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Old 01-25-2014, 04:07 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Was this Aggression, and/or is it fixable? (moved from Gen Info)

I feel like we are spiraling downward at an uncontrollable speed. Between the recent many health issues Titan has displayed to the random "I'm not listening to you" episodes to the back tracking on simple OB and now to nipping someone.

Some background:
Any time we are off lead and someone approaches or we are going to meet the group, he generally greets everyone the same... with excitedness and barking.. always barking. It's about the only time he barks obsessively outside the home.. when he meets people. Until recently he has always just been excited.. once he meets said person.. he gets all hyped up and tries to play and we play and all is well. A few weeks ago, we were ending a search and one of the other handlers, whom I had never met before was approaching us and Titan stopped to look at me and her.. his way of "Can I go meet her?" which he always does before meeting someone. So as normal I said "ok, go say hi" Which I always say when we meet new people. Only this time his "excited" bark had a more aggressive tone in it and scared the living daylights out of this poor woman. That was enough for me. He was no longer allowed to meet people off lead. Too close to comfort for me, and since then has been leashed when meeting people.

This incident today:
We were at SAR training this morning. We train at a college campus and it's not uncommon for Titan and I to be approached by joggers and walkers. We've been there training for 2 years with no issues. He does get overly excited when people approach us so I always leash when we are being approached or he isn't in a search. Today in particular we were approached by an elderly couple who he had met last week and he was thrilled to see them again. After intro, he was off lead playing with no problem. We were approached later by a female jogger who saw Titan and wanted to make sure it was ok that she be here. Titan was leashed and he was VERY intrigued by her, wanted to meet her but she took off before anything. When he was unleashed to start our search he maybe looked back once but was put to work and never made a second thought.

After training we had gone for a hike through the woods to search a lost radio. He was off lead and was sticking with me as always. When we got to the open field, there was a man walking toward us. Neither myself or my back up knew him, regardless I grabbed Titan to put him on lead, who was already in "Alert" mode, and as I grabbed to leash him, he ripped out of my hands and took off aggressively at this man. I mean I have never seen him act that way toward anyone, ever. He jumped up, the man blocked him, Titan jumped again growling and nipped his side. (meanwhile I was running toward him trying to call Titan off.) When I finally got over there, Titan stopped and came and sat next to me like he did nothing. This man was scared out of his mind.. rightly so. He said he was fine and Titan didn't break skin and pretty much just so scared that he wanted to get away, and I didn't blame him. There was a verbal correction involved immediately following the incident but I was more wanting to make sure that the man was ok.

I got back to base and told my trainer exactly what happened. He has been working with us for over 2 years and was so surprised to hear it. Did warn me though that with this incident I have one more shot at SAR. If it happens again, I am out, which I undoubtedly agree with. This is not a job Titan can do if he can't approach strangers or let them approach him. We do a lot of wandering victim cases here and that's just not something he can do if he is going to bite someone coming toward him. My trainer also thinks with Titan's recent medical issues ( (Text Heavy) Partial seizures/muscle spasm and Weight loss ), that it could be health related and wants me to call the vet.

SO where do I go from here? My trainer said I was welcome back but I have to have an e collar on hand and do a lot of work with him before they will trust him again. But I am terrified to go back. Only because I don't want this to ever happen again, but I don't know how to fix that since he's never done that before.

Oh.. and just fyi.. not sure how much it matters, but my back up for the search, who was with me, is also my roommate who helped me raise Titan, so she has been a steady part of his life, she is pregnant. So something made me wonder if it was a protective instinct sort of thing.
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Old 01-25-2014, 04:59 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
he generally greets everyone the same... with excitedness and barking..
Quote:
one of the other handlers, whom I had never met before was approaching us and Titan stopped to look at me and her.. his way of "Can I go meet her?" which he always does before meeting someone. So as normal I said "ok, go say hi" Which I always say when we meet new people. Only this time his "excited" bark had a more aggressive tone in it and scared the living daylights out of this poor woman.
I don't really understand why the dog is encouraged to act like this in the first place. To me it is nurturing excitement for no reason.

How about, 'No dog I do the introducing around here not you'.

Why let the dog introduce himself first?

Basically it sounds like the dog has a lack of discipline. At his age he should be mellowing a bit and getting very used to his rules and boundaries.

You need to instill these rules and boundaries. Now you've seen some behavior you don't like and which is possibly dangerous. It is due to the dogs sense of freedom and lack of discipline.
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Old 01-25-2014, 05:15 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I guess in his younger years we did greeting the proper way. He wasn't off lead and people came to us or I approached them and I greeted them. I suppose when he because solid on OB and recall it just became the new way. We did a lot of off lead work and he'd always stop before going to meet approaching people and because he had never been any type of an issue I never stopped that. Which learning now.. I should have. Since I've gotten back from deployment and since we moved he has started testing me in OB and greeting people has become more excitable for him causing me to start leashing him more.. and seeking out another trainer.

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Old 01-25-2014, 05:29 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I have absolutely no experience with SAR. I read all of your post and the question I have is 'why does he need to meet and greet people and dogs?'

Is this part of SAR training? I would of thought it far better to train him to ignore outside stimuli and concentrate on his task of searching.

I have a male that imo focuses a little too much for my liking on other dogs, I have always and am more so now encouraging him to ignore.

I wonder if your allowing him to greet all the time has allowed him to make decisions on who is and who is not a threat.
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Old 01-25-2014, 05:43 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I have absolutely no experience with SAR. I read all of your post and the question I have is 'why does he need to meet and greet people and dogs?'

Is this part of SAR training? I would of thought it far better to train him to ignore outside stimuli and concentrate on his task of searching.

I have a male that imo focuses a little too much for my liking on other dogs, I have always and am more so now encouraging him to ignore.

I wonder if your allowing him to greet all the time has allowed him to make decisions on who is and who is not a threat.
That is a very great possibility. I'll start with that it's not a SAR requirement for him to greet everyone. Only that he be friendly if he does meet another human. Dogs, not really a worry but we do run into a large amount of people on training searches and on real ones and it is encouraged that when we are there, that if they show interest in the person, to meet them if they want... that is when they are not working. And when titan has been "put to work" he listens to me while we are on a search. He is interested in meeting people, but hasn't yet taken off when we are working. These incidents have only happened while we are walking to our location or from it where he gets excited..

This issue in respect to SAR is that he has been given range to greet people on his own... my fault.. completely.. only that was when he wasn't a threat.. Now that he has nipped someone who wasn't a threat and was just walking brings up the question of will he do that to a victim we are looking for who is wandering in the woods?

I am more at a place where I don't know where to go from here. I recognize the fact that he has been given too much freedom in respect to greeting strangers, but how do I fix it you know?
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Old 01-25-2014, 05:43 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Don't beat yourself up over this, but what an eye-opener. I guess Titan needs to learn an emergency down, and definitely tightening up on his recall. You're lucky the guy was so easygoing about it.

I agree with MadLab, I think letting Titan get so excited with greetings was where you went wrong. It's not too late to fix this though. If he wants to greet, he needs to show calm behavior first. Maybe he doesn't even want to greet? Maybe he just was enjoying the barking and charging, and this nip is now showing us that?
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Old 01-25-2014, 05:46 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Don't beat yourself up over this, but what an eye-opener. I guess Titan needs to learn an emergency down, and definitely tightening up on his recall. You're lucky the guy was so easygoing about it.

I agree with MadLab, I think letting Titan get so excited with greetings was where you went wrong. It's not too late to fix this though. If he wants to greet, he needs to show calm behavior first. Maybe he doesn't even want to greet? Maybe he just was enjoying the barking and charging, and this nip is now showing us that?
I do agree.. he has been given too much range in greeting people and I guess when he wasn't doing harm I didn't see it as much of a problem. I was in contact with an amazing trainer before the holidays.. I think I should contact her and schedule a one on one. Just really freaked me out. I had never seen him like that.
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Old 01-25-2014, 05:52 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Seeing an amazing trainer is never a bad thing

It's so easy to get into a habit, and when our dogs aren't causing any troubles then we can get complacent. I know all about that, lol. Be happy that this happened and nothing truly awful resulted from it. Good luck with your trainer. And there's also the weird health thing going on - maybe you should explore that too?
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Old 01-25-2014, 05:53 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Its a hard one, in my experience there are some people that project fear or the wrong energy and dogs pick up on it. I think you are doing the right thing with putting him on lead to meet new people, I would continue with this, and allow him a foot or 2 distance for a few seconds to minutes before judging the situation and going forward to where he can put his nose to the person. Sometimes it may be obvious that having distance is all he will get and requires, how this fits in with SAR is something you will have to discuss with your trainer. If he is not suitable for SAR, I'm sure there are other sports you could look into that may be better for him.
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Old 01-25-2014, 05:56 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Blanketback View Post
Seeing an amazing trainer is never a bad thing

It's so easy to get into a habit, and when our dogs aren't causing any troubles then we can get complacent. I know all about that, lol. Be happy that this happened and nothing truly awful resulted from it. Good luck with your trainer. And there's also the weird health thing going on - maybe you should explore that too?
Yeah this is true.. and I will be the absolute first to admit that I have become complacent in some areas with him. I have talked for months now, since I have been back, that I need to meet up with a trainer for refreshers but made excuses every time.

I am definitely going to bring that up to the vet though, she told me to keep an eye out for any noticeable neurological changes and this could be one.
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