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 Post subject: Help, my dog is changing, for the worse
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 4:06 pm 
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I got Bella at 8 months old almost 2 years ago. She was rescued with her mom and 2 siblings. She was extremely shy, her siblings weren't. She wouldn't do anything, not even step over a bench. Ever since I got her I've been taking her for weekly training, agility for almost 2 years (she's gotten very good although can't concentrate well), off leash parks when I can, walk with friends and their dog(s) (we live in the country and don't meet a lot of people and dogs), and she goes to a great kennel once in a while where they run around all day long, playing. They love her there and she loves the owner (female). She still keeps her distance from men most of the time. I even drove 2 hours to try her in lure coursing because she loves to run like mad in circles. Most of the trials are in parks so I had to abandon that because she would take off. She's a runner and a hunter. I just signed her up for scent detection that will start next week. Basically, she needs a job. We walk her 3 hrs a day, hubby sometimes jogs too, she very active! I tried weight pulling but she isn't a fan. I'll try again. Biking is too dangerous, she's too fast and she veers off course for rabbits!

Lately she's become very leash aggressive towards other dogs. Usually she settles down after an initial bout of snapping, but I can't be certain she always settles down. This doesn't happen with all dogs, she seems to like really large dogs. There's this huge white sheep herding dog whom we sometimes see in the morning and she loves him. When we recently went to an off leash park there was a similar dog (female) and she immediately got along well with her and they played together. A neighbour has a new samoyed pup, bigger than her, and she hates her with a passion, it's embarrassing. I can't blame her as she always rushed at her (the kids walking her cannot hold her) but still.

I never had to worry about her around other dogs and people, but she's now becoming the dog I never wanted. She's perfect in doggy class so I don't think that helps us. I recently called another dog trainer who sounds promising. She wants to meet with us on the trails when the weather gets better to see us in action! I don't know if I can wait that long.

Any tips? She was so good, what happened? I had to put her in the kennel today as we have to help someone move this weekend and I asked the owner to let me know if there are any issues. This is what she wrote:
"She stArted off weird... Meaning tail between her legs full hackles up and did not want any attention from the dogs. Her energy got her more attention than usual. She ate 1 patty and one scoop of dehydrated food, but chewed the old bed in her crate (no big deal) she's getting better as the day goes on."

HELP, what am I doing wrong?

 Post subject: Re: Help, my dog is changing, for the worse
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:43 pm 
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I don't have anything helpful to offer but I wish you luck. It sounds like a difficult situation.

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 Post subject: Re: Help, my dog is changing, for the worse
PostPosted: Fri Jan 25, 2013 9:05 pm 
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i don't think you're doing anything wrong, Max&Moritz - and i'm sorry Bella's behavior has been changing lately. that can fo 'sho be frustrating.

first thing's first - are there any major changes lately? any big changes in her routine/environment/etc.? i know you said there's a new pup of you neighbour's - she might not be used to it just yet. and really, she might be kinda impatient with a puppy since she's older and not be so tolerant of their lack 'o manners.

out dog julie changed around (3) years of age. we used to take her to the dogpark every day, but over the course of a few weeks after she was about 3ish, she became more cranky and irritable. it was so frustrating. she also started showing signs of leash aggression and barrier frustration (which she still has) - and she started not caring for younger or bigger dogs either. it was so crazy! we worked on pulling her off to the side of the road/trail/etc. when another dog was approaching. we would then make her sit and give her a treat once she did so. this took a few months though, because she would start going NUTS. but if she behaved badly and didn't sit calmly she didn't receive a treat. if she behaved and was cordial in the presence of the other dog she was rewarded. now that she's almost 10, she's calmed down a bit more and isn't so aggressive, but every now and again she's a little punk. but sometimes dogs just get fussy and i'm not too sure there's a ton we can do about it. i am sure someone has some techniques and better advice, but i do truly think that sometimes dogs just go through some changes in their lives and they're not the same as they used to be. it's not our fault, i think it just happens.

i'm not too sure what changed with our dog, julie - as everything was a constant and she was the one changing, but i kinda have a feeling it was something along the lines of the breeds she is (she's a mix of pit, terrier and lab) and hormonal changes due to age (she is spayed). hormonal changes do happen, and in my experience, it happens a lot more with female dogs, despite them being fixed.

i'm sorry Bella is being a crabby patty lately and i know i didn't give much advice, but i wanted to tell you about julie an dour experiences with her so you all know you're not alone.


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 Post subject: Re: Help, my dog is changing, for the worse
PostPosted: Sat Jan 26, 2013 4:55 pm 
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i would recommend finding a trainer/behaviorist who works with reactive dogs.
sounds like you have a pretty mild case of reactivity that can be fairly easily worked through with the right type of training and a lot of consistancy.

basically you need to desensitize her to the things setting her off by associating them with good things like food or toys.
why she's doing this all of a sudden i honestly have no idea. but if you watch It's Me or the Dog it's similar to the stuff that Victoria does.
ie clicker training, treating a dog for looking at another dog (or person as the case may be) and building from there.

i know it's insanely frustrating to deal with but it can get A LOT worse but it also can get a lot better with consistancy.
good luck!

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 Post subject: Re: Help, my dog is changing, for the worse
PostPosted: Sun Feb 03, 2013 4:07 pm 
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Hi there and sorry you're facing this new challenge with your dog. Has anything changed recently that brought this on, either suddenly or over time? It sounds like you've been doing a lot of the right things, giving him jobs and long walks and some socializing and somewhat regular doggie day care.

I have a 7 year old cattle dog that we adopted 1 year ago, who hadn't been around dogs much for almost 2 years. He used to act like he wanted to kill other dogs because we didn't realize that dogs popping up unexpectedly in close quarters around the city apt complex was conditioning him very negatively. After TONS of mistakes and TONS of learning, Ive learned how to catch him from reacting to dogs to a point where he would almost never have a reaction if we were walking in an open neighborhood and another dog was being walked by on the other side of the road. But, we will never have a dog that is social, and when we left him to a dog trainer during our honeymoon, she confirmed that he would be just as fine never seeing another dog again in his life.

What helped a ton was burning energy. If you have a herding dog (not sure if thats Bella in your avatar, but she looks like a cattle dog), they end up putting their excess energy into focusing on other things if they dont get some intense workout, and they are naturally alert and sometimes distrustful dogs so it could be thats why Bella is suddenly acting aggressive. You could try to see if there are any dog walkers that take dogs on hikes in a group. That would potentially do several things at once - burn tons of energy which would make her less vigilant, keep her socialized to hanging out with strange dogs, and hopefully reinforce her basic commands and obedience (to come back etc). I'm in the DC area and our dog trainer offered that option on a farm, but Ive also seen other pet sitters offer similar pack hikes.

When we got our dog back after 3 weeks of hikes every day and hanging out with strange dogs, our boy was a totally different dog, we were stunned and thrilled! But unfortunately our dog regained his energy in a week, became reactive again because we didn't keep exposing him to lots of dogs, plus he got injured shortly thereafter so all the weeks of resting put him back to square one.

Good luck with the behaviorist (make sure they are experienced with reactive dogs) - it sounds like you've done all the right things but maybe not to the extent that will keep her drained and keep her desensitized.

 Post subject: Re: Help, my dog is changing, for the worse
PostPosted: Wed Feb 06, 2013 9:00 pm 
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Leash/barrier aggression in particular is so common, so any good behaviourist/trainer should be able to help. But her reaction at the kennel indicates that this is probably not what's really going on.

It is not uncommon for dogs to reach maturity and really not be in to socializing anymore. She may be going through this change but being too reactive about it. You might need to accept that her existing dog friends and a select few new ones will be enough for her and she might only have the energy and patience for these dogs going forward. My dog reached 2ish and said, yeah, that's enough of this puppy nonsense and now only can handle dogs that greet quietly and respectfully- any boisterous hooligans will most certainly get snapped at. But, she does need to still be able to be around new dogs even if she does not love them, and the trainer can help you maintain that. You have to remember that things like baron teeth, vocalizing and even non committal snapping are some if the best ways available to her to tell another dog she doesn't find their greeting style tasteful.

At the daycare, we regularly had dogs that would come 2 times a week starting at puppy hood, but eventually they would need to ease off or even stop completely. Really high energy group dynamics aren't good for many dogs when they reach maturity. When Tungsten turned 2 I cut back his daycare time with me massively, he might only come with me once or twice a week or a half day whereas when he was little he could do 4 full days a week happily. He just grew out of it.

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