Well, here goes....an incident we had

Discussion in 'Dog Training Forum' started by mjb, May 18, 2008.

  1. mjb

    mjb New Member

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    and a kind of long story about it.

    I have been hesitant to post about this. Sad, depressed, feelings hurt...nothing that really helps anything.

    Spanky is 4, and we've had him since he was a puppy. We got him from the Humane Society. He's a 30 lb. mix...their guess is terrier/hound. He was a difficult puppy early on, but I am an inexperienced dog owner. He was extremely mouthy, and all the classes we took him to didn't help, and sometimes made him worse. They were good classes, but they all were saying I needed to get it under control (which made me nervous that I had a monster on my hands) and showed me how to correct him with the leash. Nothing extremely harsh, but a correction none-the-less. It just made him wild-eyed and more nippy.

    I finally got the name of a behaviorist whose website said all training was off-leash. I didn't know what it meant, but I knew I wouldn't be doing leash corrections. He came in and by our second session, Spanky was a different puppy. Before, no kid in the neighborhood wanted to come in around him, and by they time we were finished with the trainer, all the kids were coming to play with Spanky instead of my son!!

    I really think the main thing he did was assure me I didn't have a monster! After that, I was much more at ease and could handle the play-bite while doing all the exercises to get him to quit. It took him almost no time to figure out what we wanted and didn't want for him to do, and it was so enjoyable seeing how much he wanted to please us.

    Through our 4 years together, he has been the best dog. Everyone who meets him falls in love with him. The vet talks about him being the most easy-going dog to work with. We are quite smitten with him, but he seems to have that effect on everyone he comes in contact with.

    He's so sweet we have indulged him quite a bit. He has gotten increasingly more and more treats. His pleading eyes and cute face are hard to resist, and we're all a bunch of softies. He has gotten overweight, and we have needed to do something about it. He's also gotten worse and worse about sitting and staring and sometimes barking to get a bite of something if we're eating on the couch in front of the TV.

    Fast-forward 4 yrs., and my son-in-law tells me he 'kind of bit' him when we were here. He said his teeth contacted skin, but his expression really didn't seem like his play-biting. He was on the sofa with a dish of ice cream, and he joined him. It was bothering SIL, so he pushed him away, and that's when it happened.

    I kind of disregarded it. He's never shown any kind of aggression. We can take food out of his mouth with no problem, etc. Then, it happened to me. My daughter sat down with food, Spanky jumped up to join her (and beg), and my daughter was telling him to get down. I decided I would push him off, and he put his teeth on me. The face was definitely a no-nonsense face.

    I didn't want any escalation. I didn't know if he was trying to change his position in the family or what. I decided to call this behaviorist we had used at the beginning. I had really liked working with him. Also, the vets around here have a list of behaviorist/trainers they recommend, but he is the only one endorsed for bite work by the Northeast Florida Veterinary Assoc.

    He has come out and worked with us. He has admitted that watching us interact that it was still hard to see him snap. He says his behavior still indicates he accepts us as the leaders.

    Through his time with us, he has seen that Spanky is not resource guarding, but he is highly food motivated and can be food reactive. His conclusion that his over-indulgence gave him the sense that he is entitled to food. His only reaction comes when someone has a high value snack and tries to push him away from waiting on what he perceives as his portion. He doesn't try to take it, though, and he has no problem if he gets something that we need to take from him. (If he can swallow fast enough, it's gone, though).

    The behaviorist is recommending a lifestyle change for all of us. No more indiscriminate treats for Spanky. He's on a No Free Lunch program and will work for his treats. We will also crate him (with his own treat) when we have food in the family room and will let him rejoin us when we have cleaned the food up. His preference is that we have no more confrontations....that we don't 'try' it again to see what his reaction would be.

    On the plus side, the behaviorist says just what we have thought all along. Spanky is about the sweetest dog he has ever worked with. He has no aggression. He can handle him in any way with no problem. He's happy and loving and makes him smile every time he's with him. That's the dog we've known for 4 years.

    I was heartbroken and my confidence pretty shaken with this incident. I feel better with the assessment from our behaviorist, and maybe Spanky and I can work it out. Before he came in, we weren't relating to each other like we had been before all of this. Now that he's come in, we seem the same towards each other again. Of course, he admitted that it does take some time to build up that trust again.

    Since I read this forum, and it's a dog forum, I decided to share the story. I was embarrassed and hurting and didn't want to at first. I also am going to try right now to follow what the behaviorist has recommended since he's highly regarded in bite behavior, so I'm not looking for a debate in how it's being handled. I can imagine that some might not think this is the answer, and if we continue to have problems, we will eventually come to the same conclusion.

    Right now, I think we're on the way to mending our relationship, and I believe we're working it all out. I sure hope so!!

    Anyone who read this whole long thing, thanks for the interest in it!!!
     
  2. Baxter'smybaby

    Baxter'smybaby swimming upstream

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    glad that you are consulting someone who can SEE what is going on--and that it is helpful to you. Sounds like it will be hard to change the habits that have been established--but truly sounds like it needs to be changed. Good luck and let us know how things progress. And some pictures of the guy wouldn't hurt!
     
  3. bubbatd

    bubbatd Moderator

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    I commend you for writing this and sticking to the problem !!! So many would have given up . I agree !! We need pictures !!!
     
  4. Zoom

    Zoom Twin 2.0

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    Good for you for not overreacting and immediately having him put down either! You got help and it sounds like it'll work just fine. Sometimes dogs forget that they don't get to control the food and need a bit of a reminder. NILIF is a great place to start.

    Kudos to your behaviorist!
     
  5. bubbatd

    bubbatd Moderator

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    The family that had Chip before I got him back spent a lot on a behaviorist . Counter surfacing mostly ....I never had a problem with him !!! I think he just wanted attention.
     
  6. mjb

    mjb New Member

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    The only way I know how to post pictures is from Photobucket, and I don't usually put pictures there anymore, so here are a few that are old and I think I've posted before.

    He is cute, and he really is a sweetheart, despite the problems I've had recently.
    [​IMG].

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  7. mjb

    mjb New Member

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    One more.....
    [​IMG]

    There you go. As you can tell, I'm pretty bowled over by this little guy even if we did have a setback. I'm pretty sure we're gonna be okay, though.
     
  8. drmom777

    drmom777 Bloody but Unbowed

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    He is amazingly cute. And it sounds like you are fortunate in having a good behaviorist available to you.
     
  9. bubbatd

    bubbatd Moderator

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    Looks like a sweet guy with an attitude !!!
     
  10. KatzNK9

    KatzNK9 Ozzy & Jagger Rock!

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    Good luck with your new training program. Kudos to you for realizing you needed some help to get to the bottom of your problems with him & having the conviction to make those changes needed happen. I hope you have a speedy turnaround & all good things ahead. Keep up the great work & you'll see great results.
     
  11. lizzybeth727

    lizzybeth727 New Member

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    How Cute!

    Thank you for sharing your story. I know that a lot of people reading this forum have similar problems with their dog and do feel like their dog is a monster or has some kind of disorder. As you have so eloquently described, these are certainly treatable behaviors, as long as you are willing to put in the effort and find an expert to help.

    Good luck and do let us know how it goes!
     
  12. mjb

    mjb New Member

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    Thanks.

    So far, so good.

    No more incidents so far, but we didn't expect any. We're not putting him in a position to have any assuming our observations and the behaviorist are right on what the catalyst is. And we're going to go along with the instructions to not 'put him to the test' again.

    Maybe he'll lose some weight along the way. He needs to, and his treats are greatly being cut since I'm not to drop him food while cooking, give him bites while snacking, etc.

    Who knows. I just started Weight Watchers, and maybe it'll even make that easier for me. It's easier not to snack in front of the TV than kennel him every time I want something.

    It just might be a healthier lifestyle all the way around for everyone. And, with time, I hope this incident is a distant memory that no longer comes to the surface.
     
  13. milos_mommy

    milos_mommy Active Member

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    WHAT A CUTIE!!!! It must be tough not giving in.

    It sounds like you're doing the right things, though. Some dogs are "tougher" than others, but it's totally worth the little bit of training you need to practice all their lives to remind them how to behave.
     
  14. adojrts

    adojrts New Member

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    Hi, it sounds like you are on the right track and the behaviourist is earning his money.

    Don't feel bad, these things can happen and kind of creep up on us, even those of us that know better.
    I am a trainer.....and our oldest terrier was getting very bad about leaping up and grabbing food right out of hands. My husband (its his dog) and our son thought it was very funny. I however was not amused but I didn't do anything to fix it. She didn't even attempt these behaviours with me.
    Then one day, I noticed that she had stolen a bag of dog treats and was in a crate gulping them down as fast as possible.
    I reached into the crate and grabbed the bag from her, now she didn't respond in aggression but she did figure that it was hers and she wanted it back. She grabbed the bag and my thumb, now she was tugging like crazy, I yelled at the pain, she had shredded my thumb.
    I was so pissed!!!!!!!! Not at the dog, not at my family but at myself. I knew better than to let those behaviours esculate and I had done nothing for months. And it was poetic justice that it was me with the shredded and very bloody thumb.
    I read the riot act to my husband and son and she was put on NILIF, problem solved.
    She is the sweetest and kindest dog that we have ever had the pleasure of having in our home, great little dog.
     
  15. mjb

    mjb New Member

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    Yes, the behaviorist did try to convince me not to beat myself up about this. He said that while he can point out our indulgent behavior, he will have to say he sits down most evenings with one of his small dogs in the chair with him, and they share a bowl of popcorn.

    I really knew it wasn't a good idea to do what all we were doing, but he's so sweet, and that face looking up while we've got food!! But, even before this, we knew things were getting a little out of hand, both with him getting a little overweight, and with him staring and even sometimes making noises when we would eat.

    I don't know why we let it get to this point, and I really wish we hadn't, but it happened, and we're moving forward.

    I'm just feeling so much better about the way things are going now and the future. I'm glad we went ahead and got the behaviorist involved before it escalated further.....if it was going to escalate further.
     
  16. Sch3Dana

    Sch3Dana Workin' Dog

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    Congrats to you for hunting for the right trainer when he was young. Every dog is different and not all trainers are flexible enough to find the right method for your dog. Kudos to you for seeing this and searching around for the right person.

    I wish you luck on your new training program. A few things you may want to think about:


    1. Place training- teach him to go to his bed on command and teach him that when you have treats that is the only place he can get them. He will learn to wait patiently on his bed as long as no one feeds him elsewhere. Then you'll be able to get away from crating him- he'll choose to stay away from people and everyone will avoid the pushing him away scenario that provokes his snapping.
    2. Many dogs naturally react to pushing with resistance that can turn into aggression. You can teach a dog to move with a push just like horse people train horses to do it. Talk to your behaviorist about a specific method, teach it like a trick (with lots of treats and praise) and then once he's really good, start surprising him by pushing gently when he doesn't know you have treats. As soon as he gives a little, tell him how great he is and pull out a surprise treat or run with him to the treat can to get him one. This can make a huge difference and totally change his mindset about pushing.
    3. Check his thyroid- many dogs with low thyroid gain weight and get grumpy. Especially since the grumpiness is out of character, I would do a complete physical with a blood panel and make sure he is feeling well.
     
  17. mjb

    mjb New Member

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    It had occurred to me that we might should work with him on the pushing....
    although he's extremely pliable to any handling....with the exception of twice now!! I just have forgotten to ask the behaviorist about it. Thanks for the reminder.

    And he trains dogs and horses, interestingly enough.
     
  18. ihartgonzo

    ihartgonzo and Fozzie B!

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    Spanky is RIDONCULOUSLY cute, yeesh! I can see why you and your family are so in love. : )

    You shouldn't be ashamed or depressed about this, at all. Every one of us has made mistakes, no one's perfect. It sounds like you found a great behaviorist, and you're obviously really dedicated to resolving these issues. Please keep updating us on Spanky's progress... and posting more pictures wouldn't hurt.
     
  19. Angelique

    Angelique New Member

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    Kudos to your behaviorist for his honesty. I can't tell you how true this is! :)

    I use a variety of philosophies. But, it's always easier with someone else's dog. It's always easier with an adult dog.

    Dogs (and especially puppies!) both evolved and were bred for by man to tug at our heartstrings!

    IMO :lol-sign:
     
  20. Pandemonium

    Pandemonium Member

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    Others that have already posted to your dilemma here, will remember that I had issues with Bernie our beaglecross puppy trying to remove one of my hands when I tried to get a bone back from him. I posted here, and received some of the same great advice you have. We've not had another incident with bones, mainly because he's not allowed them anymore, and we've worked VERY hard on the NILIF motto. Having said that he did have an episode tonight when I went to move his butt down the couch a bit, and he growled, in a way that wasn't his usual "but mooooooooooom.. I don't wannna...". He was abruptly removed to the floor, with my voice deep, and stern saying something along the lines of "Don't you even THINK about growling at me.. " Instantly, he bellyrolled, and went and lay on his bed with sad beagle eyes. I didn't lay a hand on him, nor really even raise my voice. I realized that I too have been guilty of allowing him things like couches, and handouts that were not strictly NILIF lol.. we're both in for a retraining in the morning.

    Yes, he's been fine since, we've kissed and made up, and worked our butts off in the park on a few commands that he's.. grasping, but not respecting! He did everything absolutely perfectly.. "So sorry Mooooom.. will work for love toooooo!"

    Good luck, and remember that everyone here has probably had to go through one aspect or another of all of our problems. There are great shoulders to lean on, and great advice givers too! Kym and Bernie
     

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