My husband and I adopted a dog from a woman on Craigslist. She said that she couldn't feed him anymore and that she saved him from abusive drug addicts. Now that we have him home (which is a large house with a backyard), he is very timid. He's great on walks and has a great time.
Most of the time he's sweet and comes up to you when you call him, but he sometimes will (out of nowhere) be very skittish. He'll cower and pee, run away and whimper. It's very strange because most of the time he's fine. It's very frustrating. Especially since he knows how to use the doggy door, but refuses if he knows we're home. He'd rather be cold than come in on his own (not that we lock him out).
I would appreciate some advice on how to handle, cope, reassure, anything would be nice. At this point we're just dumbfounded on his mood swings.
By TJ from Fresno, CA
My husband and I adopted a beautiful Chihuahua a year ago. The woman who had her said she was giving the dog away because her husband was abusive and the dog would hide when her husband came in the home. She said they had left the dog for two days in the house and when they came home, her husband shouted at the dog for peeing on the floor. And after that the dog would hide all the time if he was in the home. I told her she needed to get rid of her husband, not her dog.
I am telling you though this dog is the best dog in the world. We treat her like she is the most precious creature on earth. She has never reacted negatively to us ever. We have a male Chihuahua she has bonded with and we plan to never separate them from each other.
We use crates for them also and yes they do love their own space. (12/08/2010)
I wish you so much luck and thank you for taking in this poor abused dog. Chances are that his "mood swings" are triggered by a memory of abuse, for example, maybe he can become frightened of the doggie door as he remembers being hurt in the past by the abusive first owner for doing just that, using the doggie door when the abusive addict wasn't in the mood to see the dog and decided to beat him instead.
Abused animals have such huge, horrid, histories that they can't share with us, verbally. I so wish they could talk to us like they did to Dr. Dolittle.
Just love him, reinforce positive behavior with lots of happy scratches and kisses. Be stern, but kind and nonthreatening, when the fur guy messes up. (Cowering then peeing.) He will learn to understand the difference between healthy discipline and unacceptable abuse. Your dog just needs to learn to trust again. With your love and patience, he will do just that. I'm sure it is frustrating, but consistent kindnesses will win in the end. Good luck, and tummy scratches galore for your dog! Seriously, go find him and do so right now, just 'cuz! :-) (12/08/2010)
9 years ago I took in an abused dog, not knowing that he had a rough background at all. He is now 13 years old and just wonderful! First, you need to build trust between you and the dog, see that was very easy for me because mine took to me easily. My dog was still a bit leery about my hubby, but in time got over it.
If he is cowering down, of course, something is scaring him. Was it a loud noise, maybe you moved too fast, or whatever, try to figure out what is making him feel uncomfortable, and after you have built that trust you can help him through these moments. Calmly talk to him, pet him, and be gentle. If you are upset he will know and that will make him feel edgy. I know it is frustrating, but keep trying to figure out what is bothering him. As for using the doggy door he may feel like he is not allowed to. Try to encourage him with treats. Praise him when he uses it. The more positive attention he gets the more he will do that particular thing.
Most importantly. Hang in there. You seem to already have made progress and to think of what that poor thing has been through. You saved him! You gave him a second chance. Good luck. (12/09/2010)
Maybe he would respond well to other dogs. Maybe you could seek out a friend with a dog his size and arrange play dates. Are there any dog parks nearby? (12/09/2010)
There is a website called snugglesproject.org that shows you how to knit, sew, or crochet blankets for dogs or cats that are in shelters, or who were strays or abused animals. It says they have a calming effect on these animals. Maybe one of these, or even a doggy bed or blanket would help him feel comforted.
I am making a Snuggle Tubbie for my kitty even though she is a happy cat just because I know she will like it. You might want to look at the patterns link for ideas of what your dog might like. If you don't knit, crochet, or sew, maybe someone you know does and would be happy to help you out caring for your special dog.
There is so much good advice here! the only thing I could think to add would be to consider obedience or agility training. It is a great confidence builder for dogs. Other than that you are on the right track and I am sure time will take care of the rest. (12/10/2010)
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