Problems With Our Rescue Dog Judy

It seems a long time since I last wrote my blog and I am glad to be back.

Unfortunately Christmas didn’t go as planned, as my daughters were both really poorly with a horrible sickness bug and we didn’t have our Christmas dinner until New Years day.  But I suppose this gave us the chance to rest and not rush around as we normally do over the Christmas period.

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newyear2015

Unfortunately 2014 wasn’t kind to us and it certainly had some very low moments, especially when my father-in-law passed away in July.  We also now have some family problems which I really cannot talk about on my blog at the moment, but we are a strong family and we are dealing with them.

The strain of the last two or three years has started to show on the ‘thrift’ household and myself and Mr Thrift have been forced into making some painful decisions, which I will talk about when the time is right.  For now, I will only say that we are in the planning stage, but however painful the changes are going to be for me, they are necessary and I know that as one door closes another one opens.  I also know that it is the way we react to circumstances that determines our feelings….so whatever we decide, I will embrace it.

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(PLEASE NOTE THINGS HAVE CHANGED SINCE I WROTE THIS BLOG POST AND THE METHODS I WAS USING WITH THIS BEHAVIOURIST JUST DIDN’T WORK FOR JUDY).

Today I want to talk about one of the problems we have been having……Judy, our four year old rescue dog.

This is the photo that was displayed on the RSPCA website

This is the photo that was displayed on the RSPCA website before we brought her home.

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Some of you will remember I wrote about Judy in October when we first brought her home.  The RSPCA said she was a ‘little bit’ nervous and worried and could live with a male dog.

I grew up with a dog and looked after my sister’s dog on various occaisions over the years and I considered myself experienced around dogs…….I now know I knew nothing about dog behaviour and I have had to learn the hard way.

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Judy was very thin when she came to us and the RSPCA had said she had been quite sick when she first came to them.  I know now that this was due to anxiety, as she is far more than just a ‘little bit’ nervous and worried.  I also know that there is no way she could ever live with another dog, but the RSPCA had no way of knowing this.

October

October

Judy is a very, very loving dog and everyone that meets her at home adores her.  However we noticed after the first week at home that she started to bark madly at the television if there was a dog on it and this got worse and worse until she would bark at dogs, cartoons, and even woman with ‘big’ hair.  She also barked madly at the washing machine, the hoover (even biting the attachment agressively) and then she began barking uncontrollably at every little sound she heard at home.

Training at home was good though, as very soon I had managed to get Judy to ‘sit’, ‘wait’ and even ‘roll over’, so I knew she could be trained.  From day one I discovered she didn’t know how to ‘play’ (which I found very sad) and I began trying to teach her.

SAM_0229

  But outside the home by week three or four she was barking at people with hats on and a poor man with a balaclava on got barked at everyday when he passed us.  She had also started to react badly to any dogs on leads when I walked her and then lunging and barking at any dogs that came near her to play on the park, until on the 6th of December she actually bit a dog and hurt it…..I was mortified.  The other dog owner was lovely about it, but I was so upset I raced upto the RSPCA to ask for advice.   Unfortunately they sold me a muzzle which I put on her straight away (which she hated) when I went out and they advised me to feed her treats when she reacted to dogs -but she wouldn’t take them at all.

I read whatever I could to help with Judy, but nothing seemed to work with her outside the house.

The final straw was a lady  (I use this term loosely) with a pram and the most perfect dog, shouting at me on two separate occaisions, saying that my dog was out of control (even though she was on a lead and muzzled both times).   I felt really upset as I knew that I was struggling with Judy, but I just couldn’t bring myself to give up on her, though I knew others would have in my situation.

Gerald-G-Dog-on-leash-Cartoon

I contacted the RSPCA and the Dogs trust in desperation for help and the Dogs trust gave me a couple of associations that could point me in the right direction for a good dog behavourist.

The behaviourist spent two hours with me and explained to me that it was very likely that Judy had long standing issues with other dogs but her behaviour was inhibited at the beginning by her nervousness with the trauma of going into kennels and as she has become more settled she has become more confident in showing this behaviour.

She advised me to buy a plug in diffuser in the house (which gives out a mothers natural pheromone that helps to calm puppies and dogs) and she also advised me to buy a kalm aid to add to her food.  She advised me to buy a front harness and to remove the muzzle I had been using and buy a basket muzzle and get her used to it before putting it on.

So the next day I started to drive Judy to the top field of our park where less dogs go and started to train her.  I first had to learn how near to dogs she could get before she reacted and try to avoid this, as basically she wouldn’t take treats when she was scared.  When Judy first looked at a dog, the behaviourist had taught me to call Judy and give her a treat which I did and over the last month I have been managing to get nearer and nearer to off-lead dogs without her reacting.

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wreckedcar

Unfortunately, last week I had a bump in our car and it’s been in the garage for repairs, so this has forced me into walking Judy to the park gates again and we sometimes see dogs on leads.  Also when we get to the park we now have to walk in an area where there are more dogs running around off lead.

By watching Judy’s body language when we have been walking to the park gates this week (just five minutes from my house), I have realised that Judy is also scared of motorbikes and buses as she walks along the road, so I have been giving out lots of treats whilst walking to the park gates, so she associates the walk with good things as advised by the behaviourist.

She is still sometimes reacting to dogs on leads, but I am managing to keep this under control with treats.

IMG_2213 IMG_2221

 

December

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My ultimate aim is for Judy to walk calmly past ‘pram lady and perfect dog’ with a smug smile on my face.

Being realistic though, I know that Judy’s training will be on going and I will always need to be careful of her stress levels when she is outside. I know that my dream of chatting to other dog walkers while walking Judy will probably never happen.

I also know it’s not a good idea to have Judy with me at the allotment either as birds and squirrels stress her out too.  She also suffers from separation anxiety, so I don’t like to leave her on her own for too long (I am also working on this with the behaviourist at the moment).

So as I said at the beginning of my post, with everything else going on with our family at the moment, myself and Mr Thrift have some important decisions to be make.

Question-Guy

The one thing we do know though, is Judy is now part of our family and we love her to bits.  We certainly don’t want to give up on her.

Thank you for reading my blog today.

I will be back next Friday at my usual time.

 

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40 thoughts on “Problems With Our Rescue Dog Judy

  1. Lovely to hear from you again. One of my NY resolutions is to train our over enthusiastic dog. She is a lab collie cross who takes me for a walk rather than vice versa! x

  2. Judy is adorable. It’s amazing what Naomi has done, glad you keep going with her. Hope 2015 is kind to you.
    I & others enjoy your blog so look forward to hearing from you in the future.
    Best wishes,
    Angela ( Devon)

  3. Hello, Just wanted to say a huge “Well done!” to both yourself and Judy 🙂 I would imagine that had you returned her to the RSPCA she would have been very difficult to re-home.

    I understand how difficult it can be to have a dog with behavioral problems. My 6 year old labrador started to have panic attacks and agraphobia last year out of nowhere and we have also been seeing a behaviourist who has been a tremendous help and has managed to talk our vet into giving him thyroxine as his thryoid levels were very low (although still within normal range). Like Judy, my lab is gradually improving.

    I should think it must be very rewarding to take on a rescue dog and start to turn its life around and you sound so determined I am sure Judy will continue to improve! I hope your dreams of being able to take her to the allotment and to have social contact with other dog walkers will become a reality.

    Sara

    • Thank Sara and I’m glad your dog is gradually improving, it must have been terrible for you and your dog. Behaviourists are so expensive but hopefully our pet insurance will pay out….did you manage to claim from your insurance?

      • Yes, they are expensive! I have not tried to claim on the insurance as my dog has been very bad news for the insurers with one problem after another and I am getting concerned that they will put the premiums up too much or decline to insure him. He will be 7 next month.

        Another thing I have tried with him, to try to help his anxiety levels as he has become very fearful, is Tellington Touch massage. I don’t know if you have heard of it, but it is used on dogs and horses for all sorts of problems. It does seem to help and he enjoys it. You may be able to get a book on it from the library or failing that if you e-mail me I can forward the exercise sheets that the practitioner sent me on to you.

  4. Goodness Lisa you’ve had a lot on your plate! Life can be very trying sometimes but you’re obviously off to a really good start with your little dog : ) I hope things turn out as well as they possibly can and send you all my best wishes : ). Glad your back!
    Marise

  5. We have mad mini Schnauzers and when they were young we thought that they would never grow up. I think the issues are this:
    1. Try to be calm yourself. A dog will pick up on your anxiety, and become aggressive if he thinks you are scared.
    2. Training takes ages – a highly strung dog does not naturally calm down until 3 or even 4 years of training -just keep going.
    3. By separating your dog from other dogs and keeping her on a lead, you are in danger of never allowing her to learn to socialise. Find a friend with an older and calmer dog and ask if you can work together, so that she (and you) learn to be calmer around other dogs. If they becomes excited back her away, wait till they calm down and try again. I’m sure she’ll soon learn to play. A training lead, a long soft lead, will give her the feeling of being off the lead, but she’ll still be under your control.
    4. Don’t be put off by busy bodies who tell you that your dog is not under control if he’s got a lead on. Just calmly move off.
    5. Don’t buy special foods for a dog, neither pheromone sticks. All are quackery! The dog trainer might think that you need the reinforcement, but the dog certainly doesn’t.
    6. Praise a shy dog all the time, but don’t pick her up, or touch her in a difficult situation. Just move her away.
    7. Try never to get angry yourself, or subject her to adult anger. It is very frightening for a dog, even if it’s not directed at the dog.
    8. She looks gorgeous, please don’t give up.

  6. We leave our television on for the dog when we go out. slowly leaving him for 5mins then longer times. we now go out shopping for up to 2hrs. We also have a plug in for him, and a cat plug in too. and they work. good luck with your training, hope 2015 is good for you

  7. So sorry to hear that times are difficult for you at the moment.The work that you have done with Judy (and what a cutie she looks) is absolutely wonderful. Many people, as you say, would have given up on her long before now but you have trusted your instinct and given her a second chance – Naomi sounds like a godsend. Here’s hoping that this will be the start of things looking up for you all x Jane

  8. Hello you amazing woman you! Big HUGS!
    Your wee doggie has a different look in her eyes in the last picture from what she had in her first! I can see the difference. It’s a calmer, more confident look…I might even describe it as smug!
    Are you thinking the allotment is going to be a viable thing with her? If she’s come this far, surely a few measly squirrels can be overcome!

  9. So sorry things have been so rough for you lately, I do hope everything works out well soon. You are working wonders with your sweet little doggie. Well done for putting so much time and effort in. She has been lucky to find you. Wishing you a good weekend. CJ xx

    • I hope I can help her even more, it has been so sad to see her sometimes. After I wrote yesterdays blog post, she had a really bad day, barking at everything and being on ‘high alert’ when she was outside reacting to absolutely nothing at times. I suppose I will have good and bad days with her as it is such early days with her.

  10. I understand the pain you all must be going through, in a six year period my husband lost his father, mother then brother it was an extremely difficult time for us all, and then on top of that you have all that life has to throw at you,my thoughts and prayers are with you all. The stress of poor little Judy too, but i am so very glad that you are seeing the light now with her, it is so sad what some animals go through before they find such lovely homes. Our christmas day was something out of a carry on film, i laugh now but not on the day, this virus is everywhere and so many people were ill over christmas, we had our “Christmas 2” as i called it on New Years day as well!
    Take care sue

    • Yes the virus is nasty, but somehow I escaped it (which was good as I could look after the others)….never mind, hopefully it will be perfect next Christmas day lol.

      How awful for you too Sue, my heart goes out to you. Over the last two or three years it really does feel that bad luck just keeps coming and coming….. I suppose this will make the sun shine even brighter when it finally does come out lol

      • The sun does shine again, it has taken a few years, 5 funerals then two weddings (sounds like the film lol) and a birth of our dear grandaughter, yes weve been through the mire with one thing and another but family holds strong and good things did happen and the sun now shines, i always held faith and our love held firm. God bless you all sue

  11. I love dogs too.

    Thank you for your very detailed and interesting account of experiences with Judy. Give her a hug from me.

    Catherine

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