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Hello,
I am so glad I found this website! I can already tell it's going to be a big help. My husband and I are first time dog-owners. Yesterday, we adopted a rescue golden retriever, named Lightning. He is 3 years old and has so much energy. We are at least his 4th home. I can tell he's been through a lot. Below are my primary concerns, if anyone has any insight. We will be signing up for training classes with him, but in the meantime any help you can offer would be appreciated:

--Barking: He seems to bark during transitions (right before bed, getting ready for a walk, when we leave for work)---anything that was worked to decrease these?

--Separation anxiety: this is displayed by his peeing in the house while we are away. I can tell he feels bad because he starts whimpering about it

--minor aggression: early in the morning or before walks...we have a difficult time putting on his leash

--fear: at times (this happened last night while walking and he can saw another dog) he just plants down on the ground and refuses to get up. not sure if he's afraid of something?

So sorry for all the questions, I don't know where else to turn right now! We want to make this his forever home, so the more education we can get the better!

Thank you for your help in advance, we appreciate it.
 

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Lighting is so Lucky to have found you guys. You have so many challenges ahead but the rewards will be more than Worth it. I am no expert on any of the questions you raise other than I do know you should never fuss and 'reassure" a dog when it is in a frightened state or you will just reinforce his idea that he does has something to be frightened about. So if he is scared and plants down when he sees another dog just ignore the behaviour, stay calm, act as if nothing is happening and save the fussing and praise for moments when he is in a relaxed calm state. Wishing you lots of luck!
 

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So glad you adopted this fella, especially since you're his fourth home?! Gadzooks, it's no wonder he has issues. Definitely get him into training.

Ignore the barking - if he doesn't get a reaction then it should extinguish BUT sometimes it gets worse before it gets better.

Separation Anxiety - keep all departures & arrivals low key. They quickly learn routine and if you're getting uptight thinking he's going to get all whimpery, he will. Are you sure you're not projecting that he's feeling bad? You can change your routine a bit. Ignore him as you leave and when you first arrive home, even though it's hard to do. As far as peeing in the house - can you use a crate? If not, get him used to going in one - in the meantime if no crate, then keep him in a confined area and be sure he has time to empty the bladder before you leave.

Aggression - please describe what he does so we will be better equipped to offer help.

Fear - Keep yourself upbeat and praise him as you walk forward. You can always refocus his attention by using a high value treat and have him look at you. I wouldn't coddle him, just act matter of fact.

Also, how about some photos?
 
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Bless your hearts for adopting Lightning!
Firstly may I suggest, keeping things low-key and calm as possible, keep him close to home at least for a couple of weeks, to give him a chance to 'land on his feet' for him to become familiar with you, and to give yourselves a chance to learn about him. The barking may be caused by excitement, may be caused by stress/insecurity, his whole world has been turned upside down for the 4th? time, poor pup. It may diminish once he has had a chance to settle in.
Peeing in the house, - ensure that has had opportunity to relieve himself before leaving him alone. Assume that he is not house trained, take him out on leash if need be, praise and reward when he does his business. Confine him to one part of the house, if you can, use baby gates or close the doors to all the rooms to limit access to them.
Putting on the leash, feed him a few treats while you are attaching the leash, this will help change how feels about you doing that for him. Watch for and reward with a small treat behaviors you like/want him to repeat, could be sit, down, or simply keeping 4 on the floor.

Fear- you cannot reinforce fear, our 'job' as dog owner's is to help our dogs feel safe and be safe, they rely on us for that. If petting him helps to ease his fears, pet him, slowly, if feeding him treats helps, feed him treats, if moving him away from something he fears makes him feel safer then move him (encourage him, see if he will follow a treat in your hand, don't pull or drag) away from whatever it is that he fears, if talking to him in a calm voice helps - talk to him.
If he is laying down in the presence of other dogs, he may be afraid, but he may also be 'speaking in dog' to the other dog, sending the message that he is not a 'threat'. Wait if you can, for the other dog to move on, move away, before encouraging him to get him and walk in the opposite direction from the other dog.

Take your time to get to know him, walk him, if you need to during quietest times of day, slowly introduce him, once he begins to trust and realize that he is 'home' at last, to new things and new places as he is able to cope with them. Understand that a newly rehomed dog is a 'flight risk' use a harness or collar that he cannot slip out of(a martingale collar adjusted to fit snug, can work or a front clip harness attaching the leash to both the harness and the flat collar). Begin teaching basic skills using lure and reward, (positive training) helping him understand what you want him to do, will help him to feel more secure in his new home. Avoid using physical corrections or punishment, a dog with an unknown history, may have been punished or mistreated, damaging, inhibiting their ability to trust, we need to show them by how we 'behave' and interact with that we are 'safe' and trust 'worthy'.
 

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First, thank you for adopting Lightning. Some of this might be just be based on the new surroundings, especially if he has been in so many homes he needs reassurance. You've probably already done this, but I would contact the person who fostered him to see if they saw some of these same things and if so, how they handled it. Rescues usually have the dog in a foster home for awhile and usually have a lot of background on the dog and will tell you if they are or are not house-broken, have separation anxiety, etc. If he is scared of other dogs while you are out walking, I would carry some good treats to coax him along. Everything is new to him and your patience will get you and him through. Enroll him in training so he can get used to other dogs in neutral territory. There are a lot of members who do rescue work and they should be able to help you out. Good luck.
 

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Bless your hearts for adopting Lightning!
Firstly may I suggest, keeping things low-key and calm as possible, keep him close to home at least for a couple of weeks, to give him a chance to 'land on his feet' for him to become familiar with you, and to give yourselves a chance to learn about him. The barking may be caused by excitement, may be caused by stress/insecurity, his whole world has been turned upside down for the 4th? time, poor pup. It may diminish once he has had a chance to settle in.
Peeing in the house, - ensure that has had opportunity to relieve himself before leaving him alone. Assume that he is not house trained, take him out on leash if need be, praise and reward when he does his business. Confine him to one part of the house, if you can, use baby gates or close the doors to all the rooms to limit access to them.
Putting on the leash, feed him a few treats while you are attaching the leash, this will help change how feels about you doing that for him. Watch for and reward with a small treat behaviors you like/want him to repeat, could be sit, down, or simply keeping 4 on the floor.

Fear- you cannot reinforce fear, our 'job' as dog owner's is to help our dogs feel safe and be safe, they rely on us for that. If petting him helps to ease his fears, pet him, slowly, if feeding him treats helps, feed him treats, if moving him away from something he fears makes him feel safer then move him (encourage him, see if he will follow a treat in your hand, don't pull or drag) away from whatever it is that he fears, if talking to him in a calm voice helps - talk to him.
If he is laying down in the presence of other dogs, he may be afraid, but he may also be 'speaking in dog' to the other dog, sending the message that he is not a 'threat'. Wait if you can, for the other dog to move on, move away, before encouraging him to get him and walk in the opposite direction from the other dog.

Take your time to get to know him, walk him, if you need to during quietest times of day, slowly introduce him, once he begins to trust and realize that he is 'home' at last, to new things and new places as he is able to cope with them. Understand that a newly rehomed dog is a 'flight risk' use a harness or collar that he cannot slip out of(a martingale collar adjusted to fit snug, can work or a front clip harness attaching the leash to both the harness and the flat collar). Begin teaching basic skills using lure and reward, (positive training) helping him understand what you want him to do, will help him to feel more secure in his new home. Avoid using physical corrections or punishment, a dog with an unknown history, may have been punished or mistreated, damaging, inhibiting their ability to trust, we need to show them by how we 'behave' and interact with that we are 'safe' and trust 'worthy'.
I beg to differ about your opinion that "we can not reinforce fear". Many top behavioural therapists share my view. A dog can’t tell us exactly what frighened them. we might want to help a scared dog by comforting them and reassuring them everything is alright. Maybe we pick them up or sit beside them and stroke their coat and tell them, “It’s alright,” but this only reinforces their fear. We are saying it’s OK for them to be fearful.The next time the fearful situation comes up, the dog remembers how you reacted, and the positive feedback they received during the stressful situation can reinforce their fearful reaction to it. This was what I was taught at dog school and worked for me and Buddy... who at the time was terrified of overhead planes, mailmen and open stairs!
 

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Please give him and yourself and good solid month to learn about each other and your routine. If he has been bounced around to four homes he is understandably anxious. He needs stability. Try to have the same schedule every day so he gains some stability and knows what to expect.

I would create a smaller space for him to stay in while you are gone, either a crate, a bathroom with a baby gate in the door, just temporarily. It will give him a "den" and hopefully help him feel secure. When he has been with you longer and is more secure you can start giving him more freedom.

Thanks for much for giving this guy a home, be patient with him and I promise he will give you all his love and gratitude a thousand times over.
 

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I beg to differ about your opinion that "we can not reinforce fear". Many top behavioural therapists share my view. A dog can’t tell us exactly what frighened them. we might want to help a scared dog by comforting them and reassuring them everything is alright. Maybe we pick them up or sit beside them and stroke their coat and tell them, “It’s alright,” but this only reinforces their fear. We are saying it’s OK for them to be fearful.The next time the fearful situation comes up, the dog remembers how you reacted, and the positive feedback they received during the stressful situation can reinforce their fearful reaction to it. This was what I was taught at dog school and worked for me and Buddy... who at the time was terrified of overhead planes, mailmen and open stairs!
We can only reinforce behaviors, not emotions. We theoretically could end up with a dog who is acting afraid but is not actually afraid - but there would be silly tail wags or 'give aways' that the dog was not actually afraid.

Myth of reinforcing fear | Fearful Dogs

It takes a while for a dog to settle in. You may want to set up a camera to see what he's doing while you are away - peeing can be related to separation distress or it could be something that just seems like a good idea. Video is the best way to get an idea of what the dog is doing. It is often best to get professional help as soon as possible for separation distress.
 

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Hello,
I am so glad I found this website! I can already tell it's going to be a big help. My husband and I are first time dog-owners. Yesterday, we adopted a rescue golden retriever, named Lightning. He is 3 years old and has so much energy. We are at least his 4th home. I can tell he's been through a lot. Below are my primary concerns, if anyone has any insight. We will be signing up for training classes with him, but in the meantime any help you can offer would be appreciated:

--Barking: He seems to bark during transitions (right before bed, getting ready for a walk, when we leave for work)---anything that was worked to decrease these?

--Separation anxiety: this is displayed by his peeing in the house while we are away. I can tell he feels bad because he starts whimpering about it

--minor aggression: early in the morning or before walks...we have a difficult time putting on his leash

--fear: at times (this happened last night while walking and he can saw another dog) he just plants down on the ground and refuses to get up. not sure if he's afraid of something?

So sorry for all the questions, I don't know where else to turn right now! We want to make this his forever home, so the more education we can get the better!

Thank you for your help in advance, we appreciate it.
Bless your heart for rescuing Lightening. He is so fortunate to have you, and that you are looking for ways to help him. And, the fact that you are asking questions means you are concerned about his well being.

As someone who has had 4 rescue dogs in our extended family, I can tell you that each dog is totally different in their behaviour - depending on what their life was like before you took him into your heart and home. And, it doesn't sound like you knew what he was dealing with before you took him into your home.

I HIGHLY recommend a crate. Some people think that it is inhumane to crate a dog, but after over 30 years, and many different puppies/dogs in our extended family, I have found it to be not only a great training tool, but it also gives your Lightening a place to go that he can feel safe ... a place all his own. It is also a fantastic way to potty train (no potty in the house) a dog, as it relies on the natural instinct of the dog not to go potty in it's "den"

We trained both of our Goldens in a crate, and when they were tired, or wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the kids/family, they would go to their crate for some solitude / sleep. It was their "sanctuary". If you need any info regarding crating Lightening, let me know and I will give you some links to follow up.

Additionally, we have found with our rescue dogs that most issues with puppies/dogs - not only with "rescues" - has to do more with the owner emotions and attitudes, than with the dog itself. You need to be a "pack leader" and as such, need to keep a calm attitude NO MATTER WHAT. If you are concerned about any of the issues that you mentioned above, and show that in your body language, then you will relay that to Lightening and will just exacerbate the problem.

I also suggest a training class, and lots of exercise and attention, as at 3 years of age, he is still a "puppy" ~smile~

Most importantly .... give him lots of love. Good luck to both of you!

Jan
 

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Lightening is lucky to have you.

On the barking try treating to calm him down.

On seperation anxiety give him something like a kong and freeze yogurt in it. Give it to him when you leave.


The peeing in the house you may have to go to a crate for awhile.
 

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Welcome to the forum.

Congratulations on your adoption of Lighting, hope you'll share pictures of him with us.

I agree with taking things slowly, since you are his 4th home, he needs time to get to know you, your family and routine. When dogs have been bounced around from home to home several times, they need time to adjust, learn to feel safe and comfortable, and that this is their permanent home, it all takes time. If his background is unknown or you know very little of it, I would start working with Lighting as if he was a new puppy such as with potty training. I would crate him or confine him to one area of your house while you are gone until he is fully trained and is able have free reign of your house.

I would use treats whenever you need to put his collar/leash on him. First start by having him sit, treat, put the collar on, treat, then leash, treat again.
I have used really small training biscuits with my guys that only have 5 calories to prevent from loading up on too many calories when training. They add up fast.......

Lots of exercise, maybe get a Chuck it and play ball with your boy, this will help burn off some energy, be fun for you both and help him relax.

I second the suggestion of getting him into some training classes, however I would let him settle in a few weeks before doing so. I wouldn't put too much on him at once, it can be very overwhelming for him and may be too much for him because he's still in his adjustment phase and getting to know you.

Try to relax and get to know Lighting, be patient and have fun.
Best of luck to you.
 
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