help with rescue

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Pibblesmgee
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:05 pm

help with rescue

Post by Pibblesmgee » Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:54 pm

Hello! Sorry for the word dump here, feeling a bit stressed.

Two months ago I adopted a very sweet lab/pit/sight hound (?) mix. He is now approximately six months old. We have found a lovely pure positive trainer and have completed a puppy class and will begin a 'Mind your manners' class on 11/7. Our household consists of myself, my spouse, our other dog (a ten year old female spayed shepherd mix) and our cat.

When we adopted him, he was very, very, very frightened of EVERYTHING. I basically left him alone for the first two weeks he was here aside from the basic needs (food, outside, soft pets). Whenever my spouse would come into the room, he would urinate from fear. Honestly I am convinced he was a stray or lived the first few months of his life in a kennel. I have tried to create a very predictable routine so he feels some comfort and stability in his surroundings. He is fed a high quality kibble and is walked between 60 - 90 mins per day, sometimes around the neighborhood, sometimes at the park. He gets stuffed frozen kongs and bully sticks for chews. I like to think I've been taking things slowly as he does get very growly when unsure and I don't ever want him to feel like he has to defend himself. I want him to know I will keep him safe.

Problems I'm having:

- I'm beginning to feel like a prisoner in my home. He seems okay in the crate for the most part (he is in there all night while we sleep with no issue, a couple of hours in the morning while I work, and then an hour in the evening while I make and eat dinner) but he won't allow my spouse to handle him to leash to go outside (our yard isn't fenced so a leash is needed). This means I can't be gone for more than three hours. I have a horse to care for and if I really haul you know what I can do all of my work there and drive there and back just in time to let him out. He is quiet in the crate while no one is home, but if spouse is home and I am not, he will begin screaming after a couple of hours to be let out. We don't know what to do about this since he has such a hard time getting pup's harness on.

- He bites, hard. This is not aggression at all, it feels like over stimulation. He has left bruises but not punctured skin. I can't put him in time out because putting him in a room against his will feels like it would cause backwards movement in our trust building. I've tried putting myself in time out but he doesn't really seem to care lol. For now I say 'OUCH' in a high pitched voice and cross my arms and turn away.

- When our routine changes, potty training is out of the window. Even if this just means spouse is home from work on a day he usually isn't. My spouse is lovely and really has made great strides in getting the pup to relax around him but he is still definitely wary of him.

- He almost never settles or relaxes unless it is carefully curated by me. I'm unsure if this is an anxiety thing or a puppy thing. I suppose he isn't much of a puppy anymore and is more like a teenager or young adult.

I'm basically just looking for some tips/support. Having such an anxious pup is very isolating.

Edited to add some positives:

- He is very smart. We do lots of clicker training and he has learned to sit and wait until I say 'Okay!' to jump out of the car or walk out of the door with me, sit, wait, touch, leave it and place.

jacksdad
Posts: 4833
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: help with rescue

Post by jacksdad » Mon Oct 30, 2017 10:48 pm

Does sound like you have a fearful pup. Let me see if I can't help you out a bit.
Pibblesmgee wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:54 pm
will begin a 'Mind your manners' class on 11/7.
given how you say the pup reacts to your spouse, take a moment and be very honest with your-self about how your pup is with strangers. same with how your pup is with other dogs out in the world? classes are not always the best place for fearful dogs. if your dog is afraid of other people, and/or even other dogs, the class may not be the best idea. I would strongly encourage discussing this with your trainer and it maybe that private sessions are more beneficial. In the classes I help teach, if I can't work off to the side with the pup, the lead trainer arranges for the pup to get privates sessions her or me which ever is available. at 6 months the socialization window is gone and being around other dogs or people in a class environment may not teach the lesson we think it is or would like.

I will wait for your answer before explaining how to make up for the socialization window being closed.
Pibblesmgee wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:54 pm
Whenever my spouse would come into the room, he would urinate from fear.
first step is to look at how your spouse moves, talks, interacts with the pup. No matter how gentle, caring etc your spouse maybe it is all about the perception of the pup. 100% ignoring the pup. don't look at, talk to, walk a wide path around etc maybe a place to start. But you may not need to go to that extreme. To guide here I do need more info so observe your spouse's interactions with the pup. tone of voice. is it high, light, or low and deep? is your spouse leaning over the pup or crouching down next to? is your spouse petting on the head, or chest or shoulders...assuming being able to touch. all these small details really do make a difference.
Pibblesmgee wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:54 pm
Honestly I am convinced he was a stray or lived the first few months of his life in a kennel.


I wouldn't spend time thinking about the past. honestly we don't need to know anything about the past in order to improve things.

We can look at the pup and say...when I do X, pup reacts fearful. or when Y happens, pup reacts fearful. That is honestly all that we need to know. why can help sometimes, but not always.
Pibblesmgee wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:54 pm
He is quiet in the crate while no one is home, but if spouse is home and I am not, he will begin screaming after a couple of hours to be let out. We don't know what to do about this since he has such a hard time getting pup's harness on.
Is there a reason you have him crated while your gone, but your spouse is home?
can the pup "hold it" bathroom break wise if you take him out before you leave and are back within his current house training ability?
Pibblesmgee wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:54 pm
- He bites, hard. This is not aggression at all, it feels like over stimulation. He has left bruises but not punctured skin. I can't put him in time out because putting him in a room against his will feels like it would cause backwards movement in our trust building. I've tried putting myself in time out but he doesn't really seem to care lol. For now I say 'OUCH' in a high pitched voice and cross my arms and turn away.
very astute to pickup that not all biting is the same. Regardless, we need to end this.

first I would stop the high pitched ouch. If it was going to stop the biting it would have worked by now. The windows for that to be meaningful to the pup was a much younger age than 6 months.

Next, what triggered the bit. what happens right before the bit? that is what we need to know right now.

Good call on not doing the time outs. until we know a bit more about the biting, time out may not be appropriate. if the biting is fear based, time outs and loud "OUCH" could do the opposite of what you want.
Pibblesmgee wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:54 pm
When our routine changes, potty training is out of the window. Even if this just means spouse is home from work on a day he usually isn't. My spouse is lovely and really has made great strides in getting the pup to relax around him but he is still definitely wary of him.
what is your souse doing to help make these strides?

tell me more about "potty training out the window".
Pibblesmgee wrote:
Mon Oct 30, 2017 5:54 pm
He almost never settles or relaxes unless it is carefully curated by me. I'm unsure if this is an anxiety thing or a puppy thing. I suppose he isn't much of a puppy anymore and is more like a teenager or young adult.
until we know for sure otherwise, the safest assumption to go with is fear/anxiety. we make less mistakes this way. if we dismiss fear/anxiety we are more likely to make mistakes and do things that make the fear worse.

Pibblesmgee
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:05 pm

Re: help with rescue

Post by Pibblesmgee » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:11 am

Just wanted to thank you for the response! I will type more after work this evening, lots to think about. :)

Pibblesmgee
Posts: 3
Joined: Thu Oct 05, 2017 2:05 pm

Re: help with rescue

Post by Pibblesmgee » Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:38 pm

Okay! Hopefully this will answer most of your questions, Jacksdad. If not, please let me know.

I'm hesitant to pay for one on one sessions as they are quite expensive and at that point, I would rather pay for a behaviorist. My logic with group classes is having a group of 'safe' people around, meaning people who follow the trainers instruction to ignore my pup and not approach him. The training space is very large so we are in no danger of forced interaction. He is immensely more comfortable around animals than people. The puppy class allowed for two or three five minute sessions of off leash play. The pups were separated into groups based on energy level and level of shyness. The first time we did this I cried because he transformed into a different, happier dog. We kept he and our resident dog separate for two weeks prior to allow him to acclimate a bit. They do not allow off leash play or dog/dog interaction in our next class. We attended six sessions and he was pretty relaxed in the last two, chilling on his mat and rolling over for belly rubs from me. I'm basically going for the experience of being around people in a controlled environment.

Once we saw how frightened he was, my spouse completely ignored him. He would occasionally toss cooked liver in his general direction. The pup vastly prefers women to men. Presently, he will kind of watch my husband if he is up and moving around and like, skitter out of his way if they cross paths. If my spouse is laying or sitting down, the pup will actively seek his attention, cuddles, and will try to solicit play. If we are all outside together, the pup will try to illicit play but shut down if I go inside. He has been told by me to pet his chest and shoulders only as the dog is head shy.

He has to be crated when I'm gone because he will pee everywhere lol. He also will not let my husband put his harness on and I don't want to force that interaction as it seems unproductive. If I leave with the harness on, he will chew it off. Using a martingale collar or something similar is also out of the question for now as he reacts quite wildly to neck pressure. 'Out if the window' just means some accidents in the house.

The biting happens in various scenarios. Sometimes it is to get my attention. If he is on the bed and I am nearby but not interacting, he will bite the backs of my arms or lower back. He will sometimes miss a toy and get my hand if we are playing. He will bite in what seems like frustration when I am taking his harness off because he is eager to go play with our other dog. He will also bite my hands when he is very excited, like when he knows he is about to go for a ride to the park. I really would like for him to develop good bite inhibition.

Thanks so much for the help.

jacksdad
Posts: 4833
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: help with rescue

Post by jacksdad » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:52 pm

Pibblesmgee wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:38 pm
Okay! Hopefully this will answer most of your questions, Jacksdad. If not, please let me know.

I'm hesitant to pay for one on one sessions as they are quite expensive and at that point, I would rather pay for a behaviorist. My logic with group classes is having a group of 'safe' people around, meaning people who follow the trainers instruction to ignore my pup and not approach him. The training space is very large so we are in no danger of forced interaction. He is immensely more comfortable around animals than people. The puppy class allowed for two or three five minute sessions of off leash play. The pups were separated into groups based on energy level and level of shyness. The first time we did this I cried because he transformed into a different, happier dog. We kept he and our resident dog separate for two weeks prior to allow him to acclimate a bit. They do not allow off leash play or dog/dog interaction in our next class. We attended six sessions and he was pretty relaxed in the last two, chilling on his mat and rolling over for belly rubs from me. I'm basically going for the experience of being around people in a controlled environment.

Once we saw how frightened he was, my spouse completely ignored him. He would occasionally toss cooked liver in his general direction. The pup vastly prefers women to men. Presently, he will kind of watch my husband if he is up and moving around and like, skitter out of his way if they cross paths. If my spouse is laying or sitting down, the pup will actively seek his attention, cuddles, and will try to solicit play. If we are all outside together, the pup will try to illicit play but shut down if I go inside. He has been told by me to pet his chest and shoulders only as the dog is head shy.

He has to be crated when I'm gone because he will pee everywhere lol. He also will not let my husband put his harness on and I don't want to force that interaction as it seems unproductive. If I leave with the harness on, he will chew it off. Using a martingale collar or something similar is also out of the question for now as he reacts quite wildly to neck pressure. 'Out if the window' just means some accidents in the house.

The biting happens in various scenarios. Sometimes it is to get my attention. If he is on the bed and I am nearby but not interacting, he will bite the backs of my arms or lower back. He will sometimes miss a toy and get my hand if we are playing. He will bite in what seems like frustration when I am taking his harness off because he is eager to go play with our other dog. He will also bite my hands when he is very excited, like when he knows he is about to go for a ride to the park. I really would like for him to develop good bite inhibition.

Thanks so much for the help.

jacksdad
Posts: 4833
Joined: Thu Dec 10, 2009 10:48 pm

Re: help with rescue

Post by jacksdad » Tue Oct 31, 2017 9:54 pm

Pibblesmgee wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:38 pm
I'm hesitant to pay for one on one sessions as they are quite expensive and at that point, I would rather pay for a behaviorist. My logic with group classes is having a group of 'safe' people around, meaning people who follow the trainers instruction to ignore my pup and not approach him.
You are thinking about keeping things safe for him so that is awesome. The catch is that the distance your dog needs is 100% up to him. if he needs 5 feet, we keep 5 feet from scary. if he needs 1000 feet, we do our best to be as close to 1000 feet as possible. safe distance is 100% decided by our dogs.

For your idea to work, you need to...

Make sure your dog has the distance he needs to feel safe/relaxed. Sometimes that distance is HUGE. sometimes it's small. One thing that may help is if your dog is comfortable with other dogs. For example my people fearful dog is MUCH more comfortable going up to people who have a dog. this wasn't always the case, but that is where he is today. If the presents of other dogs helps, and when not interacting with other dogs your dog can be at their safe distance, class might be ok. I have been the one in class with the dog way over there in order for the dog to be successful.

Take breaks. do not FORCE being a participant or being there in class the whole time. take breaks, go outside or move far, far away etc.

As for training exercises in this context, if at your safe distance your dog can do the class exercises go for it. If not, work on some counter conditioning. dog looks at the people, gets super yummy treat. when doing this the look comes first, then while your dog is looking give the food. And give more than one piece to start. 2 or 3...pause and see what he does. work in maybe 1 to 2 minute sessions, go for extra distance or go outside and take a break.

If the trainer understands what is involved with helping fearful dogs they will not be opposed to you doing something like this AND they would will be suggesting some variation of it them self.

if you try this, please do so with the willingness to pull the plug if it isn't working. if we want to make progress we can't just hope it will get better, or take the attitude "they will get over it" etc. anytime your dog starts reacting fearful technically you are being set back.

Do NOT let people give treats to your dog. in theory this teaches people are sources of good things, they are giving treats after all. however in practices no so much. more often than not to get the treat the scare dog has to go in closer to scary than they are ready for and once the treat is gone the dog realize how close to scary they are and have an unwanted/scary experience. There is a time to have strangers give the treat, but not at this stage.

Still not what I personally would think of as an ideal situation, but IF you can keep the safe distance your dog needs and your dog is truly ok with other dogs, if you careful this can be made to work.
Pibblesmgee wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:38 pm
Once we saw how frightened he was, my spouse completely ignored him. He would occasionally toss cooked liver in his general direction.
ok, might still be a good idea to ignore more often than not. however if you want to work on your dog coming closer to your spouse, toss the treat is a good way to work on that, but there needs to be some thought to what causes the treat to be tossed to the dog.

dog looks at your spouse...toss treat
dog takes a step towards your spouse...toss treat
dog walks away, backs up...NO TREAT.

basically only time treats happen is when your dog looks at, takes steps closer etc. you can lure the dog is a bit if you want. not too much too quickly. for example if your dog will only approach within 5 feet, have your spouse toss treats between 4 and 5 feet so your dog has to come in a bit. but then stop and wait for your dog to offer taking a step closer. be patient this can take a few seconds, though it will feel like forever. soon as even one paw takes a step closer...toss treat.

early on reward even small steps toward your spouse. during all of this...no talking. works MUCH better if you are quiet. avoid eye contact, don't lean over or towards the dog. Be sure to breath, and stay relaxed. if you think of your self as the hand on a clock and it's at 12pm and the dog is at 12pm, actually shift your self so you are sitting looking at 11 or 1 on the close. don't square up to the dog.

If in these early stages the dog comes in close have your spouse resists reaching out and touching and trying to pet. that is for later.

Pibblesmgee wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:38 pm
The pup vastly prefers women to men.
Not uncommon. generally this is because men have deeper voices, more still movements, etc.
Pibblesmgee wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:38 pm
Presently, he will kind of watch my husband if he is up and moving around and like, skitter out of his way if they cross paths. If my spouse is laying or sitting down, the pup will actively seek his attention, cuddles, and will try to solicit play.
in this context I would strongly encourage the 3 second rule. dog solicits play, attention, cuddles etc... spouse pets only for 3 seconds on the chest, the back, shoulders etc. then stops, wait for the dog to appear to ask for more before another 3 seconds of pets. give the attention in small chunks, no talking or soft talking, try and make sure he keeps his voice higher then normal, not overly so but just a little so its less "growly" sounding.
Pibblesmgee wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:38 pm
If we are all outside together, the pup will try to illicit play but shut down if I go inside.
call your dog to come with you. not value at this stage being in a situation where your pup shuts down.
Pibblesmgee wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:38 pm
He has to be crated when I'm gone because he will pee everywhere lol. He also will not let my husband put his harness on and I don't want to force that interaction as it seems unproductive. If I leave with the harness on, he will chew it off. Using a martingale collar or something similar is also out of the question for now as he reacts quite wildly to neck pressure. 'Out if the window' just means some accidents in the house.
ok. for now don't make any changes here. watch for our of character "accidents" in the crate, trying to escape the crate, panic in the crate etc.
Pibblesmgee wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:38 pm
The biting happens in various scenarios. Sometimes it is to get my attention. If he is on the bed and I am nearby but not interacting, he will bite the backs of my arms or lower back.
Get up walk away, say nothing, count to 5 go back, sit down, resume what you were doing, if dog does something you like then praise and/or reward. if dog resumes biting at your back, get up, walk away, say nothing, count to 5, go back, start over. let him learn that this behavior makes you go away.
Pibblesmgee wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:38 pm
He will sometimes miss a toy and get my hand if we are playing.
drop the toy, stop the play, move away...count to 5 go back in. start playing again. teeth touch hand, drop the toy, play stop, move away, count to 5, go back and start the play.
Pibblesmgee wrote:
Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:38 pm
He will bite in what seems like frustration when I am taking his harness off because he is eager to go play with our other dog. He will also bite my hands when he is very excited, like when he knows he is about to go for a ride to the park. I really would like for him to develop good bite inhibition.
pay more attention to the harness situation. is the harness getting too small? is he possibly uncomfortable taking it on and off? are you leaning over him? how is he in general with you touching him. we need to dig into this just a little more

for the other situation could you walk me through more detail? what tips him off you are going to the park? how do you handle it? etc.

Lotsaquestions
Posts: 613
Joined: Wed Aug 23, 2017 6:06 am

Re: help with rescue

Post by Lotsaquestions » Wed Nov 01, 2017 6:26 am

Because your dog has a bit of Lab in there he could be a mouthy dog in general. My own dog is mouthy and basically NEEDS something in his mouth when he's excited in order to control himself. Aswell as doing basically exactly what Jacksdad has said, we were also given the advice to put a toy in his mouth if he was mouthing, and we taught him the command 'wheres your teddy?' if we saw he was about to bite but hadn't yet. My dog now is much better and solicits attention by shaking a teddy in our general vacinity, and if he's excited to see us when we come home he'll go and grab a toy first whereas before it would be 'OH HI BITE BITE BITE.'

Another thing is the frustration biting, our dog was also the same when he was younger and very rarely now. What we did was just take a soft toy with us everywhere so he could shake and bite that to get his stress out instead of my leg. If we were caught out without a toy, a poo bag did the job just fine since it rips up quickly, made a rustling noise, and is fun to shake about... and of course we responsible dog owners always have a pocket full of those!

In general our dog has about three chews on the go at all times, an antler, a bully stick, and a squidgy kong. Because he's so orally fixated he spends a total of about 2 hours a day periodically chewing them down. I've noticed since we've been leaving these three choices out for him he's far less inclined to think about mouthing us in general.

I'm not an expert, just passing forward advice I got from this forum and elsewhere that worked for us.

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