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Helping a fear aggressive rescue pup

Discussion in 'Dog Training and Behaviour' started by Sims345, Aug 11, 2020.


  1. Sims345

    Sims345 PetForums Newbie

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    We adopted our male rescue dog from Romania back in June - we've had him for just two months now and he is now eight months old (we adopted him when he was six months).

    In that time he's made incredible progress - he's gone from hiding under a coffee table to spending his days playing in the house, sleeping on the sofa, enjoying his walks, he's completely affectionate and carefree with my husband & I and he's doing really well with obedience training - he's even going to a weekly adolescent puppy class where he meets other dogs and owners.

    Our issue we've been having with him are signs of what I think are Fear Aggression. Since his first introduction to new people, he's been very unsure of anyone that isn't my husband or I. At first when a new person came into our house, he would growl and bare teeth, or when someone got close to him on his walks (eg passed him in the street), he'd do the same. I'm not sure if it's worth noting, but he's never lunged or barked in these situations.

    We've been taking it slowly and since then he's come along really well. He can tolerate people stopping to chat on our walks, is happy to sit with us in public places such as the pub (even when sharing our tables with others) and only growls and snaps if someone reaches towards him as if to touch him (obviously, we discourage this and explain to all people he's a nervous rescue and doesn't like to be approached, but every now and then it happens). In situations with people he's met a few times (my parents), we're comfortable having him off lead in the garden and he'll play with his toys and run around having fun. Once or twice when he's been playing on the floor, he has snapped at people if they walk too close to him from behind, but again it's worth noting he either does it from a distance of about a foot, or only catches coat tails - he's not made skin contact. These snaps are not accompanied by growls, barks or lunges, and after he's snapped he trots away and carries on with whatever he's doing. We know now to completely avoid other people walking over/around him and to keep him on lead in situations where people will be moving about. He's started to become more inquisitive and has a good sniff of people but definitely isn't ready to be touched by them.

    Anyway, I know it's extremely early days with him and although he's continuing to make progress week on week, I just wondered if anyone had experienced anything similar and could offer advice, or even success stories, of dogs like this? I want to do as much as I can in the early days to help him hopefully catch up on some missed vital socialisation.

    As a side note, he's not yet been castrated - I wonder if this is something we should do? A behaviourist suggested to wait until he's at least 9 months (currently 8 months old) to let his hormones settle.

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    I think you are right to take it slow, but the socialisation window closes at around 16 weeks and you can't ”catch up”. In fact, trying to make up for lost time could be overwhelming and do more harm than good. A lot of people overwhelm their puppies too - socialisation is about exposure, not interaction. But as I said, you have passed that now. But another thing to bear in mind is that he may be in his second fear period when he is more sensitive than at other times too - so try to keep him away from stressful situations.

    So, I'd keep on with being firm at keeping people away from him. As he learns that he won't have to deal with scary people himself and you will take care of that for him, hopefully his confidence will develop.

    I'd also delay neutering beyond 9 months if you can. You don't want to stop his ”brave” testosterone.

    It is interesting he goes straight to snap without previous warnings, that may reflect his early life. Dogs give a series of signals that they are unhappy, but unfortunately most people don't recognise them because they can be quite subtle. To begin with there is often wide eyes, lip licking and yawning. There is also muscular tension in the body. Then the ones we sometimes do see - growl, snarl, nip then bite. If the early signals are not seen (or, in the dog's view, ignored) he won't bother with them because us stupid humans pay no attention anyway; so he may go straight to the bite. So it's important never to ignore the early signals or reprimand the dog for giving them; stopping the dog from giving them would be like taking the battery out of a smoke alarm. Sounds like that may have happened to him.

    Some photos would be nice!
     
    Linda Weasel and Lurcherlad like this.
  3. Twiggy

    Twiggy PetForums VIP

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    Anyway, I know it's extremely early days with him and although he's continuing to make progress week on week, I just wondered if anyone had experienced anything similar and could offer advice, or even success stories, of dogs like this? I want to do as much as I can in the early days to help him hopefully catch up on some missed vital socialisation.

    As a side note, he's not yet been castrated - I wonder if this is something we should do? A behaviourist suggested to wait until he's at least 9 months (currently 8 months old) to let his hormones settle.

    Thanks in advance![/QUOTE]

    Yes my daughter is in a similar situation to you with her Romanian rescue pup, except he came into the UK as a young puppy and was about 7 months old when my daughter took him on, having already had three homes....!! He was living in a flat and biting the young children apparently when my daughter rescued him. He not only growled at her husband and 20 yr old son but actually bit her son too on more than one occasion. This was back in February/March time and he's improved tremendously now to the extent he wags his tail at the postman and accepts treats from delivery drivers, etc.
    I will just add though that my daughter is very experienced with traumatised rescue dogs and most of her dogs have been very sad cases over the past 30 years. They have all become wonderful and well adjusted family pets eventually, some of which have competed in obedience and agility.
    Sounds as if you are doing well and it's really a case of time and patience.
     
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