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Discussion Starter #1
MY girlfriend and I just adopted a 6 year old service beagle who spend her prior years in a research facility. She is very sociable and friendly but we need some help.

Does anybody have any suggestions as to how to approach the following behaviors?

Getting her to take a treat (period, she does not know what they are)
Teaching her to climb stairs
Encouraging her to walk at a regular pace

I am sure I will have other questions as time goes on, and the answer to some of these things is to give it time. She has made progress already and it has only been a day. I just want to make sure we don't make anything worse. She ate her first full bowl of food in our home today and has gone on a few walks but is obviously still getting used to the leash/collar/harness combination.
 

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If it's been only a day....sit down, enjoy watching your new dog, and know that with even fairly adjusted dogs, it takes sometimes 2 weeks or more for their real personalities to bloom after being brought into a new home.

I adopted an almost feral dog and have had her a year and she's still coming out out of her shell...and it might be, some parts of her personality are now 'hardwired' in and she will never change some of her responses towards me....like ducking/shying away if she thinks I'm going to try to pet her.

This change must be overwhelming for your dog if she's spent most of her time in a cage in a research lab. Don't expect too much from her and just give her some space and time. This doesn't mean of course, you can't keep offering treats. But her senses are probably, as I said, overwhelmed, right now and her brain will need time to catalog and figure things out...and as a dog uses it's nose - especially beagles....all those new smells she's now getting are probably too much for her to do anything with at the moment.

When you say walk at a normal pace...you didn't say if she was going slow, or trying to pull you down the sidewalk. If she's never been out in the open since a pup, she might be a little afraid of all that open space and not wanting to get into it any further....or if she's trying to run, she just might be enjoying the sensation of not being in a penned area like she probably has been for some time now.

Just go slow, don't rush putting on collars or trying to get her excited before leaving the house. Sometimes what we see as excitement, is just more stressful for a dog that is experiencing something new and they need time to figure things out for themselves without the distraction of a human using high pitched excited tones (and words they have no clue as to what they mean).

Anyway, that's just my 2 cents. Don't rush things with her, let her try to figure out and experience things without too much interference. She might not take a treat from you today or tomorrow but maybe in a few days...just offer, drop it on the floor near you, instead of trying to get her to take if from your hands. Hand feeding will probably come as soon as she starts to associate treats as being near you anyways. Stair climbing....once she gets into treats you could probably place a few on the first few stairs for her to get, then in a few days progress to up to another stair.

Or if she gets use to following you, just go up the stairs and call her a few times but if she doesn't come don't stress her by insisting too much. In time, she will probably figure out the stairs...and want to be with more more than being afraid to attempt the stairs...especially if she associates the stairs with good stuff...like those treats.

Good luck with her, I hope she enjoys her new life and all the variety it brings...must be a lot for her if all she's seen was lab walls for a long time.

Stormy
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Just What I needed to hear! My instinct tells me to give her time but I don't want to be too timid either and create habits like always carrying her up the stairs or something like that.

Any suggestions on crate training? She loves her new crate but has spent a lot of time in it (we just leave the door to it open and she has spent a fair amount of time just lounging in there). Should we limit her crate time?

You're right also--I did not mention what I meant by "normal pace". She is very slow and sometimes reluctant, but as you said it has to do with all the new smells, sounds and textures under her paws. We have another dog too--Labrador Retriever. Their meeting was as smooth as you could hope but our walking pace as you would imagine is a bit faster.
 

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Keep in mind this poor dog might have any manner of terrible associations with seemingly "normal" things. For her, taking a treat might have been associated with something that made her feel very sick, was associated with an electric shock, or some other horrible stimuli. If she wasn't eating at all I would worry, but just let the treat thing go for a while like Stormy said. She needs to get used to life not being tortured in a cage before much training can begin. And really, with her history she might very well need a lot of desensitization before training (unless her rescue did a lot of work with her). Also, if she's confused at what "odd" (to her at least) treats like milkbones or other things are, try meat like chicken or hot dogs or turkey. I'm pretty sure she'll know that's food! But if she's hesitant to take that from your fingers too, keep in mind she might be scared to take food from a person.

In terms of the crate, let her in it as much as she wants right now. For her, a cage/crate is likely the ONLY familiar thing in her new home. For her entire life, that was probably the only thing she knew. It feels safe and familiar, she understands it. If you take that safety away from her she will likely become more agitaited and afraid. She is coming out of the crate though right? If she's not coming out at all it's a problem, but just spending lots of time in there is fine.

With the walking, I will say it probably helps that she has a "buddy" to walk with. Fearful and traumatized dogs are often helped by a well balanced, mentally stable dog. But she likely still needs to learn how to "Be a dog", and do things that she's never had the chance to do in her previous life. Just be patient. I would also consult a trainer on these issues because a dog with this sort of unknown psychological trauma could very easily and unknowingly be triggered into panics that could make her run away or become terrified of something harmless. After your new pup settles I'm sure we can all find something that motivates her--Beagles are typically VERY food motivated, and I'm sure you'll train her up nice so she can be a happy, healthy dog and put most of her past trauma behind her. :)
 

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I must confess, I too wondered how 'bad' her time in research was... some dogs are used as drug research dogs...made sick often by the stuff they are given. Other dogs experience much much worse.

But sometimes...research might be nothing more than say a dog food company feeding different kibble to dogs and comparing their growth and digestion of it to other dogs eating another company's product. Not all research is painful or harmful to a lab animal.

So, watch you dog and see how she reacts to things and that might be a clue as to what bad things she might have experienced in a lab. I also have to ask...was she 'de barked' [I read a lot of labs cut the vocal cords of the dogs to make it quieter in the lab...makes me just sick to think about it...especially knowing that is probably one of the least traumatic things done to many of those dogs]

I just hope that your dog didn't suffer too much, and her remaining years will dim her memories of being stuck in a lab situation for as long as she did. It's good that she's come out still being a little social and not totally shut down. So that makes me think that someone at the lab must have interacted with her a little in a positive way.

Stormy
 

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I don't really have much to add to what's already been said, but wanted to say thank you for giving this girl chance of a normal life in a real home :thumbsup:
My dog didn't know how to do stairs when she was first in foster for whatever reason, she soon got the hang of it (thankfully, as we live in a 3 storey house!!!) Obviously, there may be underlying reasons for why your dog can't or won't do this. Good luck with her :)
 

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Welcome to Dog Forum and congrats on your new friend! I have friends with a research rescue beagle. I'm not sure how long they've been together, but Daisy is completely adjusted to her new life - so likely it will just take time. I think that's generally true for all new dogs no matter what their previous lives were like.

You might want to read some of the information about acclimating retired greyhounds to life beyond the track. That's another group of dogs who don't have much if any experience with the real world and I know there is some good information available.
 

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It could take weeks or months or years to see changes. Best advice is to keep the dog feeling safe. Don't restrict crate time if she's comfortable there. You can't reinforce fear. She doesn't need to go on walks yet. Take her out to potty and if she's reluctant to walk, don't force the issue.

Check out this site. Debbie Jacobs is a phenomenal trainer who specializes in fearful dogs. She also has a FB page.

Fearfuldogs.com
 

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Discussion Starter #9
It could take weeks or months or years to see changes. Best advice is to keep the dog feeling safe. Don't restrict crate time if she's comfortable there. You can't reinforce fear. She doesn't need to go on walks yet. Take her out to potty and if she's reluctant to walk, don't force the issue.

Check out this site. Debbie Jacobs is a phenomenal trainer who specializes in fearful dogs. She also has a FB page.

Fearfuldogs.com
Looks like a very useful site! Thank you! Based on the brief reading I have done on her page, it seems like ours is not so much fearful as unsure of what to make of things. She is very much like a puppy trapped in a old girl's body lol. She has only shown avoidance behavior with going up the stairs so far, and is curious about most of the things we do.

I like your suggestion about walks very much. She is most uneasy on those walks--not fearful (at least not overtly), but slow, cautious and careful. We should definitely slowly ease her in to our walking routine. Time is the remedy it seems, as today when we went out, she practically ran down the stairs to get onto the lawn, with her tail wagging. Yesterday she needed a few minutes of encouragement just to get her out of the house.

On a side note-and I read about this beforehand- she is fascinated with the TV lol. She rushed over look for some attention from Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock.

Having her do everything with our well broken Labrador is helping a lot too--she is very fond of him.
 

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Dogs that have had little exposure to the "normal" world are naturally going to be unsure. Fear is a part of being unsure. A survival skill for all animals is being cautious about new things. I'm sure you knew that going in, when you adopted this dog.

Hat tip to you for offering this girl a home and being willing to be patient while she adjusts. It sounds to me like she's one lucky Beagle.

I'm glad she's already showing signs of happiness at going outside. :)
 

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My dog was kept in a crate for so long, the ribs on one side were completely flat.

When I got him, 2 weeks out of the crate, he was very much like what you describe. To give you hope, 3 years later, he's a bold little boy! He barks for treats, approaches strangers for attention and doesn't blink when a fire truck goes by, horns blaring.

Just some thoughts based on my experience with Kabota:

-She may not be avoiding stairs. Kabota just didn't have the musculature to do stairs at first. Dogs in labs are not ever walked, played with, etc. so the muscles atrophy. Just keep trying, one stair at a time.

-She is completely unsocialized. Everything is new to her, everything. Trees, grass, sky, sunshine, houses, cars, fences, flowers, all the things. She'll need time to acclimate. If she freaks out about something, turn around and avoid it for now. She'll come around with time.

-She isn't used to soft hands that pet and soft hearts that love. You'll need to teach her and that just means being patient, consistent and always willing to adjust to her needs. Stay positive. Give it time and when you find something she likes- a food, a toy, the chance to sniff something interesting- use that as a reward, and reward her A LOT. Life needs to be a reward party for this girl. Did she look at you? Reward! Did she respond to her name? Reward!

-If she does something wrong- no punishments! Prevent the bad, redirect her attention, reward the good. Kabota will eat anything you leave at Kabota-level. So I don't leave anything where he can get it. That's your new philosophy (if it isn't already.)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
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I had an issue posting using the mobile site!

Any suggestions on house training? She is not having any accidents but is having trouble understanding outdoor business. Obviously time is key here too, but does anyone have experience with this? I have house trained many puppies but the dynamic here is obviously different. Puppies will tend to just go if they have too whether they are in or out, so you just have to take them out routinely and frequently until force of habit takes over. This is different. Our Lab goes every time we take him out whether a lot or a little. She just seems to hold it and be more interested in other things outside.

Thoughts?

For those of you who have been helping me--thanks very much! She now goes up and down the stairs on her own, happily goes in and out of the front door when we get ready to go out, is warming up to the leash, and has found a few bedding spots in out house that she keeps coming back to. Improvements every day!:thumbsup:

Here is a nice picture of Kituu in one of her new spots (the couch, of course:D).
 

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Great to hear she is making such great progress.

The potty training... it might be your lab will of the most use in that. Once she get's use to a routine and not so distracted by stuff outside, she might start following your lab's lead and go when he goes.

Somewhere on this site is a section about potty training. I don't have the time at the moment to find the link to it, but I'm sure you could do a quick look and find it...probably in the 'training' forum.

Love the photo of you dog. Btw, her name is unusual, does if have a meaning in another language?

Stormy
 

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In addition to being distracted by all the wonders of outdoors, she could be experiencing some confusion because she's not used to going on grass. Puppies raised in kennels/cages or on concrete often won't go on another surface for quite some time. I had a puppy who was whelped in an outdoor kennel with a concrete floor. He spent his early puppyhood in this kennel. Took the longest time to teach him that he didn't need to go to the patio to pee and poop. Praise and treats finally convinced him. It may take your dog a bit longer. The longer the habit was practiced, the longer it can take to change.

Concrete blocks in the grass maybe? :)
 

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Kabota wouldn't go inside, but he wouldn't go unless he had a long leash, my back was to him and he would only poop against fences, trees, bushes, etc. (He was recreating pooping out the back of a crate, I think.)

It was mostly just time that fixed all that. Take her out a lot and when you find something to reward her with, reward her for going outside. Don't react to accidents, just clean them up.
 

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Kabota wouldn't go inside, but he wouldn't go unless he had a long leash, my back was to him and he would only poop against fences, trees, bushes, etc. (He was recreating pooping out the back of a crate, I think.)

It was mostly just time that fixed all that. Take her out a lot and when you find something to reward her with, reward her for going outside. Don't react to accidents, just clean them up.
Good deal--any idea how long to stay out? As long as we can is the clear answer but at some point we should be able to assume she won't go on that particular outing.:ponder:
 

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Good deal--any idea how long to stay out? As long as we can is the clear answer but at some point we should be able to assume she won't go on that particular outing.:ponder:
Yeah, that's kind of getting to know her. With Kabota, he needs a certain distance walked to poop. (He'll always pee if you take him out, if only a couple of drops.) So if I get past that distance and he hasn't shown any particular interest in pooping, he doesn't need to go. But that's something I learned with time.

Unfortunately, you can't just ask the dog, you know?
 
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