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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ahoy dog forum members. I'm seeking a bit of advice.

My wife and I adopted Nellie, a one eyed, 8/12 year old shih tzu mix from a local shelter this weekend. The shelter received her ~2 weeks ago as a "transfer from another shelter". We were told she was good with other dogs and cats, but should not be around small children (not an issue as we are pet folks, not kid folks). We have two other dogs (Pete, 10, corgi/blue heeler, and Fran, ~7, Old English yellow lab) and three cats. The existing pets all get along very well and have been with us for many years.

We met Nellie. Talked with staff. Came back the next day for doggie intros. Pete and Fran are both ridiculously laid back. They don't bark, they don't jump, they're very calm. Nellie was a bit growly when Pete got close to her to sniff but the shelter staff advised this was normal with Nellie and she would let another dog know if her space was being invaded. After some consideration and staff encouragement, we decided to take her home.

Since coming home, Nellie has shown signs of very serious resource guarding with toys - specifically toys with squeakers and tennis balls. She will growl at anything that comes near her when she is playing with it (dogs, cats, people) and will tense up. Even if whatever is near her has no interest in her/the toy, she responds this way.

At first, we thought maybe it was just toys she viewed as hers/toys she was currently playing with, but if Fran is playing with something in another room and it squeaks, Nellie will come try to take it from her and become aggressive. Fran is very timid and seems intimidated/scared by Nellie's aggression.

We currently have Nellie in my office separated from the others by a baby gate when we are gone and at night. Last night while everyone was together, our cat Charlie was sitting near a tennis ball. She ran up to him and bit him in the face. He wasn't touching, smelling or looking at the ball. He was just near it. Needless to say, the bite has made all of the pets in the house nervous/edgy/anxious. No skin was broken, but there's a bad vibe around none the less.

I did some research this morning and actually found an ad from the original shelter who took her in. They mention in the ad that they were the ones to remove her eye, in July (so she's only had one eye for ~ 2 months), she also had a wound on her left side that was healing from when she was surrendered, and she came from an abusive background. The ad also says she did not like being picked up but "we're working with her" and she would do well in a home without a lot of chaos.

I'm having some problems coming to terms with the fact that none of this information was presented to us at the shelter we adopted her from. She has only been with us for 3 days, and some of this could easily be her adjusting, but if we had known she may not do well with a busy environment, she would not have come home with us.

So...I guess I'm wondering if anyone else has had a similar experience with rescue dogs with resource guarding and a vision impairment? If no other pets are around, and she doesn't have toys to guard, she can be very, very sweet. She follows me around the house in the mornings/at night when she's not in the office, and she's housebroken for the most part. I would prefer that she eventually settle in to the pack and get along with everyone, but after finding the shelter ad online, I'm worrying.

I'm reaching out because I'm not prepared to give it all up and take her back unless we know 100% that this isn't the right home environment for her. Any guidance is appreciated. :)
 

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It's hard to know what is the best course of action. Resource guarding can be addressed, but it takes time and patience and given the apparent severity of her issue, she may never be completely ok.

My advice is to consult a real professional behaviourist. In the meantime, maybe a crate or ex-pen would be a better place for her, when she can't be supervised.

Good luck, and please keep us posted.
 

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Most places I've read when talking about introducing a new dog into a house with existing dogs have said to pick up high value resources such as toys, empty food bowls etc. and then introduce them gradually when the dogs feel more comfortable around each other and are settled. From what I've read this is usually a few weeks in. This is something I need to do more research on as we just added a third dog :)

When we first brought Zoey home as a puppy Kasper would growl if she even looked at a toy, whether or not he was near it. When Zoey was in her crate with a chew, Kasper stared at her and growled until she stopped chewing it. Many years later, even though we don't let them play with toys together, if one of them finds a toy lying about we forgot to tidy up there are no problems.

If your other dogs really enjoy playing with toys with you / each other, you could put Nellie in another room with something to keep her busy (eg. Kong filled with food) and go play with your other pets outside or in a different room. I'd definitely hide the squeaky toys for now, seeing as the squeak is a trigger for Nellie :)


I think there's a link on the forum somewhere on how to locate a good positive reinforcement trainer / behaviourist, but I'm struggling to find it...
 

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Here's the sticky on how to find the right trainer. http://www.dogforum.com/training-be...ainer-behavior-consultant-behaviorist-113946/

I do think it was irresponsible to not let the adopter know the full background before placing the dog. I would not feel badly if you decide not to keep this dog. Your resident pets should take priority. I have a lot of sympathy for the dog but this dog may be best in a home without other pets.

It's not possible to know for sure since you've only had the dog a short time. This article may be helpful. Three Ways to Confuse a New Dog

If you decide to keep this dog, I'd recommend the book Fight by Jean Donaldson. It covers resource guarding among other things. "Mine" is another book on the same subject (same author) but it is for dogs that guard resources from humans. The same protocol applies.
 

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I think I would take all the toys away, and only let the dog play with one, by involving myself in the play...and also not using a toy with a squeaker in it.

By handing the dog the toy, and being involved in the play, even if it's on just that level, one might get the dog to being use to his toys not having to be under his control all the time. Also, I think the the stress on the dog would lessen if it didn't feel like it had to guard all these toys laying around the house.

I could be totally wrong there, as I've never had a dog with serious recourse guarding problems, and as other posters said, you should probably consult a professional trainer, and one who uses positive training methods.

It might be your dog will never get pass the resource guarding, but for me, my logic is that taking away and limiting access to the toys would reduce incidents and stress...and maybe even get the dog to focus more up on the world around her (and the people and other pets in the home), and not be so focused on the toys she thinks she needs to guard. She would maybe learn some new socialization skills by doing so. ??? Again...just my own 2 cents on how I've seen some of my dogs behave and I have upon occasion taken away an old bone they found, that was being 'guarded' by one or the other of my dogs all the time...once the bone was tossed, the tension seemed to drop to almost zero in the dog and they would then be interacting together and not just laying there looking at each other with suspicion with one dog have the bone between it's front paws. .

Stormy
 
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Update :)

Thank you for the information all. It is appreciated. Wife and I had a discussion after my first post about Nellie's future with us, and both agreed we wanted to make Nell comfortable with us/her new furry family.

We did a sweep of the house early last week of any toys/high value items and made sure they were put away. Toys right now are only allowed when she's in "her" room or outside (and we have Fran toy time separately). This has greatly reduced Nell's stress, as StormyPeak mentioned.

Our vet recommended a behaviorist we are going to look into, and the vet also said the resource guarding can be common for small breed dogs who have been in the shelter environment for a while. We also discovered she has a pollen allergy which had been causing a lot of skin irritation. Bathing with a medicated shampoo helps her skin and her demeanor completely changed after her first medicated bath. I'm sure the allergies weren't helping her attitude.

Everyone is still getting used to one another but it's looking good. :thumbsup:
 
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