I am in tears...

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Postby katiek0417 » November 20th, 2010, 10:32 am

Hi Brittany (and everyone)...

I don't get to be on here much because of work obligations, dogs, and my obligations to PSA...however, someone asked me to pop over and give my opinion...

I have experience with a dog like this. One who was willing to bite (he never got me, but he did get my husband pretty bad)....and you never really knew when he would "turn." Rocky could be the loviest, sweetest dog...even to people he didn't know...he would curl up with you...or roll over for a belly rub. However, if something scared him (even if it was something un-identifiable), all bets were off...

We worked with him tirelessly...all training was treat based, and his obedience wasn't that bad in all reality...but it didn't matter when he got into one of his moods. We did NILIF with him. The problem was that he wasn't being a jerk out of dominance nor was he being a jerk because he was unsure whether we were in charge or not...he was being a jerk because he was afraid.

Greg and I had the luxury of knowing Rocky's history...we handraised him from just a few days old...I knew Rocky would live out his life with me....it was sadly only about a year and eight months.

Making a decision about what to do about a dog with issues is never easy. With many dogs like Rocky, you don't "fix" the issue, but you try to "manage" it the best you can.

It seems obvious that the issue is the crate...have you tried a different type of crate?
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

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Postby airwalk » November 20th, 2010, 12:29 pm

Everyone here has given good information; however, the one area I disagree with (and it makes a difference in the human perspective)...dogs almost never bite for "No Reason". We often don't understand the reason, but there is typically something that caused that reaction.

I agree that if he intended to bite (breaking the skin) he would have done so. He was obviously giving a major warning and was willing to escalate that warning...and I would be very cautious because I would assume he is willing to continue to escalate the warning to a bite.

I also agree very few reputable rescues will take a dog with a known bite history - because they can't place him either.
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Postby plebayo » November 20th, 2010, 12:40 pm

Making a decision about what to do about a dog with issues is never easy. With many dogs like Rocky, you don't "fix" the issue, but you try to "manage" it the best you can.

It seems obvious that the issue is the crate...have you tried a different type of crate?


I think the crate is just a small part of the problem :|
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Postby mnp13 » November 20th, 2010, 1:46 pm

airwalk wrote:Everyone here has given good information; however, the one area I disagree with (and it makes a difference in the human perspective)...dogs almost never bite for "No Reason". We often don't understand the reason, but there is typically something that caused that reaction.


I agree 100%. When I said "no reason" I meant nothing obvious; a problem, an injury, being startled awake, pain, etc. It sounds like he may have been giving warnings for a while and they have been missed (been there, done that.)

Like the two stories that I posted about the babies, both dogs had been growling for quite some time (according to the families involved) but those warnings were completely ignored. When the dog finally carried through, both families claimed that the dog bit "without warning." Huh??

It doesn't sound like he has been that "clear" with you, but there is something going on and that will probably be very obvious to someone with experience with problems like this who is outside of your normal group. It also can be very hard to see stuff like this when it is your dog because you're too familiar with it.
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Postby pitsnok » November 20th, 2010, 5:56 pm

He has definitely shown signs of something being off. For example a big one was when he sort of nipped me. (Hello Brittany, open your eyes!) But he has done things in the past showing us that the crate is obviously an issue. He has never been one to willingly go in. Degan and Harlow will go right in, even Ollie does (sort of). But, I'm sure one that issue is among others as well. We are going to switch his and Ollie's crates to see if that helps. Ollie has been in a wire one, and Boss in a pet porter. We have considered moving his crate to a different room, but we either have high traffic areas, or areas that get no traffic at all. Maybe in our 'front' room would be best as we aren't in the living room that much right now. He is calm in his crate whenever none of the other dogs are like RIGHT in front of him, so I guess that masked the real problem of him even going in.
I told Suzanne on facebook yesterday that we definitely knew he had issues, just that most of them have been directed towards dogs. Yeah he was kind of afraid of us at first, but he really has overcome that and we haven't seen any human-issues in months. (But like you said Michelle, I'm sure he has actually given us more signs, we just didn't know what they were.)

Thanks guys for your input on the trainer guy. I had forgotten about seeing the anti-clicker anti-food thing in the past. That's just the most well-known facility around here which is why it was the first to cross my mind. I will definitely start looking to see what I can find.

I know for a fact we have a hard road ahead of us and I have no idea what the future holds, but we are committed to doing whatever it takes to try to make things better even though we know there is a possibility of not being able to do so.
~Brittany, Degan and Harlow's mom


"It is true that Pit Bulls grab and hold on. But what they most often grab and refuse to let go of is your heart, not your arm."
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Postby katiek0417 » November 20th, 2010, 7:48 pm

plebayo wrote:
Making a decision about what to do about a dog with issues is never easy. With many dogs like Rocky, you don't "fix" the issue, but you try to "manage" it the best you can.

It seems obvious that the issue is the crate...have you tried a different type of crate?


I think the crate is just a small part of the problem :|


This is the only post I've seen, and the only one I was referred to....and I'm sorry, but based on what I read, I see it differently...
"Rumor has it, compulsion is evil."

Katrina
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Nisha CGC, PDC, PSA TC, PSA 1 - Crazy Malinois
Drusilla SLUT- Pet
Nemo - Dual-Purpose Narcotics
Cy TC, PSA 1, PSA 2, 2009 PSA Level 3 National Champion
Axo - Psycho Puppy
Rocky - RIP My Baby Boy
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Postby Tubular Toby » November 20th, 2010, 10:19 pm

pitsnok wrote:Thanks guys for your input on the trainer guy. I had forgotten about seeing the anti-clicker anti-food thing in the past. That's just the most well-known facility around here which is why it was the first to cross my mind. I will definitely start looking to see what I can find.

I know for a fact we have a hard road ahead of us and I have no idea what the future holds, but we are committed to doing whatever it takes to try to make things better even though we know there is a possibility of not being able to do so.



I know an excellent trainer here in Stillwater. She clicker trains and uses positive reinforcement. Experienced with all different breeds of dogs. The only drawback is that she is a grad student and is busy, but if you're interested, I can see if she is interested in helping you. I would trust her with my dog's life and that is saying a lot.
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Postby pitsnok » November 21st, 2010, 5:47 am

Kristen, I will let you know if I need her info. Right now we're kind of in a state of 'what's the next best step? what are our feasible options? and what is affordable?"

I have a lot more questions but I'm so overwhelmed with all of them right now that I'm going to give it a day or so to sink in and let me get all my thoughts organized. Keep the advice coming if you guys have it. You know I need as much as I can get.

We have been using treats to crate Boss and have gotten a lot less resistance from him. So hopefully that's a good sign.
~Brittany, Degan and Harlow's mom


"It is true that Pit Bulls grab and hold on. But what they most often grab and refuse to let go of is your heart, not your arm."
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Postby tiva » November 21st, 2010, 11:11 am

I'm sorry about this--it must be devastating. But some things are very good signs: he gave you a clear warning, instead of launching right into a bite.

Susan Garrett's CRATE GAMES is an excellent program, teaching your dog that the crate is something to love. She uses treats and a set of exercises to build drive in your dog for getting into his crate--the crate becomes one of the best imaginable places for him to be. While the crate isn't the root of his issues, working on helping him to love the crate will surely make all the other work much, much easier. Here's the link: http://www.clickerdogs.com/crate_games.php

Good luck.
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Postby Malli » November 21st, 2010, 3:20 pm

I'll admit I haven't read the entire thread, have you tried tossing in a high value treat in the back of the crate?

I'll agree with the idea of training-crate games with the clicker, as for clicker training, it isn't as hard as it seems, and depending on your confidence in your ability to teach, simply reading a book may be enough...
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Postby pitsnok » November 21st, 2010, 5:04 pm

Unfortunately since Friday my confidence is a little bit shot, but is getting better. Treats seem to help a lot, so I'm working on that now. We haven't really started the NILIF in full force yet, but he already seems to be looking to me more for guidance, so that's a good sign. I've been researching and really trying to wrap my head around NILIF before really getting down to it--- I would hate to do something wrong. He already won't jump on any furniture without being invited, and is listening much better when told to get down.

I will definitely spend some time on the crate games page when I have the opportunity. I'm running out the door to the studio right now.
Thanks for all the help guys!
~Brittany, Degan and Harlow's mom


"It is true that Pit Bulls grab and hold on. But what they most often grab and refuse to let go of is your heart, not your arm."
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Postby Malli » November 21st, 2010, 5:52 pm

The idea behind NILIF as I understand it, is that you use any opportunity to have the dog work (even by sitting, or shaking a paw) for everything valuable in his life - going for a walk, even going outside, his food, his attention, etc, etc. Nothing without showing that he will listen and obey for it. If you ask him to do something he knows, and he doesn't do it, then he doesn't get anything.
I can only please one person per day. Today is not your day, tomorrow doesn't look good either.
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Postby tiva » November 21st, 2010, 9:41 pm

Another way of thinking about NILIF is Dr Sophia Yin's "say please by sitting." She has a young dog sit for almost everything--attention, food, going outside, coming inside, etc. It's similar to what you teach children--they don't ask for things by saying GIMME!. They ask for things by saying please. So when the dogs wants something from you, he politely offers a sit first. Instead of jumping up, he sits. Instead of rushing through doorways into the street, he sits. Instead of grabbing his food, he sits. And in return, you give him access to the resources.
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Postby LMM » November 22nd, 2010, 10:03 am

You've received some excellent advice here and I like the suggestion of Crate Games. I know you will do right by him and I also understand that moment of panic. We get emails all the time with people wanting to give us their aggressive dogs. I have to calmly explain why we are not going to take their dog and offer some suggestions to help them work through it if they are so inclined. I know 9 times out of 10 my suggestions go unread and they just dump the dog at the local shelter but I'm not taking in a dog like that. I'm not going to ask my fosters to deal with it nor am I going to make this my trainer's problem.

Good luck with everything and I'm sure you will update us!
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Postby TheRedQueen » November 22nd, 2010, 10:21 am

I'm coming in late for this...and you've gotten a ton of great advice already. From experience, I have succesfully rehabbed a biting dog (Gibbs...the 12 week old that was drawing blood), and put one to sleep for biting (Tuna, the shell-shocked Israeli pit bull). So I've been on both sides...and it's hard either way. And I work with two rescues, one that will NOT taking a dog with a bite history (Aussie rescue) and one that will (I don't understand this...).

I would recommend that you find good, qualified help with this problem...a big, biting dog is nothing to mess around with. Yes, he's giving great warnings...and yes, he's got bite inhibition, but this is getting serious, very fast, imho.
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Postby PetieMarie22 » November 22nd, 2010, 11:36 am

I just wanted to offer my support Brittany! :) It was so good of you to take in those dogs and I hope that you can help them find their peace, what ever that may be.
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Postby pitsnok » November 22nd, 2010, 3:40 pm

Thanks for all the support and advice, guys. I feel like we are already making improvements.
The idea of NILIF is easy for me, I just want to get myself entirely prepared for everything I'll be withholding before starting, and doing it wrong.

My only concern is this:
So say we work with him and make huge progress and everything goes really well... will he then be adoptable? That's my biggest worry at this point I suppose.
~Brittany, Degan and Harlow's mom


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Postby TheRedQueen » November 22nd, 2010, 4:13 pm

pitsnok wrote:My only concern is this:
So say we work with him and make huge progress and everything goes really well... will he then be adoptable? That's my biggest worry at this point I suppose.


That's always the biggest problem with adopting out dogs with major issues (aggression, biting, etc). Can the adoptive home do the same thing as the foster home in terms of training and management. Because with a biting dog, the behavior can be handled/managed/trained...but it's not "cured forever". :neutral:
"I don't have any idea if my dogs respect me or not, but they're greedy and I have their stuff." -- Patty Ruzzo

"Dogs don't want to control people. They want to control their own lives." --John Bradshaw
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Postby furever_pit » November 22nd, 2010, 7:15 pm

pitsnok wrote:Thanks for all the support and advice, guys. I feel like we are already making improvements.
The idea of NILIF is easy for me, I just want to get myself entirely prepared for everything I'll be withholding before starting, and doing it wrong.

My only concern is this:
So say we work with him and make huge progress and everything goes really well... will he then be adoptable? That's my biggest worry at this point I suppose.


I think that at best you are looking at a mildly adoptable dog. He'd have to go to just the right home. Preferably someone used to dealing with a dog with these kinds of issues and who knows and is willing to embark on the kind of management that will have to be kept up with. I think that home would be very very hard to find. Heck, sometimes it is hard to find homes for dogs without issues.

I personally could not put this kind of dog on anyone else's shoulders. If I did I would have to know the person very well and I would have to know that they knew dogs. Even though the agreement would have to be that the dog can came back to me at any time and under no circumstance is it to go anywhere else. Honestly, even then I'm not sure I would give the dog to them.
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Postby TinaMartin » November 22nd, 2010, 11:37 pm

I think that you have gotten some great advice. Gator is one of those dogs that isn't right in the head. Everything I do with him is about managing his list of issues. Just about anything changes or happens and he goes right off the deep end. It sounds like you are on the right track.
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