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Unread 01-08-2013, 02:37 PM   #1
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Default Australian Cattle dog rescued, age of 3

Hi everyone,
So my husband & I rescued an ACD from high killed shelter around 12.15.12 and we named her Blu. We have told that she is about 3 years old. Apparently, she was abandoned by owner who tided up in the chain, i'm guessing mostly outside in San Fernando county. We live in Los Angeles, ca we drove to the shelter and meet a few ACD dogs there who didn't have that much time be saved. And we fell in love with blu. Her energy was so great she was very interested in us VS other dogs that we met.
Blu has been with us about 3 weeks now. She has been doing extremely well at home -- she's very loving and affectionate with me and my husband, super well-behaved, she eats well, and she quickly learned to go to the bathroom outside. Having said that, she does have a few issues that we need to work on, and I was hoping if you guys had some time you might be able to advise us in that regard.

For starters, she only goes to the bathroom every 24-30 hours. We walk her 5-6 times a day as we don't have a yard but quite spacious place, 2-3 hours a day (even longer on weekends), but she just never seems to have to pee or poop. When she does finally go, she gets super excited, and we're always quick to give her tons of praise. She now runs to us as soon as she's done because she knows she will be praised for going. Nevertheless, no matter how often we take her out, she somehow only poops/pees once a day! Me and my husband have had 3 rescues dogs before Blu, and we've never seen this sort of behavior -- we're completely baffled!

Another issue is her energy level. We were watching the video of ACDs breed and they are very energetic and ACD-like. Blu is nothing like that. She's a total couch potato. She sleeps most of the day, and she's often really sluggish on walks, hanging back several feet and walking very, very slowly. We read tons of material about ACD's before getting Blu, and we were prepared for an extremely active dog that needed a lot of exercise, but Blu seems to have no interest in exercise. We still take her out, and we brought her on tons of hikes over the Christmas break, but we get the distinct impression that she'd rather just lounge around.

In the past, when I'd get home from work, my dogs would be super excited to see me and dying to go outside. Blu is definitely SUPER happy to see me, showering me with love, but the minute we go outside, she slips into a weird almost sleepwalk-like mode. The only time she's ever energetic is after she goes to the bathroom. Immediately after pooping, I can get her to break out into a full sprint with me, but at any other time, it's pretty much impossible.

The last issue is socialization. When we first got her, she was very scared of cars, other dogs, and people, and this was understandable. She has improved dramatically in terms of cars and ambient noise... she's definitely not as scared as before, and she gets better in this regard all the time. She has also gotten better around other dogs, although she still needs some work in this area (but it looks promising, especially with mellow dogs). People, however, is an area where she's made zero progress. I think it's safe to say that she has actually grown MORE scared of strangers. It's weird because when we met her at the shelter, she came right up to us and was super sweet. She is still that way with me and my husband... she's completely at ease around us, playful and extremely affectionate.... always seeking us out and wanting to lay next to us. But she is incredibly scared of anyone that comes into our home, all of our friends, and any stranger that approaches her on the street (joggers, other dog owners, etc.). She's not aggressive at all, but she does growl at some my friends even though they are being very, very relaxed and non-threatening towards her (squatting down, letting her sniff them first, etc.)

Let me quickly say that notwithstanding the above, me and my husband 150% committed to Blu and will support her as best as we possibly can, working with a trainer if necessary.

We're going to take her to the vet again in the next week or so to see if he has any advice for us as well. Maybe we should get some blood-work done on her to see if her low energy levels are more than just behavioral?

Anyway, if you guys have advice for me, please let me know!
Happy New year! x

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Unread 01-08-2013, 06:24 PM   #2
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Hi, welcome and congrats on saving a life

Firstly, I think getting her a good check and running bloods at the vet is a really good idea. Always important to rule out any physical issues before treating a problem behaviorally.

That said, I think the things you have described ARE explainable. I would guess from your description that your dog is somewhat 'shut down' when outdoors. She doesn't feel safe in the unfamiliar environment so would rather go home. Fear affects dogs in different ways, and one way is just to offer less behaviours than normal. As toileting has to be done outside where she doesn't feel safe, she just holds on as long as possible. This is common with some dogs when away from home, or in a new environment but three weeks is quite a long time to carry it on. You are doing the right thing by giving her plenty of opportunity to go more frequently and praising when she does eventually go. How often is she being fed and is she drinking enough water?

I think the low energy level, assuming no physical problems, could well be a reaction to the stress she is experiencing at present. Again, part of being somewhat 'shut down' particularly outdoors. She doesn't feel safe enough to bounce around. In addition, we don't know her history, but she may well not have had any opportunity to learn to enjoy walks in the past. I would persist with walks, trying to pick areas / times of day where things are quietest, and keeping walks short so she can gradually learn to cope. It's not the physical exercise that will be tiring for her, but being under stress is incredibly exhausting.

It isn't unusual for dogs in a shelter environment where they don't have any roots, territory to call their own, or people to bond with, to show very different behaviour than when they are settled into a home. Blu has clearly bonded very strongly with you, and has no incentive to interact with strangers. This will take time, and she will probably never be totally relaxed around unfamiliar people. The biggest mistake you can make is to try to force proximity before she is ready. If you stop to talk to people on your walk, ask them to ignore Blu rather than trying to encourage her to come toward them. Never allow petting that she hasn't consented to or sought out, and always respect her growl. A growl is a distance increasing signal, she is asking for the people to move further away as she is worried. For now I would be working on some counter conditioning to the sight of people she passes at a distance - so she sees a person on the other side of the street, you open the chicken bar and allow her to feed, person continues to walk and is now out of sight, chicken bar closes. What you want to end up with is a dog that understands strangers are a predictor of good things from you, so she should eventually start to use happy body language when she sees a person and look to you in anticipation of the good stuff arriving. With visitors to your home, again for now simply have them ignore her, and provide a crate in a quiet corner (where nobody has to walk past) for her to retreat if she wants to.

Let us know how things progress.

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Unread 01-08-2013, 07:59 PM   #3
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I am agreeing with kaos.. start with blood work, hypothyroidism can make a dog very tired for example.. As certain levels of insufficiency within vitamins and minerals...

i would suspect it is all fear and uncomfortably.. esp since she perks up once she gets praised when pooping..

I would say get a book about clicker training, and positive reinforcement, start with little silly easy things like sit, down etc.. and use lots of treats and praise.. this usually helps their self esteem and help them bloom..

Using these methods, have her balance on logs, or jump them usually gets them going.. She may also be older than the shelter said.. Shelters tend to "lower" the age to increase adotability.. So have the vet check that too..
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Unread 01-08-2013, 09:02 PM   #4
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Blulosfeliz, welcome to the Forum! Kudos to you for saving a dogs life. Kaos gave you excellent advise, and your decision to get her to a vet, is spot on. Please keep us updated.
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Unread 01-08-2013, 09:40 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monkey View Post
I would say get a book about clicker training, and positive reinforcement, start with little silly easy things like sit, down etc.. and use lots of treats and praise.. this usually helps their self esteem and help them bloom..
This is also good advice. Some very low key no pressure positive reinforcement style training can really build confidence and relationship.

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Unread 01-09-2013, 08:35 PM   #6
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Good for you for rescuing this dog. I have a rescued dog with some Australian Cattle Dog bloodlines. Jeep us posted on your progress. There are a lot of knowledgeable experts here. Do you have pictures to post?
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Unread 01-10-2013, 03:10 PM   #7
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Hi everyone!
Thank you for all your replies. Blu has a vet appointment this weekend for blood work so will see... I will keep you posted it.
Blu is improving each day though, she was walking next to me last night when i got home from work. She was in great mood with excitement and her tail was up and wagging, this doesn't really happen often yet. We were so excited that she is getting better with city noisy, strangers and dogs in our neighbors too.(although somedays are better than others) However she hasn't poop for 36 hours. But Blu usually goes to bathroom only once a day. We tried give her treat after she goes to pee and poop but she didn't want anything to do with treats after although she eats her food/snack like she never seen the food before. She also drinks normally if i didn't mentioned that previously. Having said that, her eating habits are very healthy which is great relief. Once we get the blood result comes back to us, hopefully everything is positive and we have some piece of mind to ourselves!!! We really need it.
We are definitely interested in group training with other dogs so she can be socialize with other dogs. Oh.. I added an album of Blu so here are some photos for everyone! x

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Unread 01-10-2013, 03:27 PM   #8
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The wonderful world of ACDs. I'm a huge lover of the breed, I'm hoping to get a purebred later in the future but one of my current dogs is a GSD/ACD mix and very much takes after the cattle dog side of things.

Cattle dogs as a general rule do not do well with strangers. They have their families, sometimes just one person and that's it, everyone else is tolerated if even that. Not saying that it is acceptable behaviour but it is fairly normal for the breed. Boone does it, as a puppy he was fear aggressive, it was serious enough a muzzle had to be bought while we worked on things. He's my little angel now but still doesn't like strangers. He's a very anxious dog and when people come around that aren't "his people" he'll grumble and not want to be touched by them. Usually choosing to leave the room and go to his crate while they are around. If we are outside the house with him he'll back away slowly and just generally not want to be around strangers. I don't try to stop his growling, that his warning, take that away and there is going to be an issue. He can grumble all he wants just as long as there is no action (biting). The best thing to do I found with Boone was to have everyone (including myself) ignore him. Don't try to touch him, don't try to talk to him, don't even look in his direction. Even if he comes up to sniff at someone . Don't push it. Just let it be. Generally they will never be "lab like" in their greetings of various people.

Add some pumpkin to her diet might be something to look into as far as her lack of pooping. All my dogs get it daily but really the only one who NEEDS it is Boone. Due to his anxiety he'll get the runs very quickly. Pumpkin works both ways, in both firming up the stool and loosening it/making the dog go. Could be something dietary as well. What are you currently feeding her? I wonder if she was ever scolded for going before and now tries to hold it as long as possible? Boone has the opposite issue lol, he wants to go out every few minutes, usually just to pee a trickle and come prancing back in.

One thing to watch her for around other dogs if you're going to start getting her out around them is pushyness and nipping. Many ACD's don't do well in large groups of dogs, they get pushy, may nip at the other dogs and play a little too intense. This is natural for the cattle dog but not so much for other breeds. They like to treat other dogs like cattle sometimes which can get nasty. Boone is horrible for trying to herd other dogs and gets very pushy. My other two tolerate him very well thankfully, he's easily called off but he there are times he just can't help himself.
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Unread 01-10-2013, 04:01 PM   #9
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Hi Lilac,
We feed blu dry food called Orijen which made primarily of natural ingredients with minimal processing. It also has pumpkin, spinach, turnip greens, apples, cranberries, blueberries, licorice root etc including 80% of meat base. As she finished the bag of meat based, now she is on fish based with same company. She seems to love this dry food so much that she finishes her bowl in two sec. I also boil the water and soaked the dry food for a few sec and add a teaspoon of olive oil too. We always have added olive oil with our previous dogs's food. I started to chopped up some carrots now and planning to feed her with dry food. I will get some real pumpkin to see if she will go to poop easy as her poop has been a bit hard. Do you cook the pumpkin or give her as raw? I was originally thinking the sweet potatoes but i will try the pumpkin as you suggested it. Thanks for your message!

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Unread 01-10-2013, 04:22 PM   #10
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Get the canned pumpkin, but not the one that is made for pie filling as that has a bunch of added ingredients to it. You want the pure canned pumpkin and just add it to her meal once a day. Doesn't hurt to try, it causes no harmful effects and is also a good source of vit E and other nutrients. I just add a tbsp of it for the two medium sized dogs.

You could also omit the olive oil and use coconut oil instead as well if you wanted to. I find the benefits are much great with it and the outcome is better with my crew. Not just for oral intake but it can also be used topically for some minor skin issues and even to brush their teeth with if you wanted. I personally don't brush my dog's teeth as they get cleaned well enough on their PMR days. Although it might make their breath smell nicer after they've found something "tasty" in the woods and then decided to give kisses.

I love Orijen (and Acana) they are both in my kibble rotation along with Go! and Oven Baked Parallel.
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