I'm new to this forum and I am hoping someone can please help me. I'm begging.
I have a 2 year old ridgeback/mastiff cross breed dog. She was 8 months when we got her from the RSPCA. She was surrendered at 4 months old so she spent a lot of time behind a small cell. The time she spent at the RSPCA meant she was not socialised appropriately. That and it is likely the previous owner didnt do any socialising either. To make it very clear btw, I am not dismissing the unbelievable good work of the RSPCA. They are a wonderful group of people who regretfully have too many animals to care for and individual attention cannot be given to all animals. DH and I have always believed we should get our animals from a shelter before buying into puppy/kitten farm growers selling their animals at pet stores. All our animals come from the RSPCA, regardless of age/background and we will continue to return to them for future animals. The RSPCA are definately not to blame for my dogs bad behaviour.
It seems that prior to our dog coming to live with us, that she may have been very mistreated by her previous owner even though she was apparently willingly surrendered. While she is a big dog and could easily nail you to the ground if she really wanted to, there is nothing more heartbreaking then see her cower when you lift your hand unexpectantly to do something trivial like scratch your head or when you bring people over she doesnt know. I dont know much about dog training but I believe a dog does not learn that kind of behaviour out of nowhere. I also know she is never praised for this behaviour, nor is she consoled by us to reinforce it.
While our pooch may be petrafied of humans to a degree, she displays the opposite traits to other dogs. We find she tries to dominate other dogs, particularly older ones but not limited to, and she is always the offender. We have tried everything. We have muzzelled her, taken her to puppy training, tried the check chain, tried the halti (which she bit right through - 3 of them in as little as two days!), tried treats, tried praising, tried socialising, tried raising our voices, tried the clicker. Nothing has worked. Its terrible because we can not take her to our local dog park for fear of her attacking other dogs. The other day she attacked my sisters dog when her kids opened up the back door after given them instructions not to. We tried introducing them prior to the incident occuring but i could see my dog was trying to domianate so we seperated them. I thought my dog was going to kill it which was frightening. I held my dog down, while my sister tried prying my dogs jaws from her dogs scruff. I was lucky it was not someone elses dog off leash down the street and i was not alone.
Anyway, it isnt just our dogs aggressive behaviour toward other dogs that is a problem. I cant take her outside on a leash, esp. when other dogs walk by or bark because our dog harks up and will not settle. Irrisponsible owners who have their dogs freely roaming the streets is worse. She is 25kg's and growing full of muscle and there have been too many times she yanked me out on to the road unexpectantly when i led her by myself. While i have seen some women control monster dogs like great danes and other such dogs, mine is just too flighty and dangerous for me to handle without my DH's assistance. Even he struggles. We have tried distraction techniques, heel, her most favourite treats to use as a distraction and used voice control, yanking the check chain to snap her out of her fixation, everything. Our dog would rather stop all oxygen on the check chain then heel and gain reward. Nothing has been successful and we have run out of options. Our dog trainer was also no use either. While she was good, she could not come up with a solution for our problems after we gave her video footage of some bad behaviours or even when some were displayed at the school. We also could not afford the $200 price tag attached to have individual sessions with her.
Playtime is not much better. Growing up I have always had dogs around. While our dog can cower at virtually anything, I'm not use to mouthyness and boysterous behaviour. It becomes unpleasant to play with her. The only thing i can do now is wait for her to sit after giving the command a million times and then praise her if/when she settles. I cant play tug-of-war with her because this game she is obsessed with and wants to dominate. The one thing i am trying to train her out of. As the owner, DH and I are trying to establish dominance and be the leaders of the pack. I often feel sad for her when i go on the deck and come back inside without playing with her. She just waits by the sliding door hoping I'll return to play and i wont. Its actually very sad and i hate watching her behind our glazed windows (whcih we did because of her) and seeing her tail go from a waggle, to half a waggle, then to finally mope away.
Btw, training at home our dog is brilliant. She can sit, stay, watch, crawl, shake, come, rollover, go down, catch and wave which i taught her to do last week. In saying that, she will only do these things if she is undistracted. As soon as a dog in the neighbourhood starts barking, no amount of telling her to come or sit, stay etc works. She just will not obey any commands.
As you can appreciate, I am at the end of my teather. I love this dog. My DH is mad about her. She is highly intelligent. I hand her that. She is not agressive if you take her toys away, food etc. All her bad behaviours are ruining our experience having her though. I know that if something is not done now, while my pooch is not agressive toward us, I understand that she can turn and poor behaviour does not change with age. I dont want to have to have her put down or return her to the RSPCA. She had a really bad/cruel start to life and I would hate to give the previous owners irresponsibility/cruelty power over us and our relationship with this animal. I dont want them to have the last laugh. I want my dog to have a better and happier life then what they managed to give.. Regretfully, it seems the very short time they had with her has had a bigger impact on our dog than the 2 years we have had her trying to undo their damage.
My apologies for the huge post but I'm desperate.