Fearful dog eager to please, but boyfriend pushes him over threshhold... - German Shepherd Dog Forums

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Old 05-25-2014, 02:57 PM   #1 (permalink)
Oki
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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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Old 05-25-2014, 03:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Anxious command delivery is a pet peeve of mine. Positive punishment on the boyfriend might work.
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Old 05-25-2014, 03:05 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Baillif View Post
Anxious command delivery is a pet peeve of mine. Positive punishment on the boyfriend might work.
Ironic that he says the "dog only listens to me" - I wonder why.

And I know dogs are very receptive to tone of voice. I feel like Oki picks up on the frenetic tone of my boyfriend's commands/voice and it just makes his fear/anxiety go up...
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Old 05-25-2014, 03:14 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Why is the dog loose when you are eating?
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Old 05-25-2014, 03:23 PM   #5 (permalink)
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I can see "the boy friend" issue surfacing here.\
Advice on this will be useless unless you and your boy friend get on one page and cooperate. If this is not possible, either rehome the dog or the boyfriend for the sake of everyone's sanity, including and especially the dog's.

Last edited by wolfy dog; 05-25-2014 at 03:26 PM.
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Old 05-25-2014, 03:38 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Sunflowers View Post
Why is the dog loose when you are eating?
Do you mean why is he roaming the house? It took a few times for me to realize it was at its worst when I eat meals - that was just one of the "aha" incidents before I figured it out. I've started eating out on the patio with him in the house or keeping him closed in the back hallway when I eat now because of this.

He just lays under the table and is perfectly content to do so until my boyfriend starts yelling commands...
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Old 05-25-2014, 03:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfy dog View Post
I can see "the boy friend" issue surfacing here.\
Advice on this will be useless unless you and your boy friend get on one page and cooperate. If this is not possible, either rehome the dog or the boyfriend for the sake of everyone's sanity, including and especially the dog's.
This pretty much covers it.
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Old 05-25-2014, 04:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Train a place command for *you* to use at meal times with your dog.

Until you and the bf are on the same page with this dog, put your foot down about bf is NOT to give commands. May cause an argument with the bf, but better an argument then your dog moving from warning to bites.

Dogs and especially FA dogs need clear, concise direction. Without clarity, the confusion and stress levels continue to rise and you are seeing the results.

If the bf is a permanent prospect, he needs training with your dog, with a very experienced trainer. At this point, I don't think you will get through to him on what he needs to learn.
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Old 05-25-2014, 04:15 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Honestly sounds to me like your boyfriend is a large part of the problem. He has no business acting like that towards a already anxious animal. I'll feel bad for the dog when it finally bites and has to suffer for its actions when it probably feels its just defending itself or you... I agree that he needs to STOP his actions / commands / what ever asap.
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Old 05-25-2014, 04:59 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wolfy dog View Post
I can see "the boy friend" issue surfacing here.\
Advice on this will be useless unless you and your boy friend get on one page and cooperate. If this is not possible, either rehome the dog or the boyfriend for the sake of everyone's sanity, including and especially the dog's.
I vote for rehoming BF.

I rehomed my husband until he got it through his skull that interference with MY dog will not be tolerated.
I have an extremely FA dog, basically I crate her around individuals who may not follow instruction. Or I remove them from HER home. Suggest a basic obedience class with BF, if that is not possible then you teach him. If he cannot or will not do what you need then I would suggest you sit down and have a long chat with yourself about where this relationship is heading, because honestly a grown man who accuses you of siding with the dog has issues he needs to address. If things can't change rehome the dog before his life is ruined.
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