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Hello,

2 weeks ago we "rescued" a dog. Here is his story:

At age 3 months his previous owners decided they did not want this puppy anymore so they threw him out....in the middle of winter, in the mountains of Vermont!! After roughly 5 weeks surviving on his own he stumbled upon a lone house. With the last little bit of strength he had he pushed on the door.

The owner of this house heard a thump and went to the door. The pup went inside and curled up by the radiator. He had grown so much during the time he was "wild" that his collar was cutting into his neck skin!! The finder of the dog put out an ad in the paper. The original owners identified the pup by his collar and told the finder they didn't want him anymore, and that's why they put him out. I can't imagine anyone ever doing anything like this but I guess there are sub-humans out there.

The finder nursed him back to health and put him up for adoption. We were the lucky winners!! We drove 2 1/2 hours to Vermont to get him, fell in love immediately!!

We took him to the vet immediately and found out that he is about 7 months old now. In the two, almost three weeks that we have had him I have noticed some very wild type behavior. Seeley seems to eat everything he sees outside, edible or not, especially poop!! Not his own, but other wild life...squirrel, possum, cat, etc. He has plenty of dog food, but he only eats a few morsels at a time. We leave it down for him at all times...why doesn't he eat it?

We have taught him his name, and sit, and he seems to be potty trained pretty well but it's slow going with other things. That's ok, I know he is only 7 months old. We love him to death and he seems to have bonded with us. He is a great cuddle bug!!

He has a stubborn streak that I just can't seem to get around. He also has no reaction to "no" or "bad dog" using a stern voice. I don't believe in hitting. I can't seem to get through to him on the correcting the bad behavior. What should I do? What can I do to get him to realize that "no" means something?

Is there hope for getting the "wild" out of him? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Seeley's Mom!!
 

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Welcome!
First, don't leave the food down at all times. This will just create a finicky eater...plus you want him to work for his food, and respect that you are his caregiver and food giver. Put down a certain amount (like 1.5 cups) twice a day and what he eats in 15 minutes is what he gets for that meal. Pick up the bowl and at the next meal do not add anything to the bowl even if there is only 2 mouthfuls left. He'll learn soon enough that meal time is meal time and a healthy dog won't starve itself.

Is this dog neutered? The dog has only been with you a short time, he's probably trying to figure out how long term this situation is. If he was put out at an early age, left on his own and then somewhere else before he came to you, he's been a lot of places in his young life. It will take time.

I'd recommend getting him into a obedience class to boost his self esteem and strengthen your bond. He's a teenager so he'll test you. But never issue a command you can't enforce, so if he's off-leash and you tell him to come and he's a distance away from you, then you have no way to enforce it if he doesn't. Keep him on a leash and give it a little pop to remind him to pay attention to you.

Patience will be the biggest thing here.
 

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Dani gave good advice! Thanks for saving this poor baby - seems like he deserves someone who loves him more than most! DAMNED ORIGINAL OWNERS!

Sounds like a normal 7 month old mostly - yes you can get him civilized - but sometimes, even with the best bred and cared for labradors - you think it's never gonna end!Stick around - we'll try and help all we can!
 

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Poor guy, what a rough start in life. Sounds like he's landed in the right place, though.

Dani's advice is spot-on. In addition to an obedience class, you might want to start NILF (Nothing In Life is Free). For example, with any reward you give, make him earn it. I'm sure someone else here will be happy to go into details, or look it up on the internet. Positive reinforcement like clicker training might also work for him. I haven't done it myself, but I know people who swear by it.

Welcome to the board, and thanks for rescuing him. He will be worth all the effort, patience, and love you invest in him. He's at a tough age but he persevered through some bad times, so he sounds pretty special.
 

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Dani gave good advice! Thanks for saving this poor baby - seems like he deserves someone who loves him more than most! DAMNED ORIGINAL OWNERS!

Sounds like a normal 7 month old mostly - yes you can get him civilized - but sometimes, even with the best bred and cared for labradors - you think it's never gonna end!Stick around - we'll try and help all we can!
^^
ditto...it will get better...promise:)
 

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congrats on your new dog, and kudos for adopting a rescue. my dogs LOVE to eat critter poop if and when they can find it. it's very common for dogs to enjoy poop as high value treats, and some even eat their own poop, which is a whole other topic.

when you say, bad behavior, what exactly is he doing that you are trying to stop?


here is some general training advice i wish i had had when i adopted my first dog:

give your dog clear instructions and rules of what is and what is not
good behavior, help her understand you control all the good things in
her life (including food, comforts, your time, attention, or affection) and that
you will share or provide access to those resources when she displays
the actions and behaviors you want her to perform.

dogs will repeat behaviors that result in desirable outcomes and
decrease behaviors that result in undesirable outcomes. outcomes that
are neither desirable nor undesirable to the dog results in behaviors
that are inconsistent, unpredictable, and unreliable. this is why
consistency is a key component of dog training. dogs need
consistently reliable outcomes to their behaviors in order for their
behaviors to become consistently reliable.

if you want your dog to repeat a behavior ON CUE, ie a verbal "sit"
command, you must reinforce the behavior in order for that behavior to
become more likely to be repeated on cue. usually, reinforcements are
provided through rewards. if your dog is food motivated, food would
be a good reward. if your dog is toy motivated, giving a toy would be
a good reward. if you only give petting and verbal praise to your dog
as their reward, but your dog is actually indifferent toward that
those things, then those would NOT be a good reward for sitting on
cue.

it is important that the rewards are given only after the right behavior is
performed. try to avoid using rewards as bribes where you show the reward
ahead of time in an effort to obtain obedience. also, keep the rewards
varied and interesting. with enough repetition, a behavior becomes
habit formed and automatic, and by that point, you won't have to
continue providing a reward.

also, keep in mind that time spent on training is not merely an
opportunity to drill the dog over and over again to obtain compliance
and obedience. a large part of training is about building the
relationship you have with your dog.

be patient and make training fun. keep sessions short and upbeat. enjoy the
time with your dog, set her up to succeed, and she will start wanting
to make the kinds of choices that makes her humans happy, because happy
humans equals happy dog. she will soon start to decrease the bad behaviors
and instead increase and repeat the good behaviors.
 

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congrats on your new dog, and kudos for adopting a rescue. my dogs LOVE to eat critter poop if and when they can find it. it's very common for dogs to enjoy poop as high value treats, and some even eat their own poop, which is a whole other topic.

when you say, bad behavior, what exactly is he doing that you are trying to stop?


here is some general training advice i wish i had had when i adopted my first dog:

give your dog clear instructions and rules of what is and what is not
good behavior, help her understand you control all the good things in
her life (including food, comforts, your time, attention, or affection) and that
you will share or provide access to those resources when she displays
the actions and behaviors you want her to perform.

dogs will repeat behaviors that result in desirable outcomes and
decrease behaviors that result in undesirable outcomes. outcomes that
are neither desirable nor undesirable to the dog results in behaviors
that are inconsistent, unpredictable, and unreliable. this is why
consistency is a key component of dog training. dogs need
consistently reliable outcomes to their behaviors in order for their
behaviors to become consistently reliable.

if you want your dog to repeat a behavior ON CUE, ie a verbal "sit"
command, you must reinforce the behavior in order for that behavior to
become more likely to be repeated on cue. usually, reinforcements are
provided through rewards. if your dog is food motivated, food would
be a good reward. if your dog is toy motivated, giving a toy would be
a good reward. if you only give petting and verbal praise to your dog
as their reward, but your dog is actually indifferent toward that
those things, then those would NOT be a good reward for sitting on
cue.

it is important that the rewards are given only after the right behavior is
performed. try to avoid using rewards as bribes where you show the reward
ahead of time in an effort to obtain obedience. also, keep the rewards
varied and interesting. with enough repetition, a behavior becomes
habit formed and automatic, and by that point, you won't have to
continue providing a reward.

also, keep in mind that time spent on training is not merely an
opportunity to drill the dog over and over again to obtain compliance
and obedience. a large part of training is about building the
relationship you have with your dog.

be patient and make training fun. keep sessions short and upbeat. enjoy the
time with your dog, set her up to succeed, and she will start wanting
to make the kinds of choices that makes her humans happy, because happy
humans equals happy dog. she will soon start to decrease the bad behaviors
and instead increase and repeat the good behaviors.
Sunjin - do you have this on the "our best advice" thread? It should be there.
 

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An obedience class is the best thing for both of you, as it will teach YOU to teach your dog. You have to use the same word, in the same tone of voice, and the same hand signals - you cannot change it or it means something different and they don't listen. Once he bonds with you more, he will realize that "no" means you do not like what he is doing and want him to stop. He's probably been yelled at so much by his first owner and who knows who else, that it doesn't register any more.

Keep a leash on him in the house and when he starts to do something you don't want him to do, pop it and say AH! AH! or NOPE! (not 'no') in a short, sharp tone. Then reward him for stopping whatever it was. Praise or a special toy if he doesn't respond to treats. Same thing with 'come.' Make sure he has a line on, then call him to you. Pull him to you, then reward him with a treat and praise. Only say the command once.

Also, as was said before, leave the food down for only 15 inutes, then pick it up. Try your best to keep him from eating things outside by keeping him on a lead and watching him like a hawk. While he was living in the wild, he learned to eat whatever he could scavenge to stay alive. This is a habit now and you have to slowly break it by stopping him when you can, and always rewarding him with something tasty.

Good luck, and God bless you for rescuing this pup! Post some pics for us, please.
 

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You have gotten some really great advice in this thread. I have nothing to add except, Hang in there! I remember a time when Angus appeared not to have a conscience, and it was very unsettling. I used to liken living with him to living with a wild animal, so it may have been some of the same feelings you are experiencing. But Angus was never wild, well, not previous to four or five weeks old anyway.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, his behavior may or may not be related to having had to live on his own (although I'm sure that didn't help much). I think a great deal of this is his age...seven months is the terrible teens! Just keep in mind what Sunjin said: Dogs do what works for them. If the behavior is rewarded (by you, OR inadvertently, e.g. counter-surfing and finding a delicious ham or whatnot), it is likely to be repeated. If there is no reward for doing the behavior, it will likely extinguish.
 

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And also: THANK YOU FOR RESCUING!!!
 

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Did you name him after Seely Booth?

I don't have a lot to add beyond what you have already gotten - all great comments!

Just this - expect him to take several weeks to really settle in. Expect that you might have a bit of separation anxiety happen once he is settled since he has been abandoned prior. Start now with limiting the fuss when you leave and come back home.

Beyond training, grooming is a great way to build a bond with a dog. I would do this frequently with him.

Good luck and keep us posted on your progress.
 

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You have gotten great advice. Thanks for rescuing this boy. It will get better. Love and patience fixes alot of problems. An obedience class will help. Most labs at that age have a "wild" streak. We need some pictures. Good luck with your new boy.
 

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I cannot add anything that has already been said, except hang in there! I also add that as far as eating poop, Barney is a conossour (sp?) of poop and I have had him since he was 9 weeks!

Obedience class is a must and you'll probably see alot of improvement soon after that and with lots of consistency!
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thank you all for your help. I feel better. Yesterday wasn't a good day for us, but today he has been awesome. I think we reached a milestone....onward and upward for us!! I"d love to post a photo, but I haven't been able to figure out how yet. I'll keep working on that too!!
 
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