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Scared/Stressed Male

by cathy brown

Yesterday afternoon I brought home my first rescue dog. He is 4 yr old. He also weighs about 14 lbs! And, he has no pigment on his eye rims and a narrow, pointed nose and face. He came from the Doctor Pet Store chain, billed as AKC, for those who would consider purchasing a pet there. Anyhow, the problem is that he is stressed to the max. His "family" left him pretty much without a backward look; meanwhile he tried to escape from the car and since I got him home has lifted his head at every sound. He has a sweet disposition, but is panting hard all the time and generally showing signs of stress. So far the only problem I had was that he wanted to bite Lucy (she was doing her dance trying to get him to play) but when I yelled no bite, he stopped immediately and since then when Lucy comes near, he moves away (closer to me). He keeps coming to me for reassurance and petting, so that's a good thing. And, he IS eating, drinking, etc. What I'm wondering in this very long note is if any of you who have done this sort of thing know any "tricks" to help him settle down and feel safe and calm. (He does have his toys from the old house here and plays with them some.) Or do I (and he) just have to wait it out until he knows he is okay despite losing his family. And does anyone have a ballpark on when that might be? Also, does anyone have any suggestions on how I might get him and Lucy to at least like each other? I think he is afraid of her--he jumps and acts like a nervous cat when she gets at all close to him, even on walks.


Please bear in mind when reading topics pertaining to health issues, that many of these questions were answered by helpful Maltese owners with no formal education in veterinarian medicine. When in doubt seek a professionals advise.

My heart breaks for that poor little dog. Atleast he has you now,that's a big plus. I don't know how it will work, but this is what I've done in the past when introducing new animals to mine. Try holding him on your lap so he feels secure, then have Lucy come up to you and pet her. Talk to him while your petting Lucy,for example, "See? Lucy's a nice puppy. It's okay, love Lucy." From what you've said he seems to trust you. If he see's that you love Lucy, he should feel it's safe for him to also. He soundslike he may just be a little confused. He's in a strange house w/ strange people. He misunderstood Lucy's play dance for aggression which I guess is normal when you're scared and on the defensive. Then he was scolded which probably scared him more. (not to say it was wrong to scold him) I think given some time and the fact that he has you and Lucy now, he'll be just fine.

Oh, poor little fellow--I feel sorry for him, thank goodness, he's got you and Lucy! What is his name?? I bet he calms down in a day or two--it sounds like you're doing everything right. Dogs are amazing!! A couple months ago two half-grown pups showed up here. They were so wild-acting, would just melt into the bushes when I went outside. For a whole day, no cooing or coaxing seemed to work--they'd see me and just vanish, but it did seem they were going less and less far away. Then they would just stand there tensely and growl. I put some milk bones down, and looked out the window in a few minutes--no milk bones. Finally they were on the porch--growling when I came out. That night, they came closer and closer to me, more and more milk bones. Finally, I went to bed, saying to them, "wise ups, pups, this is your best chance!" When my husband came home, I asked, innocently, see any dogs out there? "Oh the two sleeping on the front door mat, that I petted as I stepped over them! Did you feed them?" "Uh, just a couple milk bones." He went back out, gave them bowls of dog food, let them in the back gate, and they've been here every since. By Day Two, they were still alittle timid, but they'd come over and lean into you for petting and loving. Jeez, from feral to fuzzy-wuzzies. Dogs! I love 'em all.

Dear Cathy: I can't read your letter and other messages right now, I'm about to be booted offline...I'll send you a note on Email to see how I might help. I have first-hand experience with toy-breed/mixed toys/maltese especially and "aggression" or "fear." What ever you do, don't resort to treats/edibles to placate him and leave the magic relaxer potionts and tranquilizers alone. My experience is, slow down. Expect very little progress. Don't force him to enter scary situations yet. Let him learn little-bits at a time. Don't overprotect--strike a balance. DO OBEDIENCE TRAIN. Never yell. Stick w/consistent commands, don't add confusion by mixing such commands as down and off--two different meanings. I must run. Feel free to mail to me. Also, interested in how he came to you. I'm new to the web.
-auntChristine Pellicano

I think the most important thing right now is time. Give it some time for him to adjust to his lifestyle. It's hard being away from home for the first time, not knowing if his family will ever come back. Another good suggestion is to make him feel wanted and secure. Let him trust you and the others. I know how you feel since my boyfriend adopted a chi. when he was four years old. It takes time but it is definitely worthwhile. Good luck!

Thanks all of you (particularly, you Christine for the help via e-mail). Maybe I should have titled my post "Scared/Stressed Female" as I think I was more worried about Cartee than need be. To let all of you know, he is doing fine. He is a very sweet, loving, smart little guy. He still is acting pretty much like a "guest," but comes to be cuddled and plays etc. I think we are doing fine for just a couple of days here. He's been to my vet for a check and to our groomer--which he LOVED--to get rid of mats. All in all things are going well except for a little bit of growling at Lucy--he stopped snapping at her after a few No's. His family must have trained him fairly well--when you tell him no, he stops and sits. He loves walks and wiggles so much we can hardly get the leash on him. So this story has a happy ending, and I wanted to let you know.
-cathy brown

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