|Barked: Tue Jan 31, '12 12:22pm PST |
|Well, you are a newbie. So you will make newbie mistakes and have a lot to learn. The problem is, you're going to have to learn it fast, because with this dog, you don't have room to make mistakes.
I don't want to come off as being overly critical of you. It's difficult to put tone on the internet. I am disappointed in the rescue. I've worked with dogs for 13 years, including helping with fostering and placement of rescues. I would never have given you this dog, with your current circumstances. The issues you are having are not about Huskies, they are about this specific dog and the way you wish to live with a dog.
It should be a rescue's goal to make a placement go as smoothly as possible - which in Jazz's case would have meant cat testing prior to adoption, and extensive education for you on rehabbing fear-reactive dogs. This would have prevented incidents like with the Dachshund and allowed you to make a guilt-free choice on whether or not you were up for adopting a rehab case.
That said, the rescue did not give either of you those benefits, and so you have your current situation.
I think you CAN make it work. You want this dog. You sound more than willing to learn, to watch what she tells you, to adapt and when necessary, to go slow. That is what it takes to rehab a dog. So the question becomes, is this the right time and the right place for you to be able to make it work?
This is where a consult with - at this point - a behaviorist comes in. You need to have this dog evaluated professionally, you need to have a plan for rehab laid out for you, and you need to decide if it is something you want to go forward with.
Not all trainers are behaviorists. One can teach sits and downs without knowing a darn thing about dog interaction, emotions and how to rehabilitate. Not all behaviorists are behaviorists, either. There is no standard in dog training, so anyone can call them self whatever they please. Look for credentials. Make absolutely certain they use all positive methods. Putting a choke, pinch or shock collar on a dog that is already insecure or afraid will compound their fear. Any apparent success in these cases is "learned helplessness." The dog is so afraid of being hurt, he just doesn't do anything at all. It's not training you can trust in the long run, and it's a crappy way to have to exist.
Resource-wise, you can try searching Association of Pet Dog Trainers. When you search, check the "certified trainer" box. Anyone - including you - could send a check to APDT and gain the right to use their logo and be listed as a trainer. To be certified, you have to pass a fairly extensive test. Still not the be-all, end-all, but it's a starting point.
Karen Pryor Academy is another great resource.
What happened with the Dachshund sounds like a combination of issues, but mostly barrier frustration. Literally the frustration of being barred from reaching something, to a point of aggressive outburst. But, without being there, without knowing Jazz and seeing the Dachshunds reaction to her, it's impossible to say for sure.
If she has barrier frustration, she may not be as fearful as suspected (the fact that she functioned at all in a dog park supports this). I definitely would not have her with any other dogs until meeting with a behaviorist, and then proceed from there as the two of you plan. I don't favor dog parks to begin with, since there is no control whatsoever. A dog who is learning to socialize needs to the most stable environment possible. Anyone can walk in to a dog park with any dog, and there's not a thing you can do about it until a problem has already happened. Then you can call the police and complain about reckless endangerment or whatever else applies.
As to the cats, I wouldn't leave her unsupervised (I count "asleep" or "in the other room" as unsupervised) with them for a long time still, especially after the Dachshund incident. Too much freedom too soon can cause problems for any dog, rescued or not. She's still showing you who she is. Best to stack the odds in her favor, even if, in the end, it wasn't necessary. The old adage "and ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure" applies to dogs in a HUGE way. If she is sticking around, you have the rest of her life to work things out - so - no rush.
I hope that all makes sense. That the rescue wants to talk to you and help means they do care how this works out. I just don't understand their screening/matchmaking. Hopefully some of their trainer/behaviorists will be good.
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