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Nervous puppy gets nasty.

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by Joan, Apr 12, 2011.


  1. Joan

    Joan PetForums Junior

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    Hi Everyone,

    I have an 8 month old Bloodhound x Greatdane. We rescued him when he was 3 months from his first owners just before they took him to the pound.

    He was/is very boisterous and they had 3 young children, so I think they just realised they had taken on too much. He used to bite when he didn't get his own way - he had clearly learnt that this worked - he stopped this quickly when it stopped working!

    The problem is he is very nervous in some situations. At the vets he wouldn't get onto the scales. He can be unpredictable around dogs we meet on walks, he is eagre to say hello, but then his hackles go up and he can bark at them and try to run away or hide behind me. He has never gone for another dog, but I think this is because I let him leave the situation, even though I keep him on the lead, rather than keeping him there and forcing him into a fight, which I think he would do because he'd panic.

    We run pubs and so we take our dogs to them regularly and we always have. 2 days ago we were in one of our pubs and I noticed that things seemed to have gotten worse. People would come up and say hello and offer their hands, they approached slowly and were calm, I can't blame them at all, he would sniff their hands and then a few seconds later - maybe 5-10 - he would stiffen and start to bark and lunge. It only happened with men, but not all men and not tall, or short or fat or ones in glasses/hats or anything I could identify. With one man - who we know and who has quite serious mental health problems, I only say this because his behaviour is clearly 'odd' even to humans, so dogs probably pick up on much more - he really tried to bite him.

    Another friend tried to stroke him and the above happened, but then our friend turned back to the bar and ignored our dog. Fubar (our dog) went up to him about 20 minutes later and sniffed him and in the end our friend was sitting on the floor with our enourmous puppy leaning up against him having a proper fuss!

    In the past he has barked at drunk men, but not frequently and nothing like this day. Thinking about it he might have felt trapped as we were in a corner by the bar, but people weren't coming close or pinning him in or anything. Even if that were the case I would still like to solve the problem.

    I don't know how to tackle this so I'd appreciate any advice or your own stories/experiences. I'm quite concerned, I don't want him to get a reputation as a bad dog and if he is nervous and it is coming out as aggression I want to help him relax and enjoy life!!

    Thank you,
    Joan
     
  2. metaldog

    metaldog PetForums VIP

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    I'm sorry I don't have anything to advise about his behaviour but you may try changing his name.

    If you think about what FUBAR stands for and dogs have a tendency to grow into their names (I once knew a chaos who was chaos and calmed down when they renamed him Fluffy :lol: ) :)
     
  3. Joan

    Joan PetForums Junior

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    I'm afraid it suits him perfectly and I love him for it!! We couldn't decide what to call him for about 3 days - he had been called Roger before and although that is a brilliant dog name it isn't him. Then we watched Saving Private Ryan and realised he was FUBAR through and through!! The R can be for "reason" rather than "recognition" though!

    People tend to laugh wneh they know what it means and just to think it's an odd, but cute name when they don't! If children ask I do say he is called "Foob" though, which I know is a bit of a cop out!!

    :001_smile:
     
  4. AmberNero

    AmberNero PetForums VIP

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    Possibly you could try a DAP collar? It may help calm him if it is a case of nervousness. I'm not going to give you any training tips as I'm learning myself! Others will have great advice, but have you thought about finding a positive-reinforcement puppy training class near you? That might help a lot, as many classes offer info and help with socialisation with humans AND dogs.

    I hope it all works out ok for you :)


    ...also...WE NEED PHOTOS! :D :D :D
     
  5. Johnderondon

    Johnderondon PetForums VIP

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    It is not safe to advise on aggression without first hand observation of the dog. Any solutions proffered over a text format forum could easily be wrong and add to the problem rather than help.

    I recommend that you seek a behaviourist to help and, in the meanwhile, minimise the dog's exposure to stimuli that he has displayed reactivity towards and ask people to just ignore him (as your friend did).
     
  6. Sled dog hotel

    Sled dog hotel PetForums VIP

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    All pups usually mouth and bite, its how they play in the litter, they also get hyper exciteable or some do, to the point where they cant switch off and calm down, but it seems you have all that under control now.

    At around 6/8mths they can enter a fear of the un known period, where even ones that were quite confident before suddenly react again to sights sounds and situations again with uncertainty and fear, so this probably isnt helping the situation, especially if he has always been a nervous dog.

    Dogs on leads can be unsure as if they are uncertain of things, then they usually use 3 main options, flight (run away) avoidence appeasing behaviour
    or fight (Barking and growling and maybe lunging) in the hope the other dog will back off. On a lead they cant run away, or give themselves much space to weight up the situation, body language can also be hampered so they then go to the last stage the growling and barking. It seems from what you say he is curious, and probably wants too, but at the last minute is unsure how to proceed, he tries his best to "flight and avoid" but best he can do is hide behind you on lead. He probably lacks the social skills and communication too, due to lack of confidence. You have picked up on the leaving the situation, thats the problem, the bark and growl and you either remove them, or the other owner does, so to them if works, it then becomes a repeated learned behaviour.

    With the people coming up too him, it sounds like he needs more time to build his confidence and weigh them up, they probably do too much too soon, which is confirmed by the guy who at first ignored him.

    Best think to do is find some "stooges" in the way of visitors or perhaps dog loving customers. Prime them to totally ignore him, but arm them with really high value treats too. Try him with cheese,chicken,hot dogs, sausages, or anything liver based first. Find out what his most favourites are and use these for his "socialising only" Ignore him completely, but when he shows curiosity, then ask them to slowly and gently throw a treat of the floor in his direction, if he takes it, try another, getting slightly nearer each time, still totally ignoring apart from this. Then ask them to speak to him softly, if he is still calm, treat for that, then hold out a treat, if he takes it give a couple more, then see if he will accept a calm stroke, calm=another treat, then make full eye contact, calm=another treat, finally see if he will accept all three, speaking touching and eye contact. Do it at his pace dont rush any stage. he should learn people are no threat and only means good things. This should help him make positive associations.

    You can do a similar thing with dogs too, start at longer distances first, getting him to watch you when dogs approach by holding a treat up so he has to make eye sontact with you when he does treat him and keep treating.
    for as long as he ignores the dogs, Once you get success then you can try nearer and nearer. It might help too if you no anyone with calm placid non reactive dogs, again to use as a "stooge" That way as you get success on the approach. you can then do it closer and closer and maybe start going for walks with another calm dog. By treating he should look to you for instruction and guidance and gruadually associate dogs with positive things too. Again dont rush any stage, at first you might have to turn him in the opposite direction so he cant fixate and focus on the other dogs. Again dont do anything too fast or too soon do it at his pace only. Dont take him over the threshold of what he can cope with.

    Hope this might be of some help.
     
  7. candysmum

    candysmum PetForums VIP

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    I would in all honesty google for a local Dog behaviourist in your area. find one you like and then theyc an come out and do an assesment of him and give you a full written report on how to tackle these issues you may even be ab;e to hire them for one to one sessions.

    Good luck with him and well done for rescuing him too.
     
  8. goodvic2

    goodvic2 PetForums VIP

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    Hi.

    I have a rescue who is a bit like this. He has excellent doggy social skills, but is nervous with people.

    To combat this, I do not allow ANYONE to touch him. He needs to accept the person first. I think it is a bit unfair on a nervous dog to have people approach it.

    I got this jacket made, so that people understand about him. It is especially useful because he loves to be off lead with other dogs.

    I would also have him off the lead if he has a tendancy to get nervous with other dogs. As you have said, a lead prevents the dog from running away. If you give him the option of removing himself from a situation, I believe you will see a big improvement.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Doolally

    Doolally PetForums Senior

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    I love that tabard goodvic! such a good idea.

    My dog hates being touched by people he doesn't know, he tolerates it but you can see him cringing and if they go too far he'll growl. I try very hard to not let him get into a situation where people just go in and touch him, and he's very good at getting himself out of situations where people want to touch him by ducking out the way.

    It is very rude of people to touch and grab dogs, I'm so not a touchy feely person so I imagine my dog feels just like I do when strangers try and hug me!

    But, it is human nature to want to touch dogs, so you either keep him away from all unfamiliar people forever, or teach him people are nice. As he's already showing he's uncomfortable around some people you will need to put in a LOT of very controlled work with him, and only let him meet people in good situations and not let anyone push him.

    No-one my dog doesn't know is allowed to touch him without giving him sweeties first and crouching down avoiding eye contact, and then they are only allowed to touch his back or chest, not his head.

    You've got a big dog there, so i think it's probably best you get in professional help, because if it goes wrong it could go very wrong
     
  10. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

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    I agree with Doolally - you need a professional, someone from the APBC who knows what they are doing. Whoever you choose, meet them first and see how they interact with your dog. No Dog Listeners or franchise companies! Anybody is allowed to call themselves a behaviourist and sometimes they don't know one end of a dog from the other. Or their only experience is watching the Dog Whisperer, which type is the last thing your dog needs.

    There is a sticky on the dog training forum "what to look for in a trainer or behaviourist". It is a long thread, but worth reading.

    Your dog sounds like he is afraid of other dogs, definitely. Probably not socialised properly as a puppy, which often happens with very big dogs. People are afraid when they get too boisterous with a smaller dog, so they avoid contact which is just stupid. Sorting it out however, takes a lot of skill and timing is everything.

    Now I am going to state as a fact that dogs know when someone is different, and they do not like it. Your man with mental health problems, your drunken man - they will have alarmed him. Your friend did the right thing in ignoring him, but you don't want him getting fearful of people as well, so get the behaviourist to have a look at this too.

    I state this as fact because I have seen it with my own eyes. There is young man who comes to see me often who is autistic. The first few times he met my dogs they barked at him continuously and they are the most gentle dogs. Now they are used to him, but it took a while. My son is mentally handicapped and animals in general do not like him! My dogs are fine, we have had them since puppies, but any other dog or cat that he meets will not go near him. What we have to do is make him ignore them until eventually they come and investigate, realise he is no threat, then he can stroke them and they are fine. You can't explain all that to a drunk or someone with mental health problems, but you get my meaning.
     
  11. 912142

    912142 PetForums VIP

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    Joan

    Here is my opinion for what it's worth. I agree with the general thread of the responses so far.

    The one thing I took from your post is you are clearly worrying about his every move, which is understandable but because of this you are unable to see the woods from the trees. For example, I have great Danes and I have the same problem with vet scales - only because the scales are never big enough and the dogs feel insecure on them but I would not say it was a problem more a nuisance factor. The other trait of a Great Dane if you like is it is always better to let a Great Dane come to you rather than have someone holding their hand above their head – which could be the reason he is raising his hackles. I am sure also that when adults approach your dog they are smiling, happily showing their teeth which to you or I is nothing more than showing pleasure but to a dog means something else.

    Personally, I would continue taking him to the pub but let him rest somewhere where that he can call his own without feeling that every stranger is going to approach him. He will explore in his own time.

    I think what I am trying to say is that not all that you have posted is a problem but I think you do need to sift out the wheat from the chaff and it would I think help to involve a behavioural expert because a Great Dane mixed with Bloodhound is a powerful combination.

    Good luck and have faith in yourself and your dog - you are doing the right thing. :smile:
     
  12. s4simo

    s4simo PetForums Member

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    You could try asking your vet for Zylkene (although you can get it without prescription because it isn't a drug). It is made from milk protein and can be used for a short while or continuously. It is for dogs that are nervous or show signs of stress or nervousness - We gave it to Bracken during her cancer treatment and saw dramatic changes. Hope things improve soon.
    Oh and the jacket is great :D
     
    AmberNero likes this.
  13. My rottie x pup is named Chaos. I'm happy to say he is usually very well behaved. A name doesn't alter a dog, Training does. :p

    Back to the Original post. Sorry i don't have much advice to give but I do think you need to call in a professional. Having a large fearful dog can be very dangerous especially as he gets into adulthood. It's best to sort the problem out ASAP before the behaviour becomes more unpredictable.
     
  14. newfiesmum

    newfiesmum Banned

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    I have the exact same problem with mine. Those scales are not designed for giant breeds! Joshua did get on until he was full grown, but now he doesn't think there is room, and Ferdie has always flatly refused. I think I will have to take them down the equine clinic to get them weighed properly - right now we only have an estimate:tongue_smilie:
     
  15. 912142

    912142 PetForums VIP

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    lol - Dexter gets one half on and the other falls off! Just as well the nurses are putty in his paws and they have patience. ;)
     
  16. Joan

    Joan PetForums Junior

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    Thank you so much every one. I suppose I was hoping someone would just be able to say "Do this, it's magic and will sort it out!!" Of course you're all right. I need to ask the advice of a professional as it might be his fright stage, or it might be more complex fear, but he's a big lad.

    I didn't know that about Great Danes not liking people approaching them, thank you for that.

    That jacket is BRILLIANT!!

    As it's our pub I'm sure peope will be fine with me asking them not to approach him and I can certainly get him an area that is 'his' where he an feel safe and explore from.

    I feel quite excited about starting to work on this.

    Thank you all,

    Jo
     
  17. Pointermum

    Pointermum PetForums VIP

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    I would love to see a photo of him PLEASE :D
     
  18. s4simo

    s4simo PetForums Member

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    I would to please :biggrin:
     
  19. 912142

    912142 PetForums VIP

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    Joan - you may have picked me up incorrectly - I didn't say that Great Danes don't like being approached - what I said was it is better to let them come to you really because they are more reserved. They love human company but just like to suss things out first. :smile:
     
  20. 912142

    912142 PetForums VIP

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    I love your quote and it's really very true. :smile:
     
    #20 912142, Apr 13, 2011
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2011
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