Introducing DaVinci

I have a new foster pup staying with me. He’s an eleven week old Old English Sheepdog puppy named DaVinci. He’ll be staying with me for some training and then he will be rehomed through the rescue group that I work with. DaVinci’s previous owners made the decision to rehome him because he was already displaying some serious aggression and resource guarding type behaviors. The owners had been bit multiple times and were becoming increasingly scared to interact with him during certain types of activities, such as at feeding time or when getting him in and out of his crate. 

DaVinci the Old English Sheepdog puppyFor example, DaVinci will growl, snarl and snap if a person tries to go near his food bowl. He will display the same kind of behavior if he has a very fun toy or chewy treat and someone tries to take it away or even tries to come near him. As well, he will sometimes react defensively and aggressively if a person wants him to do something and he does not want to do it. The intensity of his behavior is not at all typical for a puppy of this age. 

The owners had fallen in love with DaVinci and were heartbroken to have to given him up, as he is a sweet, happy puppy the majority of the time. They were ready to do the intensive training that he needs to overcome his aggression issues. However, the family’s other dog had decided that he did not like DaVinci at all and there had already been several scuffles between the two dogs during the short time that DaVinci was with the family. Although they wanted to keep him, they ultimately decided that their home was not a good fit for a puppy with such special training needs. 

Old English Sheepdog puppy plays in fountainDaVinci has been with me for almost a week now, and we’ve already been working on all sorts of different things. DaVinci is eleven weeks, so he needs lots of puppy socialization and encounters with new and interesting things during the critical socialization window. So far this week, he’s met several of my friends and a few new dogs, gone to work with me, walked around the park, taken several short walks around the neighborhood, and even accompanied me to pick up a friend at the airport. (We even got to ride up and down in an elevator, while at the airport!)

We’ve also spent quite a bit of time hanging out in the front yard. I live on a moderately busy street, which gets a fair amount of automobile traffic, bicycle traffic, and pedestrian traffic. DaVinci was a bit unsure about the city cars and some of the noisy buses at first, but he has gradually grown accustomed to them and for the most part doesn’t even pay attention now. However, I have noticed that DaVinci often seems to lack confidence in new, unfamiliar situations or in situations that he does not understand. So, we will be working hard to help him grow up to be a happy, confident dog. 

DaVinci and I have also gotten started on some training this week to teach him that he doesn’t have to feel defensive or behave aggressively if I approach his food bowl. He’s learning that he can be calm and relaxed, even when I am in close proximity to his food. We have also started working some on drop, leave it, and other basic commands, all which will help a lot to teach him more appropriate manners when interacting with people. 

I’ll be sharing more updates about his training as we get to know each other better and work on even more training tasks!

  DaVinci and Cali 

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  • J. Oliver

    I’m very much looking forward to reading more about DaVinci. I have a fearful Corgi (who also has a bite history) with resource guarding tendencies. We kept her and have been working diligently to make her feel less worried. I should add that she is 6 years old. Never too late, I hope!

    • I’ll definitely be posting more as I keep working with DaVinci. And, I hope that you’ll find the posts both interesting and useful!
      That’s good to hear that you’ve been working with your Corgi and that she feels less worried now. I have known several Corgis with fear issues and resource guarding issues. It sounds like your girl was lucky to find you!

      • J. Oliver

        She picked us out; that’s for sure. It’s a good thing she did, because having her allowed me to see that everything I thought about teaching dogs was wrong. We are all in a much better place now. I should add that I had inquired about purchasing a Thundershirt for her when she was a puppy, and the owner of the company called me because my email frightened her. She recommended that I read “The Culture Clash” and that was that. We never used the Thundershirt because I had gotten it on my dog, but almost couldn’t get it off! Body handling issues …

  • Jennifer Anne

    DaVinci looks like a super cute pup! I’m glad he’s in good paws with you and will surely be able to overcome any undesirable tendencies.

    Seville from Nerissa’s Life

  • Tenacious Little Terrier

    I’ll be interested to hear more about how his training goes. That’s really intense resource guarding for a puppy so young!

  • This will be a very interesting foster project to follow. Is there anything known about his breeding or where they got him? I’m very surprised at the behavior he’s exhibited so young, but I know virtually nothing about OES.

    • He came from a breeder, although the breeder apparently did not have very much experience working with this breed. I also know that he was the largest pup in the litter. The previous owner did not meet the breeder, the puppy’s parents or any of the other pups in the litter. I would have been very curious to get to see how he interacted with his litter mates and with people while he was still with his mom.

  • dawn

    Sad for DaVinci’s owners, but it’s good they made the decision before he was older and a lot of bad habits had been established. I look forward to reading about how he does in the upcoming weeks.

  • DiVinci is a little doll. I hope his training goes well and you can help him become the awesome pooch he was meant to be! 🙂

  • carmel rickard

    Hello. Your first post on DaVinci was sent to me by a friend who knows I have a new rescue pup, 8 months, who has food BOWL aggression/guarding issues. We’re working on it with some success but I’m very keen to get new ideas and see where to go next with all the things we’re doing …. can’t wait for your next DaVinci installment!

  • William Stavers

    This appears to be a steep hill to climb. I am looking forward to your future posts… You are a brave soul.

  • HuskyCrazed

    Awesome news!!

    ? husky hugz ? frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  • Christina Lee

    I noticed DaVinci has two blue eyes. We often get OES pups with blue eyes here at Deaf Dogs Rock who are Deaf. Do you think DaVinci can hear 100%. If he has some hearing loss (or no hearing) he would display more resource guarding issues then a typical hearing dog. Just curious if you have noticed anything regarding his hearing.

    • Hi Christina,

      Interesting comment!

      He was somewhat afraid of very loud noises (such as buses and motorcycles). So, yes, I do think he can hear.

      However, it would be interesting to see if he does have some hearing loss. He has recently been adopted, but I will certainly pass on this information to his new family.