Would appreciate feedback on rescue adoptions - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 03:55 PM Thread Starter
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Would appreciate feedback on rescue adoptions

Hello all,

I am seriously considering adopting a GSD from a local breed rescue group. I would like to hear some feedback from others who chose to adopt through rescue.

Here are some of my concerns/questions:

How long did it take for your dog to become acclimated to his/her surroundings?
Did you have to crate your dog and for how long? Was there some separation anxiety when you left him/her home for the first time?
Did it take some time for you to bond?

I just wanted to get some idea of what to expect.
Thanks in advance.
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post #2 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 04:07 PM
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Doerak wasn't from a rescue, but he had been a kennel dog all his life and never lived in a home before. He was several years old. He really didn't understand anything about suburban life and was really cautious about everything, even just everyday kitchen noises. I'd think a rescue dog would be better socialized.

Doerak took about a month to bond with me. He used to sleep on the dining room floor and gradually moved himself into the bedroom with me. I think that's when he realized that this is the place where he was going to spend the rest of his life. Some dogs get moved around so much that they don't bother to attach themselves. I found that taking a class with him was the best thing. We enrolled right away in an 8 week agility class and at the end of the 2 months he was a much more confident dog.

Crating is a good idea. You can have little tests to see what happens if you don't crate, like a quick trip to the store. I found that Doerak chewed on anything that had my scent on it, he especially loved my remotes and glasses.

Doerak never really liked human contact, but before he died he finally allowed me to hug him.
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post #3 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 05:36 PM
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Tanner was from a shelter, but he was adopted, so same concept. He came from the spcaLA shelter in Long Beach, CA. He was found as a stray, taken in by the shelter, adopted, but brought back. The people who adopted him brought him back a month later, because they couldn't take him with them.

So we got him. He fit in just fine, he gets along very well with Molly, the 2 are inseparable!lol. He is very protective of our home though, so we have to work with on not barking at everything and everyone who walks by our house.


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post #4 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-05-2010, 07:01 PM
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Most of these dogs bond with their new owners very fast. Specially if you make the time to really be with him, walking, training, socializing, exercising. Alot of positive and pleasurable one on one time....

Crating would be recommended, but if he hasn't ever been crated before you may need to introduce it to him just like he's a new puppy. Crate in the bedroom with you. Positive interactions with it.

Best part of a rescue rather than a shelter is he's been in a real home with real people and real dogs. So they will know how he is in a house (may have already used a crate) and in real life. A shelter is such a strange/new/scary environment and the shelter staff usually way overloaded that a real evaluation can be difficult.


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post #5 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-06-2010, 09:29 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the advice so far everybody!
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post #6 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-06-2010, 09:44 AM
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We got our first GSD from the Humane Society. Ellie was a white GSD with a crinkled ear (probably from a hematoma.)

She settled in on Day 1. We were staying at DH's aunt's beach house (where dogs were not allowed) we originally put her in a crate on the glassed porch for the night. She broke out of her crate twice. We snuck her into our room, where she curled up next to the bed and went right to sleep. We didn't really understand what we were dealing with. She had some pretty major separation anxiety. When we left, she would tear down the blinds at the front windows if they were not up and she never did crate.

She bonded with us almost immediately and apart from the SA, she was SUPER well behaved. She loved people and other animals. I used to take her to schools as a Reading Therapy dog. Unfortunately we moved about once a year, and every move her SA got worse. She became very destructive and we exhausted all of the treatment options that were feasible for us. We ended up placing her with a lady we knew who worked in rescue who could take her to work with her, and her elderly father who was homebound. Ellie's still doing well.

Now I will say that my situation wasnt typical of rescued dogs. Other rescue GSDs that I know are wonderful dogs. And looking back, it was obvious from Night 1 that Ellie has some major SA. I think some of the most common problems with GSDs in rescue are SA, Storm phobia, and Aggression. As far as the SA, if the dog will crate and be calm and relaxed there I think you probably won't have much trouble. If you are working with a good rescue, these things do not just suddenly appear. There would have been some kind of manifestation in the foster home usually and they should advise you of possible problems.

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post #7 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-06-2010, 10:14 AM
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Thank you for considering adopting!

I sometimes foster, and definitely adopt from rescue.

How long did it take for your dog to become acclimated to his/her surroundings?
It all depends on the dog, some fosters come in like here I am! And others are a little more cautious. When you realize what they've been through - probably not the best home situation, probably a scary shelter, probably a new foster home where for the first time they have everything they could want and then...they get taken away?!?! To a whole new place, new smells, possibly new rules, new people, new behaviors from those people to learn, new other pets...whoa. It would take me...weeks? Months? Like us having to transfer to a new school midyear. They tend to do better than we would though! Especially if the foster provides you with lists of words, treats, food, likes and dislikes. The more the foster can prep you, and the more times you get to meet the dog prior to bringing them home, the better I think.

Did you have to crate your dog and for how long? Was there some separation anxiety when you left him/her home for the first time?
I like to crate them so they have their own space, their safe place, a place to go when things get a little weird. I have one dog who has to have a crate available or she gets a little agitated. She's 8 now but still likes to have a den. I also like adopters to try to arrange a bit of vacation or weekend time around their adoption, but leave each day as if it's no big deal even though they don't need to. Again, very much depends on the dog and the foster home, if it is a good rescue will be able to fill you in on much of what the dog is like and used to.

Did it take some time for you to bond?
When I got Bella, I was so excited! She...not so much. She had bonded with her foster and was waiting for the joke to be over, and for her to come back and get her. Thankfully, she was in love with Kramer and couldn't wait for me to get home so she could spend time with him. Again, me, not so much. But I decided that I didn't care, that I was happy she liked Kramer and vice versa and that I'd wait to see if she would ever like me. We did a lot of classes, some helped increase the bond, others...probably made it worse because we were both stressed out! But over time, she became my very faithful and loyal girl. Other dogs come in the house and attach themselves to you like a barnacle immediately. So again it does depend on the dog and the foster should be able to give you an idea of what kind of things you can do to work with the dog to help your relationship and how they are in terms of their ability to bond with a person. I use NILIF no matter what.

Good luck!

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post #8 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-06-2010, 11:34 AM
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We adopted Max from Va German Shepherd Rescue in August 2009 when he was 3 1/2 yrs old. We were told his original owner bought him from a breeder, but for unknown reasons, turned him in to an animal shelter in GA in January 2009 where he was slated to be put down. Shortly thereafter, his foster mom drove from N VA to GA to save him. Aside from being very underweight and having heart worms, that's all we know of his past.

How long did it take for your dog to become acclimated to his/her surroundings?
Max seemed comfortable with us and our home from the very beginning. Just a little bit reserved, maybe, but it didn't take long for his silly personality to come out.

Did you have to crate your dog and for how long?
Yes, but only because he has a voracious appetite. He would get into the trash, open my kitchen drawers, and counter surf looking for something to eat. Fresh tomatoes, raw sweet potatoes, flour tortillas, he even got the greasy pan off the stove from when I had cooked fish the night before and licked it clean.

Just this past week, we started leaving him out of the crate while we were away for an hour to three hours, and he behaved like a perfect gentlemen. Of course, we have a child lock on the trash can pullout and absolutely no food is left out, but at least now when we come home, the drawers are still closed.

Was there some separation anxiety when you left him/her home for the first time?

Nope, he seemed very comfortable in his crate and we have another dog, also, so maybe that helped a little. Except for one or two small things, Max has not destroyed any furniture or chewed anything other than his toys. He loves his toys.

Did it take some time for you to bond?
Nope. I still comment to my husband how quickly we all bonded and how it seems like he's been here forever. His foster mom was right, Max just really wanted a family. From day one, you could tell he wanted to please us and he followed us from room to room.

Maybe two weeks after we brought Max home, we enrolled him in obedience classes. Even though he knew all of the basic commands and walked reasonably well on a leash, he had some dog reactive issues, so classes seemed like a good way to get him around different dogs and reinforce his training. Next week, he starts a basic agility class.

Sometimes I wonder if Max is an anomaly. I mean, we just could not have asked for a better dog. He loves being with us, respects our 12 yr old female dog, and is just a really good dog.

Maximus, Long Coat German Shepherd Dog
Tora, Mixed Breed
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post #9 of 9 (permalink) Old 05-06-2010, 02:30 PM
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We adopted our Onna in Feb.from the GS Rescue. We were told she was full blood, turn in. Never in the pound. Someone took the time to teach her basic commands, house break her, and fetchwe call it "b" because if you say ball, she is standing at the door ready to go.
Everything I read said it would take a month for bonding. I'm not sure it took that long.
At first she had a look like "now where am I & How long will I be here?" She acted like she was waiting for the shoe to drop & she'd be in trouble. Everytime we took car rides, she'd load w/o a problem but always had a look like "oh no, where are they taking me now" She's so relieved when we turn on our street she looks likes she smiling. Now, she much more relaxed, I think she knows we're not going to leave her anywhere.
We do not crate, at first we would keep her in the bedroom, no accidents so now we close the bedroom doors & she has the rest of the house.
She is such a great dog.
When we first saw her she was a timid, scared, underweight, gentle soul; who only wanted a forever home & to be loved. She looked so lost.
She's so much like us it's weird. She loves Sat. afternoon naps too!
As far as SA, I work & my husband is retired. She doesn't even blink when I leave, but it's nice to see how happy she is when I get home. When my husband leaves, she'll go from window to door, play w/ her toys, sleep & sometimes get a clothing of ours We've found a shoe, a glove, a hat in the middle of the floor--- it has not been chewed on or slobbered on , it's just there.
We took her to the place where we picked her up, just to show her off. She stucked to us like glue, & when my husband said lets go, she practically dragged me to the car; "like you're not leaving me & w/ you guys"
I too had my doubts about adopting an adult dog; but it was nice not to have to "house break", or go through the puppy-chew- stage.
We're just trying not to teach her any of our bad habits!

Onna's Mom & offical ball thrower.
It is the honor & duty of the strong to protect the weak.
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