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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have fostered many dogs for a local shelter over the last few years. I should say me and my Boxer/Lab mix Lucy have fostered many dogs. This is the first puppy mill rescue I've had and she is a beautiful Golden named Pumpkin. They found her in a disgusting barn stall and she is showing all the typical signs of a puppy mill dog. no socialization, afraid of everything, no knowledge of what pets, scratches or hugs are, leashes are foreign etc. Lucy has terrific dog skills and is giving Pumpkin her space and I am dedicated to letting Pumpkin learn things at her pace. I don't force affection on her. I don't force her to do anything she doesn't want to do. Finally my question. Today at lunch time she began taking stuffed dog toys in to her crate, placed them in the corner then laid between them and the open door. She picks them up gently and carries them straight to the crate like one of her many puppies she no doubt had in her short life. She has only been with us for 3 days and the crate is her safe zone right now. Should I be removing the toys and let her gather them back up or should I just let her have them?
 

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Welcome to the forum.

I would let Pumpkin keep the stuffed animals with her too.

Thank you for fostering. Pumpkin sounds just like how my girl was when I first got her. I did a Foster to adopt of my Roxy through a GR Rescue, she is a former puppy mill momma. She was not socialized, had been abused verbally and physically. She was terrified of us, everything in the house, etc. She hid behind the toilet in my bathroom the first week she was with us. My husband picked her up and carried her outside to go potty because she wouldn't come out of the bathroom. I use to sit on the floor in the bathroom with her, feed her, talk to her, brush her, etc. She needed to learn she was safe and that we weren't going to hurt her in order for her to trust us.

After the first week, she started walking around the house and would use the pet doors I have to go outside in our fenced in yard to go potty. I had a crate set up for her, she would gather stuffed animals and take them in her crate. She also walked them through the house, she still does to this day. She was 2 when I got her, she turns 11 in Dec.

Lucy will be wonderful for Pumpkin, Pumpkin will learn from her. I had a Sr. Golden boy when I first got Roxy that has since passed. Roxy learned from him to be a dog, but she will always need to be with another dog. After my bridge boy passed, I adopted a young Golden boy from my local shelter. He's been with us almost 5 years now.

Hope you'll share pictures of Pumpkin and Lucy with us.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Update

Pumpkin has graduated to other items now. I needed to run out last night and found one of shoes missing. Yep, it was also in her crate! She has since hoarded a slipper and a jug of water that I keep near the dog bowls for refills. Lots of dog toys and bones besides the stuffed animals now. Pretty cute.

She is more afraid of me than of females so I am giving her as much space as I can and my Lucy is being very respectful of her crate space. I'll keep you posted on her progress!
 

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She is beautiful and will blossom into normal dog with time and patience. She is making herself a comfort zone is all in my opinion and I would let her continue gathering things.

I adopted my current girl when she was 8yrs old and she would carry around stuffed toys whining and make herself a nest. Lived outside her whole life and had never had been in a home. Scared of everything in it from doors to window curtains, she figured it all out in time.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Pumpkin's mentor

Here is a picture of Lucy. She is a six year old Boxer/Lab mix that I rescued as a puppy. She and I are like peanut butter and jelly. When my daughter left for college I started fostering dogs. Lucy has been tremendous for these dogs, some of which were bullies in the kennel but after a week or two with us they gain an understanding of home living. Lucy is being very patient with Pumpkin hoarding all of the toys and just sits and watches. She is showing her a lot of things and even invites Pumpkin in and out of the door to go outside. It's really something to watch. She is a once in a lifetime dog.
 

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Lucy is gorgeous! Pumpkin looks like a real sweet heart, she'll come around! Having a 'mentor' (of their own kind) can be very helpful when working with a frightened, unsocialized dog. My rescue was frightened of people and avoided any contact for quite some time, but I believe having the other dogs helped him feel a bit safer, and enabled him to learn to trust just a little bit quicker. It took a long time for him to feel comfortable with being alone with me, we spent a few minutes each day - one-on-one tossing him treats and in time, he began to choose to approach to take the treats from my hand.
 

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Lucy is beautiful, she's a very special wonderful girl.

My girl is still very hesitant at times when someone new comes to our house, she takes her cues from our boy. When he approaches someone, he always does as he loves everybody, she follows him.

Pumpkin will come around, it takes time, she's got you and Lucy to help her find her way.
 

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Lucy and Pumpkin

Lucy and Pumpkin are beautiful dogs and bless you for adopting them!
Someone else asked, has Pumpkin been spayed? I would just let her have the toys, though. She has to adjust to so much!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Pumpkin update

It's been a full week now and the toy thief continues her hoarding ways. This morning I retrieved a pair of shoes and a glass bowl that was on the floor to feed my girlfriend's dog! She has begun to come around for me to pet her after spending some more time together over the weekend. She is more and more excited when I leave and come back to the house too. Last night she took a treat from my hand. She ran back and forth between me and her crate 8 times and each time she came to me she got a little closer and a little braver until she finally took the treat and went back to the crate to eat it.

She is shedding like crazy. I don't know if this is typical for a Golden or is it stress or maybe her just needing more time on a healthy diet? At any rate I need to come up with a strategy to clean her crate out tonight. There is a mountain of dog hair in there after just one week. Maybe I'll let her "re-steal" all the toys again after I empty it and vacuum in there. I don't want to stress her out too much with the whole process.
 

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Maybe she had a litter not too long before you got her and she is still missing her babies. You did not answer the 'could she be pregnant' question, so we assume she is spayed now?

I would leave her the toys too if it gives her comfort and she does not try to chew on the items. Good luck with the girl, she is a cutie!
 

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It's been a full week now and the toy thief continues her hoarding ways. This morning I retrieved a pair of shoes and a glass bowl that was on the floor to feed my girlfriend's dog! She has begun to come around for me to pet her after spending some more time together over the weekend. She is more and more excited when I leave and come back to the house too. Last night she took a treat from my hand. She ran back and forth between me and her crate 8 times and each time she came to me she got a little closer and a little braver until she finally took the treat and went back to the crate to eat it.

She is shedding like crazy. I don't know if this is typical for a Golden or is it stress or maybe her just needing more time on a healthy diet? At any rate I need to come up with a strategy to clean her crate out tonight. There is a mountain of dog hair in there after just one week. Maybe I'll let her "re-steal" all the toys again after I empty it and vacuum in there. I don't want to stress her out too much with the whole process.
Sounds like progress! Happy for both of you!!

May I suggest making things a bit easier for her by sitting on the floor, (if you are not) turn sideways to her, tossing the treats to her, and gradually shortening the distance you toss over time. (Our body posture 'says' a lot to a dog, facing them, standing up, or leaning forward, and even eye contact, can feel threatening to them, lowering our body, turning sideways and avoiding direct eye contact can help them feel safer with us.) The idea is to reward/reinforce her for having the courage to 'try', to help her learn that choosing to approach you (which is a huge step for her) is highly rewarding and safe for her to do. Once she is comfortable with approaching, continue sitting on the floor, and hold the treat out to the side, in the palm of your outstretched hand, over time bend your elbow so that she needs to come 'into your space' to receive the reward. When she is 'easily' taking the treat from your hand, when it is held close to your body, switch to a 'lickable' treat (peanut butter, yogurt, canned dog food) that you have smeared on the palm of your hand, starting again with your arm outstretched. The goal here is to encourage her to stay just a little bit longer 'in your space', helping her learn that she can trust you - she is safe.
A fearful dog can be 'lured' into approaching us, even taking those yummy treats from our hand, but we shouldn't forget that trust is built, trust is 'earned', one step at a time. Our 'end goal', whether coming for pets or taking treats from our hand, may need to be broken down into smaller steps, to make it easier for them, to give them time to learn to trust, set them up for success, and progress at their own pace.

The crate is her 'safe place', the one thing 'familiar' /comforting to her, and in all honesty, it may be better for her, if you can resist the urge to 'clean it out' (too much) as long as you can. By all means, when you can, take the opportunity to 'tidy it up', remove some of the fur, but a thorough clean out, starting 'new' again, may be upsetting for her. Just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Sorry. She has been spayed. I am worried about "over cleaning" her space too. I was just home over lunch and was able to take a little inventory while she was outside. She has soooooo much stuff in there :). I think I may just try to vacuum around the stuff tonight. I removed about 5 toys and put them not too far from her crate. While I prepared and had lunch she took most of the items back in the crate. She even grabbed a pillow off the couch!.

As far as treats go I am sitting on the floor. I'm 6' 4" 270 so my body language with her is a huge factor. I haven't been able to sit the treats out on the floor or toss them to her because Lucy will scarf them up immediately. This morning she let me rub her belly a little and over lunch she she was showing some jealousy and wanting me to pet her when I was petting Lucy. It seems like some good progress!
 

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Congrats on the progress you're making with Pumpkin. One thing I learned with my Roxy, was to take it very slowly, go at her pace. It was really important that I let her learn to trust us and to feel safe while she was getting use to being inside the house, being in a new environment, being around new people- she had been in a foster home for about 3 weeks before I got her.

Pumpkin letting you give her a belly rub is huge, enjoy these major accomplishments however small you may think they are. Have you tried brushing her yet? My girl loved being brushed, still does, it relaxed her. She would go to sleep (still does) while I was brushing her. It not only will help with the shedding but will also help form a bond with her and relax her.
 
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