Need help with getting our rescue to trust me

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Need help with getting our rescue to trust me

This is a discussion on Need help with getting our rescue to trust me within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; Hey everyone Recently, my boyfriend and I adopted a very sweet, 2 year old, pit bull/beagle mix from animal control in Flint, MI. I was ...

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Old 01-30-2019, 04:46 PM
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Unhappy Need help with getting our rescue to trust me

Hey everyone

Recently, my boyfriend and I adopted a very sweet, 2 year old, pit bull/beagle mix from animal control in Flint, MI. I was unfortunately away for work the day he was adopted, but my boyfriend gave me lots of information and we face-timed many times to introduce Clyde to me. I came home two days after he was adopted, and Clyde seems to not like me at all.

I came home (probably too excited because he is my first dog ever, and I've been a life long dog lover/dog sitter, but never had the chance to take care of my own). I sat down and he would not approach me. My boyfriend sat next to me, and Clyde moved towards my boyfriend's side, but away from me, growling at me with low ears and low tail. My BF gave me a treat, and I sat very still with my palm open and the treat in my hand, and after 20 minutes of sitting still, I sat the treat down on the ground and that's when Clyde charged me. He did bite me, but I believe it was more of a warning rather than aggression, as it didn't pierce skin, and the bruise went away quite quickly (less than 24 hours later). I was devastated and began to cry quite hard, while my boyfriend held me. I think that triggered in Clyde's mind that I was important to Casey (the BF).

Since then, I've been nervous around Clyde (as I've never had an experience with aggression from dogs, even when meeting dogs in the local state park or on the street). I've tried to show a calm energy, and avoid eye contact, and talking to him, but it's very obvious that Clyde does not trust me, and has bonded with Casey. He shows all the trust signs towards Casey, but keeps his eyes on me every time I enter a room, and still does not approach me unless Casey is around.

Some background on Clyde. He was a stray and stayed at the shelter for about a month before we adopted him, but after an xray, there was a BB pellet found in his shoulder. He also recently became very sick (the day before I came home he was vomiting and has diarrhea with blood in it, and has not really eaten). The vet believes it to be parvo, possibly (and hopefully!) corona, and his fecal test came back positive with giardia. It's been about 36 hours since I've come home, and he's only eaten once, and we had to trick him into eating (water bowl with a small amount of rice at the bottom. He is still drinking water, and we are taking all precautions to make sure he's not becoming dehydrated). He's still very lethargic, but whenever Casey enters the room, he lifts his head and wags his tail.

TL;DR
What should I do to bond with Clyde? I'm nervous that he will always be uneasy with me, and I've tried to take care of him while sick, but still respecting his space. I want him to know that I will love him and not hurt him, but I also understand that I need to SHOW that, not tell him that. I feel somewhat broken with him, as his nick name at the shelter was "Big Baby", and has apparently never shown aggression/fear to any stranger at the shelter, including my boyfriend's family.

Any tips, or pointers of what I did wrong would be greatly appreciated!
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Old 01-30-2019, 06:22 PM
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Taking care of him when he's sick will help. When he's able to eat giving him his favorite yummy treats and food will help. Don't be the one to give him anything unpleasant like medications, but have your bf do it. You want him to associate him with only good and fun things to learn gradually to trust you.
It sounds like he had some bad experience and trust takes time so don't take it personally. You could resemble the person that shot him with the bb gun for all you know. Give it time and don't lose hope.
Have him associate you with only positive things and take it very slowly. Let him approach you and just talk to him gently. Don't rush touching or petting him unless he seeks it out. Try to be the one to take him out for fun walks and treats when he's well enough to have them. For now he needs to recover.
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Old 01-30-2019, 06:35 PM
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Dogs pick up on our emotions. If you're nervous around him he's never going to trust you. Whenever someone has ever come up to me and told me how they're scared of dogs I never let them near my last or current dog as both dogs would then sense it and be unfriendly and even growl or snap when normally both were friendly dogs.
People who are nervous tend to have nervous quick movement, like prey and negative energy that dogs quickly pick up on. Same thing if you said you were too excited at first.

You can't change it now, but when afooting a new dog, the dog should meet all the people in the house it's going to live with or have in it's life to make sure it gets along with everyone. Of you and your bf live together or you're over a lot, and he had the dog for the first two days alone and then you showed up, the dog thought he was living alone with your bf and now you came along as an intruder. No offense but that's a bad setup to confuse the dog and set him up to be protective and set you up as the intruder.
It would have been better to wait until you both were around to meet and adiot the dog together and spend the first couple of days with him together. That's ideal but real life doesn't always work out like that.

It doesn't mean you can't bend with him either just that it might take a bit longer. Try to stay calm and positive and let go of any negative thoughts or fears. You can respect his space and go slowly and be cautious but be optimistic and hopeful. He'll pick up on that.
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Old 01-31-2019, 11:29 AM
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Dogs are more aggressive when they are sick or hurt. Right now his health is a priority. You said the vet believes it to be Parvo? Does he have it? If so he needs to be staying at the vet. Parvo is very serious. It is often fatal. It's not something to waste time with.

If you are kind to him and help take care of him then he will learn to trust and love you too. Don't act nervous or afraid around him. Try to project a confident attitude. Let him come to you. Sit down and have something that interests him, like a ball, rope toy, squeaker toy, or treat. Play with him and give him treats.
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Old 01-31-2019, 02:41 PM
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Leave him alone until he's well.

He's vulnerable and doesn't trust you, you will only cause him discomfort by approaching him.

Rest assured that him not trusting you is not indicative of you being wrong or bad or anything like it. More likely some characteristic you have is associated with some trauma in his history. Dogs are superstitious if a guy in a hat = yelling, all guys with hats can = yelling.

If he can have them keep treats around the house and drop them at your feet as you walk by. This works because your presence = treat, but there's no pressure on him to accept you in his space. After a while of this then you can start throwing them closer to the dog, but he must be waiting for the treat with positive anticipation.

I would get a trainer in to help. Immediately if you think this dog means to harm you or if you don't feel safe. They can advise you on management if needed.
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Old 01-31-2019, 05:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shadowmom View Post
You can't change it now, but when afooting a new dog, the dog should meet all the people in the house it's going to live with or have in it's life to make sure it gets along with everyone. Of you and your bf live together or you're over a lot, and he had the dog for the first two days alone and then you showed up, the dog thought he was living alone with your bf and now you came along as an intruder.
We've talked about it, and agree that it was the wrong decision to get Clyde without me present. Something to know and give advice to in the future. I still feel terrible because Casey was so excited to get him, but worried he would be adopted before I came home that I said it was ok and encouraged Casey to adopt.

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Originally Posted by Shadowmom View Post
"Dogs pick up on our emotions. If you're nervous around him he's never going to trust you."
Do you have any tips about how to present a positive energy? I've been avoiding eye contact with Clyde, and when he's present in the room, talking to Casey instead of watching him, and it IS getting better (wagging his tail and leaning up against occasionally), but it's still rough. He was able to eat a treat out of my hand, but I got up and he snapped, as well as I turned around, I suppose too quick, and he got up from Casey's side to lunge at me, even though I was easily 6 feet away. I worry that we get one step forward and two steps back.

Last edited by mouzo; 01-31-2019 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 01-31-2019, 05:43 PM
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You said the vet believes it to be Parvo? Does he have it? If so he needs to be staying at the vet. Parvo is very serious. It is often fatal. It's not something to waste time with.
He tested positive for Parvo, and apparently the test will give false negatives, but never false positives. The vet assured us that because of his age, it won't be fatal if we are on top of the medicine and avoid other dogs for at least 6 weeks. It is getting better! Today he ate (we're making sure to feed him slowly) and has a lot more energy, even played with Casey for a bit!
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Old 01-31-2019, 05:47 PM
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Rest assured that him not trusting you is not indicative of you being wrong or bad or anything like it. More likely some characteristic you have is associated with some trauma in his history. Dogs are superstitious if a guy in a hat = yelling, all guys with hats can = yelling.
This does make me feel better. I worry that my sadness/nervousness is coming through, although I'm trying to act confident and nonchalant. Do you have any tips on how to avoid but still have the energy of a confident friend, not foe?

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If he can have them keep treats around the house and drop them at your feet as you walk by. This works because your presence = treat, but there's no pressure on him to accept you in his space. After a while of this then you can start throwing them closer to the dog, but he must be waiting for the treat with positive anticipation.
This is a great idea! Will try tomorrow and I'll let you know how it goes!

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I would get a trainer in to help. Immediately if you think this dog means to harm you or if you don't feel safe. They can advise you on management if needed.
We for sure want to get a trainer. He was in some confidence training at the shelter, and I am starting to believe this is why he has been uneasy around me. Not because of dislike, but because of fear. Unfortunately, his illness is VERY infectious, so we have to wait until he is well and then some before meeting with a training. I think it's going to be a long, hard, battle to get him to trust me, but I very much love him and want him to be comfortable.
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Old 01-31-2019, 07:45 PM
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I'm surprised he's not staying at the vet until he's healthy. You said he has parvo and giardia. He's got to feel terrible. I wouldn't pressure him about anything until he's completely healthy.
Dont make/let him play, let him recover. Don't make him deal with you as a person he's hesitant about. You don't want him to forever associate you with memories of being very sick and miserable.
Until he's declared one hundred percent healthy by the vet, just let him rest, make sure he gets all his medications and food and water that the vet says he can eat. You can be the one to bring him his yummy food and whatever treats the vet says he can have, but just let him rest and recover.

I'm not sure if you fully understand how dangerous these illnesses are, and he's fighting off two of them. He needs to just lie in a quarantined warm comfortable area, eat, drink, take medication and sleep. Complete rest and no training or playing or stress at all.
Every time my dog has been sick or injured he's gotten aggressive, to other dogs and barking at other people. It's his way of telling me something doesn't feel right and I've learned it's my job to figure out what's wrong. But when he starts doing those behaviors, I've learned to listen to him and I take all the pressure off him. I stop going to the dog park when it's crowded and only go late at night when we're alone and play fetch with a favorite squeaky, only if he wants. I don't go through our little routine of tricks but just give him treats. I back off the pressure except for necessities like behaving on walks, but I try to take walks at less crowded times too until I can get blood work done if I think it's his thyroid or Lyme again. Or an exam/x rays if I think he's injured. If he has concerning symptoms like vomiting or bloody diarrhea we go straight to the vet.

Training can wait until he's healthy. When he's sick he'll be more irritable and aggressive.
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Old 02-01-2019, 08:39 AM
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I've never heard of a dog that's tested positive for Parvo staying at home to recover. That's a new one for me.

I second Shadowmom in that I don't know if you fully realize how dangerous Parvo can be. I foster dogs with a rescue and sadly it's not uncommon to lose a dog that has Parvo. Parvo scares me. There is no guarantee that a dog will survive. I believe about 15% are not able to fight it off. And being that he also has Giardia, he's dealing with that as well.

"The worst symptoms of giardiasis typically last for five to seven days, as long as diagnosis and treatment is not delayed. Symptoms can take as long as several months to completely go away after treatment because the intestine needs to repair itself."

Make sure to be very vigilant in his care and letting him rest as much as he wants. He needs to stay hydrated. Give him a peaceful/calm environment and monitor him closely for any changes. I wouldn't leave him alone. If anything seems to be getting worse you should get him seen right away.
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