My family and I recently adopted a five year old lab named Ranger. He was surrendered to a Lab Rescue because the family had to move quickly and couldn't take Ranger or his littermate with them. Ranger was owned by this family since he was a pup, and he was mostly an outside dog.
I was told by the rescue volunteer that the first two weeks would be the "honeymoon period." Initially, Ranger seemed subdued. No eye contact, no tail wagging, but he was a good dog and did as he was told. He threw up a couple of times, most likely due to stress, we were told. We made sure to take him out often and there have been no accidents in the house. At the end of the first week, we saw an improvement. There was very good eye contact, tail wagging and following us around the house. We made sure not to "baby" him if he was whiny.
Suddenly, right after the two week mark, Ranger again seems subdued again. The tail is down. There's not as much interest in following us around. He simply goes to his blanket and lays there. He's acting very much the same way when we initially got him.
I don't have much experience with adult adoption/rescue. Is this normal? I'm sure dogs go through a period of adjustment. Is this part of it? Is the honeymood period over and what on earth should I expect now?
Does anyone have an comments? If you could also suggest some reading with regard to adoption and rescues, that would be great.
I'm in rescue and I'd say it's pretty common. He's probably trying to figure out his place in the family and adjust. I would recommend taking him for walks, playing in the yard, and start working with him on obedience training - an obedience class can really help give a dog confidence. He should perk up in a few weeks.
I always think it's a good idea to take a newly adopted dog to the vet's for a wellness visit. I don't want to freak you out and this sort of depends on where you live but do you know if he's heartworm negative? A dog that is heartworm positive can seem pretty run down sometimes. Heartworms and completely treatable and more common in the south. They can tell with a simple blood test. Have you had a fecal run to check for parasites? That can sometimes make a dog feel run down too. He may also be adjusting to his food if you've changed it.
Walks and Obedience are both excellent ways to bond with a dog and both can build a dogs confidence. And also this dog being an outside dog may not quite understand how to interact with you. You could also do some clicker training of simple things to get him to start feeling more at home and to make yourself more interesting. also you might want to have a thyroid check done when you do the wellness visit.
Kelly and Amber
I haven't enrolled in an actual obedience class yet, but we have routine of walks.
Ranger gets one long walk at least once a day (sometimes two if there is no ball throwing). We also do 10-15 minute training sessions (just basics with sit, stay and come) followed by some ball throwing afterward.
For an outside dog, his manners inside the house are impeccable (so far). I cringe and wonder when the other shoe is going to drop. It seems almost impossible that we got such a great dog. He does not touch what is not his (except one time when he chewed up a book, but my 1 year old gave it to him), doesn't jump on you, not bad with recall, is quiet, mellow, smells great, and is wonderful with children. His previous owner said that he had no bad habits, and so far, the guy was right. Why they'd give up this big, lovely lab is beyond me. Is it too early in the game to be so pleased?
You may have just gotten a great dog My aunt and uncle got their chocolate lab much the same way you got yours. A co-worker of my uncles was getting divorced and couldn't keep the dog where he was moving to. Tank was 3 when he went to live with my aunt and uncle. He was awesome right from the get-go. So well behaved, let my then a little older than toddler cousins crawl all over him, and was great with visitors. I used to watch him when they went on vacation and he was just as good for me as he was for them. My aunt and uncle would say the same thing as you-"He can't be this good all the time" and "I can't believe he's such a great dog". But he is. I hope yours gets out of his funk soon and really starts to enjoy your family
Why is it so hard for you to think that you have gotten a great dog? I have Warner right now as a foster who will be 4 in June and was an outside dog that barely had any contact with his owners. He's incredible. Never messed inside, will lay in his crate without being told, I can trust him out of his crate for short periods of time without the house getting trashed, and he's a happy dog. He needs more attention than other dogs because he was left alone for long periods...but otherwise, he's great. Additional classes and confidence building will be amazing for him.
Almost all (there have been 2 numbskulls) of the over 160 dogs we've fostered and placed have had little or no behavioral issues that weren't trainable. We even had 17 dogs from a breeder kennel that never had leashes on that are now big old couch potatoes.
Take it slow, don't coddle and work on praising him for everything he does correctly. He'll come around.
Dani, Rider & Rookie
SHR Watson's Safari Rider, JH, WC, CL1-R, RA, CGC, TDI
SHR Endeavor Put Me In Coach, RN, WC, CGC
Member Since 6/2003
Oh just generally because you hear so many stories about how a dog (that is rescued or adopted) needs more work before it gets better and because as a society I think we are groomed (no pun intended) to be cynical of the good. Ranger is a doll. And we are thankful.Originally Posted by Dani
All great suggestions. I had already taken him for a wellness visit, but I am taking Ranger again this morning because I just received his past medical records and he was not current for heartworm. Now that the doctor can review the med records, I think the visit will be more fruitful.Originally Posted by stlabs
Jennifer, first thanks for saving his life. People give up great dogs all of the time. One family in Rochester NY wanted to put down their 10 year old yellow boy because the woman was tired of cleaning up poop! The good news is we talked them out of it and suggested hiring a service to come in a couple of times a week to pick up the yard. Because of his age he obviously outgrown his puppy stage. It sounds like you have hit the jackpot with this guy. I think when you expect the best from your dog that's what comes out and if your expecting something bad to happen it might. Dogs are experts at reading body language and if you think he is going to do something bad he is going to start to think, "what have I done that's bad", and you can actually cause anxiety in your dog.
I like your insight, and I believe I see your point. So far, I have been able to incorporate all the advice from this board. And the wellness visit was good. Thanks!Originally Posted by Oonas Dad