Great! Another dog I can't trust

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my2cotons
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Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby my2cotons » Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:49 am

I can't believe what just happened. I took the dogs for their walk (Pistol in stroller). There are 2 men who walk together over there everry morning. They were coming towards us. I normally just peel out into the grass and make a loop around them. However, I thought, well Pistol is strapped into the stroller and Pappy is ok. The men stepped off the sidewalk on their side a little. They were probably 2 1/2 ft from us as we passed. Just as they passed us, Pappy growled/barked and jumped up and bit the one on the inside on the leg above his knee. Thank heavens he had jeans on. I said "oh my gosh, did he bite you?" He said, he tried and was rubbing his leg. Of course I apologized all over the place. They just moved on and it was obvious the man was none too happy - well who would be? I cannot imagine what has happened to my good friendly boy. We actually had an incident about 10 days ago, where he lunged at a little boy as they went by. The little boy was rubbing his arm, but mom said, "he is fine". I chalked that up to maybe wanting to play although Pappy didn't seem all that friendly at the time- I just knew he couldn't possibly have been trying to bite him. Well, now I'm thinking he was. Why in the world would a 3 yr old dog who has always loved everyone, young and old, suddenly become aggressive. My kids and grandkids were here recently and he was fine, although he howled at my son, but he has always done that when they first arrive. He certainly never offered to bite. I'm so sad. :(

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby connie » Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:03 am

Oh, I'm very sorry this happened. :(

FWIW, I do not think that your dogs are aggressive; I think they are not great at handling stress, and that is something that can be said of many, many dogs. As owners, we can recognize the signs, and that often helps us prevent episodes like the one you had.

Very often, situations that one dog can handle are not so easy with two dogs, and I don't know why that is. But you might want to do something like this, which is what I do when I have more than one dog on a walk and we have people coming towards us and they are going to pass us: I call my dogs (who are on leash, but I still give them verbal notice) over to me and we step off the sidewalk and onto the grass parkway. I then sit my dogs, and they are required to sit and let the people pass by, then we resume our walk.

They can't get up, lunge, jump, or go greet the passersby. It's not what I want them to do, and no dog is deprived by showing good manners, I assure them. They may have a different opinion, but it carries no weight with me. :grin:

I would do that with your two, even with Pistol in the stroller. For REALLY good performances, the dogs would get treats, but not if they get up, disregard the sit direction, or otherwise blow off what you tell them to do.

I'm a mean owner. Ask any of my dogs. :rofl:

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby JudyL » Tue Jun 19, 2012 11:14 am

^ That is exactly what I do to, and I also use it with Cinnabon when I see larger vehicles such as the commuter bus or large noisy trucks that she might be fearful of. It has actually helped her to be more confident because it keeps her stress level down to a more reasonable level. I stop walking and either use "watch me" or ask her to hold a sit just as Connie described.

In your video of Pistol in the stroller I noticed that Pappy is walking along in front, I'd say more or less unguided than you probably would be if you were actively walking him solely on leash. I wonder if he feels less secure walking in this manner because he feels like more decision making is left to him (even though it might not be). I hope maybe you can follow my horse analogy here, but here goes. My first horse was wonderful in the ring but had absolutely no confidence on trails. He'd go forward happily enough, but could spin right out from under me on a dime if I let go of his mouth and tried to ride on a loose rein. I'm not talking about actively having him on the bit & working, but he needed gentle contact to tell him "it's ok buddy, I'm still back here protecting you and won't put you in danger". It was gentle contact like holding a child's hand without dragging them along. Does that make sense?

I also wonder if Pappy is trying to step it up and take on some of the "duties" (as he sees them) because Pistol is sidelined?

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby my2cotons » Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:16 pm

Thanks guys. I will take your advice. I did pull them over to the side the next 2 times the men came by, but I didn't ask Pappy to sit. I just held the leash while he lunged. :) Connie, you are right - my dogs don't deal well with stress. And Judy I think you hit the nail on the head - I really think Pappy felt insecure without Pistol by his side. I was thinking he was trying to protect Pistol because he knows he is hurt - but I don't think that's it - I think he was fearful without him. I was just so blown away because he has always been the one I could say - "you can pet that one, he's never bitten anyone". :( Now I will have to prohibit people from petting either of them - well strangers anyway. I'll definitely emply the sit tactic in the future and take some treats along.

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby connie » Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:31 pm

But at least your dogs are letting you know that stress is an issue with them! It would be worse if they didn't give any signs and then just fell apart one day.

You can handle this. :thumbup: Ogre that I am, I always think the cure for stress-behavior is to first, remove the dog from proximity to the stressor; and second, get the dog to pay attention to me and BEHAVE. So yes, you move out of the path of the strangers, and then you simply require your dog to give you obedience and attention. If the dog would like to ignore you and lunge or act out, a really GOOD way to address that is to stand in front of the dog, blocking his view of whatever he is reacting to, and step in to him, taking away his space and giving him the message that you are the important thing in this picture. No scolding, no collar pops, no begging, no treats, just you calmly moving into the dog's space and a quiet request to the dog to sit, or down. Every dog can comply with that. And if you refuse to give in, you will win this behavior from your dog. When you do, feel free to reward -- but only when the dog's butt is on the ground and mouth is not yapping. :grin:

Since you have Pistol in a stroller, by all means bring a light blanket or something to cover him with if HE starts contributing, you don't need that input and it's like covering a crate, it reduces the dog's reactive behavior.

Good luck. I could not have six dogs if I didn't have calm behavior from them when it's required and important.

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby Jen » Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:47 pm

I'm fully on board with the step to the side and ask for calm behavior, but can Kathy also work to convince her dogs that strangers aren't evil to help lower their stress? When we first had Bella, I didn't let strangers pet her because I never knew what would set her off. I don't know if I believed she'd actually bite them, but she definitely did the lunge snarl thing at more than one person. But now I fully trust her with strange humans. Part of the regimen, I think, was just developing her overall confidence, but part of it was making every single stranger give her a treat. Seriously, every time someone asked to pet her or mentioned her or, frankly, looked in her direction with mild interest, I said, "Do you want to give her a treat?" She's a total lovebug now.

It worked like a charm for my dad - whom she most definitely did. not. like. He started out tossing liver treats in her direction and moved to handing them to her personally, and to this day (5.5 years later) she remembers when he was the living breathing liver treat dispenser and makes a beeline for him when she visits. (Much to his chagrin, I'm sure, since he is not a dog person. lol )

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby connie » Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:15 pm

Definitely!

I think the calm behavior has to come first, for three reasons:

1. A dog who knows his job or what's expected of him, and can do it, is a less-stressed dog. If his job is to sit on the parkway next to his owner and watch someone go by, and he does it, he's already less stressed and therefore less reactive.

2. When a dog is reacting, he can't *really* think. His energy is all over the place, he's emotionally over-wound, and whatever lesson we might want him to get is not reaching him. I'm not saying an excited dog can't learn, I'm saying that an over-threshold dog is not going to learn well.

3. Nobody really wants to pet a dog that is barking and lunging at them. :rofl: I don't, and I'm a dog person! If Miss Pip is baring her teeth at another dog on a leash, and I say to that dog's owner 'would you like to say hi to Pip?' they will say 'gosh, no thanks!' and book out of there. But if a dog is sitting calmly, and a stranger wants to greet the dog or even give it a treat, that's a total win. And if Kathy's dogs are comfortable with that, great!

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby Jen » Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:23 pm

Yep, I get that, but I didn't want Kathy to think there was no hope of her dogs ever pleasantly greeting a human and I didn't get the impression that they went over threshold instantly.

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby my2cotons » Tue Jun 19, 2012 2:46 pm

So Connie, if Pappy doesn't offer a sit when I step into his space, should I force a sit at that point. Although, I think he will if I move him over soon enough before he get amped up. I will be anxious to try this once Pistol is out of the stroller again. He usually starts the barking lunging thing and Pappy would join in until someone acted halfway friendly and then he would be all over them in a good way. Pistol I just had to pick up or restrain and tell people not to pet him. Now with Pistol in the stroller he is strangely quiet even when strangers are near. Evidently he feels safe in the stroller and Pappy on he other hand feels less safe without Pistol by his side - so now he is my "problem child". But if nothing else, this shows me that Pistol's problem is and has always been a feeling of insecurity - and the same with Pappy.
Jen I do think the treats will be a good idea at some point. But I probably need to concentate on the calming technques for a while first.

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby connie » Tue Jun 19, 2012 3:24 pm

Okay, maybe this is semantics and maybe it's hair-splitting. :) I don't 'force' a sit, I simply request one and nothing happens until I get it. Life stops. There is no further interaction with anything; there is no distraction; there is just me, reminding my dog that I said "sit." I promise you, you will be amazed at how quickly the dog 'gets it' when you are calm, inflexible, and patient. I was my own worst enemy when I would get frustrated; my body language told my dog I was upset, and the dog of course can't be calm when I'm not modeling that for him. But when I was able to think, at the dog, 'that's okay, I have alllll day, we're not going anywhere until you sit, take your time, sweetie!' -- then the dog plunked his butt on the ground. Dogs want to be connected emotionally. Even if your dog is trying to connect to a passerby, you are his first choice and you can re-direct that!

Yes, what you describe about your two boys barking and lunging *until someone paid them some attention* -- that reinforced their behavior. They acted like little hooligans and they got patted on the head for it. :rofl: I don't mean that in a snotty way! We've all been there, done that, believe me. Now you want to re-shape that behavior so that the pat on the head -- the attention from the person -- is a reward for sitting nicely, not for barking and demanding attention!

It's very easy for dogs to feel insecure, and when you have two that are as bonded as your boys, they do tend to need each other for confidence. Pistol is going to be on the DL for a while with your CM of his leg condition, so this is a very good opportunity to give both of them confidence in themselves that comes from behaving properly and having good things happen as a result.

And someday you can have both your dogs come immediately and sit calmly next to you when you call them, and the passersby will say 'oh my goodness, look at those good dogs!' Seriously. I get it all the time. And I appreciate it, because I do work at instilling good manners in my Hooligans.

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby my2cotons » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:32 pm

Ok, I have done that before. Just folded my arms and waited for the sit. It works well, especially when we are at the back door ready to go out for a walk. They are jumping around like, to use your term, "hooligans". :) I can fold my arms and wait and they will not only sit but lay down, because they know that door is not opening until they do. But other times I think Pappy could wait all day. And something I never know what to do about is - Pistol almost always sits immediately when I ask for it and Pappy doesn't. What do I do then? Should Pistol have to wait for the "good thing" to happen because Pappy isn't cooperating?

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby connie » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:51 pm

Well, if one dog gives you the behavior but the other doesn't, then I would reward the good behavior in Dog A and continue to wait for Dog B. I'll give Dog A a little treat and when Dog B sees that and pushes forward in a 'where's MINE?' behavior, I'll calmly repeat the 'sit' with Dog B's name. Yes, I do make all dogs wait until the whole gang of them is complying with my request, but I reward the dogs who give the behavior right away. It's not unfair, because the 'good thing' is the group outing. And Dog A is not being penalized, he's just having to wait a bit, which -- as I point out to my Hooligans -- never killed a dog! :tongue:

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby emmas_mom » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:53 pm

.... I could not have six dogs if I didn't have calm behavior from them when it's required and important.
:sign_hijack: Make that seven - I am sending Eddie to you on the next plane.
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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby connie » Tue Jun 19, 2012 4:55 pm

I want Eddie! You will miss him, but he will Skype with you and call you collect frequently. I need a blue merle Sheltie! :love:

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby emmas_mom » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:06 pm

I want Eddie! You will miss him, but he will Skype with you and call you collect frequently. I need a blue merle Sheltie! :love:
He won't need to Skype - I will hear him all the way from Chicago to Western Canada without the aid of technology! And your crew may have something to say about this - Master Eddie is a Big Bossy Boots. We are working on it. I'm probably delusional, but it **think** he is getting better.

As to the OP's post - my2cotons - did Pappy's behaviour just start since you obtained the stroller for Pistol? It certainly sounds like he is either anxious or thinking he needs to protect Pistol who is constrained in what, to a dog, might be a strange contraption.
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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby QBert » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:17 pm

... 'that's okay, I have alllll day, we're not going anywhere until you sit, take your time, sweetie!' ...
anything useful I could contribute would only be repeating previous comments, but this made me laugh. Our obedience class instructor consider it part of class that the dogs enter and exit the building walking politely, no pulling allowed! And she comments every class that if they don't, you will be asked to work on it until they can and will. "I'll be here until 5, and other people are her after that, so we have ALL day." And she does watch everyone come in and out!

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby RobinS » Tue Jun 19, 2012 5:25 pm

I'd teach him to pay attention to you when he sees someone....you can call it "watch me" or "look". KaeJae tends to be leash reactive with big dogs, so he learned that looking at me while they passed by got him something good. You have to keep him under threshold, so you need to practice it when there is no one around and then work up to the strangers at a very safe distance. Once he explodes, it's too late and you probably will have a hard time getting his attention. But, if you teach him to look at you when he sees something that stresses him, then you can redirect by putting him through some commands, getting out a toy, etc to distract.

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby JudyL » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:10 pm

Yes, Robin makes good points about not waiting until he's freaking. When I have Cinnabon out, of course I can hear the bus or truck coming, so I put her in a sit and use "watch me" until the vehicle passes. I am also positioned so that I am between her and the road (or other scary thing such as loud motorcycle, other barking leashed dogs, etc) until the "threat" has passed us by. Her rewards are either a very small piece of kibble or just praise. If it's really scary, I have the treat in my hand ahead of time, and believe me she knows it, and with that in hand she seems to hardly take notice of the scary thing because she is so focused on the food. I really don't have to do this much any more because she has gotten so much better, but she isn't a confident dog so I do reinforce this occassionally.

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby my2cotons » Tue Jun 19, 2012 6:19 pm

Jean, yes this behavior just started when I put Pistol in the stroller. Pappy has always been my "I love everybody dog". So it is either one of the two - protecting Pistol or fearful because he doesn't have Pistol down on his level. Or a third possibility - just taking over Pistol's duties for him because Pistol has always barked at strangers. At any rate, you all have all given me good suggestions that I plan to implement. I feel better about the whole situation than I did this morning. I realize now that Pappy hasn't just suddenly become an aggressive dog, but rather is dealing with a new situation the best he can. Thank you all for helping me see that and for offering me some tools to use.

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby connie » Tue Jun 19, 2012 7:07 pm

I realize now that Pappy hasn't just suddenly become an aggressive dog, but rather is dealing with a new situation the best he can.
Exactly. :thumbup:

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby RobinS » Wed Jun 20, 2012 6:58 am

I have a client with two Shibas....both have same mother. Both have thyroid issues. Both are not very confident. One is petrified of anything that moves on a walk, the other wants to eat it alive. Both acting out of fear, but in two different ways. When we do walks, we do lots of ducking and diving between cars and bushes to create distance from the scary stuff and we do lots of "watch me" along the way with a pocket of treats. It had gotten so bad, they they were going after eachother when they had so much anxiety. It's slow process, but things have improved. Key for you is to create lots of space and reward him for paying attention to you when the "scary thing" gets near. I call it "parenting" in that you are teaching your dog to depend on you to handle the big scary stuff, so he can go about his business of being the dog and you can go about your business of being the parent. Make sense?

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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby whippetlover » Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:16 am

Have you had the thyroid checked? A dog who had/has Lyme disease can also become aggressive - so perhaps it could be a medical problem. Just sayin'
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Re: Great! Another dog I can't trust

Postby UpwardDog » Mon Jun 25, 2012 8:42 am

I didn't read all the replies yet so maybe this has been mentioned, Kathy have you read Emma Parson's book Click To Calm? I not, I highly recommend it.
I have had much greater success with her method for Sammy's fear/shut down and Rosie's weird new onset aggression with some dogs than I ever had with just having my dog focus on me and try to ignore their triggers. R&S have always been easy to manage but having them start to see things that used to be triggers as the cue to a trick changed their emotional state dramatically and has made life much happier for all three of us.


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