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AccidentalChef

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  1. Well, Bodhi has been here 16 days now, so I thought it was time for an update. He's well on his way to losing the problem part of being a problem dog. Potty training seems to be almost done, and he's got commands to pee and poop. He's had one accident in the last week, and it was while I was checking the temperature to see if I needed a jacket to take him outside. Oops. The potty training problem may have been a blessing in disguise. For a while I was taking him outside 10+ times a day. All those walks, even if most of them were just a few minutes, really got him comfortable with things. He learned that being calm and watching me got him treats, especially with other dogs around. At this point, any fear issues he has left are easy to deal with because he's immediately looking to me to handle things, and not even watching the other dog. He's not quite ready to actually meet new dogs yet, but I'm definitely starting to see excitement replacing fear. I never would have guessed he could adjust so fast. Today, we walked for over an hour, including walking through a very busy park. It's a beautiful Sunday afternoon and people and dogs are everywhere. Bodhi didn't make a sound. No whining about birds or squirrels, no barking about other dogs, nothing. I won't say it's easy quite yet to keep his focus on me and away from scary or overstimulating things, but it's possible. I feel like being able to keep him calm in any situation is a huge step towards him keeping himself calm, and it won't be long at all until I can stop worrying about things and he can be a normal dog. So thanks for all the advice, everyone. It really gave me a push in the right direction, and I'm lucky enough to have a dog with a sponge for a brain, so he totally soaks up knowledge and new experiences. I was a little worried for a while, but at this point it's obvious that Bodhi is going to be just fine.
  2. He's adjusting so quickly now that I almost wonder if I needed to worry at all. This morning, 2 dogs came from behind some cars, and I hadn't even seen them coming. He saw them first, and just barked once. Even better, it was a normal bark, not a screamy one. I got him to focus on me and ignore the other dogs, and he calmed right down. He's definitely getting more comfortable with me, though he's a long way from being like Maggie. I wonder if he's starting to trust me to protect him from scary dogs, since he hasn't had a bad encounter with any of the dozens he's seen since he got here. I wonder if the bark is just saying "Dad! Protect me from that one!". He's also gone from terrified of the stairs to excited about them in only 4 tries. The first time, he cowered against the wall until I took the first step down, before he very cautiously came and put one paw on the step. He followed me down 6 flights like that. Now, he wants to run full speed. Interestingly, he seems to be completely aware of his back legs. Twice now, I've seen him balance on his front two legs, lift both of his back legs up at the same time, and turn himself around. Earlier today, he rushed ahead on the stairs and I called him back. Instead of turning around and walking up, he just backed right up as if it was the totally natural way to go up stairs. He didn't even look behind to see where anything was, he just did it. I see a lot of fun tricks coming out of this. He's starting to catch on to the potty training, and know he's supposed to do it outside. Last night, he started to pee in my bedroom, then ran to the front door, then came to get me to tell me he needed to go out. While I really appreciate his good intentions, I would have been much happier if he had at least stopped peeing before he ran through the bedroom, down the hall, through the dining room, to the entryway, and back to the living room. It's hard to treat such an obviously smart dog like an 8 week old puppy, but I'll get the hang of it. Thanks for the compliments on him and the votes of confidence. I was pretty worried the first couple of days whether I'm experienced enough with dogs to really help him, but now that things are starting to improve I'm feeling so much better. Maggie came from a shelter and had her share of issues, but they were nowhere near this bad and she was quiet about them. It's working out well that I got him the night I started a my spring vacation, so I can really devote almost 24 hours a day to him right now. I'm still going to head to the library and grab some books just in case, but I feel like all the advice here has really led me in the right direction.
  3. Thanks everyone, for all the great information. Just reading that other people have gotten dogs through similar issues really makes me feel a lot better. Unfortunately I don't have a yard, and right now I live in a relatively large building with lots of other people and maybe a dozen other dogs. I hope to be moving to a place with a yard as soon as June or July, but I'm pretty sure he's gonna need to go outside before then. I've been taking him down the stairs instead of the elevator, which should eliminate a lot of surprises and let me get out of the building without going through the main part of the lobby if necessary. Once I'm outside, I'm right across the street from a large park, and there are always lots of people and dogs passing by. Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any way to ease him into the world, except by being careful of my timing and choice of doors. I can quickly get to a quieter area, if I'm lucky enough to get out the door and around the corner without incident. Staying off of the busier streets will make encounters with other dogs rare, but every once in a while I'll run into one around a corner. Any long walks will have to be with both dogs, just because I'm not sure my feet will take double the miles I do with Maggie. I'll just have to stick to taking longer walks late enough at night that not many people/dogs are out. I've been working with Maggie on managing her prey drive, so separate daytime walks for each dog will let me make sure they're both making progress. It is a bit difficult trying to get a head start on his issues when he's so new here. I'm working on building trust with him by making sure something good happens any time he comes around me, and it seems to be working. Just a few minutes ago he came over to sit by me. This is the first time he's come over just to sit next to me, rather than pushing his way in for a treat or ear scratch. It's also the first time he's let me give him a belly rub. Things do seem to be going in the right direction. He's just curled up at my feet right now, probably dreaming about something squeaky. Fortunately I'd spent at least 6 hours with him on 2 different days before he came home, so I wasn't a total stranger. Maggie was there for about half of that, so they had a head start on friendship too. I was doing some clicker training with Maggie until I lost the clicker. I just bought a couple more of them, so I can start up again. I can definitely see the power of it, after teaching her the basics of skateboarding in about 15 minutes. So far I've been doing short, low pressure training sessions with both Maggie and Bodhi every hour or two throughout the day, and keeping treats with me at all times for occasional 30 second sessions in between. I'm being careful to watch for frustration in the new guy, but I haven't seen the slightest hint of it yet. Still, to be safe, I'm keeping things fun and easy for now. Since my last post, we've had two walks. The first walk was just Bodhi, and I had hoped that 36 degrees and rain would keep other dogs inside. No such luck. There were so many out walking that you'd have thought it was a perfect summer day. We managed to avoid all of the other dogs but two. He barked at the first dog from half a block away, but I'm not going to complain. It was a normal dog bark, and he only did it twice. I'll take that any day over 2 minutes of high pitched screaming/yipping. I can certainly live with 2 barks per dog for now, if I can get him there. The second dog was even better. I started drilling him on sit and watch me, and he focused on me long enough that I don't think he even noticed the other dog pass us just across the street. This feels like huge progress from this morning. Walk 2 with both dogs was pretty uneventful, except for Bodhi deciding to poop on the sidewalk while we waited for a light to change At least it was outside, right? We only ran into one other dog on the walk, and that was right at the end. The other dog passed within 10 feet of us, and Bodhi let a few high pitched barks go, but then calmed down enough that I could have a brief conversation with the other dog's owner from 20 feet away. Since Bodhi was (mostly) calm, Maggie just reverted to her normal behavior (aka, "YAY a dog!!! Can I meet it? I bet it wants to play with me! YAY!"). Overall, today feels like quite a success except for cleaning up pee in every room of my condo, and that was just from one accident. He started peeing, I said no, he took off running and didn't stop peeing. I'm glad I rescued the 29 pound herding mutt instead of the Pyr/Newfie mix who probably causes small earthquakes when he jumps! I'm heading to the library tomorrow to look for the book recommendations you guys have given, and may pick up anything else that looks even remotely relevant. Anything they don't have, I'll order from Amazon soon, so if you have any more training books you like, let me know. Thanks again for all the tips and advice in here. I've started redirecting him to his crate when he spins, and I'm going to be trying a lot more of the things you mentioned. It's funny, I've never thought of him as a problem dog. He's a dog, and he's definitely got some problems, but I don't see who he is today. I see the dog he has the potential to be. Whichever way you look at it, this is him: Oh, by the way, he may not just be ACD/BC. He may be ACD/BC/Parrot. When he copied Maggie's play growl, I thought he was just trying to communicate since he's socially broken. Earlier today he tried to imitate the sound of the siren on a fire truck that drove by. This behavior is definitely getting reinforced.
  4. Thanks for the input. I'm trying to find a controlled place where I can introduce him to new dogs without having to worry too much about the noise. If I can find a place, I want to get him comfortable there and then start working on meetings. I do know a couple of very relaxed and well behaved dogs to start with. Bodhi has shown no signs of aggression at all. If a new dog gets to close, he freezes in place and screams his head off. That's when Maggie gets protective of him. I'll look into getting a Halti and trying your greeting method. It seems like it could work well for him. I haven't yet had Maggie's protectiveness be a problem while we're moving. It's only while waiting for Bodhi to do his business that she decides to be a guard dog. Right now I'm walking them together, and if Bodhi doesn't go, Maggie goes inside to wait. If Bodhi still doesn't go, he gets treated like a puppy. He isn't allowed out of his crate without constant supervision, and is taken back out in an hour. I'm not trying to use the crate as a punishment, I just want to make sure that if he has another accident, I'm there to catch it and get him outside ASAP. I don't think the problem is directly that he isn't housebroken, it's more that he doesn't know that there's any kind of time limit once he gets outside, and he either doesn't give me a signal when he needs to go or I don't recognize his signal. For the next few months, at least, he wont' have access to a fenced yard so he has to learn to go while on the leash, and to do it in some reasonable amount of time. I'll settle for 10-15 minutes right now. I can't wait 2 hours each time I think he needs to go. He's getting some fancy Australian cheddar as his potty training treat, so maybe that will motivate his ACD side! I've been trying to distract him when I see it happening. I'll work harder on that, and reward him for stopping more heavily. I've been doing a bit of training each day. We're really on the basics, but he learns extremely quickly. Today, we practiced sit and down, and worked from taking treats gently through leave it. Leave it isn't solid yet, but the foundation is there. I'll try taking new behaviors outside and see if I can get him to be calm and focus. He's much more food oriented than Maggie, and hasn't yet shown the stubborn streak that she had from day 1. I see what you're saying about the environmental issues coming before the dog issues, but the dog issues are much more severe. If I could get his dog issues down to the level of his squirrel issues or his bird issues, things would be much easier. On the other hand, if I can get him to ignore the blowing leaves and grocery bags but he still has a panic attack when a dog comes within 50 feet, I won't have my high frequency hearing much longer. He does have great focus and drive, and I can see him loving flyball, agility, and frisbee. He just has to be able to keep his head around other dogs and in new places. I know he'll get there, I just hope he can do most of his rehabilitation quietly!
  5. I just adopted a new dog on Friday, and unfortunately for my sanity, I had fallen in love with one who has some pretty difficult issues. I know some of this will improve as he settles in, but some of it is going to take some major work, and I'm prepared to put in as much time as necessary to help him learn to live in the world. I've already sent an email to a behaviorist, so if his problems are severe enough that I can't handle them on my own, I'll have help. Bodhi is a ~16 month old ACD/BC mix. With that, of course, comes a 200 doggie IQ and enough energy to power a small town. He does have a great "off switch". When I'm relaxing and Maggie (ACD/Rottie) is resting, he'll lay down and rest too, so he's actually a surprisingly good apartment dog for his mix. On the other hand, I'm not sure he is capable of being tired, but I'm trying. Unfortunately, for such a great dog, he's had a rough past. When he was about 6 months old, he was attacked by his neighbor's dog. I don't know all the details of the attack, but I know he needed some stitches afterwards. To make matters worse, his previous owner was so terrified that she kept Bodhi completely isolated until he made it to rescue 6-8 weeks ago. He never got to meet any more dogs, met few people, and got no exercise. If you guessed that this isn't the best way to raise a puppy, you guessed right. Here are the major issues right now... 1) He has no idea how to act around other dogs, and when another one gets anywhere near him, he's way over his threshold from either fear or excitement (hard to tell sometimes). He'll start barking/screaming when the other dog gets within 20 feet or so. He has a very loud, piercing bark, and that's not pleasant for anyone. I've had one successful introduction to a random dog on the street, but I'm not sure what caused it to work. I usually just try to avoid other dogs for now until I figure out what to do. I'm planning to introduce Bodhi to the calm, well behaved dogs I know, but unfortunately I only know a few of those, and I think he needs a lot more practice than that. This issue is made much worse by living in a building where dogs are allowed, and right next to a popular park. Helping him with this is absolutely priority #1, for his happiness and my sanity. 1b) Maggie has gotten very protective over him. If another dog scares Bodhi, she tries to chase the other dog off. Without Bodhi around, Maggie is very dog friendly, but she won't tolerate anyone scaring her new brother. Maggie has shown some protective behavior with me 3 times, when other dogs have acted aggressively near me, but it's much easier to deal with 1 protective dog by herself than one protective dog and one dog having a panic attack. Maggie hasn't shown any actual aggression, and if she gets to the dog she doesn't attack. She's just trying to make it leave. For now, because of Bodhi's bathroom problem (below), they get walks together, but Bodhi gets his bathroom breaks by himself so I don't have to stop and wait anywhere with both of them. 2) Bodhi is housebroken, but needs a little work. The big problem is he might not go at all when we go out, even if we're out for an hour. He drinks more water than Maggie despite being 10 pounds lighter, so I can't imagine he's ever incapable of going. This would only be a minor problem if I had a place to let him wait 10 minutes without encountering other dogs. As it is, I can't wait for him to go with Maggie around, and this is making life difficult. He did have one accident yesterday, which I'll take the blame for, but it was less than 2 hours after a 1 hour walk where he didn't go at all. I'm considering just treating him as a puppy and trying to shape his bathroom habits into what I want (aka like Maggie, who goes straight from the door to the nearest grass and gets it done). There are dozens of potty training strategies though, and I'm not sure which would work best in his case. 3) He's displaying some signs of OCD, or some other repetitive type of behavior. He'll spin in circles, especially when he's stressed or confused. It appears that he may be trying to play with his shadow, which would make sense for a dog who had been isolated. Each time he spins past the shadow, he'll snap or bark at it. I'm hoping that this is going to fade away as he gets comfortable in his new home, and his stress level decreases with increased socialization. 4) (General version of 1) The entire world is new to him, so outside my condo, he's always overstimulated, and within an inch of his threshold. A moving bag might set him off. He's made a giant step towards loose leash walking, but he won't be able to get there until he calms down. When there aren't dogs around, he's pretty clearly just extremely excited. He wants to see everything, and he wants to see it all right this second. He needs his exercise and I'd really like giving him that exercise to be a pleasant experience, so if there's anything I can do to help raise his comfort level more quickly, that would be great. So I've obviously got a few issues to deal with, but Bodhi has shown me signs of being an absolutely amazing dog once he gets through all of this. Any advice on how to make his transition into his new home easy on him and help him get over his past would be very much appreciated. I know most of it is just socialization, but it's hard to socialize a dog who tries to deafen everyone within 3 blocks when he gets pushed over the edge.
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