Tess -long read

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Postby dogcrazyjen » March 4th, 2006, 10:13 pm

Ok, I would love to hear some imput into this dog and her training. Here is her story.

I met her at 12 weeks old, I was teaching her and her 2 legged mom puppy obedience. We used clicker, and that dog picked up everything in minutes. She was awesome. She lived with a really obnoxious 5 year old, a 9 month old and mom and dad, young and not married, in an apartment right downtown (although downtown has all of one blinky light, pretty small town). The fire whistle went off across the street daily at noon and for fires, it was deafening. She got little to no exercise, she was wound to the gills, but was very good with the kids. She ate cheap dog food (rocket fuel). They didn't have much money, but seemed to love the dog, although I never met the boyfriend, as he worked all week.

I went back about 6 months after we finished training, they were having a garage sale, so i thought i would use it as an excuse to visit "Princess. " I found her in the back yard, chained to a trolley run by a choke chain. Her spot was right next to the pizzaria, in fact the cars parked about 10 feet from where she could reach. She had no hair on her neck, a deep infection, and crawled to me submissively. She was filthy and had a cut on one ear which was bleeding from the neighbor dog coming over to steal her food. The neighbor boy was throwing rocks at her, and she was getting out when inside the house and harrassing people. She would run up to people barking, then panic when they reached for her. They told me they were going to take her to the pound, which would have been an immediate death sentance. So I told her I would ask my husband, and he agreed to take her.

She was not house broken or crate trained, and had separation anxiety and fear issues. (The first two months were a mess, between trying to crate train her AND housebreak.)


So we get her home, and she starts settling in. My husband Dave greeted her for the first time, and i think he may have scratched her where her neck was sore, because she jumped as if goosed and backed up barking. I redirected her with food, she immediately refocused on me. After a few days she relaxed and now my husband can do just about anything to her and she is ok. My brother in law Steve is a lot like Dave and she took to him immediately. Everyone else needs to ignore her until SHE decides she is OK with them.

The first few months were just management, she killed a crate before finally being OK in one, and it took her months to housebreak.

She does not greet people standing, standing people make her very defensive, she barks at them; she seems not to understand HOW to greet people this way. She will approach standing people for treats, but is nervous. She does not shy away until the person raises their hand to her head, then she gooses sideways, barks, and puts her mouth between the hand and her. She has never made contact. The problem is she waits until they are about half an inch from her head to do this, so I have asked people to just not pet her, and the behavior has stopped. She never goes anywhere off leash, and where i take her for socialization there are all rescue savvy people.

If people are sitting she passes them by like they aren't there for a while; she will try to climb in their laps after she realizes they won't go to her, head and tail down and wagging, ears back. If the person stays quiet and just lets her be, they can after a few minutes pet her and then they are in like Flynn. I do not think this is dominant behavior, because she is very submissive to me and others she is comfortable with, takes verbal corrections well, calls off things easily, etc. Again, I only do this with dog savvy people.

If I take her to a new situation, the tie-out behaviors come back, pulling, lunging, barking, rapid breathing, erratic eye movement. She is getting better about focusing, and you can see her pull it together after a short while. We do eye contact for treats and you can see the switch moving from panic to thinking. Once she is focused she is focused.

We have had several incidences of her true fear. All times involved her needing to go in her crate when she is in trouble. The last time was because she had yanked me clean off my feet outside. I was furious, and said HOUSE!. She ran ahead of me (on a 20 foot lead) into the house, but then tried to go the opposite direction of her crate. I said CRATE and she pulled out of her collar. I chased her down holding the lease, and when I went to bend down to put the collar on her she laid on her back, eyes bugging out. (Previously, when I went to reach for her when she was like that she would wait until I was right about to touch her and grab my hand. She would do so with her lips only, and she looked as if she really did not want to do it. I didn't do that again.) So this time I said nothing, made a noose with the leash, lassoed her, and walked to her crate. As soon as she felt the noose tighten, she ran to her crate and went in. The whole time it was clear she was in complete panic mode. I said nothing, just put her in her crate and shut the door after taking off the noose. Later when she came out it was as if nothing ever happened.

She also dislikes being held still and did not like to be examined, if she starts panicking she will fishtail and back out when I am holding her. We have been working to desensitize her to holding and touching feet, ears, etc. I can now examine her ears, teeth, and usually her feet. This was taught to her as a puppy, but she developed fears after I stopped working with her.

I work on avoiding those fear situations, and am trying to get her used to new places. I need to continue her obedience training in distracting areas. For flyball, people need to be able to hold her, so we have been clicker training her to line up between legs, both mine and other people's, so they can hold her with their knees. She doesn't seem to mind that nearly so much as hands. Makes me wonder if her old owners dragged her around by the collar as punishment or something, as she was not like this as a puppy. I yank on her collar in play all the time, I push her around, put her in headlocks, pick her up, etc, all when she is happy and comfortable. I act erratic when we play, mimicing people who are scared of dogs, then reward her with tug when she stays calm. She is getting better, but it is a slow process. My goal is to get her CGC at the Bull-ympics.


I would love to hear how people have been working on these issues with their dogs, and if pitts need anything specific to be done. So far I have found with mine one reward is worth a hundred corrections, she thrives on operant clicker training. The key is getting her in work mode. I have not pushed the obedience to more than a pleasurable activity to boost confidence. Oh, and when she plays frisbee, you can have a hundred people around, and she will hyper focus on the disc. That is her game!

Has anyone read Pam Denisons books? She has a phenominal growl class in NJ, where they train very aggressive dogs to be less aggressive. Her book Bringing Light to Shadow is a great read.

Hope this hasn't bored everyone to tears!
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Postby pLaurent » March 4th, 2006, 11:24 pm

I"m sure no expert - I did try and deal with one dog with fear issues, and my opinion is that you need to slow down a whole lot with her. Baby steps are needed.

Do NOT let people loom over her and reach down to pet her right now.
Everyone must ignore her totally and not even make eye contact with her.

She must learn to put her trust in you before she can go forward, and she will not trust if she feels you are letting people approach her in a way that frightens her. This is why she feels she needs to protect herself and get away.

We have had several incidences of her true fear. All times involved her needing to go in her crate when she is in trouble. The last time was because she had yanked me clean off my feet outside. I was furious, and said HOUSE!. She ran ahead of me (on a 20 foot lead) into the house, but then tried to go the opposite direction of her crate. I said CRATE and she pulled out of her collar. I chased her down holding the lease, and when I went to bend down to put the collar on her she laid on her back, eyes bugging out


I know we are only human and not perfect, but if you feel yourself becoming "furious" at this abused and frightened puppy, please walk away and do some breathing. She should never be dragged and forced into a crate as punishment.

As I said, she must trust you to be her protector, and if you are doing things in a rage that make her eyes bug with fear, this could be a very long process indeed.

and if pitts need anything specific to be done.

In general, pit bulls tend to be quite soft natured, and need positive training and do not respond well to any harsh or punitive methods. My dog is so soft that even a dirty look or one harsh wood makes her dissolve!

I"m sure others here will have much better and more detailed advice, and I want to say thanks for taking this poor dog out of a horrible situation.
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Postby dogcrazyjen » March 4th, 2006, 11:59 pm

Thanks for the advice. Yes, I have stopped letting anyone approach her. The last time was my FIL two months ago, who was well meaning but had her trapped. I had to push past his insistances of "Oh, it's Ok" and past him physically when he was trying to pet her.(God save me from well meaning people!)

Since the first month we got her we have been on a strict only let her approach, and only let her elicit attention, not people pushing it on her. She is doing much better with that.


It is hard for me because I see her occassionally using her submissiveness to get out of doing things she does not want to do. I will be upstairs, and she will need to go in her crate, with me asking very nicely, ( this only happens about once or twice a month). Well, she doesn't want to, so she starts acting like I am going to beat her doing her sad eyes and hunched shoulders. I have been just calling her to me, petting her for a minute in front of the crate until she relaxes, then pointing into it saying 'crate', and waiting. She takes a minute, but then goes in. I shut the door, then go around the corner and get a handful of catfood for her. Before she would just race back downstairs, so we are making progress. The funny thing is normally I just grab a piece of hot dog because I am downstairs, and she races upstairs as fast as she can and is waiting in her crate for me. She just wants a payoff, but I don't want to depend on a lure forever.

Does anyone else have a soft dog until she feels like doing something else?
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Postby Maryellen » March 5th, 2006, 4:45 pm

first, a big BOW DOWN to you for taking this poor pup.. second, take the owners, put big chains around their necks and tie them up like tess was.. then, give them 3 drops of water once a week for 3 weeks, and no food.. as they start to fail, take a baseball bat and hammer in the entire top half of the bat 10 inch long carpenter nails.. then, wait a few days.. then go to the tied up owners, and beat them both severely for neglecting tess. both of them.. then, as they are wailing in pain, take a pound of salt and pour it into the wounds.. beat again with the bat.. repeatedely.. then, wait 4 minutes, and then pour vinegar all over their open wounds.. then repeat with the salt.. beat them again repeatedely, then finally pour battery acid on their wounds, and as they are screaming cut out their tongues, stuff them down their throats, and pour the battery acid down their throats.. then walk away with a skip in your beat and smile like there is no tomorrow..
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Postby mnp13 » March 5th, 2006, 5:00 pm

Jen, I've been thinking about this since we spoke last night. this problem seems to have 100 levels to it. I hope you are able to make it out here next weekend. I told one of my club members about your dog, and she is very interested in helping you. She has worked with fear aggressive Mastiffs - same problem with 180 pounds of dog behind it.

I hesitate to give you any advice at all on line. It would seem that you are currently managing the situation, and with a problem this complicated, in my opinion, you need to have someone really see and experience what you are dealing with.

There are a lot of people here with FAR more experience than I have so hopefully they will chime in.
Michelle

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Postby pLaurent » March 5th, 2006, 7:31 pm

second, take the owners, put big chains around their necks and tie them up like tess was.. then, give them 3 drops of water once a week for 3 weeks, and no food.. as they start to fail, take a baseball bat and hammer in the entire top half of the bat 10 inch long carpenter nails.. then, wait a few days.. then go to the tied up owners, and beat them both severely for neglecting tess. both of them.. then, as they are wailing in pain, take a pound of salt and pour it into the wounds.. beat again with the bat.. repeatedely.. then, wait 4 minutes, and then pour vinegar all over their open wounds.. then repeat with the salt.. beat them again repeatedely, then finally pour battery acid on their wounds, and as they are screaming cut out their tongues, stuff them down their throats, and pour the battery acid down their throats.. then walk away with a skip in your beat and smile like there is no tomorrow..


Gee, I didn't want to sound like a violent person, but ...

Image

Jen, this is going to be a long process, and you better have unlimited patience. This dog has no reason in the world to trust humans, who have ever only abused her, so you must gain her trust by being fair and providing secure leadership to her. Obedience training can help with this, but it must be positive training all the way.

Well, she doesn't want to, so she starts acting like I am going to beat her doing her sad eyes and hunched shoulders. I have been just calling her to me, petting her for a minute in front of the crate until she relaxes, then pointing into it saying 'crate', and waiting

Never call her to you for anything she isn't going to like - crating, nail cutting etc. This will teach her that coming to you results in unpleasant things happening. You must go to her, put her leash on and guide her gently and firmly.

This is a dog who has had bad things done to her at the hands of humans. If you get "furious" at her and drag her or stick in a crate, she really doesn't know what you will do to her, and is probably expecting the worst, so she becomes submissive to try and lessen the punishment.

If you try and see things from her POV, it may be less frustrating for you.
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Postby cheekymunkee » March 5th, 2006, 8:53 pm

Maryellen wrote:first, a big BOW DOWN to you for taking this poor pup.. second, take the owners, put big chains around their necks and tie them up like tess was.. then, give them 3 drops of water once a week for 3 weeks, and no food.. as they start to fail, take a baseball bat and hammer in the entire top half of the bat 10 inch long carpenter nails.. then, wait a few days.. then go to the tied up owners, and beat them both severely for neglecting tess. both of them.. then, as they are wailing in pain, take a pound of salt and pour it into the wounds.. beat again with the bat.. repeatedely.. then, wait 4 minutes, and then pour vinegar all over their open wounds.. then repeat with the salt.. beat them again repeatedely, then finally pour battery acid on their wounds, and as they are screaming cut out their tongues, stuff them down their throats, and pour the battery acid down their throats.. then walk away with a skip in your beat and smile like there is no tomorrow..


I bet Jamie is TERRIFIED of you! :shock:
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Debby
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Postby Maryellen » March 5th, 2006, 9:59 pm

heheheee..... i should write horror movies with my imagination...

just go slow and easy with tess, take it one day at a time...
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Postby dogcrazyjen » March 6th, 2006, 12:02 pm

Damn MaryEllen, tell us how you feel! :D

It is funny, I can tell new people how to deal with this, I can lay it all out and create a plan to help the dog, but then you have your own dog and it is so much harder to see the forest for the trees. Tess flies into her crate so well with food, I hadn't thought that telling her to get in her crate without food is setting her up to fail and undoing her recall. (DUH) My putting her in her crate was an attempt to get her safely away from me so that I could cool down, but maybe I needed to just leave the house and go for a walk rather than put her away and sit inside. Sometimes I feel the old methods of "the dog needs to do whatever the owner wants no matter what" coming back to haunt me. I do not teach like that but damn if it doesn't sneak back when my defenses are down.

I am sorry I sounded so defensive that last post, it is hard sometimes for me to take criticism, even when I NEED to hear it. You guys are right, trust is everything. Her old owners were not abusive in an outright way that I know of, just seriously neglectful of her needs. But in her eyes, the situation WAS abusive so I need to approach it in that way. I DO need to slow down with her, it is just when she is with us, and so full of fun, energy, excitement and confidence, when she actually does a flip (yes, an honest to got flip-freestyle frisbee!!!!), in the livingroom to catch a ball, or learns flyball in one night, or does a 15 foot out to a tunnel ten minutes after learning a tunnel, I see such an AWESOME dog in there, I forget as soon as we walk out the door she is not that dog. I didn't want her, but she is EVERYTHING I could have dreamed of in a pitt, and a pitt was going to be my next dog, just not for a few years.

It just burns me up that they nearly ruined such an incredable dog. If I had just stolen her from day one, which I was temped to do :twisted: , she would be fine, probably already titled in flyball, disc, agility, and who knows what else. And more importantly, confident and solid.

I am actually going to write out a training journal for her, and schedule in her training. I think that if I am methodical, slow, and careful, she will be fine. Not my strong suits, but hey, stranger things have happened!

I do appreciate your help, even if I sometimes get prickly over it :oops:

Jen
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Postby dogcrazyjen » March 7th, 2006, 9:12 pm

Tess is in heat right now (she is due to be spayed as soon as she is done). This has been a blessing in disguise, because I have to put a homeade diaper on her several times a day. At first it took two of us, she does not like to be held still and messed with, and she would gently mouth my hand if my husband wasn't quick with the cookies, and would keep trying to twist out of my grip, which was never that tight.

Well, after a few days she now just stands there and lets me do it by myself. She seems to realize that nothing is going to happen and is resigned to it-that and she usually gets the ball or a treat for it!

And yes, we put off the spaying until we knew what was going to happen with her. Definately we do NOT want puppies.
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