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Old 01-31-2013, 01:21 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Handler sensitive (in every day life)

Stark is extremely handler sensitive and can not take much pressure from me. I use the e-collar for corrections because that seems to be the only thing that doesn't make him shut down.

If I give a collar correction he will shut down completely. Avoidance (turning away from me, sniffing, staring out into space, avoiding eye contact), jumping up on me, etc..

If I am telling a story and I raise my voice in either frustration or excitement, he will do the jumping, licking the air or if I let him, my face. He will whine and try to get as close to me as possible (perches next to me, pushes his body into me, etc.).

Well, for the past few days I have been extremely anxious and upset. He has been restless, anxious, unable to settle (not like him). I thought it was something medical at first but when I calmed myself down... (I didn't show an known behaviours that would indicate I was upset to others) he totally relaxed.

I had a mini panic attack last night, was very anxious, upset and never really had gone through one before so it surprised me... I just laid in bed (it was after midnight) and did some deep breathing. Stark, who sleeps baby gated in my room and is always either on my bed with me or on the floor next to me.. went to the baby gate/doorway and sat pushed up as close as he could get to the gate to get away from me.

It was then that I realized that it was ME upsetting him... so, I went for a walk (with out dogs) and when I came back calmed and "normal" (LOL) again he was fine. He gave me a GOOD sniffing and then proceeded to jump on the bed with me like normal and sleep.

I couldn't believe that I had THAT much of an impact on his behaviour like that. He is fine this morning and wants to play and is acting normal.. and I feel a bit better so I wonder if that is playing into his mood as well..

Does anyone else have a dog that acts like this when they are upset?

It's wasn't the normal, "I am upset and my dog came over and sat by me type of thing" I was actually concerned for him and though I should rush him to the vet.. but realized it was me causing the behaviour.
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:39 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Jazzy is very sensitive, especially with me. A glance is usually all I need or a disapproving voice. I can count on one hand the number of times I've raised my voice near her and she just cringes and shuts down

If I'm in a bad mood or upset she is literally crawling into my lap and licking me any chance she can. It's nonstop and she just pleads with her eyes "PLEASE mom don't be sad!" It usually makes me smile and helps me kick the mood faster. She's got the fastest tongue I've seen yet lol

When I'm happy she's happy, if I'm not happy she literally does anything she can to cheer me up. I really can't complain about it . She's a great cuddler and will listen for as long as I want
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Old 01-31-2013, 01:49 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I guess my thoughts are "how healthy is this" for the dog?

Stark has bad nerves when it comes to people/lacks confidence/situations (but has EXCELLENT environmental nerves such as heights, footing, surfaces, noise, etc.) and I know this is a part of that showing..

Just wondering how someone can help their dog through this sort of thing (say if the person can't help with anxiety or such)?

ETA: My "anxiety" is situational... lol.. so this is more curiosity than anything.
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:27 PM   #4 (permalink)
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I never tried using electric on Aiden because I found another way that seems to be working for us (compulsion/-R), but he also used to have problems with taking a correction too seriously or shutting down on me. I went through lots of different training methods that were sugegsted by different people, but this seems to have worked best.

It was the same person that suggested adding a little compulsion to our training that also told me that Aiden has got ME trained, and I never thought about it that way before. For example, I couldn't get him to come into the blind clean. He was filthy dirty unless I had the leash and popped him every time he went in. This trainer's method was to send him in on his own and make the decision to stay clean and guard or get dirty and mouthe the sleeve. If he was dirty, the helper marked it with a "NO" and I would walk up, grab the leash that was on the ground, and correct him. Well, every time I tried to correct him before, he'd act like a big baby, so I figured that he just can't take a correction. This one trainer saw right through it and told me to ignore him and just give him a correction. Of course, he tried to act like I was killing him, but I remained neutral and ignored all the drama and I made him keep going. I sent him in again and he was still dirty, but a little less. He got another correction, but this time the drama was even less. I sent him in the blind a third time and he's been clean ever since..

I think he realized that his "act" wasn't fooling me, and now I barely even get a reaction with a good correction from a prong collar. I think I fed into the idea that my dog was sooooo sensitive, that I was making him worse. He's 85lbs and relatively aggressive in the bitework and I know better than to think that I can really hurt him with a prong collar.

After that seminar, I noticed a whole change in Aiden. He was taking corrections in obedience without losing it and the little bit of compulsion paid off for us.

My trial anxiety is out of control. I don't know why, but I literally feel like I'm going to die as I walk out onto that field. Couple that with a handler sensitive dog and you have a recipe to fail. But after that seminar, I felt like I had more control over remaining neutral to my dog, and when we trialed for our IPO2 the second time, I could really see the difference. He got a 91 in the IPO2 obed before we were DQ'ed from protection, but either way, that score was literally twenty points higher than in his IPO1. And at home, he seemed much less up my butt and anxiously pacing around, etc.

Of course we've recently reverted to being a big wimp in the protection because the first time he trialed for the IPO2, he got stepped on in the drive. So now he anticipates the drive and starts to freak out before it even happens. We are starting a similar approach to this problem by just ignoring it. I know that he's capable of being driven and that he's just afraid, so we work on some confidence building stuff and some fun stuff and then we just slowly work into the drive. He has to learn that he's going to live through it and will not get stepped on again. But by letting him freak out and start screaming and pitching a fit, he is learning that it's his easy way out.



Reading all that now looks like a lot of unnecessary info, but I think that the training that I implemented had a huge impact on his home life. I've struggled with anxiety myself in the past and I'm ok with Aiden checking in on me and showing me a little love, but I learned that at home, I really cannot feed into him blowing things out of proportion, or it crosses over into training (and vice versa). If he starts to act like an anxious freak at home, I can put him in his crate or tell him to go lay down on his bed in the other room, but I never act concerned for him or baby him or feed into it anymore, because I know what he's reacting to.
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Old 01-31-2013, 02:50 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Yes, I agree with Alexis. I've never coddled Jazzy, even though she's small and cute it's tempting but I know it would hurt rather then help her. I look at it like a young child who's afraid of something, let's use the dark for example. If everytime they're a little afraid at night and you smother them in love they're never going to learn to deal with it entirely on their own.

If I picked her up every time she was uncomfortable she would live in my arms 24/7. I'll help and protect her, but not by removing her from every single uncomfortable situation right away

I built trust by kneeling beside her while she's anxious and lending my body for her to lean into if needed but not touching or talking to her. If a dog is in her space politely and she's uncomfortable I don't allow growling, I give a gentle but firm "no" with my voice and when she stops I reward by nudging the dog away from her. If the dog is smelling her and she's tolerating it I reward her with a "good girl" if she's actually smelling back I'll allow them to interact for a short period. If she's behaved and then comes to me and puts her paws on my knee I know she's telling me she's had enough so I'll either remove her by picking her up or sending the other dog away.

Same things with humans, she doesn't like strangers touching her. If she's offleash and you're holding a piece of bacon I doubt she's come to you. Again, kneeling beside her lends her confidence with me being right there and I'll reward her if she stays still and allows the person to pet her. Once she's behaved for a short time I will allow her to remove herself or pick her up

I don't think there's a 100% easy fix for weak nerves unfortunately, but you can build their confidence up and show them you'll help and protect them. She knows I expect a certain amount of politeness with people and dogs then I'll help her out and her threshold is progressively getting better and better
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:14 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elisabeth_00117 View Post
I guess my thoughts are "how healthy is this" for the dog?
I think it would depend on if the handler didn't recognize what type of impact they were having on their dog.

If you didn't realize that your behavior was causing your dog to fall apart, but you saw that your dog was falling apart and then YOU created an even more unstable environment it would once again impact your dog and it would continue to spiral out of control. I think you would then see behaviors developing in your dog that you have actually conditioned to happen.

But (IMO) since you realize your impact, you're able to walk away, pull yourself together and create a stable environment for your dog. Maybe even take additional steps to totally seperate your dog from you in the future (like a kennel in the living room at night) when you know you are having a tough time.

Due to recent events at my home, Hondo who is normally a solid, stable dog was developing DA behaviors towards the other dogs at our home. My first thought was medical issues (as you did). Then I realized I was creating the environment that was feeding his aggression towards the other dogs. (Keeping everyone away from hubby but him, because he's quiet.) I quickly changed my (new) routine, brought it back to as normal as I could and he is back to his old self. Honestly, had I bought into his new behavior (crate & rotate), I think I would have conditioned him to be DA towards any dog in our home.
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Old 01-31-2013, 03:14 PM   #7 (permalink)
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wow I had no idea. None of my german shepherds were ever uneasy or shy. Seems like a good way of handling it though. They are so smart that they had you trained. hehe
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Old 01-31-2013, 07:45 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Alexis - I agree with what you said.. for Aiden.

With Stark, he won't even engage a helper. If someone raises a voice, say my friends husband is rough housing with him, etc. and gets loud Stark will go to a quiet spot and shake. He will turn his body towards the wall, pant heavily and totally shut down.

We do not encourage this and ignore the behaviour.

I had stopped doing schH with him when he stopped going for the sleeve. This was during his reactive phase (I worked purely positive/ignored the behaviours for the reactivity). One day he stopped even engaging with the decoy. We had made sure to use a lot of prey with him but he sees anyone 'coming at him' as confrontational and shuts down. He will not bite or engage unless *I* am wearing the sleeve and even then he mouths it like crazy and will not grip it unless I slip it and then he carries it around for a few seconds.

If I am excited, Stark is excited. If I am frustrated or upset or anxious, Stark is pacing and extremely worried. My friends always laugh and say it's like he was an abuse case early on, when it is the extreme opposite.. funny to some people but not really to me.

If I am working on obedience say, and I ask for a 'heir' he will come into a sit. If he isn't in the position I really want him to be in (say he is too far away or not straight) and I correct him verbally with a "ah ah" or "nope" and ask for it again, he will try to jump on me and then shut down completely.

One time he was sniffing in a corner of the park and I was getting ready to leave, I called him to me and he kinda looked up, continued sniffing for a few seconds before coming back to me. I loudly said, "AH AH, COME!" and he ran to me, flattened himself on his side and went belly up.

It was that day when I called my trainer to explain what had happened that the e-collar was suggested.

If the correction isn't seen as coming from "me" than he is fine. He will not shut down or show any sort of avoidance behaviours. Lucky for me, Stark is a very well behaved pet and with the previous training we have done together has made him a little extra obedient than the average dog out there.

I am still a bit anxious today (having a bad few days) and can tell that Stark is "off". I am trying to ignore him when he comes to me all pouty and submissive jumping thing and only rewarding with attention when he is bringing me a toy or running around (which he hasn't really done today). He has been laying off by himself mostly.

Physically he is fine because I have checked him over for everything (gums, temp., poop, energy outside is FINE , bathroom habits are normal, appetite is good, etc.). He behaved similarly when my Grandpa passed and I kinda went into a little bit of a depression for awhile. Once I snapped out of it, he did too.
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Old 01-31-2013, 07:54 PM   #9 (permalink)
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All I can say is, be thankful that Stark doesn't have to live with a teenage girl and her drama.
He'd really be a basket case!
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Old 01-31-2013, 08:01 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I understand your frustration. It always bothers me when people ask what I've "done" to Aiden to make him like that or if something happened to him before I got him. I find myself wishing there was something that I could do just to make him more comfortable in his own head very often.
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