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Thread: New staffy - ex breeding bitch - settling- in issues with family - long post

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
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    Perth
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    Default New staffy - ex breeding bitch - settling- in issues with family - long post

    Hi,
    I thought I would post here because I am struggling with our new staffy and I apologise for the length of this post.

    About 1 week ago, our pure bred 6 year old staff 'Serena' arrived from a very well known staff breeder in South Australia. She was freighted to my home in Western Australia. So far she has proved a beautiful girl but what worries me is that she is very, very timid, which I find very unusual for a staffy. She is only just now coming into the house to be with us, but if one of my three kids come into the room, she is off to the garage or under a desk in the study (you get the picture); treats wont coax her to come out and If i try to lead her out, she digs her paws and she is almost impossible to shift (she has a physique like a large wombat). she stays there all day unless I take her to the local dog beach. There,, she changes from a timid dog to a outgoing, boisterous and friendly staffy. she loves other dogs and people. But when I get her home she becomes fearful once more and looks for a place to hide. I also think she is scared of my little boys as she runs way if she sees them in the room. She isn't at all aggressive just frightened and as such I have limited contact between the young ones and Serena. This is a problem because I have 3 boys and my house is hardly quiet.

    The breeder said that I should get her out of the garage and into the house as much as possible so she can get used to her new surroundings. IS this good advice? When I pick her up and put her with us on the couch, she stays put and sleeps right next to me. During the day this wouldnt happen.
    What do I do? For me its new territory as my last staffy came from a large family so he fitted in essentially straight away.


    thank you for reading

    Adrian

  2. #2
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    I don't mean to offend by my questions, just wanting answers.

    Is this breeder actually a reputable one or just a well known one from SA? There is certainly a difference. It sounds like she hasn't had contact with children at all throughout her life and that can be a problem when settling into a new home. What dogs have not been socialised with in their earlier years (particularly their critical period 3-16weeks) they will naturally fear. If this breeder wants to rehome his older bitches as they "retire" he needs to ensure proper socialisation to give them the best chance or rehome them to a similar living situation to what they are used to.

    Serena has been shipped interstate away from everything and everyone she knows. It will take her a while to settle in. Don't let the children impose on her space and perhaps get them to take responsibility for feeding her to give her a reason to interact with them. At first just get them to put the food down for her and leave her in peace but after a while they should feed her treats from their hand so she can smell them and create a positive association to them and food.

    Do the children go to the park/beach with you? Did the breeder tell you anything about what she likes - ball games, tug, certain treats?

  3. #3
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    Oh poor little girl

    Is she an AmStaffy and comes from a kennel starting with "A"? (lol The only "well known" SA staffy "breeders" I've heard of)

    Do you know much about her history? How many litters, how she was housed etc? If she was kenneled full time it may be hard for her to adjust to living in a family. Have you thought about maybe introducing a create to help her feel more comfortable knowing she has her "own" space.

    There is no psychiatrist in the world like a puppy licking your face.

  4. #4
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    Thank you for all your advice. she is an English Staffy. The breeder's name starts with the first two letters of a large city in California (not the capital).
    They seem very nice people and there are a tonne of positive testimonials from near and far. They also breed Amstaffs, bulldogs, tenterfield terrier and Italian Greyhounds. she was kennelled but also had the run of 8 acres with other dogs. She is Very dog friendly and very adult friendly.
    She is sleeping under the study desk at night but unless we take her to the beach, which we do everyday, she hides out in the garage or any other area of shelter.
    She literally shakes with fear. I can't afford to buy a crate but I do have a large dog kennel in a quiet corner of the garage. She is yet to use this. I've tried to get the kids to gently approach and pat her and she tolerates it but is definitely not comfortable.

    I am at a loss. I don't won't to have to drag her into the house and force interaction between her and the kids. She is too timid to take treats from them. I would be extremely upset if I can't help her to become a part of the family. I am really lost here.
    Do I try to de-sensitise her or just leaver her be for now? Will this make it worse for her?

    any help appreciated

    Cheers

    Adrian

  5. #5
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    I'm pretty sure that I know what breeder you mean. They're north of Adelaide and must have a rather large operation. They're breeding 6 different breeds and offering them online. Right? I think I even found a pic of Serena up on their site Look, if she is that timid I don't believe a minute what they say, that all their dogs are well socialised with dogs and kids and are true family pets. I also wouldn't give a hoot about positive testimonials on a website.

    To me it sounds as if she spends most of her life in a kennel far away from her humans and is used only to doggy company. I take it she is an only dog now? That means her whole life has been turned upside down. It's possible that in a matter of a few weeks or months she has been through quite a lot. She's been desexed, been shipped to another part of the country. Lost her doggy family and is an only dog now with people she doesn't know in a house where she doesn't know the rules. No wonder she is freaked out. She is not a flexible puppy, but a grown dog who had already her place in the world. And now she has to un-learn and re-learn everything she knew.

    So, I definitely would not drag her out of the garage where she feels safe or force her to interact. I think - and other may disagree - that's crap advice from her breeder. She has been with you only a week. I think you need to give her a lot more time. If she feels safe with you, you may have a velcro dog for a while I'd also get some advice from a professional dog behaviourist in your area once she feels a little more settled, but for now I think the aim is to make her feel safe and help her relax in her new life. In fact I think this is the key to dealing with anxious dogs... make sure they're not getting over their threshold. If you feel her getting tense take back several steps.

    So for now, if the garage makes her feel safe, so be it. Do you have one of those connected to the house? I.e. can you leave the door open so she can see what's going on inside without having to participate and without being bothered? You can also try a thundershirt to help her relax. They work very well for some dogs.

    If she likes the beach I'd take her there as much as possible. The poor thing seems to crave doggy company. We have to timid dogs too and the first one we got was the same. He only felt secure around other dogs. People freaked him out and made him hide. He got attached to me pretty quickly but he needed a while to warm up to OH. We made sure he had lots of doggy company and he also had playmates visiting our house. So he had lots of interactions with other dogs both in our home and out and about. Do you have friends with dogs you could invite around to your place?

    In any case... I think you need to be very patient. Be prepared - and prepare your kids too - that it may take a lot longer than you expect until she comes out of her shell. Our Rox needed about a year until she started to show her true colors - and she was only 18 months old when we got her. So I'd expect a 6yo girl may need more work and time to cope with such a change. My advice with a timid dog would be to take it slow. Everything. Very very slow. And don't force her into situations she doesn't like. I think you only risk that she snaps if you do.

    There are also some good books around on how to deal with anxious dogs - and some a really crap. This site (it's also a book available on amazon) I personally found quite helpful: Process of helping fearful dogs | Fearful Dogs

  6. #6
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    ... and as for the crate. I think that's a great idea for timid dogs. It doesn't have to be anything fancy. We cut a hole in a cardboard box just big enough for him to walk through! It's just a place to hide where she knows nobody will bother or approach her. Teach your kids too that that's her safe zone and nobody is to disturb her when she's in her cave.

    (sorry I'll shut up now)

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by margoo View Post
    ... (sorry I'll shut up now)
    Why ? Loved reading your posts !

  8. #8
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    My mother adopted a 7 yo ex breeding bitch from a well known cattle dog breeder. This dog had been kennelled all her life and aslo allowed to run free in the exercise areas with other dogs. When I went to see her in her familiar environment she was fine. Friendly and confident.

    However this was a dog that had likely never been off the property and certainly not inside a house. She was terrified of the TV and the different surfaces and stuck to my mother like glue. Little by little she became more familiar with the change in life. She enjoyed her walks in the park but stuck to my mother. I have to say that although she became a lot more relaxed and had a happy life, she never fully adjusted, there were always elements that demonstrated that she occassionally found some things difficult to cope with. She had a gentle temperament but was very easily startled.

    Her entry into the outside world was reletively calm as the companion of an older lady with another older dog. Not sure how she would have coped in a house full of kids.

    I agree with a lot of what Margoo has said. Allow her to have her safe place and work from there. She is going to have to desensitise to her new environment and learn to enjoy her new one. Make it as least scary as possible.

    As to crates, my mothers dog loved a crate. She liked the soft ones that give privacy and made her feel safe. A cardboard box would work.

    Perhaps get the kids involved in feeding her on a daily basis. Quietly with no fuss. I wouldnt at this point get the kids to approach her and pat her. Sometimes dogs do not like being patted or being directly approached. You would be better off just involve them in the activities going to the beach, feeding her etc but not patting her. This will hopefully come in time when she may initiate contact with them once she gets used to them.

    Adopting a dog from a long time kennel situation has its problems. I have known several dogs including my motheres fall into this category. It took time, lots of it.

  9. #9
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    Again, thanks for your advice. I guess I should have done more research before I bought her. I probably wouldn't have, although I have become attached to her. One of my friends has a dog and I can get him to come over with the dog regularly. I tried to get her to go in her kennel but has refused. So I let her alone and sit in one corner of the garage. I've instructed the household to let her be for now and only approach her if we are the dog beach and is having too much fun to be fussed. Down the line I will probably get another dog (but not from you know who) but for now we have to make do. I feel sad for taking her out of her environment to this one. The owners said that the dog would be socialised and ready for the family. I was disappointed to say the least

    thank you for all your help

    cheers

    Adrian

  10. #10
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    Hi Adrian, welcome to the forum, I'm from Perth too, good to have another West Aussie on the forum (even though I haven't been in here for ages)

    I hope your dog adjusts to your family life soon and comes out of her shell a bit more ... it may be a bit much like suggested above. Fantastic news that she loves the dog beach, I'm sure she'll settle in, given time. Staffies are great dogs...

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