I am devastated and need help.

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overambitious
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:06 pm
Location: Oregon

I am devastated and need help.

Post by overambitious » Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:20 pm

Hi there. This is my first post. I must say I love Victoria. I saw her in person in our town and she was funny and smart. So, here is my story. I am new to owning dogs. I got my first American Bulldog to be a buddy for my ex. Well his dogs had puppies. We broke up. I wanted a boy to be friends with my girl. I ended up taking a brother and sister at about 12 weeks. My big girl is almost 2 1/2. Little did I know that this breed is very stubborn, bull headed. I did some research on my own after I got the first girl and did find this out. I guess I didn't know that 3 would be a handful for even an experienced person. We did have 3 initially and they were great. The boy and my big girl got me off my feet at the park and got a hold of a passing dog. There was a nasty fight between the 2. Thankfully the other dog received only a scratch and some fur came off. They were biting at her ears and torso. I will take my licks. I am paying the vet bill, fines from county, I have to muzzle the two now. I know I am completely at fault here as I was not able to contain 160 lbs worth of dog. They have been that way before and I make them sit and settle or I steer clear of other dogs. I was trying to be a good person and "save" them from a life of who knows what. I am just devastated that this happened. Ironically I had scheduled at appt for a trainer to come to my home for help. Only to learn that I shouldn't have 3 and I could never possibly make it work, etc. etc. I am dying inside and I feel like no one understands. It is like I have to give away my children. They are my life, my company, my friends. I know I am doing them a disservice by not getting early training for the pups. I just wasn't able to do it. I did take one to shy dog class and the older female had puppy training and socialization. The younger female is very shy, she didn't get in on the scuffle although she was there. I haven't been eating or sleeping. Crying all day and night that I have failed and now I have to give them away never to see or hear from them again. I guess I am searching for some possible light at the end of the tunnel. I always said I WOULD NEVER GIVE UP MY BABIES. P.S.-Even tho 2 had training the big one lunges at dogs, squirrels etc. and the younger boy follows. (Obviously) I know that they have a very high prey drive and pain tolerance. Very sad and very scared. I hope no one wants to lecture me about how I deserve it and I never should have taken them etc. etc. I am beating myself for it and I can't stop.

emmabeth
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Re: I am devastated and need help.

Post by emmabeth » Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:43 pm

Hiya,

You have come to the right place - I can assure you NO ONE is going to be mean to you on here.

We may say things you do not want to hear, but we WILL give you constructive advice as to what you CAN do - sometimes that does mean telling people stuff that isn't all fluffy and cuddly, but thats life - our aim here is to help! (And we do moral support and cyber-cake as a sideline!).

So - you know there are errors you made, three big dogs and two of these are litter mates which is always a nightmare and something most folks do not advise because its rarely humanly possible to put in the amount of work that is required.

Can you give us as detailed a report as possible, as to their daily routine, ideally stick down the times stuff happens at so we can get a really really clear idea of how their typical day goes. Tell us where they sleep, what time they get up, what they eat, when, are they left alone at all, tell us about walks, other exercise, training, games etc etc. As much as you can.

Also can you tell us the names and ages of each dog, as it can get a bit confusing otherwise.

I can't pretend there isn't going to be a lot of work here, because there is, I do know what thats like, I have five dogs!

First of all, manage them so that nothing can go wrong. THat means walking them seperately - one dog at a time because right now you are struggling to control more than one, and if you are doing that, you definitely can't be training any dog whilst you are battling to control them all.

If that means you have to cut down the duration of the walks, thats actually fine - you will be cramming in a lot more training which tires their brains out far faster, in a shorter individual walk, than in a long one with two or three of them at once.
The other great thing about doing short walks (and I mean ten, fifteen minutes here, asking a dog to concentrate and work hard for longer than that in the early stages is too much anyway) is that there is FAR less chance in 10 minutes, of things going wrong, than there is in half an hour or an hour! So you stand a much higher chance of having a successful walk - and the more success you have, the more you will get!

The next thing is - avoid AVOID avoid - anything that might make them kick off and react. It ISNT avoiding dealing with the problem - not at all. What actively avoiding things that trigger a reaction from your dog does is to give you breathing space to learn just HOW far away a dog has to be before your dog can see it, but not react. Thats a really useful bit of information, thats the level you need to work at, and it may be ten feet or 100 feet, but it gives you a starting point. Then you can reward your dog for seeing antoher dog, with there being no chance of anything horrid happening. The more a dog gets rewarded for seeing something, the more he likes that something, the more you have to work with. Success breeds success! So make it as EASY as possible for your dogs to get things right.

Also, spend time with them individually at home, doing things like clicker training - I find people often mistake the bully breed types for stupid, but they aren't, no way and when you find waht they like as a reward, they often LOVE learning stuff, just for the sake of learning and beign right as much as the reward. Clicker training is a good tool to use to boost confidence too so should help your shy girl.

Anyway tahts enough for now I dont want to melt your brain wtih information overload - let us know their daily routine and we can offer more advice.
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

overambitious
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:06 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: I am devastated and need help.

Post by overambitious » Fri Jul 15, 2011 2:27 am

Breakfast is 0730 mon, tues, wed. dinner at 4-5pm. maybe varies an hour on the other days. They sleep with me on the bed, they can get up and down at their leisure, there is a dog bed and occasionally I make the oldest girl sleep down there and she ends up on the bed later. The pups Bubba and Little Mama (11 1/2 months old... 1 1/2 to 2 cups each meal) eat Avoderm lg breed puppy. Layla Wellness Core ( 2 years, 3 months old...1 1/2 cups each meal). 1 mile plus walks Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun. I try to go at least 4 days. They are alone Sun, Mon, Tues 7p to 7a as I work at night. I kennel the 2 pups while I am gone. I do a small bit of "training:. Sit, stay, down, in your bed. I use lots of treats as they are very food driven and will do just about anything. I don't do consistent training as I don't know how to go about it. Individual for 15 mins each etc. or what to do. That's why all this started. :( The classes were offerred nights I worked. I did take Little Mama to shy dog class but it didn't have obedience training. It mostly to learn how to teach her tricks??? They run and play with each other in the yard. I have tons of toys but they lose interest and would rather take out blankets, shoes etc. They usually do this when I am not looking and I find stuff in the yard. Not to make excuses but I got the pups in November. it was rainy, cold etc. And where would I train? I knew it would be work. Initially I wanted to find a good home for Little Mama, before I got too attached. No one wanted her and I didn't trust the people that did. Therein lies the problem and I have 3. I have heard littermates are a nightmare. But when I take them out together, they don't act up. They can be stubborn. But they have learned to sit at corners, to wait for traffic. If they start to go, I make them sit again. They even do it on their ow..not all the time..but they are getting better. It is Layla going crazy over dogs, sprinklers, squirrels etc. When they are at home they jump on everyone coming in and want attention. I tried to turn my back as Little Mama is the biggest offender and not encourage her when she tried to crawl in my lap when she was scared. She doesn't try to crawl up and isn't as fearful. However doorbell rings, they all go crazy and I have a hard time getting them to settle down. Can another person help me with the training at home or when walking or do I have to be the main person initially. I have a local trainer coming tomorrow to see if she is even willing to help. She said they were a huge liability, rehome, rehome etc. etc. That is breaking my heart to even think about. I will do anything I have to. I can't take them on walks now until I purchase muzzles as required by dog control. I will be happy to tell you anything else. I want to add that I never hit them. I did things wrong with Layla,I used to get upset and bop her with magazines or my hand on the nose. I didn't beat her but to tell her bad girl. That was the info I got at the time. I would never ever do that again. It just breaks my heart that I did it in the first place. All the talk about "You have to show them whose boss". P.S. I started using techniques like touch, look that Victoria talks about. But they all want a treat, everyone does it at the same time etc. I see that I should do one dog alone, but for how long? I have never used a clicker. I have seen them, but not sure what to do with it. Thank you for your reply.

emmabeth
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Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:24 pm
Location: West Midlands
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Re: I am devastated and need help.

Post by emmabeth » Fri Jul 15, 2011 3:17 am

If you already have this trainer coming over, then see what she says but honestly if shes saying 'rehome' right away, without having seen them.. or you.. thats not really very hopeful! Obviously if she says to do anything like use prong collars/e-collars etc or talks about you needing to be more dominant or 'alpha'... kick her out the door!

Walk them one at a time, for 10 minutes (once you have the muzzles), every day, ideally a few times per day but really do it every day.

All you are gonna do is walk up and down the street, focussing on having them paying attention to you, so they have to be on a slack leash by your side (doesn't have to be a competition style heel, glued to you, looking at you and not where they are going). If the dog steps ahead of you, you do about about turn and quick march the other way with a 'This way!' (in a high pitched, exciting tone, not a gruff scary tone).

Keep that up, the idea is Pay attention and stick by Mom because you don't know what shes going to do next - if thats going well, then vary your pace, change directions, ask for sits, downs - if you have a longer training lead then you can ask for sit stays, stand stays, downstays, within the length of the leash.

Have food rewards with you - you will need something you can get through the muzzle so if you can get cheese spread in a tube you can usually poke that through the muzzle bars (must be that type of muzzle NOT the fabric kind that hold the mouth shut, those are not suitable for exercise). Lickable treats like that are easier for a dog to find rewarding when workinga nd maybe a bit stressed (good stress or bad stress will put a dog off taking a reward), so use these both to reward complying with you and working hard, AND if they see ANYTHING in the distance - be it cat, person, car, dog.. whatever.

The idea here is you get all three dogs SO solid and focussed on YOU that handling them in various combinations is EASY, and you have to have the foundations there first, so a few weeks of this will make sure you have that.

You will end up marching up and down the same bit of the street for ten minutes, thats ok - well you may look a bit crazy but stuff what the neighbours think!

Training at home - train in your yard and in your home - if you can give a command in the front and back yards, and in every room in your house, AND, from a sitting, standing and lying down position, and the dog always complys.. then you can think about training that command on the street and in parks. If you can't then these foundations have to be done first.

These may seem somewhat extreme lengths, but dogs are context specific in their learning - a word learned in the dog training hall, if not ALSO taught in the park or in the yard, will NOT mean the same thing in those locations so you have to proof it, teach it everywhere. The more places you teach it, the more likely the dog is to generalise that each command means the same thing, no matter WHERE or HOW it is given.

So, again one dog at a time, pocket full of treats and start out with 3 minutes in the back yard for each dog, then 3 in the front yard (you may need to have them muzzled in teh front or even in teh back too I am not sure), then around the house, with just the basic commands you think they already know. If you have to say the cue several times.. then theres a fairly good chance they don't know!

After you have done this you should have a fair idea where each dog really truly is up to, you may also get an idea as to whether any of them are 'cribbing' from one another, just copying what the other is doign without listening to you.

Clicker training - the basics are pretty easy, the in depth stuff is a bit trickier and really, what you can teach is only limited by your imagination and the physical possibilities of what a dog can actually do.

The click sound made by the clicker is repeated over and over, paired with a treat, so the dog hears the click, gets a treat, hears a click, gets a treat - until the dog hears a click, and LOOKS for that treat - like Pavlovs dogs that learned to salivate when a bell was rung, because the bell always meant food was about to appear. The click then means 'aha! Im gonna get a treat' - and from there on that click ALWAYS means you give a treat.

Once you have that, and it doesnt take too long to achieve that - you can then use the clicker to pinpoint the EXACT behaviour you wanted. The time to click is the same time you would take a photograph of teh split second the behaviour you wanted occurs.

SO - if you were clicking a sit - you would click the moment the dogs butt touches the ground.

If you were clicking a dog sitting for ten seconds, you would click once the butt had been on the ground for ten seconds.

If you were teaching a dog to keep his paws on the floor because he jumps, you would click the split second hes got four on the floor..

Etc etc! You can pinpoint such tiny movements when you get good at this, I have seen people clicking huge horses for shifting their weight back by an inch or so, not even moveing their feet, just holding themselves differently, or teach a dog to target a mat on the floor with either his front or back paws. It is how animal trainers these days (good ones anyway) teach all manner of a nimals from birds to fish, and all in between to do some pretty amazing stuff!

Whilst a lot of it may just seem like fancy tricks, and some of it is - you can really improve a dogs confidence with it, in themselves as well as in you and people around you. The process of learning something and getting things right is INCREDIBLY rewarding and if you think back to (hopefully) a teacher perhaps, who helpd you enough that you got stuff right, but not too much so that you felt it was your own work, i bet you stil remember that teacher and think 'yeah, that was a great person'. (Then think about the ones that ridicule you for beign wrong, and only ever tell you what you got wrong! Grr, asshat!)

Start out with clicker training by doing really easy stuff, in fact ANY training, start out easy - and LISTEN to your dogs - some dogs can go fast, some can go slow. Some don't give a rats if they get something wrong and yet for others it is a CRUSHING blow .... so you really learn about how your dogs think when you do this sort of stuff.

Take a look round the forum, especially the articles linked in the useful articles sticky thread at the top of this forum area. Theres loads of help here to be had!
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

doggymama
Posts: 31
Joined: Mon Jun 13, 2011 2:58 pm

Re: I am devastated and need help.

Post by doggymama » Fri Jul 15, 2011 6:57 am

Hi there and welcome to the forum. I read your post, and feel for you. I don't have any good advise to give as I'm not experienced in that area but rest assured many of the other users will! All I wanted to say is, don't give up. You have done the right thing for you, and your dogs by coming here asking for help. Dogs can be a handful (I've experienced this too!) but they can be trained and with the right training and mental approach, things will get much easier. Good luck with everything.

overambitious
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:06 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: I am devastated and need help.

Post by overambitious » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:22 am

Arg, did my last post not post!! Shute. Emmabeth? Please let me know if you received my reply to your very wonderful informative post about 10 min walks, etc.

overambitious
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:06 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: I am devastated and need help.

Post by overambitious » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:32 am

Thank you too doggymama. I really am willing to work on them. They are VERY smart. The puppies have quickly learned just the little bits I have been trying to teach them on my own. I will hope for the best and try not to expect too much. I know this will be a long, sometimes difficult journey. A journey with ups and downs, setbacks etc. Call me crazy or say it isn't possible, but I am willing to at least try.

emmabeth
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Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:24 pm
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Re: I am devastated and need help.

Post by emmabeth » Sun Jul 17, 2011 12:38 am

I haven't seen that post Im afraid - sometimes its easy to accidentally hit 'preview' instead of submit and end up saving a post as a draft rather than posting it to the board. If so, check your user control panel and on the menu on the left there is the option 'manage drafts' - check in there, if its there I think you want to hit 'load draft' and it should appear!
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

overambitious
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:06 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: I am devastated and need help.

Post by overambitious » Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:01 am

Shute, it wasn't in the draft box either?? Hmmm. I was thanking you for all the great information. And you actually said some of the same things she did! Yay. Cut's down on confusion that way. The trainer came over and when she saw I didn't have a bunch of rabid, wild dogs. Before she left she said "you have good dogs". Faint. She said she would even call dog control and talk with them, but I don't think they care. (I know this is the training forum, but dog control said that bulldogs have terrier bred in them? I said uh, really, they are purebreds. She kind of huffed at me. The trainer said even if there were, it is minimal. What that has to do with anything I don't really know. Probably because Pit Bulls are terriers and everyone is up in arms about them now. People.) Now, I haven't received her "report". But I am sure she will still say, I need to rehome?? But until then, she said some of the exact things you did, so that was a relief. She gave me some training to start with for everyone...separately. I tried to train them as much as I could, just wasn't sure how to go about it. They knew sit, down, in your bed and they were learning stay etc. Although it took me months to get to this point. They are very smart and of course if I only had one, that one would be super duper by now! This trainer doesn't use prongs or believe in the alpha dog. At least she didn't talk like that. She was here for 3 hours and didn't charge me for a consult since I have all this stuff to pay for. I thought that was wonderful. So I love this site and I am glad I didn't get conflicting information. I am no longer an advocate of prong collars (my oldest was trained with one) and if she doesn't have that collar on, she can be pretty stubborn. Thanks again and I will continue to surf this site. This site has been the best ever HANDS DOWN.

emmabeth
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Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:24 pm
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Re: I am devastated and need help.

Post by emmabeth » Sun Jul 17, 2011 11:29 am

Nuts - it does look like your other post got eaten by the internet-gremlins.

All I can suggest is when writing a long post, write it in word or something similar on your computer and save it there, then copy and paste into a post on here.

Good news that the trainer seemed sensible though :)
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

MissCarla
Posts: 181
Joined: Sun Apr 10, 2011 8:17 am

Re: I am devastated and need help.

Post by MissCarla » Sun Jul 17, 2011 4:39 pm

Don't beat yourself up!! :D I'm so glad you came here. Post again and let everyone know how you are coming along - I think you will make great progress as walking/training separately made a WORLD of difference for me and my dogs.

overambitious
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:06 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: I am devastated and need help.

Post by overambitious » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:45 pm

MissCarla et al, I would be interested to hear others stories. If they have multiple dogs, how their training went. It would be really nice to hear from some big dog owners. And your story too Miss Carla. It helps to hear others trials and tribulations, then one doesn't feel all alone :(

emmabeth
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Joined: Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:24 pm
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Re: I am devastated and need help.

Post by emmabeth » Sun Jul 17, 2011 6:55 pm

Have you looked at the Success Stories area - though I cant think specifically of anyone having posted in there with three big dogs, it IS worth going and seeing how people have progressed with pretty serious problems.

I know MPBandmom has done really well with her two dogs who, though not as big as your three, are pretty big, full on husky/husky x types (and she has a family to run, and these dogs were kinda landed on her by surprise too, she didn't set out to get them!).

Then of course theres Jacksdad who is our posterboy for reactive dog issues - though he has the one dog and Jack's not big, he was SERIOUSLY reactive and could not walk down his own street without freaking right out! When Jacksdad first joined here, though he has family who could help, they didnt 'get' positive training and wanted to use harsh methods and Jacksdad really had to prove his case, as well as train his dog!

I have five dogs and one of them is a Deerhound who stands 31 inches tall - however I got my dogs one at a time and though if you set any one of them up 'wrong' there would be problems, managed properly they are all great. Some of my five came to me with problems as rescues, and two of them I have had since puppies.

We do a LOT of work with each dog seperately as they are all different types and think and learn differently. Even the two girls who are both sighthounds (Deerhound, and a Saluki x Afghan) think quite differently so they are all very interesting to work with and train.

When we walk, they go out in pairs - The Tibetan Terrier, Errol, has to go out with someone quiet and steady as he is a little reactive and if taken out with another reactive dog, they egg each other on. SO he walks with Kelda or Rocky, who are both calm and quiet.

Dilly is also reactive, so he must NEVER walk with Errol as they make each other worse, or with Ellie because shes quite highly strung and his behaviour puts her on edge.

I could go on but basically we do whatever makes life easiest, and prevents problems developing - the easier things are the more opportunity we have to teach and create success.. and the more of that you have, the more you will get!
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

overambitious
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:06 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: I am devastated and need help.

Post by overambitious » Sun Jul 17, 2011 7:11 pm

I have been reading about dog-dog aggression on the posts. Very interesting. My 2 pups (mama and Bubba) were not socialized when they were young. I can't remember if I even posted that in the beginng? I took them out to the petstore a few times and they met new people. Mama was terrified and flattened on the floor, I had to carry her out, clinging to me and shaking? But since I got them in November and it's freezing and raining outside, there was not much opportunity for socializing them with other dogs, except Layla (my original dog). Now Layla on the other had WAS socialized. She went to puppy class, parks, the store etc. but she never really "liked" other dogs after I took her to the groomers when she was around 6 months old. Something must have happened to her at that time. I am holding out hope for my Layla and the pups. Mama went to shy puppy class then she was about 7 moonths old I think, she met 3 other dogs and didn't do a thing. She was terrified actually. By the last class she was much better. That is why I hired a trainer and am reading the forums. I hope with effort on my part, I can help Layla turn around so to speak and the pups. I will do what I have to if it kills me. Sorry If I didn't mention this stuff in the beginning. There was just so much speeding through my brain.

overambitious
Posts: 26
Joined: Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:06 pm
Location: Oregon

Re: I am devastated and need help.

Post by overambitious » Sun Jul 17, 2011 7:17 pm

I see that Emmabeth. When Layla was with the puppies parents. (they grew up together). The male was 100 pounds of solid muscle but THEEEE most mellow dog I have EVER encountered. He looked like he would tear your lips off, but he was just a big slobber bucket. The pups mom, was a fiesty little thing. She was always "smiling" and she was mellow as well. So, between the 2 mellow dogs, Layla was a dream. But now she is a little anxious, therefore it rubs off on the pups. I just hope with training I can help Layla. I take the 2 pups out for a walk and they are just fine. Bubba looks when he hears a dog and he perks up but is easily redirected. I had to teach them how to walk on a leash when they were about 7 months old. I know, way to late. I really had no choice at the time. I didn't think it would be that hard. But I am sure it looked like a circus with Bubba going around my legs, crossing, stopping etc. He would look back at me like uh what am I supposed to do. Well after a few months of walking they are both great. Except for the incident now which was my fault as I got overambitious (hence the screen name). I will definitely go through the people you recommended. thank you again.

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