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  • 1.  Dogs Scared After Being Dropped Off At Shelter By Owner

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 12-01-2021 08:50 AM
    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous

    Our rescue recently took in a brother and sister medium size dogs who are petrified if you approach them.  Currently they are  together in their own private area, a large area and access to an outside enclosed area. They allow us to feed them and clean the room but if you approach them they huddle together on their bed and one or sometimes both begin to growl.  One of our staff members has been able to get them out to walk them but he does not work everyday.  We have sat with them, talked to them but still no luck.  Would it be a good idea to separate them as it seems they are feeding off one another?   We only have 2 staff members daily with over 35 animals to care for with volunteer dog walkers coming in 3-5 days a week.  Any recommendations would be  appreciated.
    #AdmissionsandIntake(includingIntake-to-placement)
    #Behavior,TrainingandEnrichment


  • 2.  RE: Dogs Scared After Being Dropped Off At Shelter By Owner

    Posted 12-02-2021 07:47 AM
    I would personally recommend separating to see if you see improvement! Sometimes sibling pairs can get severe codependency and will only look to each other for comfort.  If you separate them you may see them looking to people for affection instead or you may severe severe separation anxiety behavior. 

    could you send them to foster? A foster home may be able to get them out of their shell even more as well!

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    Haley VanDeWalle
    Capital Humane Society
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  • 3.  RE: Dogs Scared After Being Dropped Off At Shelter By Owner

    Posted 12-02-2021 12:20 PM
    Hello Anonymous.

    I do not recommend separating these dogs right now. 

    1. I think this:  "Currently they are  together in their own private area, a large area and access to an outside enclosed area." Is good but do they have somewhere they can hide? An covered kennel? Is the front of the kennel covered? Having the ability to hide from humans can help give these dogs a little control over their environment and time to adjust.  

    2. A " safe haven" may help in this situation : "They allow us to feed them and clean the room but if you approach them they huddle together on their bed and one or sometimes both begin to growl" and reduce growling. When cleaning are people tossing treats to them?  not trying to interact with them but just toss treats as they move around the kennel and clean. The other option is to have them outside while you clean and then let them back in. 

    3. In regards to this: "One of our staff members has been able to get them out to walk them but he does not work everyday." Did they enjoy the walk or were they just shut down? What did their body language look like? Ears back? Tail tucked? Constantly scanning the environment? or were they refusing to move? Stiff and frozen?  I think it is very important to assess how they feel about the walks because if they are not enjoying them then that could just be adding another stressor and not helpful.  Nose work would be an activity they might enjoy. Nose work promotes exploration, is a form of enrichment, and can reduce stress. 

    4. What is your enrichment program for these dogs? They should have food dispensing and puzzle toys to manipulate and explore in their environment. Things that give them a little control over their environment. Snuffle mats, stuffed West Paw toys, LickiMats etc...  The perfect time to give something like this is when you are cleaning. 

    5.  This: " We have sat with them, talked to them but still no luck. " can be a good plan but it is often better to sit outside the kennel. Read a book out loud but don't sit and stare at them or reach for them. Just let them get comfortable with to your presence without putting social pressure on them. 

    6.  This statement:  "We only have 2 staff members daily with over 35 animals to care for with volunteer dog walkers coming in 3-5 days a week. " tells me that foster or transfer to another facility should be a priority. It is going to take time for these dogs adjust to humans and then learn how to live in the human world.  

    How I manage these dogs:

    1. Medications both a maintenance and situational to improve overall welfare and facilitate the behavior modification process short and long term.  
    2. Enrichment
           Initial- hiding spaces, puzzle toys, music, novel scents, out of kennel play time with other dogs- if comfortable with other                dogs
           Later- out of kennel time individually or together to sit in an office while a staff member works. 1:1 walks, sniff walks, nose         work and other activities
    4. Training and Behavior Modification: The first behavior that I teach these dogs is to target or "touch." You may have to start with a target stick.  I like this behavior because there is very little social pressure on the dogs and it gives then an opportunity to learn a behavior that can be used later for many different situations like moving around their kennel or shelter, placing a leash on and off and building relationships with people. You can also use it as a building block for more specific voluntary start button behaviors like a chin rest which we then also use to build relationships with humans among many other things. 

    There is a very good book titled Fear in Dogs: Theories, Protocols, and Solutions by Lynda Taylor that is an excellent resource and could provide you with more insight on how to manage these dogs and behavior modification strategies that can be helpful. 


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    Christine D. Calder DVM
    Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Behaviorists
    Calder Veterinary Behavior Services
    www.caldervbs.com

    Veterinary Behaviorist
    Behavior Specialist, MPF
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  • 4.  RE: Dogs Scared After Being Dropped Off At Shelter By Owner

    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous
    Posted 12-02-2021 07:53 AM
    This message was posted by a user wishing to remain anonymous

    Anonymous,

     Thank you for this post.  Thank you so much for taking those dogs in. You and your team are in a tough situation and I feel for you all.  I think that you should try to separate them and see how it goes. The ultimate goal is to keep everyone. I have seen instances somewhat like this where the animals do feed off of one another and that makes it very difficult to feed, walk, interact or socialize with these dogs.  I think at this point trying it definitely worth it and will be benficial to you and your team.


  • 5.  RE: Dogs Scared After Being Dropped Off At Shelter By Owner

    Posted 12-02-2021 10:22 AM
    Separation may be a good idea to try, or when their quarantine concerns are over, kenneling each with a stable and confident dog?  Some other ideas:

    • Try a smaller kennel, whether separately or together--something more denlike, where they're more likely to resign themselves to a person's presence.  
    • Is there an experienced volunteer or foster carer who could sit with them daily to do reading, studying, or online work?
    • Try extending a walk into a trip for a treat.  Hamburgers and puppachinos can work wonders.  I would do it one at a time.
    • Could someone try them on an overnight, singly or together, to see if they're more comfortable away from the shelter?   I've seen totally cage-crazed cats turn into loving fluffballs in a few hours in a home environment.
    • You didn't mention why they came into care.  If it's possible to find out more about their life pre-shelter, it could have some keys to helping them.  We've adopted and raised human teenagers, and the more you know about their past, the more tools you have to work with.
    Thank you for the effort you're obviously putting into helping this pair!

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    April King
    Volunteer and Board Member
    Kotor Kitties
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  • 6.  RE: Dogs Scared After Being Dropped Off At Shelter By Owner

    Maddie's Fund Staff
    Posted 12-02-2021 02:40 PM
    Is there any chance of putting them in an experienced foster home? Some shelters pay local trainers to do short-term boarding & training in their homes. Or even being in an office with a staff member for a few hours during the day? I worry that the trauma they're experiencing in the shelter right now could make it harder for them to learn new behaviors and could feed their reactivity.

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    Kelly Duer
    Maddie's Fund
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