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Question about pet assessment

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Hi,


We’ve requested a home visit to discuss adoption and I was wondering what they look for in terms of pets. We have a VERY friendly and bouncy lab who’s an overgrown puppy (literally...he’s officially still a pup but huge) we’ve worked really hard to try and stop him jumping up at visitors and mostly he’s good at it unless it’s someone new (which obviously a visiting SW would be) the problem is we ask people not to encourage it, we explain what to do (no eye contact, gently push him down and then a fuss when he settles) and people say yes okay and then make a big fuss of him when he jumps up at them; he is very cute, all wagging tail and smiley face so it’s hard to then challenge it and ask people to stop...or at least it makes me feel a bit awkward and after a couple of times saying ‘push him down please’ and it falling on deaf ears I give up. I’ve explained why as realised people thought I was saying it for their benefit and met with ‘oh I don’t mind at all, I love dogs’ but people still seem to do it. (I’d imagine this is a teeny tiny little taste of parenting an adopted child too! When you ask people to do something differently and being ignored!)


I know it’s all down to the SW on the day and how they view dogs and their personal tolerance for them but just wondered if this sounds like a deal breaker? At an open evening they mentioned a pet assessment so I wondered if that’s on the day of the initial visit or if that’s only done if we’re accepted. It’d be great to know what they look for on the assessment too.


We do seperate him from guests with a baby gate and he’s not allowed to say hello until he’s settled but as soon as they come through the gate he will try to jump up. If they let him and fuss him he keeps going back for more and gets more and more boisterous because he thinks he’s found a kindred spirit who loves playing as much as him. I’m pretty confident we’ll manage to train it out of him as he’s a quick learner and with people who do as we ask he gets it immediately. , it’s just if someone’s let him get away with it once (as a visiting colleague did this week) it takes a few days to retrain him again! I’m worried about this happening on our first visit and it making him look like he’d be a risk.


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Hello,


Pets aren’t a deal breaker if you can demonstrate how you ‘manage’ them.


If I were you, (dog owner) I’d take the dog for a long walk pre SW visit and just as they arrive give him a bone/ chew- something to keep him distracted for a bit.


Then you can get on with the meeting without the dog getting any attention.


Hopefully by the time bone/ chew was finished the new visitors would be less interesting.


Be prepared to be open to rehoming the dog if there were an issue with children when placed.


Side note... (my girls loved my lab when them moved in- and he was literally a sanity saver in those early months- daily walks killed time and gave us routine. 9 months in my dog slipped a disk and couldn’t cope with the girls playfulness during her recover. She had to move to my parents- the girls just couldn’t understand that she couldn’t play like she did previously)


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I would also say that as long as you have the "[dog's name] come" command mastered then you should be fine. We have people in and out of our chaotic home all day and my doggie companion will ALWAYS come when she is called by me; doesn't matter if the most interesting person in the world has just entered our little home, she comes when called. Doesn't matter if she wants to jump up at this new kindred spirit. She knows where her bread is buttered, this little dog. I think that if you can demonstrate that your dog can do this then it will help SS to understand that you are in control of the 1. dog 2. situation 3. potential situations in the future.


So, I would work on that command if nothing else (not a "usually responds" but ALWAYS). The other that is really useful (and my doggie companion isn't so good) is "stay". She will sit, but if I move she moves. Hmmm. Work in progress, I guess (she is about six months old right now).


Don't stress about it but do make sure that you can control your dog at your will (not theirs). Treats, treats, treats whilst they are learning and hopefully they will be a source of solace, inspiration and joy for you and your family.


Peahen.


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Thanks for the advice smile...you and DH are on the same wavelength. He’s already said she’s going to take him on the longest walk we can with lots of chasing sticks and maybe a swim if it’s not too cold! This usually means he sleeps for a solid few hours!


Peahen, yes...the ‘come’ command would be helpful. Hadn’t thought to use it in this situation. Thanks! Yours sounds as good at ‘stay’ as ours. He thinks it means ‘stay as long as I’m facing you but as soon as I turn around you can get up and follow me because i might be about to do something fun’ in your bed seems to have morphed into find something square-ish and lie on it which tbh is close enough for us!


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Please don't be offended but, as a non doggie person can I say that , no matter how much a dog owner reassures me, I get really rattled if a dog jumps up at me, no matter how friendly. It's not that I dislike them, I don't , but I can't relax with them ( and owners who say he wouldn't hurt a fly get me more concerned than ever). A visitor shouldn't have to push the dog away is my feeling, because you never know what their comfort level is with dogs. They may be too polite to say, or like you and not want to offend you. You do not know what kind of feelings about dogs a visiting social worker will have. They may absolutely adore dogs, they may not. As others have said they will want to see that a dog is under control, and that means not jumping up. If he isn't there yet on that one, can you keep him in another room during the visit? Hopefully by the time things go further you will have the dog trained more. A dog lover might ask to see him, but others can be comfortable and will maybe send a doggie friendlier colleague for the second visit !! That way, they and you can concentrate on the initial adoption discussion without any worries on either side about dog behaviour.


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Thanks pingu, I agree. I actually work in the community and have been bitten myself on a visit. Surprisingly I’m not much of a doggy person either (although I adore ours!) We ask people who we know well and know like dogs to help him with the training. Otherwise we separate him with a safety gate if it’s someone he doesn’t know or we know doesn’t like dogs. (I always ask anyone new) I guess I was assuming SWs would want to meet the dog on a first visit. I think I panicked a bit yesterday as we thought we’d got the behaviour under control and then a friend/colleague and her son visited (haven’t seen the dog since he was small) and despite me explaining what we’re doing they then actively envouraged him to jump all over him saying ‘we don’t mind’ then...to my horror... he jumped up at a stranger in the park yesterday. I was mortified.


I think it will depend entirely on the SW but was not sure if the pet assessment happens straight away or during home study?


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*them not him...son is an older teenager btw


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We had 2 dogs when going through assesment. First we got a written reference from our vet confirming all worming/flea/vaccinations up to date and our dogs were not aggressive and healthy. We also got a written reference from our dog trainer. We provided those references plus the dog training test certificates the moment the SW mentioned our dogs. It was pre emptive and SW was very impressed. Plus a good dog training trick we used was to get a off cut of carpet and train the dogs to sit or lie on it for an ever increasing amount of time. Keep going back with treats every few minutes to praise and eventually we gave a kong with treats stuffed in but the rule was must stay on off cut of carpet square. Then we did this when non doggie guests arrived (the SW) and they stayed on carpet square and it worked really well.

Plus whenever we had a SW home visit my husband took them on a 2 hour hike to exhaust them.

It was fine after that.

Good luck

G


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Well I get the impression that this dog is not properly trained, my advise would be to take the dog to dog training classes. He should know the commands: sit, lay, come, stay, wait by the time he's a year really. This jumping is not going to get cured if you rely on the reactions of friends and family. Get a trainer and solve the problem, spend some money so your dog is properly under controle.

If you get a sw who's not keen than you can say 'he is still learning, he's young, we take him to weekly dog classes'.

I was approve with a fear biter! and 7 cats who came in and out of the house with a cat flap.

It does not really matter what the animals problem is, it is important how you explain the situation and your insight in how you keep a child safe in the same house as a potential killer. 2000children a year are savaged by dog attacks according to this article http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nearly-2000-children-savaged-dogs-7.... The thing is that even a placid labrador type dog can snap if a child goes on andon pestering it. Adopted children need much higher supervision levels than birth children with animals, because of their trauma they can be very cruel.

That's why they will ask things like what will you do if, the child is allegic, cruel to animals, dog bites child etc.

The right answer is rehoming. Further prevention big time, has your dog already a quiet area where he can be locked away for his own sanity and child's safety? See it is good when those things are in place before assessments, it means you have thought it through very carefully. I would not have the dog in the same room as sw the first few times, until she expressed a positive interest.

Do not make excusses for the dog, a pup should really go to a puppy course from day 1. To learn manners, socialise with other dogs, the owner to learn etc, etc.

It is easy to solve this potential issue, just be pro active and get it sorted (with track record, so not a friend from a friend who has five dogs, unless this friend is a qualified dog trainer).

Good luck!


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There have been a lot of assumptions made here! Easy to fill in the blanks when you don’t have all the info I guess. We did take him to puppy classes (albeit late which I do think put us on the back foot a bit; I found out I was unexpectedly pregnant the day we got him, it turned out to be ectopic so I was on bed rest for a long time while the hospital ummed and aaaahed over how to treat it...not helpful with a tiny puppy and meant he was about 6 weeks older than all the other pups...in fact he was teachers pet in class as he was such a fast learner!) and he’s having one to one training. The strategy we’re using is on the advice of a professional trainer. He has all the commands and is very gentle and docile until someone new comes into the house and he’s excited to see them. We ask people not to reinforce it by giving him attention until his paws are all on the floor. Some listen, some don’t. As I said up thread we’re also introducing him to children to get him used to them.


We’ve already discussed rehoming if necessary and while we’d be sad to we would of course prioritise children over a dog.


Also, just to be clear he’s separated from visitors who we don’t know well as we know some people don’t like dogs so it’s out of courtesy rather than thinking he’s a risk. DH was terrified of dogs as a child so we’re both pretty understanding about the fact not everyone wants a bouncy dog around them no matter how friendly they’re being.


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Something very fortunate is that as a behavioural therapist my colleagues all know the importance of exposure training so we’ve been kindly ‘lent’ a set of two year old twins and a baby who are all used to labs from birth so that’s been invaluable and he’s surprised us at how gentle he is with kids considering he’s never spent long periods with them!


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well people can only respond on the basis of the information you give!


To be honest people often don't understand what the fuss is about dogs. Everyone thinks their dogs are lovely, wonderful and wouldn't hurt a fly. That may well be true. But there are plenty of examples of adopted children hurting animals, and sometimes dogs, being dogs, react.


Whatever you are doing, the dog clearly isnt fully trained yet. You would be far better getting it sorted before you go any further. Lotsof people with dogs adopt, its not a dealbreaker, but you do need to be in full control of it


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I agree, it’s important to check the facts as you can only go with the information you’re given. If you don’t check the facts, that’s when assumptions are made which aren’t always an accurate picture. Online forums are a prime example of this. People assigning their own beliefs or values to others and having very strong opinions without all the information.


I’m not a particularly ‘doggy’ person either. I like my dog but I’m not overly interested in other people’s pets and certainly wouldn’t consider myself a dog lover so I’m very conscious of not imposing our dog on other people or assuming people like him as much as us. This is why I’m asking for people’s specific experiences with their pet assessments and have really welcomed all the supportive and practical advice other dog owners have given.


Do you have any specific practical advice based on your experience of your dog being assessed serrakunda?


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I think that you need to think about the difference between prevention and cure. Our doggie isn't allow to get to the point where she might even try to jump up to anyone because she has been called to me and will stay with me whatever else is going on. This is why I said the other day that the "[dog's name] come" command is really important. Someone comes to the door, dog is called, comes, sits away from the door, door is answered and then I take her somewhere else before she can jump (unless it is someone that she knows well who likes her jumping - my AS, for example!) or if it is a delivery when she has to wait till the delivery person has done their thing and then she just goes back to doing her own thing. Jumping at delivery people by doggy is a very, very serious offence but she hasn't done it for months because she has learnt this.


I really take the point made by others that I might think that my dog is lovely but they may not. They may think her dirty (often!), smelly (probably), rude and a bit behind on the obeying commands front. SS will want to see that you know what you are doing and can prempt situations and basically resolve them before they happen.


And I go along with others with just asking your human interactions not to encourage jumping up really isn't going to cut it because that means that your dog's behaviour is somewhere totally outside of your control. And you need to prove that it is totally in your control. That isn't supposed to make you look like a control freak but you need to be able to show that you can handle situations of all sorts. And you can keep everyone out of any perceived danger from the unknown canine.


I still say that I wouldn't worry about it too much. Get that "come" command really mastered and use it before not after the event. If you can get "stay" too then fantastic. If you can't then know that you can't and whisk dog away till visitors have gone and keep practicing. Treats, treats, treats! It really works!!


Peahen.


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my practical advice is to ensure your dog is fully trained before you invite a social worker into your home. Even the most dog friendly SW won't be overly impressed by a dog which isnt fully trained


I'm not the only person to suggest that your dog isnt fully trained. They have given you plenty of good advice.


You seem to be getting a bit defensive about it. Most people have things they need to sort out for the adoption process. Yours appears to be your dog. No big deal, its a puppy, just finish the training. Problem solved


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Dogs and kids on planet adoption is often a contentious issue. We’ve always had dogs and my three have grown up around our dogs. When we were first assessed we had a very big Dalmatian and a sw who was scared of dogs. He was reasonably well behaved - apart from going through her handbag on one occasion - and she just about tolerated him. We were approved and matched with a young baby and had no issues with dog and baby. While he was still with us, we had another two babies. Can’t recall those sws being fussed one way or another .. we now have two small terrier type dogs and they’re very bouncy and not always the most obedient!


In reality quite often it’s the child rather than the dog who can be the tricky one to manage. So, think about how you can separate them if necessary, how you’ll supervise, ie not leave them alone together, never take anything for granted, and have a contingency plan in place if child doesn’t like the dog, is jealous of the dog, is mean to the dog.


All sorts of things can be deal breakers. Be flexible. Be adaptable.


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Thanks Peahen, that makes perfect sense and has been a bit of a light bulb moment for me! Will work on the ‘come’ command. We’ve had such conflicting info...the puppy classes said one thing, dog walkers advice contradicted that and then one to one trainer said something different again.


I think my explanation has been a little bit garbled. The dog doesn’t jump up at everyone as we have worked hard on this. Perhaps this is why I’ve been a bit defensive at implications that we’re ‘allowing’ this to happen because I don’t know other people don’t like dogs or dogs jumping on them. (Or maybe I’m taking things that way as this is such a big deal to us and hopefully the start of something amazing and huge I’m terrified of something jeapardising that so feeling anxious and defensive) in fact it’s rare that he jumps up now so it surprised and worried me that it’s happened twice in a week.


I think my explanation of what happens when visitors come has been a bit garbled and hard to follow. It sounds like it might be similar to your routine Peahen.


When the doorbell goes the dog goes into the front room with the safety gate across.


If it’s a delivery person or someone who’s not staying he stays where he is.


If it’s someone who doesn’t like dogs (DH’s best friend can’t stand them...finds him annoying and just generally hates dogs) we move him out of the front room holding his collar and he stays in the hall while they are in the front room. He whines a little and then settles in his bed in the cubby hole under the stairs. If people are afraid of dogs then he is put upstairs in our room.


If it’s someone we know well enough we’ll say ‘we’re working on Fido staying down and not jumping up at people’ (if they know our situation we explain specifically why) ‘would you mind not stroking him or giving him eye contact if he attempts to jump up please, push him gently but firmly down and then you can make a fuss when he’s calm’ 95% of the time this works. I think it’s just wobbled me a bit as this being under control was one of our criteria for sending off the request for a visit, lo and behold the week we send it he jumps up twice in a week! Also, I guess what left me a bit bewildered is the friend who I mentioned is a very experienced SW who’s placed many adopted children with their families so I hadn’t expected her to be the person to let him jump all over her! I guess that was me making an assumption too!


I guess my original question was me using a lot of words to say is the pet assessment done during the first home visit or does it come later on. i.e do we have time to work on this or would a visiting SW be assessing him straight away?


Thanks again for all the practical tips and advice from those who’ve been through the assessment process with a dog Smile


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Donatella, thanks for your reply. You must’ve been typing at the same time as me! That reassuring to hear your SW tolerated the dog even if she wasn’t a big fan.


You’ve also given me food for thought around how we’d supervise him and a child. It’s something I’ve been thinking about in terms of out of the house but less so indoors. We’ve been working on him being ignored and out of the room we’re in for longer periods even if we’re not doing anything specific in there, just so he can get used to not having our undivided attention. Partly so if our application is successful he’s used to being out of the room during home study if our SW isn’t a dog fan and longer term if/when LOs are placed then he’s used to not always having our undivided attention. Hadn’t thought so much about when they’re in the same room so that’s something to consider. Thank you


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You've got time because if you need to you can take dog out for a 4 mile hike before first assessment and lock her in a closet (not literally, obviously), if that is what is going to work to keep him out of your way.


You've got time because you can show that you have tactics in place (more training etc.).


You've got time so don't stress (which it sounds as if you are a bit) but plan. Even with people that you know I think that you might want to try a different strategy. Perhaps try (gently) demanding that visitors that want to pet the dog get down to his level or, frankly, they don't get to pet the dog (because you have already called him to you and won't release him till they are down at his level). Give the visitors treats to give to the dog if they will get down to his level. Don't give them if they won't and call dog to you.


It does sound a bit as if you might benefit from just asserting what you want / believe should happen as opposed to just letting it all happen around you. I don't mean to sound unkind (and I hope that I don't) but with adoption knowing yourself and what you think and how to cope with situations is so important that I'm perhaps seeing spillover. Might be something or nothing. PM me if you want to vent or discuss.


Peahen.


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Yes, thank you. You’re right. Think I’m just getting anxious and nervous about the whole situation so it’s spilling out a bit. DH thinks I’m looking for things to worry about. I am a bit of an over thinker at times whereas he’s a doer and Just gets on with it.


Thank you, you don’t sound unkind at all. Think I’m going to log off for tonight and relax but may well take you up on the offer to PM. Thanks for your advice and assurances. Smile


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You're welcome. I lurk around here quite often. Ping me if you want to.


But, most importantly, stay calm. Your DH sounds very sensible (and never underestimate the DH!). So chill and if you think that I can help then ping me.


Peahen,


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We have a Staffordshire Bull Terrier who was a year old when we got her, and we haven’t managed to train her terribly well. Our agency said we would have to get her assessed as a matter of course. The trainer / assessor they sent out gave her a glowing report. Our AS is very jealous of her and has thumped her twice as well as fallen on her while she was asleep in her basket (she looked surprised but fortunately remained docile each time). I love dogs but would never trust one not to bite if it felt threatened. The best advice I’d give is to find someone in your wider circle who’d be prepared - really prepared - to take in your dog if your child was cruel to it, and also get your dog trainer to give you advice on integrating your child to the household. The dog needs to know its place at the bottom of the pack and the trainer can give useful tips as well as helping the child recognise dog body language. Good luck with it all Smile


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Hello, ok we have a lovely lab retriever cross and he loves to greet everyone. He rarely jumps up. Now, he’s a specially trained working assistance dog.

The training re door is like this. Put a mat down so he can see the door from it. Get him used to the mat, make it lovely with a toy, a friendly tummy rub, a chew etc just use it with him any time of day

Then practice telling him to sit and ideally lie down on the mat.

If he does it heap on the praise & give a small treat (bit of banana or carrot & sausage piece if he does it brilliantly, then make it harder to achieve so he gets a sausage piece only if he does it 3 times brilliantly. )

Then get your hubby to practice ringing the bell outside.

You tell you dog to go to his mat and down and new word WAIT. Sit in front of him and his mat and give him a tiny bit of eg shredded chicken on his mat.

Let dh us his key and come in and you just focus on your dog- waiiiiit waaaiiiiiit wait. Each tiny shredded bit given to your dog as long as he is lying on that mat.

When dh is in the lounge settled, clip on your dogs lead and take him to say hello to dh and then run him in the garden with his ball etc. Lots of praise.

Next after he’s done that ok a few times

You and dh swap roles.

Then you start getting a friend to do the bell and you answer it, getting your dog in position first. Keep saying Waaaait using the same long and low tone you used before.

Dh sits with dog next to his mat.

When he doesn’t bounce the visitor then he gets a little pile of chicken at the end Smile

I’m sure a good dog trainer will help you with all this stuff.

Labs are often bright dogs and they actually enjoy having a bit of a task to do.


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I had a small dog who was similar to your description of your lab, fine except with people who encouraged the jumping and that little bit of encouragement then panned out into jumping at others in other situations for a while after they'd been. bottom line though, if the dog is still jumping at people who encourage it he/she needs to be trained out of that as, from your description, he then feels encouraged to continue that when out and about.

my son is terrified of big dogs entirely becoz when out for a walk with our own small dog a big dog was allowed to run at him and knock him over as a teenager (albeit a very small growth restricted teenager) and that dogs owner said its ok, he wont hurt him. well, actually yes, he was hurt, not physically but its taken me another decade to help him regain his confidence around dogs.

its not a deal breaker in adoption, labs are particularly intelligent dogs I think and very trainable, but would say that the jumping, whoever its with, needs to be attended to, and i'd suggest someone who is experienced and qualified in dog training rather than other friends with experience. and echo the long walk, as long as it energises hubby and you and doesn't send you to sleep like you're hoping for the dog!!


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