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Thread: Introducing new human to our home

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2013
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    Queensland
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    Default Introducing new human to our home

    I'm hoping someone can give me some suggestions/advice. Due to family circumstances my nephew is moving in with us next weekend at very short notice. We have two dogs - Ruby 2 years old, and Fink our 10 month old pup. Nephew has not been brought up with any animals at all (not even goldfish!) so it will be a new experience for him.

    My question lies with Ruby, our rescue dog. Nephew has only met Ruby twice in 18 months. She was 8 months old when we rescued her from the PAA animal shelter. She has security and trust issues with people and places she is unfamiliar with. Our attempts to socialize her were thwarted by her extreme fear of being any place she doesn't know (and we don't have a wide circle of friends to have plenty of people come and visit us) - and yes, I know socialization is uber important and this was not ideal for her. However as a result, we have a 2 year old dog who is the most loving, docile, nutty dog in our home.. until someone walks in that she doesn't know. Then she will back off barking with hackles up. If they ignore her, she will sit with me after a while and watch them, however any sudden movement sets off a growling hackles up fit. The growling concerns me more than the barking - it comes across as more menacing.

    When we have had my older son (lives overseas, LOVES animals and has always been brought up with them) to stay before, I woke up on the third morning to find Ruby snuggled in bed with him and I have every confidence Ruby will accept Nephew in time. What I would like help with is suggestions on the best way to ease the transition from our home as Ruby knows it (me, my youngest son, Fink - who loves EVERYone, numerous birds and gold fish) to a home that has another adult male full time.

    So far ( and please tell me if I'm misguided!) my thoughts are that:

    1) Nephew should ignore Ruby completely initially
    2) No eye contact with her at all for the first few days
    3) Do not back her into a corner where she feels she can't get away
    4) Nephew can feed dogs morning and night if it would help (??)

    The first two days are weekend days so they will not be left alone together at any point in time, however on the Monday I will be at work and I'm unsure (due to the nature of his job) whether youngest son will be home that day. Nephew has two weeks off work after the move-in weekend so will be around Ruby constantly. All of it is the less than ideal situation!!!

    If anyone can give any thoughts, suggestions, etc to how best to ease the situation I would hugely appreciate your help. I apologize for the long post, but wanted to give as much info as I could.

    Thank you!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Mid North Coast NSW
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    388

    Default

    I'm sure there will be plenty of great advice on this one soon, there is a wealth of knowledge on this forum.

    I used to have a doberman bitch who was also a rescue and also quite traumatised. Her response to visitors was much as you have described, and the best response from visitors was to ignore her. The first 3 points you made were exactly what worked when I got a new house-mate. Nobody ever fed her but me, she still accepted them fairly quickly if they didn't try to push her. The more uninterested they were, the quicker she would come around.

    Will be interested to hear what the experts recommend. Good luck with it

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Location
    se qld
    Posts
    836

    Default

    The thing is he is moving in, not an occasional visitor.
    I would not worry at all.
    let her observe him carrying in his bags, let her sniff them
    and go into his room, happy face calm voice, good girl etc.

    We have had backpackers in and out of our place since March now.
    The dogs are very excited for the first 24 hours, then ho-hum
    after that.

  4. #4

    Default

    Maybe it would be a good idea to introduce them properly on neutral territory and have your nephew loaded with Ruby's favourite treats. By your description of Ruby snuggled up next to a "stranger", I think as long as you use common sense and closely supervise(initially at least) they'll get on fine.

    And now I've just read that your nephew works ... if he's that old, I'm sure he can gain her trust without any issues(I initially thought we were talking about a small child)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Location
    melbourne australia
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    3,082

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    I see no issue from what you describe.
    The 'matter of fact' guideline behaviour from owners will see her through.
    and the more she's ignored, the faster the union is my experience of hesitant fearful dogs. as suggested above.
    and should she get an attack of bad manners, that's what outside is for.
    inside is for polite, even keeping their distance polite dogs.

    i have a dog that fear's my son in law a LOT. Im unsure if he'll ever like him. But he's no longer being aggro toward him, as ignoring method being used. wk 6 and now very vigilant when that man is in the house. But watchful is all he is being. Im sure ruby will go the same way.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Geelong, Vic
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    Default

    The 'matter of fact' guideline behaviour from owners will see her through.
    and the more she's ignored, the faster the union is my experience of hesitant fearful dogs. as suggested above.
    and should she get an attack of bad manners, that's what outside is for.
    inside is for polite, even keeping their distance polite dogs.
    I agree. Just because she is frightened does not mean her behavior is acceptable. It is your house, your guests, she has to learn to cope. She reacts, they move away and she is satisfied - her behavior is being rewarded.

    If you need some behaviorist recommendations where you are, let me know what area and I'll send you some to try out.

  7. #7
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    Jul 2013
    Location
    Queensland
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    Thank you so much for all your advice! I'm sorry I didn't respond sooner, I've been at the vets on and off all week with Fink.

    I was particularly grateful for the "She reacts, they move away and she is satisfied - her behavior is being rewarded" comment as this is something I definitely need to keep in mind with Ruby (she's a fast learner). Unfortunately neutral territory is not possible with Ruby as she's a nervous wreck when she's anywhere but home (to the extent she wont' even get out of the car unless you force her to) and that would aggravate her stress levels to the extreme. But I will definitely take on board all your thoughts and advice. I really really appreciate your help, thank you!

  8. #8
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    Jan 2012
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    Geelong, Vic
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    Now don't take that as make her stay there, the ensuing flip out can be too much for you to handle. This is not about force but about rules and expectations. If she feels uncomfortable you need to show her the right behavior is to seek you out calmly or go to her crate which no one touches her in. Nervous dogs need some micromanagement while they learn - and she's teaching herself right now which is why she cannot cope in public too. She freaks, you take her home. Bingo, she gets what she wants. Now this is not a dominance problem, but a learned reaction to stress

    I dont want to be here -> freak out -> mum removes me from stress - > My behavior was rewarded with the removal of stress

    Dogs can stress themselves out unnecessarily too if they think it will justify the outcome. It's about perception to a dog, not reality. THe trick is to change the perception - If the new person ignores the dog and does not back off to it's reaction, the dog will go into confusion. OK my behavior didn't make what I perceive as stressful go away so what now. That is when the owner is ready to gain the dogs focus and show it a behavior that will then be heavily rewarded as the alternative. So, you teach the dog, you're under stress, carrying on gets you nothing but acting like X gets you everything. So the dog starts thinking, starts realising, hey, I can keep performing stupid behaviors that just waste energy and are not rewarded, or I can get a guarenteed reward doing what my owner showed me. Bingo, you have a dog that changes quite quickly. Trick is to not to try and create POSITIVE associations with a nervous do. If it sees things as bad or scary, going straight to positive is too big a step. First you have to introduce neutrality - it's not scary, but it's not super awesome either. Positive and negative associations both create anxiety of some form in the dog and can flick back into old habits (every seen super excited happy dogs together suddenly fight? Similar thing) So we teach the dog, don't worry about it, whatever, ho hum, that's so boring why bother. Then the dog will be ready to have it's perception totally changed to positive, or for some animals remain neutral depending on their temperament, problem and capabilities.

    Remember what your dog does is how we train protection/security/police dogs.

    someone acting suspicious -> dog becomes suspicious -> dog barks -> offender runs away -> reward for guarding

    very quickly you can have a dog go from quiet to barking it's head off if you reward it properly. Simplistic I know but it's one part of how behavior changes environment for the dogs benefit.
    Last edited by Nekhbet; 08-29-2013 at 12:48 PM.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    Location
    Mid North Coast NSW
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    Default

    Wow Nekhbet, great post. Will be storing that info away, I have an anxious dog too

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