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devastation. please please, someone help me with this. AMAZING happy update!!!! #104

post #1 of 114
Thread Starter 
I am absolutely devastated right now.
I had a trainer come today to help evaluate Thorn.
He brought his dog.
He put a "remote collar" (I guess that means shock collar with varying levels) on Thorn.
He worked with him for awhile.

Then he brought out his dog.

Hell breaks loose.

Thorn's dog aggression has gotten unbelievable.

Trainer was very shocked at Thorn's level of aggression as well as the level of stimulation required to get T's attention.

I don't know what to do.

I have two little ones. Thorn goes out of his head around other dogs. What if he bites one of the kids when we're surprised by a dog coming around the corner or something? I can't keep him locked up at home. I may have to talk to his breeder about returning him???? NO - UNTHINKABLE - or is it something I need to consider???????

I am so upset. This is one of the worst things that has happened in my life. I truly don't know what to do. Sometimes I think this will be okay. Then I think, I'm kidding myself. I need to take this more seriously. Then I look at the perfectly behaved dog in my house and can't imagine the way he behaves outside the home. The reality is that I don't think I can afford the $1000+++ it takes to train him with no guarantee since his aggression is so bad.

Please please someone just tell me what I need to do. I am beyond having the ability to make the right decision.

I had dreams of doing agility with him. I love him so much. I don't know what to do...
post #2 of 114
It sounds like you're very scared....I'm so sorry that you're having such a tough time with him. Being a cat person, having been raised with dogs though, I just wanted to offer you some hugs.

Definitely I think you should talk to the breeder. It doesn't mean you have to return him, but I think she would be another excellent resource for information/advice. This has to be nothing like you expected to deal with, I remember all those posts about how excited you were about him early on...and I can imagine it's been heartbreaking and frustrating to deal with some of the things that you have had to recently.

post #3 of 114
Thread Starter 
I feel like I've done everything one is supposed to do. Established myself as alpha, trained him, we've not socialized him formally but he has always gone everywhere with us, around other dogs and people. He's gets lots of exercise. I adore him.

I have always been so judgmental of people who would consider rehoming their pet, and here I am, aren't I? I just pray some solution can be found. At this point I'm scared that I'll be advised to put him down. You can't imagine how aggressive he was. I feel traumatized.
post #4 of 114
Do you live in an area where you run into dogs a lot on your walks - or not?

If you do live in a high doggy area - can you put doggy in a car and drive to a less doggy area (we often go to a deserted ball diamond - I tie the dog on a really long lead and we play. It is so cool and would be so much more relaxing that walking tensely in fear on seeing other dogs)

I would not bring your children on walks with the dog. You are tense - that transits to the dog, and it may not be safe. Tie him up outside for a few minutes to do his business - or wait until another adult is around to watch the kids.

I must admit I am a little suprised (although I am NO trainer) the trainer brought his dog over so early in the game. I would be more inclined to slowly desensitize the dog to other dogs. (one idea - your dog is on a leash - another dog walks by from 50 feet away. The world does not end. Repeat. Do this a bazillion times and then move a little closer)

Definately call the breeder - he/she may have ideas!

Kathy
post #5 of 114
Thread Starter 
Quote:
I must admit I am a little suprised (although I am NO trainer) the trainer brought his dog over so early in the game. I would be more inclined to slowly desensitize the dog to other dogs. (one idea - your dog is on a leash - another dog walks by from 50 feet away. The world does not end. Repeat. Do this a bazillion times and then move a little closer)
Yes, he would slowly desensitize in training... but this was an evaluation. Even during the evaluation, though, he spent an hour bringing the other dog closer. Thorn was on-leash, other dog totally voice-controlled.

I've climbed a little bit down out of my tree. I'm calming down a bit. I'm committed to making this work. It's going to take time and money (lots of both, I'm afraid) but I love Thorn too much to throw in the towel already...
post #6 of 114
I don't have any further solutions, but wanted to say I'm so sorry you're going through this. We had to return our Gordon Setter to his breeder after a year and a half--he went back this past August. I won't go into detail, but it was related to dominance/aggression issues, and someone did get hurt. I drove 16 hours each way to return him, and in our case it was clearly the right thing to do. I was worried about the kids getting hurt (someone else was bitten, not any of our kids), and it's really such a relief to not have that worry anymore. I'm not saying that this is what you should do, just that there can be positive outcomes to a painful decision. We have since adopted a wonderful adult cat, and he's a much better fit for us than a dog.

I hope you can work things out one way or the other, and wish you the best whatever happens!
post #7 of 114
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by 3boobykins View Post
I don't have any further solutions, but wanted to say I'm so sorry you're going through this. We had to return our Gordon Setter to his breeder after a year and a half--he went back this past August. I won't go into detail, but it was related to dominance/aggression issues, and someone did get hurt. I drove 16 hours each way to return him, and in our case it was clearly the right thing to do. I was worried about the kids getting hurt (someone else was bitten, not any of our kids), and it's really such a relief to not have that worry anymore. I'm not saying that this is what you should do, just that there can be positive outcomes to a painful decision. We have since adopted a wonderful adult cat, and he's a much better fit for us than a dog.

I hope you can work things out one way or the other, and wish you the best whatever happens!
Oh, I'm so sorry this happened to you. I really am. I remember when you were getting Aengus, and all the plans you had. I'm in the same situation. Like yourself, I wouldn't say I'm your average dog owner, in that I did tons of research into breeds and really dug deep to find the right, ethical breeder. And then I saved the exorbitant amt of money he cost, and went to extensive lengths to help mold him into a wonderful dog. I wonder if sometimes we need to accept that sometimes all that is not enough. I mean, I had a backyard-bred, horrible inbred example of a boxer, and she was an awesome dog. I hope there is another option for us besides re-homing or returning. I hope he can recover. He did try to bit a kid in our 'hood. Fortunately he was on-leash and it didn't happen. What has your breeder done with Aengus, do you know?

You can't imagine how gentle Thorn is with our little ones. DS (3) stepped - hard - on his neck the other day. Thorn looked up, grunted, and DS moved. He didn't even try to bite him. They roll around on the floor with him all the time. No aggression. It's unthinkable that he can get so aggressive. I'm in shock. He was the "runt" and there is a small part of me wondering if he has a screw loose somewhere. He also had a congenital abnormality resulting in retained testicle. I wonder if something is really wrong with him to make him so unpredictable. Well, he *was* unpredictable. Now I expect this behavior.
post #8 of 114
Have you asked about doggie meds to reduce his aggressive behavior?

And I assume he is neutered? More than a few months ago?
post #9 of 114
Have you done a full thyroid test on him? Just popped into my head since I know it often manifests as agression.

I have to say I'm also surprised at the trainer's approach. He was using the shock collar on him during the evaluation? Was this the first time Thorn had the shock collar? Honestly, it doesn't sound like the best setup anyway having Thorn on leash and the other dog loose, many reactive dogs would go ballistic in this scenario...

I'm so sorry you have to deal with this. I'm glad to hear that he is so gentle with the kids though, I'm sure that means a lot to you. Such a hard decision, but no one can make it but you.
post #10 of 114
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your suggestions. His thyroid is normal.

I know that the shock collar scenario seems scary. I actually didn't know this was his approach. I have consulted with numerous trainers and I have to admit I never considered that an option but I really was impressed with him. He created a pretty calm introduction scenario. He had Thorn under good control, too, which I was surprised by. I had him "stimulate" me and was not concerned about the level - it was more of a "take notice" level than a downright shock. He was able to get Thorn to sit after about 20 minutes so I'm hopeful that we can get to some level of consistency with him.

I am a biologist with significant animal behavior and neuroethology experience, and know that negative reinforcement - where you take something unpleasant away in response to desired behavior - is NOT as effective as positive reinforcement. BUT, in some cases, animals do respond better to this type of training. I'm thinking Thorn might be one of those types, because today was the first time I've seen any sign at ALL that he might, perhaps, crossing fingers and toes, be able to get over this. But seeing it, having another professional confirm it - that was Terrifying. I've been a wreck all day. I'm on my 3rd glass of wine now and I'm feeling a little better.
post #11 of 114
I have to say I am also surpirsed at how the evaluation went down. Dont most just watch how the dog reacts to different stimuli?. say take you to the park have a dog walk by at a safe distance and watch the doggy language?

regadless I wouldnt re-home a severly agressive dog. I would see if you can get another evaluation with a different trainer/behavorist, ask them on the phone, what they are going to do before they get there. after they tell you, explain what happened at this one, I wouldnt mention the other trainer, just to get there opinion on it.
Does your dog have agressions towards your cat?

I would get a second oppion, then if its the same outcome in a different situation, call the breeder and ask what they recomend.
What exactly is it he does when he sees another dog? are there certain dogs he can see or hear and not have this reaction?
post #12 of 114
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by I~love~pie View Post
I have to say I am also surpirsed at how the evaluation went down. Dont most just watch how the dog reacts to different stimuli?. say take you to the park have a dog walk by at a safe distance and watch the doggy language?

regadless I wouldnt re-home a severly agressive dog. I would see if you can get another evaluation with a different trainer/behavorist, ask them on the phone, what they are going to do before they get there. after they tell you, explain what happened at this one, I wouldnt mention the other trainer, just to get there opinion on it.
Does your dog have agressions towards your cat?

I would get a second oppion, then if its the same outcome in a different situation, call the breeder and ask what they recomend.
What exactly is it he does when he sees another dog? are there certain dogs he can see or hear and not have this reaction?
Thorn wouldn't be "re-homed' per se; more of a retirement to breeder.

No, he's not aggressive toward the cats. He would like to play with them but he hasn't tried to "eat" them, and if he chases them at all, I can call him off immediately.

This is the 2nd opinion

When he sees other dogs he goes completely apesh*t. I mean for real. Snapping, jerking around, trying to get off-collar/leash, seriously lunging and trying to get at him. He is dominant; bristling fur and stiff wagging tail, ears forward.

The trainer did start with the observation situation you describe. He later did a brief training session to demonstrate the techniques he used, at my request.


Hope I answered everything in a way that helps those of you who know dog behavior well to understand what is going on and help me come to a solution.
post #13 of 114
Thread Starter 
Oh, and he behaves this way around all dogs IF HE IS RESTRAINED. He has been permitted to interact with my older dog, Toby, who my MIL fell in love with and adopted - so he doesn't live with us.

When he sees Toby he runs up to him with the stiff-wag bristle going on, but he doesn't attack. He seems to want to play. Toby is about 15 years old and arthritic. He don't take no sh*t, if you know what I mean. So he snarls at Thorn, and Thorn becomes submissive instantaneously.

I think Thorn just feels his dominance is threatened when he's restrained which is when he goes nuts.

Forgive me for the cursing, I'm pretty much in the bag at the moment
post #14 of 114
My dog is aggressive with most other dogs, with the exception of 2-3 that he gets along with (not sure why he likes those few though). I just have to be more planful when exercising him but it's doable.
post #15 of 114
Just skimming this thread....

Did Thorn have any kind of socialization with other dogs as a puppy? Were there any traumatizing events with other dogs as a puppy?

Thorn is an ACD correct? I don't know much about ACD's, the few I have been around seem to either just barely tolerate other dogs or were off the charts dog aggro. I don't know if this is normal ACD behavior or not. There is nothing "wrong" with him. Dog aggression is pretty low on my dog behaviors to be concerned about list. Thorn doesn't have to be around other dogs, there is no law saying all dogs should love one another and always be in anthers company. You cannot train dog aggression out of a dog but it can certainly be trained to a manageable level. Having a dog aggro dog is all about management, if you need to walk him, walk him early in the morning or late at night. A relative brings over their dog keep them separate etc... It can suck and be an inconvenience at times but it not the end of the world.

I know people that have put a lot of titles on dog aggro dogs it is just a matter of hard work and management. In fact my one dog was almost ripped to shreds by 2 border collies with MACH titles : Don't give up!

I know different types of dogs respond to different training methods, I have no experience with herding breeds but I have had APBT's (dealt with differing levels of dog aggression). I would look for a trainer with bully and molosser breeds experience in your area as they have more than likely dealt with dog aggression and it wont wont be such a stigma.
post #16 of 114
Quote:
Originally Posted by daekini View Post
Oh, and he behaves this way around all dogs IF HE IS RESTRAINED. He has been permitted to interact with my older dog, Toby, who my MIL fell in love with and adopted - so he doesn't live with us.

When he sees Toby he runs up to him with the stiff-wag bristle going on, but he doesn't attack. He seems to want to play. Toby is about 15 years old and arthritic. He don't take no sh*t, if you know what I mean. So he snarls at Thorn, and Thorn becomes submissive instantaneously.

I think Thorn just feels his dominance is threatened when he's restrained which is when he goes nuts.

Forgive me for the cursing, I'm pretty much in the bag at the moment

Drink away

What type of collar are you using?

My dog goes nuts if strangers or dogs are nearby - he is not agressive so much as he wants to greet them and jump on them. It is annoying and the more I pull back the more lunge-y he is.

We switched, at a trainers suggestion, to a prong collar and I LOVE it. He does not lunge as he know it will hurt a bit. He is a joy to walk - and we are walking further than ever before. We even passed a tied up dog the other day on our walk and the other dog was barking and lunging - but my dog just kept on trotting. So cool.


kathy
post #17 of 114
Thread Starter 
ok, will get prong collar. he was on the gentle leader before all this started getting out of control. it worked amazingly well; actually, it still does. but i don't trust it to stay on him and i'm not comfortable with his head sort of jerking around. i'll try the prong.

girl in the fire, thanks for your thoughts re: dog aggression. you bring up a good point. he is wary of human strangers, but much more manageable with this. albeit i have to manage the stranger, too, and tell them not to reach down to pet him or he may try to bite. with humans it seems to be more about fear (where he gets this i have no idea) than about aggression.

however, we like to go camping etc., and we want him to come with us. i don't see that as being manageable when other people like bringing their dogs too.
post #18 of 114
I'm so, so sorry that you are going through this.

My mom and her boyfriend had several ACDs, most were great dogs (suspicious of strangers but still manageable), but one (their favorite!) was aggressive towards strange dogs and unpredictable to the point of being unmanageable around strange people. He was a beautiful, brilliant dog other than that. They had him evaluated by several trainers and eventually had him put down. He couldn't be trusted and they were afraid he would seriously hurt somebody. It was very sad!! I am so glad you would have the option of rehoming Thorn with his breeder if it gets to that. It was a really difficult decision for my mom and her boyfriend.

Edited to add:
I didn't mean to sound like I was saying Thorn is the type of dog that would need to be put down! I'm glad he isn't aggressive with strange people like my mom's dog was. I'm just mentioning this story in case you might have a tiny thought that it might be your fault somehow... I think some ACDs just have a little wildness in them that can't be trained away.
post #19 of 114
Thread Starter 
thank you tamagotchi; i know what you mean...
post #20 of 114
Another thought would be a muzzle - and least for the short term. Frankly, there is a dog around town who is walked muzzled and most people cross the street to avoid it. It might make your life easier.

I know what you mean about camping....I had dreams (pre-dog) of being able to bring my dog places and it all being good. However, that is not how it is - he would get way too wound up at events, so I have to let that dream go.

I guess we get to deal with the dogs we get.

Kathy

Edited to add: When my dog jumped on a woman and hurt her (the incident that caused the call to the trainer) I was devasted. I cried for at least 1/2 day and was weepy for a week. It was really stressing! Big hugs to you - you are not alone - a lot of us know how hard this can be.
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