"Instinct" vs. "Obedience"???

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Postby amazincc » July 22nd, 2009, 1:08 am

An interesting thing happened tonight, and I thought I'd share...

I have a "creepy" neighbor who lives behind me. He's young, has a gf, and they just recently had a baby. When I first moved here I liked them, but Sepp never did... and Sepp likes everything and everyone.
Anyway - the guy has come over several times to "borrow" small amounts of money here and there, and each time I had to call Sepp over to me and confine him to my bed room because he would bark/growl, and generally act like an ass. One time he went as far as to jump on the guy and knocked him down the porch stairs. Never any teeth or attempts to bite, though... he just used his head/paws and body weight.
My neighbor has a healthy respect for Sepp and thinks Seppel could be "dangerous if anyone ever tried to hurt me"... I have never corrected his assumption. :rolleyes2: :|

Tonight, about a half hour ago, someone pounded on my door. I went to see who it was... little creepy guy is standing on my porch. >(
Seppel flew into a frenzy... hackles up, jumping at the door, growling, barking... the works. I grabbed his collar and had to, literally, drag him to the second bed room.
Proceeded to open the door and got to listen to a sob story... guys gf was arrested for DWI, and he needed money to bail her out. He offered to let me hold his gun as collateral... wtf. :shock:
I know he has been arrested several times himself, and the man has a gun at his house... great.
I declined to "help out" this time. Guy got angry and got loud. I asked him to leave my yard and to not come back. Yelling and name-calling from the creep, so I just shut my door in his face.
He decided to leave... and next thing I hear is a loud crash, and Sepp has broken the screen and has jumped through the window, and is tearing down the porch stairs after my neighbor.
Talk about a "crapping-in-your-pants" moment.
I ran back out in the yard and screamed for Sepp. The guy screamed for me to get my effing dog off of him and just stood there at my gate, still inside my yard, not moving.
Seppels hackles were up and his lips were pulled back, and he let out the most menacing growl I've ever heard from him. Tail was stiff and pointing straight up in the air. As long as the guy didn't move Sepp also didn't move... he just stood there and "guarded", for lack of a better word/description.
He also would NOT come to me and I had to run back inside to get his leash. Once I had him leashed he tried to jump at the guy and I did hear his teeth snap several times, but he didn't make contact... probably because I had a death grip on him and he didn't get the chance to get close enough.
Creep left in a hurry after that, but yelled about sending AC out to my house tomorrow, because my dog is dangerous and tried to attack him.

So - I've ALWAYS been able to call Seppel off before, but tonight it was like he didn't even hear me (or ignored me on purpose). I have NEVER seen him act like this either - he's usually a huge love bug who likes all people.
I didn't punish him, and we did some "sits" and "downs" on-leash on the way through the yard back to the house... and he was fine. Once we were inside I gave him a hot dog. :oops: :P
The whole thing happened way faster than the time it just took me to type all this, but I still feel like puking... because what IF Sepp had bitten this idiot???

I'm kind of hoping AC DOES come out tomorrow to meet my "dangerous" boy... they're going to be in for one hell of a surprise. I'm 150% sure that propeller butt is going to lick them to death. :D :dance:

However... how do I work on obedience IF something like this should ever happen again??? I'm stumped. :confused:
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Postby BullyLady » July 22nd, 2009, 1:20 am

You know.... I'm not a behavior expert by any means of the word, but given that this is such a huge change in personality for Sepp, I would say it may be instinct. And it may be one of those situations where *no* amount of good obedience would have called him off because he truly felt that his momma was in a bad situation and needed help.

Another way to look at this is that Sepp doesn't view you as the pack leader and felt that he had to step in and take care of a dangerous situation on his own. I'm not sure I totally buy that, but I know that if this story was posted on another board I'm on that's the response you would get. :|
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Postby amazincc » July 22nd, 2009, 1:32 am

BullyLady wrote:
Another way to look at this is that Sepp doesn't view you as the pack leader and felt that he had to step in and take care of a dangerous situation on his own. I'm not sure I totally buy that, but I know that if this story was posted on another board I'm on that's the response you would get. :|



I HAVE thought about that (the pack leader thing), and in Sepps case, I don't agree.
If we were talking about Mick... maybe I would buy that.
But Sepp has NEVER as much as growled at another person as long as I've had him now... it's only this one particular guy who sets him off somehow.
As far as me being able to "take care of it"... the guy doesn't scare me but he annoys the crap out of me. Sepp has seen me become annoyed plenty of times, but he's never felt the need to step in before.
I usually have to confine him because he's underfoot and wants to play when anyone else comes to my house, like contractors or the lawn guy.
Sepp really is an extremely laid-back and friendly dog when it comes to people, usually.
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Postby BullyLady » July 22nd, 2009, 1:35 am

Yea, Christine, those reasons you listed are why I say I'm not sure I buy it in this situation. It's just such a huge personality change for him that I think it was more that he was feeling extremely threatened.
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Postby amazincc » July 22nd, 2009, 2:13 am

I fixed my window and put a bell on my gate, because I didn't even hear the little bastard come into/through my yard until he pounded on my front door. :x
I already have a sign posted on my fence that I have "Dogs On Property".

I think, legally, I'm covered as far as the dogs go... I hope.

Going to take Sepp for a long walk through downtown Concord tomorrow and see how he acts towards people... but I'm betting he'll be fine.

If anyone has any suggestions, feel free. :)
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Postby Pit♥bull » July 22nd, 2009, 2:26 am

Sounds like Sepp is a good judge of character :) He deserved steak instead of a hot dog.
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Postby amazincc » July 22nd, 2009, 2:42 am

Pit♥Bull wrote:Sounds like Sepp is a good judge of character :) He deserved steak instead of a hot dog.


Yes, he did... but those are all frozen. lol

Strangely enough, if that had been Daisy I think I wouldn't have even "questioned" the behavior (or her, or myself) - but w/the Pit Bull image hype I'm probably a little too paranoid for my own good.
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Postby CinderDee » July 22nd, 2009, 3:05 am

This is probably way too paranoid, but keep an eye out for this guy, especially because he's PO'd and has a gun. I'd hate to see anything happen to Sepp.
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Postby amazincc » July 22nd, 2009, 3:12 am

CinderDee wrote:This is probably way too paranoid, but keep an eye out for this guy, especially because he's PO'd and has a gun. I'd hate to see anything happen to Sepp.



Nope, not too paranoid at all, Dee... his yard borders directly onto my back yard, and I'm going to check it every day to make sure he hasn't thrown anything harmful over here. The dogs won't go out there alone either.

Yeah, the gun thing bugs me a lot... I can only hope that they'll move eventually. :neutral:

And God help the person who harms one of my pets.
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Postby CinderDee » July 22nd, 2009, 3:15 am

Does he rent the place or own it?
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Postby amazincc » July 22nd, 2009, 3:17 am

He rents. None of the other neighbors like him, but there's no law against being an ass, so for now we're stuck. :bs:
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Postby Malli » July 22nd, 2009, 4:03 am

I had similar issues with Oscar - most, though not all - of the people they were with were people I found "creepy" though not intimidated by at all.
He actually had a couple incidents that were "close"(and where the behavior was not needed or warranted) and I had to move to correct the behavior a bit (I say a bit because I think he'll still tell me if he questions someone, but not in such a *ahem* direct manner as he did before.

Bottum line, even though we've been through all of the above, I'll STILL question my view on someone that Oscar does not like. Its been so infrequent that he's ever had a problem with anyone that I've got to think there is something (a pheramone, a different scent) that he can sense that I can't.
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Postby amazincc » July 22nd, 2009, 4:31 am

Malli wrote: I had to move to correct the behavior a bit


HOW did you correct it? And how should I have corrected Sepp, if at all? Because, honestly, my heart wouldn't have been in it... I was in awe of him, first of all for actually jumping out of the window, and second for showing so much restraint by not biting someone he clearly saw as a threat.

Of course I don't want a repeat performance, ever again... but, damn, I'm looking at the little goof ball in a whole different way now. :smileUp:

Sarah (Hundilein) has met him once, and maybe she can back me up - Sepp is not a "suspicious" or easily-rattled dog.
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Postby Jackuul » July 22nd, 2009, 4:48 am

amazincc wrote:He rents. None of the other neighbors like him, but there's no law against being an ass, so for now we're stuck. :bs:


There are laws for harassment (banging on your door, yelling at you for not lending him money, etcetera). He's the kind of con (yes, con) who will start out small, and beg for incrementally more until he cannot get more - which is to say when he pushes it too far he gets angry and tries to intimidate for the cash. That's one of the reasons I never lend money to anyone outside the family - and sometimes inside.

Sepp does not sound like he's going in to "I am Alpha Dog - Hear me Roar!" in which he would challenge you as well as behave badly. Instead it sounded more like he got really pissed off (We're talking the Ezekiel Scene from Pulp Fiction pissed off), because for one thing he knows this d-bag is up to no good, and secondly (just as we have out subconscious moments where the brain assembles information and gives us 'intuition') his intuition was that this person, having grown angry, was a direct threat to you, and anyone else on your territory. Rather than usurping - he sounds more like he was protecting by getting close to "HULK SMASH!" mentality to send a warning (since Sepp never actually attacked - but showed what "Hulk Sepp" was capable of).

I lost a beloved dog to poison in 2000 when I was in high-school (Mr. Bo - a giant ol happy yellow 105lb lab) and the neighbor's died a week later from the same thing (and likely the same sicko). Anyways, Bo had that kind of intuition that you describe with Sepp. He was happy to greet anyone, loved people, would let you do anything to him - unless something didn't sit right, and he basically got bad-ass all of a sudden with teeth gnashing and the meanest look I had ever seen from a dog - and it happened only twice. One time was a vagrant in California (mid 90s right after we adopted him, I was about 10) that knocked on our door wanting money (we didn't even know the guy) and the dog totally went from being asleep in dreamland to Cujo - Man Killer (without even seeing the dude as he was knocking) and the second time he was on a walk with my mom and I, and someone who was hunched over passed by, and the dog raised his hackles, bared his teeth, and let out one of those "I'm a mushroom cloud layin' motherbleeper, motherbleeper!" growls you only hear maybe twice in a dog's life. The man crossed the street to get away from Bo.

I would seriously consider getting a restraining order, and never let the dogs out without first combing the yard like a crime scene, and if the dogs are out - stay vigilant - even if the phone rings, or someone comes to the door, or whatever. When you have a well balanced dog that gets ready to pretty much kill to protect you from one single person, that's a pretty heavy sign that the person is really, really bad news.
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Postby pocketpit » July 22nd, 2009, 5:09 am

I think Sep was demonstrating instinct and I wouldn't be the least worried that anything is wrong or will change with his normal everyday behavior. Good boy Sep!
I've had dogs that felt the need to keep everybody away and others that like Sep had never met a stranger. When the ones that love everyone displayed protective behavior I never once questioned their judgement.
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Postby Hundilein » July 22nd, 2009, 8:48 am

amazincc wrote:
Sarah (Hundilein) has met him once, and maybe she can back me up - Sepp is not a "suspicious" or easily-rattled dog.


Yup, I can back you up. Seppel is a total wiggle-butt gooberhead. The biggest threat is that he'll knock you over when he wiggles up close for petting. Very outgoing, not at all concerned about things.

That guy sounds really creepy and I am glad you are okay.
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Postby TinaMartin » July 22nd, 2009, 9:08 am

Wow I'm glad your ok. I personally dont see anything wrong with what he did.
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Postby TheRedQueen » July 22nd, 2009, 9:27 am

I think Sepp is really good at reading body language...as most dogs are...much better than us humans. ;) The other dogs might have read the same body language, but when push came to shove, Sepp has it in him to fight...thus the display you saw.

Inara choses flight not fight, even though she looks like a bad-ass when she's barking at people...truly she's a weeny at heart...same with Ripley. ;) Xander has gone on the defensive for me...because he doesn't chose flight...he sticks around to fight, and he reads body language well too. Sawyer would go to the mat for John...but I'm not sure if he'd help me. :giggle: Score...not sure what he'd do if I was threatened. Just not sure.

I'd also say that Sepp appears to be a very well socialized dog...as he knew JUST how far to take his aggressive display. Dogs don't WANT to fight...each other, or anyone else...so they put up the big display first. He knew how far to go...without landing a bite.

I'd be proud of him right now... :D
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Postby TheRedQueen » July 22nd, 2009, 9:33 am

Oh, and to add one more thing...

The fact that he wouldn't respond to your recall cue? I'm guessing he may not have even heard you...I'm guessing he was SOOOOO into what was going on, using ever fiber of his being to keep an eye on this guy. :| I don't see a correction being needed for this behavior. I don't smack John upside the head when he's so busy and "into" his video games that he doesn't even hear me talking to him (though I *want* to sometimes). I just repeat his name until he finally hears me, or I wait until his intensity changes, or I step in front of the TV. ;)
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Postby LMM » July 22nd, 2009, 10:15 am

Pit♥Bull wrote:Sounds like Sepp is a good judge of character :) He deserved steak instead of a hot dog.



+1

I think this was pure instinct for Sepp. And you may have felt annoyed but I'm guessing subconsciously another signal was being sent to Sepp that you were not at all comfortable with this creepy guy. He picked that up and acted accordingly.

I'll be interested to see how your Concord walk goes but I can already guess how he'll do :dance:
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