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Whippets behaviour reducing me to tears please help

Discussion in 'Dog Chat' started by Blackwhippet, May 13, 2019.


  1. Blackwhippet

    Blackwhippet PetForums Newbie

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    I've posted on here before about my whippet who is obsessed/uncontrollable around other dogs.

    It now seems his behaviour is getting worse. A few times now, seemingly unprovoked he has snapped at other dogs. I dont mean just a growl but really gone for them. The only thing i can think they had in common is they are all male.

    Just now i was walking him on a lead, we passed a terrier on lead who was pulling towards him and my dog ended up on his hind legs growling really nastily. Next we passed my neighbour who has a friendly young lab, he's snapped at this dog before when he came up to sniff him, this time however the dog was metres away and again my dog was on his hind legs making the most awful snarling sound.

    I spent the rest of the walk crying silently behind my sunglasses as pathetic as that might sound. I owned a dog aggresive rescue dog for 8 years before him and it was awful and i honestly can't cope with it again.

    This aggression seems to have come out of nowhere. He has always been very over confident and bolshy with other dogs but now it seems to be morphing into something else.

    The only thing i can think it that hes not neutered and i wonder if this has to do with it as he seems to be totally fine with female dogs.

    If anyone has any advice i would be so grateful.
     
  2. Boxer123

    Boxer123 PetForums VIP

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    How old is he and has he been neutered? I would consult a behaviourist who uses positive reinforcement in the meantime can you find quieter walks ? I do this with my boy less stressful. Have you looked at muzzle training?

    I do sympathise I have cried on walks before it's not fun. Ask people not to let their dogs sniff yours and to give space. Carry treats and work on the watch me command.
     
  3. Blackwhippet

    Blackwhippet PetForums Newbie

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    He's 3 and not been neutered as I was worried about making him nervous. I had contacted a behaviourist but its just more than I can afford.

    I'm sorry you have also cried on walks, it really takes a lot to make me try as well but I just feel like history is repeating itself. I tried so hard to do things right this time, bought a dog from a puppy so I knew his history, training classes, loads of socilisation, picking what I thought was a 'peaceful' breed. Its so frustrating.
     
  4. Blackwhippet

    Blackwhippet PetForums Newbie

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    I will look at the 'watch me' command thanks :)
     
  5. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    Aggressive behaviour like this is often based in anxiety. His stress response is fight or flight, since he can't flee he puts on a big fight behaviour to make the dog go away.

    The usual suggestion is to give him lots of distance from other dogs. Your aim is to find a distance where he is aware but not reacting. Reward this heavily, and over time (monthe, not days) work on reducing the distance. Be firm with other owners that they keep their distance, be prepared on a walk to turn around and head in the opposite direction.

    If your dog has had a stressful episode, the stress hormone stays in the body for up to 48 hours so have a quiet couple of days with no triggers. If something does happen, he will have the hormone in his body and he will be quicker to react to a second trigger.
     
  6. Blackwhippet

    Blackwhippet PetForums Newbie

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    Thankyou. I wish in a way I could let him off leash as perhaps this would make him feel less anxious but he is awful off leash and will chase other dogs down and crash in to them, he is just so rough.

    What I dont get was with the lab he wasnt even anywhere near him, but still seemed to see him as a threat. I think perhaps I need to try and get a headcollar or similar on him as he is big for a whippet and strong and Im small so he yanks me all over the place.
     
  7. kittih

    kittih PetForums VIP

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    In your position I would work on avoiding dogs as much as possible. Dogs don't need to interact with each other and it sounds like your dog is getting very anxious about interactions and using offence as a form of defence.

    I suggest if you can, walk in places where you will meet minimal dogs. If you cannot avoid dogs nearby then turn around or change direction to avoid them.

    Though a different underlying cause to yours, a dog I used to look after used to turn into a yelping barking whirling monster when he saw other dogs. In his case it was over excitement not fear. However what helped was to keep the arousal threshold as low as possible, avoid other dogs. When we couldnt, I would just turn around or cross the road or sometimes just dive behind a hedge as not being confronted with them kept him calm.

    I also worked on slowly acclimatising him to dogs at a distance. There will be a distance threshold at which your dog can happily look at another (male) dog without reacting. Work on sitting with your dog at his safe distance watching other dogs and rewarding him for calm responses. Bear in mind that this distance may vary day to day depending on what other stressors he has experienced that day. If he is comfortable with that distance then you can reduce it a little keeping a watch on his behaviour to check he is still OK. If he goes over threshold or stops accepting treats then you are too close so move away. Things that may increase his distance threshold are what the other dog is doing eg being calm, running, barking etc. and how he is feeling on the day generally.

    Cortisol the stress hormone can take up to 72 hours to dissipate after a stressful or exciting event so can build up. If he is still stressed from previous experiences his tolerance threshold might me much lower.

    Have a look at the stress bathtub which is a good analogy of what I mean.

    http://reactivechampion.blogspot.com/2013/06/the-stress-bathtub.html?m=1

    For a good off lead run you could look at dog walking fields for a safe enclosed run on his own.

    https://www.dogwalkingfields.co.uk/
     
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  8. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    At the sight of another dog put as much distance between you as necessary to enable him to relax (or just not overreact) and praise that.

    I became very good at spotting another dog a mile off and turn tail and make my retreat with Jack. Even diving behind a bush or tree on occasion to avoid known pushy/rude dogs.

    The only way your dog can learn to cope is by finding that magic distance that allows him to stay calm and reinforce that behaviour.

    Be very firm with other owners too.
     
  9. Blackwhippet

    Blackwhippet PetForums Newbie

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    Thanks for your replies. Luckily I do have a dog walking feild near me so we do get some stress free walks.

    I do need to be more dilligant about avoiding other dogs, I got very good at it with my last dog I just can't believe I'm in this position again.

    Does anyone reading this think neutering would help? He's always been bolshy and confident with other dogs unless I'm interpreting it wrong.
     
  10. JoanneF

    JoanneF PetForums VIP

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    I would suggest not neutering - if it is rooted in anxiety, you will be taking away his brave testosterone, so it could make him worse.

    Is it possible though that you are affecting him? If he feels your tension down the lead, that might be contributing too. I know it's really hard but do try not to tense up if you see another dog.
     
  11. Blackwhippet

    Blackwhippet PetForums Newbie

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    That makes sense. I had not been seeing his behaviour as fear based at all so posting here has helped me see it from a different angle. I thought it was more to do with challenging other males. Perhaps he is protective of me? He is very devoted to me.

    Yes it is possible that I am tense, my last dog was attacked a few times and became very aggressive so it has tainted dog walking for me unfortunately.
     
  12. Sarah1983

    Sarah1983 PetForums VIP

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    What do you mean by bolshy and confident with other dogs? What does he do that gives you that impression?

    With the neighbours Lab, he's already had one bad experience (to him at least) so doesn't surprise me that he'd react with the dog nowhere near him. With my last dog he was FAR more reactive at a greater distance with dogs he'd had run ins with in the past. Even my current dog who's stereotypical over friendly lab reacted at a distance to the dog who'd attacked him, in fact he didn't even have to see this dog, only hear him. He'd also hackle up and growl if he sniffed somewhere this dog had marked.
     
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  13. Blackwhippet

    Blackwhippet PetForums Newbie

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    I'll try and explain what I mean by bolshy. When I chuck a ball for him and my Mum's dog (smaller terrier) he will barge into the terrier and bark at him as they are running, sometimes nipping at his feet or neck (I've stopped throwing a ball for them together now as my dog was getting worse at this)

    Another example, I let him off to play with another Whippet, the owner encouraged me to, she also had a spaniel with her. He ran with the Whippet for a bit and then out of nowhere ran at the spaniel and somehow managed to flip it over on to it back. He's been on his lead since then. That's the second time he has flipped a dog over (the other time he yanked the lead out of my hand.) Obviously it goes without saying this is not good behaviour.

    Also my friend brought his dog over (jack russel) and my dog wouldn't leave it alone, he wasnt exactly being aggressive but he kept barging in to him with his shoulder, standing over him while freezing, invading his space and it certainly didn't seem friendly so we separted them in the end.

    Yes I see what you mean about the neighbours lab but i just can't see what the did to provoke him apart from sniffing him the first time.
     
  14. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

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    With dogs there is no such thing as 'over-confident'. A confident dog doesn't feel the need to react to other dogs, so your bolshy youngster was likely lacking in confidence and now this anxiety has turned to fear, which is where the aggression is stemming from.
    I'd personally be muzzle training him. It's something I think all dogs should learn anyway, but in this situation it would make you feel better as he wouldn't be able to bite a dog, but also it's a clear sign for other people to keep their dogs away. And if you feel more relaxed he will too.
    Also take lots of really yummy treats out with you and feed him for his calm behaviours, whether there is another dog around or not. Any distraction = yummy treat! Whether this is a car, buggy, bird, piece of paper flapping in the wind, etc. Teach him that any distraction is a precursor to a yummy treat. Then you can start taking him where there are dogs in the far distance and reward him for being calm when he sees a dog too (but don't forget to still reward for all other distractions). Also practice an 'about turn' so you can quickly turn around without it being associated with another dog. Lots of practice at home and on walks where there are no dogs, so it will be a lot easier when you have to do it for real. I bet he likes to run as well so sometimes run when you have turned around (as long as it won't make him too excited as we are looking for calmness as much as possible).
     
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  15. Blackwhippet

    Blackwhippet PetForums Newbie

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    Thank you Sarah H for your advice. I think the 'about turn' would work well as he likes sudden movments like that, he is not at all food motivated but adores squeaky toys so I think he would respond well to that.

    I think capturing his attention before he sees a dog is the key as once he has spotted one he is totally deaf to me and we normally end up with a tug of war situation going on with the lead.

    After talking to the young labs owner I found out that her dog is not neutered so I wonder if this has to do with why he went for him. I guess he feels more anxious about an intact male dog even though he hasnt been neutered himself. Its always males he is funny with, he's friendly with females and for some reason adores small fluffy dogs like shih tzus whether they are male or female.

    One more thing I've noticed, he's got quite 'humpy recently and spends a lot of time on walks licking the ground enthusiastically(female wee I'm guessing) so I wonder if sexual frustation is playing a part in his behaviour?
     
  16. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

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    He's an entire adult male, it will definitely be on his mind!! It's possible that there's a bitch in heat around which could be causing the particularly OTT behaviour as he will see other entire males as rivals. If you aren't keen to neuter (understandable with an anxious dog), you could always try chemical castration. This is an injection or implant (depending on the type) that has the effect of castration but without actually going through with the surgery, and it only lasts a few months. This way you could find out whether castration would help and if it is an issue to do with him being entire.
    Dogs are food motivated - they have to eat to stay alive - therefore you will always be able to use food as a reward. Find something really yummy - cooked chicken, garlic sausage etc, and don't give him his breakfast but instead use the yummy food to do some training. You'll soon find he works for it! It's called contrafeeloading - a dog will value food more if he has to work for it, rather than it being 'free'.
     
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  17. Katalyst

    Katalyst A Lanky Lurcher and a Delinquent Dobermann

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    Out of interest, what is he like in the house? Is he go go go or can he chill out?
    What about out and about when there are no dogs around?

    It sounds to little old me like he has no idea how to be calm, is getting himself way over the top and that he is then so wound up that his excitement is manifesting as frustrated reactivity because he doesn't know what else to do with himself at that point.

    Aside from working on getting him ok with dogs from a distance before gradually reducing that distance, I'd be working on teaching him to be calm and to really listen to you.
    It's really easy to end up constantly amping a dog up when doing any sort of training and I don't think enough stock is always put on teaching a dog to just... chill. A dog that has learned how to manage itself and maintain a calm mindset is much less likely to get over threshold in the first place.
    I'd have a look at some YouTube videos on capturing calmness and teaching a really solid settle as well as making sure he walks on a nice loose lead and has a solid foundation of general basic obedience skills. A dog that is pulling and hauling on lead is already in an amped up state and much more likely to kick off IMO.

    I doubt any of this is overly helpful but I feel it's worth considering that it's probably not so effective trying to teach the dog to deal with strange dogs approaching if you can't get him to be calm in general.

    I'll stop waffling now
     
  18. Sarah H

    Sarah H Grand Empress of the Universe

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    Actually this is extremely relevant to most 'reactive' dogs. They are usually not calm inside either (or it's fake calm), or are very vigilant and react to outside noises or activity and so are always at some level of arousal/stress, and therefore when they go out it doesn't take much to tip them over the edge.
     
  19. billsfoxes

    billsfoxes PetForums Junior

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    I have a rescue Saluki x he took tom other lurcher straight away all good so i thought first few times out he was ok still all good then all of a sudden a collie of the lead run up and nipped him to which i shouted at it and it returned to its owner who came over and gave me a bo***cking for upsetting her dog anyway long story short he now growls and tries to bite other dogs or my legs so he now has to wear a muzzle when out indoors or in the garden however he's as gentle and kind as can be he adores us my other dog and all the kids of various people who come to see us
     
  20. Torin.

    Torin. PetForums VIP

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    Just to clarify, but there's not actually been any studies done to confirm just how long stress hormones stay in a dog's bloodstream for (I asked a couple of APDT behaviourists about this in the autumn). The knowledge we have so far is applied across from other species - good as a guideline, but can't be taken as hard fact. So it may be as little as 48hrs, but it could also be an awful lot longer!

    I agree about being aware of trigger stacking though. Keeping a diary can be useful :)
     
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