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  #1  
Old June 8th, 2011, 07:14 PM
katrose katrose is offline
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Unhappy My dog is making me crazy

Hi.
I'm new, and I need help. I have a shih tzu mix, around 4 years old. She's a rescue, I've had her for 3 years. The people she was taken from lied about her age and about her having puppies, starting from her first heat. (I've gotten her fixed). She is no longer terrified of men, but there are a still a few behaviour problems left from her previous home I just can't seem to break! She was in a home with a few other dogs, mostly small dogs and an American Bulldog. He wasn't trained or fixed and so when she would go into heat they would put the 2 of them in the same crate to try and make a bull-shiht.
Because of this, she gets absolutely crazy around some dogs. Barking, snarling, lunging...even very calm and submissive dogs that come up to her. She seems to have no clue on how to interact with them, when a dog comes up she plants herself, stares them full in the face and if they try to sniff her she attacks. The only dogs shes ever not attacked are my parents dog which let her dominate it and my friends lab puppy. I've tried everything I can think of, my boyfriend and I both turn her around and let the other dog sniff her first which we just started and is kind of working, we've tried distracting her, disciplining her...I'm not sure what to do, its not like I can not walk her. She's better than she was, she used to go after every dog and now its on some but it's very frustrating, I'd like her to have dog friends.
She has a very hard time not being dominant, and doesn't listen to anyone but myself.
She pees and poops in her crate EVERYTIME. I just moved to an apartment building but I take her out before work and when i get home and few more times during the night. She goes before I leave for work and when I come home, this dog is COVERED in it. Her crate is not too big, I took the stuff out of the bottom so she sits in it, but then i just end up giving her a bath when i get home because she's full of pee. And its not that her crate isn't her home, she sleeps in there at night, she goes in there during thunderstorms (which she hates). I think it's from her previous owners leaving her in one for so long, but it's almost like its habit for her now. I tried re training her and she stopped for a while but then went right back to it. I can't leave her in another room during the day, its mostly carpet and in the kitchen or the bathroom she gets into everything, chews the walls and doors, barks all day.

I love her more than anything, but I'm tired when I get home from work and I just wish there was no mess to clean up and I could just take her out and relax and enjoy her.
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  #2  
Old June 8th, 2011, 08:05 PM
katrose katrose is offline
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Just to add...

I'm not really a "small dog person" I've always been around and wanted big dogs. A lot of what she does seems like "small dog behavior" she jumps, she barks, she thinks she runs things and I'm working on it. I came from a house with a bunch of people and it was hard to train her the way I wanted with other people feeding her food from their plate and letting her jump on them.
She has had a few operations on different hernias she had when I got her but has no bladder or kidney problems.
She does however have several allergies, any poultry, red meat (including moose and venison), ham and pork especially, wheat/gluten, corn, air freshener, and anything with sugar. She currently eats go! Salmon and oatmeal.
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  #3  
Old June 8th, 2011, 11:44 PM
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millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katrose View Post
my boyfriend and I both turn her around and let the other dog sniff her first which we just started and is kind of working
This will make her worse. The behavior she is displaying is fear-based reactivity. By forcing her to interact with other dogs in a situation where she is terrified, you risk either making her reaction stronger or forcing her to suppress her reactivity - this may result in her attacking violently without any warning signs later on.
What you need to do is change her emotional response to other dogs. This will require a lot of time, patience, and working with your dog at her own pace in small steps.
Do not correct her, this will also make it worse.
Book recommendations
http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB943
this will be really helpful to you, it outlines the training protocol very clearly
http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB527
this will give you a good idea of dog body language to help you navigate her response to new dogs/situations

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I'd like her to have dog friends.
I know your heart is in the right place, but if she doesn't want to have dog friends then maybe you shouldn't force the issue. Some dog's just aren't social. You need to teach her to have a safe reaction to other dogs, but she may never be interested in interacting with any but a chosen few. That's ok.


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Originally Posted by katrose View Post
She has a very hard time not being dominant, and doesn't listen to anyone but myself
I'd lose the dominance theory, it won't help you interpret or change her behavior.

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Originally Posted by katrose View Post
She pees and poops in her crate EVERYTIME. I just moved to an apartment building but I take her out before work and when i get home and few more times during the night. She goes before I leave for work and when I come home, this dog is COVERED in it. Her crate is not too big, I took the stuff out of the bottom so she sits in it, but then i just end up giving her a bath when i get home because she's full of pee. And its not that her crate isn't her home, she sleeps in there at night, she goes in there during thunderstorms (which she hates). I think it's from her previous owners leaving her in one for so long, but it's almost like its habit for her now.
How long are you at work? How much exercise does she get and what type? What sort of mental stimulation does she get while you are gone? (toys, puzzle balls, etc.)
You are absolutely right that her previous living arrangement started this behavior. My suggestion would be to pick up a totally different type of dog crate from the one you have, or to look into an x-pen (dogs don't generalize well, a new situation=a whole new ballgame). Start training again from scratch.
Also, if you are gone for a long period of time during the day, it may be worthwhile to get a fairly large crate or x-pen and train her to use pee pads in the far end of it (she may be incapable of holding it for a full work day regardless of training, give her a better option). Lots of exercise (before and after) and fun stuff to do in the crate/pen will help her be more settled.
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  #4  
Old June 8th, 2011, 11:55 PM
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millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katrose View Post
A lot of what she does seems like "small dog behavior" she jumps, she barks, she thinks she runs things and I'm working on it.
Dogs are not master criminals bent on controlling our every move, they do what works for them . When the behaviors stop being rewarding for her (i.e. when jumping up gets no attention, when begging gets no food) she will stop trying to them. Especially if you also teach her that sitting down = attention and sitting on you mat = food.

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I came from a house with a bunch of people and it was hard to train her the way I wanted with other people feeding her food from their plate and letting her jump on them.
I sympathize. It's really hard to train a dog if everyone isn't on board and consistent with what you're working on.

I must admit I wasn't much of a little dog person before we rescued one. Now I have a lot of empathy for them, especially after watching our little guy get pushed around, attacked and/or ignored by bigger dogs.
Think about what it would be like to live in a world where most of the people around you were the size of elephants who never listened to you or respected your boundaries and occasionally (or even accidentally) tried to kill you. I think I'd be pretty feisty too
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Old June 9th, 2011, 08:13 AM
katrose katrose is offline
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Thanks for the advice. Riley's in her crate around 8 hours a day, gets walked altogether for 1.5 hours a day and plays for at least 30 minutes before dinner.
I'm not sure where I would put an x pen since my apartment is mostly carpet and I don't think the kitchen is big enough. I have to crate her or put her somewhere when I'm gone, she has seperation anxiety and has hurt herself before trying to dig through a door.
I was told to turn her around by a "certified dog aggression behaviourist" who said she does have "dominant tendancies" I think she behaves dominantly because she is trying to control her surroundings out of fear, because of her past experience if that makes sense. She often is "bossy" towards my cats and other people, she tries to push them around, stand on them and snap at them. She will go and stand over my parents dog while she is laying down and stare at her until she moves. As for my friend's lab, Riley's attacked her twice and Lucy (the lab) just thought she was playing I guess and because she didn't react Riley eventually gave it up and had GREAT time running around and playing, that's what makes me think she'd like to be around other dogs. Unfortunatly a lot of owners in my area aren't so understanding when it comes to my dog trying to eat their dog's face.
If I can't correct her behaviour when she's showing signs of aggression, what should I do? She stopped in the middle of taking a dump the other day to lunge at a dog ten feet away that had no interest in her. I usually try to distract her when I notice her staring intensely at another dog, but if it doesnt work then I'm screwed.

She has 2 crates, a large one and small one. The large one is big enough to put a pee pad at one end, but if I put anything soft on the other end she'll go to the bathroom on that. The other day I took her out, she went to the bathroom, I put her in her crate and left. Got to the elevator, realized I forgot my phone and went back, less than 2 minutes later and she had already gone both in her crate.

I think she's scared, and I don't blame her. I'm just not sure how to fix it. And as for the "small dog behaviour" what I meant was that people have a tendancy to let little dogs jump on you and bark and sit on your lap and do things you wouldn't let a big dog do, so they form these habits. It was hard to change it when everyone wasn't on board, but I'm on my own now, so it should change. She's really well behaved when it's just me, or when she's in a new situation, but as soon as she's comfortable with the people or the place she goes right back to all the behaviours I'm trying to stop. I take her lots of places and she loves it, we go camping and we went to my friends house in the woods to make maple syrup, I take her to people's houses...I don't want to leave her alone all the time and I want her to have a good life.
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Old June 9th, 2011, 08:17 AM
katrose katrose is offline
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Oh and as for mental stimulation while I'm at work, I've had to take pretty much all the toys out of her crate since she's ruined most of them by going to the bathroom on them. I've been thinking about getting her a puzzle ball but I don't know what type would be best.
I'm not a "small dog person" but I'm a "riley person"
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Old June 9th, 2011, 08:54 AM
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millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by katrose View Post
I was told to turn her around by a "certified dog aggression behaviourist" who said she does have "dominant tendancies"
I don't like criticizing people but this, to me, is really bad advice. You are forcing a terrified animal into a position where they either have to defend themselves or shut down because they have absolutely no recourse - this is call creating "learned helplessness," it's google worthy. This is not learning to accept other dogs, an animal this worked up is incapable of learning.

Currently, there is no legislation for "behaviorists," anyone can call themselves such. If this person has a doctoral degree (or masters degree for an associate applied animal behaviorist) from an accredited college or university in a biological or behavioral science with an emphasis on animal behavior and a minimum of five years of professional experience then they can call themselves a behaviorist. Otherwise they are not being fully honest.

Quote:
Originally Posted by katrose View Post
If I can't correct her behaviour when she's showing signs of aggression, what should I do? She stopped in the middle of taking a dump the other day to lunge at a dog ten feet away that had no interest in her. I usually try to distract her when I notice her staring intensely at another dog, but if it doesnt work then I'm screwed.
The protocol for working with a fear-reactive dog I've heard refered to as both BAT or LAT. It's broken down well in the book I suggested, but here is the really short short version :P
All animals have a radius of reactivity called flight distance - this is what separates domestic animals from wild ones, wild animals have a huge flight distance, which is why we don't often see them (they high tail it). Anything outside this circle is not reacted to. Right now, your dog's flight distance is probably rather large. What you have to do is establish where that boundary is and work on the edge of it. She should notice the other dogs, but she should still be able to be attentive to you. Whenever she looks at the other dog but doesn't react, or offers a calming signal, you mark and reward (are you familiar with marker training?). If she starts to react you are too close, move away a bit and try again.
When she is reacting, her sympathetic nervous system has kicked in, she is in "fight or flight" mode and is therefore incapable of learning.
Gradually, working this way will decrease her flight distance until she can get close to other dogs. This will take weeks, if not months of work. If done correctly, however, you will teach her that other dogs in her space mean that good things are about to happen. She will form a positive association, her emotional response will change and the fear will extinguish itself.
Punishing her for her reaction only increases her stress level, and it, in essence, teaches her to try to keep other dogs away more (because they are the predictors of bad things). In her mind, your negative reaction also justifies her fear, you become dangerous when other dogs are around so there must really be something to worry about after all.

A random suggestion. What sort equipment is she walked on? In my experience chest harnesses decrease reactivity somewhat because when a dog pulls on something attached to their neck it releases more stress hormones. It ramps them up. It won't solve the problem, but it might help.


Quote:
Originally Posted by katrose View Post
She has 2 crates, a large one and small one. The large one is big enough to put a pee pad at one end, but if I put anything soft on the other end she'll go to the bathroom on that. The other day I took her out, she went to the bathroom, I put her in her crate and left. Got to the elevator, realized I forgot my phone and went back, less than 2 minutes later and she had already gone both in her crate.
You may need to do some work desensitizing her to being left alone.
These will help
http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB667
http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB1179

Quote:
Originally Posted by katrose View Post
I think she's scared, and I don't blame her. I'm just not sure how to fix it. And as for the "small dog behaviour" what I meant was that people have a tendancy to let little dogs jump on you and bark and sit on your lap
My partner's mother is a great un-trainer of our little dog
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Old June 9th, 2011, 04:08 PM
katrose katrose is offline
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Thanks again. What kind of puzzle balls would you recommend? She's very smart and stubborn.
Had a nice surprise today, came home to NO pee! I was worried there might be a thunderstorm today so I did what I always do for one (she is terrified of them) I put her small crate (plastic sides) inside her big crate (metal) with a blanket over top of the big one. I also had no blanket in there because she just peed on the last one and it's in the wash. So I'm not sure if it was the double crate or the nothing soft to pee on that did it but I'm happy!
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Old June 9th, 2011, 04:59 PM
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millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
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I like Kongs because they are easy to fill and durable. What we usually do is put most of our dog's diet in them with a bit of extra good stuff and then wet the whole thing down with water and freeze it. This makes it extra hard to deconstruct because the thawing takes a while.
I also like this one, but it needs a bit of room to work. You could put things in here when you are home with her.
http://www.omegapaw.com/tricky-treat-ball-products.html
Honestly though, most will do.

There are also games you can play with stuff around the house like this one. Again, you have to be home, but that's ok. We all need a bit of down time where we "put the kids in front of the t.v." so to speak.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WjX2oVE_sB0
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Old June 9th, 2011, 09:13 PM
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millitntanimist millitntanimist is offline
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Here's an article and 2 video sessions of BAT. They reward the dog's non-reactive behavior with distance from the decoy (no treats needed, although they always help) and gradually work up to closer and closer proximity.
http://ahimsadogtraining.com/blog/bat/
Reactivity is a distancing signal - your dog wants the other dog to go away, thus they put on an aggressive display. By giving the dog the option to achieve that distance for good behavior, you teach them that they will get what they want by not becoming aggressive. You eliminate their need for reactivity all together.

sorry for the spam :P
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Old June 10th, 2011, 11:11 AM
katrose katrose is offline
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No worries about the spam lol thanks for the help.
I just find it frustrating because I've had NO problems with other dogs, like training my parents dog (previously my dog, when I was 16 I saw a guy in a McDonalds parking lot smacking her around and convinced him to let me have her...my parents were less than impressed at the time but when I moved out wouldn't let me take her lol) and I'm trying everything I can think of with Ry and it's like smacking my head against a wall. I know I just need to find the right way for her but so many people have advice and opinions and it gets hard to know what to do. And part of my problem is that so many people who live near me have dogs, and since she is small and cute they always want their dogs to meet her and it's hard to know what to say or do. And most people aren't exactly okay with my dog trying to bite their dog. I can usually get away with keeping my distance though.
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