This ‘story’ illustrates how one family worked with their pet to help him overcome an abusive past. You can easily learn from their story and find tactics that you can use with your any Shih Tzu that you decide to adopt.
Danica and her husband Sam decided to adopt Justin, a 2 year old gold and white Shih Tzu that had been turned over to a shelter. Danica and Sam could see Justin’s inner beauty at first glance and they knew in their hearts that he was the right dog for them.
It was obvious from the start that Justin would need to be taught some basic commands, he did not seem to understand the concept of housetraining nor did he come when he was called. Additionally, it soon became apparent that Justin did not know how to play or interact well with his dog parents or anyone else. Determined to make this adoption a success, Danica and Sam immediately began working with Justin on a daily basis. They sat aside time each day to play with him and to teach him some basic commands. Danica and Sam used positive reinforcement that included treats and lots of love and praise.
After only a few weeks things were going much better, Justin was becoming a real family member. Justin was doing well with his training and he seemed to like everyone now. That is, until Sam’s brother Joe came for a visit, it was apparent that Justin was not comfortable with him.
Justin hid behind the couch when Joe walked in and had to be coaxed out by Danica to eat. Danica called her friend that happened to be an animal behavior consultant. Her friend said that Joe apparently reminded the Shih Tzu of someone from his past that was abusive in some way. Danica’s friend asked if Joe would be willing to work at easing the dog’s discomfort. Joe agreed wholeheartedly and began working with Justin as the animal behaviorist suggested.
To start, Joe attempted to give the dog treats. He also made a real effort to keep his voice even and friendly. Danica and Sam actually made a point of allowing the dog see them interact with Joe. This was an attempt to allow their pet see that Joe was accepted by his dog parents which would indicate that he must be safe.
The first day did not go so well, Justin continued avoiding Joe and the treats he offered. But the next morning Joe offered the dog his left-over eggs. Joe sat his plate on the floor next to him and within a moment or two Justin came over and ate the eggs. The dog then sat next to Joe waiting for more. Well, that was the beginning of a friendship for the two of them.
Because Justin’s fears were acknowledged, and his dog parents, as well as Joe, took the time to work with him, he is now a well-adjusted family pet. Many times dogs have an abusive past that has an impact on their behavior for years to come. When adopting an older pet the new owner may notice ‘quirky’ personality traits that should be addressed. Given enough time, patience and understanding most of these issues can be resolved, and the result is a loyal and loving pet.
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