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MemberAugust 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm
Thanks again for offering your input, Teresa!
You made such a valid point about other triggers and I wanted to stress that my only goal is to see him succeed. Everything I do with my dog is in the most controlled environment that I can provide for him and with the least amount of distractions as possible. Since his baggage could practically fill the entire cargo area of a 747, when we work on a major behavioral issue such as his resource guarding, it is the only behavior addressed during the entire session. I am careful not to do anything that will cause him any emotional harm, nor do I introduce any additional stimulus that might trigger or provoke and unwanted response. I do my very best and end the sessions based on his physical responses, making sure to do so when he is feeling his best, as it were.
As I mentioned, upon discovering his enjoyment for sniffing out the treats, I go outside and place the treats in various locations and then I bring him out. I call his name and issue the command “find it”, at which point his nose goes straight to the ground and he is in total search mode. I say nothing else and usually stay on or near the porch while he is scouring the yard. When he no longer sniffs out treats with ease, he stops and looks back to me for guidance, at which time I only point in the general direction of the treats he might have missed, which he will head off in that direction and begin or research the area, otherwise I tell him “that’s it” and he now knows that he has successfully completed his task. I issue the “come” command and as soon as he returns to me, I heavily praise him for the fine work he has done.
I believe that I am performing this in a manner that will not provoke any unwanted responses. I let him know what I want him to do, allow him to accomplish the task on his own, offer guidance when he indicates to me he needs it, let him know when he has completed his task and praise him for being successful. I set up the area ahead of time, I am never invading his personal space while he is “searching” and there are no other pack members or people present during this time.
Locating the treats has probably been the most beneficial thing he has discovered (learned) so far. It’s like the light bulb finally came on in his little noggin’ once he realized that he could seek and receive good guidance from his leader! I am regularly witnessing him performing this behavior, where he looks to me first before reacting negatively to the situation. He is learning that he can TRUST again! Woo Hoo, what a relief! I totally owe this change in him to the “find it” game. 🙂
I’ll work on incorporating items and see how it goes, in the mean time, if you see that I am mismanaging this game in anyway, please advise me!
MemberAugust 2, 2011 at 4:01 pm
Thank you for responding, Teresa.
Your suggestions are superb and will be invaluable to individuals who are having dental care issues with their best buddy.
Sadly, my dog was in a shelter for so long that he quickly becomes overstressed when confined in a crate (I’ve tried medium and large) and I have not worked to remedy this problem yet. Sometimes, you just have to pick your battles and prioritize behavioral issues in order of importance or the job just might seem bigger than you are! 🙂
Secondly, when I have provided him with any type of chew (pig ear, bully sticks, rawhide), he is so stressed over having it in his possession and guarding that he won’t even chew them. Basically you provide him with the object, he eagerly takes it and moves away from you, usually somewhere in which he can best defend his prize (a wall to his back or in a corner). He lays with it between his front legs, with his head over it or his mouth on it, with a very stiff body posture (sometimes I would see his muscles trembling). Of course, prior to giving it to him, we are isolated from all living things and I have plenty of high value trade ups (cooked liver and chicken) and he has been leashed. We usually perform this in the laundry room (floor space approx 12’x12′) and in the beginning, I remained as far away as possible, I have discovered he is less stressed if I squat or sit in a chair rather than stand. He is usually very vocal for the first few minutes and his face and eyes are unrecognizable (expressions make him look like a totally different dog). After he calms down some, he will usually relax his hold on his prize but it remains between his legs and under his chin, when not in his mouth (at all times); now he will stop growling so long as I do not move in his direction or I do not attempt to talk to him. I have discovered that leaving the room is not an option because he relocates by the puppy gate with his prize and will attempt to stand his ground so you cannot get back in, (I have not tried to leave the room since this first happened). The results were even less desirable when we attempted this out in the yard, and since I can only assume the vast openness contributed to the higher level of stress, I have not revisited this exercise outdoors again. Since I could not chance leaving him alone and having him hide it, which might result in an attack on my other dogs later when someone found it, I have not left him alone in the yard to even know if he would eventually consume it.
Now, this all sounds like a bad and maybe hopeless situation, but he has made much progress because he does not constantly growl (as he did initially throughout the exercise) and he will now abandon it for the high value treats I mentioned previously. His body posture will relax and the demonic eyes soften some and I don’t notice the trembling anymore. I am also able to be closer to him while he has his prize, by slowly over the course of time, being closer when I initially give him the item. I still do not talk to him, except when I am letting him know about the trade ups when we are nearing the end of the exercise and he willingly comes (maybe a little slow) and does not growl as the session ends.
Even though this was originally a discussion about dental care in the health area of the forum, maybe it seems more like I should have posted to the aggression/rehab area??
Thanks Teresa, your ideas about dental issues are wonderful!
MemberAugust 2, 2011 at 2:12 pm
Thanks for mentioning the spray and room diffuser. I didn’t think about discussing the other products in my initial post, I just didn’t remember reading about DAP products in any of the threads so far and I thought it might be beneficial to start a discussion so when future readers are browsing the forum, they might see our posts and know that there may be a product out there to help their best friend. 🙂
These products are reported to be beneficial for dogs that are afraid of loud noises, thunder, etc. Can also be used as a tool for dogs suffering separation anxiety.
I was hoping other members might share their experiences with these products as well!
MemberAugust 1, 2011 at 4:14 pm
These are good videos, Mike. I have enjoyed the instructional videos on Obedience in a nice controlled environment, with people and their pets who have been working hard behind the scenes prior to the taping of such videos and I really love the dog suit and your method to teach us in a manner that is fun (helps with boredom and becoming disinterested) but I mostly appreciate the real world videos where we can see professionals rehabilitating dogs with behavioral problems using your techniques. Providing your subscribers (clients) who have come here to deal with aggression problems with more videos that can be watched in order to learn the proper (person’s) response/handling and being able to see the dog (and his body language), is an invaluable tool. Things that one cannot pick up in text, no matter how many times it is re-read. I’ve seen a few videos of yours on y*utube addressing problems, but do you have any plans to upload any more of these specific types of videos (rehab work) to this site or y*utube anytime in the near future? Hope so!!
And I do have pairs of toys and do already use your methods described and seen in one of the videos above. I use treats to get my dog to release the fuzzy toy on the pole and do my best not to let him drive it into the ground, but due to him being sooo low already, sometimes I am not as quick as he is, so I will have to use the treat to get him to release. I notice you use the word “out” as opposed to “leave it”, which I think I will discuss over in the obedience section in another post. Thanks again for your wisdom and the videos! More please! 🙂
MemberAugust 1, 2011 at 3:44 pm
Umm, the point I was attempting to make was that you can’t be faint of heart in a volatile situation with a dog because they will recognize your weakness (fear), which could escalate their aggressive behavior towards you. My dog, in particular, acted totally different when my initial response did not convey to the dog that I intended to maintain control of the situation. After I decided not to let his attitude derail my plans to address his problems, he sensed the changed, thus it was reflected in his attitude and demeanor towards me. To make a long story even longer, if I was worried about getting hit by a car every time I crossed the street to go to my mailbox, I might never, ever check the mail again. If I had decided that I was too afraid of possibly getting hurt by this dog, I would have probably already received at least one nasty bite by now as I suspect his behavior would have only escalated once he knew he had gained control over me because I was AFRAID of him.
So, the point I was trying to drive home for the people (like me) coming to this forum because they are having issues with their dog, is that it will be impossible to achieve ANY success with their dog if they are too fearful and elect to do nothing more than try to avoid the problem/situation, as when you have a dog with behavioral issues, those issues will not go away on their own and will most likely only escalate if the dog is allowed to remain out of control and in charge.
Otherwise, I cannot disagree with you…. protective devices such as the clothing, muzzles, collars/leashes certainly help prevent injuries, but I’m betting the average reader right now might be short their “Superman” suit! 🙂
MemberAugust 1, 2011 at 1:45 am
Mike… Thanks again for your time, I really appreciate it.
My initial goals for this dog were (1) to save him from the existence that he was enduring, (2) get him healthy (has recovered from anaplasmosis, has been vaccinated, teeth cleaned and received a clean bill of health), (3) provide him with the basics – food, shelter, water and a safe environment, (4) love him unconditionally and do everything in my power to provide him with an opportunity to flourish and become the great companion that I believe in my heart, he can be.
I want him to be confident, reliable and well behaved. I want to be able to trust him with me, other people and all of his pack members. I should mention that we live in a rural setting and outside we have doves, chickens, a big duck, a rabbit, pigeons, two turtles (with acrylic shells-automobile casualties) a red eared slider (water turtle-also automobile casualty) and several wild birds that feed and water here each day, including a one legged Road Runner. We also have a flock of exotic (special needs) birds indoors. It’s literally a place for those that have no other place or are wanted by no one else, that’s why they wind up here or are brought here. I mention this because I find it fascinating that he pays no mind to all the animals that I have just mentioned, especially after I see him rip into a fuzzy lime green toy on the end of a rope like he does or maim a squeaky toy to death!
In a perfect world, I would like to rehabilitate him and extinguish all of the unacceptable behaviors, but I know this may not be possible. I remain hopeful, however. And, if it is not possible, then I will have to accept it and rehab what I can and manage the rest, in a manner that prevents harm to me, to him, other people and all members of his pack. I am completely unwilling to say that it is too much work, but I can honestly say that I may not possess all the wisdom and knowledge necessary to achieve the goals at this moment, but if they are obtainable, I hope that I can find them. For him, I hope that I can be successful in this endeavor, as with his present behavioral issues, his future would be questionable at best if he were not here with our family. Re-homing him or euthanizing him is NOT an option!
I am interested in resolving all of his aggressive/guarding issues, if at all possible. No matter how much work, no matter how long. I would like to see him fully trained in obedience at least through phase 2, but I’m uncertain about the use of the collar implemented in phase 3; thus, I would have to give that additional thought. If he cannot be trained to down because of his fears, then that will be okay as well and as you mentioned may be doable in the future. I’m not looking for perfection, I just want him as happy and well behaved as he is capable of being, so that I do not have to worry about anyone or anything being hurt. And before I forget, yes… if he was more well rounded, secure, knew all the doggie rules and was trustworthy (do not want any harm to come to any living thing!) that would certainly make life easier! 🙂
Again, I am really grateful for your willingness to offer assistance (and Teresa too). There are a vast amount of opinions from trainers in our area, which can certainly get you confused in a hurry. Right now, I am just going with my gut instincts and often find myself flying by the seat of my pants! I can say he has made leaps and bounds since his arrival. Wasn’t sure that he would ever be able to eat in the presence of others or without a leash around his neck, but he now he does! I can hardly believe my eyes sometimes when I give him the sit/stay out in the yard and walk 50-60 feet away and he never breaks the command until I release him. And to think, he has accomplished all of this even though I have not had a leash on him since the 2nd week (except for trips outside the home), just lots of patience, making my expectations clear to him and practicing through repetition and lots of praise. In closing, I want to give most of the credit to him for giving his best and working hard to understand what I am trying to convey to him and doing his best to get it right! He is after all a VERY GOOD BOY!
Kindest personal regards and thanks a million!
MemberJuly 31, 2011 at 11:15 pm
Thanks for your participation in this thread, it is most appreciated.
Based on your inquiry about the pack structure, I would like to state that I am the alpha, or at least I do my best to be number one. 🙂
Meals are twice a day, with each dog having their own area; I point to each individual dog’s rug, say their name and the word sit. I hold my hand (palm toward the individual dog) which gives them a visual cue to wait (and stay seated). Every dog is placed and required to remain seated and only then will I start with the dog who is the oldest (been here the longest) and place the bowl in front of him, I make sure that I know he intends to hold the stay and after a few seconds (can vary a bit based on dog’s behavior, other distractions, etc.) and I then say okay, which tells the dog he is free to eat. This is repeated in a specific order until all dogs are eating. They are all required to stay on their own rugs until everyone has finished their meal, at which time I release them.
Going out/coming in: I usually address the group by saying something like, “Time to go outside boys.” Since all of us may be in different locations, we get to the door at different times but once we have all arrived, I open the door and always exit first, with the pack following behind. Sometimes they come out individually and sometimes they all sort of pour out in a heap once they are in motion but everyone has to be calm (issued either the wait or sit command depending on their level of exuberance) before I grab the handle. Coming back inside is pretty much the same way, although I do allow my active dogs to remain outside longer, however, everyone must wait until I enter and release them to come through the door. This also applies to our gates, no one comes through the gates without explicit permission to do so.
There are no toys or treats laying about and since this specific dog is very toy/treat aggressive, he is isolated when the other dogs get chew bones or toys. I am usually doing something with him during this time so he is not stressing out about the other dogs having something delicious that he is unable to get to. The last time I attempted to give him something to chew on, it was not a pretty sight so I have not tried it again, however, I will give him a squeaky toy and when he starts to get aggressive or growling, I either distract him with another squeaky toy and retrieve the original one as soon as he is distracted with the second one or I will offer him a tasty reward, which he usually loses interest rather quickly in the toy to get the tasty treat. He will get interested in the toy again if I squeak it, but I really have to be careful and at a safe distance before I make it squeak. This is a very tense (and still rather adrenaline pumping) time as I know that I cannot afford to make a mistake. Since there are other issues that need addressing to keep the peace and prevent any injuries, this particular problem is not addressed too much but since it is a non-issue without any toys/treats around, I am okay with what I am able to do about it for now. I now am able to play with him outside (alone) with a fuzzy toy attached to a rope, attached to a dowel, so that he can play. He will go in for the kill sometimes and does not want to give it up unless I offer a food reward, which then he fixates on the treats I have and loses all interest in his fuzzy little victim. Sometimes he is so quick, he will pin it to the ground…I have an image of one of my favorite Rottweilers killing a skunk once like this etched in my brain, which I immediately recall when I see this type of behavior. It’s a total prey drive instinct coming out in him and all he has on his mind is to Kill It!
I have all but extinguished this behavior with the treats (rewards) and milk bones. The only thing I have to make certain of is that they are small enough that he will eat them without any leftovers, otherwise, I would expect him to behave as he used to; the stiff posture, growling, guarding type of response. I do not know how he would react now since I have made sure to work within the margins that will ensure success and no stress for either one of us.
Furniture is off limits, there are more puppy beds around this house than we have dogs, so there is always one available. I do have to relocate his favorite bed/blanket to a new location every day so he is less likely to guard it or its location. Affection – he rarely lets me out of his sight and often comes to me for affection but I move away or ignore him and then come back in a minute or so and offer the palm of my hand and he comes to me and I pet him for a short spell and then send him on his way, usually with something like “Okay, that’s enough”, and as soon as he respects my wishes I tell him he is a good boy. This is probably the hardest part of all because he was locked up for so long and from all outward appearances, is starved for my affection. Crates send him into a total decline so I do not put him in one, instead I put up a puppy gate and place him in the laundry room, two floor length windows to see out of while he is in there.
I hope I covered everything, if not, please just ask and I’ll do my best to answer. Thanks again for the support, it is most appreciated!
MemberJuly 31, 2011 at 5:08 pm
Thanks so much for the response. I have tried the technique you suggested and will describe the results. I hope my experience will help others with similar issues as I have watched all the training videos and seen only one medium size dog, which doesn’t help too much when all your canine friends happen to be as vertically challenged as mine! 😉
So, I followed your instructions exactly and he hesitated to go under the tunnel so I raised my leg a little higher so he could see the treat. The first couple of times, just the nose and then the head and I supplied the treat and praised. By this time, (less than 3 mins) we have a major drooling event going on, dilated pupils and total fixation on the hand with the treat. So, now he’s getting pretty worked up, so I feel I need to get off the floor to place him in a sit and lower the excitement level a few hundred notches. After he has calmed a bit, I get back on the floor and attempt to have him crawl under but instead he powerhouses his way right under my leg in a flash, headed for the hand, err the treat! I still praise and provide the reward but honestly, I never had a chance to even utter the letter “D” in the word down it happened so fast! So, despite all the drool (so much for my morning shower!), I attempt it again, with the leg lower to the ground. He powerhouses his way under my leg again, aiming for the treat, this all happens in a few seconds and despite his low to the ground stature, he is quite muscular and strong. I’m thinking about now he would probably excel at the agility tunnels! Despite it all, I still praise and reward. I repeat the sit session to lower the tension a bit and try again. This time he leaps over my leg, slobber flying all over the place as he goes for the treat. At this point, I am not feeling too comfortable as he is really getting close to his break over point so I place him back into his sit, let him regain his composure, praise and reward, then end the session.
He’s very vocal when he is worked up, which since he is also aggressive, really alarmed me in the beginning. After we ended the session (much to his chagrin), I came back to post this message and he comes up, sits in front of me and starts his vocalizations, (which are similar to a low mumbling growl, I should also mention his direct eye contact with those nice large pupils of his!). He’s still physically showing excitement (maybe not exactly the right choice of words) so I point over to his bed and tell him “place”, which he promptly abides by the command so I immediately tell him “good dog!” He no longer receives rewards for going to his place (bed), just praise.
So, since I still possess all of my typing fingers, I am sending you this update. He did have issues nipping my fingers when getting the treats early on, thus the reason for the closed fist, then opening to supply the reward. I look forward to your critique of my methods and actions. He was pretty excited when we ended the down session, looking at both my hands trying to locate the reward. I just don’t want to lose any ground and revive the nipping issues that have been squelched for over a month now.
I look forward to your thoughts and suggestions. He’s a great dog who is not at fault for his circumstances. I want to give him the life that I know he deserves, even if it’s going to take us a while to get him there! Thanks again for your assistance, it is so very appreciated!
Okay, we made a second run at the tunnel method, yielding quite a bit less slobbering but still shooting under the leg. I noticed his willingness to try and do what I am asking but yet I can see by his body language that he is very uncertain, unwilling to completely go to the floor even when he does not shoot through the tunnel, (he actually pushes my leg upward as he goes under, starting under in a crawl, then standing to drive my leg upward while passing through). I tried giving the down command and holding the treat under my hand on the floor (after 6-8 tunnel tries) and he attempts to look under the hand without any effort to go into the down position; this is a new way that I am holding the treat, which he does look up at me like he is confused since I have not done this before. He has just recently become comfortable enough in our home that he will sleep on his side instead of with his belly always flat on the floor, so I’m guessing it is an issue of insecurity. I believe if I can prevent him from snapping or nipping at my hand, we will be able to make some progress in the next few tries. I’m thinking maybe I should start to familiarize him with the “leave it” command, in case he starts getting too rough with my hand, any opinions or thoughts on this idea? Thanks!
MemberJuly 31, 2011 at 12:15 am
I have a Dachshund (NM), spent a year in a no kill shelter with one kennel mate. I adopted him (06/2011) and learned during vet exam that he had anaplasmosis, which was treated for a month, blood work came back normal after treatment. As he became accustomed to his new home and started feeling better, he began exhibiting aggression with food, treats/toys, dog beds, etc. His aggression was directed at us and our other dogs as well. We have four other dachshunds (3 of them rescues also) ranging from 15 months old to 16 years old, who are very mild mannered, polite and respectful of one another.
In the beginning, not only did we have to separate him, we had to leash him during meals because if he left any food, we couldn’t get anywhere near the bowl because he would guard it and snarl at us. After much hard work, he now has his own space in the kitchen, where he eats off leash with the other dogs in the room, each having their own rug, which they are required to stay on until everyone has finished their meal. I don’t necessarily consider him rehabilitated with his food guarding but it looks as if we will be able to manage it successfully by sticking to this ritual as he does not exhibit any negative behaviors at all now.
I did take him to a professional trainer who interacted with him for about 3 hours and felt that he was insecure and needed us to help build his confidence. I was told not to attempt the down command because it might set us back since it can feel like a very vulnerable position to the dog. When he is in his own environment, he exudes confidence and holds his tail high, coming off in appearance as an alpha (at least to me). He still has some guarding/aggression issues particularly with the hall (high traffic area for the other dogs) and his dog bed/blanket, but you never know when this will be or how many days will pass until he decides to behave this way again. I cannot pick up a pattern to the behavior so far. He does not charge anyone, he just gives a snarl or quick bark, telling everyone to back off and keep their distance. Some days too close can be right by him and other days it can be as far away as 6-8 feet, some days he even shares (gets on a bed with one of the other dogs). He does not do this to us, just the other dogs. My only correction is a “No” when it happens and a good boy when he stops the behavior. I think he now recognizes it as unacceptable because he is usually looking right at me once he does it, anticipating a correction, which of course, I promptly give to him.
I feel comfortable with the closed fist, giving the sit command and opening the hand to supply the treat when he has completed the request. He does well on the sit and stay, which I also do off leash in the yard from 60 feet away without him breaking the command. I was advised by the trainer not to use a leash until later down the road. I would like to start on the down command, but it is frustrating for him not to be able to get the treat, and soon he is drooling and showing stress. Since he does have lingering issues with food, I would hate for this to ruin the progress we have made so far. Any advice would be appreciated. He does very well on the leash, though I have not done any real obedience training on leash since I was advised not to at this time. He can be absolutely scary with a toy, latching onto it like he is killing prey, growling, showing the whites of his eyes, stiff body, tucked tail, won’t release, etc,. I do work with him a little on this issue and he has made good improvement but I have been primarily concentrating on the other behaviors since everyone needs to coexist peacefully.
He gets along well with the other dogs, very friendly with them unless he gets into one of his “modes”. Which fortunately do not last long. Sorry for the large posting, but I hope I have provided enough information. He is estimated to be about 2 or 2-1/2 years old. Was an owner turn in. Thanks in advance for any guidance/suggestions.