In tears with desperation; my dog and I need help!!

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Joined:Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:00 pm
In tears with desperation; my dog and I need help!!

Post by butterflyqueen1234 » Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:43 pm

I am truly at the end of my wits. I want to help "fix" my dog, but I don't know what to do. He has several issues that I believe are all related to common causes, though what they are I'm not exactly sure. I have a rat terrier mix, Prince Terrian. He will be 5 years old this March. Over the past three years, he has become increasingly aggresive and hostile. He is temperamental and doesn't like to be bothered when the mood strikes him. He wasn't always this way, it has gradually gotten worse. I believe it initially started when he lived more outdoors than in on a run at one of my residences for about a year. He used to very be very well crate trained, when I said "bed" he would go straight to his crate, even if he was across the house. Now, he'll sometimes go if he feels like it, other times he will go and hide where I can't get him, or if I do try to get him, he snaps at me. Sometimes he will let me pick him up or take him to his crate, sometimes he won't. He has bitten me on several occassions when I am trying to get him to do something he doesn't want to do, or if I touch him somehow that he doesn't want to be touched. (for example, adjusting his harness or drying him off) He will let me give him a bath, in fact, he is very good with that, but when I dry him off, he snaps. He has bitten a friend's child and snapped at my mother, whom he respects more than anyone I know. I am the only one who can do certain things with the dog, such as go near him when he's eating, or pick him up. He is calmer when in unfamiliar settings, though still anxious around other people and will snap or growl if they get close to him. He has let other people touch and pet him, it depends on the situation. You can never tell how he will react to a situation. I got another puppy about 9 months ago, and Terrian does pretty well with him. They play and wrestle, and even can sleep next to each other on the floor. They do fight over toys and food, so they each have their own. Terrian occassionally loses his patience with the puppy but they are each learning their way with each other. I have a 7 year old child who gets a long pretty well for the most part with Terrian. My son does not bother Terrian, so there is no problem there. Terrian does not do well with other children though; their movement and activity bothers him. (though my own son is VERY active, Terrian accepts him as part of the house) He will snap at people and children when they come in the house, or he will sniff and bark and be happy, you can't tell. I have to put him away when children are in the house. When adults only are visiting, I can bring him out after I have introduced him to every one and the atmosphere is calm and no one bothers him. I am very concerned about his lost respect for me though and my fear that his hostile tendencies will endanger others. I am afraid to leave town or anything because I'd have to leave him in a kennel, even though I know a very good one and Terrian does well at the house by himself for long periods. I worry about the kennel because I feel as though his behavior is unpredictable. I have gotten advice from my vet which has not worked, he was having some pain problems for a little while so I don't know if that exascerbated the situation or not. He bit me one time bad enough that I was in tears over the fact that I didn't know what else to do. I actually brought him to the humane society because I was so lost. They saw how distraught I was and talked with him about Terrian for a little while. A trainer there said that Terrian was not a lost cause and could be fixed and that he would work with me. He has been giving me advice that I have been trying but I have not seen a lot of success, it seems that sometimes he does better and sometimes it's worse. I love my dog and don't want to give him up but I am lost. The trainer told me to do these things: He said make sure Terrian stays on the ground at all times, not to pick him up or let him get on furniture. He said to ignore him and do not go to him for attention, to let him come to me then give him attention. He told me to make sure he sleeps in the crate at night (he was already doing that) and to stay in the crate while I was at work (he was not doing that, just confined to the kitchen, but he is now). He told me I could pick him up to put him in the crate if necessary or put him on the leash and take him there. He told me to feed him in the morning and at night to make sure he isnt hungry, and to walk him twice a day as well. So far I have been doing these things and I am not seeing much improvement and it has been about 3 weeks. I know it doesn't happen overnight, but I would expect some change. I have gotten him in the crate the ways stated above, but sometimes he will still hide and snap at me. Other times I will try to get him, he will snap, and then he will go to his crate. But the past several times I have closed the door once he was in it, he would bark and snap at the door as I was doing it. He used to let me close it no problem, he used to go in the crate and relax throughout the day. He doesn't do that so much anymore. If anyone has read this long post all the way through and hasn't given up reading yet, please help me. The biggest thing is I don't think I can do it alone, but I don't know who else can help. I have tried looking for people to help me. I have heard so many different things to do with my dog and some of the different things have conflicted. This most recent trainer told me that what my vet said was really bad advice. Someone please help me.

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Horace's Mum
Joined:Wed Feb 06, 2008 5:10 pm

Re: In tears with desperation; my dog and I need help!!

Post by Horace's Mum » Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:36 am

(((((((((Big Hug!!)))))))))))))) I'll pick up on some of the things you have mentioned, others will pick up on other things and we can all help you deal with this if you stick with us.

First of all, you need to get a full health check again, make sure there is absolutely nothing bothering him now. If he had pain before, it can take a very very long time for him not to expect something to hurt, so be patient.

I would say that the advice you have been given is pretty good to start with, but I personally would disagree with crating when you are away as well as at night. Do one or the other, otherwise he is spending most of his life in a crate and that is no fun for anyone. Make it really cosy for him, maybe cover it if you haven't already (many dogs like a nice dark cave to hide in) and don't invade it. If he goes in and won't come out, find another way other than going in after him. Make a habit of leaving nice things in it like yummy treats and toys to encourage him in, and drop good things in if you do catch him inside of his own accord. Don't close the door on him until he is happy going in, then start closing it but not locking it, then gradually build up to locking him in again.

I wouldn't pick him up at all for now, if you need to move him then leave a short light line attached to his collar that you can pick up without needing to invade his space to clip a lead on.

Try using some clicker training to help him learn that touch is a good thing again, and also make his life more interesting. It is also great for building his self esteem and confidence because if you break things down small enough then he never gets it wrong, its a great way to motivate him and build you relationship.

Three weeks may seem a long time to you, but it is not long at all for him to realise that things are changing and possibly improving for him. It might take several months to really improve, remember it has taken 3 years to get to this point. But it is essential that once you start a new routine that you keep it up and totally consistent - please resist the urge to try something different because its not working after only a few weeks. It might not be what you want to hear, but it took me months of complete consistency before my dog started to realise he didn't need to react against me. Please give it time, don't put a date on when you want to see a change, just implement your new programme and let it become part of life - don't put the pressure on you or him by expecting change.

Chin up, give yourself a hug, and we'll all help you get through this patch. :)

Joined:Tue Oct 17, 2006 9:24 pm
Location:West Midlands

Re: In tears with desperation; my dog and I need help!!

Post by emmabeth » Sun Jan 17, 2010 11:50 am

Excellent advice from Horaces Mum -

You cannot put a timescale on this and as she rightly points out its taken three years for things to get this bad.

Hopefully it wont take three years to fix things but its definately going to be more than 3 weeks.

I would also agree that if hes crated at night (is he still happy with this?) then crating during the day is really not fair and he IS displaying fear surrounding being put in the crate/being in the crate so forcing this issue is not going to help matters.

What does crating acheive, day or night, currently?

You have identified a lot of situations where he may snap or bite and clearly isnt happy so now you must manage things so that he is NEVER in those situations - it might seem like this avoids dealing with the issue but you have to let his stress levels drop and if he is constantly on edge feeling like he may need to defend himself, they wont and he cant learn good things when hes stressed.

Definately back to the vets for a thorough check (not a two minute poke and prod!) to make sure hes not in pain but even if he isnt NOW he may well be remembering previous pain which takes a very very long time to get over.
West Midlands based 1-2-1 Training & Behaviour Canine Consultant

Joined:Sat Jan 16, 2010 10:00 pm

Re: In tears with desperation; my dog and I need help!!

Post by butterflyqueen1234 » Sun Jan 17, 2010 3:38 pm

Thanks a lot for the advice! I will work on the things you suggested and continue the things I am doing. He has always been crated at night, like I said, he used to like it, and go there by himself when he wanted to be alone. I have never reached for him when he was in his crate, that is his space. I will let him stay out during the day like you suggested and take him back to the vet. I appreciate all the help I can get, I really want him to be less stressed and nervous. Thanks to everyone who has offered insight on this, and those who continue to do so. I will keep you updated on progress.

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