Hard time with rescue dog

Baglady41

Member
May 7, 2013
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67
My husband and I adopted a 8 month old puppy from our local animal shelter. We went there to see a different dog and ended up meeting our guy and falling in love, we were hesitant because of his size ( he's already 68 pounds and growing) so we went there multiple times. Each visit he was docile, and super duper sweet. The whole staff said he was just a big mush. When we filled out the application we said the only two things we couldn't handle would be aggression and a dog that didn't get along with cats. The shelter said they cat tested our dog and he showed no signs of aggression, in fact they said he wasn't interested at all.
That made us feel comfortable and so we decided to adopt the big guy.

When we brought him home they suggested we didn't have any visitors or introduce him to the cats right away, as its a big adjustment going to a new home. We have been taking it slow and over the course of the week, we have given him glimpses of our two cats through a baby gate, on a leash of course. Well turns out he's super interested in the cats, and we are not sure if its playful or aggression but we aren't going to find out. He's is super fixated and one of the supervised times he chased after one of our guys. Again, I'm not sure if it was just to play but because of his size alone we cannot take any chances.

I've also discovered that he's an absolute nightmare on the leash. He barks and lunges at anyone and everything. Again this is the opposite of what they told me, which was that he walked like a dream. We have made an appointment with an animal behaviorist and a trainer this week. And in the meantime will continue to keep him and the cats separated for everyones safety. I have been doing my best to give my cats lots of extra attention, treats and love. I just cant seem to feel like I'm failing. I feel badly for my cats, and I feel badly for him because he cant be happy living so fearfully.

I see a lot of potential in this bug guy. When he's not distracted he is that super duper sweet boy they described but its been a lot harder than I thought it would be. I am totally willing to put in work, but the thought of owning a dog that is aggressive is very frightening to me. I'm hoping that this behavior is just because he's frightened and in a new place.

My pets are my babies and I take the responsibility of owning a dog very seriously, especially a large one. I've just been feeling a bit overwhelmed. If anyone has any reassuring words, or advice that would be so appreciated. If not thanks for listening.
 

remainsilly

bye-bye
Aug 15, 2014
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Trainer = :tup:
Distracted means you are less interesting than other things.
Food/treats would make you much more interesting. Also, trainer will explain how to communicate wanted behaviors to dog--whilst being interesting.

Getting along with cats just takes more training--not to chase or lunge.
Very important to show cats love/affection, so dog sees they are important to you--not toys. Or squirrels.:dog:

Every dog I've adopted was a nightmare of adjustment--at first.
Then became best buddy. Even to cat.
Yes, there is hope. Dog's temperment & interest/energy sound good--very trainable & loving.
Hang in.:flowers:
 

sdkitty

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Jan 16, 2006
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San Diego
I'm no dog expert but if he's a puppy he probably want to play with the cats. Cats may not want to play with him. Agree - training and he should be fine.
 

Pessie

Member
Jan 14, 2015
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I'd recommend a house lead. I used one for my greyhound and it helped a lot to stop him chasing my cat when he was new. The moment you sense he might chase you can grab it or step on it and stop him, and I think just the sensation of it trailing behind slows them down a bit. Your dog is still a puppy and he sounds just like a normal bouncy one to me, I don't read the behaviour you describe as aggressive in any way. I think you're doing all the right things, training will definitely help you feel more confident and if you can join a class it'll help your puppy socialise with other dogs. I can tell you it was bedlam in our house for a few weeks, and I honestly did wonder if I'd made a huge mistake, however my dog and cat are best buddies now. You'll get there!
 

Baglady41

Member
May 7, 2013
229
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Thank you guys! I sincerely hope the trainer will help us make this work. Every day we fall more in love with him. I hope his curiosity is just that, and there is no aggression there. I really, really want this to work out. I'll keep you posted. Thanks again for the advice.
 

sdkitty

O.G.
Jan 16, 2006
22,489
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San Diego
Thank you guys! I sincerely hope the trainer will help us make this work. Every day we fall more in love with him. I hope his curiosity is just that, and there is no aggression there. I really, really want this to work out. I'll keep you posted. Thanks again for the advice.
he's a baby. I think it will be fine. From what I understand, cats usually do very well setting boundaries with puppies. My friend has a pit bull and cats. The pit bull is scared of the kitties.
GL with your training
 

Irishgal

I run with scissors
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Apr 22, 2006
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Long and Low Farms
Keep in mind that even with a trainer he may end up being leash reactive. He might do fine off leash, but becomes reactive on leash. There are many dogs like this. I hope you find a qualified trainer, not some Petco employee who thinks they can train a reactive dog.
 

Baglady41

Member
May 7, 2013
229
67
Keep in mind that even with a trainer he may end up being leash reactive. He might do fine off leash, but becomes reactive on leash. There are many dogs like this. I hope you find a qualified trainer, not some Petco employee who thinks they can train a reactive dog.
Hi. The trainer came highly recommended. He is not a petco employee. Years ago, I took my last dog to Petco for training classes it was more or less a waste of time. No offense to any Petco employees. I tried my best here to do my research and find someone very qualified.
 
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Baglady41

Member
May 7, 2013
229
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Sdkitty, Thanks! I'm just nervous because of his size. He's also part bullmastiff and I've read its very hard to have them live with small animals because of their prey drive. i'm very anxious because we are loving him more and more everyday and want so badly to have it work. Here's hoping he's you are right! Thanks for the kind words.
 

Pessie

Member
Jan 14, 2015
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I'm not sure that bull mastiffs do have a high prey drive, they were bred to guard not hunt, but many smaller breeds do!
 
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sdkitty

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Jan 16, 2006
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San Diego
Sdkitty, Thanks! I'm just nervous because of his size. He's also part bullmastiff and I've read its very hard to have them live with small animals because of their prey drive. i'm very anxious because we are loving him more and more everyday and want so badly to have it work. Here's hoping he's you are right! Thanks for the kind words.
I knew someone who had a mastiff and it was very docile. Again, I'm no dog expert but I think since he's so young if you get him used to the cats, he'll be fine. GL
 
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Sep 13, 2007
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The prairies of the Midwest
We've adopted over the years several shelter dogs that were big mutts who went gonzo-crazy on leashes. Time, patience and discipline turned them into well-behaved leash walkers. And usually within a few months. With one who was stubbornly incorrigible a good trainer and animal behaviorist worked wonders. Good luck! Sometimes an adjustment to a new dog in the household can take a few months.
 

Baglady41

Member
May 7, 2013
229
67
Thanks guys! He is very docile. Very relaxed when he isn't outside, just the sweetest boy. His trying to chase my cats shook me, I'm so happy we have the trainer coming here tomorrow. I was reading an article about shelter dogs and it really made me see things differently. What a big change to go through for them after getting adopted. I am willing to work on any issues, as long there isn't a safety concern for my cats. We love him already. Your words are encouraging!
 

Baglady41

Member
May 7, 2013
229
67
Thanks! His leash manners are terrible. With his size it's really a problem. I try and walk where there are few distractions but it's very difficult. His pulling is the worst. That 68 pounds of dead weight kills me. I have faith though that it can worked through. I'm happy to have the trainer coming tomorrow. Glad that it worked out with your dogs!
 

sdkitty

O.G.
Jan 16, 2006
22,489
20,373
San Diego
Thanks guys! He is very docile. Very relaxed when he isn't outside, just the sweetest boy. His trying to chase my cats shook me, I'm so happy we have the trainer coming here tomorrow. I was reading an article about shelter dogs and it really made me see things differently. What a big change to go through for them after getting adopted. I am willing to work on any issues, as long there isn't a safety concern for my cats. We love him already. Your words are encouraging!
I think shelter dogs (and cats too) appreciate their new home in a special way