My dog doesn't like my future roommate...

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Postby Tubular Toby » February 17th, 2011, 8:59 pm

Toby screamed at my friend today. If he had wanted to bite her, he would have. He had plenty of opportunity. But allow me to rewind.

Toby is leash reactive to other dogs. He's not dog aggressive, just leash reactive. Or any type of restraint reactive. This has carried over to human interactions once, but it was at night, the person was in black from head to toe and being very awkward. Whatever. Never had another problem. I have worked with him on this a LOT. We had a lapse lately, I will admit, where we haven't been going out and training. But I am pretty in tune with his body language and have a decent idea of his intentions.
Toby has met people countless times here at home, even while I've held on to his collar, and it's never been a problem. I only hold on to him because if not, he has bad manners and jumps all over them until he has calmed down. He's always just smiles and fun times.

The girl that I planned on living with next year came over to go on a walk with us. He's met her before, no problems. She got here before I expected her, so I made a few key mistakes. I didn't put Toby in my room until she got inside. This usually helps him stay calmer when greeting people. I also left my roommate's dog in her room, but didn't think she'd be able to open the door and get out, which she did. And finally, Toby is not great with kids. They're awkward and he's had some bad experiences. My friend is pretty tiny. Also it was pretty dark in the entrance to my house, I didn't have the light on. So not really the best of scenarios... I'll admit.

My friend (we'll call her M) came in and the dogs go nuts. My roommate's dog is horrible about jumping on people when they come in, so when she opened the door and went nuts, I grabbed her collar. I also had a hold of Toby's. I told my friend that I was going to let go of Toby to put Tilly away. When I let go of him, he get zoomy level excited and jumped all over her, then started barking while doing it. I put Tilly in the room and reached and grabbed Toby. At that point, he jumped up screaming at her with his dog reactive scream. Greeeat. I was like.. WTF? and put him in my room. I explained that he probably just got too excited and when I restrained him, made him a little reactive. After a few minutes, we went into the kitchen, turned on the light and I went back and got Toby. She approached him, talking, petted him on the head, and I noticed that he was beginning to get very tense (I had a loose hold of his collar, so he didn't feel restrained). I was just about to tell her to back up when he jumped up and screamed again. I put him back in my room.

This time we waited about twenty minutes while Toby was in my room and we talked and brainstormed. I talked to Erin about ideas. With her idea, we went outside. M stood on the other side of the fence and I had Toby on a long rope just for extra safety, but there was no tension on it. Toby was totally relaxed. His whole body wagged loosely with his tail, instead of a stiff tail wag. He sat, laid, spoke, etc for her. After awhile, she came IN the yard. Totally fine. Loose relaxed posture, totally friendly. We decided to go back inside and get ready for our walk. We chalked it up to the environment at the time and the energy. When we were inside, he was still fine. And when I say he was fine, I say it with confidence. His body language was very casual and relaxed. I put his harness on him, got him ready, and he started getting more excited. M stood up and Toby went to jump on her, I reached him to stop him, and when I pulled him back, he started barking again. I sort of figured it wouldn't help to pull him back, but frankly, I didn't want her to get hurt, intentionally or unintentionally. Toby can hop to her face :lol:

Seconds later, he was back to a loose posture. We decided to just go walking and see how it went. The walk was fine. He never once acted reactive towards her, she did walk behind us a lot, the trail was narrow.

I'm just not positive where to go from here. Obviously if this happens again, a trip to the vet is in pretty quick order, but to me it just seems to be a reactivity issue. I am going to be talking with my roommates about their interactions with Toby, make sure no one is inadvertently teasing him, etc. I just had another friend come over to pick something up and I had her feed Toby some treats (she's been around him many times) and he was perfectly fine with her, even when I was holding onto his collar.

However, when I write all of this out, I realize all of the things I did wrong. So I am really hoping it was just a matter of human error and reactivity combined, and that we'll still be able to live together. M is coming over again in a few days or so to meet him again and see how he does when he doesn't have that initial bad experience. Usually once he's reactive once, it takes him longer to settle down. I guess I am posting for any thoughts or advice. I realize I did a lot of things wrong (and have been doing them wrong...) but I think it's always important to get outside views.
-Kristen
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Postby Tubular Toby » February 17th, 2011, 9:04 pm

Sorry this is so long, I just wanted every possible detail that I could think of at the time.

Consistent triggers- Excitable, Restraint, and M. Even excitable restraint with my other friend didn't lead to anything reactive.

I keep thinking of more!
Toby was also excited before M got there because I'd been asking him if he wanted to go for a walk. :oops: He hasn't been out in awhile like that, and he was pretty revved up before she even came over. I'm really hoping he was just way too excited.
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Postby Tubular Toby » February 25th, 2011, 11:55 pm

Sooo... M came over tonight for me to dye her hair. My other roommate was here, so I let Toby out on a leash to grab if necessary. He was okay with her, but not quite *normal*. I was sitting in the living room with Toby by me and when she came to sit down, he started staring at her. I grabbed his leash just in case and tried to get his attention. Low and behold, he started screaming at her...

I have contacted my local trainer that has worked with Toby introducing him to my roommate's dog. Hopefully she has some insight. If not, looks like I may be living alone... And very worried about whether or not my dog is going to try to eat people.
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Postby TheRedQueen » February 26th, 2011, 12:31 am

I have a new thing for you to try...but I don't have time to type it up right now...remind me, nag me...and I'll write it up for you!
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Postby tiva » February 27th, 2011, 12:02 am

Screaming can be simply arousal, not aggression. It's still not good, but if you don't start thinking "human aggression alert!", you might find it easier to figure out why he's getting so hyper-aroused around this person. Calming everything down (as you're trying to do) is a great start. Our Vanya, who absolutely adores all people, used to get over-aroused and start screaming at people because he really wanted to greet them. We used tethers to teach him that he would only get what he wanted--contact with new people--when he was calm. When he was screaming, we ignored him (which only works with a tether).

If this were my dog and I were fairly confident that his screaming and jumping was happening because he was overexcited and wanted proximity to M, I would put the other dog safely behind a locked door (so no mistakes with 2 dogs bouncing around), then tether Toby someplace secure. Then I would walk with M toward Toby. The instant he got to jumping and screaming with excitement, we would go backwards. We would come closer only when he was staying calm (preferably sitting). Eventually, we would get to him, and I would feed him treats while he politely greeted M. If he started to get too excited, we would step out of reach and ignore him while he bounced on his tether, until he calmed down again. Calm=he gets attention. Screaming and bouncing=we stand out of reach of him on his tether.

If I thought this was happening because of fear, then I wouldn't use this protocol. But it worked incredibly well for my screaming Vanya.
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Postby Tubular Toby » February 27th, 2011, 2:26 am

Thanks for the input guys! I got in touch with a trainer here that gave me advice very similar to your treat/retreat, Erin. We will be all working together to see how it goes when we have time to get together. In the meantime, I have a great method to stop him from jumping up!

Tiva, I will copy and paste this to my trainer and see what she thinks. We're going to assess his behavior more closely to see if it's fear/overexcitement/etc and move from there. If it's fear, we have a plan. If it's truly overexcitement, I will definitely consider this.
-Kristen
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Postby Tubular Toby » March 6th, 2011, 9:34 pm

So my dog trainer friend came over and assessed and he went off on her too...

I am living alone next year for sure. And going to see an aggression specialist in a nearby city.

Any recommendations for Oklahoma City or Tulsa specialists?!
-Kristen
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Postby furever_pit » March 6th, 2011, 9:43 pm

I hate that you are having to deal with this and that it is affecting your living situation next year.
I don't know of any trainers in your area, but I wish you luck in dealing with this.
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Postby Tubular Toby » March 6th, 2011, 9:52 pm

I hate it too, only because I don't know what his problem is. We are really stumped as to why this started and what is really triggering it. We are going to try having a lot of different people come over that he knows/doesn't know and see if we can figure out what the common denominators are (safely, of course!). I am in with Toby, for better or worse. He's my boy, regardless of what lifestyle changes I may have to make. I think most of us here feel that way though. :)
-Kristen
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Postby amalie79 » March 6th, 2011, 10:06 pm

Kristen, take a look at this woman. She's here on the Ark/Okla border:

http://www.facebook.com/SMARTDOGSDogTraining
http://www.mysmartdogs.com/

She's who Robin and I are going to start seeing. It's a few hours away from you, but she could recommend someone. Her specialty is fearful and aggressive dogs, but she's a clicker trainer, so there's little worry about making anything worse. She had an instant connection with Robin, so I trust her judgement on finding other trainers.

I also think Kathy Cascade is in Stillwater. Here's her site:

http://www.sanedogtraining.com/

She does TTouch, which was great for Simon's storm phobia (done on my own, not with her), and she's worked with at least one of the Vick dogs. She's coming here for a seminar in the summer, but sadly I'll be out of town.

I feel pretty confident that both Mary and Kathy Cascade could at the very least recommend people in the area. Good luck and keep us posted.
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Postby plebayo » March 6th, 2011, 11:31 pm

Tubular Toby wrote:I hate it too, only because I don't know what his problem is. We are really stumped as to why this started and what is really triggering it. We are going to try having a lot of different people come over that he knows/doesn't know and see if we can figure out what the common denominators are (safely, of course!). I am in with Toby, for better or worse. He's my boy, regardless of what lifestyle changes I may have to make. I think most of us here feel that way though. :)



Not quite the update I was looking for! How old is Toby, my brain is kind of slow tonight, he's 3-4 isn't he? He may just be coming into his own deciding now that he doesn't like certain people. :| It would be interesting to see what a behaviorist thinks about what is triggering it.
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Postby Tubular Toby » March 7th, 2011, 12:29 am

Yup he'll be 4 this spring. Jay said the same thing, she said that he may just not be as tolerant as he used to be, etc. We'll see, I have no idea what it runs to see a behaviorist, but it's going to happen. I am willing to do whatever I need to do to ensure the best life possible for him.
-Kristen
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Postby plebayo » March 7th, 2011, 12:38 am

Tubular Toby wrote:Yup he'll be 4 this spring. Jay said the same thing, she said that he may just not be as tolerant as he used to be, etc. We'll see, I have no idea what it runs to see a behaviorist, but it's going to happen. I am willing to do whatever I need to do to ensure the best life possible for him.



I can't remember what got me there but one of the behaviorists here charges like $200 for a consult :puke:

Hopefully you can find something more reasonable. It would be nice to at least know what is triggering it because then you and your friend would at least know where to start. You need to keep us posted!
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Postby Tubular Toby » March 7th, 2011, 2:35 am

Okay, I have been pretty level headed all day. As I am getting ready for bed, I am feeling pretty defeated about this whole situation. I know that we can at least manage this and work on it, but even still, I'm dumbfounded as to how we got here in the first place.

I still love him, I just wish I could talk to him and ask him why.
-Kristen
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Postby Tubular Toby » March 7th, 2011, 2:42 am

On that note, if a highly recommended specialist wants $200, they're getting it.

Thank you a lot for the recommendations, Amalie. Do you know what your trainer charges (or care to share, I guess?)
-Kristen
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Postby amalie79 » March 7th, 2011, 3:03 am

Download the newsletter from her site (not the facebook page). It has all the details. I think her consult is $50 and sessions vary depending on time and whether they're happening in her facility or not.
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Postby furever_pit » March 7th, 2011, 9:06 am

Is there a possibility that Toby is "testing" new people and then escalating his reaction to those who are nervous or scared around him? Being a bully in other words?
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Postby amalie79 » March 7th, 2011, 10:07 am

Forgot to mention, we're doing a group class with Robin. Mary met her a couple of weeks ago and felt like we could manage her in a beginner's class, even though the skills will be repeats for her. She has been thinking of doing reactive dog classes, FWIW.

I noticed something with Robin yesterday... She's never been comfortable with strangers, so this wasn't news to me, but it got me to thinking about you and Toby...

My step-daughter's step-father came to pick her up last night. He's an old friend of ours and has done great with our other dogs-- even Simon likes him (no, LOVES him), and that's saying something. Simon never really liked anyone but me lol

Usually Robin barks at this guy when he comes in, partly because he just comes in. Doesn't knock, isn't allowed entry by one of us. And partly because he's very tall, and very stare-y. Anyway, last night, he was petting River, and Robin's jealousy overtook her. She didn't want to be left out! So she ran over got pets from him, was thrilled to bits with the attention. She jumped up and put her paws on his stomach and stared up at him...and here's where it went all wrong... he stared back at her. You could see her body stop moving, get more intense. She freaked. Barking, woofing, backing up, hackles up.

And we know that staring is her trigger. She was just doing so well with him that I didn't really think about it. What you describe with Toby sounds a lot like what Robin does-- gets still, intense, and then the switch flips. Something about new people staring at her scares her (and by new, I mean people she doesn't know well). That's a natural aversion for most dogs, and maybe someone stared at Toby and ALSO made him uncomfortable in other ways-- threw up other red flags and so he's paired the two.

Perhaps he needs to be ignored by new people. And I mean really ignored. As though he doesn't exist. No looking, no petting, no talking. Nothing. For a while. Maybe 2 or 3 visits by a person before they can interact. Your guests can also drop treats (STILL ignoring), or hand treats without making any other acknowledgement that Toby's there.

Eye contact is a powerful thing with dogs. We have to be very careful about it with Robin. Thought it might be something you could look into in the meantime.
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Postby pitbullmamaliz » March 7th, 2011, 5:29 pm

amalie79 wrote:Your guests can also drop treats (STILL ignoring), or hand treats without making any other acknowledgement that Toby's there.


I would NEVER do this with a fearful dog. The owner needs to be handing treats. Too many dogs are food-motivated enough to come close to get the treat, but then freak out that they're so close.
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Postby Hundilein » March 7th, 2011, 8:00 pm

pitbullmamaliz wrote:
amalie79 wrote:Your guests can also drop treats (STILL ignoring), or hand treats without making any other acknowledgement that Toby's there.


I would NEVER do this with a fearful dog. The owner needs to be handing treats. Too many dogs are food-motivated enough to come close to get the treat, but then freak out that they're so close.


I have to agree with Liz on this one. I saw it happen with Hannah. Things improved dramatically when she learned to touch people's hands to get treats from me. She had the choice to go near the person if she wanted to, but if she did, she had to come back to me to get her treat. It took the pressure off and made her feel much more comfortable. She's doing much, much better, but we still use this trick to introduce her to new people. Usually after a couple of touches, she starts hanging out near the person longer and solicits petting. But it took literally years to get to that point with her.
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