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So basically we adopted a dog on Sunday. The rescue group has a 7 day foster to adopt agreement, where you can return the dog within 7 days no questions asked to make sure the fit is right.

We got our new dog (6 months old)- a border collie/lab mix - after careful consideration. I was particularly worried about energy levels, because while my spouse plans to run with the dog every morning, and we are very active on weekends, we both work full time. So the plan was to hire a dog walker every day.

However, 5 days in, some issues have arisen. We live on a busy city street. The dog is freaked out by city sounds and I guess wasn't exposed to it earlier.. Hates going out for walks because of loud noises. I'm supposed to desensitize him through careful exposure, but it's difficult, because I also need to exercise him, take him out to pee etc, and don't have a car to take him somewhere quieter. I don't know how I will possibly use a dog walker - he won't go out sometimes and has his tail tucked between his legs. It really pains me to see it.

He also has some mild separation anxiety- freaks out a bit when we leave, even if brief. Not sure if this is just a time thing, and he needs to settle in. Worried this will become a bigger issue, which is not great with our work schedules.

I don't know what to do. I love him already. He is otherwise a wonderful dog, already housetrained, responds to training. Only things are some jumping and leash pulling, which are no big deal in my book (am totally willing to work on that).

However, it is these bigger temperament things that I am worried about. I want him to be happy. He is so adorable and wonderful with people and other dogs I think he will get snatched up by a family if I return him, and could do really well in a suburban environment. At the same time, the thought of giving him up breaks my heart. Any advice? I can't afford to do doggy daycare every day, maybe once or twice a week.
 

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I would make it a matter of priorities. What stresses you more? The current situation and the knowledge that you will have to put possible months into training him or the thought of giving him back to the shelter?
If you decide to keep him, my advice would be to forget about the physical exercise for now and to concentrate on slowly desesitize him. I see a plus in him beeing part border collie. Those dogs need mental exercise aswell so you can do some stuff at home with him to equal the lack of physical stimulation a little bit. If you look it up on google, you will most likely find some good ideas for games that suit indoor-exercise. Hide treats for example or teach him some tricks. Just make sure that you do not overdo it.
 

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So basically we adopted a dog on Sunday. The rescue group has a 7 day foster to adopt agreement, where you can return the dog within 7 days no questions asked to make sure the fit is right.

We got our new dog (6 months old)- a border collie/lab mix - after careful consideration. I was particularly worried about energy levels, because while my spouse plans to run with the dog every morning, and we are very active on weekends, we both work full time. So the plan was to hire a dog walker every day.

However, 5 days in, some issues have arisen. We live on a busy city street. The dog is freaked out by city sounds and I guess wasn't exposed to it earlier.. Hates going out for walks because of loud noises. I'm supposed to desensitize him through careful exposure, but it's difficult, because I also need to exercise him, take him out to pee etc, and don't have a car to take him somewhere quieter. I don't know how I will possibly use a dog walker - he won't go out sometimes and has his tail tucked between his legs. It really pains me to see it.

He also has some mild separation anxiety- freaks out a bit when we leave, even if brief. Not sure if this is just a time thing, and he needs to settle in. Worried this will become a bigger issue, which is not great with our work schedules.

I don't know what to do. I love him already. He is otherwise a wonderful dog, already housetrained, responds to training. Only things are some jumping and leash pulling, which are no big deal in my book (am totally willing to work on that).

However, it is these bigger temperament things that I am worried about. I want him to be happy. He is so adorable and wonderful with people and other dogs I think he will get snatched up by a family if I return him, and could do really well in a suburban environment. At the same time, the thought of giving him up breaks my heart. Any advice? I can't afford to do doggy daycare every day, maybe once or twice a week.
I don't want to give advice here, I'm just saying what I would do, which is not the same thing.

Once a dog steps foot over my doorstep I can never bear to let it go, so I can understand why you feel the way you do. Perhaps I'm too stubborn, but I always refuse to believe a dog won't love me enough to give in and behave eventually, and they always do. But I also believe you must know in your heart if this dog would genuinely be better off somewhere else, and if that's the case then you should take him back before you and he get any more attached to each other. If you keep him, which I hope you do, I think you will gradually find ways around the problems. It takes time and patience with some but even the most annoying dog (see Rakia's story elsewhere lol) can end up as the most lovable. They may always be annoying, like a child who won't stop talking (I have one of those, he's 30 now and still makes my ears ache every time I phone him - there were times I considered having him adopted) but they really are worth all the effort you put in. The more love you give them the more you get back.

I really wish you luck with this - keep us posted - but if you do decide to take him back to the rescue don't blame yourself, you obviously have his best interests at heart.

Lynsey
 

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We have a border collie/lab mix and I can tell you that he can be a handful, but I honestly wouldn't have it any other way. We had a few issues the first 2 weeks we had ours, but after training classes and just sticking to the rules, things worked themselves out. We I take him running in the morning, a long walk at night, hiking and outdoorsy stuff on weekends. Plus we have him run in the backyard during the day. I work from home, so I'm with him almost all the time.

They are really smart dogs, and learn pretty quickly, but you have to stay on your toes because they can get into trouble if you're not paying attention. Ours likes to chew on things if he's not exercised for the day.

Things that help us: puzzle toys, feeding meals through a food puzzle ball, clicker training, bully sticks, lots of chew toys, etc. The key with him seems to be keeping him busy and distractions. Ours was clingy when we first adopted him too, he wanted to be with me all the time, but after a couple months of training, he was fine. And the timidness was there a little bit too, but he's not at all scared of anything anymore. We try to take him to new places as much as we can.

I personally love boradors now that I have one. Ours is smart, friendly, goofy, loving (first dog that I've had that actually likes to cuddle), and really good with people, kids, etc. Look up some of the breed info on boradors specifically, there's a lot of info out there.

It's a big decision that you'll have to make if it's a good fit for you, but if it isn't, I wouldn't feel bad about returning the dog. It's always better in the long run for you and the dog.
 

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Hang in there

So basically we adopted a dog on Sunday. The rescue group has a 7 day foster to adopt agreement, where you can return the dog within 7 days no questions asked to make sure the fit is right.

We got our new dog (6 months old)- a border collie/lab mix - after careful consideration. I was particularly worried about energy levels, because while my spouse plans to run with the dog every morning, and we are very active on weekends, we both work full time. So the plan was to hire a dog walker every day.

However, 5 days in, some issues have arisen. We live on a busy city street. The dog is freaked out by city sounds and I guess wasn't exposed to it earlier.. Hates going out for walks because of loud noises. I'm supposed to desensitize him through careful exposure, but it's difficult, because I also need to exercise him, take him out to pee etc, and don't have a car to take him somewhere quieter. I don't know how I will possibly use a dog walker - he won't go out sometimes and has his tail tucked between his legs. It really pains me to see it.

He also has some mild separation anxiety- freaks out a bit when we leave, even if brief. Not sure if this is just a time thing, and he needs to settle in. Worried this will become a bigger issue, which is not great with our work schedules.

I don't know what to do. I love him already. He is otherwise a wonderful dog, already housetrained, responds to training. Only things are some jumping and leash pulling, which are no big deal in my book (am totally willing to work on that).

However, it is these bigger temperament things that I am worried about. I want him to be happy. He is so adorable and wonderful with people and other dogs I think he will get snatched up by a family if I return him, and could do really well in a suburban environment. At the same time, the thought of giving him up breaks my heart. Any advice? I can't afford to do doggy daycare every day, maybe once or twice a week.
Hey Righfit12, not sure if you've already made a decision, but how did it go with the new pup?

I understand being super frustrated with a nervous dog, especially as sometimes you feel exposure is doing more harm than good. We've had our four month old pup for just nine days and on the first day he was too terrified to come out of his crate. He also barked and growled at every passer-by (dog, human or child) and shook on every walk. He had his tail between his legs the whole time and would cower. Fast forward to today, and he walked into the pet store with me with his tail held high! Of course if a garbage truck rolls by he gets frightened again but it's slow progress.

We also fostered a terrified country dog earlier this year. He was scared of cars, trains, shovels, big men and dogs among other things. We tried to slowly expose him by just walking up and down quiet roads. We had him for six weeks and know the person who adopted him and he's made so much progress in three months! He no longer rips your arm off trying to dart away from a train or car (at 85 lbs you had to keep watch at all times).

Imagine you had a home, were suddenly separated from your siblings and family, were thrown in a shelter and then taken to another home. You'd be a little insecure that it was temporary and might be moved again any day. It's natural for some dogs to react with fear. Some people have said that their pet's real personality didn't shine through for a year after being rescued! The first time our foster dog was brave enough to even bark was after four weeks. And it was so rewarding to hear.

I think the pup just needs to learn you are there for them and not going anywhere.

EDIT: If you want to swap stories or want any tips on socializing a frightened dog let me know.
 

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I would ask yourself if you will be able to deal with his fear of bustling/new environments if it doesn't get better, or if it becomes a recurring theme which you must confront anytime there is a change. If yes, good for you, and IMO, it would be worth it to continue trying. If not, I would lean more toward returning him to the shelter prior to the end of the trial period.

While it is entirely possible that his fear of this situation will resolve with conditioning, settling into your home, and hopefully developing greater self confidence as a more mature dog, there is also a good possibility that he may always be "sensitive" to changes/environmental stressors, and sometimes these behaviors can be more pronounced as dogs mature, rather than improving. There's really no way to know for certain where he will fall on the scale of behavior as an adult dog.

It would absolutely be worth contacting the rescue to discuss what you are seeing, and whether they've seen anything similar. If they have, they may already have a working plan for helping him. Factors which might also impact the decision if it were me would be whether he was in a foster or shelter environment (If in a foster, did he go through a similar "settling in" period? Was he "normal" from the start? Better when he left vs when he arrived? How different was the foster environment from your home situation? How long did they have him? If in a shelter, for how long? What was his demeanor in that environment?), how long he has been in the "system" and what changes his behavior has undergone during that time (dogs DO go through "fear periods" as puppies/adolescents, and if he's previously been a happy go lucky, confident pup, that IMO lends to him improving with time), and if any related dogs' (mom? littermates?) temperament is known, how theirs correlates to his (related dogs with similar behavior quirks would make it less likely that this is an acquired behavior, and IME less likely that it will resolve without serious behavioral modification).

If you decide to keep him, I would absolutely contact a positive reinforcement trainer, and get him into some sort of puppy or beginner obedience class ASAP. That will give you and him opportunities to build his confidence, as well as valuable tools to help him cope when he encounters something he's uncertain about.

Good luck! He sounds like a really nice pup, outside of what will hopefully be a few workable problems.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you everyone for your replies! I really appreciate your input. It is especially reassuring to hear stories of other dogs that have gotten use to busy environments.

We've decided to keep him, since he's already shown improvement in a week (instead of getting worse), so we take that as a good sign. I also hired a professional trainer to come by, so now we have a plan in place for the next month to desensitize him. He does fine with cars- it's mostly USPS trucks and T buses that really scare him. But we were able to sit and eat treats while a T bus came close today - last week he was to scared to even eat steak! He also did really well when walking with another, more confident dog yesterday - he even went in an elevator when he saw the other one do it (he has refused before).

I checked with the foster group, and strangely, one of his littermates was adopted just a few streets over from us, and they have had no issues at all with noises. So maybe we just have a more sensitive dog...but he is so sweet, smart, and adorable!
 

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thanks again. we've been continuing to work on the noise sensitivity and...haven't made any progress. I brought in a well-reputed trainer, and he took me out to the street with my dog to show me what to do....except the dog was over threshold with the exposure, and it made things worse. Since that training session, it's taken an entire week to get him to set foot on the street again, and just when I think I've made a smidgen of progress, a motorcycle goes or a T bus by. It's been very frustrating. I suppose we have only had him for 4 weeks or so...but I'm concerned he won't get over this, because it hasn't gotten better at all. I now walk around the city and hate seeing other people with their dogs. I just feel really jealous. Even when I drive him somewhere I think will be quiet, inevitably something happens that freaks him out. I'm constantly on the look out for potential triggers, so I can use a visual barrier and have a high value treat at the ready...and then he still freaks out.

Ah well. I guess it just needs a lot of time? This doesn't seem like he just needs to settle into being with us, because in all other settings he is happy, tail wagging, outgoing with people and dogs. I tried a thundershirt and that didn't work. Maybe we'll end up giving him prozac if he doesn't get better in 6 months? I have no idea what a dog walker will do with him in the mean time. Maybe just play ball in the apartment for 30 minutes....
 

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I know he's young but if he's truly that anxious, it would probably be better to do the meds sooner rather than later. He may be able to wean off them eventually.

If you didn't want to jump right into an SSRI, you could explore Clonidine - my dog takes that and it does seem to help a bit.
 

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One of my shelter rescues was a lot like this. it took him almost 6 months to get even remotely over it, and it was an uphill battle, but eventually he did calm down. It took a lot of baby steps and positive reinforcement. What we would do is take him to the edge of his comfort zone, love on him and give him some treats, and then go right back well into familiar, comfy territory (sometimes that meant home). Sometimes a thing would scare him and it seemed to be back to square one for a while.

It also helps if you try to relax and just enjoy the walk, and not be on edge. if he feels that you're on the lookout for anything that might scare him, it enforces in his mind that the Thing is scary and warrants such an over the top reaction. In my experience this is the hardest thing to do, but what worked for me was just playing with him a bit, stopping every once in a while to chill somewhere, etc. He really improved after i took a blanket to a park and stayed in an area for a while, he was scared at first because there were children and people and other dogs around, but i lay down on the blanket with some food and eventually he went to sleep with his tongue sticking out... lol
You might have to look around a while for a method that works for both you and your dog, but it will get better. You just need to take baby steps and try not to get too discouraged if it seems like one step forward two steps back some days.
 

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I had the same issue when I adopted my dog. He would freak out when I would go to work and neighbors told me he would constantly cry and bark. He would also be scared of going out because I do as well live on a busy street. But after a month later, he stopped all of that. The day I left for work and saw him just laying in bed instead of following me around was when I knew he adjusted fine. It just takes a lot of work and patience!
 
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