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Need advice with senior rescue dog behavior

Discussion in 'Behavior' started by Brianna, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. Brianna

    Brianna Forums Novice

    Apr 20, 2017
    It’s been 5 months since we rescued our sheltie mix, Sister. She is presumably 8 years old, possibly older. We’re unaware of her prior history but do know she was rescued from a hoarding situation, then placed in foster care prior to us adopting her. Her behavior presents like she was abused or never properly socialized as she is HIGHLY sensitive and skiddish. When we first adopted her, she was terrified of everything and would shake, have GI issues, and excessively pant. She still experiences stress cues when we get too close such as lip licking and freezing, but overall, I feel like she has started to trust us more. She has a very sweet demeanor and is well behaved. She feels most safe in her crate. We keep it open but she prefers to stay in it most of the day. In fact, she only comes out to potty and eat, then will immediately retreat to her crate. However, she does leave her crate at night when we start to get ready for bed (shower, brush teeth, etc) and will hop on the bed and sleep with us for a few hours then leave. She was heartworm + when we adopted her and had her treated. We thought a lot of her low energy, aloofness, and crate preference was due to her not feeling well. However, we have finished therapy and if anything, I’ve seen an increase in distant behavior, which is what brought me to this forum. Recently Sister has been leaving her crate (yay) but to only retreat to our bed or bathroom. When we sit down on the couch or computer, which is in the same room as her crate, she immediately gets up and leaves. It’s like she is hiding. If we close the door she just sits in the hallway. I am worried we are regressing in her progress. I don’t want to shut the door if she is wanting additional safe places, however, I don’t want to encourage her to stay in our bed all day either. I still feel like she is adjusting so to encourage trust and facilitate bonding I will go in our bedroom when she is on the bed to give her pets and treats, but now I am worried we created a situation in which she associates positive feelings only with our bed. We have been told to provide positive reward when she comes out of the crate and approaches us but this has never happened outside of potty/feeding/bedtime routine. She has never approached us for pets, the most affection I see is when she jumps on the bed with us or goes on walks as she constantly looks back at me. She has started to miss meals which she never did, but we are off steroids now and the vet assured me that this was ok. At dinner time when we call her to eat she just runs to our bed and will sit there for long periods of time instead of eating. We just find her recent behavior odd. I assumed she would start feeling more secure/confident by now. I am looking for advice on how to facilitate more confidence and security to our old rescue dog.
  2. Cindy

    Cindy Forums Enthusiast

    There are some people on here with mill dogs... Search for Claire. It was a VERY long road.
    MissyGallant and Brianna like this.
  3. ghggp

    ghggp Premium Member

    Aug 28, 2011
    Grosse Pointe, Michigan
    Yes, Claire is the go to person for this issue!

    You might also find this book helpful

    The Diary of Lucy Blue, a Puppy Mill Survivor
    The Diary of Lucy Blue, a story about one of the Great Stars of Second Chance Sheltie Rescue. Follow Janice and Gary Mitchell as they relate the careful rehabilitation of a puppy mill dog. This diary has become an icon in rescue, giving guidance and insight in taking care of animals abused in the Missouri puppy mill industry.
    $ 10.00


    Good luck to you!
    Brianna likes this.
  4. Calliesmom

    Calliesmom Moderator

    Mar 29, 2008
    near Mobile, AL
    My first sheltie was a rescue- Callie was about 5 years old when I got her. She wasn't as bad off as your pup although she did not eat the first few days. She did not come near me for a while but eventually did. My secret weapon is that I already had another dog that I got her to be a friend for him. She followed his lead and since he was a confident dog that not much bothered him- it helped her to feel more secure and within only a few months she had settled in and was a great companion.
    Brianna likes this.
  5. Calliesmom

    Calliesmom Moderator

    Mar 29, 2008
    near Mobile, AL
    search for threads by Woodbender for Claire's story.
    Also search for threads by Tagg- another member who got a rescue sheltie.
  6. Bailey's Mom

    Bailey's Mom Forums Enthusiast

    Jun 17, 2010
    Katy was our 2nd rescue and while it didn't seem she had suffered physical abuse it was clear she'd been neglected.

    Honestly if I could share one thing with myself from back then it would be have patience, celebrate the small victories, and accept her for who she is now not who she could be.

    I do agree with another poster we had a very outgoing rescue Sheltie already here when we got Katy and he helped her decide where she was willing to extend her boundaries and when it was best for him to take the lead.

    I noticed she lost some of her social confidence when Bailey died. However, our latest girl Annie is outgoing and social and Katy has regained and exceeded her previous boundaries.

    The two outgoing ones have be easier at times but I can't image not having had Katy in our lives.
    Brianna likes this.
  7. Hanne

    Hanne Forums Enthusiast

    Nov 13, 2014
    Brianna likes this.
  8. trini

    trini Premium Member

    Nov 13, 2013
    upstate ny
    Bless you for giving little Sister a safe and loving home, even if she can't seem to fully accept it yet.

    Years ago we adopted a little sheltie boy, Teddy (est age around 6), who had been dumped in a shelter's overnight box and was assumed to be from a local puppymill that had routinely dumped other dogs. Teddy was terrified of everything. For the first 6 months he was with us he literally wouldn't move...he would lie, shaking uncontrollably, where ever we placed him. Only outside would he stand up long enough to do his business. A friend who visited us a few months after we adopted Teddy said, "Trini, this time you have taken on a project that you won't "win"." I knew we were in for a long haul and that Teddy might never fully become the doggie he would have been had his previous life been different, but I don't believe there is any dog who cannot make progress even if the damage that has been done to them emotionally is severe. After 6 months Teddy finally gained enough courage to stand up (we celebrated that he actually had legs!!!!!!) and walk across a room, but he wouldn't venture through a doorway to get to another room. It was over a year before he would go through any doorway...and 3 full years before he found the courage to walk down the 10' hallway from our kitchen to our bedroom. We had our little Teddy for almost 7 years before we lost him to kidney failure. He became one of the most loving and deeply bonded dogs I have ever had. He adored children and although he never learned to play with toys, his favorite game was for me to chase him around and around the trunk of a big old maple tree in the yard...you could see his eyes laughing as we played ring around the tree. As long as Teddy was home, inside or in the yard, he was a goofy, happy boy. He never did get over his fears if he was taken off the property. Our vets used to joke that they wondered if Teddy had any legs, they never saw him stand because he would revert to the lying down, shaking bundle little boy who first came to live with us whenever he wasn't "home".

    Your Sister sounds like she is way ahead of where our Teddy was when we got him. For every step forward, there are often steps backward in this journey. I wouldn't stress out too much if she seems to revert at times...just love her, let her set the pace and know that the day WILL come when her heart belongs to you fully...it just takes time...with Teddy it took a very long time but it was so worth it! I would happily go through it all again if I could have my sweet Teddy back.


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