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We are on our second full day with our sweet boy Max. Starting to notice a few things that are a little concerning for me.

First, he has a very big thing about his tail. We have already told the kids not to touch it. Right now, it just hangs and he doesn't wag it as much as I know he wants to. I've been trying to figure out if it is just the "limp tail" or "dead tail" that has been discussed on other threads. I was really concerned that his previous owners pulled on his tail and did something to it. He has a silly habit of grabbing things and running around the backyard with them. I wonder if previous owners didn't think it was so silly and grabbed him by the tail to stop him. I can't even brush it right now, he won't let me move it to get to the underside of it. Good news is, it's getting a little better. He is wagging more today and not trying to bite at it so much. Any suggestions on getting him to let me touch his tail would be really appreciated.

Second, he has HUGE food issues. We have to either put him outside or crate him while the kids are eating. We have started feeding him the same time the kids are eating, that way he has something to occupy him. With our previous dogs, we had an invisible line that they weren't allowed to cross when we were eating. There is nothing more annoying to me than a drooling, begging dog at mealtimes. I have tried working on that with him, but it is definitely harder when we are trying to help the kids with their food. Any ideas that have worked for you?

Third, my sweet boy Max has an iron will. It's really stinks for him that I do too. There have been several standoffs already, where I am telling him to sit for a treat, he doesn't want to, and we just sit there looking at each other for a couple minutes. It makes me so sad when he ducks his head like I am going to strike him. He also seems afraid to go outside sometimes, like that's one of the things they used to punish him. I really think they used the crate as a punishment, too. I have had to pick him up to get him in his crate, and push him across our kitchen floor to get him outside. It seems to work better if we go outside in front of him to get him to potty. Only problem is, we are in Colorado and that won't be fun when there's negative wind chills. I also really want his crate to be a happy place for him, one that provides him comfort. Once he's in there, he doesn't cry. It's just getting him there!

One thing that made me so happy is that he got to sleep in our room last night. The first night he was here, we had to put him in his crate. He was still so anxious that he was constantly pacing and whining, wouldn't settle down. Last night, he conked out on our floor. I woke up at 3 am and found him in our shower sleeping so hard that I had to say his name three times before he woke up. Some guard dog he is...

Sorry this post got so long. I appreciate any help I can get! We are also working on walking without yanking so hard on the leash. That is going well, so I know we are doing something right!
 

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I think you are heading in the right direction for all these issues. You have only had him a few days, so be patient, he will learn what you expect. In a few months you will see a different dog.

For the tail, I think you can use treats to help him accept you brushing and handling his tail. It may take two people, one feeding him treats while the other just touches the tail, and over time move to touching it with the brush, then light brushing, and so on, but the whole time offering him treats. It will eventually teach him to associate good things with having his tail brushed.

I would encourage you to sign up for an obedience class, besides the basic commands he will learn, it is such a good tool for learning to work together and getting him to focus on you.

Look for "Crate Games", I think it is a video set, it has great ways to teach your dog the crate is a fun and safe place to be.

Thank you for adopting!
 

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Aww, bless his heart. These are early days yet. I'm sure he is trying to figure out what is happening to him. It's going to take him a good while to settle in. My suggestion to you is to is to restart his training with you from scratch. He may very well be confused because of the 3 homes he's been in already. A basic obedience class may also be an option for you both.

When I first brought my boy home he just lay on the floor for about 3 days and getting him outside was also very difficult. Hang in there - it is so worth it.
 

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Kim, it is very early days yet, so I would suggest that poor Max is confused (aren't you his third home in 10 months?) and doesn't know what's expected of him. For the moment, until you spend LOTS of time teaching him, crate him during meal time. Please do not push him around to get him to go out. This is a frightened youngster who needs to be coaxed. Use treats if you must. As for the tail brushing, please have him checked by a vet if you haven't already. My rescued boy Finn would try to gently nip me if I tried to brush his back or tail.....turns out he had a broken back which obviously was incredibly painful. Every time I went to comb or brush him, I was causing him further pain. If Max is reluctant to sit (you said he won't sit for a treat), it may not be stubborness; it may be pain. Bottom line is you don't know this dog yet. It takes a minimum of six weeks before you truly know the dog's personality. You don't know whether anyone has ever taught him anything, whether he's been hurt or is currently hurting, whether he's been treated unkindly by children.....so don't make any assumptions about his personality or his iron will. Go slowly, teach him thoroughly with kindness, understand that some dogs get freaked out with running, screaming children and be sure to have a thorough check-up at a good vet. I adopted a frightened, unconfident love bug of a dog, but it took a couple of years for him to get over some of what had been done to him. I'm sure that Max will turn out to be your family's perfect dog, but it does take lots of time, patience and positive reinforcement.
 

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First, he has a very big thing about his tail. We have already told the kids not to touch it. Right now, it just hangs and he doesn't wag it as much as I know he wants to. I've been trying to figure out if it is just the "limp tail" or "dead tail" that has been discussed on other threads. I was really concerned that his previous owners pulled on his tail and did something to it.
You can have it seen by the vet. Hopefully it is just dead tail and will heal up in a week. But your vet can examine the tail and hopefully rule out any breaks.

Second, he has HUGE food issues. We have to either put him outside or crate him while the kids are eating. We have started feeding him the same time the kids are eating, that way he has something to occupy him. With our previous dogs, we had an invisible line that they weren't allowed to cross when we were eating. There is nothing more annoying to me than a drooling, begging dog at mealtimes. I have tried working on that with him, but it is definitely harder when we are trying to help the kids with their food. Any ideas that have worked for you?
This is easier with a puppy than an adult dog, but I generally would keep my guy on leash under my feet and teach him to wait until I had finished eating before he got something away from the table.

He graduated from the leash when he was 2 or so and capable of lying down and going to sleep under my feet or whatnot.

I would keep Max away from your kids. This only because if he is fed from the table, he will expect to be fed from the table. <- My version of this is keeping my guy under MY feet vs letting him lay down under the table or visit another family member. My mom has a "feed to show love" complex. :p:

Third, my sweet boy Max has an iron will. It's really stinks for him that I do too. There have been several standoffs already, where I am telling him to sit for a treat, he doesn't want to, and we just sit there looking at each other for a couple minutes.
He probably doesn't understand what you are asking. Or it could be painful to sit if he has a tail problem.

With everything, assume he doesn't know how. When our collie came to us, he was thoroughly trained. But the previous owners used different methods than we do, so the poor dog had to be completely retrained.

It makes me so sad when he ducks his head like I am going to strike him. He also seems afraid to go outside sometimes, like that's one of the things they used to punish him.
Sounds like it was.

The crate training - feed him his meals in his crates, see if that makes a difference.
 

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Thank you for rescuing Max!

I agree that there may be an underlying medical issue going on with him. I'd definitely have his tail, lower back and hips checked out by a vet.

If everything is cleared for him medically, then you can start working on his "issues". Slowly. You've only had him for a couple of days and he needs a chance to get to know you and you him.

There can be lots of reasons for him to not want his tail touched, though I think in his case it's most likely pain. My Danny doesn't have a mean bone in his body. Not one. But somewhere along the line before he came into our rescue, something had happened to his tail. He has a large bare spot and a scar. He doesn't like me brushing his tail, even though I am very careful. There are times that he's actually put his mouth on my hand in an attempt to get me to stop brushing his tail. He doesn't bite, but he is trying to stop me.
 

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Thanks for the ideas! I just had something happen that concerns me a lot. It happened the first afternoon he was here, too. I put the kids' lunch on the table, then started to herd him outside. He was already trying to take the food from the table when I tried taking him out. He actually curled his lip at me. I looked in his eyes, told him no sternly, and told him to go outside. He didn't push it, just went outside without fighting it. With 4 kids, we really, really have to control this quickly. With him being under fed for so long, I knew we would be dealing with some food issues.

Just to make myself clear, he has never done anything like this with the kids. He seems to worship them and has never had any trouble with anything they have done. I need to figure something out quickly so I can stop worrying so much! For now, I'll just make sure he's out before food is on the table. It seems to work better. Please help!
 

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It might be helpful to feed him first, 3 meals a day if he's underfed. He'll be more cooperative if his belly feels full.

Also, I'd suggest putting him outside before the food goes on the table to cut down on the snatching. He's a work in progress. Please stay patient with him, there is a good dog inside.
 

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Thanks for the ideas! I just had something happen that concerns me a lot. It happened the first afternoon he was here, too. I put the kids' lunch on the table, then started to herd him outside. He was already trying to take the food from the table when I tried taking him out. He actually curled his lip at me. I looked in his eyes, told him no sternly, and told him to go outside. He didn't push it, just went outside without fighting it. With 4 kids, we really, really have to control this quickly. With him being under fed for so long, I knew we would be dealing with some food issues.

Just to make myself clear, he has never done anything like this with the kids. He seems to worship them and has never had any trouble with anything they have done. I need to figure something out quickly so I can stop worrying so much! For now, I'll just make sure he's out before food is on the table. It seems to work better. Please help!

When you say you were "herding him outside" were you pushing against his back end? Again, if he's in pain and being pushed, that could make him respond by curling his lip at you.

One other possibility is that he was "smiling" at you. Did he actually growl or just curl the lip?
 

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Wow lots of good advice so far.... I hope it keeps up for you.

If it were me I would think 'proactive' and 'avoidance'. I used gates to confine the area Cannella was in when I first got her (she had NO manners) and used the total 'nothing is free in life' theory for rewards. She had to earn everything.

I also had her on leash in the house and tied to me (with lots of treats) while I did stuff. Bit of a pain but she paid attention to me and I could reinforce things like I went thru the doors first, had her sit for treats, gave her lots of attention and head rubs and just got to know her. I NEVER raised my voice or hand to her and it took a while for her to realize that was a thing of her past and not of her current.

She had been yelled at and frightened before I got her so her response when she was confused was to lay on her back and go limp; no aggresson whatsoever. But I do know it could be a 'flight or fight' response in some dogs so for now think of avoiding situations where that will come up.

Oh, I also had her on tie down in the house in her own space with dog bed, chew toys etc. She learned quickly this was where she could relax and be left alone. I found with my dogs (especially during vacation days) that you have to give them time to nap. They are always trying to stay awake in case they miss something. No sleep equals cranky dogs (and humans!)

I always knew where she was, what she could get into or not get into...always.

Please keep up the good work and let us know how it goes.
 

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Max

Bless you for adopting Max. he sure is a gorgeous looking boy!!
Sounds like you are headed in the right direction with all of your concerns!
Thank God Max Found you-he sure needs you.
Love the fact he was sleeping in the shower-guess he is getting more comfortable!!
 

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Don't forget that dogs don't generalize well. A supposedly familiar command given in a new place is a brand new command to your dog. It takes a while for them to realize that the word "sit" in your house has the same meaning as the word "sit" he learned before. Our Ben is generally obedient at home, but when we're out in a strange place, he acts like I'm speaking Chinese. Assume total ignorance and go back to basics. Then be happy at how quickly he learns!

With Ben there was a period for about a week after we adopted him where he tested us. He wanted to see what happened when he did certain things. He jumped on the bed, jumped on the couch, ate some clothes, etc. He wanted to find out what our limits were, and how we dealt with him when he misbehaved. He learned he wasn't going to be beaten, but we did have rules. Building trust takes time. He'll still misbehave, but the kind of testing he did at first has never recurred.
 

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Bless you for taking this guy on. I would highly recommend absolutely no confrontation. Be very certain that you understand calming signals well - a dog who just stands there and does not obey is often trying to resolve conflict and clear up tension by looking away, licking his lips, yawning, sniffing the ground.

Are you familiar with clicker training? You can use it to boost his confidence. Do everything to bring out confidence. This dog is not testing you, he is confused, doesn't know what's expected of him and doesn't have any reason to trust that food will be around later potentially.
I would pick up a copy of Control Unleashed which is a book designed for dogs needing confidence. Also find Mine by Donaldson which will help with the food issues.

You can also slowly incorporate massage when you're watching TV. Just stay at the head, or wherever he likes to be touched for a long time. Get him accustomed to love massage time. He can lick at a PB kong as you massage.

I agree that there's probably a health issue with the tail too.

Don't give up on this boy!
 
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