Rosie Issues

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Postby JesseNicki » June 22nd, 2006, 12:18 am

Hi everyone,

Approximately 3 months ago my girlfriend and I took a terribly abused 2.5 year old female named Rosie in as a foster. Rosie has scarring all over her legs (I suspect bait work) and I know that she was used as a backyard breeder dog. We decided that she is too special and we are going to keep her. Rosie is an incredibly submissive dog and she is perfect with my girlfriend and I. We are her world.

However Rosie is far from perfect. She is definitely timid around most strangers, especially men. Although she does much better when outdoors, she is very fearful with people when first greeted. When almost anyone walks into a room that she is in, she will bark a few times and growl nervously (she has never shown her teeth or bitten). This does not appear to be normal human aggression. If I were to reprimand her during this behavior, she seems to get even more nervous and uncomfortable. I believe that at this point Rosie can only exist comfortably in a stable environment, and when someone enters into a room, that stable environment becomes chaotic.

Another aspect of her instability is her protectiveness over me and my girlfriend. For example, if someone were to shake my hand too fast her hand something to me, Rosie may be inclined to jump up and bark at that person. I know that once she realizes that people are ‘good’, this will improve. I suppose that I need some tips (besides just treats) that will help her learn that people are ‘good’.

In particular, Rosie has a thing for my brother. I have tried every trick I know of. I have had him give her cheese every time he greets her and she is still scared of him. Because we work together, and Rosie comes to work with me, this has become a major problem. I suppose I need advice from someone who has worked with an abused dog and has experienced this type of behavior before. I definitely need some tips on how to make Rosie feel more stable and comfortable when indoors.

Although I have plenty of experience with training and socializing dogs I must admit that I am stumped and I am grateful for any advice that can be given. If anyone can help us out I would really appreciate it. Thanks guys. :)
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Postby Malli » June 22nd, 2006, 3:04 am

um, I have a few initial thoughts.

BOMBARD her with treats from strangers, make it that for a long while, every person she comes in, say, within 4 ft of that she does not know she gets a treat, every time.
Have friends come over, have them nonchalauntly hang out and watch tv or something, maybe sit quietly next to her crate and feed her treats, make no big deal of it. You could try fasting her for a meal or 2 before this.

Start some strict obedience with her.

Have friends -that she trusts, more or less- do obedience (positive motivation only) with treats with her, gradually have more and more people work with her.

If you think she will not be able to handle a situation and will bark or growl, don't set her up to fail, put her in a quiet part of the house or in her crate away from the action. You have to set her up to only have good experiences.

sorry if you know all this just thought I'd mention it :)
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Postby lluksa » June 22nd, 2006, 3:31 am

Very good advice Malli!

Unfortunately, this really hits home for me. Like most here, I have a deep love and respect for the bull breeds and want my dogs to be stellar representatives. After recently taking in a rehomed Stafford who is not ‘correct’ in temperament, she is shy with new humans but does warm up after a bit. Do I think she is a threat or a liability? Not at all! But, would she pass the ATTS? No Way. I don’t even know that after a year of totally positive human interactions she will be ‘fixed’ (And I certainly realize some problems go too deep). While she is not ‘fear aggressive’, she is skittish. The most disheartening thing is that she was bred, repeatedly. Whether her shyness is a result of bad genetics or a lack of any socialization (which I truly believe is the case) I have decided to give her a chance to have a decent life. I believe a majority of Stafford people would have had her put down instantly, and may feel she doesn’t even deserve a place in their home. Stafford temperament is of THE MOST importance and at times I feel I AM doing the breed a disservice. I love Staffords for what they are…bold, fearless, and totally reliable. And then you think of all the rock solid dogs in rescue…

While she is bold, in that she does have that Stafford ‘fire’ in her when it comes to other animals (cats especially). She is not a mopey dog. She is totally reliable with my daughter, as she would not be here otherwise. She is just not immediately excepting of people as Bubba is. At home she is totally in her element and off the wall crazy, on walks she will approach people passing by, but it’s not that wiggly, lick machine, everybody is my friend confident approach. She just stands still and allows people to pet her. Although she has improved greatly in a short while, she has a ways to go. I work with her everyday…some days I have so much hope…others, not so much. And ask myself everyday if I am doing the right thing. :(

I apologize for the never ending post!

"When you get to the end of your rope, tie a knot and hang on" Franklin D. Roosevelt
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Postby Maryellen » June 22nd, 2006, 8:02 am

GREAT posts from lisa and malli!!!
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Postby Marinepits » June 22nd, 2006, 8:44 am

Nice posts, guys! Good advice given. :clap:
Never make someone a priority in your life when that someone treats you like an option.
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Postby mnp13 » June 22nd, 2006, 11:18 am

Excellent posts ladies.

I would add in that you should work on her obedience for a while before trying to work with her with strangers again. That, unfortunately, includes your brother.

She needs to look to you for stability. When you meet someone, put her in a sit. That way she is reprimanded for breaking the sit and not the jumping, which is a different behavior triggered by her insecurity. She will learn to trust you and let you dictate how she should react to something that makes her uncomfortable.

Inside me is a thin woman trying to get out. I usually shut the bitch up with a martini.
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Postby Hoyden » June 22nd, 2006, 3:51 pm

I would also recommend that you get in-tough with Chris Fraize of Canine Solutions Training Services. He is a member on this board.

I saw him work with a very fearful dog at the seminar in May and was impressed. He knows quite a bit about canine behaviour and would be a great person to consult.

On a personal level, I learned alot from him and will be working with him in the future, even if it means that I have to drive to Maine to do it! Since the seminar, I now have Birdie working WITHOUT a prong or choke collar on! And Petey is well on his way to being prong-free too.
Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men ~ General George S. Patton, Jr.

She taking all the stars down from her sky to hang them up someplace new, where there's better weather and the sky's a different blue. ~ Autumn Fields
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Postby pocketpit » June 22nd, 2006, 7:35 pm

With the two very un socialized adults we had as fosters we had very similar issues to the ones you are describing.
We did a lot of non confrontational visiting with strangers. Meaning the strangers are not to do more than glance at her and after a few minutes we had them toss treats towards the dog. High value, tempting treats. We made sure that they tossed them far enough away that the dog did not have to approach the person to get them. All the while we carry on a friendly conversation and essentially ignore the dog.
Eventually they became comfortable enough that they would tentatively take treats from hands for reach for them if they were tossed nearby. After that they became more comfortable with eye contact and I moved into another phase. I leashed them and had other people hold the leash while I walked out of the room. Again no one forced them to be close or tried to pet them but treats were given or tossed out.
It took a lot of time but they began to warm up to strangers fairly quickly and stopped stressing out so badly when they went places.
It's too bad she's had such negative experiences with other dogs. Our own personal dogs were such a help in boosting the shy fosters confidence. One of them was shy by herself but put her with one or two of ours and she readily and happily approached people without a care in the world.
Both dogs were placed in homes with other dogs and after 6 months to a year each family sends updates about how much their dogs have changed and how they have turned into typical wagging bullies with people. Time is going to be your friend.
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