Recently, a fellow Scottie Mom got in touch and asked us for a little advice.
I am writing because of a problem my husband and I have with Mo, our rescue Scottie. He is an only dog and is with us 24/7. Rarely is he left alone at all. Mo is somewhere between five and seven years old. We know nothing of his history. My husband and I consider him "almost" perfect. However, his behavior regarding other people is often unpredictable. You mentioned in one of your blogs that one of your pups does not always like people and dogs. Mo may be protecting his now happy lifestyle and home, but...his behavior is unacceptable. How do you handle your similar situation?
When I first found Mr. K at a shelter in South Carolina, he - like Mo - had been in that crowded place for two weeks and did not react to my attempts to get to know him. It took me 20 minutes to get him to make eye contact and even then, it was only for a few seconds at a time. I believe the trauma of the whole situation made him unsure of his surroundings. Also like your situation, I do not know much of Mr. K's background to this day - other than the fact he was left tied up outside by his previous owners before they finally surrendered him to the humane society.
Once Mr. K was home with me, his personality started coming out a bit. I hadn't had him for more than a few days when we attended a Bark in the Park event where I learned very quickly Mr. K was not a fan of other dogs. He challenged a big, ole Rottweiler to a dual and within seconds, the Rottie had shaken Mr. K out of his collar and there he was dangling below by the jaw. Naturally, as a first time dog mom (never mind Scottie Mom), this experience was quite frightening. What I was to learn in the coming months and years is that the trick is to let him know (gently, but firmly - the Scottie pride is easily wounded) that his behavior won't be tolerated while getting him used to being around other dogs through socialization - once a scary concept for a new Scottie Mom like me.
As for aggression towards humans, Mr. K is the opposite of Mo. While Mo doesn't seem to like women (besides his Scottie Mom, of course!), Mr. K didn't - at first - care for men. Each one had to go through Scottie Security when they entered the apartment. I can only recall two instances when he went for ankles. Again, all it took was getting Mr. K to understand that his behavior was not OK and with time, he has mellowed out. The most he does now is greet any doorbell ringers with a few, definitive barks. After that, the tail is all wags. I credit his toned-down nature to regular socialization through Scottie play dates and frequent interactions with family, friends and visitors.
I think Mo is being protective of his new home. He is probably quite happy with his new living arrangements and doesn't want that taken away. Since you adopted him in February, I imagine it is only a matter of time that Mo will learn what is acceptable behavior in the eyes of his Scottie Mom and Dad. Patience, understanding and love are your best allies in the first few months of any rescue scenario. Try having Mo go outside the house and meet any guests before they enter his terrier-tory. Being in a neutral zone may lessen his protective instinct and re-entering the house with or after the house guests may help him understand these people are not threats to the Scottie House.
I do not pretend, however, to know it all about Scottie-tude! After all, Heather and Mr. K are my first Scottie dogs ever. Each Scottie is different and what worked for Mr. K may not work with Mo. Therefore, I'd like to open it up to other Scottie Moms and Dads - anyone have other advice to share with a fellow Scottie Mom on how to tame Mo's 'tude?