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  • The trouble with my Kelpie X

    Hi Everyone

    Hoping someone can offer some help with my Kelpie X, Bunny.... yes my dog's name is Bunny she came with her name and she is a sweet girl with springs in her feet! (most of the time)

    Bunny is a 2 year old rescue dog that my partner and I adopted about a year and a half ago. We had some growing pains with her destroying the place and one escape attempt but we quickly sorted her out with training and 3 days a week at a local doggie day care. We knew she would have a lot of energy and we love that about her - she spends the weekends camping with us, running trails behind our bikes, chasing balls at the beach and hanging out with her preferred doggie friends. We're not entirely sure about her history apart from she was found on the streets of Dubbo, was probably a failed farm dog and isn't a big fan of men (especially with long hair and fluro on) but she's got a pretty good life now... or so we think.

    My issue is that she's got some strange unpredictable behaviours that we're not sure what to do about.

    She is nervous and stressed around other strange dogs when she's with myself and my partner. When we go to the beach she is constantly on stalk mode, snarling when any strange dogs come close and occasionally makes a dash towards a big dog (think malamute, ridge-back, American staffy, Shepard) and picks a fight, so far she’s been lucky that the other dog is submissive and runs away yelping but one day I'm afraid she wont be so lucky. It is an off leash beach and she is mostly responsive to my orders so usually i can get in with a pre-emptive block; command and growl but other times it seems like there was no reason for it at all.

    She gets along well most of the time at day care and has relaxed into thing there but she is not the alpha at day care (and gets told off regularly by the dogs that are) she refuses to submit to the alpha dogs in the pack there and doesn't seem to fully submit to myself or my partner either. Her dog behaviour is considered very rude and disrespectful says the trainer. "If she was this stubborn in a wild pack she would have been tossed out or killed ages ago." So clearly this is a big concern.

    She also snarls and hackles up randomly when people approach her to give her a pat, this is not all the time which is even more confusing because the same person can approach on different occasions and she'll be totally fine... almost like she's just grumpy someday's. This morning was icing on the cake... i had bent over to tie my shoe at the same time a man walked by (not approaching just passing) and she ran at him snarling, hackles the works. She didn't touch him but I am terrified that that will be the next step.

    My partner and I are getting married in February and will have a lot of people around and children, no to mention we want to have our own childern in the not too distant future so we're very concerned about the path Bunny is on.
    We are constantly training her, we eat first then feed her, and take her food bowl away when she's done, we make her sit and wait for us to enter the house first, we greet each other then her when coming home, she sleeps in her bed and stays there till morning. We exercise her and she gets mental stimulation at day care plus weekend excursions with us. We have even gone as far as to mark our yard with our own pee (desperate times/desperate measures) but nothing seems to be working and she's getting worse. I'm afraid that her warnings will escalate and that the time is coming where it won't be warnings anymore.

    Does anyone have any suggestions?

    How do I make myself Alpha, give her confidence and security; and save myself and her from further stress and trauma in the future.

    Thoughts and Suggestions are welcome!!!

    Thanks
    Stevens47
    Attached Files

  • #2
    Well to begin with the whole alpha notion is pretty outdated in my opinion. You don't have to eat before her, rather give her a routine and get her to sit nicely before she eats. Good manners are one thing but insisting you go first through doors is not going to get you far. She is not a wild dog, she is a domesticated dog and our living arrangements are very different from a that of a wolf pack which are largely made up of closely related family members who work cooperatively together to catch prey and raise babies and are not much in to killing each other.

    From the sound of it your dog probably has fear aggression. I had a herding breed dog once very similar. She is anxious when strange dogs and people are involved and would rather chase them away. The worst thing you can do is let her practice her stalking or chasing routine. You need to kepp her at a distance where she is comfortable and not reacting and reward her for this. Rewire her brain to associate strange dogs and people with pleasure. You can teach her to look at them at a distance she is comfortable and then immediately look back to you and focus on you. She probably gets very anxious when random people approach her for a pat, she is not being grumpy, the same person may approach when she is in a heightened state of anxiety and will react accordingly. Your job is to read her body language and protect her from this. People need to learn that some dogs are not comfortable being patted by strangers especially on their heads.

    Her behaviour is not rude and disrespectful so to speak- dogs don't understand these terms, she is anxious and possibly was not socialised when she was younger. Trying to bully her into being submissive is not the the way to go. You need to understand her fears and gradually help her to cope with them. Dogs are emotional creatures and she is reacting to her emotions and fears and what has worked for her in the past to release her fears and emotions.

    Marking the yard with pee is a complete waste of time as well. Do you know what happens to her at day care? It sounds like there could be some unpleasant behaviour going on which may serve to reinforce her behaviour and make her more anxious.

    You live in Perth and I could recommend you to a good trainer and behaviourist team who are reasonably priced for a consult and are well used to dealing with the issues you describe.
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 15-09-2016, 02:20 AM.

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    • #3
      The trainer is a great idea. She is very intelligent and working out her own ways to cope with stress. A good trainer will teach you how to read your dogs body language and other communicative behaviours. It helped us immensely. You do need a good one. Kalacreek has experience so going with the trainers recommended would be a move I would endorse. This dog deserves the best chance to live a happy life with you. You are obviously very caring people.

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      • #4
        I thought the same as Kalacreek. Your post is littered with references to dominance theory based training and I just want to say 'Wrong way, go back'.

        I recently read a study that concluded that punishment based training (which is what the alpha idea encourages) has a high risk of resulting in behavioural issues, like anxiety and fear reactions, compared to positive enforcement based training. I'd really be looking in that direction. Read up on clicker training, kikopup on YouTube is a good resource to start, and find a trainer or behavioral trainer that is up to date with modern training methods.

        Clicker training will be great to take the mental stimulation to a new level too.

        I love kelpies, but their smartness can make them more prone to anxiety related issue.

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        • #5
          Great thanks for the support guys.
          Yes our girl is very smart and has great manners most of the time. I make her sit, shake both paws, lie down then wait for me to say "ok" before eating. I agree, I think it is fear aggression and would love some help with this.

          Kalacreek if you can recommend a trainer/behaviorist in Perth that's reasonable that would be very much appreciated. She knows basic commands sit, wait, come, down, roll over, slow and a couple of tricks like Shame to cover her eyes with a paw and stick em' up. I haven't used a clicker before so maybe that would help, but then do I need to carry it with me all the time?

          She actually loves going to daycare and being with the other dogs, and I think the "Pack" thing works there but it isn't working at home hence my desperateness. We're doing the best that we can at this point and to be honest if it was just the occasional issue at the beach I wouldn't be so concerned but it's the people factor that is really bothering me. I want her to feel relaxed and confident being stressed and dealing with the anxiety all the time isn't good for her either, I want her to have the best life possible with us so willing to try anything.

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          • #6
            These are trainers I've seen recommended for Perth / WA area. If they're too far away they might be able to recommend someone closer. I've heard Kathy doing talk back radio for dog owners with questions and she seems quite sensible. No Alpha stuff at her place.

            Kathy Kopellis McLeod
            http://kathysdogtraining.com.au/

            Sonya Bevan Behavioural trainer
            http://www.dogcharming.com.au

            If you punish an anxious fear aggressive dog for being frightened - they tend to blame whatever it was they were frightened of for that and it makes the whole problem worse.

            You need to notice when your dog is calm and happy and praise that and reward it. And notice when your dog is getting a bit stressy and make space between you and the scary thing or dog. Last two episodes of Catalyst - but especially the first one - about dogs - have excellent explaining and demonstrations of dog stress signals.

            It's good you try to prevent your dog going after big dogs. My dog picks on poodle crosses but usually only when they're too close to my house or they get in her face. If I see one of these coming first - I put my dog on lead so I have control. I call her back before she spots the thing... so I'm not linking the recall cue with her spying the scary dog. And then you want to reward praise pat all calm behaviours you get. And stop when the dog gets stressy but don't scold.
            sigpic

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Hyacinth View Post
              These are trainers I've seen recommended for Perth / WA area. If they're too far away they might be able to recommend someone closer. I've heard Kathy doing talk back radio for dog owners with questions and she seems quite sensible. No Alpha stuff at her place.

              Kathy Kopellis McLeod
              http://kathysdogtraining.com.au/

              Sonya Bevan Behavioural trainer
              http://www.dogcharming.com.au

              If you punish an anxious fear aggressive dog for being frightened - they tend to blame whatever it was they were frightened of for that and it makes the whole problem worse.

              You need to notice when your dog is calm and happy and praise that and reward it. And notice when your dog is getting a bit stressy and make space between you and the scary thing or dog. Last two episodes of Catalyst - but especially the first one - about dogs - have excellent explaining and demonstrations of dog stress signals.

              It's good you try to prevent your dog going after big dogs. My dog picks on poodle crosses but usually only when they're too close to my house or they get in her face. If I see one of these coming first - I put my dog on lead so I have control. I call her back before she spots the thing... so I'm not linking the recall cue with her spying the scary dog. And then you want to reward praise pat all calm behaviours you get. And stop when the dog gets stressy but don't scold.
              I have used Kathy myself in the past and liked her. Dont know about Sonya.

              These guys are good and Tracey has a lot of experience with working breed dogs and their issues having done wonders with a working breed dog she took on herself that had some major issues. She is really very good. They also seem well priced. They do one on one training and have all sorts of options if you look through their site.

              http://www.kalmpets.com/kalmpets-cur...-dog-day-stay/

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              • #8
                I agree with the others about the word ‘Alpha’. I really don’t understand - Why you would ask the following question ? I will also ask - Are you ‘Alpha’ with your OH ?

                How do I make myself Alpha, give her confidence and security; and save myself and her from further stress and trauma in the future.
                Short answer – You can’t !

                My 2 pups and I work as a ‘Team’. They have their chores and I have mine ! LOL – My chore list is longer than their list – but it works for us. One of their chores is to protect me – while I am sleeping – from many things – but - it was the geckos that came into the house that stirred them up this morning. If they have a problem – like at 3.30am this morning – they wake me up gently - so that I can help them to sort it out !
                Once sorted – I am wide awake and my ‘Team Mates’ have gone back to bed !

                Does you pup trust you ? Does she think you are looking after her ? Have you protected her when things have gone ‘Pear Shaped’ ? What about your body language ?

                Pups really do not like making decisions for themselves – but if they think they have to – then they will.

                What sort of training have you done with this pup ?

                We exercise her and she gets mental stimulation at day care plus weekend excursions with us.
                Exercise alone will not form a lasting bond/relationship with your pup. Relying on the ‘Day Care’ for mental stimulation – also won’t work. You and your OH need to supply the mental stimulus for your pup.

                I don’t think you know what ‘mental stimulus’ actually means ! ‘Mental Stimulus’ means that your pup uses her brain – not her muscles.

                That can be only gained by the 3 of you enrolling yourselves into a ‘Dog School’ in your area.

                I am pleased to see that both ‘Hyacinth’ and ‘Kalacreek’ have suggested good trainers for you.

                Please - Don’t take the lazy way out by getting a ‘one-on-one’ trainer to your place !

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                • #9
                  I think behaviourists mainly do one on one training at the dog's home. Because they need to assess the dynamics in the dog's usual environment. From that assessment, they will suggest a training regime and routine tailored to the dog. I don't see it as the lazy way out at all? Group classes don't suit every situation, especially if the dog has issues with other dogs and people.

                  There are behavioural trainers who organise growl classes and similar, but you'd have to be very confident about their skills before you'd embark on that with a reactive dog.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Beloz View Post
                    I think behaviourists mainly do one on one training at the dog's home. Because they need to assess the dynamics in the dog's usual environment. From that assessment, they will suggest a training regime and routine tailored to the dog. I don't see it as the lazy way out at all? Group classes don't suit every situation, especially if the dog has issues with other dogs and people.

                    There are behavioural trainers who organise growl classes and similar, but you'd have to be very confident about their skills before you'd embark on that with a reactive dog.
                    Yes I am not sure what was meant by that, well I sort of think I know where Riley is coming from. I have always gone to the trainer because I live in the regions and had to travel. There are many ways and hopefully a good trainer /behaviourist will be able to get to the heart of the problem and decide on the most appropriate venue and it can change depending on the problem.

                    I think the first thing to do is make contact, explain the issues and hopefully the consultant has the knowledge and experience to decide on the starting point. Certainly the the ones that have been recommended should know how and where to start, possibly what Riley was meaning?

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                    • #11
                      Kalacreek

                      I looked at the Kalmpets website - can't find Tracey on it - does she work for them or someone else?

                      There's two Tracies in Adelaide one a vet behavourist and the other a dog/people team trainer - and they work together to sort out problems like these, but Adelaide is a long way from WA...
                      sigpic

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Hyacinth View Post
                        Kalacreek

                        I looked at the Kalmpets website - can't find Tracey on it - does she work for them or someone else?

                        There's two Tracies in Adelaide one a vet behavourist and the other a dog/people team trainer - and they work together to sort out problems like these, but Adelaide is a long way from WA...
                        http://www.kalmpets.com/kalmpets-cur...-dog-day-stay/

                        Yes she is there in the photo as head coach. Tracey Lord

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Yes she is there in the photo as head coach. Tracey Lord
                          On the home page. For some reason - I thought that was Kate. There's another bit of the website that has all the vets listed but nobody else. Under "Kate".
                          sigpic

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Hyacinth View Post
                            On the home page. For some reason - I thought that was Kate. There's another bit of the website that has all the vets listed but nobody else. Under "Kate".
                            Not sure what you are looking at - but there is a Dr Kate on the link 'Kalacreek' put up:

                            http://www.kalmpets.com/Perth-vet/ve...s-cats/Dr-Kate

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                            • #15
                              Kalmpets have a combination of vet behaviourists and professional dog trainers who work together for the best possible outcome for your dog. Sometimes it requires low doses of medication together with behaviour modification programs. Kate is the vet behaviourist and Tracey is their head trainer and manager of the dog stay.

                              Here is the most recent blog from Tracey talking with tips for managing dogs over summer. http://www.kalmpets.com/stay-cool-ka...summer-months/

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