Is there hope...?

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Postby lil_red » March 1st, 2009, 3:20 pm

So I am in desperate need of some input to help me make this descision....
Sammy the pitty is GREAT... this is in regards to Joey the beagle...

Some background: Joey is a 6 year old beagle who came from somewhere in washington state and is the only survivor of his litter and his mother died 2 days after giving birth to his litter. His original owner picked him up when he was 7 weeks old and has had him until just over 2 weeks ago. I was contacted about taking him in after he bit her infant (under 1 year old) daughter when she was doing what babies do and was just pulling on him. I noticed he had extreme food aggression and was extremely intolerant of puppy behavior (Sammy is a perpetual puppy), but it's not too uncommon to see in adult dogs. I've been doing NILIF training with Joey since day one and he's done pretty well with it and it's really re-inforced his obedience training. After several days of having him here, Sammy would walk over him or try to get on the couch and without any warning Joey would react and launch into a full attack leaving Sammy with a pretty decent gash above his eye and under his jaw. They haven't had any scuffles since regarding Sammy's clumsy/ puppy behavior. I gave them each a kong toy and again joey launched into an attack with no warning splitting open Sammy's lip. They now only get kongs in thier respective crates. I haven't had any problems between the dogs since and as long as all food is kept seperate.
Today, I went to get the kongs out of the crates and when I reached for his, he became extremely possesive (new behavior). I got a treat so i could trade him for it. He ate the treat and I nearly had the kong out of his reach but he still lunged and got a slight grip on it. I got it away from him and he instantly launched and gripped my leg and would not release. I could not get him to release his bite from my leg as he was growling and shaking for several seconds. I am now left with a pretty bad dog bite through pants and wondering if there really is hope for this dog.
He's displayed the same bite behavior to the other human in the house on their walk, but he was wearing a leather coat at the time, so there was no teeth penetration.
I cannot in good conscience re-home him, nor put him back in a home with a small child as he is intolerant of puppy/ baby behaviors. If I take him to a shelter, he will be euthanized. All rational thought tells me that he is too unpredictable and should be euthanized, but if there is hope for him, I am willing to put in the effort to save him. Any thoughts? :|
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Postby call2arms » March 1st, 2009, 6:57 pm

I don't know about training so much, but he seems like he needs some hardcore NILIF and strict training, and learn to control himself, from what you describe he seems intolerant towards other dogs as well as resource guarding/food possessive, things that I know can be worked with, but it all depends how much time and effort you're willing to put into him.
I would not allow him around the house without a leash on his collar for control, and I would not let him around Sammy, since the poor guy is clumsy and puppyish and Joey won't tolerate it... Just simple security for both, what would happen to Joey if Sammy decided he had enough?
For the rest... I would find some pro help for the issues he has, especially since he has given you a good bite and he's bit people before as well... Does he give warning signs before he bites/lunges? And with his past, it's not surprising he has issues, he's probably not that well socialized.

Just toughts, I'm by no way a trainer!
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Postby lil_red » March 1st, 2009, 10:59 pm

I've been NILIF training since day one and been working him pretty hard to firmly establish leadership. He was pampered pretty hard and then I strip him of his priviliged title and treat him as the lowest ranking dog in the house. When he did lunge at Sammy, he gave absolutley no warning... no body stiffening, no head of tail lowering, no growling or teeth bearing... just pure reaction until I step in and correct him with a noise distraction. Sammy always just stands there stunned and stares at me.
Joey has spent lots of time at doggy day care and reportedly did well. I don't really know what that means and I don't know how many times he's actually bit other dogs or people that they didn't tell me about.
Today the only warning I got was the bark as he was lunging at my leg right after he slipped off the kong but before he latched on.
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Postby TheRedQueen » March 2nd, 2009, 12:04 pm

1. Has he been cleared by a vet for any pain issues, etc?

2. What are your plans for him...keeping him, fostering him with the intention of adopting him out, fostering him to give back to the original family?

3. This is extreme resource guarding that was never dealt with appropriately...sounds like he's been corrected to for his warning signals, so he's just attacking with little/no warning. This is NOT something that you can cure, train out of him, etc. This is a management issue...of course you will be training also...but this is not going to go away after this long. :|
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Postby mnp13 » March 2nd, 2009, 12:05 pm

Please don't take this post as an attack, it is NOT meant to be... I am going to pick apart what seems to be going on from what I see in your post.

My take on Joey -

lil_red wrote:Joey is a 6 year old beagle who came from somewhere in washington state and is the only survivor of his litter and his mother died 2 days after giving birth to his litter

Was he then hand raised by someone or was he placed with another litter? Do you know what was done along the lines of socialization for an "only puppy" without a mother to raise him?

lil_red wrote:I was contacted about taking him in after he bit her infant (under 1 year old) daughter when she was doing what babies do and was just pulling on him.

This is insanely irresponsible. She wasn't "doing what babies do" she was being allowed to torment the dog. The owner was letting this happen, and in my opinion is 1000% responsible for what happened. I put z-e-r-o blame on the dog. I'm going to guess that he was severly punished for protecting himself, and was probably punished before that for warning the kid. This teaches the dog that kids are very bad and creates very defensive behavior when they are around.

lil_red wrote:After several days of having him here, Sammy would walk over him or try to get on the couch and without any warning Joey would react and launch into a full attack leaving Sammy with a pretty decent gash above his eye and under his jaw. They haven't had any scuffles since regarding Sammy's clumsy/ puppy behavior.

"Try to get on the couch"? Meaning Joey was already on the couch? Joey should not be on ANY furniture. Some dogs hate puppies, and try very hard to stay away from them. If you are allowing Sammy to pester him, that is on you not on Joey.

lil_red wrote: I gave them each a kong toy and again joey launched into an attack with no warning splitting open Sammy's lip.

Resource guarding... not good, but that's "all" that is.

lil_red wrote:Today, I went to get the kongs out of the crates and when I reached for his, he became extremely possesive (new behavior).

He was in his crate and you were reaching in to take a high value item from him? Big mistake. Not only is he "cornered" with you blocking the exit, you are also coming towards him, making his his space even smaller. I don't think this is being possessive as much as just plain defensive/fearful.

lil_red wrote:I got a treat so i could trade him for it.

I wouldn't trade a pissed off dog for anything.

lil_red wrote: He ate the treat and I nearly had the kong out of his reach but he still lunged and got a slight grip on it.

He didn't view it as a trade, it was a bribe, and wasn't a "good enough" bribe for him.

lil_red wrote: I got it away from him and he instantly launched and gripped my leg and would not release.

You took what he had and now he was letting you know that that was not acceptable. How did you finally get him to let go?

lil_red wrote:I cannot in good conscience re-home him, nor put him back in a home with a small child as he is intolerant of puppy/ baby behaviors. If I take him to a shelter, he will be euthanized. All rational thought tells me that he is too unpredictable and should be euthanized, but if there is hope for him, I am willing to put in the effort to save him. Any thoughts

I agree that re-homing is not an option, if you decide that he is too much for you to deal with (and that's not a "bad" thing) then have him put down. Please don't bring him to a shelter, he's not going to make it out anyway and why make his last days horrible?

There is almost always "hope", it just depends on the lengths you are willing to go.

lil_red wrote:When he did lunge at Sammy, he gave absolutley no warning... no body stiffening, no head of tail lowering, no growling or teeth bearing... just pure reaction until I step in and correct him with a noise distraction.

Not all dogs warn, if he is mad and thinks that he is "above" Sammy then he may not feel that a warning is in order... especially since he's warned Sammy in the past

lil_red wrote:Joey has spent lots of time at doggy day care and reportedly did well. I don't really know what that means and I don't know how many times he's actually bit other dogs or people that they didn't tell me about.

this isn't your fault, but it still horrifies me.

lil_red wrote:Today the only warning I got was the bark as he was lunging at my leg right after he slipped off the kong but before he latched on.

Actually, I think you got a lot of warnings from him, and you misread them. That's ok, but I personally am of the opinion that the dog that truly gives no warning is the ultimate in rare dogs. Not seeing the warnings for what they actually are is the issue with that. If you're not used to dealing with dogs like this it's easy to miss.

If this dog were in my house I would limit all privileges for a while. I'd keep him in his crate unless he is going to the bathroom, doing obedience or involved in very structured play. I would slowly add new things in after 2 weeks minimum. The second that he oversteps his bounds it's back to square one. In my opinion, this helps them understand that the world isn't a horrible place and you are not a horrible person, but that you control that world. I would also keep a flat collar on him at all times and get a very close fitted toggle choke chain. If he's out of his crate put the choke on him, if he is not playing then keep the leash on the choke, when you are playing put the leash on the flat - if you are allowing him to run around that is. Keep Sammy away from him at all times, Sammy annoys him and he shouldn't have to deal with that for the time being. Play time should be very fun, but very structured. As soon as he misbehaves play time is over. The crate is neither "good" or "bad" it just is. When he needs to go back in because of misbehavior, just simply say no, and back in he goes. Try very hard to keep emotion out of it. If he bites you or tries to bite you that's why the leash is attached to the choke... use it. Simply pulling up on the leash often gets their attention, if not, pull up a little more. When he has gotten control of himself, release the pressure, but don't let go of the leash because he may re-start his behavior. **this is all my opinion and what I would do based on the information given.
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Postby call2arms » March 2nd, 2009, 12:40 pm

pssst Michele, you quoted me with things I didn't say, lol...

I really think that whatever good advice you get on here, a COMPETENT, QUALIFIED, trainer used to deal with this kind of situation would be very, very useful. Whichever way you choose to deal with this, someone to overview things, and see the situation "from the outside" as well as assess Joey (we can say lots of things but none of us has actually seen him) could help a lot.

Good luck, and try to be safe!
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Postby mnp13 » March 2nd, 2009, 12:58 pm

oops! I don't know how that happened....

all fixed!
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Postby lil_red » March 2nd, 2009, 3:35 pm

On the contrary, I don't take it as an attack at all... Any input is helpful...
I only mentioned his attacks on Sammy to describe his history in this house. They've been resolved because Sammy learned not to pester him anymore.
As far as who raised him after day 2 and until week 7, I have no idea what happened to him... I am only third hand reporting from the original owner.
We'd like to keep him as a family pet, but if it's an unresolvable issue, then he needs to be euth'd.
I think I just made a bad communication, but he was out of the crate completely when I went to retreive his kong toy. Then he saw what I was going for and took it before I could initially get it out so I went for a treat to trade him and set the treat aside so he'd have to walk away from me and the kong... but not so far that Sammy would eat it first....I guess still just not far enough...
I agree that the first owner is responsible for all that happened to him and the baby, and I could have handled things differently myself, but this is not his first time he's lunged at people... or made contact.
At 17 weeks old he broke his humerus (no one knows how) and pins and plates still hold it together and because of this one leg is shorter than the other and he does have some mild arthritis, but it's me that restricts his activity. That's not to say he doesn't get excersize... I just don't take him on my 8 mile runs...
The only time I saw any warning out of this dog was when he was just about to lunge at the cats. I've spent the last 2 weeks working with him(positive re-inforcement) and he's stopped behaving inapproprately around the cats.
After 7-10 seconds of latching onto my leg and head shaking, he released himself and just matter of factly walked into his crate and sat down.
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Postby amazincc » March 2nd, 2009, 3:56 pm

Well, yeah... there is always hope. :wink:

The question you should ask yourself before you get more involved w/Joey is - what are the plans for his future??? Clearly he's not a dog that will be easily adopted out, if at all.
Are you willing to keep him?

I had a "silent lunger" as well, although he NEVER came after me. That alone is pretty un-nerving. I very effectively "trained" him to be that way when he was a puppy... and something like that is very hard to undo, if not impossible.
I agree w/practicing strict NILIF at all times, and making everyones safety your first priority. Do you crate & rotate at all?
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Postby TheRedQueen » March 2nd, 2009, 6:41 pm

If you're up for managing this behavior and having to keep training and working with him for the rest of his life...and up for potentially stressing out Sammy...then there are definitely things you can do. First and foremost, as others have mentioned...get a GOOD trainer or behaviorist in to check him out in person.

For example: I've got a client right now that has three Aussies...one newly adopted. The new one is resource guarding everything...toys, food, humans, etc from the humans. They're committed to working it out...but I'm not sure the other dogs are down with that. ;) The other two are older...one very old (13 y) and the three are getting into knock-down-drag-out fights now over resources. :rolleyes2: I'm not sure its' "fair" to the older dogs...but it's ultimately not my decision.
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Postby lil_red » March 2nd, 2009, 7:28 pm

They're both left out of crates when someone is able to supervise.... when no one is abe to supervise Sammy's left out of the crate and free to roam in the gated off dog area of the house and Joey is crated. It's down to so much a routine that whenever he sees me in my work clothes, he just walks into his crate and waits for me to finish the routine with his kong and close the door. (Sammy has a really bad accociation with the crate and will only go in after our runs but still refuses to eat or play or even acknowledge there's a kong toy in there).
I took Joey on with the intention not to be a foster and especially not to give him back to the original owner but to keep him... if it came to it and a divorce occured (relatively immenant), it's been discussed and Sammy would come with me and Joey would stay with him. (We're both doing his training and being as consistent as is possible between 2 people with Joey).
When Joey met Sammy for the first time in neutral territory, food fell and they both went for it so I knew about the food aggression from within the first 20 minutes with him, and I know I can't cure him of it, but I know it's manageable. I made sure Sammy never had the chance to become food possesive because I trained him since he was a puppy that the world comes through me and to have a respectful attitude toward all people... we're still working on proper dog greetings so not every new dog met either gives warning or lunges at him.
Thanks everyone for your help and guidance! You've left me with a lot to think about.... :wave2:
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