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New Member - Adopted a special needs toy poodle

1315 Views 4 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Teddy'smomma
Hi Everyone,
I'm new to the board.
I have recently adopted a toy poodle. He's my first poodle. I have 3 other dogs -- Boston Terriers. I'm hoping I can find some insight into the poodle psyche here.
My new little guy has grade 4 luxating patellas on both rear legs. He is able to walk and run. He goes down stairs, but not up and is not able to jump up onto furniture. He pretty much bounces on or drags his back legs.
He's a really sweet little guy, not a mean bone in his body. He's VERY affectionate with me but shys away from most other people. He also suffers from separation anxiety.
I've been trying some of the "Nothing In Life for free" techniques in hopes he gains some confindence and becomes better adjusted.
I'm encountering a few road blocks though because of his disability. The basics of NILF are to have the dog do something for you before he is granted any privilege. In other words, have the dog do a sit/stay before feeding, being allowed through a doorway, entering or leaving the car, etc. The problem I'm having is that I can't seem to teach him to sit because his legs are deformed. I've taught other dogs to sit by holding a treat over their head and guiding their butt to the floor. Pedey doesn't sit like a normal dog and his legs stick out in weird directions so he ends up following the treat around and not sitting.
The other problem is his barking/screeching/crying when left alone. He goes in a crate just fine, but makes a racket when left alone. I know it's wrong to let a dog out of a crate when he's making a fuss, but I'm having a hard time getting a second of quiet before I open the crate door.

I'm hoping to find some educated poodle people here that don't treat their dogs like babies. My philosophy with dogs is that they are better adjusted when you are clearly their pack leader and they look to you for leadership. I think little dogs get a bad rep because many people carry them around and let them get away with bad behavior because their little and cute.
I think Pedey must have been babied in his former life and I'm hoping I can break him of some bad habits and see him blossom into a well adjusted, confident pooch.

Any advice would be appreciated. :)
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2,537 Posts
Hello and welcome to the form! Congrats on your new boy, and bless you for taking him in.

Are his knees just that bad, or are his legs deformed in other ways? Are you planning on getting him surgery for his knees eventually? Is he a canidate with his legs?

As far as the NILIF goes, is there anything else he can do? Does he down well? Can he shake? Can he make focused eye contact? Something? NILIF doesnt have to be sitting. The dog just has to work for it. If you can teach him another command or trick instead that would be my advice (you could even get creative with it).

For the SA with the crate, how bad is it? Will he eventually settle down when you leave? Will he eat, take a treat or play with a toy? Is it Just the crate, or Anytime you leave him?
If he will eat then i would fill a REALLY yummy kong, and Only give it to him when you leave. He will look forward to your outings as he will get his treat (i know some dogs are so bad where they dont care what food you stick with them).
Try and exercise him as much as you can before you leave also. Turn the radio on too. I would also work on him getting used to the crate every day. Get some yummy treats (jerky, cheese, hotdog, etc), and go to the crate. Place a treat right outside of the crate for him to get. He doesnt have to walk into teh crate. After a couple times of that, place the treat right on teh door of the crate. After a couple times of that stop for the day. Next time start where you left off and where he was comfortable (which might be right back at the begining). Work on slowly getting him further and further into teh crate. Once he is going into teh back of the crate willingly for a treat then close the door for a second. Let him out and praise. Throw another treat to the back but dont close the door. Next time close the door for a couple seconds. Work your way up.

If you can feed him in the crate (and he will actually eat) do it. The more positive experiences you can associate with the crate the better. It will be slow going for a long time, but with persistance you can do it. He is still adjusting to everything and settling in. Good luck!

· Registered
1,971 Posts
I can't offer much advice, except to be patient w/ him. I have a Maltese I adopted from my city shelter. He had severe SA and was fear aggressive when I got him. For months, I would come home to find he'd made of nest of any laundry or shoes of mine, he could find. It took a lot of time to build his confidence. I basically ignored him when he behaved poorly, if he was being aggressive, I put in a separate room. He absolutely hated that and he learned he would have to behave to get my attention. He's come along way, he adores my brother, who he once hated w/ a passion. The first time he met one of my cousing, a very tall, male cousin w/a deep voice, he jumped in his lap and acted like a little attention whore. A few years earlier that type of person would've scared the living daylights out of him.

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38 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for your replies.

In answer to the question about his knees. My vet has only done a physical exam to determine he has grade 4 lp's. He recommends xrays.
The 'guy' we adopted him from says he 'thinks' he had a work up (xrays, mri, etc) that determined he was not a candidate for surgery. I'm not sure I believe he had any of that because to me it would only make sense if someone spent so much money on these tests, that info would go with the dog and not be left behind.
When I first brought Pedey home, it was only to foster him. I couldn't bear the thought of this poor little deformed boy spending another night in a cage being driven half way across the country every other week just to be passed by for adoption. It's a long complicated story, but the end result is I now own him. I can afford to get him xrays, but not the surgery.
My vet says that his muscles are so atrophied, even with the surgery, he may not regain full usage of his legs.
So, in answer to your question, yes, he is deformed along with the lp's.

As far as the crate goes.....he goes in fine. When I say 'In the crate' and open the cookie jar, all of my dogs go in their respective crates. Pedey doesn't mind being in ther util I leave the room. He just doesn't like being alone. Like I said in my original post, he has become weirdly fixated on me.
He follows me everywhere and whines if he can't find me. He is better after he's been exercised. I try to tire him out by taking him for a couple of runs around the yard and then putting him in the house while I finish my walking outdoors. At first, he would balk as soon as I left him alone, but he's eventually gotten used to it. I'm hoping that if I increase the time gradually, he'll get better. The problem is that he SCREAMS when he hears me coming. I'm not sure if he's quiet when we're all gone. The screaming begins when I open the garage door.

Thanks for the suggestion regarding NILF. I've been trying to teach sit/stay before putting his food dish down, but when I tell him to stay w/out a sit, he runs all over the place like a little spaz. He's really quite cute. He has a tiny little head with beady little dark eyes.....quite irresistable. :)

We've done the kong in the crate and the yummy treats.

· Registered
62 Posts
I can't offer much either, but I do agree that you should be his pack leader and teach by example. I think that you should definitely check again to make sure that he isn't a candidate, I hope you can help him and I'll pray for him!! God bless you<3 :cow:
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