Precious becoming a man(iac)..

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Sanna
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Precious becoming a man(iac)..

Post by Sanna » Sat Apr 11, 2015 7:58 am

It's been a while so here's an update on Precious and our progress (or lack thereof.. :lol: )

To recap, at approx 1 year old he started to become increasingly intolerant of other male dogs. It started out being only larger, unneutered ones; but progressively got worse (all unneutered's regardless of size, then also any large males, then pretty much any male dog at all). We did our best to ride it out, managing him to avoid male dogs wherever possible as well as counter conditioning and generally just trying to get on with his training and obedience in the hopes that it was part of his adolescence and would improve given time and more maturity. He was never fearful, though of course there must've been an element of insecurity- but it certainly wasn't fear aggression. More like anger/ frustration ('how DARE you be a boy and come around here?!') Personality wise I suppose he is what they call assertive- independent, pushy and rather impatient; and I'm sure some of you remember his tantrums when he was little that I still can only describe as temper tantrums..

The whole time he has remained absolutely fine with all female dogs, even if they are showing 'confrontational' body language he never ever reacts but does his best Joey from 'Friends'- *raises eyebrow 'How you doin'..?' :wink:

In hindsight I can see that I made lots of mistakes with him when he was a puppy, despite my best intentions and really trying so hard to get it right; for example socialisation-wise he did get to see and briefly meet lots of dogs and people but because he was pretty challenging and so quick to boil over he didn't get to interact as much as he probably should've and hence is still severely lacking in good manners.. But I can't go back and change that, only learn from it and work with where we are now.

Anyway, it escalated slowly over the next year until he turned 2, to the point where taking him for walks was becoming pretty stressful constantly being on guard for other dogs (P and me both :lol: ) and I genuinly felt we were completely going backwards. It was really difficult to get his focus at all outside, he was far more interested in scenting and 'looking for trouble' than anything I had to offer in the form of treats, toys or interaction. I got bitten on two occasions when he redirected out of frustration when not being able to get to dogs that took us by surprise (thankfully he does now have some bite inhibition and only bruised my hand).

After doing tons of research, much deliberation and several conversations with a veterinary behaviourist (100% positive, non-aversive and bloody amazing woman- she volunteers some of her time at the local rescue where I help out. Some of you probably know her), and our vet (who is also very sensible and categorically will not recommend to neuter a fear aggressive dog) we made the decision to try the Suprerolin implant.
The idea being that by bringing down his testosterone levels it would take the 'edge' off and give us a window of opportunity to work on everything with P actually able to focus and learn, and that he would maybe feel a bit better about other boy dogs.

I know where most of you stand on both chemical and surgical neutering so I hope you will appreciate that this was not a decision I made lightly or rushed into. I don't want to start another discussion on the pro's and con's etc, and personally I had planned on keeping P entire but at the end of the day, like Nettle says, you have to consider the dog in front of you and in this particular instance it seemed it might actually help my dog. I thought I would write it all up for you guys as our experience might be of interest to some of you, and the advise and support I've had previously has been very much appreciated ;)

So he had the implant just after his 2nd birthday, we went for the 6 month option. It takes 4-6 weeks to take full effect. Week 1 after implant he was very calm in general, week 2-4 was a bloody nightmare as there is a peak in testosterone before it starts dropping down and P was an absolute maniac.. lots of puppy behaviours such as jumping on us and mouthing resurfaced. However he also became much more food oriented, so training became easier ;)
Around the 4 week mark there was a definite change in his reaction to other male dogs, he became far less reactive and if he did kick off he would calm down again much quicker. This continued to improve over the next 6 weeks or so, obv the fact that I was able to achieve more with counter conditioning and training also played a part, but he seemed to feel a lot more relaxed and comfortable in himself when out and about. We got to the point where he would only really have a problem with entire males that were 'stare-y' or confrontational towards him. Then at 3 months post-implant it started to rapidly wear off.. It was sooner than we'd expected, even for a large dog like P, but apparently it very much varies depending on the dog. And he started regressing again pretty quickly.

The thing that really shocked me was how much weight he gained, I cut his food down by 30% from day 1 of having the implant (vet suggested 25%) but still he somehow put on 6kg in 3 months! The fact that he was more food driven was a huge plus as it helped enormously with his training, but the fact that he packed on so much weight even with eating a lot less was concerning.

So we didn't want to continue with the implant, it would make no sense to renew it every 3 months and for him to have to go through massive hormonal fluctuations each time. But at the same time it did have a real positive effect on his behaviour (or should I say attitude?). So we made the big decision to neuter him 2 months ago. It was a tough one.

Thankfully I think we made the right decision in this case. He is definitely more relaxed overall, and more trainable; partly I guess because he's more interested in food rewards but also he is much less distracted and tense when out. He is also a lot more affectionate with us, bearing in mind he could hardly be touched when he was younger; he will now actively pester me for cuddles.
He still won't tolerate males that are rude or antagonistic or 'strut-y', but he is now mostly ok with boy dogs who are polite and/ or ignore him :D Other dogs also seem more tolerant of him now, and more likely to ignore him; I guess he seems less threatening or not throwing off obnoxious vibes quite as strongly as before.

We have a lot more work to do, I am beating myself up a bit for having 'created a monster', and I worry that certain behaviours are now habits that will be all the more harder to change. I don't mean I should've neutered him sooner btw! Just that I maybe failed in some ways with his training, and somehow made him worse :( And I think we put a lot of time and effort into purely managing him, because he was such a handful, when I should've put more work into him also.
But at least he keeps me on my toes.. ;)

Here he is on the beach last week, I think he enjoyed himself.. (A little chunky still but it is coming off him now, he's on reduced rations til he's back to ideal weight)
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JudyN
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Re: Precious becoming a man(iac)..

Post by JudyN » Sat Apr 11, 2015 10:50 am

Sanna wrote:'how DARE you be a boy and come around here?!'
Haha, I can relate to that - and pretty much all of the rest of your post as well :lol:

I don't think you need to feel guilty in the slightest. You held off neutering for a lot longer than we did with Jasper, you managed his behaviour really well, and you stuck with him when it must have been very difficult (I know Jasper is big, but I'm sure Precious is a lot stronger and heavier).

I'm not sure you could have socialised him any better than you did either - you couldn't let him play with other dogs he he was likely to kick off or even just be too boisterous with them. Jasper met a lot of dogs, almost without exception 'nice' ones, but managed to develop his issues all on his own with very little help from me :wink: (I really regret not doing more to stop one entire male bullying him but I suspect he would have ended up the way he is regardless.)

Recently Jasper has become much better with other dogs - on the whole young unneutered boys get a quick 'Watch yer step, mate' and that's it (though he wouldn't have the confidence to tell off a dog like Precious, entire or not :lol: ). He's just turned 5 - so be really proud of what you've achieved so far, but never give up hope that Precious will continue to get better over time :D
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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Nettle
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Re: Precious becoming a man(iac)..

Post by Nettle » Sat Apr 11, 2015 1:40 pm

Nope, no need to feel guilty. Sometimes all we have is a series of options none of which suit. Good luck with what you are doing.
A dog is never bad or naughty - it is simply being a dog

SET YOURSELF UP FOR SUCCESS

Dibbythedog
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Location: Middlesex West London

Re: Precious becoming a man(iac)..

Post by Dibbythedog » Sun Apr 12, 2015 3:44 pm

Thanks for the update. :o

I dont think you could have done things differently so dont beat yourself up about it.
Glad the neutering has helped.

gwd
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Re: Precious becoming a man(iac)..

Post by gwd » Sun Apr 12, 2015 10:53 pm

I'll give you no grief. You made an informed decision and you did what you felt was best for your particular dog......... that's the best we all can do. I am a firm believer in keeping dogs intact but yet I spayed my ***** after her 4th season. I'd never had a ***** that had the horrible swings in personality that she seemed to have pre, during and post season............ for her, I think I made The right decision. It sounds like it's been the best thing you could do for your boy also and you did wait for him to be fully grown.
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Sanna
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Re: Precious becoming a man(iac)..

Post by Sanna » Fri Apr 17, 2015 3:47 am

Thanks for your kind words and support ladies :D

I guess I question myself more because when you have a dog from puppyhood and make every effort to do things the right way, educate yourself, prevent bad experiences and unwanted behaviour etc etc, and your dog still turns out having 'issues'; you can't help but wonder if you could've done more (Judy you know what I mean right :lol: )..
And I suppose it's hard not to ask yourself why (at least on the really tough days), even if the why is maybe irrelevant or won't be much help.

JudyN
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Re: Precious becoming a man(iac)..

Post by JudyN » Fri Apr 17, 2015 10:48 am

With you all the way, Sanna :wink:
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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