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I would like to introduce Diesel my new 11 month old STB. I also have a few questions.

Discussion in 'Introductions' started by Natasha2849, Sep 4, 2018.

  1. Natasha2849

    Natasha2849 New Member Registered

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    My name Natasha and my wee dog/baby is Diesel. Diesel is 11 months old and is a lovely week boy(mostly). Diesel is great with kids and my kids love him. BUT Diesel is not good with other dogs. He will try and attack so will be purchasing a muzzle. Is there any way of being able tell what type of aggression it is? fear aggression etc. We intend to get him neutered but if we could figure out what is causing the issue we could possibly work on it while he's still young.
     

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  2. JoanneF

    JoanneF Well-Known Member Registered

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    Fear is a very common reason for aggressive behaviour. A case of attack is the best form of defence - a confident dog doesn't feel the need to be bolshy.

    I would start with working at a distance from other dogs.

    He will have an invisible radius of space around him where he feels secure, it's called 'flight distance' anything in that area triggers the fight or flight response that you may have heard of. Find out what that is and keep him just far enough away from other dogs that he is relaxed. Reward his calm behaviour. Watching from a bench at the edge of a park is a good place. Gradually, over weeks and months, not days, work on reducing the distance. But - be aware that if your dog has had a stressful episode the stress hormone can stay in the body for up to 48 hours so a distance he was comfortable with the day before might be too close that day. So the safe distance can change, watch his body language.

    Trainers describe behaviour like this with reference to the three Ds. Distance, as above but also be aware of Duration (your dog might be tolerant for 10 seconds, but not 15) and Distraction (how distracting the stimulus is; a calm dog might not trigger any reaction at a given distance but a bouncy one might).

    Alongside that you could train a 'watch me'. As your dog looks at you, mark and reward the behaviour. Ask for longer periods of watching. Then if a dog approaches, after you have worked on the distance issue, you can get your dog to focus on you and not the other dog. BUT - some dogs find this scary as they cannot see the thing they are anxious about so you need to judge your dog.

    Tagging @JudyN as she has her dog trained to a muzzle and will have some advice.
     
  3. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    Thanks @JoanneF :)

    I'm not an expert, but I'm not sure it matters too much what type of aggression it is - the training is the same, i.e. what JoanneF describes above. It can often be helpful to think of it as 'insecurity aggression', e.g. 'I'm worried that that dog might be bigger/stronger than me, which makes me feel weak, so I'll make myself feel more macho by duffing him up.' Or even 'I'm going to duff up this defenceless little spaniel because it makes me feel bigger/stronger/braver' (playground bully;)). And neutering will not necessarily prevent this behaviour - lack of testosterone can make a dog feel less confident, so more insecure.

    He looks like a Staffie and they are quite often not keen on other dogs.

    As for muzzles - choose a basket muzzle that he can open his mouth as wide as possible in so he can pant, drink and bark. I started off by wiping peanut butter inside the nose end and letting J stick his head in and licking it. When he thought the muzzle was great, and would stick his head in it as soon as it appeared, I'd hold the straps behind his head, then buckle them up and undo them straight away, then leave it on while we did a quick bit of training, then out the door and off for a distracting sniff walk. He takes it for granted as much as we do shoes.

    It's often recommended that you thread the strap through the collar so it can't come off - I can't advise on this as I don't do it, and also only have hands-on experience of muzzles for dogs with pointy faces. @leashedForLife should be able to give more guidance.

    Bear in mind that it is the equivalent of a safety belt - it doesn't mean it's OK to let him go up to other dogs he's likely to be aggressive with as he can still hurt them physically and mentally. It's just there to prevent it all going horribly wrong when a dog appears when you least expect it.
     
  4. merlina

    merlina Well-Known Member Registered

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    I think you've been given some good advice about managing this behaviour. The only thing I'd add is IMO all aggression is fear aggression. Dogs naturally have nothing to gain and everything to lose by picking fights. Unlike humans they appear to be born with this knowledge! A dog that seems to act aggressively is usually an anxious dog.
     
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  5. Natasha2849

    Natasha2849 New Member Registered

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    Thank you! Having taken him a walk and hour so ago, I think it might be him feeling the need to protect me. He will watch a dog he sees, but only try to get to it or snarl if it's close by. There was a dog about 200 odd yards away, he watched it like a hawk but made no attempts to get to it, even while this thing was barking, growling and snarling at him. He was snarling much more than Diesel does. Put a building between them, walking along fine, not a bother and this wee terrier type thing decides to start barking like mad through the window (6 or 8ft away) which set Diesel off, when he hadn't noticed or cared about it until then. He also growled at 2 unsavoury looking folk who looked like they were dealing drugs, even though he passes other folk by without a hint of stress or aggression.
     
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  6. merlina

    merlina Well-Known Member Registered

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    Yeah! Dogs are like MI5- they know stuff!
     
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  7. Natasha2849

    Natasha2849 New Member Registered

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    He protected me from my husband the night we got him. My husband didn't do anything wrong other than walk in the house. He stood in front of me and growled. I think he has spent a lot of his life so far in a cage to be honest. They told us he wasn't cage trained, but he goes in to the one we have without question and seems sad about it unless we give him something nice so it doesn't feel.bad (old bottle or something) I also picked up a bed slat to move it and he jumped away :( being great with kids seems to be the only thing they were completely honest about.
     
  8. JudyN

    JudyN Well-Known Member Registered

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    The poor lad - it's horrible when they flinch at something and you realise how they must have been treated in the past :( How long have you had him for, and is he OK with your husband now?

    Have a read of this article on behaviour adjustment training (BAT): Behavior Adjustment Training: A New Approach to Problem Behaviors It's an approach that might well help.
     
  9. Natasha2849

    Natasha2849 New Member Registered

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    Just since Sunday. They said he just growls at male dogs, but it's not just males, and it's not just a growl if he does react to a nearby dog. He is fine with my husband, although I seem to be his favourite.
     
  10. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    Thanks, @JudyN -
    I will post some links to photos of properly-fitted, safe muzzles, which are already on other threads here, & include many breeds with different forefaces & skull shapes.


    I am going to slightly disagree with the, “he’s just scared & feels defensive...”, overall summary - given his breed, & their strong propensity for dog-aggro, I think his aggression toward other dogs was significantly boosted by testosterone, at puberty ... which was over 5-mos ago, so he has a lot of learned / acquired habitual behavior, since then, sadly.

    as a young pup (if we pretend U had him at 8 to 9-WO), he would eagerly wag & want to meet them, then he’d roll belly-up submissively, when they were within 3-ft or less.
    He’d also probly dribble urine when the adult dog sniffed him, or when they touched noses -
    Those are all normal puppy behaviors. :) Pups indicate their immaturity & their peaceful intentions by the exaggerated belly-up pose, & dribbling urine is an involuntary reaction to stress in a young puppy; happy stress is still stress, & excitement is stress, even when it’s glad anticipation.

    Both F & M pups begin secreting sexual hormones between 10 & 12-WO, as they start the climb to full-on puberty at 6-MO; around 3-MO is thus usually when the initial signs of M:M dog aggro start, but often they are rather subtle, & owners either don’t notice, or discount them (“he’s just having a bad day...”, “he doesn’t like black dogs / pointy ears / big dogs / barky dogs...”, & so on).

    The list of “kinds of dogs he doesn’t like” gets longer, the aggro gets more intense & overt, and the owner is finally forced to admit that their under-12-MO dog is aggro toward any M dog, sometimes including M pups under 3-MO, which is highly abnormal.
    Some dogs take it further, & are aggro toward both sexes & any gender - it’s very rare for a M dog to attack a F without serious provocation, but in the worst cases of dog-directed aggro, they don’t care if the target is M, F, old, a young pup, they just attack any other dog.

    I would lay dollars to donuts that his dog-aggro sprouted with early puberty, it grew with him & got worse, he was PUNISHED for it, & when that didn’t work, they rehomed him. :(

    I would strongly suggest he is neutered, ASAP - he’s nearly a year old; his long bones are closed, he’s an adult. Removing the primary source of his testosterone will reduce overall aggro. It will not “cure” him, but it will make B-mod easier, & in some cases, it will make B-mod possible.
    B-mod for dog aggro is already an uphill struggle against a strong learned response; add testes, & it’s a massive mountain with steep cliffs,
    that U must scale against the dog’s already established habits.

    Before anyone suggests an injection to shut down testosterone production, to “try it out”, I would not recommend this, as it takes at least 3 weeks to take effect.
    From Ur description, another month of rehearsing dog-aggression is the last thing he needs, & literally every single time he reacts to another dog, the habit is more entrenched, and becomes harder to change.
    :( I’m sorry. It’s a lot to take in.

    I trained my own 1st pup via 4-H starting when I was 10-YO, & he was about 4-MO; we didn’t know his exact age, as he had been dumped in our farm driveway with his sister, over 2 mos before.
    Our instructor was very demanding of the human handlers, very fair to the dogs, & very very clear; she bred & trained beautiful GSDs, & had imported her foundation stock by flying to Germany after WW-2 & picking them out, personally.
    She became my mentor for 3 years.
    At 18, I began training dogs for other folks; in 1985, after more than 10 years of doing both training (teach a cued behavior) & B-mod (reduce, redirect, or replace an undesired behavior), I decided to specialize in behavior modification.

    I can say with assurance that in all that time, no dog ever “became more fearful” than he was before, once his testicles were removed. If he was bold, he remained bold. If he was shy, he was still shy, but his shyness was neither worse nor better than before.

    I will add that dog-aggro in breeds predisposed to it very rarely translates to, “he’s scared”; this form of aggression is not rooted in fear or self-defense. Many of these dogs are confident & outgoing, & they take great pleasure in beating the bejaysus out of some innocent fellow dog; this is a personal hobby, not grounded in self-protective paranoia. It’s a sport. :shrug:


    Thankfully, most of these dogs can be retrained, but they may never be dog-park buddies nor be safe off leash; they will be civil & mind their manners so long as another dog doesn’t provoke them, and maybe they will have a short list of good dog-friends that they can play with.
    Some won’t have even one dog buddy, all their friends will be human, or maybe some cats, or cows, or who knows what... & that’s OK, too. So long as they aren’t an imminent hazard to other dogs, & can be safely controlled when off their own property, it’s fine. :)


    Dog-aggro can co-exist in a dog who adores humans, just as cat-killing dogs can be lapdogs at home, or as dogs who run down feral hogs & hold them for the hunter to come & kill, can fight ferociously with the hogs, yet later cuddle with their families.
    It’s possible but rare for a dog to be both dog-aggro AND human-aggro, but remember we are talking about abnormal aggro; self-defense is not abnormal, it is in fact perfectly normal behavior in any animal, of any species. We all want to live, & when we feel seriously threatened or cornered, we strike back.

    For that reason, it’s imperative that his B-mod is REWARD based, not punishing his aggro, but rewarding any behaviors that are “not aggro “. // U have to begin small, give him plenty of distance from other dogs, provide long sightlines so he’s not surprised by a dog popping out between parked cars or exiting an apt-door into his face, & most of all, make the presence of another dog, into a reliable predictor of happy events.
    Every time he sees or hears another dog, good things rain down on him, & that dog is never allowed to get close-enuf to worry him.
    U can only narrow the distance between him & another dog as NEW RESPONSES are learned, & he becomes increasingly confident and happy in their presence. U cannot hurry the process; it takes as long as it takes.


    Any new habit takes a minimum of a month to BEGIN to become the new normal; that is as true of dogs as it is of humans, horses, or indeed, any creature with a spinal cord & brain.
    Most dogs therefore require at least a month & a half to show significant improvement. That’s expected, & U can’t let it discourage U.

    Generally by the 6-month mark, there are big changes, but by that time, it becomes hard to recall exactly how bad he was - so I would recommend a simple log, that lists things like how many feet away he needs to be from a smaller dog who is neither barking at him nor giving him a hard stare, to NOT react or mind that other dog.
    Is it 30-ft? —- 50-ft? How far must he be from a BARKING dog who is looking at him?
    75-ft? —- 120-ft?

    What’s his very very earliest indicator of discomfort, long before he kicks off? - does he have airplane ears, back & to the side, or does he hackle at the neck & grumble, standing tall?

    How close is he when he HOLDS HIS BREATH, a big clue of major tension?
    Relaxed dogs generally let their mouths hang open with their tongues lolling casually over their incisors, long & relaxed; a worried dog retracts the tongue back behind their incisors, to be ready to bite, & any dog who is suddenly anxious will CLOSE THEIR MOUTH ***and*** HOLD THEIR BREATH tensely.
    All of these signals are important to know, & they are also important as communication; when YOU are anxious, make a concerted effort to breathe normally. If U hold Ur breath, U are telling him there is something scary going on. :) Don’t do that.
    Talk to Urself if U need to, or sing - U gotta breathe to sing, so it forces U to keep breathing rhythmically. How well U sing is immaterial; that U breathe & keep the dog calm is essential.

    Back in a mo...
    - terry

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  11. leashedForLife

    leashedForLife Well-Known Member Registered

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    Would U believe...
    I began that last message at 10-am yesterday, it’s now 5 to midnight, & I just posted it prior to helping my client to bed? He’s still awake, & I need to get to sleep myself soon, as he wants a 9-am wakeup.

    Toddling off,
    - terry

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  12. Kara 1

    Kara 1 Active Member Registered

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    Dont always think because a dog is nervous that he has been ill treated ...
    Our jack russell sid has been with us since he was 11 weeks old ...he has always been a bag of nerves and is coming up 4 (ad getting slightly better )he flinches jumps is terrified of the hoover and unknown objects and screams if a bramble touches him whilst out on a walk ...he has never been shouted at or hurt in anyway and if i only just met him i would have thought he was the most abused dog going ...;)
     
  13. Natasha2849

    Natasha2849 New Member Registered

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    Thank you! I intend to get him neutered in a few weeks. Just things my husband noticed in the peoples house(didn't think much of it at the time) and certain things with us leads us to believe he have had a bad start in life. We are going to measure his face today and buy a baskerville ultra muzzle. And we got him a flours event jacket that says space needed. He's such a lovely dog. My husband used to have an alsatian that was fine with men and didn't like dogs or women. She was fine with me because I wasn't scared of her. She couldn't be petted as she would jump around. She had been badly mistreated at the beginning of her life. Previous owners had chained her up in the garden constantly and kids would hit her with sticks until she stood closet to the post and she was able to defend herself. Of course the village blamed her and she had to be rehomed. Husbands dad calmed her down a good bit and she was amazing with children, would watch people like a hawk when it was time to change a nappy. Unfortunately due to an incident where a teenager was winding her up meant she had to be put down or rehom education somewhere like a Farm. Done the latter. She escaped and went into a village, she let anyone pet her and was very friendly. Seems she responds to fear.
     

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