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  • Truffle suddenly became territorial? Frustrated? fighting with the neighbour dog.

    Hi all,

    I'm a little concerned and confused.

    Today Truffle and I went to Thompson beach, had a day of it and went home. Just 15 minutes ago I went out to unpack the car. Truffle ran out the front door under my feet and straight across the road. There was a couple in their 60's walking a maltese and the two were sniffing each other. As I was walking over to collect Truffle a fight broke out. I don't know what happened (Didn't see anything) but Truffle was on top. The woman was hysterical (Somewhat understandable) but starting smacking Truffle with her bag. I got there within 2 seconds and pulled Truffle off. There was no blood and no obvious injury (Woman clocked me on the top of the head while she was trying to hit Truffle).

    The woman stated she couldn't see anything and picked her maltese up. I had a firm hold of Truffle and said to the man that I had never seen anything like that happen with Truffle. They walked away without saying anything. They've just come back. Apparently they live 3 doors down. They say there are a couple of patches of broken skin (Not muscular just skin broken like a graze). They're taking theirs to the vet tomorrow and said they'll bring me the bill. I THINK technically I'm not responsible for it by law (Primarily because no dog can actually be proven to be at fault) but because they were actually very pleasant when they came around and weren't aggressive I'm actually happy to pay it because theirs was on leash and Truffle was not under control as she was not meant to be outside at all. Any that is not the problem.

    What I need to know is:

    1/ Is this normal behaviour? Truffle is a staffy cross. She is 3, came from AWL 4 months ago. She has not had much interaction at all with other dogs since being with us as the obedience school I want her in starts classes for adults in Feb BUT she gets along with our cat perfectly well. She apparently got along with all the dogs at the AWL while she was there

    2/ Is this something we will be able to train out of her in group classes at obedience school?

    3/ Does it sound like general aggression? Territorial aggression? Truffle not really knowing how to behave around other dogs as she has been alone for a long time? or just that one dog rubbed her up the wrong way? The other issue is I have just had an infected ingrown toenail removed so I've not been able to take her for long walks for a month or so (which is why we've had so many beach trips lately) so she could be just generally frustrated.

    4/What can anyone recommend as my next step?

    I'm of course not putting the blame necessarily on Truffle but if there is an issue I need to deal with I want to deal with it now before it gets worse.

    After the issue I put Truffle in the car as the house locks when it closes (closed behind me) and I lost my keys in the incident (Found them across the road; must have fallen out of my pocket), opened the house and put her in the back yard. She knows she's in trouble as her tail fell between her legs and she is sulking. I did not hit her or yell at her at all and will take her for a walk now to get the energy out of her.

    AAAAAARRRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHH the joys of fur babies.

    Thanks,
    Pete.

  • #2
    incidentally I can't give any more detail as I never saw anything.

    Interestingly enough when I fed her just before she growled at my when I touched the back of her neck when she was eating. (I do this twice a day every day and she has never had an issue with it).

    Hopefully just a coincidence or because she is still a bit nervous after this evening.

    Pete

    Comment


    • #3
      Firstly I suspect that you are liable for the vet bill because your dog was not under control and theirs was. They could actually report your dog to the ranger so probably best to remain on good terms.

      What happened is not unusual behaviour for a dog but also not desirable but if you know that Truffle has potential issues you need to be on your guard at all times and make sure that she is properly secured if you have the front door open to prevent that happening again. I have had a dog that could do that and I was scrupulous in her management. You must not let that happen again as the dog will find it reinforcing. It could be a mix of territorial and fear aggression, not knowing your dog I couldn't be sure. Obviously a good start is to work on obedience and recalls and working with her in the context of people and dogs passing your house. Have her on a lead and ask her to look at the dogs passing and then immediately look back at you and reward heavily. Always make sure that she is not anxious or hyper alert. Try and work at a distance where she is relaxed.

      Obedience classes can help but they are not the panacea, you will have to help her generalise to different situations and understand her body language. Sometimes a few sessions with a professional trainer can help get you on the right track. The trick here is finding a good one. Perhaps someone from Adelaide can help with a recommendation.

      If she has anxiety sometimes a low dose of medication can help while you are training her, but a vet behaviourist is best able to make this assessment. I know a few dogs with similar problems where it has helped a lot. Again it needs to be in conjunction with good behaviour modification training.

      These issues take time to resolve and sometimes they improve greatly but never completely resolve and ongoing management is needed.

      With the feeding, sounds like she was still over threshold from the earlier incident, which is where medication can sometimes be useful. It is sometimes useful to scatter their food in the grass as foraging helps them to calm down. Licking also helps, I have a friend who finds a kong with peanut butter has helped calm her dog when she has had an anxious day.

      Comment


      • #4
        Agree with Kala, she was probably still pretty amped up when she growled over the food so wouldn't worry about that. You're probably a little amped up too

        It's hard to guess at what it was from such a brief interaction, but I would really set things up so she can't repeat that behaviour. I have found the majority of times with scuffles we have been in it has been while one dog was on lead and one off lead. Not a good combination so you're going to want to work on recall and calm behaviour so she doesn't ambush dogs walking past.

        Is Truffle more of a loud scuffle and flailing, or is she more of a hold and shake kind of dog? Both are horrible to watch but if she's the latter you really want to prevent that happening again as she is quite a strong dog and could do some damage. Especially if she was excited on greetings? Excitement can tip into aggression so quickly, as I learnt personally a couple of weeks ago :x (I knew in theory, now understand in practical...). I'm a huge muzzle fan so I'll drop the idea here. Properly desensitized, it's a great extra bit of security for you and your dog. Has the bonus of dog not being able to eat random crap off the ground quickly (can still do it, but gives you time to get there and take that kfc wing away!)

        (Do you own your house? Sorry to pry! But a front yard fence is one of the reasons I went with this house, to have a safety barrier if she DOES get out she can't just run up to the first person walking past. Also presents a great safety barrier when we work on training in the front yard to attempt to prevent territoriality and foster a "sometimes people walk past and that's okay" attitude. So if you can get a small front yard fence up as a security barrier while you're training Truffle that would be a bonus, but understand that can be quite difficult to set up.

        Definitely stay on good terms, that's the kind of thing you can be reported for and it's a good way to show how sincere you are. Maybe next time you talk drop that you're going to get her training and try and find out what and why it happened.

        I'd go step 1: Cover the other dog's vet check, a couple of scrapes shouldn't be too much. Apologise again. Mention you're taking this seriously and getting her training to reassure them in the long run.

        Step 2. start rewarding calm behaviour from Truffle everywhere, in your house, on your walks and perhaps quick little sessions with truffle leashed in your yard as people and dogs go past. Rewarding looking at you, looking away from the dog at a leaf, laying down....all that great front yard behaviour that will one day make you the envy of the street!

        Step 3. I think having someone come in an assess Truffle in different situations is a good idea, they can give an outsiders point of view and suggestions of angles to go through. It can be very reassuring to have someone put your fears at rest and interpret what they're seeing for you

        Comment


        • #5
          Thanks guys.

          To clarify; yes I have every intention of paying the bill. My comment about the legality was really just a "throw away" comment.

          Re the food; yes that makes sense.

          Re recall training; her recall is getting much better but there was no point trying it last night as she was too invested in the other dog.

          Unfortunately from what I saw Truffle pinned the other dog down. When she plays with her toys she does shake them side to side.

          From the damage that was done (this is just me thinking aloud here) it doesn't really seem like Truffle was necessarily trying to HURT the other dog. As mentioned above Truffle is VERY strong and her teeth are very sharp. She could have done a lot more damage. It looks to me like Truffle was only trying to hold the other dog down (Not that that's a good thing of course).

          We had a trainer visit at home a couple of weeks ago and they didn't see anything major we needed to work on; just gave us tips on how to train prior to group sessions. I'll give her a call and get another session lined up. With this new info she'll have a better chance of picking up issues like this.

          Thistle; yes we own and yes we have a fence however I left the gate open when I pulled in. I'll close the gate moving forward I think!

          re Truffle getting out it's completely my fault; I'm used to a much larger dog (Bailey) who couldn't run between my legs. Unfortunately Truffle is much smaller and I'm still getting used to her abilities due to her size.

          Thanks for all the help. I'm sure we can fix this. Even if it just means I need to manage Truffle's interactions differently.

          Thanks,
          Pete.

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by ihatewetsocks View Post
            Thanks guys.



            Re recall training; her recall is getting much better but there was no point trying it last night as she was too invested in the other dog.



            Thanks,
            Pete.
            I dont think that anyone would suggest you did that when she was so over threshold.

            You do need to do daily work on this when she is under threshold. The more you can reinforce not just her recall but also reducing her anxiety at other people and dogs passing your house or out and about the better. Take it from someone who has trained and managed a dog far more extreme that Truffle. It is hard work but over and over again reinforcing a dogs neural pathways and even using low dose medication if required is essential. You have to learn to recognise your dogs anxiety level and threshold and work to reduce it. Make sure your trainer understands dog body language. The trainer I used I took my dog to her so my dog was out of her own environment. This trainer had a fully trained calm dog of her own that she used in her assessments and it was handy to see just how my dog reacted in the situation. My trainer could immediately see all the issues and showed me how she was reacting with her body language and how I needd to work with her and manage her, I learnt a lot!.
            Last edited by Kalacreek; 22-01-2017, 12:22 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Different management is a good way forward I think It is unfortunate that something set her off and you'll need to keep in mind that she's a bite-and-holder simply because she can do much more damage if it is serious than another breed/mix of similar size. Doesn't mean she's a bad dog or your a bad trainer though because you're planning to do your best to prevent such in the future! some dogs chase, some dogs bite, some hold...there's like a whole gradient of what some dogs might lean more to.

              I too have forgotten to close that little gate before. I got off lucky in that she didn't go through it, but it was pure luck so now i make sure to close it. I sure got a jolt that day when I realised it was open and a potential problem walking past!

              I think it is something you can "fix" though! Every dog has its bumps you need to learn. Hell I'm coming up on my second year with thistle and I'm still learning things like this about her, but I'm getting better at going "welp! now I know, I will manage for that in the future to keep her safe"...but at the same time, things that were an issue last year (people talking to me in the front yard, guests visiting) are not issues now because of training and managing if I don't think she can handle it.

              You're doing a great job at planning and preventing keep at it!

              Comment


              • #8
                Thanks very much for your feedback and help guys. It's much appreciated.

                Generally Truffle seems a very sweet dog. Late last night we were sitting on the floor watching the new Macgyver (How rubbish is that show by the way?!) I was sitting on the floor in front of the couch, truffle was sitting with her back to me but right up against me. I had my arm around her scratching her chest (and giving her roo treats randomly for being quiet and calm) when my cat came out of nowhere, jumped over the arm of the couch and sat next to me and above truffle's head. All Truffle did was turn her head around very slowly and looked at Sushi. The sniffed/"kissed" each other and looked away.

                LATER that night the cat had disappeared, Truffle and I were in the same spot, I gave her a treat (She must have been expecting it) but she got very excited and jumped on me. I pushed her away, she jumped again (I caught her this time as I was expecting it), and she started air humping me. I THINK it was just playing. I don't think there was any aggression or domination there. Nor do I think it's a medical condition as she has no problem urinating. I put her down and we started command training straight away to take her mind off it.

                Hopefully everything that happened today is just because she got over excited at the beach earlier. Everything is so out of the ordinary. I DO think however she is bored/frustrated from suddenly not going for long walks daily (This has now resumed now that my toe is healed) as she has dug a couple of holes in the garden as well.

                thompson beach.jpgthompson beach4.jpgthompson beach 2.jpgthompson beach 3.jpgthompson beach 5.jpgthompson beach 1.jpgthompson beach 6.jpg

                Comment


                • #9
                  Humping like that is sometimes a sign of stress or change. They can do it to relieve stress. Yeah I would say something is up that has unsettled her.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    OK SOOOOO I've had time to think about this more.

                    I have my trainer coming over on Tuesday 31st to re-assess Truffle and set up a training plan (She's really good like that). Later down the line (A lot later) she'll be able bring her partners dog and child over to slowly desensitize Truffle a bit.

                    Anyway ... here are my thoughts ...

                    1/ Truffle tried to dominate the other dog
                    2/ I came in and pulled Truffle away, somewhat pinning her down. Now I know Truffle wasn't trying to get away here as I held her with my left hand and my left arm is bolted together with nuts and bolts. It's extremely weak. When I say I pinned her down I meant She was laying down on the footpath and I held her securely. There was no downwards force. (remember I could not put the leash on as the leash was in the car).

                    From this putting myself in Truffle's shoes She had tried to dominate the other dog and I had dominated her. This would have been a shock to Truffle and would have set her a bit confused in where she stands.

                    On top of this my wife has been away for the last couple of days (sick) and I had just taken kibble out of her diet completely. Adding all this onto the no long walks for a while no wonder she's second guessing herself.

                    While I pulled them apart I grazed my knee and foot reasonably well including cutting my foot on something sharp (possibly glass as I ran across the road when my thong came off). Truffle is now constantly coming up with her tail between her legs sniffing the cuts and muzzling my legs now. Is it possible she feels responsible for the owies or am I reading too much into it? She has not once been told off or punished (Except for being held while the couple got the other dog out of the way) and I am trying to settle her down as much as I can.

                    We just went for a short walk (Short because I'm expecting a storm and didn't want to get caught in it) and she was brilliant. At one road crossing I thought she was going potty. She was pacing and wouldn't sit (unusual for her at a crossing). I assumed she could smell another dog. As it turned out I had walked us onto a bull ant nest! (It was raining so I couldn't see through my glasses!!!) When I looked down my blue shoes were black with ants. We walked away, I checked Truffle. She was fine. No ants then brushed them all off me and away we went. No pulling at all and a very happy Truffle.

                    The more we see when we open our eyes!
                    Pete

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      OK SOOOOO I've had time to think about this more.

                      I have my trainer coming over on Tuesday 31st to re-assess Truffle and set up a training plan (She's really good like that). Later down the line (A lot later) she'll be able bring her partners dog and child over to slowly desensitize Truffle a bit.

                      Anyway ... here are my thoughts ...

                      1/ Truffle tried to dominate the other dog
                      2/ I came in and pulled Truffle away, somewhat pinning her down. Now I know Truffle wasn't trying to get away here as I held her with my left hand and my left arm is bolted together with nuts and bolts. It's extremely weak. When I say I pinned her down I meant She was laying down on the footpath and I held her securely. There was no downwards force. (remember I could not put the leash on as the leash was in the car).

                      From this putting myself in Truffle's shoes She had tried to dominate the other dog and I had dominated her. This would have been a shock to Truffle and would have set her a bit confused in where she stands.

                      On top of this my wife has been away for the last couple of days (sick) and I had just taken kibble out of her diet completely. Adding all this onto the no long walks for a while no wonder she's second guessing herself.

                      While I pulled them apart I grazed my knee and foot reasonably well including cutting my foot on something sharp (possibly glass as I ran across the road when my thong came off). Truffle is now constantly coming up with her tail between her legs sniffing the cuts and muzzling my legs now. Is it possible she feels responsible for the owies or am I reading too much into it? She has not once been told off or punished (Except for being held while the couple got the other dog out of the way) and I am trying to settle her down as much as I can.

                      We just went for a short walk (Short because I'm expecting a storm and didn't want to get caught in it) and she was brilliant. At one road crossing I thought she was going potty. She was pacing and wouldn't sit (unusual for her at a crossing). I assumed she could smell another dog. As it turned out I had walked us onto a bull ant nest! (It was raining so I couldn't see through my glasses!!!) When I looked down my blue shoes were black with ants. We walked away, I checked Truffle. She was fine. No ants then brushed them all off me and away we went. No pulling at all and a very happy Truffle.

                      The more we see when we open our eyes!
                      Pete

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Just 15 minutes ago I went out to unpack the car. Truffle ran out the front door under my feet and straight across the road.
                        100% your fault. I cannot give my dog the opportunity (open door to street) to run out the front because she can and has jumped the fence to give people walking by a hard time. She started this when she was about 2 yo - got territorial and possessive about the house, the back yard (always been hers) and the front yard and pretty much the whole street now (about 20 houses). She has also (when I was packing the car) leapt off the bed of a cabin I had rented in a caravan park - to chase the cleaning lady in her golf buggy down the lane. ARGH.

                        The dog has extremely good hearing and once she had started - I wasn't going to be able to stop her.

                        So the only way I can pack or unpack the car is if she's shut and harnessed on the back seat (not ideal in summer) while I pack the back end of the car, or she's shut in the house or tied up or locked in her crate.

                        People walking down the footpath have a lawful right to walk in safety so if our dog endangers that or just scares the crap out them - we're the ones at fault and in trouble.

                        Truffle is a staffy cross. She is 3, came from AWL 4 months ago.
                        so you haven't had her very long - so it may have taken this long for her to "own" your place as such. A protective dog is a good and bad thing. Bad when they run out the front door to include the footpath in their territory, and good when they eat the burglar instead of licking him to death when he comes into your house. Most staffies opt for licking people including strangers to death. But quite a few will not be so nice to another dog.

                        Hopefully your trainer will be able to help but the behaviour is entirely normal for your dog. It's up to you to prevent the opportunity - no matter what.
                        sigpic

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Thanks Hyacinth.

                          Yes I totally agree 100% my fault. I dropped my guard for 5 seconds and Truffle seized the opportunity. It just so happens to have been the worst 5 seconds to drop my guard!

                          The couple haven't been back over and I knocked on their door yesterday to get the bill but they weren't home. I guess I'll just wait for them to come around.

                          Regarding people being allowed to walk the footpath safely etc etc; yes I completely agree. At the end of the day I have taken responsibility and am handling the issue with my neighbour like any decent human being would. That is not and was never up for question. What I sought here was simply a guiding hand to help me decide my next step re training with Truffle (Not to determine who was at fault in any way shape or form). I had planned to join the next group class in Feb but with the new information about Truffle I may not be doing this; rather a few one on one home visits and step into the next class.

                          I am also now working on "nose touches" with Truffle to break her concentration when she sees a dog walking past. So far with no distractions it's 90% success while I'm holding a treat and 5% success when I'm not. It's OK for 1 day's work.

                          We just came back from another walk where we met 2 small white dogs walking (on leash) on the opposite side of the road. Truffle started pulling but we just turned around and walked the other way every time she pulled. That worked well and with no jumping or excitement so hopefully we can string a few of these wins together!

                          Thanks,
                          Pete.

                          I'll update this thread once I have had the next home visit.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            We just came back from another walk where we met 2 small white dogs walking (on leash) on the opposite side of the road. Truffle started pulling but we just turned around and walked the other way every time she pulled. That worked well and with no jumping or excitement so hopefully we can string a few of these wins together!
                            this is a good start. I can't use food for training be nice about other dogs... because - she will act mean and nasty then all sweet and lovely to get the treat - cos that works right?

                            If I'm paying attention to her - I will notice when she gets focussed on something and starts thinking about driving it off (blokes on bikes - ignored everywhere - except the front of our house - grr). And then I can distract her and use pats and praise to reward. Another reward is the opportunity to stay out the front....

                            We have a front door game too. I don't open it unless she's on lead or far away... I don't leave it open unless she can't get out (lead on or locked up)...

                            So when she's on lead, we go to the door, I wait for a sit. I get the sit - I open the door, slowly. If the butt starts to lift off or hackles start to rise, I shut the door... And we wait for calm sit no hackles and start over.

                            If we get part way (or all the way) out and she starts getting upset, we go back inside or through the side gate and round the back of the house (whichever is faster)...

                            ie she only gets to come out the front when she's calm and polite. the reward for being calm and polite is getting to go out the front (on lead).

                            this has solved most of our problems, but it all goes to hell when I'm distracted talking to my neighbour and don't notice the thing coming before my dog does. Tho she's on lead and can't do anything - I'd rather she didn't have the opportunity to lose her self control.
                            sigpic

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Update;

                              The neighbours came over and we had a good chat. I updated them on action being taken with Truffle and covered the bill. They are quite relaxed and understanding about the whole thing so good outcome. Definitely something to be said for being kind and just with others. I'm sure it would have been a completely different story had either parties been less understanding!

                              On our walk today we took a new route and found there is a stretch of houses to avoid. 3-4 houses with barking dogs and Truffle got a little excited (Started pulling). She was totally fine with the previous houses where there was only 1 dog but this was too much. At the beginning there was one house and one dog. She was happily ignoring the dog and sniffing the light pole out front, the resident came out, I said "how are ya?" he ignored me and boy if looks could kill! Some people are just bell ends!

                              Anyway we crossed the road to get away from the barking dogs slightly and everything was OK until a few hundred meters when (Truffle still having a little residual excitement) came face to face (through a pool fence type front fence) with a less than friendly mastif. The Mastif definitely started it this time. Before Truffle even saw it t was barking and growling and carrying on. Truffle immediately growled back and started pulling. There was no teeth, no hackles and no launching but I very quickly realised that was not a good house to walk past. We crossed the road and started walking away. I had to keep getting Truffle's attention but she never launched and only growled once. She definitely has a self control issue but we'll start small. The disappointing things about that dog are:
                              1/ He/She was left out the front where it clearly could hurt someone
                              2/ When the resident came out she started yelling at it and pulling it around by the collar.

                              Oh well, until we have the one on one session I'll be working on her self control and ways to break her concentration when she's tipping her threshold.

                              Pete.

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