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Rescue Dog, Mildly Concerned
  • We got Hubble on this past Friday (the 31 of August). To start off, I got him on Labor Day weekend which sucked since I couldn't take him to a vet until Tuesday. They actually didn't have appointments until Wednesday, but an emergency happened in our yard (of course only a few days after I got him) and I wanted to get his paw looked at. He'd stepped on something or maybe a bee stung him, but the vet prescribed medicine and got his check in done at the same time. When he stepped on it, he actually got his leash out of my hand and ran into the house. I was very lucky he considered it home already instead of running away. I got him a Whistle 3 GPS tracker, just in case he ever gets away from me, or runs out the door. The vet said he was healthy and fine.

    The following was too long so I broke it into two posts. If this is in the wrong spot or needs to be separated, please let me know. I read the rules, but am still new, so I apologize.

    You can refer to my intro post here about his situation but he was rescued at 10mo old from a breeder who had him kenneled 24/7. The first time he went to her house was the first time he had ever touched grass, and probably the first real time that he had interacted with human beings at all.

    One of my main concerns when I got him was if he would be bad with crates considering his history, but after a few struggling nights where I had to place him in front of it with no way but in, he is very warmed up to it and considers it his safe place. He still doesn't like to go in if he feels like he should get to stay out (of course), but generally enjoys his crate. One of my big questions is what should I put in the crate with him? He's potty trained so soiling things isn't an issue. He right now has a large dog bed and two blankets. We only have soft toys right now but will have some hard rubber ones made for chewers on Monday, is that okay to put in with him?

    Right now I don't trust him in my house, or not to bolt out when I'm at work, but I only work about 4 hours a day and only 3-4 days a week. I occasionally have a 9 hour day, but I have been mindful of coming home for an hour during my lunch to take him for a 15 min walk and let him play in the house the remaining 35 mins. I wake up two hours early (6am boo!) to talk him on a walk and let him have time out of his crate before the shift, and after the shift I make an effort to do something special. Today we went to a friend who has a GIANT yard, which he loved, and last time we went to a dog park and a pet store for a toy and some treats. He also sleeps in his crate. Is this too much time to be spending in his crate? I do plan on having him out on his own after he gets into a routine here, but I know that could take months, so do I need to do something else (get up earlier, stay up later, other creative option).

    While I was researching I noted that Shiba Inus as a breed are typically very Dominant. The way that he was neglected, he's shown a lot of submissive behavior, not just to me, but to other dogs as well. He's perfectly aloof and will get off the couch to go lay on the floor if he's had enough human time or will just walk away if he doesn't want to play with another dog, but sometimes he just stands there and lets the other dog try to play with him without moving. Is this true submission or could he become more dominant with time? My main fear is dog aggression in the future and how to avoid it, as I like to bring him to people who have dogs houses for play dates. I know one way to break a dog out of their shell is to give it plenty of time with its own species, so that it also can warm up to you. He's really submissive around people, to the extent of running and hiding behind me or furniture, as well as just standing beside me for long periods of time. While I know that he's getting used to us, I wanted to try to acclimate him early to other people, so that he doesn't stay scared of them. We use controlled environments and I never take my eyes off him. If he would show any humongous fear or panic I would immediately take him home. After sniffing every square inch of their houses, he usually comes up to them and sniffs and lets them pet him. He settles by me typically, but still is friendly (in a cat sort of way). If they move at any speed faster than slow or crawling, he bolts then reassesses the situation. Is this something I need to be concerned about? Should I slow down the new situations?

    Barking and Howling
    This is a much smaller issue, but when we got him the lady said he'd only barked twice in the span she had him (he lived in the country though) and didn't howl. Literally yesterday morning I heard howling and came to check on him out of panic (I have since realised that I needed to wait until he was done to keep him from doing it in the future) but he looked fine, but drowsy. I'm not sure if he was howling in his sleep, since he doesn't do it when we leave the room or leave for periods of time. He didn't do it this morning either, but I had to wake up early. I've started praising him when he's quiet in his kennel. Tonight after we got back from the friend's house where he didn't want to play with their dog, about 20 mins into when we're home he went into play kill mode where he throws his toys and chases them and shakes them to death. On two occasions about 5-10 mins apart he'd throw a toy tail wagging, and look at me and bark. I'm not sure if this was a look I killed it bark or a play with me bark. If I didn't praise him or really interact he would just hop up on the couch with me and playtime was over. The first time I corrected with an "ack!" then ignored him but I'm not sure if this is what I should do. I need him not to howl or bark as we live in a duplex and a moderately suburban neighborhood. Is this a small rebellious phase or is that yet to come? :((

  • Lastly
    Exercise and Peeing
    I live in a small duplex with no yard so I have planned to take Hubble on either multiple walks that equal around 45mins-1hour a day, and provide him with time in a yard when we go see my boyfriend's (Riley's) family. We go about every 3-4 days there, so he has some yard time in a really spacious area with a Shih Tzu for company while Riley and I do laundry. Sometimes we can be there for a few hours so I'll usually let him out either every other hour or a little more. Is this enough exercise? 45-60 mins in walks dispersed throughout the day, and frequent visits to places with yards? He's become my life already like a little kid, so I just want him to be happy.

    I know that in my research it says that Shiba's can happily live life in small apartments provided they get enough exercise. Hubble spends a lot of time watching out the window and then he'll go to the door expectantly. I usually ignore him until he settles back on the couch then take him out at random then, and never when he's at the door. He never potties when it's after a peek outside trip, so I know it's not bathroom door signaling. I just don't want him to become a door hugger because he wants to go out on a walk every second.

    He's really bad at holding his potty and I have no idea how to "make" him go. I take him out first thing in the morning and he rarely pees, but goes the second time I take him out. We've had to go further and further on our walks because he doesn't like peeing so close to the house. I always praise him while peeing with "Good potty, Hubble. Good potty". He only has pooped if he's been in a yard which is on average 3 days apart. He just won't poop on the leash yet and we don't have a fenced yard. Is there anything I can do to out stubborn him so he'll be healthy? He also waits like 5-8 hours between pees, even when he has ample opportunity. It's like it's grudging that he'll pee on a leash, but if you put him in a yard he immediately will pee (after sampling the grass and pawing a small hole, which is his I'm peeing now tell).

    Other than these concerns, he's a happy healthy dog. I've owned a couple dogs in the past but neither were my full responsibility, which I know can be ill advised, but I feel ready for him.

    Thank you so much for making it through this post, and I'm interested to hear what you all have to say.
  • I just started my own Shiba adventure, so I don't have too much input, but here are a few suggestions.

    Crate - you could try giving him some of the rubber toys under supervision to start with. If there aren't any issues with the toys getting shredded, they should be fine to go in the crate with him. Personally, I love using Kongs with frozen kibble and wet dog food to keep my puppy busy while I'm working.

    Behavior - For socialization, maybe try giving the other people really tasty treats to give him? Or toys? Whatever rewards work best for Hubble. Keep the experiences really positive and fun for him. If he won't respond to rewards in those situations (i.e. eat treats, play with toys), that means it is probably too much, and you should take it more slowly. When socializing my puppy in new situations, I like to check in periodically by seeing if she'll take treats.

    Barking - my puppy is quiet most of the time, but when she is excited and wants to play or is frustrated by something, she barks up a storm. Sounds to me like your Shiba was giving you a "play with me" bark. Not sure how to avoid that...
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1272
    My response is also too long LOL...

    So, first I would get super skeptical anytime you read anything using the words "submissive" and "dominant." Though I don't think it's wise to completely eliminate those terms, they're very often used incorrectly and dominance theory has been entirely debunked. Many people might think of submissive as calm, conflict-avoidant, and generally "good" while considering dominance as aggressive, naughty, obstinate... Also, submissive and dominant behavior isn't applicable at all to anything except dog-to-dog interaction. So being "submissive" toward human strangers is not submissive behavior. That sounds more like cautious, possibly fearful or just wary of new people. I would describe submissive behavior specifically when like one dog is rolling on their back and showing their belly as a sign of being nonthreatening and not wanting any trouble, while a dominant dog might be a more confident leader. Many behaviors that people consider dominant (barking, humping...) are usually due more to other causes, like overstimulation. It's important to know that things like fights between dogs are not usually caused by dominance. In a lot of cases, a dog is fearful or uncomfortable and is giving clear signs (that can definitely seem subtle if you're not familiar with them!) that they want to get out of the situation. But if they feel trapped, they might feel like their only option in fight or flight is to fight. That doesn't mean that they are aggressive. It means we need to learn their body language and signals and not put them in a situation that makes them uncomfortable.

    Anywayyyy... So for the crate, anything that is comforting to him would be alright. Neither of my shibas are interested in rubber toys unless it's a kong stuffed with something yummy, but they like fluffy toys and edible chews and ropes and balls. Ozzy (who will be 3 in November) has only a bed / crate pad and a blanket in his crate. Nimh (11 weeks) has a crate pad, a soft towel, and a soft toy that smells like mom and siblings. I've also given them old shirts that I had worn the previous day / night so they wouldn't feel quite so alone in a crate, and that seemed to help in the beginning! Ozzy used to carry different stuffed toys to bed. Sometimes he does still bring his favorite toy to bed (which is a square...sheepskin thing... it was inside a frog toy :)) )If Hubble ingests soft toys, I wouldn't put them in his crate. I also don't really trust my dogs with non edible chews that they could choke on unsupervised.

    Behavior - I'd recommend looking into some classes and books about dog body language. Brenda Aloff has a great one called Canine Body Language that has tons of pictures and descriptions. Even though Victoria Stillwell is kind of overrated and I think there is definitely better material, I really like the body language information in her book It's Me or the Dog. I think she does a good job of describing the signals and what they translate to. Finding a group class with a positive reinforcement trainer would be a great experience. Maybe an obedience class or just a basic training class. Even if he's already great at his training commands, and even if he is uncomfortable interacting with the other dogs, it would be a good opportunity to practice in distracting environments (with other dogs present), and would help give some positive experiences in the presence of other dogs. I also think it would be a fun activity for you to strengthen your bond together. I would regularly facilitate positive-only experiences with other dogs if being dog-friendly is very important to you. But, at the same time, if some day Hubble isn't as comfortable being around other dogs, be sure that's something you're willing to recognize and accommodate. Not every dog has to be a social butterfly and that's okay! Having strangers give him treats is a good idea if he will accept them (I have one shiba that definitely won't, so I have to get a little more creative lol). Ideally, you want to figure out what it is that he wants most and use that to reward him. If it's treats, that's the easiest. Otherwise toys, attention, a bit of freedom (like the chance to go sniff something on a longer leash), etc... It can be challenging when treats and toys don't work, but not at all impossible.

    Barking / Howling - your scenario definitely sounds like a playful bark to me. Ozzy has learned how to "whisper" or "bark soft," so when he does get some excited zoomies I can remind him to bark quietly. It's not always effective to try to teach a dog what you don't want them to do. It is more effective to teach them what you want them to do instead. I taught Ozzy "speak" using the vacuum cleaner hahah. And after he knew what speak was, I would whisper "speak" to him and encourage him to repeat the action more quietly. With clicker training it didn't take him too long to figure out what I wanted him to do. Neither of mine alarm bark, but they will bark during playtime. Sort of like their imitating true battle with their play. Of course they're not fighting or trying to "kill" a toy (or each other), but they will act it out like children. They'll toss something away and pounce on it, tackle each other and use growling as a sort of "I'm going to get you" playful mockery. If you're unsure if something is play or aggression, separate the dogs for a bit and if they are both coming back for more, they're both comfortable with the play that's going on. With aggression, the aggressed will usually not want to come back for more and will try to walk away or escape. During play, body movement is a lot more bouncy, mouths hanging open in big smiles a lot of the time, play bowing, etc. Signs to look out for are slow, calculated movements rather than goofy bouncing, licking lips or lips curling up to show teeth, hair being raised... when it isn't play, it is very calculated and still. There is a lot of tension.

  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1272
    Exercise and peeing - I suppose it depends on his needs and his personality. That is not enough exercise or my shibas, for sure. Though they are very adaptable, if mine (Ozzy especially, since Nimh is still young) are only getting an hour of exercise for more than a day or two, they will be a little hard to manage haha. If we have a busy morning, we will walk them for about a 20-30 minute "quick" walk around the block. Then we'll have a longer 1-2 hour (or sometimes even longer cus we really like being outside haha) long walk around a trail or park. We take them to off-leash places (Nimh can't go to the dog park yet) where they can have some freedom regularly, but not daily. If we don't have anything going on in the morning, they'll get a long walk then. I think having access to a yard a few times a week is awesome! Can't wait until the day when we have a yard hehe. More exercise can be really helpful to minimize destructive behavior if you notice Hubble having any bad habits. Ozzy can get bored easily and becomes super nosy hahah. He has never been destructive (luckily), but he will pull things off of counters to investigate them and try to get to anything edible in his reach. My pups also do a lot of playing indoors. Both are really playful, so we play a lot of fetch, tug, and play with a flirt pole. If Hubble gets tired on longer walks or is doing well with 1 hour of exercise a day and is healthy and stimulated enough mentally, that's fine. I know neither of my shibas would be satisfied with just an hour of exercise, though. Ozzy also requires a lot of mental stimulation... he is super clever (nosy xD), and puzzle toys or playing "find it" where we hide one of his toys somewhere while he waits in another room have been total hits for him. Also regular training and learning new tricks are good mental work for him. :)

    When my dogs go to the door, I take that as them asking to go outside, and I like that communication. I think training and living with a dog should be about learning to communicate with each other and enjoy each other, not about "he wants this so I'm not going to give it to him until it's on my terms." They also have a bell next to the door that they ring to let me know when they need / want to go outside. I don't ignore them unless the behavior is something I want to end (like Nimh barks when I am preparing her food. I don't give it to her until she is quiet. Definitely improving at waiting patiently and quietly :) ). If my dogs want or need to go outside, I am totally excited about them communicating this information. I praise it and encourage it. If he is longing to go outside and you feel like he just wants to go out but doesn't need to potty, this might be a sign that he does need more exercise and stimulation. I don't think it's wrong for him to want more time outside or to communicate that to you.

    I think my least favorite quality about the shiba breed is how picky they can be with their pottying. :)) Luckily, Nimh is great about going nearby and asap. Ozzy, though... he is sooo picky. He takes forever to find a spot and won't go too close to home. Ozzy also does not like praise when he's pottying. He almost acts embarrassed about it haha. He will turn away from me and walk away if I acknowledge him while he's in the middle of pottying. So, I alllllways have to wait until right after the act for him. Then he will accept a treat. But if I acknowledge him during potty, he'll spit the treat out and avoid me lol.

    If he's having accidents indoors, I would limit the access he has and not allow free roaming as much. I would treat him like a puppy until he earns trust to have access to bigger spaces. You could get an exercise pen to let him hang out in if you take him out and he doesn't potty. Then, take him out every 20 minutes or so, and once he does potty, allow him to have free access to the room. Using a clicker has really helped with Ozzy. Although he doesn't like me acknowledging him during his potty time, he does not mind if I use a clicker right when he starts to squat. Then, he knows a treat is waiting for him and I can just give it to him matter-of-factly without making a big deal about it. That has really helped him speed up his potty time haha. Maybe longer walks and more frequent trips outside would help this as well. I would basically treat him like a puppy being housebroken for the first time. Take him out often and give him the chance to go. Hang out outside for 10 minutes or so. If he goes, fantastic. Reward. If he doesn't, he might have to give up some freedom to avoid making a bad habit even harder to break. I would eliminate the chance for him to practice a bad habit whenever possible and set him up for success.
  • Thank you both so much. Yeah the thing toys and treats is that so far he’s not motivated by either and he won’t accept something from someone who isn’t me. He’s naturally very suspicious so it’s hard to gauge when something is too much or if he just needs time to get used to it. I made sure to leave him on his own a lot in the first week we had him so that he didn’t develop any attachment anxiety or anything but he’s started whining or howling if I’m not home. Riley can be home but Hubble will just howl and whine like Riley isn’t there. Riley and I are slowly upping our ante on walks though and it’s definitely helping tire him out more. My ultimate plan is at least one hour walk in the morning and one hour+ walk at night with his little 20 min potty walks every 2-4 hours. Right now we’re at consistently the night walk and the potty walks I’ve just got to work myself up to the extra morning one since I’m the one not in shape. By next week hopefully he’ll be getting like 150 mins of exercise plus yard time and dog park time occasionally. One thing that’s been a problem is that Riley’s car broke down so we couldn’t visit the places with yards or dog parks.

    By submissive I meant cautious but in a ears back tail tucked way. He was named Hubble because of the way he orbits around people instead of getting near them. When it comes to other dogs he’s neither submissive or dominant just neutral. He cares very little about them right now.

    Your play style is exactly what Hubble does with himself, except he looks at me like he wants me to join. He’ll play some gentle tug of war so far (if his teeth get near me I say ow and turn away, which has only happened once) but if I throw it he just drops it at me and stops chasing like he’s worried I’ll be mad at him. He also doesn’t do the Shiba 500 yet either. I don’t know if he’s still super uncertain or if he just doesn’t think there’s enough space.

    One of my main concerns is space and exercise, so I’m looking at getting a 75 ft dog trolley for him (connected to his harness) and read some of the other posts and concerns. If I do, I’ll always be out there with him, maybe reading a book on the porch or something just in case he gets loose or anything. If he does get loose usually a sharp whistle has been enough to deter him, plus we did get the Whistle 3 GPS if al else fails.

    He’s finally started pooping outside! Yesssss! His poop is really watery and I’ve made sure he hasn’t pooped in anyone’s yard or sidewalk (mostly just really grassy fields) so I haven’t picked it up mostly because I don’t think I could (it’s very wet). I think he’s allergic to his food and also stressed so I’m hoping it firms up. Any tips on that disgusting thought?

    We went to the vet again and she did his nails, anal glands, and did an ear check for me. His ears had a little bit of a yeast reaction and he’s breaking out near his privates so I think he’s allergic to his food. I’m going to slowly introduce a salmon and potato food and see how that goes instead. Also going to use salmon oil since he’s so itchy. I also wonder if he’s getting ready to blow his coat? I’m not sure if he has yet or not.

    Lastly I’d love to take him to a behavioral specialist but it’s like a small house payment here in KCMO. private sessions are 200$ per hour average with most more expensive. Group sessions are classes with 4-8 for 300+. I’m not sure yet but a lot will depend on my financial situation coming up, but none of his behaviors are particularly bad except the whining and howling. I think I might start clicker training because that way it’s more precise what I’m praising.
  • I know the socialization window is also really important and I think almost all of it he spent in a kennel meeting nothing. I’m not sure if he really knows how to play with other dogs or how to introduce them. Mostly he just ignores them and seeks me out. But at the same time this could be the aloofness of a shiba as I know sometimes they’re more receptive to their own breed, and I don’t know anyone else with Shibas.
  • Hi :) I don't have much to add here, you've already gotten some great advice, but since. you said his poop is wet and impossible to pick up you might want to just get it tested and make sure he doesn't have giardia. When I got my first shiba he had that kind of wet soupy poop and I thought it might be stress or his food and I mentioned it to the vet and he tested positive for Giardia. I think he was just on Flagyl for like 10 days and then his poop was normal and has been ever since! :) I'm not saying its not allergies it sounds like he might have those with the itching and the redness but just a thought :)
  • LilikoiLilikoi
    Posts: 1272
    I agree about ruling out parasites and stuff just in case. :) With the yeasty ears and breakout stuff I think switching food proteins is a good idea to try, too. I think you're doing great and it's gonna take some time, but consistency is key.

    Ozzy (nearly 3) is kind of prone to looser poops sometimes. So I add canned pumpkin to his food pretty regularly. There's a product on amazon that's just dehydrated pumpkin called "Diggin' Your Dog" I think. It just adds fiber / bulk to firm up dog's poop (also good for constipation). It's something I keep on hand now for Ozzy when he needs it. If the food switch still leaves him itchy and having problems with yeast / breakouts, you could try adding a probiotic, too. That has helped immensely for my parents' poodle, Mollie, who used to get ear infections, hot spots, itchy feet, etc, constantly. She still has occasional flare ups with seasonal allergies, but manageable and not nearly as severe.

    Tail tucked and cautious definitely sounds fearful to me. I wouldn't push him beyond that point. I would work on getting him comfortable being near / seeing the kind of situations that make him fearful. Maybe strangers don't have to pet him yet. Maybe he can just be nearby and see that nothing bad will happen, and you can give him treats when they're there or once they leave. Maybe eventually they can put treats on the ground that he would feel comfortable taking once they walk away. Maybe you can find a "busy" park with a bench that you can sit on and have Hubble sit with you so he can watch everything that's going on around him without having to participate.

    I don't think the 75 foot dog trolley thing is a bad idea as long as you are supervising 100% of the time. I know of people whose dogs strangled themselves on those things, but if you are always there to help immediately and make sure nothing is going wrong, I don't think it's a terrible idea. We used to have more yard space and used a long lead connected to a ground stake so Ozzy could run around outside. He loved it, and loved just being able to sit outside and sunbathe. He was always supervised just in case.
  • Those are really good ideas. With socialization he’s actually been doing really really well recently. He’ll go sit by other people and actually greet them on his own. Ears up and tail wagging as well!

    Would you reccomend a tie out or a dog trolley more? Both would be under heavy supervision but I’m just curious if there’s a preference besides cost.

    Hehe Riley’s been allowing him on the bed, but Hubble is so dainty he doesn’t prefer jumping. He’s capable and good at it, but he likes to put his front paws up and lift or climb himself up surfaces. He’s so funny straining to pull his whole body up with his back legs trying to climb it like a person. Maybe he doesn’t like putting his eggs in one basket or something but that’s how I had to coax him up the couch. He’d put his front paws up then use his back legs to cling to the couch. It’s extra hilarious because our couch is so low he could just walk onto it, but no it’s Mt. Everest time. Now that he’s comfortable he just hops right up.

    Secretly my friends think that he’s human trapped in dog body :)) So far he has great recall and sticks right by me. He’s quiet and doesn’t bark around them and he also performs his tricks well! We already learned sit and lay with the clicker. He wasn’t getting lay until I got the clicker so it’s improved his training 20000%. He also does goofy things like when we’re not looking tried to open the front door with his mouth :-? Spooky. Sometimes he just lays and stares at me like he’s judging my soul haha.

    Either way though I’m thinking most of his “problems” have been resolved just by being a nice steady household that loves him. Now it’s just about keeping him from developing new us-oriented issues.

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