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Thread: Behavioural Issues

  1. #11
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    always late

    Have you posted in the training section - K9pro/K9force is a professional dog trainer and particularily skilled at teaching dogs to be comfortable around other dogs, without beating the dog or harming it in any way. He will only read and respond to your post if you put it in there.

    K9Pro Dog Training and Behaviour - Australian Purebred & Crossbreed Dog Forum
    Behavioural

    I've watched Steve work with several aggressive dogs, one at a time. My dog (being the super omega - you can be the boss totally non-threatening kind of dog.) was the practice dog, and the aggressive dog was worked towards and away from my dog until it could approach calmly. Some of them even did a proper sniff greeting and initiated a bit of play - in one short session of an afternoon. And these were dogs that would lunge barking and growling aggressively (with intent to attack) any time they got near a dog.

    First thing you need is control of your "puppy" so you can stop the lunging and pulling. I like a front attach harness "sensible" but there are certain types of collars and nosebands that also work. But you need to be taught how to use them by someone who knows what they're doing. Even having watched Steve (K9pro) at work - I wouldn't try some of his tools without close supervision.

    When I went to the rescue - I picked the friendly dog not the nervous shy aloof one - but I guess it's too late for that now, and you work with what you've got.

    But she quickly became over excited and I could not hold or regain her attention - food treats did not work. I persisted until she eventually was choking herself with trying to get to the other dogs
    This looks like she was self rewarding for bad behaviour. As soon as she becomes interested in something she should not - you need to stop it then. For my dog - "leave its", checks on the collar or harness, and very yummy fresh roast chicken distractions were enough. I have to be consistent and persistant about it, which is why we're failing to eradicate the possum poo as distraction but I'll get there eventually. Sometimes body blocking (stand between the dog and its distraction) works as well but you can't let it escalate to pulling, lunging and choking because then your dog might think the other dogs are causing this ie attacking and hurting her.

    What I know now, is to walk away and only approach while she's calm, and turn away the second she starts pulling or showing interest without permission to "say hello". I get loads of comments about how calm and well behaved she is now, but she was a bunta puppy. Wanted desperately to say hello to everybody and everything. She still does but has much more self control - because I've demanded it of her. I get what I want first, then she gets what she wants.

    Indi responded by backing away, tail between legs, hackles raised, growling and barking. I removed her from the situation.
    Not sure this was the ideal approach either, though I do it sometimes. Eg I don't want my dog to make friends with the gas meter reader man. She hates him and I haven't asked for anything different, I just remove her from the situation.

    The lawn mower man on the other hand... she likes him but she thinks he's "wrong" somehow so she barks a lot like she's trying to get him to run or something. And he keeps looking at her. So I say "don't look at her directly, look at her sideways ie not quite direct eye contact". The second he broke eye contact, she lost interest in him, stopped barking at him and went off sniffing the yard (as far as she could get on lead). It was a dramatic change. Then she came back and licked him and let him pat her.

    I'm willing to bet your nervous cat people were staring at your dog while continuing to approach and that freaked the dog out. If they'd sat down (on chairs, not the ground) and stared into space (can still watch her but not stare at her), you might have gotten a different reaction from your dog. Removing your dog gives her no opportunity to learn what is appropriate.

    You could benefit from some basic dog calming techniques.
    Questions & Ansvers from Turid Rugaas
    Techniques to Calm Your Dog

    I would also consider crate training your dog, and give her a big walk eg an hour in the morning and then put her in the crate in a sheltered spot or inside the house, until you have time to supervise her - cover it up so she can't see out if she acts nervy or barks a lot. Google "crate training" for techniques - the dog should see the crate as her personal safe place where good things happen, not as a prison and place of torture (eg no kids banging on the crate).

    And before drugging a dog for behaviour problems, I would consider contacting
    Paul McGreevy - vet scientist and behaviourist at Sydney Uni - if he can't help, ask him to recommend someone and ask his opinion on anxiety med for dogs.
    Associate Professor Paul McGreevy - About the Faculty - The University of Sydney

    You may still need to medicate the dog so that you can then train her back to more acceptable behaviour but the only way I'd consider it would be if the only other choice was PTS. I think you still have a lot of options before it comes to this.

  2. #12
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    Sep 2010
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    Kalacreek - thanks for the response. I will be going down to the kennel club training days each sunday from now on and keeping my distance. Won't join in the classes, simply walk Indi and some basic sit / stay / drop / touch / look commands. I am still working one on one with my trainer and she has been a big help. My wife and I have agreed that we are willing to put in the time required.
    We did try working with a stable dog but I believe my trepidition was being translated into Indi which did not help. This is something else I am working - keeping myself calm - I know I can deal with a situation should it arise - I am just not keen on it arising in the first place.

  3. #13
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    Hyacinth

    Wow - very informative post - will be checking those links after work tonight.

    Some of the training I am undertaking as part of the behaviour modification includes walking on a halti, crate training, calm on command and working on the "nothing in life is free" principle.

    My consult with behavioural vet was at Sydney Animal Behaviour Services at the Seaforth Vet Clinic. Their website is Sydney Animal Behaviour Service Home. The diagnosis and proposed management methods were following a long consult and exhaustive questionnaire regarding behaviour and previous incidents. Trust that I am not taking the medication lightly - drugging my dog is something I am not keen to do.

    My initial post was made only a couple of hours after the consult when I wasn't sure if I was willing to go through all the effort required for Indi's management. Following some play time with Indi, I know I wouldn't have it any other way, I just hope that I am up to the challenge. Having never been through this before - it is all very intimidating to me.

    I will start a post in the Training section to guage Steve from K9Pros response.

  4. #14

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    Sounds like you are doing a lot of researching and ready to take on the challenge.
    However I would prefer a behaviorist to asses you and the dog in your home environment and out and about, reading the dogs body language etc.
    I would be wary if the dog is nervous and fearful around humans as well and requires professional guidance.
    They will probably recommend clomicalm, which I am not a fan of, but that's just my opinion.
    It will be interesting to see what Steve' response will be.
    Good luck.

  5. #15
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    Molly33 - The behaviourist said that it was beneficial seeing Indi outside of the home environment so that she would exhibit nervous behaviour?? Indi is only nervous around people she doesn't know, she usually comes around to most people.

    The mediciation that has been perscribed is basically Prozac - there was another name for it but I can't remember it right now.

    A few photos of my bitza girl:

    When we picked her up

  6. #16

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    Just considering the whole picture because she has had a go at your little Dachie.
    All issues need to be covered from the home to outside.

  7. #17
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    Always Late

    Can't see the photos. The way I do it is to load them into a photo album via your profile and then use the link maker to post links or [img tags in a post (so the picture shows not just a link line).

    It seems like your behavourist is on the right track. I don't know anything about that Sydney mob - I only know Steve (hunter valley or newcastle area) and Paul (Sydney uni) and I haven't met Paul - just read his book and watched his videos.

    But things that look like your people are on the right track include

    keeping your distance and working at a distance.
    and
    walking on a halti, crate training, calm on command and working on the "nothing in life is free" principle.

    Me and my dog didn't like the halti much but it should still give you the control you need ie help/work. When you have a look at the K9pro site - have a look for the "triangle of temptation" info - and do that too. I skipped the bit about tying the dog up though kind of wish I hadn't cos a calm tied up dog would be handy when setting up agility equipment, lugging a crate can be a PITA. But she will do an extended stay and good recalls in exchange for her dinner. Yours might be at the stage where she needs to work for her entire ration piece by piece like a customs beagle instead of getting a lump of it at once.

    work on "leave it" too. Ie that thing is not for you to pay attention to - apply to all distractions and reward when she unfocuses from that, and then follow up with "watch me" and more reward.

    Practicing the approach and reading your dog and turning around - will help you calm down too. Ie watch her, watch for uncomfortable dog ie increase in alertness, intense gaze, pointing ears, head raising, tail raising, prancing, taking up lead slack then hackles... ie if you see hackles - you probably missed an earlier sign. And growling is way too close.

    The ideal friendly dog approach is indirect, oblique, at a tangent, with averted gaze, head lowered, tail lowered, lots of lip licking and ground sniffing. Even getting your dog to drop and eat treats from the ground will fake this a bit for other dogs and reduce the chance of a fight, it will be harder for her to make aggressive signals from a drop position too. So to continue the ideal approach: slight tail wags, crawling, and rolling over onto her back - at a safe non threatening 2m out from the other dog and allowing the other dog to approach the final 2m. This is what my dog does when she goes to say hello, especially to a new dog. If the new dog responds early with a play bow, it may not get to the crawling stage.

    Once the other dog has done sniffing mine, she will attempt to get up and sniff the other dog - but lie down again if it shows any sign of discomfort or quick movement. If the owner shows signs of discomfort when confronted by a dog with paws in the air, I call her away. I accept that other owners can be scared or aggressive too and most of them know if their dog is aggressive. Sometimes - if I think it's a fear thing on the part of the other dog - I will put mine on lead and have a discussion with the other owner about a possible greeting.

    But ideally it finishes with both dogs ignoring each other or a bit of play as gentle or hard as the other dog likes. If it's squealing or yelping and running away not going back for more - the play is too hard.

  8. #18
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    Second attempt at some pics.

    Indi when she first came home:


    Indi at 7 months:


    Fingers crossed...

  9. #19
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    Hyacinth

    Appreciate that - am going to go and check out the K9Pro site now.

    On my walk tonight, I was very aware of Indi's body language and noticed that a lot of her pulling on the lead was accompanied with tail between the legs, ears back and bum down. This started occuring approx 20 minutes into the walk when we approached unfamiliar objects - fallen bins or cars parked in the dark. I tried having her sit and look and had about a 25% success rate at getting her attention. I couldn't hold it for very long but considered this a success. It was difficult knowing that our nightly walk was causing her stress.

    As stated before I will be keeping Indi at a distance during the training days and any meetings with other dogs strictly controlled. My trainer has agreed to meet with me before the group sessions every weekend to give me some feedback and advice - she (Barbara) has been excellent.

  10. #20
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    I was thinking that if Indi started to react to strange things about 20 minutes into your walk it could possibly be because this is the point she started to become overwhelmed and stressed.

    I would start to keep the walks shorter and reward her heavily for looking at you. You might like to talk to her in a light tone or concentrate on watch me.

    If you are having trouble getting her attention it is because she is on full alert and too close to what she is afraid of and again you need to back off and use very high value treats. Her body language was telling you this - dont push it.

    Walking at night could be stressfull because things look different and shadowy. Again take it slowly - maybe 5 minutes and reinforce with high value treats and praise her willingness to walk on a loose leash and watch you.

    On the note of a halti, some dogs get used to it and others dont. My fear aggressive dog hated it and would semi shut down when she had it on but would revert as soon as it came off. I found really teaching her to heel on a normal collar worked really well.

    Again dont push your dog. Small sessions with high value rewards, try and relax yourself - not easy I know.

    Watch the body language and try and quit when she is relaxed and happy. Does she play with you?

    I know how hard this is, having been through the same thing it is very stressful but you will learn a lot about dogs. My experience led me on to a passion for training agility, obedience and herding with my dogs.

    Good luck with it all there is some good help around, you are definitely not alone with these issues! I have met some fab people from around the world dealing with similar issues!

    By the way I did try Clomicalm but it made no difference, I think this is probably better for dogs with separation anxiety, wheras my dog had fear aggression. There is some evidence that low thyroid levels can cause these sorts of problems and a thyroid test can sometimes be useful. It may simply be that Indi missed that critical socialisation window that closes at 16 weeks and she might also be gentically predisposed to fear and anxiety.
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 09-29-2010 at 09:45 PM.

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