Beyond Redemption?

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Beyond Redemption?

Postby Newb » Mon Jan 17, 2011 8:08 pm

Hi guys

I've been meaning to join up and participate in the forums here for a while now and wish my first post here was for a better reason. Sorry it's gonna be a long one but I want to give as much information I can because I have a very hard decision to make in the next few days.

I have a 9 month old female American Spoodle that we have had since about10 weeks ago. She is very intelligent, has passed the 'masters' dog training classes and does everything a dog should do.

Except.. last week she savaged my wife's hand without warning.

Behaviour wise, she is a boisterous dog at doggy day-care. She is fearful of strangers, men in particular, but after the initial barking and growling, she acts like she's always been best friends with the stranger. Female children she sniffs and is fine with, male children get barked at incessantly and 'rounded up'. She is disobediant with me fairly frequently but I'd not say any more than any other adolescent dog would be. Generally she is fine and her fears when out walking have improved. I would describe her as a generally fearful dog though.

My wife is the primary care giver as I have to travel for work. Most of the time the dog is compliant with commands and absolutely fine. Other times, for example grooming, my wife gets screamed at, then the dog does her best to defecate at my wife. Yes, at her.

We recently had her kennelled over christmas and she was fine. However her behaviour seems to have deteriorated rapidly with her peeing in her indoor kennel and lying in it. She knows how to ask to go toilet when we are home, and has always been able to wait when we've gone out, but for the last week or so she has 'forgotten' her house training.

So, a couple of nights ago, my wife took the dog outside to go toilet and she decided to go somewhere other than her designated place. My wife went towards the dog to take her collar and she bit my wifes hand, clamped on while my wife raised her hand and subsequently ended up on her side. The dog got up and lunged again. My wife escaped indoors and got a muzzle and managed to wrestle that onto her. My wife suffered lacerations, puncture wounds and has had to have tetanus shots and antibiotics. Understandably, she is now scared that the dog will strike at any moment and consequently, any interaction with the dog include a muzzle.

My wife and many people we've spoken to are of the view that if a dog bites once without warning then it must be euthanased as it is a danger to people and especially children.

I grew up with dogs and have never experienced a situation like this. My previous dogs were all child-friendly, stable, balanced dogs. We have tried everything with this dog to try to grow a stable dog including a structured day and obedience training at a 'positive' training club.

So any thoughts as to what to do next?

Do I try to somehow continue training and hope that there are no more attacks?
Do I have the dog put on tranquilisers and hope she doesn't attack again?
Do I have the dog rehomed?
Do I have the dog put down?

Again, sorry for the long post, but it is a very hard decision I need to make.

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Re: Beyond Redemption?

Postby Teddy » Tue Jan 18, 2011 8:22 am

End of the day its up to you, the reason for this behaviour goes beyond the typical training of sit stay etc... You can attempt to train the dog, its behaviour is the issue... Most of the dog behavioural issues stem from how we communicate with them... if you are scare or afraid of the dog, or attempt to pre-empt a dogs behaviour then you are making it worse. What you need to do is make a list of where this behaviour is occuring what is triggering it and then dealing with these aspects.

A dog isn't fear aggressive by nature, it occurs when its surrounds aren't stable... I think your environment isn't a stable one, which means you can either work out the stresses, could be a physical environment, not enough exercise, lack of stimulas, body language, etc etc... You need to look at yourself and dealing with each event that triggers aggression... if you approach a dog with clippers and make a deal with it, and its scared of the clippers it will attack... if you jump away and act angry or give up, then you are infact telling your dog "if you are aggressive when you are scared then it will go away" .... If you approach your dog don't show the clippers, lay it on its side, don't make a big deal about it... and just start to clip when its calm then thats a much better way of approaching it... if it gets upset, put it on its side and calm its energy down... a dog laying on its side is a relaxing state... if you give up when it starts to get a high energy, then you are training it once again to get high energy when its afraid..... I would recommend if you want to learn about how to create a balanced happy dog you read up on cesar millan's techniques: or buy one of his books... I can tell you some ways which may help however they are all about simply teaching the dog to be calm and lowering its energy when a "trigger" sets it off, however cesar's books are by far much better... It's the area alot of dog owners over look and isn't taught at dog schools....
Sometimes it can be some very simple changes you make around the dog which can calm it down...

If you think of aggression in a dog as being trained into them through smaller events which build up over time through constant reaffirming, to the point where it now bites people... It's possible that it might bite someone, however you will need to take responsibilty if you keep it to change its behaviour into a more balanced dog... behavioural changes should occur very quickly, if they don't then you still aren't providing a balanced environment... If you don't believe you can change its behaviour or are affraid of your dog then the best option would be to take it to the pound...

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Re: Beyond Redemption?

Postby sl_simpson » Tue Jan 18, 2011 12:25 pm

Jan Fennell the Dog Listener book is also a good read. Also check out her web site
I think you should get an assement done with a good dog behavioural specialist asap you, your wife and dog, at home and away. A fearful dog is an unpredictable dog and it needs address asap.
Has your dog had a check up health wise after the event?
Does she display food aggression and possiveness?
Was there a possiblity of a bone burried some where in the yard at that time?
Hope you get onto help with this as soon as possible and hope its a positive outcome.
All the best

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Re: Beyond Redemption?

Postby Spoodygirl » Wed Jan 19, 2011 12:52 am

Have her checked by a vet, if she has no past history of aggression she could have a neurological problem. Do you know her past history? Were you told the absolute truth about why previous owners were rehoming? It is definatley jt wise to rehome a dog with aggressive issues as you have described, not fair on the dog or the new owners. The vet would be the first port of call. If the onset of the worst of his behavior has only just begun, it could be like I said neurological. If you get no satisfaction at the vet, a behaviorist may be able to help. If not and the behavior continues the only fair option is PTS. Are you in OZ, i can help with a reputable behaviorist if you are near a major city. This dog may need a firmer hand than just a purely positive training method. Don't get me wrong positive training is good but some dogs just need few firmer methods to set them straight! Good luck.

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Re: Beyond Redemption?

Postby the_discowhore » Mon Jan 24, 2011 4:48 pm

This is not an issue you should try to solve yourself with books and the internet, you need to contact a dog behaviourist who can observe your situation and give you a plan to work with. With unprovoked attacks like this, your first thoughts should be medical- take your dog to the vet and have a full thyroid panel run. Do you know the health history of your dog's parents? Do you know if hypothyroidism runs in your dogs family? Being a cross breed does not eliminate this. Hypothyroidism is easily treated with medication... though your dog is young and hypothyroidism is usually seen in older dogs, it is worth a go. Other medical conditions that can cause aggression in dogs are things like brain tumors, head trauma, behavioural seizures, epilepsy and a number of other head related problems. The sudden bed wetting would have me concerned about medical problems too- dogs don't like to lay down in their own mess, unless she was from a pet store or puppymill type situation and learned to overcome her nest site inhibition.

You say your dog is 9 months old and you have had her for 10 weeks, why was she rehomed? I think you really need to talk to a behaviourist (not just a dog trainer) and work out how committed you are to this dog, fixing problem behaviours like this can be very time consuming and everyone in her life will need to be a part of helping her. Until then, I advise you keep a muzzle on her (a basket muzzle, not a fabric one that will stop her from drinking/panting), keep up her exercise, look out for any slightly odd behaviours, perhaps keep a notebook of things that set her off for when you talk to a behaviourist and don't put her in a position where she can bite someone again.

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