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Discussion Starter #1
Hi everyone. My family and I just adopted a 5 year old, retired breeder (she has been spayed), named Bella. I was speaking to the breeder for a while before driving the 1500 miles to pick Bella up, and was told that we would have to take it easy with her and let her adjust to us, but that she would do well with my 4 kids and our 2 cats.
Bella is 5, and from what we can tell, is overwhelmed with "family life". She has started coming up to us to be pet, but will walk away after only a few seconds. When the kids walk by her, she crouches low and looks scared. She hasn't shown any aggression, she just looks wary.
She doesn't know basic commands, and really doesn't even seem to know her name. I tried "sit" with her this morning. Since she was focused on the treat, but not attempting to sit, I reached back to touch her hind end (not push) thinking that the touch would cause her to sit, but she just backed sideways away from my hand and she looked scared.
There is much more that I've noticed and I had this post all planned out, but it has been several days of traveling and my iPad is about to die and I am exhausted, so it's going to be short. My overall fear is that she will not bond with us. Maybe we are too large of a family? We seem to overwhelm her and maybe it's just my feeling adequacy talking, but it feels like she doesn't want to be here. I know she must miss her old family and all the other dogs, but I can't help stressing. Help or advice, please?? Maybe someone who has been through something similar?


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I have three current rescues. Got the approximately 3-1/2yo weimaraner as a breeding mama seized from a puppy mill. My senior bitch GSD was also a retired breeder, about ten years old when I took her in. My young male Jack was only eleven months and had only ever lived in the barn with about 200 other dogs.

With the weim, we circled around the center wall of my then loft apartment for almost a month before she felt safe enough to voluntarily come in the same room with me. LOTS of patience there. I mean she would let me approach her, and leash her and she would go places with me...but that trust of her approaching me first was hard won.

The senior GSD came well socialized. But Jack, on the other hand...well he was SO afraid of everything I had to carry him around for the first week or so...he would just drop flat on the ground a trembling mass of dead weight at every new experience.

Here's my best advice: Give her a safe crate to retreat to. Put a blanket over the top, and just leave the door open for her. Put it out of the traffic flow, but where she can see and hear everything going on in the house on her own terms.

Tell the kids to just ignore her for a while. Not rude ignore, just be aloof and go about their business. As in, don't approach the dog, but if she approaches you, you can calmly acknowledge her. Calmly as in a quick glance and a quiet good girl and then carry on. No big shouts for joy or obnoxious hugs. Do the same yourself. She is very stressed out, and has never seen that level of family activity before and has NO CLUE where or how or why she should fit in.

But remember, dogs are pack animals. If y'all will just let her wander around the edge of the pack, observing, and with a safe place of her own to retreat to where the kids (and adults) won't follow and pester her, she will observe everyone in the pack and figure out how to introduce herself.

If you don't stress, it will help her not to stress. When she does walk up and kiss you on her own that first time, take it in stride, as if it had been happening all along. No biggie, she'll think. I can do that again :rolleyes:
 

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Jackandmattie, thank you for the advice. Did your dogs eventually bond with you? I think what really upset me was that I went into this with high hopes without really realizing it. My gsd that had been with me for 7 years, passed away in November, so even though we adopted a puppy at the same time we adopted Bella, I was especially excited about Bella. I think that without knowing it, I had put these unrealistic expectations on her and when she was so distant and detached, it made me panic.
When would be a good time to start obedience training? She really doesn't know any commands, and doesn't seem driven to learn any at this point. Should I let her adjust to us first?.


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There are several posts on the board about utilizing a 'two week shutdown'. You might do a search and read up on that. It might help her to feel a little less overwhelmed.
 
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