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Last night my new dog, Delilah, displayed some worrying behavior. She's a spayed 5.2 lbs toy fox terrier- probably between 6 and 8 months old. I've had her for about a week now. She lives with me, my boyfriend, and our rabbit.

At first she was scared of everything- dogs and people. She would stop on our walks and refuse to move whenever she saw them. Now she likes dogs- tries to play- and likes some people- will greet them. She doesn't like some people. I've noticed these people tend to be bigger men.

Last night I brought her over to my parents house. This was the first time she met my dad, but she had met my mom, both my sisters, and Mia (family dog- 11 yo spayed 20 lbs cockapoo) several times previously. She started barking at my dad when he came in the house and would not go near him so I told him to ignore her and toss her some treats. This worked and soon she was following him around, going up to him, and letting him pet her.

First Problem Delilah had been so good but is still possessive of human attention and growled at Mia if she was getting pet and Mia walked too close. This is a problem. I have ordered the books "Mine!" and "Fight!" but they aren't here yet as some drunk idiots ripped our mailbox out a couple months ago and so we have to go pick up our mail sometime when the post office is open and we're not at work (will be a couple more days).

Second Problem The biggest problem was after dinner when I had brought a bully stick for Delilah to chew on in her pen so she could have some alone time. Mia was looking at me like she wanted it too so I tried to break it in half and I couldn't. So I asked my dad to break it and he was sitting on the ground and as soon as he took it Delilah FREAKED out and started snarling and barking at him and darting in as if to bite. I was so surprised and upset that I yelled at her to stop and she did and she ran off and peed. :( There is a small possibility that she is just a really awkward/over the top player* but this definitely seemed like aggression.

Third Problem For some reason I don't seem to be bonding with her. I try to take her hiking and on walks and play with her and train her but it feels like I don't even like her. We'll be getting along but then she'll do something crappy or annoying and I get upset again. I LOVE Mia so much and I've dog-sat a lot of dogs at my place and I really enjoy their company so I thought I'd like having a dog of my own but Delilah is just starting to annoy me and I'm not really sure why. Everyday more and more of her personality comes out and I like her less :( How long did it take for you guys to bond with a new dog? I'm trying to sign up for a basic obedience class- I really like training, and Delilah is a fun dog to train, I'll give her that- so I'm hoping that helps with the bonding process.

*It's really hard for me to read her body language for some reason- I've worked with dogs professionally in daycares and a humane society for almost 5 years now and I've done a lot of research on my own as well so I consider myself pretty good at it. But it's really hard with Delilah. She doesn't have a (real) tail and she's so tiny. When she runs up to Mia growling and jumping at her face sometimes she seems to be resource guarding and trying to chase her off but sometimes it seems to be play because then she'll jump back and play bow or swing her butt at Mia.


I'm planning on talking to a trainer about this of course. The class I'm signing up for- the trainer is an experience positive trainer who does training and has also worked with dogs with behavioral problems. My boss is also a trainer and he'd help me. He's a balanced trainer but he knows a lot about behavior and I know he wouldn't recommend any harsh methods on a 5 lbs puppy (and I wouldn't do anything that she or I was uncomfortable with). So I'll see what they think but I'd really like your opinions too, everyone on this forum has a lot of knowledge and experience and if anyone has advice for me I'd love to hear it!
 

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It's early days. I'd give her a break from meeting other people and dogs. Let her settle in for three weeks, at least.

Don't give D an opportunity to guard you or food or toys. Keep the dogs separated if necessary. When they are together, don't show either dog affection or attention except to praise them both for every positive or even neutral encounter.
 

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Congratulations on the new addition! And I am going to answer your last question first by saying that it takes me months to bond with a new dog. Oh, I have flashes of appreciating them before that, but I have never just perfectly meshed with a whole new family member, and often can barely stand them for long stretches of time at first. I get along great with dogs that aren't mine, but the first 3-6 months with a new dog who I actually have to live with, I just practice taking a lot of deep breaths and appreciating the small breakthroughs. Then it starts to come together, my confidence comes trickling back, and life resumes a more normal perspective.

This post from Dr. Patricia McConnell is so great: Three Ways to Confuse a New Dog For the first month or so that my new dog was home, I read it over and over!

You've ordered the right books, are finding the right resources, and are reaching out during the low points. I'm so impressed, and wish I'd had that much sense when I had my first dog. It doesn't mean you won't have rough patches, but it does mean you're massively increasing your odds of getting through them more quickly. In the meantime, I'd ease off a little. Take shorter walks, or just sit somewhere and play "Watch the World." Make sure there's nothing to argue over with Mia, or just put a temporary pause on playdates until you've had a chance to read "Fight!" Most of the issues you're seeing sound related to fear and insecurity, which means that as she settles in, things are likely to seem like they get worse for a little while (as she gets confident enough to express how uncomfortable she is) and then better (as she gets confident enough to actually feel a little more comfortable).

Good luck!
 

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When I first got Chisum, I was head over heels for him for the first 30 minutes - until he attacked my little terrier mix with an intensity I thought impossible in an 8 week old puppy.

It takes time to bond with any new pup, but I've gotta say - when you're facing behavioral issues, it's 10x harder. I think it took me several months before I looked at him and was able to think, "I love this little guy".

She sounds insecure to me. This probably has a lot to do with being in a new space and around new people, it could also have to do with her past, and could be down to genetics too. It may be awhile before you know and honestly it may not matter in the long run anyway. The goal is the same: she needs to feel safe and valued, and she needs to have positive, confidence-building experiences.

I think you're off to a great start. Finding help is invaluable - both as a sounding board and also as a coach (to you and her!). For now, don't put her in any situations where she is overwhelmed or feels she needs to guard her stuff. Don't force her to interact with people she doesn't want to, but make associations with them really good (lots of treats!). If she acts like she wants to leave or get away, let her. At this point, you just want her to know you'll listen and keep her safe.
 

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It sounds like she's very overwhelmed and insecure at the moment, maybe taking her over to your parents' house so soon wasn't the best idea. I agree it's ideal to give her at least a few weeks to settle in and get to know her environment and the people she'll be consistently living w before trying to introduce a lot of new people and dogs. Then, just take it slowly. Don't give just one dog a treat, either, always make sure you have enough for both. It's important that she feels cared for and knows who her people are.
As far as bonding time, it may take months, so don't rush it.
Best of luck w your new friend!
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Update!

SnackRat, you were right on about her problems getting worse and then better as she became more confident. They did get worse but then they started getting much better. She seems well adjusted and confident enough now to do her daycare interview in a week or two.

Everyone else was spot on as well with your advice. It really helped me feel better about the situation.

I will say, about the books "Mine" and "Fight," "Fight" was MUCH more helpful in my situation. I received "Mine" first and it had a lot of info on resource guarding inanimate objects and resource guarding against humans, but not much on owner guarding, or guarding against dogs. Mentioned those things but didn't really go into them. "Fight" was much better for figuring out how to help Delilah and Mia get along and also went into resource guarding against other dogs.

Signing her up for a basic obedience class today that will start next month and is at the positive reinforcement sports facility.

Burlington Vermont Dog Agility & Obedience Training

It's the good manners class that we'll be taking this session, then next session we'll do prep school, and then after that hopefully we can get started with agility- Delilah's super smart, speedy, and agile so I think she'll really like it!

I will continue updating our progress and training in the "training journal" subforum!
 

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Yay!

A lot of problems that crop up in the first few weeks to months of a new dog are remedied by time more than anything else. Time to settle in, time to gain confidence and time for the human to learn their new friend's language. "This, too, shall pass" should probably be tattooed on every new dog owner's forehead, lol.
 

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I spent the bucks and got a professional trainer for my difficult, hard-to-love, rescue. It was worth every penny. We bonded by having that time alone specific to one-on-one work. I took pride in how much he learned and we're inseparable now. Even my husband agrees he's a pretty cool dog. It took me about a year. We did a lot of fear training (not to be afraid) and it turned out that he loved agility (which I wish I could still afford to do with him.)
 

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When she runs up to Mia growling and jumping at her face sometimes she seems to be resource guarding and trying to chase her off but sometimes it seems to be play because then she'll jump back and play bow or swing her butt at Mia.
This sounds very much like my Libby chi x and it is play. She was brought up in a household of chihuahuas and didn't learn how to behave properly and politely. She wasnt house trained either. We call her the pocket rocket !
I adopted her about two and a half years ago when she was 18 months. I love her to bits but even now I think, what have I done! :eek:

You will bond with your dog in time. Remember, its thebehaviour you don't like , not the dog.
 
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