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  #1  
Old Jul 9, 2014, 09:32 AM
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Sheltie4 Sheltie4 is offline
 
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Default Extreme Change in Behavior with new dog

I know there have been some other posts about acclimating new dogs.

We have a former foster Sheltie, who is exhibiting extreme changes in behavior. Our concern is that the adopters are about to give up and surrender her back to our rescue group.

Following is the story, in the foster parent's words:
I could use your advice regarding a foster I placed a year ago now named Sophie. She was from a breeder, 9 yrs old, shy, didnít like to go outside but would to potty - It was a big day when she came up and sat on the couch with me, and she was making a lot of progress.
Well, after 6 months I placed her and she was good for 3 months. Then the adopters also adopted Rossi (age 10 months) and her behavior started going downhill. Sophie is now very withdrawn, shies away from any contact (drops to the ground), resists walks, wonít eat for several days at a time off and on, gets aggressive towards electric motors (vacuum, shaver, hair dryer), and has become aggressive with Rossi (sometimes). She now stays in her dog bed in the bedroom and never comes out unless made to go outside. She is not very treat motivated.
Rossi is highly active, barky and very playful. Iím sure that his energy level gets on her nerves a bit, but he is beginning to be aggressive back to Sophie now that he is no longer a puppy, and there have been a few dogfights (not serious yet). Mom is home all day, Dad travels and is home on the weekends. Mom sounds about ready to give up on Sophie.
They have been to the vet, and Sophie is on thyroid meds. Vet didnít find anything. Mom is very concerned with Sophieís apparent total fear of everything (including her owners). If we had suggestions, I think she would be willing to try but she is very frustrated.
Does anyone have any suggestions or experience that I could share?
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  #2  
Old Jul 9, 2014, 11:19 AM
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trini gilmore trini gilmore is offline
 
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Unfortunately, I think the adopters moved way too soon adding a second dog before little Sophie had time to really feel at home and confident with all the new situations she was facing. Three months is not nearly enough time for an older dog, unless she started out with a very stable personality which she didn't, to make the transition.

My only suggestion would be that the adopters divide their home space for now with a gated doorway so that Sophie has a part of the house that is 100% hers...and Rossi has his own part. This may need to be done for a substantial period of time until little Sophie once again starts to come out of her shell. I suspect that, given time for her thyroid meds to really do their work and for her not to be pestered by an active pup, she will gradually blossom...but it won't happen overnight.

Very sad situation...I hope they give Sophie a chance.

Trini
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Old Jul 10, 2014, 05:39 AM
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Caro Caro is offline
 
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What a sad situation. And poor Sophie is the one they want to get rid of?

How old was Rossi when they got him, and what breed is he? It's sounds like they did a really stupid thing by bringing in another dog so soon and not integrating them properly. Are they inexperienced people because I wonder how well they will manage this situation without a behaviourist stepping in. It doesn't sound like they know how to read dog body language.

Trini's right about separating them, esp as their new dog is now an adolescent and sounds like he is challenging and undermining Sophie.

These are a few of the statements that trouble me.
  • She is withdrawn and stays in her bed - sounds to me like depression and anxiety brought about by a difficult situation.
  • Gets aggressive towards electric motors (vacuum, shaver, hair dryer) - That's a very common thing in a sheltie so is it really aggression. She could be barking at it because a) attention seeking b) taking her frustration out on inanimate objects c) she's become more sound sensitive because she's stressed.
  • has become aggressive with Rossi (sometimes) - Is she being aggressive or is she just telling an annoying puppy/adolescent to bugger off. Someone needs to see the interaction to see if she's just using dog language to tell him off. If she is being thwarted in using normal dog language her frustration will escalate and may lead to Rossi biting back when he should be settling down.
I really do think they need a professional to go and watch the interactions and see exactly what is going on. I get the feeling these owners are pretty clueless about dog language and this may be making things worse for Sophie. Could the foster make a home visit and see the interactions or recommend a behaviourist (definitely not anyone who is into dominance theories). Õ don't think this is an unsalvageable situation, if the owners can learn how to watch the dogs, supervise interactions and support Sophie. But it sounds like they need professional help.
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Old Jul 10, 2014, 08:15 AM
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trini gilmore trini gilmore is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Caro View Post
What a sad situation. And poor Sophie is the one they want to get rid of?

  • I really do think they need a professional to go and watch the interactions and see exactly what is going on. I get the feeling these owners are pretty clueless about dog language and this may be making things worse for Sophie. Could the foster make a home visit and see the interactions or recommend a behaviourist (definitely not anyone who is into dominance theories). Õ don't think this is an unsalvageable situation, if the owners can learn how to watch the dogs, supervise interactions and support Sophie. But it sounds like they need professional help.
  • >>>>
  • I agree...my one concern is that they find the right professional . I know in our area there literally is no one I would recommend to help in this situation...the "pros" here are all "by the book discipline"...not taking into account the differing needs of breed/circumstance...the wrong pro could do far more harm than good. I also agree that if possibly the foster Mom could give some on the premise help that might be just the support this family and Sophie need. I am so sad to see that Sophie may lose her home...every "failure" for a little rescue dog is a setback...she so deserves stability and a home that she can rely on. She obviously has it in her to make the transition with a supportive structure and love, since she did in her foster home.
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