The Gift of a Loving Home


Dandy at rest
Dandy: Dandy is a 3 years old, male, brown and white rat terrier and weighs 12 pounds. He came into foster care on October 6, 2011 due to his owner surrendering him. The family had adopted Dandy from New Rattitude in 2008 when he was a young puppy. Sadly they did very little in terms of socializing/exposing him to the world. The reason that the surrendered Dandy at this time was due to what they said was chronic pooping and potting in their home. The home consisted of 2 adults and 5 children under the age of 11. Since Dandy has been with us he has not a single accident in our house. He is kept on a schedule and will go to the door (but not alert you with a bark) letting you know he needs to go out.

From the very beginning it was clear that Dandy had not been socialized and that they used negative punishment with him. He would cower with us, was unable to make eye contact, would tremble and stand facing the wall due to feeling so stressed. During the first couple of weeks he would also submissive pee out of fear and distress. The submissive peeing is not a house training issue. An example of this was when he was eating and some of his food fell onto to floor, I said his name in a neutral way and pointed at the food. He quickly cowered, looked away and submissive peed.

After the first week it was clear that Dandy desperately wanted attention from us and to connect to us. He just had no idea how to let us love him. He would come into the room we were in but was unable to come close to us for pets or love. He was still trembling a lot and when we would sit on the ground he would back into our leg from the side. He was unable to come face first for attention and could only tolerate brief pets on his back. He continued to try and be brave and began making eye contact with us at about the 3 week mark. He doesn't like you to put your face in his - he will drop his head and look away or move if it's too stressful. As Dandy has come to find us predictable and knowing that we will not use negative punishment with him, he now seeks out pets and will sit our lap and ask to be picked up by putting his paws up on your leg while looking at you. When we come home he is very excited to greet us and let us know how happy he is!

Dandy with People: As you can imagine Dandy is nervous with people since he doesn't know what to expect from them. For the most part he will now seem excited and then if a new person reaches down to pet him (people usually try to pet dogs on the head) he will look and move away. If a person sits on the floor and lets Dandy come to them, he will often back into them hoping to get pets. Dandy would not do well with a loud or very active home. If a person gives him the room that he needs he does fine, it's just hard for him when people try to get him to do what they want him to do. This is due to the lack of socialization he received in the first 3 yrs of his life. Dandy is not confrontational with people, if he does bark it's out of fear/uncertainly but, he has never growled, snapped or tried to bite.

Dandy has mild separation anxiety and the longer he is with us the better it gets. How this plays out is the following: When Dandy first arrived we worked on crating (his former people had never crated him) while we were away. We would pick Dandy up and put him in the crate and he would stand in it shaking. As he became familiar with our routine, he would anticipate that he was going to be crated and would get stressed. By stressed he would: hide, not come around us, not go outside to go potty, start panting and when I would pick him up he would submissive pee. I discussed what was going for Dandy with New Rattitude's behavior modification team and they suggested we not crate him during the day. We currently baby gate him in our kitchen and he does well. He's not excited about being confined in the kitchen but, he’s doing ok. He does still submissive pee when he has to go into the kitchen when it’s a work week day and we are continuing to work on this part of his submissive peeing.

I do give him yummy things to chew on which he enjoys – raw marrow bones, kongs filled with lamb lung. He's never had an accident while gated and I think he would probably be fine if he was just left out. But, because my own dog can be unpredictable in her behavior towards other dogs (she is left out), I don't want to leave Dandy out with her.

Dandy gives very clear and obvious stress signs if you know what you are looking for and the more attuned one can be with this the quicker Dandy's stress can be managed. Some stress signs include: trembling, avoiding eye contact, lip licking, raising his paw, cowering, panting, heart racing, and submissive peeing.

Dandy with other Dogs: Dandy does fine with other dogs and he gets along well with my own 6 yr old rat terrier. We have another foster dog who is 8 months old and they do ok together. Because Dandy is afraid of a lot of things, a dog that gets in his face has not been something he enjoys. He will get scared and find some where else to be. Dandy is very respectful of older dogs and I think he enjoys the company but, not the direct interaction. Going back to the socialization, I guessing he didn't have that with dogs either. When our young foster tries to get him to play, Dandy just seems confused and our guess is that he has never learned how to play with another dog. He is “trying” to learn but he is very awkward – he does try to hump the puppy which is due to his overexcitement and nervousness. We are working on reducing the humping and he gets more experience with play the humping is decreasing. Dandy is learning tug and has started to play it with our other foster dog but, often in the midst of play he will get scared and again retreat. When he does get into playing tug he is a loud player - he will growl but, it's not a mean growl and it's never escalated to anything other than the growling tug noise. He also growls/barks when he is trying to play with our other foster puppy.

Dandy with Cats: We don’t have a cat, so I don’t have first hand experience with him meeting one in a home environment. Rat terrier were breed to hunt small animals so they do have a prey drive.

Toys: When Dandy first arrived all he would do was shred any plush toys. Looking back I think this was due to anxiety. For the most part he now leaves them alone except when he is feeling stressed and then he will chew off a part of the plush toy. As I said earlier, he is learning to play tug. I don't think anyone has ever played with him so he just doesn't understand it. Over the last couple of weeks Dandy has figured out that bully sticks are pretty great. When he first arrived he had no idea what they were. We were able to get him to chew on one that my rat terrier had been chewing and since then it's been a good time for him. I've also given him raw marrow bones which now that he understands them he likes them.

Games: As you saw in him photo album we have been doing nosework. This is a quick, easy and fun game for Dandy and the goal has been to increase his confidence. We also play tug which again is a way for him to play, engage with us and to again build his confidence. For a dog like Dandy, games are an important way to build his confidence and bond with his person.

Furniture/beds: Dandy is allowed on our furniture and in fact we encourage it in hopes of him seeking out attention from us. He does enjoy sitting next to us. He will also sit on the back of the couch - he did this a lot at first when he couldn't tolerate sitting next to us. Dandy would love to sleep in the bed. If he has his choice, he'd love to sleep under the covers. Currently Dandy sleeps in an oversized crate that is on my nightstand next to my pillow - he's about 2 ft from my face. We chose to crate him for a variety of reasons: 1) so he does not overly bond with us 2) so that he is comfortable going into a crate. He has no problems (now) going into his crate and going to sleep. I am hoping that who ever adopts him will let him sleep with them.

Crate: Dandy as you can imagine, isn't fond of his crate but, he will tolerate it if you are near him. If you cannot be around him it’s best for him that he be gated in a room where he can move around. In terms of a crate – he doesn’t like wire crates, rubbing up against the wire scares him. Right now he sleeps in our bedroom in a large soft crate. When Dandy sleeps in his crate he stretches out so the larger crate allows for this. My hope for Dandy in terms of sleeping would be that his adopter would allow him to sleep in/on the bed with them. Dandy now loves to snuggle and being on the bed is a real treat for him.

Travel: When we travel in the car, Dandy is crated for safety and security. He doesn't get car sick and just lies down until we reach our destination.

Housetraining: As I stated earlier, Dandy has not had any potty or poop accidents in our house. We have him on a schedule and that works well.

Walking on leash: At first Dandy was fearful of going on walks. However, that has changed and he loves it! He walks great on a leash and is happy as a clam to go and get out. Dandy does have a prey drive (like lots of rat terrier’s) and he wants to chase squirrels, we are working with him on this but, it’s a slow process.

Training: Dandy knows how to sit. We haven't done really any training with him since we have been so focused on socializing him and building his confidence. Any training that is done with Dandy has to be all positive based. If negative training was used on Dandy he would become fearful and revert back to the behavior in his early days in foster care.

Health: Dandy is in overall great health. However, when we took him to for his rabies and DHPP vaccine he had a severe reaction to it. So much so that had I not been home with him (and able to take him back to the vet) he could have died. The vet recommended (I have a letter stating this) that moving forward Dandy have an antibody titers measured prior to vaccine to determine if vaccination is necessary.

He does run on the thin side and when he is anxious he loses weight so for the first couple of weeks in his new home he will need a little more food than he is currently getting.

Daily routine: Dandy is up with me and my dog around 5:30am. I’m guessing in his perfect world he’d sleep for at least a couple more hours. I take him out to the bathroom within 10 minutes of us getting up, he will often poop twice and go potty. When we come back in, he eats. Once he's done eating we go for a walk. We walk on average for about an hour – he's 50/50 if he poops again during the walk and of course lots of potty. Once we are back he hangs around the house (usually sleeps) until I go to work around 10am. He is gated in our kitchen from 10am to roughly 5:45pm. When I get home I immediately take him out to the bathroom and he usually poops and goes potty. He eats around 6pm and then I take him for a short walk (15 minutes) just so he can get out of the house. Then back at the house he just hangs out. He gets very excited when my husband comes home and he hangs out while we are fixing dinner. We usually watch TV at night and sits with us. We are in bed between 9:30 and 10pm. During the weekend the morning routine stays the same and during the day my husband and I take our dogs for a longer walk and then if we are home is just out hanging out.

My thoughts: As you can imagine Dandy is a very tender rat terrier who is still emotionally fragile. With time, positive attention and love I believe he will be an even more amazing guy! He has come so far in just the short period of time he has been with us. I think a lot of what was going on for Dandy (prior to coming into foster care with us) was a home that had no time for him, was a very loud and active home and he was punished a good deal. So in my opinion, the issues that was surrendered for were not his fault. Julee, Dandy’s Foster Mom