Almost 7 month old Pup

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Lotsaquestions
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Sat Feb 24, 2018 4:26 pm

Hopefully Merlin can trust me in time! He used to but I guess now his confidence is lower from his neuter and two months bed rest he needs to learn to again. :(

JudyN
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Sat Feb 24, 2018 5:07 pm

Don't forget we've been working on this for eight years - when J was Merlin's age he was still a complete horror!
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Lotsaquestions
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Sun Feb 25, 2018 12:29 pm

I just don't know what is going wrong... He has backslid completely. Off lead he's great, on lead he is barking at EVERYTHING. Dogs are the biggest trigger, but its like he's on edge. He was barking at gates, at front gardens, at three dogs. But we get to the park and he's a different dog. He's happy, relaxed and confident. Then on the way home he's happy, relaxed, and wants to interact with me. I also think his reactivity is becoming more and more about anxiety and less about excitement. He isn't skittish, he is just alert barking like everything is new. I even think with dogs it is less 'I want to say hi' and more 'I'm worried by you!' which is very unusual for him (outside of flat faced dogs). Again off lead he is confident and friendly with dogs, this morning he had a play with a few and nothing about him made me think he was worried.

I can't think of anything recently that would prompt him to suddenly become worried by the lead instead of frustrated, I make it a point to drop his lead if off lead dogs approach and stay a good distance from them around the streets. At training he is perfectly comfortable being on lead around dogs.

Is it normal for this level of backsliding? I am not even sure what to do since it is a general level of anxiety mixed with excitement, the triggers just add to it. Should I just keep him occupied with tricks and toys or should I just let him take in his environment?

JudyN
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:25 pm

My instinct would be to let him take everything in and think it through. As with the spider scenario, there's too much going on (in his mind) for him to think about treats and toys.

This is just guess, but maybe dropping levels of testosterone are making him a little less confident?
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Lotsaquestions
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Sun Feb 25, 2018 1:40 pm

I thought that but he was fine before our last bout of bed rest. More than fine, he was a dream to walk, very confident and happy and his reactivity was just excitement, which we were getting to grips with.

Last two days he's been different. Yesterday evening it was just a little bit of anxiety with the aggressive dogs, but this evening he was hyper alert. This morning, in the woods, he was fine for the most part but had a weird encounter with a dog on the way out. He might have actually snapped at the dog (on lead) but I can't be sure as I was behind his head and there was no sound. Something occured between the two as one moment they were sniffing, then they both jolted back and looked tense. Was a few seconds encounter as we passed them by. Nothing has changed over the last few days, and he's had nothing scary happen to him aside from seeing some dogs he doesn't like over the road.

Lotsaquestions
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Sun Feb 25, 2018 4:58 pm

Just took him out again (very brief - he refuses to toilet in the garden - in fact since his colitis he's refusing to even step on the lawn in our garden...) and he barked at car headlights. He's seen those every single evening of his life with no issues. If he's still spooked tomorrow morning on his walk I might keep him in for a day or so to see if its just cumulative stressors, something has definatly upset him. I don't think it is pain / sickness as when off lead he's normal and very confident. Unfortunately there is no way I can avoid all on lead walking as that would involve the car, and he's afraid of the rumble machine so I can't see that being less stressful...

I guess because he's an extroverted Spitz I should expect him to wear any emotion he's feeling in his mouth, so I hope its just that.

Lotsaquestions
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Mon Feb 26, 2018 8:42 am

Ok today he was Mr Dream Dog. Saw dogs, people, cars, nothing seemed to spook him and he was hugely responsive... Then on the way home he saw a man and for some reason the man was scary and he barked at the man. The man called him over and was like 'I'm not afraid of dogs!' which was strange, but then Merlin got excited and that mixed with his anxiety so he was half wiggly and half worried, just like with the boiler man who came in our house!

I am thinking that he might be in another fear period, since he's getting worried by things he's seen a million times before, he recovers very quickly, and it seems like it has started overnight. I have noticed aswell that when he's off lead he is coming back to me more looking for comfort if he sees something. Like 'that is a bit weird, where is my treat?' he did that with a woman and a toddler. Toddlers tend not to walk our route (it is generally dog walkers only) so was out of place.

Going to power on with watching his body languauge like a hawk so I can talk like a crazy person, reward and move away when he starts to look a little weirded out, before any barking occurs. Hoping this will pass like his previous adolescent fear period where he was Mr Scardycat for a few weeks. I am sure he won't say no to random bits of chicken falling from the sky either, and the silly jolly talk always gets him smiling. :lol:

JudyN
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Mon Feb 26, 2018 10:51 am

Sometimes there's not a lot to be gained by trying to work out why they're having a funny phase, but just to work with it in the way that's worked before. And of course you can never quite override their personalities!
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

Lotsaquestions
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Tue Feb 27, 2018 1:00 pm

Been working hard on avoiding any trigger I think might 'trigger' him. It seems it is definately men, and embarassingly, asian men... I am not sure if one of the vets that scared him was asian, or something spooked him, or I don't know. He wags his backside for white men, he barks at asian men. All sorts of women he's fine with, it seems to be very selectively asian men. He is also perfectly happy with black men.

So at least now I know a major trigger... Now I need to discreetly avoid all asian men whilst we work on it without looking like I am racist myself. :lol: I've bought some lamb's liver as his ultra high value treat which I used with dogs initially.

Lotsaquestions
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:19 am

Alright it isn't just asian men. And I can't find any trigger except men. He goes up to strange men, is happy to be stroked on lead, he actively seeks them out, but then every now and then he barks and growls at someone and tentatively sniffs them. It is happening every walk now and I can only assume something horrible happened at the vets.

I'm going to spend 30mins every day just sitting on a bench and watching people with him, lots of treats in hand, for the next two weeks. Then after that progress to being closer to people and do the same thing. If he shows no improvement I'm thinking behaviourist time. It is definatly fear based, not excitement, that much is clear as he stops when the men go away. With excitement he gets louder if the thing goes away.

ZaraD
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by ZaraD » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:48 am

Lotsaquestions wrote:
Sat Mar 03, 2018 9:19 am
Alright it isn't just asian men. And I can't find any trigger except men. He goes up to strange men, is happy to be stroked on lead, he actively seeks them out, but then every now and then he barks and growls at someone and tentatively sniffs them. It is happening every walk now and I can only assume something horrible happened at the vets.

I'm going to spend 30mins every day just sitting on a bench and watching people with him, lots of treats in hand, for the next two weeks. Then after that progress to being closer to people and do the same thing. If he shows no improvement I'm thinking behaviourist time. It is definatly fear based, not excitement, that much is clear as he stops when the men go away. With excitement he gets louder if the thing goes away.
It could just be a fear period phase or like you said behaviourist time , I think you have a good plan if it doesn't improve definitely get an expert in to help.

Lotsaquestions
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Sat Mar 03, 2018 11:51 am

Added a vid my partner took of Merlin walking past two men this afternoon. I've been using treats so he didn't react. Its hard to watch because my partner swayed the camera alot. I hope its not just in my head, but Merlin was fine with man #1 (white, elderly man with walking stick) but stuck to my side and slunk down a bit with man #2 (young, black man with hood up, walking quite manly) and kept looking at him. With man #2 I noticed he stopped sniffing around and pricked up his ears and went into an alert stance in front of me before I called him back to give him treats.

Just wondering, from what you can see, is this fear or is Merlin 'protecting' me? I didn't think dogs actually did the latter, but he keeps going in front of me when he sees something that worries him. If it is the latter, how would I solve it? I don't want to be rewarding him for stepping on front of me and staring at men, if that'll make things worse.

https://youtu.be/kz7BmNkuaVw

@Zara I am thinking about the behaviourist if it doesn't get better, but since we've just spent £3.5k on a boiler we're hoping to hold out as long as possible. Problem is with most men he's perfectly fine so it might be an hour of walking Merlin around with a behaviourist until he sees the 'trigger man.' It is like night and day with him sometimes.

ZaraD
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by ZaraD » Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:01 pm

His behaviour from what I saw was fine with man number 1 but number tow his behaviour changed slightly, I'm no expert so can't say for sure but I don't think he was being protective and again not an expert but only going off how Sampson is and the fact that giant schnauzers are true guard dogs, when Sampson guards me which is not very often at all only if I do generally feel scared like when this drunk man kept shouting at me while walking Sampson one evening, Sampson got in front of me and barked very loudly , louder than normal and growled at the drunk man, his tail was straight in the air head slunk a little as soon as the man went away Sampson went straight back to his normal happy self until the man reappeared and he threw something at me then Sampson lunged at the man, I now don't walk him on my own at night my neighbour walks with me ( he's about a similar age I'm in my 20's he's in his early 30's and is also single and lives alone were I just live with me, mom, Sampson :D ) I know Sampson would never let anyone hurt me but I still feel safer and happier now my neighbor walks with me.

I think it's either fear or he's unsure .

Lotsaquestions
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by Lotsaquestions » Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:20 pm

Yeah, you can see he keeps staring at the man until I give him treats and he turns to me, which is what I thought I should do. Click when he sees scary thing, gets treat. But his body language does change, he's less confident, keen to keep his eye on the man, and slinks near me instead of bouncing like he normally does. Was easier to see all of this in person! I will fire my partner as camera man. :lol:

I think it is fear too, but generally when I see fearful dogs they don't go forward so I am confused. Maybe he's just lost all trust in me and has taken matters into his own incapable hands.

JudyN
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Re: Almost 7 month old Pup

Post by JudyN » Sat Mar 03, 2018 12:30 pm

I didn't see enough to worry about, to be honest. He didn't react, bark, lunge, etc. I don't know if is protection, but what I'd be doing is to give him a treat every time you pass someone you think he might be unsure of. Even if he is protecting you, I don't think it will make him feel he has to be more protective - more likely he'll think 'strange man = treat, yay!' Even if it's 'strange man, I go forward, I get treat, yay!' that's still find.

Don't rule out the possibility that you tense up, ever so slightly, if you see someone who you think he might be unsure of. He's so sensitive he can probably read your mind. But dogs are also very sensitive to 'difference'. There's been a few times where Jasper has picked up on differences I wouldn't have thought he'd notice, e.g. a slightly inebriated walk, or a man who audibly hums the whole time - even though I'm often singing on walk when I think we're alone.
Jasper, lurcher, born December 2009

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