Posts Tagged ‘socializing’

Emerging from Rescue Dog to Family Dog

April 6, 2013
Pierson Rolling in the Grass

Happy Rescued Boy, PIerson.

This post is appropriate for spring as it is an article about growth. It is a story about the development of a rescue dog into a loved and cherished family dog.

I’ve been in contact with a new friend lately about her new rescue dog. And her story made me think about when I first got Pierson. He was so shy and nervous back then. I assumed I would have a calm and quiet dog on my hands. But then over the course of a few weeks, Pierson came out of his shell. He is a different dog today than he was back then. Here are his experiences and some things you can expect when you rescue a dog.

Shy to Outgoing
Pierson is still shy around strangers, but even that shyness is relatively mild compared to the shyness he expressed when he first came home. After spending time socializing him, he now allows most people to pet him. I don’t think he will ever be outgoing because of his breed tendencies. But it may be different with other rescued dogs. You might start out with a very shy dog and end up with one that absolutely loves to meet new people.

Unsure to Confident
When Pierson first came home, his walk was slow and deliberate. His tail was held low and his eyes were constantly on the lookout for a way to escape in case things went wrong. Today, he prances around with his tail held high. He knows this is his home and we are his family and he is completely at ease. When we go out, he is still confident because he knows I will take care of him.

Quiet to Loud
This may not be the case with all dogs, but it is definitely the case with Pierson. It was a couple weeks before I heard him bark. Now, not only does he bark (at every little thing), but he howls with excitement too. You should see him in the morning at feeding time. He wags his tail so hard that his cute little fluffy butt wiggles, he spins around in circles, and then he promptly sits and howls. It is the cutest thing!

Calm to Playful
I remember trying to play with Pierson after only having him for a couple of days. He didn’t understand that it was a game and still wasn’t too sure about me. The first time he ever played, it was with Maya. After a couple of weeks, he started to play with me too. I imagine my laughter when I tried to play with him scared him at first. Now he associates laughter with good things and we play and laugh all the time.

I use laughter now as a way to put him at ease. When Pierson heard a loud noise while we were out the other day, he got really scared. I purposely laughed at him playfully because the loud noise was nothing to be frightened of. He immediately calmed down.

Behavior Issues
Pierson developed a few behavior issues as he got more comfortable. When he first came here, he was too nervous to come out of his corner to do naughty things. But as Pierson got more comfortable going about the house, he started chewing on things, putting his paws on the counter, and digging holes in the yard. Expect some of these same things to happen when you rescue a dog. Remember, they don’t know what is right and wrong yet. As they come out of their shell, they will be investigating their new surroundings more often and may sometimes do things you don’t want them to do.

Pierson's Rescue on Facebook

Pierson’s rescue documented on my Facebook Timeline in January 2012. (Sorry it’s blurry. I don’t know how to make it sharp like the larger image file is.)

Watching Pierson slowly come out of his shell has been a wonderful and rewarding experience. I love Pierson so much and am very proud of the dog he has become. A rescue dog requires time, patience, and training, but that dog is worth every effort. Pierson’s rescue story sort of reminds me of The Ugly Duckling story. Has your dog emerged from an ugly duckling into a swan?



Socializing My New Dog

February 18, 2012


My New Dog Pierson Needs Socialization Skills

My new dog Pierson is nothing like my dog Maya when it comes to sociability. As a Labrador Retriever, Maya loves EVERYBODY. And as a dog breed with a gun dog heritage, loud noises don’t faze her. Pierson, my Border Collie/Aussie mix is a different story. After Pierson’s first week in his new home, it became obvious that I was going to have to work on socializing my new dog.

Issues Thus Far
Pierson does not like loud noises or fast movements. He has gotten more comfortable when this occurs in our home, but he completely freaks out when it happens outside our home. And he is scared of our roommates. Even though he sees them every day and they give him treats, he sometimes gets inexplicably scared and barks at them. During walks, I am pulled in one direction by Maya trying to greet people passing by while Pierson is pulling the other direction trying to get away. Pierson is very wary of visiting guests and even growled at someone who brought their little baby. Pierson will not go inside public places like the pet store without much coaxing. In the beginning, I had to pick him up and carry him in. At one of the shops we visited, Pierson barked at a 12 year old girl.

Introducing My Dog to Loud Noises
While socializing my new dog, he is exposed to all sorts of outside noises when we go for our walks. No lawnmowers yet since it is winter, but bicycles, cars, motorcycles, and kids playing. Whenever a noise startles him, I keep walking as if nothing is wrong. Inside, he has been introduced to the vacuum, kitchen sounds, and tv sounds. Pierson no longer has any problem with kitchen noises or the tv. He has learned noises in the kitchen are a good thing since we sometimes drop food on the floor or get his treats from there. He still doesn’t like the vacuum cleaner but he doesn’t run and hide like he did the first time. To get him used to this sound, I give him a bone to chew on while I vacuum. He only gets the bone at that time. I am hoping he will learn to associate the vacuum with food like he does for the kitchen noises.

Introducing My Dog to People
We occasionally have visitors to our home. I tell them not to try to pet Pierson until after he has had a chance to sniff them over on his own. In fact, they should completely ignore him for the first few minutes. Don’t look him in the eyes for more than a second. If when we go out in public and someone asks to pet him, I tell them they have to wait until he sniffs them. And I suggest that it is probably easier to try to scratch him on his chest than to pet him on the head.

Taking My Dog to New Places
Socializing my new dog in winter is a bit more difficult in winter. We haven’t gone to the park yet, and even if we did it is not likely that there will be many people there anyway. So I have to be a bit more creative. We have been to Petco, Pawsh Wash, and a pet consignment shop called The Dog House. On the first and second visits, I had to carry him in. But now he is beginning to trust me and tries to stay close to my side whenever we go in. Whenever he first goes into a building, I stop and let him look and sniff around (while on a leash of course). I let him lead the way so that he can see there is nothing to be afraid of. Once his walk seems a bit more relaxed, I take him to where I want to go.

Getting My Dog Used to the Car
I don’t have much to say on this one because Pierson has adapted to the car quite well. He is even used to his dog car harness, although I have to be careful that he doesn’t try to chew it. Even if Pierson is scared of the places we go, he is not frightened of the car. He does sometimes get car sick, but he will jump into the car like it is the place to be. If I am going to any place with a drive-though, like the bank or fast food place, I try to take Pierson with me so that he gets even more used to it.

Other Tips for Socializing My New Dog
As with dealing with Pierson’s separation anxiety (see previous post), I do not make a big deal out of anything. If he is scared of something, I act like there is nothing wrong. I don’t sooth him or act in any way like I am trying to protect him. If there is something or someone that I think would present a hazard, such as a leash-aggressive dog, I will walk Pierson away from it/them without a fuss.

I once made the mistake of introducing Pierson to too much at one time. There was an event with lots of people and other dogs that I took him to. He was terribly frightened and so we had to leave after a short time. I learned that while socializing my new dog, I had to take it slow. I don’t want to overwhelm Pierson. I want to do a little at a time to build his confidence.

If you have any other tips for socializing my new dog, please feel free to leave a comment. Pierson is already a great dog, but it would be nice if I could take him places and share him with others without stressing him out.