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Thread: My rescue dog and that fence! :(

  1. #1
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    Default My rescue dog and that fence! :(

    Hi all, new dog owner here (12 month old Bull Mastiff X dog trainer thinks either Kelpie due to her socks/blaze or Lab because of her ears). Last week I rescued a dog from the SABBR (Staffy and Bully Breed Rescue) kennels and I'm having a few socialisation issues with her.

    Peppa had a very rough puppy hood, spent 7 months in a foster carer, then a fair few months in the SABBR kennels (they are a no kill org). She was a hard case, on anti anxiety tablets, and after I met her first, I could see why. She had actually barked herself hoarse.

    Still, I was told she had lived with other dogs and cats and children and was fine, just needed to be out of the kennels. She actually does fine with my cat back in Perth I should add too and is very people friendly (though she has barked at a lady who was a few hundred meters away while on a walk, I was told that was just her poor vision most likely).

    Anyway I did a lot of homework, purchasing and what not to prepare everything. And now Peppa lives with me where I teach in a small country town... that has dogs everywhere. I thought this would be ok, I am fit, I go running every day and I take her with me now. I also train her in the afternoon with treats for mental stimulation for a fairly long while; she would get rid of all that pent up energy and anxiety and would settle. But wow... well, maybe I was silly to think a week would be enough, because she hasn't really. When I'm home she is in with me, she sleeps in my room on her own bed and is docile, calm and meek in the house.

    The main problem is the backyard. There are two dogs who live right in front of me. I'm at the back of a long block with a shared driveway. These dogs when I first brought her home could see each other and would shove their muzzles at each other viciously. I stopped that immediately obviously once I realised it was even possible and kept her inside for two days until I could get the materials to block the gap. My bad, I'm a teacher and I get put up in Department housing while working country. I'd never noticed a 5cm gap before where the two fences join.

    Now the gap is gone, the other dogs are almost always silent, but Peppa LOVES patrolling, barking, howling and growling that fence...

    Today I took a quick 2 minute recording of it. I uploaded it here:

    Peppa going for the fence with some silent dogs behind it - YouTube

    And would _really_ appreciate someone who knows more about dogs giving me some pointers here

    Apologise for any grammatical errors etc, I'm exhausted!

  2. #2

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    Full-blown obsessive behaviour. She gets mental gratification from pacing up and down your fence, it provides a release for her anxiety. Notice the pattern that she follows when she's doing it, the way she keeps returning to the corner and staring. It doesn't matter whether there are dogs on the other side of the fence, it's the equivalent of a human checking the oven every 10 minutes even though they know it's off.

    I would not allow her to do this - you either need to prevent her from completing her circuit of the fence, or redirect her attention to a toy or something to teach her a more acceptable outlet for her anxious feelings. There are a number of possible ways you could do this,
    *physically block off that portion of the fence with objects or chicken wire,
    *take her out into the backyard exclusively on a lead for a while,
    *or be very vigilant and chase her away when you catch her doing it (then give her a food reward when she retreats from the fence).

    It's going to be very tough to break this behaviour if the garden is a place she spends most of her time.

  3. #3
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    Am I the only one who can't see the clip? It's just black... not loading

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mosh View Post
    Full-blown obsessive behaviour. She gets mental gratification from pacing up and down your fence, it provides a release for her anxiety. Notice the pattern that she follows when she's doing it, the way she keeps returning to the corner and staring. It doesn't matter whether there are dogs on the other side of the fence, it's the equivalent of a human checking the oven every 10 minutes even though they know it's off.

    I would not allow her to do this - you either need to prevent her from completing her circuit of the fence, or redirect her attention to a toy or something to teach her a more acceptable outlet for her anxious feelings. There are a number of possible ways you could do this,
    *physically block off that portion of the fence with objects or chicken wire,
    *take her out into the backyard exclusively on a lead for a while,
    *or be very vigilant and chase her away when you catch her doing it (then give her a food reward when she retreats from the fence).

    It's going to be very tough to break this behaviour if the garden is a place she spends most of her time.
    Thank you Mosh! I had a feeling it was something along these lines but wasn't really sure. Don't know enough about dogs yet.

    I wish she was attracted to toys. Even when stuffed full of treats and me acting like an excited 12 year old she doesn't seem to care about them.

    Would you think that me trotting her around the perimeter of my backyard on her lead. Feeding her treats when we get near the fence would help her forget about her compulsive behaviour?

  5. #5
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    Also just quickly, she is almost exclusively an indoor dog now that I've adopted her. When I'm home she is inside with me. I would like to be able to let her go outside to go the toilet without being on a lead though, and while I'm at work I'd like her to be able to stay in the yard as I'm sure it would be more stimulating for her than being inside in the laundry with her water/bed/toys (for what they are worth).

    As it is, when I take her outside to go the toilet she has to be on the lead because she would rather go bark than go to the toilet! This has caused some messes in the house :P

  6. #6
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    Mosh is right. SHe has full blown OCD type behaviors and you cannot treat her like a normal dog or expect a normal time line with her at all. I'm surprised she was allowed to be adopted as a dog that anxious it has to be medicated needs professional guidance from an experienced behaviorist who has dealt with dogs like this before. I have had a couple of dogs like this and it is a 24 hour job to make sure that dog is not allowed to exhibit it. It's almost like a straight reprogramming of her brain and management.

    Basically you are going to have to rule her life. Prevent her exhibiting the behaviors, she will start eventually responding to treats or toys or attention instead. Have her on lead in the back yard, dont watch her if she does start barking just go get her and redirect her attention with commands she knows well. Teach her quiet time like a crate or bed when she goes to calm down and stay calm. As for the back fence, do it successively, reward her for focussing on you very heavily. I dont teach focus on command I expect it from my dogs (as in they dont get taught 'look at me' etc, it absolutely gives me the heeby jeebys when I hear people repeating it) Every time your dog looks at you reward it. If you make a movement or sound and the dog looks at your direction 'YES! GOod dog!' at least to encourage the dog to keep the back of its mind on you which in turn makes it think there is more time for rewards. Dogs like this cant just be training for a bit here and there it becomes lifestyle which is why behavioral training is different from obedience. She can be managed but you have a lot of work ahead of you.

  7. #7
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    I agree with Mosh and Nekhbet

    It's her obsession. And you have to prevent her from indulging in it. And it's likely that once you have that one sorted, another will develop. I did see Victoria Stillwell stop a Red Setter (I think) from obsessive licking of things - to the point where the paint was peeling... I think it just felt good to the dog for some reason.

    A useful (relatively but not completely harmless) obsession would be the ball obsession. Ie if you can get your new dog to obsess about fetching ball - that becomes a handy training tool and redirect from any other potential obsession. I agree with the above, get yourself some help. Not so useful OCD - is chewing (things you care about or bits of the dog herself) or digging or other destructive behaviour. So stop any bad behaviour - by blocking - getting in the way or just catching and holding the dog until she pays attention to you and then praise like you won a big lotto. Encourage acceptable OCD - chewing on safe things or digging in a designated spot, or chasing the ball.

    For Perth area, I've seen this person recommended many times.
    Kathy Kopellis McLeod
    Dog Training Perth | Western Australia

    She may be able to help at a distance if you can keep the video input up for her, you can only ask/suggest that. A tripod may also help, so that you're not doing the camera work directly as this changes what the dog does a bit.

    If she can't, Steve at k9pro.com.au does distance packages tho not sure if he has one for OCD dogs.

    You may also want to get back in touch with the people that adopted her to you. I would let them know what is going on now, and ask them for advice. To me - it doesn't seem like all she needed was to get out of the kennels, but it is early days, give it a month for her to settle in. If she's still completely nutty after a month and you're having a hard time sorting it - the settling in period is over and she's likely to stay nutty one way or the other and you will have to manage it or send her back.

    I think that can be the trouble with some no-kill shelters. What do they do with the dogs that really aren't suitable for rehoming?

    And what are you going to do with this one if you need to board her or she needs to stay over at the vets at all? If it is just kennel induced problems.

    Gary Wilkes - how to choose a shelter dog

  8. #8
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    I just want to quickly thank you all for taking the time to respond. I've been reading/watching and talking non stop about this girl since I got her. There certainly is a lot of "stuff" out there, some of it very conflicting.

    I'm going to nut it out. Talk to the neighbours and see if she keeps that up when I'm not home as well.

    Some people have advised I get some strong smelling scent such as citronella oil or eucalyptus oil/wax and smear it on the "hot spots" along that fence where she loves to patrol and stick her nose against. Would this have any effect?


    Today I took a bunch of high value treats outside, determined to try to get through to her. Surprisingly, I managed to make it all the way TO the fence line with her focus completely on me as we did sit, down, catch and come. She seemed to completely forget about the fence! I was training RIGHT NEXT TO IT. She even happily and tiredly followed me back to the patio area once I was out of treats and into the house! I was flabbergasted. She had completely forgotten about the fence.

    I let her out again 20 minutes later because I was going to give her a bath. As soon as I let her walk out (she responds to "wait" and always lets me go first) she bolted, barking, straight for that fence. Despite the fact no one was there.

    But... after about a minute of her doing that. If I went around the bend and down the garden. I slapped my legs and called her name. She actually came to me. She would go back if I didn't hold her attention, but it was a massive improvement.

    I think!

    I have to keep reminding myself this girl is only 12 months old, I've only had her for a week and she has had a rough life. As she is laying calmly on her bed beside me happily showing me her belly (for the first time since I've had her) I'm finding it hard to have any form of annoyance. Hehe ah well.

    I'm going to get a clicker, have been reading a lot about them. I'll put in the effort and learn how to use it to show her the behaviour I want (think I'll need to get a proper treat bag too... sick of my pockets smelling like various meats ). And I might even go so far as to try something like the anxiety wrap. This girl is too intelligent and beautiful to not have a happy and structured home.

  9. #9
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    dont use citronella, strong smells wont stop her, it has to be physical. This dog can be trained but you have to be extremely firm with her at this stage and even while you think she's getting better.

    Remember do not let her fail, do not let her have the opportunity to repeat the behavior I cannot urge that enough. If she refuses to listen go physically remove her right then and there. Forget the rough life, sounds like the rescue really did not do this dog a favor warehousing her for that long either. She may get better, she may plateau, be prepared for either but don't feel too sorry for the dog. That idea will only cause more problems in the long run.

  10. #10
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    What Nehkbet said.

    The behaviour itself is self reinforcing ie the more she gets to do it, the more she will want to do it. So she would almost certainly do it continuously while you let her out there unsupervised. It would be very hard for her to stop. You know you have that particular habit sorted if you can stop her from doing it for a whole month of no failures (running to the fence and barking and obsessing).

    But every time you let her start - like
    As soon as I let her walk out (she responds to "wait" and always lets me go first) she bolted, barking, straight for that fence. Despite the fact no one was there
    that would count as a "failure" ie she's doing something you don't want her to do. And you'd have to start your month of no failures count - over again. Ie it will undo or set back your training every time.

    For the moment - I would keep the lead on her going out the back door - so she can't run to the back fence straight away. I'd do the focus on you training drills, and I'd try to get her to toilet on lead on command. And if it is at all possible - I'd keep her inside so she can't undo all that good training - when you're not around to supervise. I would not give her a single opportunity to bolt to the fence - for a whole week - but ideally a month.

    Gary Wilkes has a lot of great stuff on clicker training. And look up kikopup on youtube as well. And Ian Dunbar at Dog Star Daily

    And while you're at it look up "Nothing in life is free" aka NILIF or NILF.

    You want all good things in this dog's life to come from you, not her personal obsessions.

    With some OCD - you can Premack it, ie if it's something that is ok with your permission - then "premack" it. Ie when the dog does what you want give her permission to do what she wants eg "go sniff", "go play", "say hello". etc. Eg I don't mind my dog eating possum poo - a great treat from her point of view, but not when we're in the middle of a training drill, so when we're doing the drill I reward her for focus on me and I stop her from sniffing. And when we're having a break, I play with her or tell her to "go sniff" (find possum poo).

    I don't think I'd use this technique for the fence running - because you really don't want her to do that ever.

    And these techniques work on spouses, and children... provided you know what they are willing to work for.

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