Join Date: Oct 2013
Aggression during heartworm treatment
The whole LONG story--my apologies.
First of all, I have been lurking around for several months now, but this is my first post. I am confident that all the answers I need have already been discussed, but honestly, I don't have time to find them all.
The story starts quite a few years ago, when we adopted our then 7 year old Sargent. After an initial "break-in" period of about 6 weeks, he was a great dog. After he turned 15, we knew he was living on borrowed time, and we started trying to decide if we wanted to get a 2nd GSD. When we finally decided to get a 2nd, I had also found out that I was pregnant with baby #3.
In May, we found Riley, an 11 month old GSD. He was so pretty, and the description that I read of him on Craigslist and the description the owner gave me over the phone made him sound like the dog we were looking for. According to the owner, he was going to need a little training, but he did know his basic commands. When we met him, he was a little excited--as to be expected--but he did reasonably well with his commands. We decided to bring him home, and I QUICKLY realized that he was not a trained dog. But, I was willing to put in the time training him, confident that I could have him doing pretty good by the time the baby got here. He is very excitable, very easily distracted, and terribly disinterested in training. But, working hard with him, he was starting to pick up on the training. We live in a neighborhood. My back property line is a lake, and a have a fence across my front property line, but there are no fences down the sides of the property (stream on one side and neighbors house on the other.) He was also learning the limits of where he could go on our property (about 2/3 of an acre), he was great around other dogs and all adults. He was okay around kids, just got a little too excited around them, and we hardly ever heard him bark. Then at the end of June, I had him neutered and had the vet do a full work up. He came back heartworm positive. Middle of August, we started the heartworm treatment. He did good with the confinement for about 5 weeks, but then about 3 weeks ago (his treatment will be done on Friday) a friend of the family came over and he went crazy in his crate. It was one of those days where he really did not have the interaction that he needed due to errands I had to run, so I assumed it was that, but then a few days later, our 6 year old neighbor came over to play, and he did the same thing. Since that day, he has gone absolutely ballistic any time anyone is in our house. He is really starting to scare us with this bark. I am almost convinced that if he could get out of his crate, he would tear up anyone in our house other than the 4 of us. (For what it is worth, we also lost Sargent about 4 weeks into Riley's treatment, if that has anything to do with it.)
My hope was (and is) that once he could come out of confinement and start getting an appropriate amount of exercise that these behaviors would eliminate themselves. Then this afternoon, he accidentally slipped out of my hands and made it out the door. He saw my neighbors Lab--a dog he was formally indifferent about, and took off toward her in total fight mode. Fortunately my neighbor was able to redirect him, and when I called come, he came, but if we had not been there, things could have gotten ugly. As of yet, he has not bitten anyone or any dog, but the way he is acting, I am afraid it is only a matter of time. And, as I mentioned above, I don't have an area where he can be off-leash getting exercise and still be contained where he cannot get to passing dogs or people. (And unfortunately, he is still Horrible on a leash--learning, but Horrible, so I cannot walk him enough to get his energy out.)
Now we are in a situation where we will have a new infant in about a month and although he is great around my two boys (age 3 and 5), he is very reactionary around the neighbor kids. I have a fear of him being outside with my boys and one of the neighbor kids coming in the yard and getting hurt, or another dog getting hurt. I cannot take those chances. I know it is just a matter of the right training, but am I in a situation to offer such training? I am 35 weeks pregnant and not getting around at the top of my abilities. I live in an area where there aren't really any GSD trainers, and so to take him to a trainer, would require about a 100 mile trip both ways. Given everything else going on, that is not exactly feasible right now.
So, with everything I have mentioned, does anyone have any suggestions for my situation. I would like to keep him; I think he has the potential to be a great dog, but I also have to put the safety of my family and friends and neighbors first. I am willing to put as much time as possible over the next month, but I know that is not long enough to get him properly trained. I am willing to continue training after the baby gets here, but obviously there wont be as much time as is really needed. Is there anything I can do, or is my best bet to find him a better home with someone who can handle his unique needs--extremely distractable and excitable. Does anyone have any experience with one of those "doggy boot camp" type companies where they go off to an off-site training facility for a few weeks and get full-time obedience training for those few weeks? Would that be a possible solution.
My apologies for the long post, but any help would be greatly appreciated.