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Old July 27th, 2006, 11:11 AM
carson79 carson79 is offline
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My abused dog... help :(

Okay, so I have no idea where to start with this. I have a dog who is almost 2 years old and is a lab cross. I rescued him from a shelter when he was 7 months old. At about 9 months we did some obedience classes which he was great in. He's a wonderful dog with a great, happy personality. However, right now I feel like the worst owner possible. (Believe me this is really hard to write)

Emotionally for me it's been a very rough, difficult and stressful year. Unfortunately, I've taken it out on him. I'm SO ashamed to say this, but I have hit him before (open hand) and he never deserved it. Instead of finding a healthy outlet for it, I turned it on the one being that I had control over. I regret that so much. After working on it for a while now, I've really come to understand where my anger lies and how to deal with it on a healthy level. I've gotten out of my funk and am in a much better place. I understand what I've done is wrong and unacceptable, but now I'm afraid of how I've mentally affected him. I didn't really think much of it at the times when it happened, but now I'm so worried. I actually feel ill right now.

Why I say all this is because... it's been a while since I treated him poorly. We've been doing really, really well together and I thought he was happy. But last night he was laying on the floor and I was talking to him and petting him. I bent down to his level (I realize now was a mistake) and patted his bum, not hard, just patted a bit. I noticed that his leg was shaking and I didn't know why. What didn't dawn on me while he was laying there was that, in his mind, he thought I was going to hit him, so out of fear he lashed out at me baring teeth and growling. Unfortunately his warning bite met my face. Thank goodness it wasn't serious, just a slight cut. It was at that moment when I realized what my moments of anger had done to him. I went on the balcony of my apartment and bawled.

I see now that I've made him into a fearful, aggressive, yet submissive dog. And he doesn't trust me anymore... and really, why should he?! I've tried to look up information as to how to help an abused dog, but all the information is for a dog that's been abused by a previous owner. I want to fix this and it upsets me SO much.

Please, don't judge me for this. I'm already being hard on myself. I've made mistakes and many of them. I'm not making excuses for anything, just asking for help. But all I want is for him to trust me again and not hate me, but I don't know how to begin doing that. I don't want to give him up; since I made the mistakes I want to fix them and give him the happy home he deserves.

Help me.

Last edited by carson79; July 28th, 2006 at 09:34 AM.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 11:39 AM
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jessi76 jessi76 is offline
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that was indeed a very sad tale. I'm glad you can admit your wrong, and take responsibility, however, I do think you (and your dog) would benefit from some professional one-on-one help. A professional for you, to help deal with and work through, any issues you may have, and another to help establish a healthy and respectful relationship with your dog. I don't think the advice you will receive on a message board will be sufficient.

I really do applaud you for speaking up and taking responsibility, and my advice is not meant to condemn you. I do sincerely hope with the right guidance your relationship with your dog can be saved. I'm sorry I don't have more to offer.

good luck.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 11:45 AM
carson79 carson79 is offline
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Well, personally I am working with a professional to help me through this, which is why it's improving. And it has gotten much much better, for me at least. But like I said, it really opened my eyes as to how he's doing from what happened last night.

I know you're not condemning me. I thank you for not doing that. I don't need any more guilt to be associated with this (I already have enough)... I just need to fix it, somehow.

Thanks for your suggestions and kind words.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 11:45 AM
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I commend you for your candor, and for seeking the help you needed to make you a better person!
I know that all of us at one time or another have lashed out (wether physically or emotionally) at the ones we profess to love most (be it man or beast) so please don't think your alone.

All I can say is trust is a very delicate thing, and once lost takes a very long time to earn again, if ever.
Please keep trying. Time, patients, and love, as well as the end of abuse will surely help. You may also want to try "bonding" activities with him, maybe try obedience classes or some other form of "classes" which will require both of you to rely on and trust each other again.

Actions speak louder then words, and I am sure over time, he will come to realize that the abuse is over.

I wish you good luck, and hope that you never feel the need to lash out at your best friend again.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 11:51 AM
carson79 carson79 is offline
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Thank you for your suggestions. I actually thought about maybe doing the next level of obedience classes with him. From the research I've done I also need to consistently reward his good behaviour as opposed to focusing on what he's doing wrong. I have been doing this, but I guess I need to work harder. The things that do bother him (like the patting on the back leg) I will avoid and pay better attention the outward signs of him not being happy (like the tail between the legs).

I guess the hard part for me is that he's already done the obedience training, so it seems kinda stupid to be doing things he already knows. But on the other hand, I guess redoing them to reinforce the positive would be helpful.

PS: Your message made me cry.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 11:54 AM
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Since you are seeking help for those things that are bothering you, maybe you could look into getting you and your dog into an agility class.

There really is nothing in this world that helps a canine-human relationship better then a good training class. But since you don't want to spend time correcting this dog right now - try agility. You and your pal will learn a new skill and have fun together.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 12:00 PM
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I agree with happycat you need to spend some quality time with your dog. I have an abused dog it is a slow process to gain there trust once they have been abused but I believe you can work through this. Buddy still has his moments if I reach out to quickly he will hit the ground and I feel so bad. But even that is less and less often. By keeping a calm demeanor and never lashing out at the dog will help. Be very aware of the body language if you sense the dog tensing abide the signs and if you back off he will start to realize you are not going to do harm to him. Even just taking him out for a long hike and spending time with you will help to create the trust he once had in you.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 12:11 PM
carson79 carson79 is offline
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It's true... I have to be more aware of his body language and how he's feeling. It will take some time, I realize that. And I'm obviously willing to put the time in that's necessary. We do spend a lot of time together... we are at the park twice daily for play time with other dogs and hikes on the paths. I'm just going to make sure that at home I acknowledge how he's doing and spend more time just the two of us playing, and rewarding his good behaviour. Hopefully that will help.

Last edited by carson79; July 28th, 2006 at 09:36 AM.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 12:21 PM
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Your original post made me cry

Is that your guy? (avatar) Please post pic's (we love pic's) Oh and what's his name? Carson?
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Old July 27th, 2006, 12:23 PM
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To communicate with your dog better and help destress him using body language:
http://www.turidrugaas.com
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Old July 27th, 2006, 12:25 PM
carson79 carson79 is offline
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Believe me, it took an hour to write that original post. *sigh*

Yes, that's him.

Last edited by carson79; July 28th, 2006 at 09:34 AM.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 12:33 PM
carson79 carson79 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BoxerRescueMTL
To communicate with your dog better and help destress him using body language:
http://www.turidrugaas.com
Thanks for link! I'm just starting to look at the site and I can already tell that it will really help me to look at him differently... things that I may have overlooked before!
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Old July 27th, 2006, 12:38 PM
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Awesome! I'm glad it can help Good luck.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 12:41 PM
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I think the way to go about this is to pretend you just got him from an abusive owner, and just gradually desensitize him. But to be successful, you can never hit him again. You can't desensitize and then freak out because that will just kill all the trust you rebuilt and you'll never get it back a third time.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 12:53 PM
carson79 carson79 is offline
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Okay, so let's say that he was from a previous abusive owner... how would I go about desensitizing him from abuse? Other than the obvious. Is it just from what was said before about spending time, playing, rewarding good behaviour, being aware of body language?
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Old July 27th, 2006, 12:58 PM
Prin Prin is offline
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Being aware of body language but also gradually doing things, like patting his leg, in a positive way. Like with Boo, who was abused and hit on the hiney, we'd pat his hiney and he'd turn around to bite (not hard but a warning). Over time, when he started trusting us, we'd sort of travel from his head down to his hiney slowly, getting closer to the "affected area" every time and the day we got all the way, he was showered with cookies and affection. But really gradually. Don't expect miracles in one day.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 01:04 PM
carson79 carson79 is offline
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That makes sense. I have been better at doing that in the past month or so... just showing lots of affection and praise. I guess that's why last night took me by surprise. In my mind things happen quicker than they do in reality. Ugh! Patience is key... pretty much with anything relating to dogs.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 01:07 PM
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Yep. And also remember you are doing it for him, not for you. If you feel rejected at times, it's not his fault. He's just coping. I find a very sincere "I'm sorry" (or a few dozen ) can help too. I believe dogs can feel it when you are honestly sorry. Some "poor doggies" might help too. It just changes the attitude you pet with when you say it. I mean, you don't want him to become a victim, so don't say it all the time, but once in a while, when he really needs it.
(But you always have to mean it).
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Old July 27th, 2006, 01:22 PM
carson79 carson79 is offline
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You're right. It does take time. Things have been much much better in the past month... but again, I'm probably thinking it should be moving faster than it is. Maybe last night was more residual of the past. I'm not downplaying what has happened, but I shouldn't let this get my resolve down to correct this situation. It will take time and last night was a bit of a setback but he'll progressively get better as I work harder with him.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 01:23 PM
Prin Prin is offline
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You mean, work softer with him? (just trying to lighten the mood inappropriately )
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Old July 27th, 2006, 01:24 PM
carson79 carson79 is offline
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Hahaha... yes, SOFTER with him.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 01:31 PM
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technodoll technodoll is offline
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Please be careful with that, though, and remember that the more you treat your dog like a human, the more he will treat you like a dog. Dogs do not know the suble differences and leniences in pack behavior: they know the basic rules and it's up to the humans to try to fit the Lessons and Training within those rules. that is why it is possible to train dogs from all walks of life using the same basic methodology.

that being said, if your dog growls or bites you - no matter the reasons behind it - it is time for some SERIOUS training, and nevermind the mushy stuff, if you do not want this to escalate into a dog that bites someone's face off. it will not matter if the dog bit out of fear, aggression, self-protection, etc: it will be deemed an agressive dog and the consequences are dire. let's not cry over spilt milk, the past is done, now what are you going to do about it? you've cried, you've grieved, OK now get that dog into Boot camp ASAP. learn to be the leader he needs to be a good dog. Earn his respect and the Love will come naturally.

I NEVER fear that my dogs will bite me, even if they've done something really bad and i am grabbing them by the scruff of the neck and growling in their face (in fact the darn dogs wag their tails the whole time i'm yelling at them, they think it's funny?). dogs who know their place in the pack do NOT challenge their leaders. they accept the punishment and get on with life, because life is good and they have nothing to fear. Now you job is to show your dog he has nothing to fear, but you are not a pushover either, he can trust you to lead him and no harm will come.

hopefully a good trainer can show YOU the way now
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Old July 27th, 2006, 01:33 PM
carson79 carson79 is offline
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In all seriousness again... what about him being submissive? I can understand if he lashes out or gives a warning... but he does roll on his back or side with his leg up sometimes when I pet him. He has peed submissively before, but that's quite rare. Or when he lays down, he just won't get back up even though he knows the command "up". I can understand praising him to rebuild his confidence, but how do I deal with this? Even with treats he won't get up.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 01:36 PM
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Every dog is different, but I think however long they have been abused, it takes just as long if not longer to trust again. It's really not much different with people. Just think of it as having an abusive spouse.
If your spouse abused you for a year, it would probably take a year of kindness to forgive, and trust again.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 01:39 PM
Prin Prin is offline
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There is a difference between him feeling like he should protect himself from you by growling and him growling to dominate you. If you confront a dog who's growling to protect himself, you will get bitten. Another softer approach has to taken to get him to the point where he doesn't feel afraid or that he has to protect himself.

Big difference between leadership/dominance and submissive snapping and growling.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 01:50 PM
carson79 carson79 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Prin
There is a difference between him feeling like he should protect himself from you by growling and him growling to dominate you. If you confront a dog who's growling to protect himself, you will get bitten. Another softer approach has to taken to get him to the point where he doesn't feel afraid or that he has to protect himself.

Big difference between leadership/dominance and submissive snapping and growling.
Okay, I think I'm following you. But, how would I know if he's growling to dominate me? I can understand growling to protect himself or snapping because of that.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 01:55 PM
Prin Prin is offline
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If he was growling to dominate you and was serious about it, it would be much more frequent. Like if you take away a toy, or food or you say "no" about anything. You would see him challenging you at different points in the day, whether it's subtle or really growly. It wouldn't only happen when he feels threatened or cornered, the way you described.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 02:02 PM
carson79 carson79 is offline
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Ahhh... I see now. That does happen occasionally. Like last week I think it was I tried to take away an empty peanut butter container and he growled at me. But that's pretty rare... or should I be worried? He usually doesn't care if I take things away from him. Occasionally he does that to other dogs as well when they try to take a stick or a toy, but I figure that's pretty normal and not that frequent.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 02:02 PM
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Make sure also, when you go to pet him you don't make any threatening jestures towards him. Approach him from underneath the jaw with your hand cupped and hold his little jaw in your hand and stroke the sides. Then move up to his ears. Don't smile at him with teeth when you are doing it either. He will learn to trust you again. Good for you for growing as a person and admitting to your actions. It is a little like a 12 step program. You admitted it now you have to make ammends. When you see the unconditional love in his eyes again you will understand the giant leap you have taken.
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Old July 27th, 2006, 02:08 PM
carson79 carson79 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by we3beagles
Make sure also, when you go to pet him you don't make any threatening jestures towards him. Approach him from underneath the jaw with your hand cupped and hold his little jaw in your hand and stroke the sides. Then move up to his ears. Don't smile at him with teeth when you are doing it either. He will learn to trust you again. Good for you for growing as a person and admitting to your actions. It is a little like a 12 step program. You admitted it now you have to make ammends. When you see the unconditional love in his eyes again you will understand the giant leap you have taken.
Thanks! I'm trying here. I was scared I was an unfit parent... but I really can't see myself without him. The love is there, just my behaviour needed adjustment... and I'm almost there with myself (which I'm very pleased with). But now I need to slowly fix what I've done.
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