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I'm going to be taking care of my sister-in-law's sister's dog next week. It's a 2 year old chihuahua mix. It's supposed to have a mellow disposition, doesn't care about other dogs, and is kind of clingy. It's trained and knows some tricks. Obeys easily.
The problem I see is it's a rescue dog and they've only had the dog for a month. It's getting on great at home, but the woman told me it is timid and a little worried about new people. They don't know what kind of home situation it had before they got it.
I've never had a rescue dog or taken care of another person's dog that was new to their home. It will have a crate and I figure I'll leave that open so it can have a safe place. I want to make it as easy as possible for the dog.
It was at a shelter and going to euthanized. Then a rescue group picked it up. It was in a woman's home for a few weeks and then in it's new home for a month. It's had a lot of unsettling. I'm afraid it's going to feel like it's moving again.
If anyone has any ideas, tips on how to make the week go easier, please let me know. I want it to be as little stress on their dog and my dog as possible.
If the dog doesn't like new people very much, I would try giving it some treats and just petting it and playing with it some. Just so something to let it know you're not going to hurt it. I wouldn't be very loud around it or make really fast, sudden movements. All the things I just said are probably really obvious thing to do!
There are these things called "calming signals" which are the standard for dog communication...to tell each other they're not a threat, or that they're nervous, etc, etc. It doesn't mean all dogs are fluent in them, but there are some useful basics that don't hurt to apply, especially with unconfident/scared dogs. I do some of the methods with pretty much all new dogs I meet....assuming they're not coming at me in leaps and bounds. :) Here's a link that summarizes them...
It's geared towards dog:dog interactions, but there's no reason we can't try to sooth them w/ a common language. Moving slowly, turning one's body 90 degrees to the dog, and WAITING (be patient!) to let the dog come sniff you and take it's time are all good ways to say "I mean you no harm" to a shy dog. And, it's something I do multiple times when needed (each time I see the dog anew) if a dog is shy. Many really are helped by it, and it only take a minute or two.
Also, there's a trainer's website I like that has lots of training tips. You might want to browse the list and see if anything pops up pertinent to your pup's situation. Here it is: http://www.wagntrain.com/TrainingTips.htm
Also, there is something to be said, even if you don't agree w/ all the methods associated w/ it here and there, of being a 'strong pack leader' -- meaning...make a dog work for their treats AND the attention you give. Basically, the more you follow the 'give something to get something' model w/ a pup, the more they'll see you as the pack leader and protector, and in the end the more relaxed they'll be. You don't need to make it stressful, but instead just ask for a sit or something they already know well each time you pet them or treat them. Try not to coddle overly submissive behavior (reward the type of behavior you want to encourage, not the type you feel sorry for), etc, etc. It's hard with shy dogs in particular, but it can build peace and confidence in them.
Hope that might be of help. Of course there are tons of opinions about all this and I'm a lay person who's just read and watched a few books and DVDs on the topics. I think the training website above will have a lot of more helpful goldmines.
Sorry if some of this is a given, just points that sprung to mind as you talked about the new pup. :) Thanks for caring so much.