Waggy Tails Rescue Logo Registered Charity No: 1114957

Quiz Nights – first Saturday of each month

Our highly successful Quiz nights are continuing on the first Saturday of each month, at Homelands Hall, Kings Avenue, Christchurch, BH23 1NA, starting at 6.45pm.

Our thanks to John Colley who ran these for us prior to Covid, for starting them up again, to help raise much needed funds.

Plenty of time to get your grey matter working again before the night!

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Adopting a Street Dog – article by Behaviourist Denise Nuttall, B.Sc (Hons) Applied Animal Behaviour, M.Res (dist).

What behaviours can I expect from my street dog?

If you are considering getting a street dog,  you may want to know whether or not street dogs are the same as a rescue dog. Many people are drawn to the idea they can rescue a dog who has endured significant hardship to give them a perfect life, but what does this look like for the dog?  Most street dogs are nothing like our domestic dogs or your typical rescue dog who has experienced living in a family home. If you are considering adopting a street dog, there is some important information that you need to consider before making a decision. Can you offer this dog what she actually needs as opposed to what your heart says she needs?

 

What is a street dog?

Let us first define what I mean by “street dog”. For the purpose of this article, a street dog is a dog that has lived, or was born on the streets in a foreign country. Or a puppy that was born from a street dog that was removed from the streets whilst pregnant and placed in a rescue centre compound to give birth.

What behaviours can I expect from a street dog?

Street dogs are very different from domestic rescue dogs. The main reason for this is that a genuine street dog has had no education about how to live with humans. Some are really feral and avoid humans. Street dogs would have had to survive on the streets, find their own food, defend their own territory, and keep themselves safe. In some of these countries humans would be considered very dangerous to street dogs because of a low tolerance for them. Some of these dogs may be living with permanent emotional scars from their experiences surviving on the streets.

But, you ask, surely these typical behaviours don’t apply to the puppies born from street dogs in the rescue centre? Well, yes actually, they do. We must not forget that behaviour traits can be inherited and the puppies may be genetically programmed to have the skills required to survive on the streets. These puppies are likely to be predisposed to being fearful of humans, resource guarding and territorial as well as being very creative in escaping difficult situations and finding food resources, no matter how challenging they are to find.  Furthermore, these puppies born of street dogs in captivity usually stay in kennels until old enough to be exported, missing their entire socialisation window. Given the genetic history, early socialisation would be the best chance of coping in close human society, but this often isn’t possible. These inherited skills combined with inadequate socialisation don’t necessarily make for a particularly welcome houseguest and can lead to a great deal of conflict and frustration for the owner as well as for the dog.

How does a street dog differ from a typical domesticated dog?

Our domesticated dogs have evolved to live in our family homes over many generations, so many natural canine behaviours have been diluted. For example, most domestic dogs don’t hide foods or dig shelters because, for generations, they haven’t needed to. Most domestic dogs’ activity patterns are synchronised with human activity patterns. For example sleeping at night and waking when we awaken. But a street dog will cache food and likes to dig the earth to keep warm, or cool. For a street dog it is a normal to defend resources, to protect their territories, and to find their own food after spending many hours searching and hunting. Domesticated dogs do these behaviours far less as they were born into captivity and have not needed to exhibit these behaviours for generations. Street dogs are crepuscular animals preferring to be more active at dusk and dawn – the very time we want to be resting. They will Interact freely with their social groups and they have exquisite canine communication skills unlike our typical domesticated dogs who often lack social skills with other dogs due to insufficient early experience and generations of restricted social opportunities with conspecifics.

Street dogs tend to be highly predatory. Whilst some domestic breeds can be predatory, it’s far more frequent in street dogs. Predation is not modifiable with training as it’s instinctive. This behaviour often results in street dogs not going off lead, further reducing their quality of life with a heavy toll on their emotional state.

Street dogs are free to do what they want to do, when they want to do it, where they want to do it, and how they want to do it. Domestic dogs are mostly raised to follow human rules and boundaries. Which life would you prefer to live?

Are all street dogs strays?

Some street dogs are not actually “strays”, they are owned by people who don’t make them wear collars. These dogs roam away from their homes during the day whilst their owners work and come back in evening when their owners return just dropping in for food and night time shelter. These dogs lead highly enriched lives and are very happy. Some of these owned dogs have been taken off the street by well meaning rescue organisations. Can you imagine how that would feel being removed from everything you know; the people you love, the safety of your home taken away, put into a kennel with strange dogs and then shipped in a vehicle for many hours with other terrified dogs? At the end of an arduous and scary journey, you emerge in an unfamiliar place with strange people. You don’t understand the culture, rules (as you’ve never lived by any), you don’t understand the language and you don’t understand your own species. These enormous uncontrolled changes have a profound effect on these dogs, leaving many with long term trauma.

Living with a street dog, the challenge.

The biggest problem is that we expect street dogs to live by the same rules as our domesticated dogs. Some of the street dogs are feral but we still expect them to be sociable, not to guard their (or our) things or bite our visitors whilst they enter our homes. We don’t want them marking their territories in our homes (for example, urinating on curtains and furniture) and we don’t want them to wake us up early. We want to offer them all our love and cuddles even though the dog may not feel safe near a human. These ideals exert huge pressure on a street dog. It is also very stressful for their owners if they don’t know what to expect.

Can street dogs successfully become family dogs?

There is a great deal that can be done to help them to be able to “conform” to the way we want our dogs to live and many do adapt. It will usually take many years and a heap of patience to achieve some degree of “ normality”. This can be achieved by giving them their own safe space away from humans so they can retreat if they want to. Accept that they are not really domesticated and will need a high degree of freedom. We can, to some degree, reproduce this by engaging in “ free work”. We should use positive reinforcement and shaping behaviours ( rewarding them for behaviours they offer but you have not prompted). Reproduce the kind of enrichment they enjoy, such as: foraging, climbing, swimming, denning, hunting games such as an adapted flirt pole game ( just use rope to tow the toy “ animal”, not the pole as most are frightened of sticks). Some great resources for enrichment for dogs can be found on this Facebook Group. There will need to be compromises. If you have a predatory street dog, she will always be predatory, nothing will change this desire. Don’t then introduce a cat, or have chickens running loose in your garden as they won’t be there for very long. Don’t expect your street dogs to understand your rules or comply with them easily. Street dogs can find restrictions extremely frustrating and, yes, even depressing. Frustration can lead to aggression. Street dogs may not be shy about using aggression as this is how they survive to get resources they need. Aggression is a natural canine behaviour. Our domestic dogs are educated from a young age, so that they don’t need to use aggression. Responsible breeders will only breed from breeding stock that are not aggressive, so the risks of aggression should be lower in domestic dogs.

Don’t get a street dog if you don’t have a huge amount of space at home where they can retreat and a large garden for them to be free. You will need to check carefully that they cannot get out as they are excellent escape artists.  If you have small pets that your street dog might encounter then you will need to exercise great care to keep them separate. Don’t get a street dog if you live on a corner plot or have a pathway bordering it as this is likely to activate territorial aggression as a street dog will try to keep everything away from her territory, which will increase her stress.

Please give careful consideration to how you will meet your street dog’s needs. Many of these dogs are simply unable to live successfully in full domesticity. The environment they live in should, as far as possible, replicate the environment they came from. For example, a city street dog will adapt to traffic, however, a country or coastal street dog will find living in a town extremely difficult. Be prepared to live with the dog you have adopted rather than attempt to change the dog to fit your world as this is rarely successful. If you have a dog who is fearful of people, and you are a gregarious household, then this dog is not for you. You will not change her to fit in with your world, you are more likely to find your social life shrinking as people fear visiting a family with a reactive dog.

Hopefully this article has given you the information you need so that you are better informed when making a decision to adopt a foreign street dog.

 

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How to keep your dog safe

Click on the link below to see how Dogs are being stolen and advice on how to avoid this happening to you:-

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DONATIONS

We can only take donations of dog food at the Sanctuary in Magna Road, not general donations.

Our Turbary Road shop will accept donations from 9.30am – 1pm daily, subject to space available.

 

 Our Parkstone shop is permanently closed

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BH Coastal Lottery – help support Waggy Tails by buying a ticket – it will let us continue our work

This is one way you can help us in these difficult times. We raised just over £2000 in the first year and with all events cancelled this year we have to look elsewhere for funds.
20/07/19 - one of our supporters won £250 this week. To be in with a chance please buy a ticket.

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Adopting an Oldie – read our story

In July 2015 we went to a Waggy Tails Meeting at Parley Hall ready to have an introduction to all the dogs needing a new home. We weren’t sure we were quite ready to adopt a dog but wanted to start the process.

As soon as we arrived the yellow Waggy Tails van appeared in the car park and  a moment later Ella the wire haired dachshund hopped out of the van and straight into our hearts! It was love at first sight.  We stayed for the meeting and met Ella properly – finding out that she was 10 years old didn’t matter a jot. We were advised that Ella was ‘rather rotund and enjoys short walks’ – an apt description at the time!  However with carrots replacing (some) biscuits and a steady increase in exercise Ella again had a bounce in her paws and a new lease of life. She welcomed every day , every person and every experience with a wag and , we are convinced,  a smile. What a wonderful philosophy to live by and one we have tried to emulate.
We had 3 and a half beautiful years with our darling girl and would not change a thing. We were heartbroken when her time came to pass but the love and support received by family, friends and Waggy Tails helped us each day. The constant message of love we heard was that we had given Ella a golden time in her older years and that she was one lucky pooch
We feel we are the lucky ones and our luck,it seems, continues as we then  met Benji the Jack Russell Cross at the January 2019, Waggy Tails Meeting. He was bundled up in a big blue coat so we could not see how teeny he was, but we could see he  had twinkly eyes and perky little ears – what a sweetie.  When we heard Benji was 11 we knew we had to have him! So, Benji became our boy at the end of January 2019 and has become a much loved addition to our family.  Benji has no idea he is an ‘older’ dog – evident by the way he flings himself down the stairs so as not to miss out on any fun, how he has worked out he can reach the dining room table through some daredevil climbing and in the way he pulls a perfect ‘begging’ pose if he feels he is not the centre of attention! With Benji we walk , laugh and play every day – it is a joy and good for the soul.
We would highly recommend adopting a pet who has already had some life experience . They can teach you their funny ways as they get used to yours. It is an honour to be entrusted with any pooch in need of a new start in life but to be able to offer this to an older dog is even more precious.
We have been doubly blessed with older Waggy Tails Pooches and hope that you will be too.
Hannah & David

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Starting Life with Your Rescue Dog – by Denise Nuttall

 
Don’t try too hard.I work with a lot of owners of rescue dogs. Many rescue dogs can settle in well, but an awful lot find it difficult. I find that looking at dogs from the human perspective is helpful in drawing comparisons as to how they might feel. Yes, I am afraid to say that I believe anthropomorphism can be a good thing and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise (unless they are trying to suggest that your dog will be unhappy unless he is wearing Gucci…. In which case, that is another matter!)During the second world war, to keep them safe from the Blitz, many children living in London were shipped to the countryside to live with strangers; however, many of these children struggled emotionally to cope with being separated from their family and moved into a different environment (country versus city).  Many suffered long term emotional damage because of this emotional disruption. If you compare this to the experience of a dog being  re-homed, I feel sure their feelings are similar.  Yet, many dogs have gone through this several times before arriving at their “forever” home. I think it is fair to say, a dog that has been re-homed often feels insecure, anxious and frightened. Some may even feel frustrated and angry.

From the owner’s perspective – wanting to do the right thing – the first thing they often do is to take their new dog out for a lovely long walk; meet their family, friends and lots of dogs and book them onto the first available dog training classes – and that is just on the first day! This is done in the belief that this dog will enjoy it, because, after all dogs like other dogs and people, and they all love long walks. Not so much actually. It may surprise some to find that a rescue dog often just wants to figure out where home is and who he should trust first and this can take time. They need a lot of recovery time. Rest is a big part of this. If these dogs, whilst in a stressed state, are exposed to lots of different stimuli, it is likely that they will quickly reach crisis point. It is better to take things nice and slowly with them. This is when it is very useful to be aware of how to read canine body language in fine detail so that you can evaluate how well your new friend is coping.

I have spoken to many owners of rescue dogs whose behaviour has deteriorated rapidly a week or so after adoption. This is almost always because of the dog becoming stressed, and this often occurs accidentally whilst the owner is trying to do what they feel is the right thing.

My suggestion is that a new rescue dog should settle in the home for a good few days before attempting to take him out for walks. Don’t arrange any visitors to the home for at least several weeks. Establish a den for your rescue dog at home, where he can be sure he won’t be disturbed by anyone. Let him have access to this space as much as he needs or wants and regularly scatter some bits of food in his area for him to forage. A few activity toys such as Classic Kong and treat ball toys left in his area should encourage him back again and again. Whilst we do want a rescue dog to bond with us, we do not want to encourage an excessively needy bond. Short periods left to his own devices in his safe space will set him up towards being able to cope on his own. This safe place can be improved by plugging in an Adaptil diffuser (Adaptil is a synthetic form of the mother dog’s pheromones she produces after giving birth and reduces anxiety in dogs). You can also try playing classical music for him, as this can be calming for many animals.

Only after your dog appears to settle and feel relaxed should you think about taking him out for a walk. If you don’t know his background, just assume he has no experience of the outdoors and introduce him to it as if it was his first time. Take him to quiet, calm areas first, away from too much traffic and people. If he copes well with this, then you can always take him somewhere a little more exciting in a few days. Keep the walks short and fun so that he does not become stressed. If you approach your rescue dog in this way, your dog will gradually start to feel safe and secure with you, trusting you to keep him safe and start to develop confidence in his world. For some dogs this can take many months. If you are unsure, it is better to consult a qualified dog behaviourist so that you can develop a structured plan towards helping your rescue dog to settle in to his new world.

Denise Nuttall – Dog Behaviourist & Trainer, M.Res, B.Sc (Hons). Full Member APBC. Full Member of TCBTS. MAPDT 00963.

 

 

 

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Volunteer Fundraisers wanted

Fundraising helps us to supplement the income from our shops and look after more animals at the Sanctuary. Could you help organise the events we currently have and  come up with some fresh ideas to help us?  If you are interested please contact us on 01202 875000 for more information or download a volunteer form from the website.…read more

Shop Volunteers needed

We urgently need volunteers for all our shops. If you have a morning or afternoon to spare, please consider helping out. All you need is to be willing to turn your hand to all sorts of shop tasks, from display, to dealing with the customers and sorting the donations. We are a very friendly charity and all we want to do is to be able to help the animals in our care. Our shops are a major source of income but without help from volunteers we cannot keep them open. Please, please consider joining us. If you are interested pop into one of the shops and pick up a form or call the office on 01202 875000 and ask for a volunteer pack. Thank you…read more

URGENT – Do you have a sewing machine?

Our dogs have duvets to sleep on and as you can imagine we need a constant supply. Some of the dogs are very good with their bedding but others think it is fun to shred their duvets. We need volunteers with sewing machines to help us cut up donated duvets and hem the edges. If you can help please phone the office on 01202 875000 and we will get you started. Thank you.…read more