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We have had Ember for a month and a half now, and it is breaking my heart but I think we are going to return her to the rescue. I just don't think we are the right home for her. She is incredibly independent. Much more so than any dog I've ever owned. She just doesn't care. Food, praise, correction... nothing phases her. She just goes on doing whatever it is she pleases. We are in an obedience class with her and she does well there, then as soon as we are home its back to not listening. I will say that in this time she has become potty trained, knows her name, and sits almost reliably. She's good in the house, unless left alone (we tried gating her in the kitchen while at work and she did great the first few days, then she started tearing up her dog bed and chewing holes in the wall). We crate her now whenever we aren't home and at night and she does much better crated... she goes in fine and then just sleeps. But, she hasn't bonded with either of us. I honestly feel like we are just fostering her. She isn't a snuggly dog at all. She doesn't care to be pet. She does give kisses occasionally but for the most part she's more interested in juse doing her own thing (napping in the corner or chewing one of her toys in the vicinity of you, but not right next to you). My other dog seems to have aged so much these last few weeks. At times he seems to like having the company, but the majority of the time he seems to just be a frustrated and annoyed. I have spoken to the rescue about our concerns and they told me that she needs a strong leader and they'd be happy to take her back and put her in a performance home. I just don't know what is the right thing to do. I almost feel like she would do better in a home as an only dog or as a working dog. But I don't want to give up if all that is needed is more time.
:(
 

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I want to say first that it's very great of you to take on a rescue dog, because often the background of the dog is unknown. So that was very kind of you!

I also understand the feeling of not bonding with a dog. Some dogs are extremely independent and truly are content with little human interaction. Some have just had a scary life and need a bit longer of an adjustment period. I suggest giving it another few months, because sometimes they can take a long time to come around. Bonding is a process that involves a lot of time trust and patience, especially with a dog who may not be used to loving caring humans.

I say give it a couple more months and dedicate a lot of time to her. Work on proofing the skills she's learned in obedience in your home and find things that stimulate her. You say you feel she may do well as a working dog - what kind of work? Does she get excited about anything? Does she have a high prey drive and enjoy chasing? Would she be interested in weight pulling or lure coursing? Or maybe agility?
 

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Thanks, Cos :)

We've been doing a lot of thinking - what's right for Ember, ultimately - and we've decided to just keep on and continuing to work with her. We made a commitment to her and neither of us want to give up. She does seem to be happy here, even if she's not a very snuggly dog. She's been given more and more freedom in the house and she usually always stays in the vicinity of one of us, rather than be alone. She's also working very hard on "being good", I can tell. She gets frustrated at times because she wants to do what SHE wants to do, but she is starting to at least listen and then just bark out her frustrations. I definitely need to continue to work on impulse control with her, so that instead of going to a place of frustration she goes to a place of calm.

We are learning what works and what doesn't. She definitely has to be crated while we're gone at work for her own safety as she's just not ready to be alone yet. But, if we're doing housework or in a situation where we are home but just can't watch her for a bit, we leave her gated off with Riley and she's been doing good with that so far. Riley doesn't understand why he's been gated off, but that's alright.

My trainer that I took Riley to has a "noseworks" class and I'm going to drop in to that to see if it's something she might like. She loves to do sailing dives off our deck steps so I'd love to get her into some kind of Fly Ball training and competition, but not sure if we have anything in our area.
 

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Sailing drive off your deck steps? In other words she leaps off the deck Verses using the stairs. Does she love water? If so, you can try her at dock diving.

Also, I've been reading and a lot of people say most female dogs are not as lovey-dovey as male dogs. So that might contribute to her wanting to have companionship when she wants and she decides how long. Two dogs I used to dog sit for were very different. The big one loved to petted and would fuss all day if you let her where as the smaller one was you pet me love me okay I'm done I will go do my own thing. And both were females. All my make dogs wouldn't leave me alone.

Give it some time. Someone once posted three days, three weeks, three months for when you bring home a dog. I forget where the site was. It is really helpful.
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Ember sounds like a dream, compared to the dog I adopted (fully knowing what I was getting into).

I took in an almost feral dog...in that the 1st five years of her life was one of isolation, mostly tied up in a backyard, and she learned to slip her collar...so the owner, who never taught her anything couldn't get her to come to him, so he would chase her around the yard with the tie down chain, or a board...then when she was cornered, he would beat the ever living snot out of her for not coming when called. (The rescue group found this out from the neighbors).

So, I adopted a dog that knew Nothing about the world, and only saw a few humans in her life and was beaten by one of them.

At her age, I didn't think she would ever bond with me....much less come when I called her. I kept her first on a tie down...and leash...had to corner her in the house just to get a leash on....to take her out and put her on the tie down, I adopted her in the winter and when spring came and I could get out into the yard again without sinking into mid-calf deep snow, I started leaving her outside with a dragline that was about 15 feet long, that I could step on as she ran by.

One day I called her and she headed for the door... I didn't have to 'reel' her in...now she comes when I call her. She started to take food from my hand, and later sniffing my hand, and one day as I sat in my computer chair I reached down and she let me touch her and she didn't leave.

It's been 2 years now, and while I still can't reach out and touch her...except from the computer chair upon occasion...and just recently once in the living room. She's now happy to see me when I return from being gone...trots in circles with her tail up and sniffs at me when I come home.

For me...this is bonding. It took the course of 2 years. So please, don't give up hope that your new dog won't bond with you. It might not be exactly what you want...a cuddly type dog you can hug...but you might see signs that you dog has grown attached to you and will lose some of that 'independence' you mentioned...and come to rely on you to fill some emotional need she doesn't even realize she has at this point in time.

I'm glad to read you are going to give Ember more time and try to work with her...it might go slow or might not go at all. If the latter, at least try to feel good that you've offered up safe haven to a dog that might have been bounced from home to home because others wanted 'that' cuddly affectionate type dog.

Best of luck with her and I hope that in a near future you can post and tell us you are seeing signs of change in her.

Stormy
 

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Honestly, that sounds like an excellent description of the way Kabota was- at 3 months. He was so shut down, he seemed independent and uncaring. Truth was, he was terrified. It took a long, long time to get through to him. Like a year.

Even today, he's not a licky, follow you around, totally into you kind of dog. It's just not him. Could he have been that dog if he was treated right from day 1? I dunno, maybe. All I know is, Kabota is Kabota.

I'm glad you're seeing it through. I think she'll surprise you. Or may you'll surprise yourself and see the gem that's been there the whole time, only you couldn't see it because you weren't looking for that sort of gem.
 

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Yep, Riley was our first challenge baby but he wasn't independent and headstrong like Ember... he at least was very willing to listen and wanted to please. But, all will be well, I'm sure of that - just need time. Thank you to everyone who took the time to reply! I'm sure in a year I'll see this post and wonder how I could have ever considered returning her to the rescue. :)
 

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Our Rascal took a very long time to bond. He was shut down for months. I am in the unique position to know what caused this, so it makes it easier to understand his issues. Now he LOVES people indiscriminately. He hasn't developed the ability to form deep attachments yet. I think he will get there, but only time will tell. A rescue dog can be an amazing addition to your family. Good luck to you.
 
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