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-   -   Dog with strange behaviors (http://www.pets.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=55136)

jimwilbur August 4th, 2008 11:14 AM

Dog with strange behaviors
 
Hi, this is my first post here.

18 months ago my wife and I rescued an adult female Havenese named Suzie through a dog rescue agency. It turns out she had some behavior problems that are very troubling and we have not been able to change most of her odd behaviors but overall she is doing much better than when we first got her.

When we first got her, she would shiver constantly, hide in corners, would not go outside, would not respond to her name and was not housebroken. She would not come to us. She would eat normally and drink water. She would become terrified if we tried to pick her up or pet her.

We have two other dogs, a border collie and a westie and they are well behaved, friendly dogs. They get along well with Suzie and there are no problems in that regard.

After 18 months of trying every thing we could think of her behavior has changed, some for the better, some for the worse.

For the better, she responds to her name now. She no longer shivers. She goes outside with the other dogs. She is no longer terrified but she startles easily. She likes playing in the yard with the other dogs. She is still not house broken exactly, in that she will not go outside most of the time but at least she uses a pad indoors.

She still does not come to us. She will tolerate us petting her if she is in her crate where she sleeps, otherwise she will not.

The strange thing is that after we had her for about 3 months, one day she just stopped eating and started acting fearful of food. For about 8 days we would put food in front of her crate and she would cower from it and would not eat. I was afraid she was going to starve herself so I tried hand feeding her. At first, I had a tough time getting her to eat from my hand but ever since she now eats but only if we hand feed her in her crate. We have tried several times to break her of this behavior but with no success.

I am wondering if anyone in this forum might have any ideas about why a dog might have such strange behaviors and if or how we might nudge her toward more natural behavior(s).

BenMax August 4th, 2008 11:58 AM

[QUOTE=jimwilbur;634919]
She still does not come to us. She will tolerate us petting her if she is in her crate where she sleeps, otherwise she will not.QUOTE]

Try putting a leash on her and give her the 'come' or 'here' command. Ensure that you are kneeling at first. She probably will not respond so gently 'reel' in the leash (not an extend-a-lead please). When she is in front of you, give her a treat or toy (whatever she cherishes most). Since she is a little skiddish do not go over board with enthusiasm but do tell her she is a good girl.

She will learn to associate 'here' with something positive. This may take time, but it is worth it.

As far as the food thing goes...wow you got me there. How is she now with food? I am very curious about this one. Maybe do not feed the food near the crate. She seems to have a cowering effect when near the crate perhaps?

jimwilbur August 4th, 2008 12:22 PM

[QUOTE]Try putting a leash on her and give her the 'come' or 'here' command. Ensure that you are kneeling at first. She probably will not respond so gently 'reel' in the leash (not an extend-a-lead please). When she is in front of you, give her a treat or toy (whatever she cherishes most). Since she is a little skiddish do not go over board with enthusiasm but do tell her she is a good girl.? She will learn to associate 'here' with something positive. This may take time, but it is worth it.[/QUOTE]

Thank you, we will try this. It had not occurred to us to get down to her level. We have tried leash training but that has been a disaster but your suggestions sounds like a much better approach than what we have tried.



[QUOTE]As far as the food thing goes...wow you got me there. How is she now with food? I am very curious about this one. Maybe do not feed the food near the crate. She seems to have a cowering effect when near the crate perhaps[/QUOTE]

I have tried putting the food near the crate, away from the crate - nothing seems to work. It is like something triggered some old behavior...

The only past history we know for sure is that she was at a human society for approx. 6 months where she cowered in the back of her cage. The HS called a dog foster home. The dog foster home had homed her several times but she was always returned to the foster home. That went on for about another 6 months. My wife has obedience trained many dogs but she is at a complete loss with this one. The only thing that has seemed to work so far is lots of love and acceptance with very light training.

Suzie is not leash trained and panics when a leash is put on her, whether on a collar or harness. She will go to my wife first thing in the morning and give her exactly four licks on her hand but no more. Four is the magic number. lol. We have read about the breed and many of her behaviors are consistent with typical problem behaviors for this breed. But we have not read anything anywhere about the issue with food.

BenMax August 4th, 2008 12:33 PM

Where do you live? In Montreal?

BenMax August 4th, 2008 12:39 PM

Got it! I missed the obvious. She has confidence issues. Do you have another dog? If not, do you have friends that have a dog that you can walk with.

When I trained dogs with behavioural problems, I did so with a confident dog. I learnt from him and he assisted in instilling confidence. This works famously.

jimwilbur August 4th, 2008 12:43 PM

She is very, very bonded to our westie. She sleeps in her crate and he sleeps in a little bed next to her rather than sleeping in his crate. They play out in the yard together and are very bonded. We live in Washington State.

BenMax August 4th, 2008 12:52 PM

Ok, so I guess I can't help face to face. I could by phone call if you wish. Your Westie is the key here. Do you take both out for walks at the same time? Do you have a small breed dogpark?

Your poor dog needs to feel like a dog again. Would you consider going to training school with the pup? Being around others may help tremendously.

Also, since the dog has confidence issues DO NOT CODDLE the dog. This is the worst thing to do and infact it has the opposite effect.

Who knows what this poor soul went through in life. Some things can be corrected and others not so.

jimwilbur August 4th, 2008 03:49 PM

What you are saying makes sense, it is kind of you to offer help and I am interested. I was not able to find any contact information for you so my email address is available through the 'User CP' on this forum. If you email me contact information I will call you at a time that you specify as convenient for you and we can go from there. Instant Messenger might be another way to communicate.:dog:

Chaser August 4th, 2008 04:46 PM

Regarding her fear of food, I have one idea that may be a long shot, but what type of bowl does she eat out of? She may have knocked it at some point and it made a noise she didn't like or something like that. I would try switching bowls....it certainly can't hurt to try. :shrug:

LavenderRott August 4th, 2008 05:34 PM

She sounds very much like a mill rescue. If this is the case, some of her behaviours may never go away. Some of them may take years to overcome. Patience is key.

kigndano August 4th, 2008 05:38 PM

thats a very sad thing to hear.

but god bless for taking the time to work with the poor dog.:thumbs up

you will probably feel so good for you and her when she is back to being a happy dog.

i cant offer any advice, she sounds like quite the case to handle..i think staying calm and low key would be key since she is skittish, that sounds spot on.

good luck and :fingerscr: for the dog!

jimwilbur August 5th, 2008 02:40 PM

Hi all,

I have tried serving food on different surfaces, bowls, plates, the floor, etc. and all to no avail. We have thought that maybe she was a puppy mill mother as it looks like she has maybe had several litters. I am going to try getting down on her level and also working with the westie nearby to encourage her. Maybe, if we can get her on a leash at some point, we will take her to a dog park with our westie. Thanks for all the encouragement!:dog::thumbs up

bendyfoot August 5th, 2008 02:50 PM

I think some dogs have "weaker nerves", and are deeply sensitive...our sensitive girl, Jaida, displays her stress or anxiety through her eating habits. She's an ok eater on a good day, but when she's feeling out of sort, either in pain (she has a lot joint issues) or stressed about something in her environment (usually her humans acting stressed out over stupid things...she's extremely sensitive to any negative emotions in the house, even if it's not being directed at her in any way), it's very difficult to get her to eat...she won't come to her usual feeding station, or will come over, have a look, then just lie down next to the dish. When she's really not feeling herself, we find it helpful to let her eat where she's feeling comfortable (usually under the coffee table...it's her den...much like your pup's crate) and to use really high-value food, not her regular kibble (so, like canned food, or something like cooked or raw chicken or fish). There have been times where she really has no interest in eating at all, and I will hand feed her during those occasions. She's such a skinny little whip, she doesn't have much in the way of reserve there. Happily, she's been feeling quite good the past few weeks and has eaten her regular kibble with gusto, at her regular feeding station:highfive: Be patient, be calm, and I like to praise her after she's had a good meal (she always gives me a wag and a smile after that)...you'll find something that works for both of you. I don't see any reason why you can't feed her in her crate if she feels safe and secure there...I know many people who feed their dogs there.


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