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Old 05-25-2014, 02:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
Oki
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Join Date: May 2013
Location: Florida
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Default Fearful dog eager to please, but boyfriend pushes him over threshhold...

Okay... I have posted here and there about my heeler/shepherd mix's fear aggression.

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Brief History (I have had him for about 2 years now, rescued at 3yo):

He resource guards "high value" treats - like himalayan chews - from my boyfriend, but not me. Thankfully, I think the resource guarding can be dealt with separately. When offered another treat - even something not as good as what he has - he drops it immediately with no problem. I always praise him for relinquishing the high value item without a fuss. I hope to eliminate the resource guarding completely.

He is protective of me - growls if people approach me on the couch or the bed. I have my boyfriend or whomever bring treats when they approach the couch/bed, and he will pace anxiously until he realizes "TREAT!" Once the person sits down, he gets the treat, he open mouth "smiles" and visibly relaxes. Seems like this is workable.

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My problem is trying to keep him below "growling threshhold." He paces/guards more especially when I am eating (ex: paces under the table, lays under the table). I hardly feed him my table scraps AT ALL - other family members are worse offenders with this. But he never gives my dad's wife any grief, never gives me grief, and only occassionally growls at my dad or brother if he is in a situation that he is uncomfortable in. It is a fear warning - if they back off, he stops. He only shows this level of fear aggression with my boyfriend. I am a bystander to it often, but they say he doesn't do it when I am not around.

Okay... so my boyfriend bothers me A LOT with how he handles Oki... and he is the threshhold breaker.

His basic command delivery is so frustrating. I don't blame Oki for becoming anxious. It goes something like this - *obscure hand signal* "OKI! OKI! OKI! OKI! SIT! SIT! SIT! SIT! SIT!" THEN he gets mad when the dog doesn't do what he wants. I told my boyfriend - give a CLEAR HAND SIGNAL. ONE TIME. ONE VERBAL CUE. But he JUST KEEPS DOING IT.

Even worse, when Oki begins to pace/guard me while I am eating, my boyfriend raises his voice and blurts commands, so it becomes, "OKI! OKI! OKI! OKI! OUT! OUT! OUT! NO! NO! NO!" So then Oki's anxiety sets in... he doesn't understand the command, this guy is raising his voice at him, walking towards him, trying to force him out of the room. A FEARFUL DOG. It is at this point that my dog devolves into a barking snarling nightmare pacing quickly around the room trying avoid him but be near me at the same time.

I know I need to be a part of the solution too. I can't just LET him think it's okay to growl at people because I am somewhere. I try to keep him out of my direct path so he cannot guard me from others. I try to keep him good and tired or occupied. I try to keep him in another room when I am eating. I know Oki expects me as the pack leader to "save him" from my boyfriend approaching him that way which Oki interprets as a threat.

But my boyfriend does not help the situation. When I intervene or say anything, then I am "siding with the dog" and "blaming him for everything."

But seriously, the way he is towards him, he is cruising for a bite. And I really don't want that...

/end rant.

*sigh* Any training suggestions to help my boyfriend foster a positive relationship with Oki? Methods to break this to my boyfriend? Ways to bolster my dog's confidence? (I definitely want to buy a starter agility set for the backyard)

I would love to hear anything at this point... I feel like I am taking crazy pills...
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