Adopted a Dog from RSPCA, Having Some Concerns

Hi guys,

I adopted a dog from the RSPCA a couple of weeks ago, This is the 3rd dog i have adopted and the previous 2 I had till they passed away from old age / illness. I am struggling a bit this time though, might be a multitude of factors and i wanted some advice. First time i have adopted a dog solo as previous 2 times was when i was still living at home with the family and hence a much larger household to provide the dog with attention. I am worried that maybe i cant give enough for the gal to be happy and she will get lonely. Its possible its also because i came out of a bad relationship a year or so ago and hence perhaps mentally i am not my usual self still. From the day she arrived, i seemed to get anxiety and panic attacks, which over time has subsided quite a lot. So i figured it was partially just adjusting or some form of Post partum stuff.

But the other issue i am having is she seems really scared of everything, i cant take her out for walks at all, she wont move outside or hardly anyway, definitely cant be walked, i try every day. She is also quite an affectionate dog but for some reason is always barking and growling at my mum, i go over there every day as i am the primary care giver. And the dog was also for part companionship i had hoped for my mum at times when i am at work. I get my mum to feed her every day hoping that will make her more comfortable but it doesnt seem to have changed too much. I am not sure if she is just talking but it definitely seems like fear or something and thats worrying if once she grow up (Apparently she is 4 months old) then she may bite my mum… She has never looked like biting anyone but you do hear stories of random bites in families on the odd occasion. With other people who have been over, she seems alright , usually quite friendly albeit at times a bit scared and wees on the floor if they pet her.

The other part i am worried about is on the advert of the RSPCA website, they said she was a American Staffordshire Terrier. But my friend who has 2 of them, told me at best she is a cross and the less half of the cross as most of her features and her size doesnt match his dogs. At 4 months she is already almost the size of his fully grown height wise. Which freaks me out as i wanted a medium sized dog , not a large dog but the looks of things i am getting a large dog. The RSPCA website as well as the person i spoke to over the phone and the person who delivered the dog to my house all told me it was a american staffy (due to the covid stuff, you cant go and check the dog out, they deliver the dog to your house if you have made payment / adopted the dog, so you dont really get much time to check the dog out or even ask questions). Is there any way to find out?

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  • +14

    Give it time. 2 weeks is barely enough for a dog that may have seen years (in your case, maybe a lifetime of 4 months) of abuse, neglect and confinement to be trusting again.

    I have a dog that has taken about 10 years to be comfortable around strangers… or maybe her eyesight is just so horrible she can't tell the difference anymore 😂

    (Also, maybe your mom is punishing the dog in ways she does not disclose.)

    • +1

      my mum isnt, she also hasnt been with the dog when i havent been there but besides that, she is too soft, always feels worried for the dog. The only thing my mum does though is cooking or cleaning etc, some of the utensils make noise / large sounds so i am wondering if the dog has just associated that with her now.

      • +2

        Could be. Association is a funny thing. My dog has no fear of hammers, axes, knives, cars… she's lived a very protected life void of any real danger.

        She is petrified of plastic bottles because the sound it makes when an empty one drops onto the floor must sound like thunder.

    • I agree with everything every body has said about puppy training and possible P.T.S.D. . I am not being snarrky but post partum/post natal depression are very different and very serious issues. Thanks

  • that is one of the dissadv. of dogs from rscpa, i think? some has kind of disabilities or issues. am i right?

    • yes that is true, they can have extra issues and such, I still think its the right thing to do with so many rescue dogs available and being put down over breeders. But the con is they can have issues and fears, my first guy had abandonment issues and would bark at strangers but never at my family.

      • +1

        yeah agree i support the idea of helping the dogs soo much .

        its just vary, from minor to mid to major issues i think. i went once to rcsp and read on the wall about dogs and descriptions, one says need constant medications to keep him calm. one says cant get near children and child may scared the dog and the dog will end up attacking children. whuuttt
        thats why im hesitating. plus rcspa dont have small dogs most of the time, the one local to me (near casula nsw)

        • My RSPCA (Yagoona) seems to get small dogs often but yes they also seem to get taken quickly, Seems to also be mainly about age, the younger dogs get taken within a couple of days. But I agree, i have seen some adverts for dogs but they do say the guy cant be with kids below 12 or 6 and needs special care etc. That is scary but i guess that can happen due to their history.

          • @lonewolf: Yeah that's the one I was visiting. Too Yagoona. I really want one small… Bit older is fine as she he will be fully trained already which is good.but not big

            • +1

              @ChiMot: Right now its crazy i think, A lot of people are taking dogs home due to WFH. I have never seen the rSPCA site so empty of pets available for adoption. Previously used to around 3- 4 pages long, now its around 4 - 5 dogs in total available at any one time and the ones that are younger or more popular breeds seem to get taken within a day or 2 of being advertised.

            • @ChiMot: Big dogs are better!

  • +2

    I would get a vet to do a check and look if there are any health issues with the dog, they can, probably give you an idea what size it will grow to be. They might also have ideas on bonding the dog with your mother. Maybe she can be the one with the treats.

    She may be feeling your stress and find it unsettling. It’s not the best of times but a lot of long walks might settle both of you. Find a nice quiet place you can go walking and build her up to meeting others.

    Best of luck.

    • she doesnt walk, thats part of the problem, I cant get her to walk, she refuses to go anywhere, i need to carry her and drive her from my house to my mums house (Which is only 2 minutes drive away). She seems ok in the car now that i have put down some towels and she seems to enjoy it in there a bit and finds it cosy and safe. I have been told crates work really well, I never heard of them till recently but people seem to swear by them, apparently they make the dogs feel really comfortable and safe. I am wondering if i should get one for my home and one for my parents home.

      • I would, still, talk to the vet. Our vet used to run a puppy school, which probably isn’t available now, but they usually have some tips and tricks on the best approach to entice her out and calm her down.

        • hmm thats an idea, I didnt think of my vet possibly having a puppy school or something, The plan was to ask the vet the questions when i next go there for any shots she needs still, although that may not be for a month or 2. But I hadnt thought that they may also have puppy schools or tips. I was looking at this other dog training centre but they only do private classes at the moment and might be more expensive than going to a vet.

          • +1

            @lonewolf: The school may not be running because of covid but they might have good sites to look at and training techniques. You need to stay calm and make her feel secure and safe and not be anxious around her. That’s why I’m thinking the vet might help. Maybe you can talk to the RSPCA about visiting one of their vets to discuss things if money is tight.

      • +1

        100% get a crate. It will be her safe place and she will be comfortable in it.

      • i need to carry her and drive her from my house to my mums house

        Thats why she does not like your mum

        From all the Harris and other pet shows, reward her for every little step she does. Start small, just stand at the door with her, and once you told her not to go back in, you can give her a treat. Love goes through the stomach.

      • +1

        The not walking and carrying her is the problem. You are forcing something onto the dog, its not comfortable doing for some reason. So she is going to associate going to your mums as something bad and resent your mum.
        The vet is the best place to start for behavioural issues. They will tell you what to do and what to look out for and how best to deal with them. Go there first aand then they will probably know whether puppy school is whats required or something else. That way you won't be wasting time and money with the wrong kind of training.

        • I dont think its that because she has met other people at the house and is fine with them. like my brother as well as a a couple of mates who have come over at different times to use my gym and my mum had a friend come over who is of similar age to my mum and she was fine with her as well. So its strange, only thing i can see is my mum is there all the time and is cooking and cleaning etc alot, or its something else…

  • At some stage maybe look at training and socialisation classes. Maybe difficult at the moment with Covid. Our dog was from the pound and 6 years old when we got her. Had other dog issues. She would bark at other dogs through fence on walks. Over time that got less with training. In the end she got up to almost protection level. She was a border collie cross. They would use her in a beginners security guard dog class with the Dobermans and German Sheppards. Would sit there and the tranier would try and get the others to attack the padded man. Nothing. Our dog would play cute. Then on command attack arm with teeth and bark. Release on command.

    • Anyone heard of Dogtech training centre?

  • +5

    Having Some Concerns

    So is the dog. She, like you, is a complex being, possibly even dealing with trauma from her past.

    I've had companion animals that I know came from sh1tty homes and it took years and years for them to start coming around. But it's a wonderful experience to see them ease up over time. Respect her space and give her time.

  • +1

    Alongside speaking with a vet, I would recommend contacting an obedience school. While they too probably aren’t operating in covid environment, they might have other tricks and tips to help get your pup more settled.

    One of the volunteers may even offer to come round and try and help you get her on her walk, or at least see what happens when you try (1.5m apart of course)

  • I myself got a RSPCA rescue, he was found on the street up at Rockhampton and no owners ever recorded or found. For the first couple of weeks he was just nervous and scared, he chewed EVERYTHING he could (sign of anxiety in dogs). In the first week he destroyed, 2 dog beds, 2 pot plants, 1 pair of shoes, 1 garden bed, 1 garden hose, 2 doormats, and a few other things. Was over $1k to replace everything. But over time he stopped chewing stuff and got used to everything and now he doesn't chew anything (not even his chew toys, the a-hole).

    Also American Staffies, from what I have seen, can have a fairly large range in size. I have seen ones that are closer to the stumpy English variants, up to the size of a Labrador. Also if she is a rescue they may have needed to guess her breed(s). The vets are pretty good at it, but it is still a educated guess, and with a puppy it can be very difficult.
    Mine was called a Bull Mastiff x Australian Cattle, if there is some Australian cattle dog in him, it is buried VERY deep in his genome, LOL.

    If you have concerns, go talk to the RSPCA. If you deem the dog isn't right for you, they may take him back.

  • I think trying crates with her is a good idea. Maybe have a special toy that stays in the crate/s and warm blankets and make it very cosy and safe for her.

    Does your Mum wear perfume or have tweety hearing aids or something like that? Maybe she wears a colour the dog doesn't like because she associates it with her previous bad life?

    I read somewhere that there are puppy training classes online at the moment but don't know where or when.

    Also, taking her to the vet for a checkup is a good idea. I'm afraid I don't trust the RSPCA in these sorts of matters due to hearing about other people's experiences adopting animals from them.

  • Puppy school is running but without owners present. The dog attends and you pick up after.

    My dog (from a no kill shelter) doesn’t like men or people who smoke. She just won’t go near them and she’s 12 now. She will go for a walk but she did a lot of dog obedience when she was younger. I think give her time, carry her to public places then just sit there with her while she gets used to it.

  • +1

    The other part i am worried about is on the advert of the RSPCA website, they said she was a American Staffordshire Terrier.

    Does it really matter?

    Poor pupper. I wonder what kind of abuse she's been through to make her so skittish :( It takes time to learn to trust again. Just keep being patient.

  • I'd stop taking her anywhere (like your mum's) until she's fully toilet trained.
    Likewise you shouldn't be walking her yet, if she's that young and you've only had her two weeks it takes time for immunisations to take effect (assuming she got them!).
    Find something that motivates her (whether it's a type of food or toy) and keep access to it limited so it can be used as a reward to reinforce positive behaviour.

    • 2 weeks is plenty of time for immunisations to take effect…


        TIP: Your puppy must not go into public areas or interact with dogs that are not up to date on their vaccination schedule until 2 weeks after their third vaccination, otherwise they will be at risk of contracting canine parvovirus and other diseases.

        Puppy vaccination schedule
        6-8 weeks – first vaccination
        10-12 weeks – booster vaccination
        14-16 weeks – final puppy vaccination

        Rescue dogs typically aren't given any vaccinations prior to adoption (they get given the first on the day you collect them) so the pup would still have at least one other booster due.

        • Gotcha - I wasn't versed on adoption protocols but I was aware of the vaccination schedule as I've gone through it myself.

        • I knew the first couple of months you cant take the dog out for walks, but we were never told this for any of our rescue dogs either now or in the past , so i thought it was only for puppies.

  • +4

    Hey Lonewolf I am a dog trainer and animal behaviorist, currently I work with Dingoes, my wife is also a dog trainer who works at Doggie rescue.

    Read this

    Also you can go to Canine Principles and pay for their course on Rescue Dogs they have 50% off at the moment code MAYDAY50. This gives you access to the FB Group which is awesome for advice. Other avenues are the RSPCA has dog trainers available via phone. Absolute Dogs / John Rogerson / Dr Pawfessor on FB or Youtube. Good luck…

  • At 4 months old they are teething and hyperactive. You cant really tell their final disposition until they reach 18 months or so.

    The biting can be from teething. Here are some tips:

    Start looking at obedience training and local obedience classes.

    Source: had dogs for 50 years

  • "Dog Training Services - Top Dog Academy
    30 April at 2:40 pm ·
    I have just opened up a new puppy program starting next Wednesday 6th May at 5.00 pm online via zoom. Limited spots available so get in quick if interested.
    Call Rhonda on 0407 252 161".

    Used her for my dog who has tendancy to bite and is stubborn, Rhonda is very good at teaching you how to handle your dog.

  • +3

    I've taken a bit of time to write this so try reading it might help.

    We foster pets for RSPCA and awlq. And take on mainly mid and larger dogs especially staffies, Rottweilers, German Shepard etc including some extreme black tag cruelty cases. Sometimes dogs may not like certain people or situations if it reminds them of previous bad experiences. Have fostered plenty who don't like women or don't like men because of past abuse inflicted by them. Your dog might have had a similar experience and therefore is on edge around your mama. The worst such reaction I saw was a cuddly big boy that hated children coz it was abused by a child and was seized after the child set it on fire. Horrifying situations these brave little pets battle everyday and may need time, patience and lots of love to recover.

    American staffy as a breed can vary a lot in appearance. We once fostered a 6 month old Amstaff and She was already bigger than our neighbours Labrador and was already the strongest dog I've ever handled! They are the most affectionate and protective family dogs.

    There's plenty your mama can do to help the dog ease into her new life. One thing that helped me with an extreme cruelty case was giving her space and companionship "together at the same time". I sat in her room every day for hours on the floor working on my laptop without being pushy but always talking to her casually like she was a person. I would bring food in the room and eat beside her and serve her some doggy food in her bowl at the same time. She stayed curled up scared in the corner most of the first week. Second week I moved my cushion closer to her and continued talking and offering treats and She finally started trying to come close but would run back to her corner. She would whimp and cry whenever I tried to pet her :(
    Week 3 when I served our meals together she actually came and ate beside me for the first time. Then she gave my hand a lick and finally snuggled. All along the problem was this poor girl had never seen affection or a hug! She lived a life of abuse used as a breeding machine and then a punching bag in her old age left tied to a tree living off the scraps the neighbours kid was throwing over the fence for her. She was seized when he told his parents about her. She was a Rottweiler weighing only 15kgs emaciated and 12 years old who got her first snuggle at 12 years of age :(
    After that I let her into the rest of the house as doing it at the start was overwhelming for her. She then started coming out for walks with us and lived it. Turns out she was a full blown snuggle bug and turned into a loving happy dog.

    You'll have to have a lot of patience, time and unlimited love. You might not understand her behavior but please know she is likely more stressed than you are to be so on edge like that. She is a brave gorl so love and patience will mould her into a loving happy girl.
    And like others said follow the protocol with vaccinations etc.

    • +1

      Thank-you for the work you do. I think the people who abuse animals don’t get tough enough sentences and people who are abusive to animals are often those that also abuse people. When they look into serial killers there is, often, a history of killing animals before they start on people.

      I can’t understand the mentality of abusing animals and we all need to call it out when we see it. I live near an off leash dog park and watching the doggies playing with each other always brings a smile to my face.

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