I adopted a 1.5 yr old male (nuetered)chocolate 3 days ago and he appears to have never been socialized. He is showing signs of aggression towards my other dogs (growling,biting,etc). He also shows no interest in playing with them at all, he "hides" under our deck most of the day. I want to take him Petsmart for some interaction, but am afraid that he may attack another dog. What is the best way to help him adjust without causing injury? Also he shows no interest in retrieving, isn't that a little odd? Generally speaking, what is the "break in" period for a shelter dog? Any suggestions?
Depends on the dog. It could take weeks, it could take months. A naturally outgoing, confident dog will find its place and settle in faster than a nervous dog would. Go easy on him for the first few weeks and work on building some trust between you. Once he is comfortable with you and his environment then you should start introducing him to new places. Do note that he may never be reliable in certain situations as he has missed out on those essential first few months of puppyhood socialization.Generally speaking, what is the "break in" period for a shelter dog?
I would NOT take him to Petsmart just yet. For a dog with little socialization, Petsmart will be far to overwhelming for him. Work on taking him to quieter places to build up his confidence.
Are you sure when he is biting and growling at your other dogs he is not just playing? if he was truly aggressive he would have probably caused some serious damage by now. Don't forget that for a dog that has had little or no interaction with other canines it is a whole new experience for him. Give him time!!
I agree...work on your relationship with him first. Right now he doesn't know if he can trust you to keep him safe so he's going to be edgy. Once he understands that you will keep his best interests at heart, he may not be so defensive. You can build this relationship by setting clear boundaries, being consistant and fair. Spend time playing together and even teaching some basic obedience skills (Labs love to learn new things). After a couple of weeks, introduce him to friendly people and dogs...one at a time. Don't go to a dog park or Petsmart or any place where strange dogs may be and where the attention would be overwhelming. It's important that his first experiences are positive ones. If you have friends with submissive dogs, those would be the best dogs to start with.
Where did you adopt him from...a shelter or rescue org? Most rescue orgs temperament test their dogs for aggression before adopting them. The shelters do too but the dogs are never in a foster situation for that extra test. Of course, some things may not show up until the dog has been in a stable environment for some time but I'd think for the most part most dogs with severe issues would be caught early on. If you are unsure about his temperament, hire a behavior trainer to assess the situation. I'd do it sooner than later because the answers can help ease your mind and/or determine a plan of action.
Good luck with the boy. Thanks for adopting him.
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it is totally normal for them to be 'shut down' [or simply overwhelmed] for a few weeks. IMO his hiding on the porch indicates this. do you have a crate where he can feel secure & safe yet be placed nearby? this would help him observe from a comfortable space/acclimate. you could also keep him leashed to you even indoors, letting you monitor him closely.
he may have no idea how to interact with other dogs, or he may be feeling he needs to 'make a place for himself' in this new pack [many times, established packs will run off a lone canid, or even kill them, so it has a deep genetic basis--and since 'alone inthe wild' = death, it's very scary!!!!!] again, close monitoring/control will help you help him adjust.
start using treats and work on simple commands, for short periods each day. this will help him feel he knows the ropes, and give him a feeling that someone is in charge--you!
Thanks for the great advice, it has been only been 6 days now and Gus is well on his way to becoming a great dog! He is already bonding with my Rottweiler, Xena and is learning new things every day! He and I have been spending as much time together as possible so that I will gain his complete trust.
If you haven't already, there are a couple of books you can read that I really like: The Other End of the Leash by Patricia McConnell and Cesar's Way by Cesar Millan. They are both more 'philosophy' books but may help you understand your dog better.
Good luck with him!