScarletSci » Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:02 pm

I don't think that's projecting human feelings onto dogs, any multi-dog owners will agree that dogs absolutely do feel jealousy, and can feel pushed out by a new addition. Take that up a notch, and you get resource guarding, something you're gonna have to be aware of and careful about. You're their most valuable resource after all!

Wishing you so much luck, they're beautiful dogs! Hopefully they will bond well and enjoy each others company.

CarolineLovesDogs

Re: New rescue, anxious established dog

Post by CarolineLovesDogs » Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:42 pm

tinshee wrote:Thank you so much for your reply!!! And the links. :)

I have them separate all the time right now, not just at night. That's the arrangement I read should continue for three days. I don't know if this will work, but here's a photo of it (you can see Ally's nervous in this pic. It was first thing this morning. I just took another where they're laying relaxed next to each other on opposite sides of the gate, though I think it was because each wanted to be near me.)


In terms of sleeping, I don't know if this is one of those human-projecting-onto-dog things, but I didn't want Ally to feel displaced, so I've tried to keep her sleeping situation the same as it's always been.
You're welcome! I really do hope I helped, and wish I could offer more advice. Good luck! And they are very, very beautiful dogs!!:) Keep us updated on how things are going with them.;) :)

victorianpaws
Posts: 13
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2013 8:38 pm

Re: New rescue, anxious established dog

Post by victorianpaws » Sat Mar 15, 2014 2:51 pm

As someone with an anxious, rather anti-social dog as well I've learned a few tricks to introduce her with dogs she's unfamiliar with.

My first suggestion is walking the dogs together. You stated that Wero is a puller, so my best advice is really work hard on mastering the walk before you try this. When he's able to walk calmly on a lead with little to no tension, let the two dogs sniff each other for a moment and start walking! Even if it's just doing laps and laps around the backyard, the sensation of being a "pack" and moving together can actually be soothing and comforting. Calmly praise each when they are calm, moving forward and aren't really acknowledging each other. If Ally starts lunging at him, put some a little space between the two and ignore her. She's just being insecure and she needs you to remain calm, and confident. She'll reflect your energy, as well as Wero.

My second trick is fetch! My dog just loves fetch and even though she is anxious, insecure and tends to lunge at dogs she doesn't know, I found that when the tennis balls come out she is game. This is best done in a secure area with plenty of space and tons of tennis balls (I normally do this at the local dog park a few times a week). Encourage your dog to play fetch with you and try to encourage another tennis ball loving K9 to enjoy "chasing the ball". The first couple times, hey maybe the first twenty times, your dog may seem rather cautious about running beside this unfamiliar K9 but still wanting the ball. She may be hesitant to run more then a couple feet away from you or try to dive for the ball when she reaches it but don't give up! Toss one closer to her direction and when she reaches it first, praise like she has just won a million dollars. It's about raising her confidence in the presence of other dogs! It took about twenty minutes of ball throwing till my dog felt comfortable enough to be sprinting along with the pack, going after the elusive tennis ball. Now maybe your dog isn't a fetch dog, but think of games she might love. Tug-a-war? Tag? I would really recommend trying a dog park or using Wero. It's a positive association thing, "Hey this is my FAVORITE game and this other dog is joining in. Maybe, just maybe they aren't so bad."

Also, I would suggest feeding them together, even if it's on opposite sides of the gate. If they are doing everything together that's fun and positive, it's just creating positive associations with each other. Do keep some things the same, like your already doing with the sleep arrangement so she doesn't feel like her entire life is changing and do give each dog special attention separately.

I wish you the best of luck!!

ScarletSci
Posts: 463
Joined: Mon Feb 04, 2013 3:44 pm

Re: New rescue, anxious established dog

Post by ScarletSci » Sun Mar 16, 2014 4:30 am

I just want to interject a note of caution into the fetch scenario suggested above...

Most dogs will not appreciate another dog chasing after their ball. You're adding stress and competitiveness right there. My older spaniel will go for another dog if he thinks they are after a ball, he's so fixated. It's the only time he's ever shown aggression. I don't play fetch with both my spaniels together because Jack, the older boy is the one who really really loves his ball and while he won't go for Pixie, she is faster than him and gets the ball every time. No fun for boydog anymore.

Getting them used to being together involved super yummy treats, joint and separate training (joint training is fun, and got them both into a training mindset rather than a competing for attention mindset), and not allowing any situations where one was getting aggravated to continue.

Once they're both walking better on the lead, then joint walks to fun new places can be great for building a bond. But I think you're doing a lot of very good things already, and are, to use a quote of Nettle's, "setting them up for success". You've put a lot of thought and work into it already, something I wish more owners would do when they add another dog! And of anyone stands a good chance of getting it to work, I think it's you. Good luck!

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Nettle
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Re: New rescue, anxious established dog

Post by Nettle » Sun Mar 16, 2014 5:34 am

And another note of caution for the feeding together - IME it always causes stress between dogs that are already stressed. Dogs feel much safer if they can eat undisturbed (which includes not being Looked At) by other dogs. And reactivity is all about the dog not feeling safe. Never forget that a strange dog (even a strange dog in the home) is not a potential friend but a potential rival.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

tinshee
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Mar 09, 2014 4:24 pm

Re: New rescue, anxious established dog

Post by tinshee » Sun Mar 16, 2014 10:30 am

Thank you to everyone for your suggestions!!!

We're a week in and it's going better than I expected. Ally has really settled down. For the most part she is responding well to him. (They're snoozing together on the couch right now.) The only area she still is really anxious around is play. Wero is super playful and like a bulldozer when he gets in play mode. She starts out wanting to play but then gets anxious and becomes aggressive. So I'm just stopping any play between them as soon as it starts. She's also a little nervous about eating, but that's true for her often for reasons we don't know. I do feed them separately, but I've always done that with my dogs.

We're continuing to be cautious even in situations that seem to be resolved, but are pleasantly surprised at how smoothly things have gone.

We are still crating Wero at bedtime, in part to avoid any issues between them and in part because I don't think he's trustworthy unsupervised. :)

Thanks again so much. :)

CarolineLovesDogs

Re: New rescue, anxious established dog

Post by CarolineLovesDogs » Sun Mar 16, 2014 2:58 pm

tinshee wrote:Thank you to everyone for your suggestions!!!

We're a week in and it's going better than I expected. Ally has really settled down. For the most part she is responding well to him. (They're snoozing together on the couch right now.) The only area she still is really anxious around is play. Wero is super playful and like a bulldozer when he gets in play mode. She starts out wanting to play but then gets anxious and becomes aggressive. So I'm just stopping any play between them as soon as it starts. She's also a little nervous about eating, but that's true for her often for reasons we don't know. I do feed them separately, but I've always done that with my dogs.

We're continuing to be cautious even in situations that seem to be resolved, but are pleasantly surprised at how smoothly things have gone.

We are still crating Wero at bedtime, in part to avoid any issues between them and in part because I don't think he's trustworthy unsupervised. :)

Thanks again so much. :)
It's great to hear that things are going well with you and your dogs.

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