Posted May 21, 2020 at 07:31 AM Under "Adopting a Pet"
Tips for fearful/unsocialized rescue dog

My wife and I adopted our first rescue mutt, Maggie, just under five years ago. Taking a guess (DNA test results were inconclusive), she's some sort of wire-haired terrier/maybe shepherd mix, but we like to call her our "super mutt." She's about 35 pounds. She has been wonderful. She's smart, adventurous, happy, obedient (though crazy at times), and a big time couch cuddler. Watching her blossom from somewhat aloof when she arrived in 2015 to what she is today has given us tremendous joy.

Enter Molly, our newly adopted second fur baby. She has been with us since last Monday (May 11). She's around 2-3 years old, roughly 40 pounds, similar . She was found wondering in the woods in a rural part of our state and taken to a local shelter. We learned through her petfinder post and communications with the shelter that Molly was very fearful and unsocialized, but that she did not have any problems with aggression. When we did our first meet and greet, we learned that she had been at the shelter for 1.5-2 years. This particular shelter is well ran and staffed with qualified dog lovers, but it doesn't have a foster program. In other words, Molly had been living in a kennel for all that time.

After learning all of this, we decided that Molly needed someone to give her a chance, and that we wanted her to come and live with us. We knew it would be a challenge, that she would be fearful and take quite a while to adjust, and that we would need to be patient with her. That said, the people at the shelter thought our Maggie would be a great big sister/teacher for Molly, as she's so confident, happy, and social.

Anyway, with that as background, we're just looking for some experience, guidance, encouragement, hope, etc. Molly has been with us for about a week and a half. Not very much time given her first few years of life. She's indeed quite fearful and spends most of her time hiding. A few specific issues we've encountered/would appreciate information about:

(1) crate/sleeping arrangements. We have a plastic crate that we've been using - the You & Me brand Classic Dog Kennel, Large. It seems like it's the right size - not huge, but large enough that she can stand up at turnaround. At the same time, the big old softy in me thinks she should have more space, so I worry. Like I said above, she's a mutt, but I'd say she's around the size of an Australian Shepherd.

The other issue is that we've been keeping her crate in our bedroom, in the corner that is furthest away from our bed. The thinking was that she would feel less isolated and maybe get used to us/feel like a part of the pack faster if we let her sleep in our room. Our other dog, Maggie, sleeps on a doggie bed next to my side of our bed. Molly has been quite loud and fidgety throughout the night. I don't know if she's basically become nocturnal through her years at the shelter/in the woods, if she's uncomfortable in her crate, if she doesn't like being so close to us, etc. We are thinking about moving the crate to our guest bedroom, which is right next to our room. We would leave the doors open so she could hear us, but also hopefully get more sleep when she's not right there making all that noise!

(2) food/eating. Maggie, our first doggo, is about as food motivated as it gets. She chows her breakfast immediately. Molly does not. We've been putting her food bowl on the floor in our bedroom, close to her kennel, and shutting the door. Sometimes she doesn't eat, though, and we really can't leave the food on the floor AND keep the door open so Molly can venture out into the house if she wants. Any tips about feeding a grazer/reluctant eater with a little piggy also in the house would be huge.

(3) exercise. We've found that Molly sort of likes to play around (once we can get her outside) when Maggie plays fetch, which Maggie loves. I will through the ball for Maggie, and Molly will sort of casually follow. Other than that, because Molly is so scared, it's hard to get her to move around much. We want to make sure she gets exercise, though, as it seems to me that this will help with her anxiety.

(4) our general behavior. Molly often cowers when we move around. We've been trying our best to limit our noise levels and move slowly when she's nearby. I try not to maintain eye contact with her and sort of face to the side if I have to approach. Sometimes (read: often) she won't go outside willingly, so we have to leash her up to get her out. When we do, we have to go into her kennel to hook her up. I'm not sure if that's a bad thing or not. Basically, we'd just like to hear people's thoughts about how to behave generally with Molly and around our home while she adjusts.

Thank you for reading this lengthy post! Any information you can share would be much appreciated.

Here's her kennel: https://www.petco.com/shop/en/petcostore/product/you-and-me-classic-dog-kennel-large-2494833?cm_mmc=EML-_-EMTRX-_-CCY-_-BPS-_-PET-_-MUL-_-0-_-PET_ORDCONFPICK-_-DE_PET_ORDCONFPICK-_-product_url&;kxconfid=tbc1h9h8v&kxcampaignid=PET_ORDCONFPICK&kxadvertiserid=sfmc

  • May 24, 2020 at 06:08 PM

    That's a wonderful thing you did for Molly. She will need lots of time to show her true self. Have lots and lots of patience. Take a look at this essay, and you may want to read more of the author's work. Another author who has written about fearful dogs is Nicole Wilde.

    Fear can suppress appetite. Check with the shelter on Molly's eating habits. Have you talked with them since you adopted her? If she was there for almost 2 years, they would have a lot of observations. Was Molly more relaxed with other dogs than people? Did she have any doggie friends? Were there any people she felt more secure with?

    Good luck!



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