GO!

Dangerous and capable. Severe aggression help.

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

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Atlas

I'm a hot mess.
 
 
Barked: Sat Nov 10, '12 4:11pm PST 
Thank you all again, this is really helping me, mentally, to have a place with informed dog owners to come and talk about this problem.

First, about his leg; I did mention in one of my first posts, but there has been an awful lot of text, that it is an older injury and we did have it checked out by the vet. At the time, we had another dog going through some health problems, a little Boston, who I am sorry to say did not make it thought she was only 6 years old. In an effort to save our other dog at the time, as well as a myriad of scans on Atlas, we dropped a little over $2k for our dogs. That does not include what we were spending on training to try and curtail some of Atlas's earlier signs of aggression. We are not doing well financially, things have been tight, and that was a very rough time. It is one of the reasons why we are scraping the barrel for funds regarding a behaviorist; Atlas really needs one, our family needs one, and although we cannot afford one immediately we are working on saving for one in the near future, as soon as we can.

Details about the leg; when he had him scanned, x-rayed, and physically inspected by the vet, nothing could be found. He has injured both legs at different times in the past, around when he was turning 2. His hips are very healthy, nothing was broken, and no ligaments were torn. Our vet believes that he pulled or strained a muscle or ligament while jumping at our fence. We have worked very hard to keep him from jumping, and try to have someone out back with him every time he goes outside so we can be right there if he gets excited by something outside the fence, and get him back inside. He has not shown any sings of limping for two months now, and we have gradually been increasing the lengths of his daily walks.

@Tiller, Related to the leg, I am wary of adding a second daily walk. He used to not be able to walk more than 20 minutes a day without showing sings of a limp. We now have him up to 40, but over that seems to be pushing it. However, I will test and see if we add a second short walk- maybe 20 minutes in the morning, and do his 40 at night, if there is enough time between for his leg to recover, and then gradually increase the length of his second walk if he seems okay. I will report how that goes tomorrow. Maybe if he doesn't do well, I can shorten his longer walk, but take him out three times, so his leg doesn't have the chance to get stressed? We'll see how the additional shorter walk goes, and hope it doesn't irritate.

@Shiver-Me-Timbers: Yes, I am currently using cat food as rewards during some of his training. I try to set the same bowl that triggered him on the ground beside me, and have some in my hand, and let him eat from my hand while ignoring the bowl. I also use little pieces of it sometimes as a reward for regular commands like 'sit'. This is something new we have just started, so there hasn't been enough time to tell if it is being beneficial or not yet.

I am making a list of items to purchase to help with his training, please remind me if I've missed any:
Cotton Web Training Lead
Muzzle (preferable bucket)
Clicker
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Smokey

Let's play tug!!
 
 
Barked: Sat Nov 10, '12 4:13pm PST 
'Mine!" has great, step by step instructions for conditioning a muzzle. After you follow those, I'd do the kuzzle
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Chandler

Code name:- Farmcollie
 
 
Barked: Sat Nov 10, '12 4:38pm PST 
One comment on canine injuries and pain: a general practice vet may not be the best at detecting it.

When Chandler pulled his iliopsoas muscle and could not go up stairs for a month, our general practice vet had to crank his leg back and make him yelp to find if there was anything wrong with the leg.

Our canine physical therapist was able to gently massage the leg while Chandler was standing and identify EXACTLY what muscles were the problem.

OP, given you are on a budget, I'm not sure how helpful this information will be. But if you want to further pursue that your dog might have some pain contributing to the problem, I would suggest finding some serious agility enthusiasts in your area and seeing what resources (veterinarians, physical therapists, etc) they recommend. Agility is a very rigorous sport that results in a lot of pulled muscles and other injuries, so they'll know who's good.

Edit: Just read posts further down, if your dog can only handle 40 minutes of exercise at a walking speed, I think there really must be something physically wrong. frown

Edited by author Sat Nov 10, '12 4:41pm PST

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Chandler

Code name:- Farmcollie
 
 
Barked: Sat Nov 10, '12 5:11pm PST 
Also relating to possible physical causes:

Have you had Atlas' thyroid levels checked? From what I have heard, endocrine problems can often cause aggression.

Also given your location, has he been checked for lyme disease? (Or other common tick borne diseases.) Lyme can cause neurological symptoms.
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Atlas

I'm a hot mess.
 
 
Barked: Sat Nov 10, '12 5:15pm PST 
@Chandler- yes, I agree there is definitely something wrong with his legs. It seems to be getting better day by day; our veterinarian assured us from all the scans and xrays that is wasn't serious so long as it had time to recover; but from what you are describing with your physical therapist it sounds like it may really be best to go to a higher authority on this.

Edit: Yes, he has been checked for Lyme disease, but I do not believe he has had his thyroid checked, at least not recently. I will bring this up with the vet.

I will see if I can find a recommended physical therapist in my area; perhaps it would be better to save up for that as first priority, before the behaviorist?

Also, I decided to press it today and walked him for 50 minutes on his evening walk to see if he can handle that yet. I'm trying to slowly increase his walking time. I will report back tomorrow if he displays any sign of discomfort in his leg in the morning. If not, I am going to take him on the short morning walk, as mentioned in my previous post, in addition to his nightly.


Also, this may seem random, but I wanted to know how people here feel about dogs sleeping on the beds with people? I have heard mixed opinions when I look into over whether it should be permitted or not. In the winter when it gets cold, I usually have Atlas share my bed. In your opinion, should I no longer allow him on the bed?

Another Edit: This is specifically for Tiller; I am currently scoping out for an area nearby where there won't be any triggers to practice with the long training lead; in the meantime, would it still be beneficial to apply these methods while he is on the short leash around our neighborhood? I was out with my dad tonight while walking Atlas and demonstrating the process as you described, but I wanted to make sure it couldn't be detrimental to do so before we find an area where we can use the longer lead.

Edited by author Sat Nov 10, '12 5:25pm PST

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Chandler

Code name:- Farmcollie
 
 
Barked: Sat Nov 10, '12 5:52pm PST 
Atlas, to be quite honest your problem is so severe that I'm not sure what your first priority should be, considering you have financial limitations. frown

My best advice at the moment is to use as much management as you can, and start researching where you can get help until you can afford that help. Look for a trainer/behaviorist who has had success with dogs that have similar problems. See if the agility people can point you toward somebody who might help you with recovery from injuries. Think about getting a good muzzle to keep people safe, by finding what type would work best for your dog.

In the meantime, please be careful and stay safe. I've never had to deal with severe aggression, so my advice here is a bit limited. Best of luck.
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Smokey

Let's play tug!!
 
 
Barked: Sat Nov 10, '12 7:17pm PST 
In general, I'm pro bed sleeping if it's convenient for the family, and feel that almost all dogs should sleep either with each other or in the room with their people. Given that he has a bite history, even if he hasn't shown a tendency to resource guard sleeping spaces, you might want to take some extra precautions. I'd get him used to sleeping somewhere else at least once a week, and praise and give lots of treats and petting when he gets to that spot. It should be in a quiet, out of the way spot. He will learn that if he's particularly exhausted and doesn't want to be disturbed, that's his safe place. I'd also train him that if he's on the bed and someone enters the room, he jumps off the bed and sits on the floor for a treat (even if you are just peeing in the middle of the night). This prevents him from growling about being disturbed or sharing the bed if he's tired or grumpy. You might also want to teach him a command to go to the other side of the bed where he is not touching you. This allows you to get some space if you need to roll over, etc, and also makes it less likely that you will accidentally disturb him as he's deeply asleep (which seems to be where most problems crop up). If you need to wake him, get out of bed and call him, rather than nudging him. You can also increase your probability of success by giving him good experiences whenever you get into or out of bed or move around. If you're fully awake, you can give treats, if not, just praise and a belly rub will do the job too.
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Rexy

I dig in mud- puddles!
 
 
Barked: Sat Nov 10, '12 9:56pm PST 
No, I would not allow a dog that I was afraid of, and a dog who has shown a willingness to bite, to share my bed (ETA: especially since you mentioned that one of his triggers is getting him to move when he is laying down).

If his resource guarding expands to include the bed, then that could lead to some really scary situations. My cats sleep on the bed, and I have accidentally kicked, kneed, and shoved them off the bed in my sleep. I would hate to think what could happen if Atlas takes a sleepy kick or poke the wrong way and bites.

By all means, set up a crate or a bed in the room with you and have him near you, but IMO, sharing a bed doesn't sound like a good idea at this point in time.

I do commend your dedication to Atlas and wish you the best. You've gotten some really wonderful advice here. hug

Edited by author Sat Nov 10, '12 9:59pm PST

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Tiller- (Skansen's- Ira in the M

I DO Exist...To- Drive You Batty
 
 
Barked: Sun Nov 11, '12 8:23am PST 
It's really unfortunate about the leg frown I would definitely prioritize that. Working with a behaviorist, you can't really get a clear assessment as to what of this is behavior and what of it is pain. And frankly what too is exercise, or lack thereof. I think to be fair to him and let the assessment be as accurate as possible, you need to get him pain free and well exercised, and then see the behavioral adjustments before you take a next step. You are obviously very intelligent, so I am sure that protocol makes sense.

The Bucks County SPCA has an Animal Behavior Helpline at 267-347-4674 ext 109. You may be able to speak to them about possible resources regarding getting the leg tended to, as their drive is to help people and their pets stay together. Sometimes, there are grants with such places.

For training, available to Bucks County is Bryan Hendricks. Please email him at prodogservices@gmail.com. His phone is 610-453-9900. He is a Schutzhund trainer, which is a protection sport, and tends to score very high in the obedience phases. He is very comfortable with aggression and knows this breed very well. He offers in-home training services and is exactly the guy you want to go to. Lots of breed association...competes with them on a national level.....will understand aggression from the inside out. You are ***very lucky*** to be in an area where available to you is a top flight AB handler smile So have hope!

For the rest, it's fine to practice with a shorter lead. The longer lead will be more effective as you can let him get well ahead of you before you do your turnabout, which is in and of itself what sways him to want to be close, so that he can see what you are up to, i.e., what direction you will go. The length of line is more important as a long line in the home, being able to lead him away from situations. You don't want to do that as a short lead because as you will have to walk in closer it's just a lot more confrontational.

Beds? Frankly with breeds like this that is a no no...the "special spot," which is future can lead that to be something they will guard. But that is puppy protocol. If he is on the bed with you and you can associate that with none of this behavior, then obviously it is not a problem with him so there's no need to change it.
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Opheila

It ain't over- till the fat- kitty sings
 
 
Barked: Sun Nov 11, '12 11:18am PST 
I'm all for sleeping with companion critters but no, at this point that might be a very bad idea...our dogs understand that when my husband announces "Where do you sleep?" everyone gets down on their own beds beside us. During the day though...I don't know how safe it would be for you, but the first days Callie was here I would curl him next to me while I was reading. It conditioned him into realizing when I'm laying down reading he's free to come up and put his head on my chest and snooze.
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