|Barked: Mon May 21, '12 1:21pm PST |
|First off, thank you all so very much for your supportive and realistic responses. It's very easy to look at a sweet face and forget the danger.
For clarification sake: putting him in the bathroom entails removing all soft surfaces that he might lay on (bath mats) and fun distractions (garbage cans he may rifle through). During this "punishment time", he sits at the door, whining to be let back out. It is obviously something he does not enjoy. After about ten minutes of this, I admit to myself that he has forgotten why he's in there and let him out. Sometimes he is seemingly remorseful, cuddling up close and doling out extra affection. Others, he's just happy to be out of that room, trotting about the house and trying to discover anything that may have changed since he was put in the bathroom.
Asher, your assessment of waning signs is spot on. The "whale eyes", as you stated, is our biggest tip off. Granted, sometimes we mis-read and everything is fine. All the same, we'd just rather not take a chance. Sometimes the lip flare/snarl occurs, but for the most part, we receive no warning. I will look for the lumpy whisker bed, as I'm certain I've noted it before, but did not make the connection. I know that the reward is worth the work, but I'm not certain that the reward is attainable.
We are in touch with a certified veterinary behaviorist, a pricey endeavor at $290 for consult and home visit, but worth it. The worry comes when I realize that it will be more than a single appointment. Rocky has always been incredibly healthy (and for that we are grateful), so this is an investment for us. We're not used to lofty vet bills. His first opening comes at the end of June, so we will be attempting to muzzle train him up to that date. We plan to give him Benadryl so that he relaxes enough to get the muzzle on, and then leave it on for a while. We'll take it off, with nothing bad having happened, and hopefully convince him bit-by-bit that the muzzle is not a bad thing.
Charlie, kudos to you for your diligence and optimism. I know that food aggression is incredibly hard to break. Thankfully, we do not have that to deal with. Your point about mutual trust is a huge one. I know that he will sense our lack of trust and i know that we must establish ourselves as the dominant members of the "pack". Thank you for your support.
Sonny, your assessment of my current relationship with him as "committed to him, but burned out." couldn't be more accurate. Many nights crying over this are the result of that, and knowing that my energy and focus just weren't the best. I've taken a step back, evaluated the situation, and feel ready to deal with it and give it my all. The two options cost roughly the same (if we can fix things after one behavior appt), so we're not bringing money in to the discussion. He is alone when he is punished in the bathroom, but as a general rule he enjoys people more than alone time. He whines whenever he is shut in a room (i.e. if company is over and we lock him in the bedroom to avoid danger, he will sit at the door and whine to come out).
Roxanne, I agree that there are mental issues. He is a shelter dog with unknown history (we don't even know what got him to the shelter. He was a stray). The pain is a scant possibility. The bites don't result from touch in any consistent place. I agree that, were children a common presence in our home, the decision would be made. Luckily, we are not quite to that point.
Lisa, I appreciate your support and assurance. Thank you.
Apollo, I'm so sorry your situation was beyond help. Rest in peace.
Jax, he is a very social dog and we interact without incentive. He has never been very playful; it's as if he doesn't really know how to play games. He'll do the natural dog things- tug of war, chasing around the yard, chewing on bones. But repeated instruction/action games (fetch, etc.) seem to be of no interest to him. I agree that finding out the source/reason is worth it, regardless of where we end up thereafter. Thank you for the advice.
Seela, your advice that training needs to be strict and enforced to the point that "she had to learn that anything she did, it was because I let her, she ate because I let her eat, etc etc. She had to learn I was her pack leader." is probably the clearest explanation of that mentality. I think it's an approach I've never really utilized and could benefit from. I approached our relationship as one of mutual benefit, and to some extent equality. I wanted my dog to be the casual, go anywhere, may as well be a person sort. I wanted him to have some free will and not always be at my heels. I imagined your approach as a more stressful one, but now I see it may have been the smarter option for him. Thank you for your advice. I see it as a solid approach here on out.
Thank you all again, so very much, for your support, reassurance, and honest accounts of your own struggles.
I'll keep you updated on how he is doing.
Andrea (Rocky's mama)
|my posts | my page | msg me | gift me | become pals|| [notify]|