Two Week Shut Down Debate... - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 10:41 AM Thread Starter
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Two Week Shut Down Debate...

To those of you who advise the two week shutdown.... do you advise it 100% of the time? Depending on the situation? Depending on the dog?

With my rescued foster, we did a 2 day complete shutdown and a week and a half "mini" shutdown. For the first two days, she was in the kennel in the living room by herself. Rocky was not allowed to go up to her kennel. I let her out to potty on a 30 foot lead and otherwise ignored her.

After two days, her kennel was moved into my room, due to excessive crying every time she heard rocky move. She instantly became a cuddle bunny and became attached to my side. Her and Rocky slept together the second night, curled into balls.

The first week we only walked at 6am when no one else was out. Then we gradually started walking a little later. Yesterday we met my girlfriend out on a walk with her Yorkie, and Roxy walked up, sniffed the Yorkie, then sat next to my girlfriend and scooted over until she was touching her leg, then whined to be pet.

The first week my girlfriend had Roxy, she yelped/screamed/whined/cried/growled/barked and lunged any time she saw a person. On our walk this morning (It has been two weeks now since the transfer) Roxy walked by the college kids waiting for the bus (about 15) and completely ignored all of them. We also walked by the girl next door who has a boxer that Roxy growled at her first day with me, and Roxy calmly walked up, wagging her tail and sniffed at the boxer then we continued walking.

In this dog's case, I feel a two week complete shut down would have done more harm than good. She was not afraid of people, just slightly wary. After being pet by two or three different people, she now loves all people.

(The vet assumes she was living off the streets from 4 months- 10 months)

What is your experience with the shutdown? Is my situation just one of the few exceptions to the rule? Or could it be that some breeds adjust to new homes more easily?
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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 10:52 AM
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I think it can be very valuable but depends on the dog. My last foster puppy had zero shut down, lol. He was such a nice dog, I basically threw him in with my pack and everyone was happy as clams. If the dog doesn't have any behavioral or health problems to speak of, especially a rambunctious puppy, I don't think it's arbitrarily necessary just because the dog is a foster. To me it's not a given that every foster dog has baggage or is somehow damaged, sometimes you DO get a dog that's just a great dog no matter what is thrown at him. I treated him just like I would a puppy that I'd gotten for myself. My husband wanted to keep him after just a few hours, lol, but he went to such a good family, I could not have dreamed up a better family. However I once pulled a dog that *definitely* needed a two week shut down because she was very sick, had no idea how to live in a domestic situation, was aggressive toward other animals, etc. In fact I had offered to keep her at my house until the transport came and ended up boarding her at the vets because my house was over-stimulation for her. Even though it seemed mean to do to a dog that was pulled from a shelter, she actually did better at the vets being alone in a dog run that didn't have all the overwhelming sights and sounds of a normal home. She got the medical care she needed round the clock and had a chance to decompress without several people, dogs, and cats and everything else in the environment putting her on edge.

Last edited by Liesje; 06-21-2012 at 10:56 AM.
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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 10:52 AM
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We've rescued four dogs and all have benefited from a shut down, at least for a few days to allow them to get used to the house and the routine.

All four were abused or neglected and needed time away to process and it really did help when it came time to bring them fully into the house as a member of the pack


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Last edited by Shade; 06-21-2012 at 10:55 AM.
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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 12:45 PM
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Never down a shut down and never will and I've had a lot of my own personal dogs and a lot of fosters through here. It has got to be one of the more silly things I have heard of. It's kind of pointless.

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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 12:51 PM
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I do something different. Because my work allows, I can have a dog with me most of the time. Depending on the dog, I will keep a rescue with me 24/7. The dog is with me when I'm working, eating, next to the bed at night, either crated or not, depending on the dog. That way, any other dog in our pack isn't pestering the new one or vice versa, and I can respond to the dog's needs or behavior problems immediately. When I leave the house, the dog comes with me if the weather allows me to leave a dog in the car. When I go into a store or business that allows dogs, the dog comes in with me. I've done this for as long as 6 months with an extremely anxious dog. One of my dogs needed to learn who was alpha, so I used NILF.
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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 01:09 PM
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After two days, her kennel was moved into my room, due to excessive crying every time she heard rocky move. She instantly became a cuddle bunny and became attached to my side. Her and Rocky slept together the second night, curled into balls.
Definitely depends on the dog. The background matters as much as anything. Dogs left to rot in kennels for weeks/months on end need one. They don't even know who they are any longer, and are often suffering from huge amounts of stress.

While I might not do a full 'shut down', I also would not allow a new dog to the home become "attached to my side", because of all the travail that can bring. It's not healthy for the dog to become so overly dependent immediately, and can easily lead to separation anxiety, not to mention, cause upset in the 'pack order' when transitioning dogs into this house with our current dogs.

However I once pulled a dog that *definitely* needed a two week shut down because she was very sick, had no idea how to live in a domestic situation, was aggressive toward other animals, etc
It's definitely recommended in these cases - I know of rescues, on the other hand, that will bring dogs like this into their own pack the very first day, and the dog fails there due to all kinds of issues, and the subsequent stress. In some cases, these rescue's own dogs were injured.
These dogs who come in like this need time away/apart to calm down and re-adjust to being a dog.

I know of one rescue, even, who went to pick up a dog from the shelter, "rescuing it", and put the dog in the back of the SUV with their own dog!! They hadn't reached city limits when the dogs got into a fight and boom, they turned around and dumped the dog they'd just "rescued" back at the shelter, and left!!
I mean, there is no justification for that.
We never bring our own dogs that we are anticipating bringing a shelter dog and tossing them together in the back seat and assuming they'll all get along.

It goes along with the attributing human morals and emotions to animals.

Last edited by msvette2u; 06-21-2012 at 01:13 PM.
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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 01:15 PM
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PS. I don't think it is a debate. Some like it, some don't but it always works here, so we'll continue doing it. It is no debate. I don't care if others don't agree with it, but I continue to also recommend it to adoptive homes in many cases, and the dog has success whereas if the shut down had not been done, they would have easily failed.
Above all, the shut down teaches dependence on you as the new leader, and there is only positive results to be had by doing that.
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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 01:56 PM
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Will someone explain to us less initiated, exactly what a "shut down" is. In my world it means the dog just quits for one reason or another, but I don't get that drift from this discussion.

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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 02:01 PM
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If I could stress one of the biggest errors people make with new dogs and foster dogs it is rushing the dog into the new world so fast . This shut down gives the dog a chance to say “ahhh” take a breath and restart into its new world.

From people I have helped I hear;
"I introduced her to 15 people the first day I had her!" ;" he was a bit leery but seems to like my other 3 dogs" ; "she went everywhere with me "
All in the first few days of the new home..... (!!!)

two weeks later we hear;
" I think we will have to rehome the new dog" "the new dog barked and nipped at my kid" - "we had a dog fight" ; “the new dog barked at me for moving him off the couch”

Ok, folks, here it comes, some feel this is extreme, why? I really do not know.
But when bringing in a new dog, post finding, adoption, buying, etc, Give it time to adjust to you and your family and the dogs in the new environment.
Just as if it were a new baby or puppy, we wouldn’t think of rushing out with a baby or puppy, yet with older pups and dogs we just expect them to take our lives in all at once!

TWO WEEKS - "shut down"
For the first two weeks, (sometimes even longer) a dog takes in the new environment, who is the top person, or animal, who ARE these people!? By pushing a dog too fast, and throwing too much at the dog we look like we are not the leaders,and the dog can feel it MUST defend itself , as the leader is surely no one he has met so far!

We coo , coodle, drag the dog to home to home to person to person, and the dog has NO idea who we are. We correct for things it doesn’t understand, we talk in a new human language using words he does not know.

A key thing to remember is "this is the dating period NOT the honeymoon"
When you first met your "spouse or significant other”, you were on your best behavior, you were not relaxed enough to be all of yourself, were you?
Just think of the things you do physically once you get to KNOW a person,
you wouldn’t run up to a stranger and hug them and squeeze them!
Imagine, if on the first date, this new person, was all over you touching you and having their friends hug you and pat you on the head, and jostle your shoulders, looked in your mouth then he whisked you off to another strangers home and they did the same thing.

Would you think this person normal and SAFE? Wouldn’t you feel invaded and begin to get a bit snarky or defensive yourself? Wouldn’t you think to push these people away for obviously your date is out of their mind, as they aren’t going to save you from these weirdoes!!
Yet we do this very thing to our dogs, and then get upset or worried that they aren’t relaxed and accepting of EVERYTHING instantly!

By shutting down the dog, it gives the dog TIME to see you , meet YOU, hear and take in the new sounds and smells of your home and all the people in it. In the 1st two weeks;
Crate the dog in a room by itself if possible.(Believe me, dogs are sensory animals, they know more than you think without seeing it).
Leash the dog (so I don’t have to correct it don’t have that right yet!), give it exercise time in the yard on lunge line or in fenced yard..but other than that.. LEASH , (yes..leash in the house too.)
Do no training at all, just fun exercise and maybe throw some toys for fun, leash the dog if you don’t have a fence outside. But DO NOT leave the yard, AT ALL.

No car rides, no other dogs, (unless crated beside them), no pet stores, no WALKS even, nothing but you and household family, your home, your yard. (Unless of course the dog needs to go to the veterinarian)
Believe me dogs can live two weeks without walks. Walks are stressful for there is so much coming at you and your dog! And the dog has no clue who you are yet. The dog may react to something and we start correcting it with the leash and we just installed a VERY STRESSFUL moment to the dog in what should be a fun and learning walk.

TEACH the dog by doing the shut down, that YOU are the one to look to, that you are now here for the dog! He can trust in you and look to you for guidance. Then you can venture out into new situations one at a time, the dog knows he can trust in his new humans and can relax under the fair guidance of his new leaders!

In the house take the dog out only for about 20-30 minute intervals, post exercise/yard times., and ALWAYS on a leash when in the house or in an unfenced yard. Exercise is important! Running and free time are stress relievers, but don’t set your dog up for failure, make exercise and yard time fun and relaxing and tiring!

Then PUT THE DOG AWAY. let it absorb and think and relax. Ignore crying or barking, just like a new born baby, he must find security when you are not right there, and if you run to him each time he will think barking and crying will get your attention.

I do not introduce resident dogs for these two weeks, they can be side by side in the crates, (not nose to nose for they can feel defensive) . Some dogs will bond instantly with the other dogs if we don’t bond FIRST with the dog, and this can lead to some other issues, as the dog will look to the other dog(s) for guidance and not YOU!

Literally in two weeks you will see a change in the dog and begin to see its honest and true personality. Just like a house guest, they are well behaved and literally shut down and “polite” themselves these first few weeks, then post this time, they relax and the true personality begins to shine thru.

So, please,, if nothing else for your new dog, give it the time to LEARN YOU as you are learning who they are! This method works on shy dogs,confident dogs, abuse cases, chained dogs that come in, rowdy dogs, all temperaments!
(I did not write this, but did glean it from the 'net before the webpage it was on went away)
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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old 06-21-2012, 02:19 PM
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In the human adoption community we use to call it "cocooning." Ten years ago, my husband and I adopted four and five year old siblings who had lived in a group setting prior to their adoption. We pretty much stayed home for the first month and they slept in our room with us for the first two or three months.

I think the concept with the dogs is very similar, and if I ever start fostering or adopting older dogs, I'm sure I would do something similar.
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