Giving dogs the ability to make good choices. Teaching owners how to be great leaders.
Category: Rescue to Rehabilitation
From time to time, I am made aware of a dog in a desperate situation. Dogs that are on death row for a number of reasons – aggression towards humans or other dogs, destroying homes, inability to adapt to their family, etc. When I am able, I rescue these dogs in order to rehabilitate them and place them into homes where their new family is committed to continuing the work of being advocates, leaders, and guides – families who are committed to helping their new dog make great decisions that turn into habits, that turn into a way of life.
I am noticing something interesting with Lucy. When we have done anything with her during the day, she may seem to resist it, but after a good night’s sleep, it’s like it all clicks. There was one two days ago, we had trouble with her barking and whining when she was in the crate – demanding to come out. We refused to let her out until she was calm for a period of time. Yesterday morning and this morning, when I come out of the room and begin my day, she is laying in her crate relaxing. There is no whining, now expectation of leaving, and no demands to leave.
We took some things away from her yesterday. She tried getting on the couch without permission several times. We did not allow it. I put her in down, and she tried getting up several times; I did not allow it. Her favorite thing to do is to get in your face and demand that you pet her. When this happened with anybody in the family, they told her no, and she walked away. In the long run, this is going to help with her bossy, bratty side.
Today we had our first thunderstorm since Lucy arrived. Her owner had told me that she was afraid of them, and that normally she was allowed to sleep at the foot of the bed at those times. She did pretty good during this one. She was in the kennel where she was forced to just lie down and remain calm. The thunder definitely made her take notice, and there was a little panting, but her anxiety passed really pretty quickly. She chose to sleep through the majority of the storm.
In knew Lucy has been whining, barking, and howling after I leave the house, but she is usually in her crate when she does that. Today, I had to take Lucky to the park to work with him. It was a beautiful day, so I opted to leave my dogs out in the yard and let Lucy roam the front of the house with the office door open so that she could get to Aaron if she wanted. As soon as I got to the park, he texted me to let me know that the howling had begun. I was shocked. I asked him if she could get to him, and he said, “She walked to me while howling.” He then called me to tell me the rest of the story. When she got into his office, she sat there whining. He decided to try ignoring her. Eventually she stopped, but then she sat staring at him. He ignored her. She lifted her paw and put it on his arm. He pet her. Haha. When I got home, she was in her crate again, because Aaron couldn’t get any work done.
The more time we spend with her, the more I see that she needs lots of structure. She knows how to push until she gets what she wants. This means she is not going to be getting much of what she wants at all. Instead, she will only be doing the things she wants with permission. Her life is going to be a very strict permission based lifestyle for the next 90 days (if she’s with us that long).
I allowed Lucy to be outside with the other large dogs (Marvel, Shoshi, and Goober) today. She did just fine. We transferred that into the house with everybody in their place. There were zero issues. I will continue this, but it will always be under very close supervision.
Lucy started formal training today with both the prong collar and the e-collar. My intention was to only work on heel and sit, but her pushiness has caused me take it further. Today, the e-collar was incorporated into all commands. We worked on heel. She did wonderfully. She picked up very quickly on the idea of sitting each time we stopped. We worked on sit. I introduced her to place and we began working on distance and duration. Everytime I tried to leave the room, she tried to follow. After about the third time, she finally gave up and just fell asleep in her place.
When she is in her crate and thinks she’s been in there long enough, she stands up and whines or barks. Today she has been corrected with a no, and a stimulation on the prong collar until she lies back down. (A calm body = a calm mind.) She insists the e-collar level be a little high, but there is plenty of room to go higher for the major offenses.
Lucy’s ears and arm continue to heal. Up until yesterday, I was spraying them four times a day with dilluted apple cider vinegar. Yesterday I only sprayed them three times. Today, twice. I’m going to keep it at twice a day for a while (maybe three times for her leg). I can now see into her ear canal without lifting her ear up. It’s amazing how much the swelling has gone down. Her canal still has a “wet” look to it, so I know there is more that needs to happen. Once it seems that has gone away, I will use the vinegar at night, before bed only.
Lexi has a new name. Aaron and I continually catch ourselves calling her Lucy, and when anybody does call her Lexi, all I hear is Roxie. So her new name is Lucy. Since both names are so similar, she is already responding to the new name.
We’re starting to see Lucy’s real feelings towards other dogs. Yesterday, as Raina – our little Pomeranian – walked past Lucy’s crate, Lucy came unglued. She snarled, lunged, growled, and bark. This morning, she barked at Goober, our Malinois mix as he walked past her crate. The one thing that both incidents had in common is the bowl of food that was in Lucy’s crate with her. So far, I’m leaning towards the issue being one of resource guarding.
Lucy’s e-collar is here! Her official formal training starts tomorrow. I will be working on heel, sit, and down. The e-collar will only be used with heel for the first day or two. I am really looking forward to this, and I think she will appreciate it too.
I am see more healing in Lucy’s skin everyday. The skin on her leg is pink again instead of red. The swelling in her ears continues to decrease, and the mucousy stuff is gone. I have decided to go ahead and switch her food now instead of waiting until the bag is empty. I think that is going to help speed up the healing process. I’m going to see if the local humane shelter will take a donation of an open bag of food. If not, I will post on Facebook to see if anybody wants it.
Oh my. Aaron is Lexi’s favorite person… As long as his office door is open she is in and out. Sometimes she stays for a while. As for me…right now she doesn’t love me so much. Probably because I’m the one who does all the things she hates – putting medicine on her wounds, putting her collar on her, making her go back into her crate when it’s time…
Up until now, I have been giving Lexi free run of the front end of the house when I have her out of her crate. I am still rotating dogs so that everybody else is in a different room when she is out. I’m hoping to try introducing her to my other dogs in a week or two. Her e-collar did come in today, but due to other priorities (training Lucky, personal household cleaning and cooking – Fridays are my big household days), I was unable to work with her as far as training goes. Monday will be her first official day of training.
After talking with her previous owner, I decided it was time to go ahead and bathe Lexi. She stinks to high heaven, and with her skin condition (that I’ll explain better in a bit), I thought it was better to let her suffer the colder weather now so that she could heal more quickly, than to wait for warmer weather in her itchy, painful condition. I took her to the back yard and bathed her with a new soap* I had just ordered. (This stuff is amazing. It lathers quickly and well, rinses quickly, smells wonderful, and has health benefits.) After her bath, I sprayed her several times with diluted apple cider vinegar. She was fantastic. She tried to walk away a couple of times when I was rinsing her off, but for the most part, she just patiently stood there and took it. I think it actually made her feel better.
Lexi is still becoming more and more comfortable with us. Today, I have noticed her sleeping well enough that she has actually been dreaming (she is, what I assume to be, running in her sleep). When she had to potty, she actually paced the house and went to Aaron whining asking to go out. I no longer need to walk off of the porch with her into the yard to get her to go potty. And she is happy to see everybody as they come home.
Lexi’s Health Issues:
Lexi has a candida (yeast) buildup. It is showing itself through itchy, dry skin, through patches of built up yeast that have cracked open and becoming weeping wounds, in her swollen, itchy ears, and in her smelly skin. The thing that causes candida is an imbalance of bacteria in her gut. There are two types of bacteria – the bad stuff that causes yeast, and the good stuff that fights off not only the bad bacteria, but also disease.
What causes the imbalance? Ususally diet. Raw diet is always best for dogs, but if that isn’t possible, grain-free, high protein kibble is the best. Do your research. Find out what ingredients should and shouldn’t be in your dogfood.*
I am using a combination of antioxidants, enzymes, and probiotics (1 billion colony) in Lexi’s food.* As soon as she finishes the bag of dog food that was provided from her previous owner, I will be changing her diet to a kibble that is healthier. Topically, I am spraying the itchy places and her ears with 50% diluted unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is anti-fungal and works to kill the fungus that causes yeast infections. After three to four days of using the vinegar, I will work on the wounds themselves and getting them to heal. For that, I will use Ox-e-drops.
I started using the antioxidants, enzymes, and probiotics on day one, and I have to say that there is absolutely healing going on. On day one, there was so much swelling in Lexi’s really bad ear that I couldn’t see into it. Today, not only can I see into it, but I was able to take a picture of the inside of her ear. It’s gross, but with applications of apple cider vinegar, it should clear up pretty quickly. Almost all of the swelling has gone down in Lexi’s other ear. (I wish I had thought to take before pictures of her ears.)
Lexi is feeling more and more relaxed here. She goes in and out of the crate without hesitation, she is eating and drinking, and using the bathroom regularly.
The big things for today:
There is tail wagging! No more tucked tail. This makes me happy. She is in love with Aaron. I believe she would spend the day in his office with him if given the chance.
Lexi is letting me medicate her ear. After I did it the first time, she made a beeline for the crate, but each time afterward was without incident at all.
Lexi has been wearing the prong collar since we got home. Today she has allowed me to take it off and put it back on her several times.
Her favorite place to be is in the office with Aaron. He will scratch her for a little bit, then we he goes back to work, she either sits beside him watching out the window or lies on the floor.
Because Lexi is coming out of her shell, we are seeing more issues. She has begun whining and barking from the kennel. When I am away from the house, she howls. All these will be corrected with the e-collar. (It is on its way!).
Lexi is still growling, but she does not growl at people. She is only growling at the dogs now – and it is each and every dog. She will not be allowed any interaction at all with them until I have the e-collar. I will probably buy a muzzle for her first as well.
Lexi understands sit, down, and kennel. To help build her confidence, I have started working with these commands. She’s such a huge dog that I’m actually going to have to find something that I can use as “place” to teach her that command. I am waiting to teach heel until I have the e-collar.
I believe I’m already seeing some healing going on due to the nzymes I have been giving her. On the day that I picked her up, one of her ears was so swollen that I could not even see into it. Today, I can. There is is still a lot of swelling, but I see improvement. I got the open wound on the ear to scab over mostly, and what wasn’t scabbed had dried up. Somehow she managed to knock the scab off. All I can do is continue to treat it.
We have made big progress today. When we got up this morning, there was a noticeable difference in Lexi’s attitude. The look in her face was less of a nervous, stressed, aggressive look, and more of a I want something from you look. I was able to stand next to her crate and look at her without a sound from her. The growling only began when I bent down to her level and spoke to her. When she was quiet for a little bit, I put my hand through the bars and scratched the top of her head. She melted. She began relaxing, and finally lay down.
After last night’s show when we tried to get Lexi outside, I knew I would need to have the leash on her to get her to leave the crate, let alone to get her outside. So I grabbed the leash and sat down beside the crate and waited. As she began to relax, I put my hand between the bars and scratched her. She melted again. As she relaxed more and more, she got closer to the bars. It was at this point that I was able to clip the leash to her collar.
I opened the door to the crate, and she stepped out timidly, but I couldn’t get to the leash. I convinced her to back into the crate again, and to move into the back of the crate so that I could pick up the leash. After unraveling it, I used it to guide her to the back door, and out into the yard. As I suspected, once outside, Lexi was much more comfortable with me. She didn’t feel trapped in the confinement of the house with no place to escape if something bad were to happen.
When we came back inside, I dropped the leash and allowed Lexi to roam around the front of the house. She drank water, sniffed around, and finally came to me and asked to be pet. My husband came in and met her. She decided he’s alright too. As Aaron and I sat and had coffee together, Lexi lay on the floor, watched chickens out the window, and found her way under the table and got comfortable.
I needed to work with another dog that I’m training, take care of my own dogs, and get some grocery shopping done, so it was time for Lexi to go back into her crate. I walked to her crate, and said, “Lexi, crate.” She growled from under the table. The leash was off of her at this point, and I wasn’t about to reach under the table and try to put it back on her, so I began pushing all of the chairs back in under the table until she came out. I was able to put the leash back on without incident and guide her back to the crate. I put her food into the crate with her, locked the top latch, and as I was locking the bottom one, she began growling. It is possible that being in the crate causes an immediate change in attitude. Or… She did eat for the first time since arriving.
When I made it home from shopping, Aaron mentioned to me that Lexi had howled a little bit. When it was time to let her out of the crate, I didn’t need to put the leash on her or do anything to persuade her. She came right out and got some water. I put the leash on her and took her outside. She went to the bathroom (#2) for the first time since arriving. Finally! We came back in and I let her roam around the front of the house. She met all of the kids, drank lots of water, and asked for food. I used the opportunity to work on “sit,” “down,” and “shake.” I then made her a bowl of food. I put her in her crate again with the food while she ate. After eating, I let her back out. She stretched out on the floor and just relaxed. When it was time to let the other dogs come into the living room, I first asked Lexi if she wanted outside. She ran from me, and hid behind Aaron, so I walked to her crate and asked her to kennel. She went right in.
She began growling again – I thought. This time, I don’t believe she was actually growling. I think she was complaining. The growls turned into whining, followed by soft barking. Night one and this morning at the beginning, Lexi was really growling, but this evening she was complaining. She’s already beginning to come out of her shell. I am looking forward to dryer weather when I can begin walking her in the back yard.
Lexi has a few health issues. She has a wound on her leg and the back of her ear, the inside of her ears are swollen, and she limps on her back, left leg. I am almost positive the wounds and the ear swelling is yeast and/or allergies. As soon as she finishes the bag of dog food given to me, I will be changing her diet. I have also started giving her probiotics and prebiotics from Nzymes*. I expect to see a difference within the next month. Along with the change in food, I plan to reduce the amount she eats. Keeping her weight down will help the problem in her back leg to heal or at least to feel better.
On a personal note, tonight has been a little difficult emotionally as we have noticed how similar Lexi is to our Roxie (who we lost almost a month ago). A lot of the looks she gives us as well as her snoring are big reminders.
Keep following Lexi to see how she does with formal training and correction.
*For more information on the pro- and pre-biotics I am giving to Lexi, go to www.nzymes.com.
Upon picking up Lexi tonight, I found that not only does she have a problem with resource guarding (being territorial), she is also a nervous mess. When we arrived at the house, she tucked her tail between her legs and growled and barked at us. I could see her anxiety, and didn’t trust her not to bite, so I had her owner put the prong collar on her. While she is not reactive to the collar at all, she would not calm down as long as she was in the house.
I had her owner walk her out the front door where her nervousness got better. It was at this point that nerves turned into resource guarding. I decided to take a walk down the porch beside her and her owner. As we walked farther from the front door, she began to sniff our hands and actually asked for us to pet her.
Her owner informed me that she didn’t like rain (it was raining), and I still wasn’t comfortable enough to feel that she wouldn’t bite if she felt it was necessary, so I had her owner walk her to the truck and load her. She loves riding in the tuck. She finally began to relax. On the drive home she sniffed us from behind and watched out the windows.
When we got home, it took some time to get her out of the truck. I got her to back away from the leash so that I could grab it. Once I had her on the end of the leash, we were good. We walked around the front yard for a little bit (in the rain), then we came in. I held her on the leash in the kitchen unti Faith got her kennel set up. She readily went right into the kennel.
Now we have a new problem. Once in the kennel, she growled at everybody who even just looked at her. This is a combination of the same nervousness and resource guarding we witnessed at her house. Because she has no leash on at the moment, each growl is corrected with the bonker. By the end of the night, we were able to walk past her kennel, and look at her from a distance.
When it was time for her to go out to potty, she didn’t want to leave her kennel. I tried high value treats, but she was too stressed to eat. I sat in a chair a little in front of and to the side of the kennel with my back to her. After a while, she finally stepped out of her kennel with her front feet. She smelled the air for quite a while, but when it was apparent to me that she was not going to go any further, I stood up and moved towards the back door. She followed me a little while, but when I stopped, she did too. I didn’t want to just let her outside without a leash. (I want her to come back in.) I waited, and she went back to her kennel. In order to get her to leave her kennel again, I had to go to the back door and open it. She never did go as far as she did the first day. I have a feeling that part of her reluctance to move towards the door is the lack of space. I think if I move the furniture to open it up more, she will feel like she has a better way to escape if something bad happens. We will try again in the morning.
Lexi’s previous owner has made sure to give me all the information she could think of for me. I have learned that there has been no correction given to Lexi after her attacks. She was afraid of being snapped at. This being known, I feel it will be easy to correct. She simply didn’t know she was doing wrong.
She also mentioned that Lexi was her protector for sure. Lexi needs somebody to protect her. As she begins to see that somebody else will advocate for her, she should begin to relax. This tells me to take things slowly with her – especially in the beginning while she tries to learn to trust us.
Lexi is afraid of storms. During a storm, she has been allowed to sleep at the foot of the bed. While Lexi was barking and growling at us in the house and on the porch, she received a lot pets and hugs. These actions have reinforced her anxiety and her reactions to the things that cause her anxiety. One of the biggest lessons she will have to learn is how to self-soothe.
My biggest worry tonight is that she doesn’t have an accident. She’s a big dog (200 lbs) with a big bladder. The thought of cleaning up that mess does not excite me.
Okay Lady K-9 Training is initiating project Rescue to Rehabilitation with Lexi.
Lexi is a 6 year old Great Dane with quite a history. She was brought into her forever family at 3-months of age, but when she reached the teenager stage, at one year, she began attacking small dogs. Her first kill was a small dog her owner didn’t know, but the one that put her on death row was a little Westie in her own family who lived for 5 days before finally succumbing to her wounds. Her owner thought she had found a home for Lexi where she would be an only dog, but found her tied to her front porch 21 days later. The reason? She bit another dog. I discovered her on a Facebook post the day she was returned as her original owner was calling vets to decide where to take her to have her euthanized. I have rescued her with the intention of rehabilitating and finally re-homing her.
Be sure to check in daily to follow her story and progress!