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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Attn: Hatrack Dog People - Choosing a Dog (Page 0)

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Author Topic: Attn: Hatrack Dog People - Choosing a Dog
BannaOj
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I'm sorry, I disagree. I would absolutely *not* play biting games with him, at this point.

While GSDs are very smart, I would just address the matter as it comes up in your ordinary life, and not go out of the way to set up a situation where it might occur more frequently. In another month or two if it doesn't gradually decrease, then maybe doing something like that would be ok, but right now you need to establish trust first.

Once his health issues aren't a problem, ;ots of long walks, making sure he's at your side and viewing you as the leader, not letting him out in front of you (or the kids) are probably the best thing for him right now.

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Jhai
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"biting game" does not involve you biting yukon. lol

it's just wrestling with him, and since he doesnt have hands... he'd mostly try to hold your hands with his teeth...

if the game stops when it's a bite, he will start to understand how much strength he can use on his jaws...

waiting for "as it comes up" is a bad idea when the pup is already 6 months old. unless you're planning to hire "the dog whisperer", these behavioral issues should be sorted out asap.

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Jhai
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"making sure he's at your side and viewing you as the leader, not letting him out in front of you (or the kids) are probably the best thing for him right now"

I disagree with this entirely. German shepherds are "shepherds" by nature. He should heel when you ask him to, but in general, he should always be forming the outer perimeter of your "herd". You being the "leader" has little to do with this.

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BannaOj
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This is a puppy, not an adult dog. An adult dog that as already accepted a human family as its pack and understands its place in the pack is one thing, a 6 month old puppy (with an uncertain background to this point) is entirely different.

I'm curious as to your experience with herding breeds? One of the consuming passions of my life has been training and breeding herding dogs. I've belonged to an Obedience Training Club since I was 11, and have put obedience titles on numerous dogs.

My own current breed, the Cardigan Welsh Corgi, is extremely similar in temperment to the GSD, although in a smaller package.

Much of what you suggest might be appropriate for an adult dog, but not a puppy.

(for that matter, have you ever done any sheepherding with a dog? I have, and an untrained dog, in the initial stages of training can do a lot of damage to the sheep, because he still has to be *taught* his limitations when it comes to herding, it isn't completely instinctive, particularly with breeds like GSDs and Cardis that aren't "eye" breeds like border collies are)

AJ

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BannaOj
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Another note on herding. Establishing and patrolling a perimeter is much more of a guard dog function (which GSDs were used for) than a "herding" function.

You *don't* want the dog herding you or your family unless you want the dog to be dominant over you. By letting a dog herd you, you are saying you as a human are equivalent to a "sheep". While many herding dogs do treat their families as sheep, it is not the ideal psycological pack situation for the dog, or the family to be part of. Yet many families do willingly consent to it, not realizing they are abrogating their pack authority to their dog.

AJ

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ladyday
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I don't really have to do anything special to provoke him into play biting or mouthing - he wants to play all the time. What we're doing right now is playing or petting or training, and when Yukon bites (anything where he's putting pressure down with his teeth we consider biting, though I think its referred to as mouthing - sometimes it's pretty hard though) we say no and everyone ignores him. Sometimes just standing up, turning our backs, and crossing our arms is enough - he'll settle down after a few seconds and after a minute we'll go back to playing until he bites again. Sometimes if he's really keyed up he'll try to get us to keep playing by biting at the backs of our arms or legs, in which case we leave the room. In either case the 'time out' doesn't last long. When he's gentle, we play, but the play stops when he's rough. We also give him lots of praise when he licks and is gentle. I think he's slowly getting the idea but just gets excited sometimes.

We do lots of walks - its his primary form of exercise. Most of the time he keeps to one side, though he does get out ahead - I'll keep in mind that he shouldn't do that. Sometimes when he gets distracted, he'll zig zag and pull and generally spaz out, but we're working on having him pay attention and be aware of who is holding the leash. Lots of sudden turns, walking backward, stuff like that. He is getting very good at waiting and sitting before crossing the street, only when I say it's okay. I don't think he understands 'wait', but he sees the street and knows I'm going to ask him to sit.

It really does seem like all bets are off when the kid is outside with me though. He gets much harder to control. He also doesn't like it when all three of us are outside, and one of goes off do to something else in view of him. I had assumed he just wanted 'daddy', but he flipped his lid when I wandered off to get the pooper scooper.

Anyway, I really appreciate all the advice - I feel like such a newb. Any ideas for fun games to play with him? He likes 'find the ball' and 'make a pile of his toys' and 'trade toys' and he likes chewing and playing with his squeaky.

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BannaOj
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It is ok to give a gentle swat on the muzzle when saying "NO" as far as the play biting goes.

You have to see how adult dogs interact with obnoxious puppies mouthing them to really "get it". An adult dog will put up remarkably patiently with a puppy harrying and bugging them for quite a while, but once the adult gets tired of it, or they decide the puppy is being rude, it goes from "play" to "discipline" in an instant. There aren't a lot, if any "you'd better stop it" warnings in between, maybe one grumble and then the adult's body language will change, and if the puppy persists, they'll get snapped at. (This is NOT an agressive snap, it NEVER results in a fight, it is simply how adult dogs communicate with juvenile dogs.) But dogs live much more in the moment than we are, so doing it that way, while it may seem harsh to a human perspective is just how their doggy brains work. And their doggy brains also respond much more to a physical touch to interrupt the behavior than lots of verbal warnings. They will learn to read the body language that comes just before a snap, and realize that that is the moment to back off.

Ignoring the dog, in the dogs world isn't really a negative, in the same way a "time out" is to a child. Lack of positive feedback, (while a good thing because you don't want to encourage the behavior) is not negative feedback in the moment. Ignoring a behavior, rather than addressing it "in the moment" means you lose an opportunity. Because the puppy lives in the moment, he won't necessarily connect being ignored for several minutes (even if the lack of feedback gets him to calm down which is a good thing)to the behavior he was doing when the ignoring started.

An adult dog, won't continue to ignore a puppy, it *will* provide negative feedback to interrupt the previous behaviro.

The touch isn't harsh, it should be equivalent to about a human, firm tap on the shoulder that interrupts and redirects the brain in a different thought direction. You don't want a "poke" with just one finger but a tap with two or three fingers of your hand.

When he starts doing the mouthing stuff next time, try it. If you acheive the right amount of firmness and project the right body language, you'll probably see him pause for a second and think about it. Now he might go back and do it again, at which point you tap again, but you'll know you're sucessful if you see that instant of pause, where his brain starting to change gears.

The sort of equivalent version of "human" body language that can project the same thing to a puppy, is pretending you are John Wayne, Square up your shoulders, stick your chest out, walk with extreme confidence (but slight dissapproval of the dog's actions), and feel like you are projecting that towards the dog. Not threatening, but confident-I'm-in-charge disapproval. (How often did John Wayne ever act like he didn't know what he was doing? he always had a plan to deal with the problem so you could trust him...)

It is kind of a fake it until you make it situation. Just like you can't always tell your kids if you are unsure in a situation, you have to be the confident parent, so that they will be ok, it's the same with the dog. Even though he's your family's first dog, and you might not always be *sure* what the "right" thing is to do, if you act like you have confidence, in what you are doing, the dog will respond to that and believe you, and follow you as the pack leader, which normally makes the situation come out ok.

I strongly reccommend "Be the Pack Leader" Ceasar Millan's latest book.

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BannaOj
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quote:
Originally posted by ladyday:
It really does seem like all bets are off when the kid is outside with me though. He gets much harder to control. He also doesn't like it when all three of us are outside, and one of goes off do to something else in view of him. I had assumed he just wanted 'daddy', but he flipped his lid when I wandered off to get the pooper scooper.

A few things in this paragraph. You discribe yourself as "wandering" to get the pooper scooper. While, not all who wander are lost [Wink] , you need to be acting with purpose and being "in charge" while you are outside. My guess is that you are letting down a bit. Very normal. Inside you are the Mom and in charge, and outside the kids can play more. What the puppy doesn't realize is that they are still listening to you, and that even though the range is further you are still The Mom and in charge, and if the kids don't come when you call, they face consequences too.

Instead of "wandering" towards the pooper scooper, make sure you are walking with purpose. *Don't* look back or address yourself to the puppy, because if you turn back to address his disapproval, you are giving it validity and giving him power in that situation. It doesn't matter what the puppy thinks, he's a puppy.

While you stride off purposely towards the pooper scooper, if he becomes anxious (and he won't become as agitated if you are leaving with purpose, rather than if you are leaving with heasitation), whoever stays there with the puppy should give a firm "That'll do" or "That's enough". They can place a firm reasuuring hand on his shoulders to calm the fidgets but they are not to actually Pet him, keeping the hand there with gentle but firm pressure, (as you'd put a calming hand on a two year-old) should do the trick.

I would also do exercises, where you tell the kids to do things outside, (even if they are silly things, like walk out there, turn in a circle three times and come back) and they do them will help also. Seeing the kids doing what you tell them, will also re-enforce that you are actually In Charge, so he doesn't have to be anxious because the kids *aren't* sheep and he doesn't need to worry about controlling them, you have the situation in hand.

AJ

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BannaOj
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After re-reading I don't think Abhi and I disagree as much as I initially thought. I still disagree about the wrestling bit, but I think we absolutely agree that the behavior does need to be addressed now.

How we go about it might be somewhat different, though it might be more the same than we realize also. An experienced, good dog owner, often instinctively gives off the body language signals, that the dogs can read, and Abhi and I might give off the identical signals that dogs read, even if we don't realize we are doing it as humans. (This is probably why Abhi can get away with wrestling with his dogs, he's already communicating with them in "dog language")

However, a new dog-owning family has to develop the body language and communication skills and it takes time and practice.

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ladyday
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We read "Leader of the Pack" but I will get that book as well. Yukon is doing wonderfully when there is a structured thing happening - when we are taking him for a walk and having him heel, when we have him in a sit/stay or a down while we eat or do things on the computer. He still needs reminders and gets rebellious on occasion, but overall he is learning quickly and doing quite well for a 6 month old puppy. When he's in 'work mode' he's wonderful...but he can't be in work mode all the time. When he's in play mode it seems that nothing we do is having any effect :\. He bites, we tap on the nose and say 'no', and he does do that pause and think...and then does it again, harder. We've gone to a training class, done our reading, talked to the rescue people...it seems like we're doing everything they're telling us to do (though a lot of times it's contradictory advice :\) and something just isn't clicking. I don't want to give him back but I'm afraid that if this continues the rescue will decide to take him away [Frown] . Our contact at the rescue seems to be taking this very seriously and wants to work with us to stop the biting. The trainer seems unconcerned, saying that Yukon is only a puppy, but he hasn't really seen Yukon when he's comfortable in his environment and all ramped up.

I'm just worried that someone is going to get hurt or we're going to get sued before this works out. I keep hearing that this biting will calm down when he gets a little older but he's big and strong enough to do real damage now. He crushed a tennis ball in his jaws yesterday O_o I don't want that to be my arm - it's already looking kind of messed up.

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BannaOj
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If he does it again harder, then I think you need to escalate as well, because he's deciding that the no isn't unpleasant enough of a consequence to stop the behavior. If he does it again, you have to remain firm and say no as well.

Filling a liter water bottle with a few pebbles, and giving it a shake at the same time you say no can sometimes add a "sound" emphasis to what you've said and might be worth trying.

If possible I would have the rescue contact come and watch in your home where the behavior happens. A short digital camera/video clip might be helpful to show the trainer that doesn't believe you as well.

This doesn't sound malicious, so he may very well outgrow it, but in the mean time you have to constantly address it, and make sure that the experience he gets is consistently negative when he tries this.

The 2nd Ceasar Milan book has a lot more practical reference tips at the end, that may help you a lot.

AJ

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zgator
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Banna, do Corgis make good dogs for small children? We're thinking about getting a dog sometime in the future and have been thinking about Corgis, but we need a dog that can deal with a rambunctious 4-yr old boy.
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Omega M.
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It's a little late for this, and I've never had a dog, but I've heard from some friends that Weimaraners like to chew furniture and eat stuff off of counters.

(Actually, someone I know's Weimaraner would eat food like defrosting chicken off of counters and then throw it up later. Sometimes I think a dog would be fun to have, but then I think about dogs barfing.)

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Pam Tyler
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The trainer is probably correct, as shepards go through a period where they like to bite. If he were being trained for police or protection work, you would not want to break him of this habit, just give him appropriate things to bite. For some added training advice specific to shepards, see if there is a local Schutzhund club in your area. Most of the training would probably not be something that you wanted to do, however, they should have some very good advice on obedience training. (Some of the other parts of Schutzhund training cover protection skills, tracking and endurance.)
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ladyday
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This trainer we're going to does Schutzhund training, I think. Those dogs are hard core! I actually wouldn't mind doing something more constructive with Yukon when he's older, just because I think he'd be so good at it and we're going to need to do -something- to keep his amazing mind engaged, but I don't know if we need to go to that level with his training.

He already thinks fetch is sort of beneath him, I think. He prefers catch because he has to concentrate more. So maybe flyball would be fun for him.

Edit: Banna, we'll try the pebbles in the bottle. We both (especially Matt) are uncomfortable with the idea of escalating things further physically, so some other method to make things unpleasant for him is definitely preferred. We do have a puppy prong collar for walks that our trainer gave us, but he told us not to use it inside. Then the rescue person said that we -should- use it inside *sigh*. Matt is really against that idea and honestly doesn't much care for the prong collar on walks either, but I use it for correction so rarely that honestly I'm not feeling guilt over it.

This is the trainer we're taking him to, by the way: http://www.arrowwoodshepherds.org

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Sharpie
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I'm not sure what the prong collar would be used for inside. (I'm NOT at all against prong collars -- I think they are great when used correctly and as guidance, and I have tested several versions on my own skin and have been well-satisfied that the claims that they are not painful are true.) But how would you use it inside? To pull him back? It seems like that would be less of a guidance process...

I'm very fascinated by this conversation. Our basenji forum has grumbled a bit about Milan, because basenjis are not to be trained using "those" methods. They are more like cats that unfortunately don't use litter boxes. They are challenging and can use every bit of a human's wit to "train", but using some of Milan's methods frankly can ruin a basenji. I would say that the total opposite of a basenji is a shepherd, so it's really cool to see what methods would work on an anti-basenji, if that makes sense.

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Pam Tyler
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I would listen to the trainer over the rescue person. I clicked on the link, and he seems to understand the shepard training needs. Some training needs to be breed specific, and since he breeds shepards and does the Shutzhund training (which was designed originally for german shepards), I would listen to his advice. Not that the rescue person isn't knowledgable, but more like having a specialist instead of a general practitioner. Just my opinion. [Smile]
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Pam Tyler
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Also, another good site to check out is germanshepards.com. Sorry that I did not include a link, but I've never tried to do that before.
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ladyday
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She was saying to keep him on a lead indoors, and give a little tug on the lead to correct him when he bites. It's not something I'm comfortable with on many levels. She has told us to defer to what the professional trainer says, though. We'll discuss it at our next session.

Thanks for all of the help, guys [Smile] .

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BannaOj
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There are short leads called "tabs" that can be anywhere from 6" to a foot in length that work very well indoors. I would put the tab lead on his regular collar though, and not use a prong collar. It just gives you a "handle" in those kinds of situations, and allows you to have a little more control more rapidly than you would otherwise.
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BannaOj
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zgator, corgis are generally good with kids, and sturdy enough to withstand rambunctions children. (This is why I have corgis, they aren't going to break if I trip on them)

Of course both the child and the dog, will need to be taught manners and correct behavior. Some corgis can get a bit nippy about the heels, which is a herding behavior (This is not the mouthing behavior that ladyday is describing) But if it happens, it can generally be caught and corrected early on, if you know it is something to be on the lookout for.

I personally think that Pembroke corgis are a bit more prone to being nippy about the heels than Cardigans, but it can happen in either breed. A Pembroke tends to be more "on" and outgoing to everybody than a Cardi.

Here are some comparisons of the two breeds.

http://www.cardicommentary.de/Temp.art.htm
quote:
Dickie Albin – In my opinion, having bred Pembrokes and Cardigans for years my Pembrokes are complete extroverts, taking everything and everybody in their stride but the Cardigan requires a more formal introduction to people.

However, once having gained the confidence of a Cardigan you have a friend for life. They are certainly not so effusive as the Pembroke, but maybe their devotion goes deeper. I know my Cardigans would have defended me with their life. I do not know if I could say the same for the Pembroke. I feel they would be too busy showing the intruder "around the place".

Steve and I were joking yesterday that we have a Cardi that may need a "forever" home in Flordida, because he appears to have strong preferences for Mojitos and Cigars.
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BannaOj
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Ladyday, here is a website that might give you some ideas. Obviously not all of them may be appropriate for your puppy at this life stage, but all of them are excellent tools to develop throughout his life.

This person is a pro-clicker person but one that appears to have a very balanced perspective. (Some schutzhund people are a little wierd about clickers and some clicker people are a little wierd about schutzuhund, I prefer to cherry pick where I feel something might work, most good trainers are ok with using a smattering of other techniques, but have one "system" that they are loyal to that just seems to work for them the best.)

http://www.dragonflyllama.com/%20DOGS/Writing/LTD.html

I also like what she has to say about dominance... it isn't about lowering the dog, but about elevating the human...

http://www.dragonflyllama.com/%20DOGS/Writing/Dominance.html

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zgator
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Sigh, we've been working on the manners and correct behaviour with Ryan. Maybe we'll have better luck teaching a dog.

BTW, have I mentioned I live in Florida and my wife loves mojitos?

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ladyday
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Wow, been a while since I updated this.

I want to thank everyone again for all of the excellent advice. I did indeed check out Be the Pack Leader as well as the links, and for the past couple months we have faithfully done all we could do to train Yukon and give him the home he deserves. Yukon is obedient, intelligent, and just a joy to be around, play with, walk, and train. He knows and follows basic commands, has tons of energy and drive, and a really fun personality. I did most of the handling in training class and a lot of the training at home, and we really bonded. Everyone really gave this dog their all, emotionally, physically, and financially. It changed our life, I think for the better.

The day before yesterday, he growled and snapped at the kid. Completely unprovoked - she didn't startle him, get in between him and what he wanted, anything like that. She just pet him, and I think he decided he didn't want to be petted anymore and snapped. My husband and I talked a lot after that - I really wanted to give Yukon another chance but my husband was afraid the next time there could be a serious injury. I thought maybe if she took over handling him in training he would learn to respect her, but there's too many risks involved - both emotional and physical. It's asking a lot of her and Yukon, maybe too much.

So he's going back to the rescue. He'll go back 16 healthy pounds heavier, with trimmed nails and a clean coat, and basic obedience training under his belt. The rescue was very understanding I guess (I couldn't talk to the woman in charge, my husband did) and acknowledged that we had done all we could do and this just isn't the right match.

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Pam Tyler
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ladyday, I am so sorry that Yukon did not work out for you.
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ladyday
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Yeah, me too. Thanks...I'm really very broken up about it.
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ClaudiaTherese
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I'm so sorry. I imagine it was a very difficult choice to make, but it sounds like you did so thoughtfully and with care.
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BannaOj
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*hugs* *Hugs* *hugs*

I will always support the decision thoughtfully made that a parent feels is in the best interest of their family.

I do have some questions on the situation if you are willing to go into it. Dd you witness the incident, or was it your husband? It is possible that there were other signals being given that weren't picked up on. If you can actually give a verbal sketch of the situation here, including positioning of the dog and child while she was petting, where she was reaching etc. I could attempt a cursory analysis, as I did for Megan, if you would like, but not if it would be too emotionally draining for you.

It is very rare that "unprovoked" action actually is. It a distinct possibility that he was treating her like another canine pack member instead of a pack leader, particularly if no harm was done. That is the point when an adult coming in and saying NO this is not acceptable to the dog, normally gets the point across and it tends to inhibit any future action of the same kind.

*hugs again*

AJ
However if you didn't pick up on the signals yourselves, you might need an in-home trainer who could evaluate the dog in its environment and help you learn to read the signals better, or as you say, return the dog to rescue and let someone who can read the signals deal with him instead.

Does your husband have previous negative experiences with dogs? His absolutist reaction to the situation makes me think he may. It could be some seemingly insignificant experience that he doesn't even realizing is influencing him. However if he believes the dog is untrustworthy the dog will often pick up on the instability and doubt in the human and *be* untrustworthy and it creates a self-fullfiling downhill spiral.

My dogs often growl and snap in play and it can sound like they are killing each other when they are just playing. People who haven't been around dogs are often horrified, when they hear the ruckus and see teeth flashing. But I can read them, and know exactly the point where the communication changes, so that I could intervene. (Intervention is required extremely rarely) As adults they've never done serious damage to each other at all. The puppy once lost a tuft of hair on his nose when he went over the line for pestering, but actual damage is virtually non existent.

Another note: By my count the puppy is about 10 months old. This is *Exactly* the time that they often have a bit of a teenager testing stage, and everything you thought you taught them seems to go out the window. Generally if one just goes back to basics, and work through it all again, it clicks in their brain, and sticks through the rest of their life. (the re-teaching itself doesn't take as long either.) It sounds like you've come a long way already from the previous naughty behavior.

I'd also consider mentioning it to your Schutzhund trainer if you are still in contact, because they might be able to explain it in a way to give your family emotional resolution if nothing else.

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ladyday
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I wasn't there for the incident, but my husband interpreted Yukon's actions as exactly that - trying to 'correct' the kid, as though she were another pack member pestering him.

He was lying on a blanket in the kitchen while my husband cooked dinner, doing a 'down' and behaving himself quite nicely. I don't think he had a toy or anything. The kid came into the kitchen and petted his back, probably gave him a little butt scratch (he likes that). This went on for a little bit and then he snarled and snapped. Of course my husband immediately stepped in. I came home and got the full accounting, and called the trainer. The trainer and I thought it would be a good idea for the kid to start handling Yukon in class, as well as walking him at home. I thought it was a really good talk. My husband does have a fair point though - we've been going to training for months, working on this behavior, and things like this keep happening.

We've gotten pretty comfortable with 'reading' Yukon with other dogs, though I still ask the trainer 'is he okay?' during playtime. He is very vocal and I think he likes putting up his hackles just for fun O_o.

I don't think my husband has had prior bad experiences with dogs - he loves dogs. I do feel that this was a major blow to his trust in Yukon, though. He thinks it could happen again and I can't honestly say that it won't. I'd never forgive myself if I insisted that the trainer and I could 'fix' this and we failed, with horrible results.

It's more complicated than that, of course. A lot came down to the fact that we're just putting the kid in an awful position. She's skiddish around the dog now, and to ask her to learn how to be the 'big sister' and establish dominance might be too much for her to do. And if she tries and can't and we end up giving him up later down the road, they'll be no convincing her that it's not her fault no matter how hard we try.

Thanks for the hugs and friendly words, AJ and CT [Smile] . I've been crying for the past couple of days and e-hugs and stuff are nice. Sorry this is kind of disjointed and not all that helpful as far as information goes.

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Architraz Warden
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Don't really want to throw gas into the fire, but do you know what that particular rescue group's policy it with dogs who've snapped at children?

The ones my parents fostered for would put dogs down for snapping at anyone in a manner that wouldn't be construed as 'play'. It makes finding them a home much more difficult (one that can exert the correct authority and training), and it's a huge liability for the rescue group. It's an ugly truth, but many rescue groups will put down an aggressive (or fear biter, or any other biting dog) down on the basis that if it bites someone, they get sued and cease to exist. They can help a lot more dogs if they don't let themselves get sued into non-existence, than helping one they know is prone to snapping and getting closed.

Hopefully it's a trainable correction, and Yukon finds a great home. I would love the luxury to snap at a few kids I've met, but neither dogs nor I are afforded that luxury.

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ladyday
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I've seen them put other dogs on a 'special needs' list, though I'm not sure Yukon would even qualify - just maybe a house with no children under 12. I absolutely do not believe they would dream of putting him down. If nothing else, the woman we're in touch with is friends with our trainer, who -loves- Yukon and might be willing to train him for the police, something he's done for other rescue dogs.

I do wish we knew what will happen next. Last night the woman we talked to said they would move quickly in light of the circumstances but so far we've heard not a word.

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RackhamsRazor
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If you don't trust the dog, you don't trust the dog. Some people are willing to put up with more than others, but when it comes to your kids, you always need to be cautious. Not that I am saying you didn't, but young children should always be closely monitored with dogs. Their interactions/movements can often be misinterpreted as being "alien-like" as compared to adults.

quote:
My husband does have a fair point though - we've been going to training for months, working on this behavior, and things like this keep happening
It needs to be realized that training is a life-long thing. It is not something that "once the dog is trained for a few months it will be enough for the rest of his life." Not consistently training will lead to degradation of the behavior or there will be a certain "push" from the animal to see how little they can do for the same reward. Just remember that a "mistake" is your chance to correct and does not necessarily mean you messed up. It is a completely normal thing and should be viewed as part of the learning process (Still-there is a limit for everyone on how big a mistake they can tolerate).

I hope this experience doesn't set your child up to fear dogs, but to respect them. If you ever do want to try again, I would suggest a less dominant -type breed like an even tempered golden retriever or something.

Sorry to hear about Yukon, but good luck with everything. Sometimes things just don't work out the way you would like [Frown]

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Redskullvw
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I've got six beagles. I also have a fortress wall built in my backyard. They range in activity levels from sleeping 20 hours or more to madly racing around the yard for hours non-stop. Had all of them since they were puppies. All are very good with children. Once they stopped being puppies, they haven't chewed on anything. they will investigate the kitchen garbage can when the opportunity avails.

They have never actually tried to dig their way out of the backyard. But for such small animals or around 15" at the shoulder, they have amazing leaping abilities. They can jump up to 6 feet high from a standing start. The only thing that keeps them from jumping the fence is that they don't have thumbs. Food wise, they will eat anything. And given the chance they would eat until their sides burst. While they tend to not bark, when they do, you have to be prepared for the fact that they are members of the hound family so instead of barking they bay.

They have long memories, and are amazingly smart. From figuring out how to open door knobs or getting up on kitchen counters, there seems to be little they don't ultimately figure out.

All mine are rescue dogs, except one who was just so damn cute he was bought on sight.

If you can put up with the puppy stage, Beagles are really good dogs. As puppies they have no schedule that works with a human schedule. But once they hit a year or so in age, they become very wedded to whatever schedule you keep.

Just don't ever share your bed with one. It may look like, act like, and be the size of an average teddy bear but, it will manage to occupy five to six times his body size, monopolize the covers, and steal your pillows. Plus they all snore like freight trains.

Given the choice, I suspect that they would want o eat at least 4 cups a day of food if not more. Spend maybe an hour outside in the early morning and late afternoon. And sleep most of the day. While I suppose they might be predisposed to nocturnal activity, since they are after all little hounds, mine have always slept at night.

As to Dalmatians, if you have a full time grooming staff and can afford vet bills that never stop, they could be the dog for you.

I'll never own another one.

As to Basset Hounds, if you can put up with a perpetually surly, perpetually barking, perpetually inconveniently positioned dog, and gawd awful stench always coming from both ends of the animal, they could be the dog for you.

I will never own another, and if it is true that all dogs go to heaven to be ultimately reunited with their former masters, I may be forced to go to Hell just to avoid my former Basset Hound.

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ladyday
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I'm starting to get very concerned. We haven't heard from the rescue, in spite of leaving messages every day, since the initial phone call on Tuesday. At the time it seemed as though they were taking us seriously and wanting to move quickly. I'm wondering if they don't have anywhere to take him, and I'm not sure what we do if they don't respond soon. We're just being as careful as we can but the situation isn't fair to the dog. We have to return him to the rescue, it's in our contract, but if they're going to drag their feet in such a serious thing...don't they have any obligations here?
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orlox
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Your child's welfare supercedes any contract. Also, any contract is only as good as the ability to enforce it. I doubt that it would have much force outside of the shelter itself and certainly not in the face of potential harm to your family. Perhaps a family friend can care for the dog until the shelter is ready?
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breyerchic04
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It isn't a shelter, it is a rescue, likely with foster homes. Ladyday should have been given more than one contact person, probably her dog's foster mother plus someone else (organizer, president, other local foster home).
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ladyday
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We have a list of numbers. Yukon wasn't fostered, he was in a kennel associated with the rescue, but we have contacts. We went down the list calling people, leaving messages. I'm just sad and frustrated. I'm sure they'll come through eventually. All the waiting just gives me paranoid thoughts - are they giving us some cooling off time? Plotting to sell Yukon to slavers? I know everyone is probably just busy with other stuff but it sure feels like we're getting blown off.
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Lilli
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OK - I'm new to this group and have just zipped through the postings here but want to throw in my 2 cents. I'm a dog rescuer/foster home from way back. All my life we have taken in "misfits" from bad situations. They really weren't misfits at all - just misunderstood or didn't fit the home they were in or had no home at all. If I returned every dog that "snapped" a time or two I would have done quite a disservice to a dog that turned out to be a wonderful animal. I've NEVER had a dog that at one time or another didn't nip, growl or show some form of aggression or dominance. If you can't deal with that you may want to adopt a cat instead of a dog. A large dog of course is more intimidating so if you are still keen on a dog maybe rethink the type of dog and go for a small dog. Small dogs will bite or growl on occasion as well but it has less impact.

FYI a growl doesn't always mean much more than a communication - a communication that might mean anything from "I'm pissed and I'll bite next" to "I'm irritated" to "Let's PLAY."

Your dilemma is that once your child is truly afraid of a dog, regardless of whether it growled, chased after or jumped up on the child, you have problems. I just fostered and then adopted a wonderful dog for that exact reason. Someone who already had a small older dog wanted a larger dog and adopted this guy. He was a few months old and was amazingly well behaved but he chased after and jumped on the 6 y/o child. Granted, the small dog did it too but 10 pounds vs. 45 was a big difference to a 6 y/o. They returned him to animal control because the child was terrified. After only 6 days he was slated to go down (a RETURNED dog is 1st on the list for euthanasia in most shelters so please don't take him to a shelter - death sentence). We took him (no children) and found him to have some issues but nothing that can't be corrected. He is still testing his boundaries even though it's clear he has had some formal training. 3 months now and we understand each other. He has growled but as adults we aren't afraid to correct it. He honestly has had to learn that that form of verbal communication is forbidden. In my case if I had children I think we'd overcome it but I don't expect someone who is relatively new to it all to be prepared for that.

Hang tight and be patient with the people you got him from but know that fosters are hard to come by. We are ALWAYS full and most of us have a minimum of 4/5 pets of our own in addition to opening our hearts/homes to fosters. They are probably looking for an opening for him, which is not easy.

If your child is afraid, can you babygate for now? If your child is 12 (not sure where I got that age), perhaps you can explain the situation and ease the tension by explaining you are doing a good thing saving his life by holding him for now.

If you really want a dog my suggestion is to get an older dog from a rescue group where the dog has been in foster care. Literally, every dog I've had in foster care I've had for a few months and in that time I could tell you virtually every endearing quality and bad habit that exists. So many times a dog in a true foster situation is just a victim of circumstances and is already trained, mannerly and calm. Regardless, I want all of my fosters to succeed (as most rescues do) so I reveal all the good and bad up front. Many rescues won't place dogs in homes with children simply because the dogs haven't been exposed and they don't want to risk this happening.

BTW - I grew up with the most amazing German Shepherd - so good with children, but on the same token my sister's GS tried to bite me every chance she got. I don't believe it's a breed problem with most dogs but rather individual dogs. (My cocker spaniel bit my dad every week for years until he decided he liked him!)

Have you thought about a mature Golden Retriever from a reputable Golden rescue group? I've never met an aggressive Golden and their worst habits (chewing/exciteable) seem to be over around age 3 or 4 and there are just so many of that breed needing homes.

I appreciate all you did to train and you did try. If you care about this dog though please make sure he goes back to the rescue group you got him from. Don't take him elsewhere as he might be euthanised. Try again if you are ready but get an older dog with a proven history.

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airmanfour
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Thank you, I learned.
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ladyday
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The rescue came to pick Yukon up and take him back to the kennel – I thought that was good of them, considering we were willing to drive him up ourselves. Someone will let us know of any updates, whether he’s placed in another home or in the K-9 police unit they are considering for him. It was a very sad goodbye, of course, and I’m still very emotional about the whole thing. I know my posts probably look like a roller coaster and I realize I haven’t really been clear about everything that’s gone on. I feel like I should explain that it wasn’t just this one incident that made us decide to give him up. When he was biting us in play, we were willing to work with him and he came a long way. We read the books, took him to training, researched and worked, and he improved as we did. When he started showing signs of aggression and dominance, growling, snapping, and the more subtle forms of posturing and jockeying for position, we worked with him, in constant communication with the rescue and with our trainer. When he bit our daughter because she was bothering him while he was chewing a bone (not a serious injury, but she had a good bruise), we had a family meeting, talked it out, told the kid to never do that again and worked on his toy aggression with the trainer. We were very firm and clear with him, making sure he understood that this behavior was in no way acceptable, and I especially stubbornly believed that this was just puppy hood, just adolescence, that if we kept doing what we were supposed to be doing he’d get through this.

We took him to the vets to get his nails clipped – I worked with him every single day since the day we got him on being okay with being touched, just like the books say. I touched every toe pad, every nail, pet his paws, his ears, his tail. I thought he was doing great and pretty much wrote the vet off as a butthead when he explained that he had to muzzle Yukon twice to even get near him. The vet urged caution with a dog of this temperament and made a generalization about white shepherds and red Dobermans having aggression in their genes – I thought that was ridiculous and that he just hadn’t bothered to make Yukon comfortable before prodding at him. Of course Yukon shouldn’t have been biting the vet, I knew that, but I just thought he needed another chance. Eventually I had to open my eyes and see that this just wasn’t working. I could talk about a dozen little incidents, but I don’t want to knock the dog – I love Yukon. He wasn’t a ‘bad dog’. I am still convinced that Yukon is a wonderful dog, but he needs someone with experience and knowledge, as well as someone able to look at him objectively and be willing to take the risk. We just aren’t the right family. And I don’t want to knock any of us, either – I really believe that we did the best we could. And that wasn’t nothing – he put on some much needed weight, got his health issues squared away, learned basic obedience commands, was potty and crate trained.

Anyway. I won’t be ready for another dog for a while. Just walking by the pet store is enough to get me misty eyed. But I think I’d like to try again to find the right dog for us, eventually. Maybe once I know Yukon is in a good home and I can really accept that I’m not his mommy anymore. I’ve discovered that I love owning a dog – I enjoyed every minute of training and walking and playing (even though he bit me and acted like a knucklehead sometimes). But I want to just reiterate that I’m really very grateful to everyone for all of their help.

Oh, and welcome to hatrack, Lilli.

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BannaOj
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*hugs ladyday*

If it makes you feel any better that vet didn't know squat about what he was talking about, and IMO should never treat a powerful breed, because he doesn't know how to handle them himself.

Welcome Lilli! I agree with just about everything you said.

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pH
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quote:
Originally posted by Lilli:
OK - I'm new to this group and have just zipped through the postings here but want to throw in my 2 cents. I'm a dog rescuer/foster home from way back. All my life we have taken in "misfits" from bad situations. They really weren't misfits at all - just misunderstood or didn't fit the home they were in or had no home at all. If I returned every dog that "snapped" a time or two I would have done quite a disservice to a dog that turned out to be a wonderful animal. I've NEVER had a dog that at one time or another didn't nip, growl or show some form of aggression or dominance. If you can't deal with that you may want to adopt a cat instead of a dog. A large dog of course is more intimidating so if you are still keen on a dog maybe rethink the type of dog and go for a small dog. Small dogs will bite or growl on occasion as well but it has less impact.

FYI a growl doesn't always mean much more than a communication - a communication that might mean anything from "I'm pissed and I'll bite next" to "I'm irritated" to "Let's PLAY."

This is definitely true. My dog has a very specific "I need to go potty" growl along with what I call his "potty prance." But it's an intimidating sound to anyone who doesn't know him very well. Personally, I find the prance pretty cute. [Razz]

-pH

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breyerchic04
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This is entirely anecdotal but related to growling. When I was four or five I played with the sons of our vet, upstairs in their house above the vet clinic. They had a Schnauzer that had been brought in at about four weeks old, I forget why the breeders gave him up, so at that young age he was put in a kennel with a cat who had just weaned a litter of kittens. The times I spent with him were years after that, he was older than I was. When you rubbed the back of his head he groweled and wiggled. He kept growling until you stopped. I got to the point I didn't want to go play with the boys because that doggy scared me (one of our two Airedales growled at me occasionally, I backed off). It turns out this little dog was purring!
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ladyday
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Hee, that's cute. And yeah, Yukon certainly had a 'let's play' growl and an 'I'm so awesome' growl to go along with his 'I'm thinking about biting' growl.

I really miss him [Frown] .

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aspectre
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http://www.dailymail.co.uk/pages/live/articles/technology/technology.html?in_article_id=510703&in_page_id=1965
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BannaOj
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I would like to see the original source data for this test and point out that there is a huge difference between a 1st generation "cross bred" and a generic "mutt".

For example, Labradoodles. They were using them for guide dogs for folks that were allergic to dog hair since poodles don't shed the same way. There have been a lot of "designer" labradoodle breeders popping up elsewhere. You don't get the non-shedding characteristics in a 2nd or 3rd generation labradoodle mix. You *only* get it in the 1st generation purebred-purebred cross.

(Poodles incidentally normally score near the top on these "intelligence tests, but they don't always have the patience of a dumber breed like a Lab, which is why combining them to get the more mellowed temperment can be better for a guide dog)

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pH
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*LOL* Banna, what does this mean if Bert is a crossbreed between a purebred black lab and a purebred short haired chow? Dumb prissy boy?

-pH

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breyerchic04
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Without looking at AKC standards you're going to have a hard time getting anyone to consider a shorthaired chow a purebred.
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BannaOj
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Could be Shar-pei instead of Chow... Now that I think about it, it is always a kind of tossup when you've got black spots on the tounge (which Bert does) And both have similar head shapes too.
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pH
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I think they both have the loose skin around the neck and chest...then again, a lot of labs have that, too.

-pH

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