Forum Replies Created

  • electric

    July 12, 2012 at 2:04 am

    Hi Teresa,

    Thanks very much for your help and the links. Yes, I think I have all of the steps pretty much covered except for step 5. I have even tried to de-condition her to my leaving by mixing up my morning routine a few times. A trainer was asking me some questions and we realized that she seemed to react most to me brushing my teeth, so I purchased an electric toothbrush (so it would make a different noise) and moved the time I brushed my teeth to right before she got fed. She does seem to be a little more enthusiastic about being crated to get her food in the morning (which is to say she no longer tries to hide under the table when she sees me getting her treat ball or Kong). Since her surgery she hasn’t been left alone for more than 45 minutes and does seem to be improving – she is finishing her breakfast now for the last few days. I do worry about next week when she will be alone for about 3 hours in the mornings.

    I also worry because on the days my dog sitter can’t make it, I come home at lunch to let the dogs out for a while and give them a break, and you’re correct – she does seem worse in the afternoon following.

    I keep all toys put away except for her stuffed animal (which she carries around and seems to get comfort from, but does not have in her crate) and low-value nylabones. Her high value toys like bully sticks and tennis balls are only taken out for supervised/structured play.

    Step 5 I do worry about – Balanced Pack – since I have had several fosters with behaviour issues and now have a second dog with aggression (though not toward his pack members). This has caused me, but most especially my dog-sitter, to be somewhat anxious and apprehensive. My dog-sitter in particular is always “afraid something is going to happen.” He is with my dogs part of the day while I’m at work, and he worries they will get sick, bloat, get injured, or his main concern, that my male will (fence) fight with the neighbour’s dogs who are always getting loose onto my property, or a neighbour walking past the fence. He’s a bit of a nervous nellie 🙂 And if I am walking the dogs, particularly my male (which happens only occasionally anymore) I worry about loose dogs coming up to us. I am sure that my dogs pick up on this. I am not sure what to do about this. My male and I are enrolled in private training to deal with his aggression, and my female and I have done T-Touch work with an instructor, so I suppose this balanced pack issue will have to be resolved before I can expect her to get better. Is this right?

    Thanks so much for your help.

  • electric

    July 11, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Hi Teresa,

    Thank you for your reply. I appreciate it!

    To clarify, I have problems understanding the triangle. I can view it fine. 🙂 I am one of those people that learns best by being shown what to do in exact steps.

    1. She had no major issues when I originally adopted her, but did exhibit some anxiety behaviour like barking in the crate and chewing her bed for the first month or two. After that she was great. Within a few months I started fostering for a rescue and did not notice any further anxiety for about two years, then it came on gradually with mild thunderstorm anxiety at about age 4, some anxious behaviour like tail tucking, defensive barking at strangers, and gradually becoming more severe about three years ago when she began true thunderstorm and noise phobia and destroying my living room one evening while I was at work.

    2. She goes to the vet regularly for bloodwork and occasional urine tests to ensure she is healthy and nothing physical is causing her issues. More recently I believe she may be losing her sight or hearing (or both) but if she is, it’s in the early stages. The vet has found no physical problems.

    3. Most of the time I ignore her behaviours but I do admit that there have been nights where she was crated (when i had a foster I had to keep separated and it was her turn in the crate) and by 5 AM on a worknight I would get fed up and go yell at her to .. well.. stop it. I don’t do so well with no sleep. 🙂 Aside from those 2 or 3 times, I have not punished her.

    4. Golden rules – can you explain more about how this applies to separation anxiety specifically? She’s anxious most of the time.

    5. She is not allowed on any furniture and has never been, and wasn’t allowed in my bedroom at all until 2008, (she only comes in the morning with my other dog to wake me up after my alarm goes off), is petted for praise/reward and also at night when we have T-Touch/grooming time, she is not often cuddled (especially as my other dog is much more affectionate) – she does not ask for attention, but likes to lie nearby wherever I am in the house; she is fed from a treat ball in her crate in the mornings and in her dish at night when I am ready to feed them, she has always naturally allowed me to walk through doors/stairs first. She does not pull on her leash when we walk. I hope I am doing things right! (my other dog – I am working on as he is not as naturally polite as her) 🙂

    6. Restless spirit – I have been ensuring she gets at least 30 minutes of fetch/play each night unless it is really hot and muggy. I am working on training her to walk on a treadmill too. I hope that’s enough. She’s not a hyper/active dog – in fact if you met her you probably would not believe the destruction she is capable of as she seems so calm. It’s hard to know how much exercise is the right amount.

    7. Yes, she is very much housebroken and well behaved in the house – no elimination, (except a few times when she was crated and I was away, but I think that was done in panic), she does not beg for food, does not jump up, etc.

    8. I have been careful since day 1 not to have excited hellos and goodbyes. In fact before she was crated all the time she wouldn’t always even walk me to the door when I was leaving, and just stands calmly by the door when i come in (if a sitter is present), and I scratch her head and say hello then carry on with my day. (one of the reasons it took me so long to realise she had a problem!) If she has been in mid-panic attack then, she is a little more exuberant with her greetings but I ignore her then. She normally has a “safe” toy or treat ball with her when I leave. I have had to remove bedding, water pail, stuffed animals, etc from the crate though as there is potential for injury.

    9. She does treat her crate as a “bed” even though there is no bedding in it anymore. she will sleep in there during the day or evening when I am watching TV – as long as the door is open. On weekends I will feed her a treat ball and close the door and she is fine. I wait until she is finished and laying down (or sleeping) then let her out.

    I have not heard of the manners minder, I will look into that! Thanks for the help.

    You’re right about the drugs, although I do wish I had tried the Clomicalm sooner. I did speak to the vet and she said we could increase the dose of Clomicalm, but I’d like to do that in conjunction with some other training. The graduated leaving is very difficult because I do have to work. Right now I’m having the sitter come just after I leave so she is only alone for about a half hour, which she is OK with, but we can only keep this up for about another week.

  • electric

    March 31, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Hi Mike,

    thanks for your reply. I’ll have to figure out which word I can use 🙂 Thanks for the detailed explanation.

    I thought you’d like to read a progress update.

    First an amusing story. I was sick for the past week with a bad cold. I tried to skip a couple days of training but the dogs were onto me. My female came up to me the one night while I was resting, at around the time we normally do our exercises. She acted like she had to go to the bathroom (which I knew was not the case because she never has to go to the bathroom!) or like she expected something to happen. I was puzzled for a while until she led me to the area where we practise and danced around. I was surprised and didn’t realize how much my dogs were enjoying the training!

    We have been focusing on sit, down, and stand which the dogs mostly already know. I’m practising phasing out any body language on those commands, which I have already done with my youngest (and most aggressive) male as he was originally supposed to be a competition dog.

    I’m introducing stay and heel. At first the dogs were very grabby with the heel and always trying to take the treat out of my hand. My fingers were raw by the end. I think I have found a good system though and we are all catching on.

    Soon I would like to introduce “climb” and the “come” command. they have all had brief introductions to “come” during their lives with me (they have all taken obedience classes) but I haven’t kept it up.

    We are doing about 5 minutes of commands per dog per day. I hope that’s enough. If I go longer the dogs start getting too focused on the treats and stop listening. 😉

    I guess we’re still firmly entrenched in phase 1, and have yet to work on the climb due to lack of space at the moment. We have had another aggression incident with my youngest, and fence aggression remains a problem.

    I will be curious when it’s time to phase out the treats!

  • electric

    March 15, 2011 at 11:31 pm

    Hi Mike, I just wanted to give you a quick update on how things are going.

    I ordered a plastic basket muzzle like the one in the video from our local pet store. (They didn’t have the right size). It hasn’t come in yet.

    We started with Phase 1 heel (all 3 dogs). It has been interesting. I don’t have any room, so I’m using a partially renovated space in my basement. We are trying to do like in the video. Hopefully we’ll all get the hang of it soon. Each dog is having challenges in different areas of the heel so we will work on this. I’m keeping it fun with lots of praise and treats. They seem to be enjoying it. I’m adding other commands they already know like sit and down as well.

    One thing is I’ve always used “okay” as a release word, so now I’m doing “okay! free!” so they hopefully learn what “free” means too.

    Can you tell me the long-term significance of “climb”? Mainly I’m wondering if I can use another word, like “up” if it will always be used for an elevated object or “place” if it will eventually be for a rug or dog bed.

    I’ve acquired a wood platform like in the climb video, but I really have nowhere to put it at the moment as the floor in that room is only halfway finished. Hopefully we can start using it soon.

    Thanks for the help.

  • electric

    March 1, 2011 at 3:37 am

    @Mike D’Abruzzo 611 wrote:


    Glad you like the website!

    To answer your questions:

    1. What kind of dogs are these? Do they like to play tug? Tug is a great game to play and tire them out if you do it properly. I would definitely suggest doing ONE at a time, but 5 minutes of tug can be better than a 30 minute walk. There is a video in the video section showing an example of how to play.

    Hi Mike, thank you for your great reply!

    The dogs are:

    1) Female, Australian Shepherd/Lab mix, about 50-55 lbs, adopted as an adult from a shelter 5 years ago so she would be around 7-8 yrs, no major issues, a bit of separation anxiety. Her I can walk if need be, she’s an easy dog. She will play fetch with a ball as well.

    2) Male, Louisiana Catahoula (long term fostering him for a rescue) he is 5 years old and 65 lbs. Won’t play tug, but loves to catch snow that I throw. I don’t know if this is a good idea for sustained exercise because he does a lot of jumping. He’s very reactive/adrenaline dog, with redirected aggression, will attack my other dogs if he gets too excited. Won’t play tug. He does okay in public and is controllable, I could walk him but I prefer not to as it does get stressful for us both. Hates the car. Now that I think about it he will play ball too. He’s never tried to bite me but has pain aggression and will snap if given a needle or I accidentally quick his nails for example.

    3) Male, mixed breed, could be anything, probably boxer mixed with about 10 other things, age 3 years, 65 lbs. He was the pup of a foster I had that was pregnant, so I raised him from birth (did many things right and some things wrong). My plan was to train him for competition obedience and agility but I received bad training advice, or what I think was bad advice, and he grew up to be too aggressive. Won’t play tug, not very toy driven, not interested in fetch. I can do anything to this dog, I trust him to never bite me or attack one of my other dogs but this is the dog I can’t walk or trust in public, VERY aggressive toward strange dogs and mistrustful of strangers. Barks at children. Has nipped at 3 people (all 3 were reaching toward him as he was in full aggressive display and either restrained by leash or confined – really makes you wonder about people). His exercise to date has been running in the yard with whatever various dogs I had. He’s always been excellent with his “pack members”. I started training him for OB when he was a pup. He has pretty good phase 1 (with treats) sit, stay, stand and down with no body language and with mild distraction.

    I just want to clarify you think it’s best not to allow the dogs to play together for the time being. The 3-year old is the one I’m unsure about how I will exercise him. Tug was a good idea but these guys aren’t interested, and I can play ball in the yard with the other two. Any other suggestions?

    @Mike D’Abruzzo 611 wrote:

    2. Definitely focus on pack structure. But it is OK to start phase 1 exercises. In the aggression rehab section there are further details under “establishing the relationship”. It really isn’t going to be so much about who goes through doors first, it really is more about who is making the initiatives and who is “in control” of all important. Working on “climb” in a very technical manner is a great place to start. Be sure there are no distractions when you start. Everything you will need around the house will branch off of that one command. We’ll coach you through it.

    Thanks for the advice! I read through the pack structure and about making initiatives, and I feel that I already do those things. However, my dogs’ behaviour suggests that I am missing something. I feel like the devil must be in the details here. For example, my dogs go out on a schedule, but since I work consistent hours their schedule is the same every day and the dogs anticipate going out by both the time and my actions. For instance, they know they go outside before bedtime after my TV show is done. So when i switch off the TV and it’s around the right time everyone gets up and gets excited. Is it OK for them to anticipate things like this? Is there anything else I should be doing? Crating them more?

    One other very important thing is that I have a friend/dogsitter who spends time with the dogs while I am at work. He spoils and coddles the dogs more than I do. I told him, for example, that he should not give exuberant greetings when he arrives and the dogs get all wild. He tells me he “forgets” that rule sometimes. He also has a clear favourite dog (the 3-year-old male) that he pets the most often and buys the most toys for, etc. When he walks them he allows them to walk in front. I know the dogs need consistency and I wonder if I don’t allow my friend to sit for/walk the dogs for a while if that will help solve some of the problems? Maybe I’m grasping at straws? I really want to do the right things for these dogs. I want my foster to finally find a home and to be in control of my living situation and I will do what it takes to make it right.

    I’ll start heel and climb this week. Thanks for the videos, I saw them in the video section and I’ll review them many more times.

    3. Definitely do not “yank” for anything. Especially with a prong collar you may fire the dogs up more. Stay calm and try to avoid situations for now. If you can’t avoid a situation drag away in as calm a matter as possible.


    Get muzzles for sure and start doing “party hat” drills. It sounds like you have a big project ahead of you so don’t overwhelm yourself. Find a way to manage the situation and keep the dogs and yourself safe while we chip away. The muzzles will help take away the option of redirecting when we work on the leash walking. In the meantime, find time to teach what the word “heel” means , with NO distractions. You can do this around your house – one dog at a time. Don’t expect it to work on the outside yet. Everything is phase 1 at this point. This means teach what words mean and teach simple concepts that we will combine when you are ready for phase 2.

    I’ll buy a muzzle sometime this week. I found a store that carries one that looks like the one in your video. We’ll do heel and climb but only in the house.

    Thank you SO much for your help and advice. You have no idea what a relief it is to have hope! There are no local trainers in my city that do any sort of behavioural work so this is a real help, and the videos are great.

    Thanks for the starting point. We’ll begin fun OB work this week.