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Discussion Starter #1
I am from Wisconsin, and I think that is worthwhile stating, because we take many rescue dogs from other parts of the US.

So now I am on my third dog, who was described by the shelter as aggressive and a biter. This is the end of week 1, and I am finding the dog is very gentle, quick to learn, and has never been aggressive in my home.

She is a 70 pound White Female GSD.

The question for the rescue folks is do you find that most of the dogs you take are easy to deal with, and if treated with kindnest would make wonderful pets.

I had asked my rescue group to give me an aggressive dog, but this dog is so darn good, I wonder how anyone could have labelled her as aggressive.

I should add that I have what I call my forever dog. A expensive European Breed GSD. I believe that helps a bit in dealing with the rescue dogs, because once her and my forever dog bond a bit, it does help the rescue.
 

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I have one rescued GSD! He is such a great dog! (My female was a shelter GSD, and she is great too!)

I think it is so hard for dogs to be in a shelter. The "real" personality doesn't come out until they are feeling loved and safe in a home, or foster home.

The rescuers can speak more to the temperament testing , etc...
 

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I have fostered GSD's for 2 years and have adopted 3 rescue dogs. One has fear aggression another was born in my home and the other is blind with kidney problems and is only expected to live for no more than 2 yrs and he is 10 months now. I would adopt a rescue dog again as I have never had one that was aggressive once in my home.
Fostering is the best thing I ever did and hope to get back into it again sometime soon.
 

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Quote:The question for the rescue folks is do you find that most of the dogs you take are easy to deal with, and if treated with kindnest would make wonderful pets.
I have been doing rescue on and off for about 15 years and have fostered (I only know this because I actually made a list the other day when I couldn't sleep) over 100 dogs - though a much smaller percentage of these were GSDs. Anyway, in that sample size, I would say that the vast majority were good dogs and made excellent problem-free pets given a little direction and training. Some of them showed up awesome and there wasn't much for me to do besides take a nice picture.

I would say the idea that all rescue dogs have problems or issues is one of the biggest misconceptions out there. In fact, give me a shelter dog that has lived outside and been ignored its whole life ANY day over the owner give up from someone who thought they knew it all.

That said, shelters are very hard on Shepherds and also small dogs, which are the two types I mainly foster. Both get very freaked out and scared and can appear aggressive when they're actually very nice dogs. Some of them actually are fear aggressive so it's always a bit of a crapshoot, but the majority and fine given a little time to decompress and an understanding person. I tend to assume I know nothing definite about a dog's real personality until I've had them at least 10 days - 2 weeks. You just can't tell, they can change radically from the dog you brought home that first day.

Off the top of my head, of the around 15 Shepherds that have come through my house in the last couple years, 1 was seriously fear aggressive, 1 was seriously fearful but not aggressive, 1 was aggressive towards other male dogs, and the rest were basically fine. Some had some quirks and they maybe weren't the perfect dogs for every home - I've had fence climbers and no-mannered meat heads, and dogs that were smarter than most people I know, but all essentially good dogs that went on to be just as "good" a pet as one you'd get anywhere else. Actually the dog aggressive one and the fearful but not aggressive one did too. Both are totally awesome easy dogs today - thanks mainly to good owners not me. I've only had one that was SO fearful that he's had to stay long term.
 

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Yes. I've fostered about 10 dogs, the majority gsds and gsd mixes. The only one that had major issues I kept. We did get a few dogs in who had been poorly treated and had issues but they were in the minority and we looked for experienced homes for those dogs. More often we got in high drive dogs who needed a job! That was far more common than getting dogs with serious behavioral issues.
 

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Like pupresq, I've also fostered around 100 over my years with GSD rescue - all shepherds. I've enjoyed having almost all of them as a house-guest. The majority have been under socialized and had little to no manners (we find that wild-child 18 month old stage to be a hot time for surrenders), but very few have been truly aggressive. However, our rescue doesn't take dogs known to be aggressive.

As someone mentioned, evaluations in a shelter environment are so difficult and the dog may not show his or her real self for days, weeks, etc. Even with an owner surrender, it can be tough to really know the full picture. We're actually living that right now with 2 of the dogs in our group. Both were so shell-shocked that they were too shut down to really evaluate and after several weeks in foster care their issues are showing up. One lives here with me and my family . . . I suspect that Duke will never be "easy", but he will make the right owner a loving companion in time. We start obedience class with him tomorrow. (woo-hoo!)

Because our adopters are usually families with children and other dogs, we have to keep that in mind when accepting dogs for fostering. It would be wonderful to have the experienced foster homes and time to take on the ones that more patience and time to work through issues, but it's rare that we have that luxury of resources within our group and we have fairly few really experienced adopters.
 

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I often learn within a couple weeks why someone would not want the dog, and so far, it has never been an issue that couldnt be handled. I have only had 4 so far, and all have gone to good homes except of course my current foster Parker.

I found that the shelter evaluations didnt help much. After basic manners are learned, they are all awesome dogs. I think they could pick a truly agressive dog, but I have had to deal with bad manners, fear and resource guarding mostly. Parker has become a much stronger dog in the past couple weeks, and he was considered submissive at the shelter......hehe yah right. Parker will need to go to a home that has a strong but fair hand, no children or cats and someone that loves a velcro dog.

But that is what is so great about adopting a foster dog! You learn the best environment for them and can match home to dog. Like someone said earlier, the dogs that have been on the streets are amoung the most loving creatures on this earth. I still tear up every time I see one of my fosters look at me with thanks in their eyes.

I have yet to foster an owner surrender, but I could see how that might be even harder than a dog off the streets.
 

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I forgot about owner surrenders. We didn't take them into foster care but did a thorough eval and then placed them while they stayed in their home. I placed a lot of owner surrenders and, to tell you the truth, they had more issues than any of my shelter dogs! And Basu (my abused, neglected and fear aggressive gsd) was an owner surrender! The owner surrenders often took far longer to place because they were being surrendered oftentimes due to a health or behavioral issue that the current owners couldn't handle.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I really appreciate all the replies, and tend for once (BowWow knows me) to agree with everything said.

My newest rescue, Paris, was labelled as aggressive and perhaps a biter. She is four years old and quite the opposite. If she showed any aggression in a shelter, that aggression came struckly from fear. She has made more progress in a week then I could have ever imagined.

Paris was an owner surrender. For whatever reason, these two women kept the dog for three years. She was trained, and her vet records perfect. Nonetheless, she has been in two shelters since, adopted once and now I have her.

I often thought of calling the original owners because they did care for her and I am curious why they took her to a shelter.

Probably best to back off.
 

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In addition to dogs that melt down at the shelter creating an inaccurate impression, I find that owner give ups are often very misleadingly described. I mean, to the point that I pretty much disregard anything the owner has to say when making my assessment. I listen. I make note. Then 9 times out of 10, I come to a totally different conclusion.

Various reasons for this, mainly:
Surrendering owners will sometimes make their dogs sound bad to relieve themselves of guilt and responsibility. Surrendering owners often don't have a CLUE about dog behavior and don't know what they're seeing so they describe it inaccurately even when they're trying to be honest.
 

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Rescue 1, found him at prov animal rescue league. I had gone to look at a 5 month old who was very cute but just didn't have that twinkle I look for. On my way in, I had heard an adult GSD voice, big booming male. Asked one of the attendants who was barking like that and he laughed 'Dude wants his lunch'.

A few cages away, I found a dog named Dude. He jumped on his gate, looked me in the eyes and said 'Woof' Not mean, just young and crazy, like he was thinking 'Hey Red, how you doing?'

He'd been turned in by college students who's landlord made them get rid of him. It was June and he'd been there since February. The shelter workers all loved him but he needed training, well, retraining because he was protection trained out of a cheap book.

Before we walked out the door, I had renamed him Luther. Spent about a year retraining him to be the coolest dog I ever had. My soul dog. Rotten shame he started having seizures a few years later.

Rescue 2. Belonged to my friend's sister. She didn't get why he barked all the time when she tied him out on a short run by a choke chain. Gorgeous big headed blond dog but not smart. My exhusband fell in love with him at first sight. Not a pleasant story for me...

Rescue 3. Morgan, got a call one day that a baby female shepherd had been turned in by a guy who's yard she kept visiting. She'd been living on the streets, full of parasites and with an ear infect that left her ear slightly cockeyed for the rest of her life. She was very scared and unsure of her self. The first 3 days in my house, she wouldn't go outside without me. Then she figured out that Luther would take care of her and when he started getting sick, she always watched out for him. I think she still misses him and I try not to say his name while she's within earshot (which is always) becuase I think it makes her sad that he's gone.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Darn,

I wanted to disagree with at least one person on this board today, but your reply is right on.

The owners feel guilty, so they make up or tend to overstate the reasons the dog has been placed in a shelter. The dogs are perhaps fear aggressive after being abandoned or placed in a shelter. But so far I have found that being kind, and a bit laid back works with the rescue GSD's.
 

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I got Taedyn at the shelter. I almost didn't because she was off the wall insane crazy. She'd run around in circles barking, jumping up and down all over the place - she even broke off a tooth on the cage bars. When I got to see her, she practically tore the arm off the volunteer at the shelter, and continued to be inattentive and all over the place in a frantic fashion.

With that sort of display, I even ask myself how in the world I chose her. But, I had this weird emotional attachment towards her that I didn't for other dogs. I thought to myself, "Ok. I will have to put in an immense amount of work exercising and training her.... but it'll be worth it because we're emotionally connected."

Day one was certainly exhausting, but very quickly that insane crazy hyperness just melted way. Today (one month later) she's a calm, yet enthusiastic dog. She knows when it's time to be mellow and chill out, and when it's time to be active and play. I am the center of her world, and she works hard to be patient and obedient to please me. She adores affection, and has not once shown aggression towards me.

I never would have guessed she'd be such a great dog so quickly. Sometimes I wonder - is it the breed? Is she just a good dog? Or did I do a good job with her?
 

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Discussion Starter #14
I do not think it is the breed. I believe most dogs, even those that seem very aggressive in shelters will settle. Are you good with her, absolutely, being kind and calm allows a dog to bond and trust.
And a personal thanks for taking the dog.

I have pictures of my first rescue, baring her teeth at my forever GSD for two days. Then things started to change for the positive and very quickly.

It sounds to my like you would do great with rescue dogs. Just a thought.
 

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I probably should have known when we went to look at Rosie and she jumped on my 86 yr old Mother, backing her up to the chainlink pen wall, that she wasn't the ideal choice. But she was so enthusiastic and happy to see us, and she ignored the cats at the foster's house, that we took the chance. She then dragged me to my car so I must have been her choice too.
The first year was pretty hard on both Mom and me, but after finding the right trainer to work with things are coming around. She has fear aggression and its now down to just people that come to my house, which isn't that often so is harder to work on. She doesn't do anything but scare them and has successfully met everyone that is willing to put up with her. With others I just make her sit quietly by me or put her in her pen. She is 3 1/2 years old now (I have had her for two) and will be a work in progress for another couple of years I think, but doggy daycare is helping and so are the agility classes.
She still wants to chase the horses even after one broke her foot, but I can sidetrack her easily, I just can't work with them while she is loose (thus the pen).
Would I do it again? Even though my Mother loves Rosie to pieces, not as long as Mom still lives with me. Otherwise yes, I kind of like the harder dogs. I bond with them better.
This year I also adopted a large Malamute(maybe a mix) and he is a marshmallow which is kind of nice and a relief. I like having one of each. Besides, his training is going a LOT faster since he doesn't feel the need to be the boss!
 

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Discussion Starter #16
It sounds like Rosie has been more of a challenge then any of the foster's I have met. But do not assume most foster's are that difficult to deal with.

For example, how would you feel if you decided to take another foster dog, and within a period of a few days the dog was fine with you and your mom. Like my foster's have been with my 90 year old dad.

As an aside, the foster person should have been more honest in describing Rosie. Being a foster, any dog that leaves me couild nt be as aggressive as Rosie.
 

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I have fostered quite a few GSD's and none of them had any major problems. One I was told was dog aggressive and turned out with a proper introduction she was fine with other dogs. She was a dominant female but certainly NOT dog aggressive. I have found that *generally* the dog is made to sound worse than it really is and quite a few times I have not had any problems when I thought there would be some. I have owned a few and still own a rescued GSD and assuming that all rescued or even most, rescued GSD's have problems is an incorrect assumption.

Now, if I were looking to do SchH for example I would most likely not look to rescue because even though "most" rescue GSD's are fine for a family pet or obedience dog, chances are that the nerve strength or prey drive would not be sufficient.

I have learned a lot from fostering GSD's with all different temperaments and do not regret it at all. I hope to get back to in in the future.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
I could not agree with you more. If I was looking for a high end expensive schH dog I would stick with my breeder.

But, wanting a companion dog I adopted my rescue, named Paris (hate the name) today. I was going to get a female GSD from my breeder, who is wonderful. Then my son asked me why not Paris, my rescue. It made sense because she is a wonderful shepherd.

As an aside, I will not abandon rescue.
 
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