Hi all! I'm new.

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Lilybet8241
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Hi all! I'm new.

Post by Lilybet8241 » Fri Oct 21, 2016 6:03 am

Hi everybody, although technology &I don't get on, I thought I'd give this forum a whirl as any support I can get will be very gratefully received & if that sounds needy, it gets worse :( l have a 2 yr old, neutered male cockapoo called Fergus. We got him at 9 weeks old. Thought we had done plenty research with breeders and the one we got him from actually takes her dogs out to old peoples homes etc, so felt temperament would be fine. Wrong!! Fergus has been a challenge from the beginning. He is highly strung and nervy....not helped by the fact that due to our vet restarting his vaccinations, he was late getting out and about. I carried him around the streets, sat with him at busy junctions and visited pet stores etc. We couldn't get him started at classes until he was 18 weeks old because all the classes had closed up for the festive break. He had a Stilwell trained and attained bronze and silver certs, but his anxieties have got progressively worse. I did have a behaviourist for him at 12 weeks due to his excessive mouthiness ( he told us that Fergus was very anxious and nervous) and while we followed that advice given on the day, sadly because of some mix up at the behaviourists end. We didn't get any report or a follow up walk. As he matured his mouthiness has abated, but other anxieties/ fear have surfaced. I am now working with another behaviourist to address his reactivity to joggers and cyclists and general nervousness, particularly out and about. He is not reactive to dogs, gets between 1.5-2hours exercise per day, goes to daycare (who day he well behaved) once a week, has a dog walker once a week and had attended various other training classes. He obviously acts first and thinks later, so I have worked hard on impulse control and can stop him chasing rabbits if caught at the right moment, can get him to come to me past food, will play tug appropriately etc. Sadly, he is now being quite reactive with visitors the home....gets really worked and I can't get him to focus at all. If I know someone is coming I will crate him and once he is brought through and placed on his bed he will start calming, then becomes interested rather than reactive, will take treats dropped near him and is fine after just a few minutes. My reason for this huuuuge post is that I know I need to practice with strangers coming to the house but our circle of friends is so small ( an d they are not nearby) and our neighbours aren't the type to help, or be in a position to help ( see, told you it was needy), where would anyone suggest I could find dog living stooges. Any suggestions gratefully received and thanks for reading. :)

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JudyN
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Re: Hi all! I'm new.

Post by JudyN » Fri Oct 21, 2016 6:40 am

Hi, and welcome :D I've moved your post to the dog training advice section where more people can see it.

Just as two human siblings can have very different temperaments which also differ from their parents, often dogs will have their own personalities which can't be foreseen. You don't sound needy at all - just wanting to do the right thing for your dog, which isn't easy with all the differeing views out there!

You describe Fergus as being very nervous in general, rather than simply 'reactive' or 'aggressive to strangers' - could you describe what his demeanour is like in general, apart from his fear of strangers? What is he like on a walk if there is no one else around at all? What is he like when with the dog walker, and how was his general demeanour in training classes? The more insights into and examples of his general anxiety the better.

What advice has the current behaviourist given, and how is that going? Also, at what age was Fergus neutered? And what do you feed him (brand and variety), and does his digestion seem sound?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Lilybet8241
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 5:10 am

Re: Hi all! I'm new.

Post by Lilybet8241 » Fri Oct 21, 2016 8:52 am

Hi Judyn
Thank you for your interest. Fergus' general demeanour from puppyhood has been fired up and frantic....that's why I got the first behaviourist. I know puppies can be off the wall but he just never seemed to be calm unless he was sleeping.

If there is no one around when we are on a walk Fergus is generally well behaved but it is obvious he's not relaxed as lite movements and noise make him pause to scab his surroundings.. Last winter he was startled when a wee bit snow fell off a wire ahead if him and it was just a tiny bit. But, he can walk past an operating bucket lorry quite happily. Movement, certain sounds and sudden environmental change make him nervous/reactive. Reactivity being barking and lunging but from a fearful standpoint - advancing and retreating.

The dog walker says he is well behaved and also when Fergus boarded overnight with him, just to see how he got on, said he was an angel.

I think he was bored with training as a puppy, he is very good at 'watch me' because of all the focusing exercises he had to do to prevent him barking all through the class! We recently attended classes in an indoor riding school, run by volunteers, which he seemed to enjoy, even although he was getting g petted by strangers. But the class suddenly expanded from 12 dogs to 18 a d it was too much for him.....he barked and lunged at a 10 year boy who passed him. The boy was walking and not speaking. Maybe it was the padded jacket he was wearing. Anyway I think we will stop going meantime. Also it is run on the same day as he us out with the dog walker and he is normally quite content to snooze the evening away on those days.

He trigger stacks, but it can be difficult to determine when he getting close to exploding.

He gets so hyper when being taken somewhere new, pulling madly and excitement level is sky high. The touch practionerbi spoke to suggested using a wrap for car journeys and this has made a difference but is still a work in progress.

We had a session with the behaviourist this week and she thinks he is calmer. He managed a walk near the city centre at rush hour and did very well, even lying down when we stopped at point. However it was she who was walking him, not me and I know that made a difference. I work very hard to try to be calm and not anticipate incidents....

He was neutered at around 4-5 months, whenever the vet recommends it.

His digestion is brilliant, very rarely has wind, is fed twice a day and poops twice a day. He is fed on Eukanuba with a topping of Chappie (was recommended ended by vet after tummy upset as a pup due to his prolific scavenging) and a topping of sardines in a sunday.

I can work with his anxieties but just can't think how to help him with visitors if we don't have them . I'm not really the kind if person just to approach people on the street and they would need to understand dogs.

I did used to meet some other walkers, but don't come across them now as that oath is narrow and also used by joggers and cyclists.

Again, thanks for your interest, it's appreciated.

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JudyN
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Re: Hi all! I'm new.

Post by JudyN » Fri Oct 21, 2016 1:14 pm

I should start by saying that I'm not an expert, so everything I say is what I've learnt from my dog and from this forum.

He may have confidence issues from being neutered so young - there's a lot of conflicting advice around but on this board we generally recommend leaving neutering until the dog is both physically and mentally mature. But whatever the arguments, it's done.

I get the feeling that you've been trying to go a little too fast - you're putting him in situations that he's not happy with in the hope that he'll be calm and thus you'll feel like you're making progress. But he is generally nervous, and this will just be adding to his stress. I would consider taking it right back, walking him in the places he is most comfortable, and keeping well away from strangers. If you see a person, either stay far enough away that Fergus is happy and treat him as he looks at the person, or move away from the person. You want him to think 'Hey, life isn't so stressful and worrying after all,' and then gradually work on getting him happier with being closer to people. He may always jump when something unexpected happens, like his first sight of a balloon, or a leaf landing on his head - that could just be his nature.

I've noticed that you say the dog walker & day care say that he's good and well behaved, where I think the focus should be more on how he is feeling - is he relaxed and happy, for instance? A stressed dog can seem 'good' because it's shut down and just being passive.

For people coming to the house, which seems to be your main concern - he really doesn't sound too bad. You don't need him to welcome everyone to the house. If he's happy in his crate, that's fine (if not, work on making him love his crate, or possibly a room behind a stairgate). Then you can either put him in there whenever someone comes to the door, or train him to go in there when the doorbell rings (you may be able to ring the doorbell yourself and throw a treat into the crate, or get family members to stand outside and ring the doorbell, at which you throw a treat into the crate until his reaction on hearing the doorbell is to head for the crate). Then he's safe, the visitors are safe, and you can let him meet them (if he wants to) when everyone settles down.

Hope that helps - others may have more thoughts :D
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Lilybet8241
Posts: 7
Joined: Fri Oct 21, 2016 5:10 am

Re: Hi all! I'm new.

Post by Lilybet8241 » Sat Oct 22, 2016 2:18 am

Thank you, I think you are probably right in that I am maybe going a little fast. I don't think he had anxiety issues at daycare....a new dog started there a couple of weeks ago and he and Fergus are apparently the best of friends and playing well together. The centre only ever has up to 14 dogs and is run by a vet and staff are trained to assess dog behaviour to prevent stressful situations. Also, the have play equipment, some of which are like castles so the dogs can run up and down ramps etc and Fergus was doing that for the first time last week, so I think that indicates his confidence has grown, he also jumped up to sit beside one of the staff members on a bench, for a pet. He has become much more comfortable with get to g petted also over the last couple of weeks.

I know it's me that reacts far too much when he starts barking if someone I'd at the door....he always has but he is barking with real intent to chase away the person. I know he can't get to them but I just hate him sounding so aggressive, but then I hate confrontation whereas he's just being a dog.

Your input makes a lot of sense and I will ho back to practicing withe door. Thanks for your time. :D

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JudyN
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Re: Hi all! I'm new.

Post by JudyN » Sat Oct 22, 2016 11:40 am

No problem - it does sound that you're worrying more than you need to. Relax, enjoy your dog, and as you relax more he will too :D
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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