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Old 02-18-2013, 12:34 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Talking Hello and introducing my pups

Hi!

My name is Emily and I was told about this forum by our wonderful teacher at PetSmart.

My husband and I adopted our first dog in 2011, a 9-week old puppy we named Wrigley. He was suspected to be a labradoodle with possibly some German Shepherd. The older he got, the less he looked like a labradoodle! We DNA tested him and learned he is 1/2 Chessie, 1/4 GS, and 1/4 Australian Kelpie. Here he is now at 2 years old:

He has some challenges. He displays guarding behavior, especially related to food or novel objects, so we have been working on that with a trainer. He also recently was diagnosed with arthritis in both of his front legs, at only 2 years old! His legs are very long, and he most likely grew too fast. This has certainly affected his behavior, but with treatment, he is almost back to his old self. He is a big sweetheart and loves people! He has the wavy Chessie fur on his back and absolutely loves water.

We adopted Luna in May of last year, and she was estimated to be a year old. She was a stray and is extremely timid. At home, she bounces off the walls, but in public or around new people, she is terrified. We have been working with her and have seen some progress.


I would love opinions on what breeds Luna might have mixed with GS. I am planning to get a DNA test for her soon as well. We found it really helpful with Wrigley, not only to know who he is, but to help with some of his behavioral issues. I absolutely do not care what breeds they are, but I would still love to know. I have been told that Luna looks to be part husky. She is fairly small for a GS at 60 pounds. Her tail is very fluffy and looks a lot like a husky's when she has it up, which is hard to capture in a photo! She has beautiful markings, which makes it even harder for strangers not to intimidate her, since they all want a closer look!
Here she is when we first adopted her, before we brushed her!


and here is an idea of her tail, although it's usually up higher and curved more than this:


Sorry if that was too much info for one post! We're expecting our first human children (twins!!) so I might not get a lot of time to participate, but I am very interested in learning some new things! My husband and I are now completely in love with German Shepherds and will always look for a GS (or a mix of course) when we're ready for our future dogs. We are also committed to remembering that these pups are our first babies, and they are just as much a part of our family as our human babies. We know we will have some extra challenges with Wrigley's guarding, and I pray that we are able to keep everyone in the family safe.

Last edited by WrigLuna; 02-18-2013 at 12:40 AM.
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Old 02-18-2013, 01:01 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Hello and introducing my pups

Beautiful Dogs!!!! WELCOME
Well Luna to me looks German Shepherd mix with maybe husky, just the way her ears and facial features are set. The tail is also very husky, though she looks like she has more of a GS coat. Whatever she is, she is gorgeous. Very piercing eyes. 60lbs isnt really that small, generally females are a lot lighter than males, I have seen them even smaller than your girl. A DNA test would be great to determine exactly what she is

Can you give a little more info about Wrigleys guarding? Does he become aggressive towards humans in particular or towards Luna also? So he guards food, toys, his bed, does he guard you? It all starts from very small things, is he jealous of Luna?


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Old 02-18-2013, 01:19 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Hello and you have 2 gorgeous pups And Congrats on the twins best of luck to you and your family..
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Old 02-18-2013, 11:22 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Hello great looking pups! Luna looks shepherd and maybe a little husky mix in. We have the same jolly ball. Tuke likes to clamp and release over and over like some kind of doggie CPR thing.
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Old 02-20-2013, 08:53 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Thank you all!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Raintheshepherd View Post
Beautiful Dogs!!!! WELCOME
Well Luna to me looks German Shepherd mix with maybe husky, just the way her ears and facial features are set. The tail is also very husky, though she looks like she has more of a GS coat. Whatever she is, she is gorgeous. Very piercing eyes. 60lbs isnt really that small, generally females are a lot lighter than males, I have seen them even smaller than your girl. A DNA test would be great to determine exactly what she is

Can you give a little more info about Wrigleys guarding? Does he become aggressive towards humans in particular or towards Luna also? So he guards food, toys, his bed, does he guard you? It all starts from very small things, is he jealous of Luna?


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I'll try to answer your questions without being too terribly long-winded.

Wrigley is most commonly aggressive toward my husband and me. Around strangers he is great, but he is not around them enough for him to view them as taking anything away from him. He has been aggressive toward Luna a couple of times. We learned early on that new toys don't work when they're playing together.

This behavior started when he was only about 3-4 months old (over a year before we got Luna). I can't remember if it was before or after he was neutered, but he was neutered at around 3 1/2 months old (I know that's early, but with a rescue, we were supposed to do it as soon as we were able, and he had already begun humping, which he stopped doing after being neutered).

Anyway it began with his food bowl. We used to leave his food dish out next to his water dish, but we only put food in it at meal times. When he started growling if we were near while he was eating, and guarding his empty bowl, we went through the whole process of hand-feeding and then feeding one-two kibble at a time in his bowl and gradually giving him more at a time. We also transitioned to a slow-feeder bowl around this same time since he was gulping down his food and nearly choking. We got to the point of being able to give treats while he was eating. (If you are familiar with the book "Mine!" we used a very similar hierarchy as recommended by our trainer.) He is so focused on eating, he rarely will take a treat from us, even if we hold it right next to his nose. We were able to drop treats in and around his bowl while he was eating though. That is about as far as we have gotten in that process and have determined to just manage meal times rather than completely desensitize him from contact during meals.

He does not guard us from others nor from Luna. He is always excited to meet new people, and he doesn't care whether we show attention to Luna (although this took some adjustment in the beginning).

He never used to care about us taking away toys at all, but he has started occasionally guarding toys as well.

A big problem is if he gets ahold of something he's not supposed to. We have to bribe him with a treat to get him to drop the item and leave it (not hover over it) so we can get it. Last July, we were visiting family, and a basket with a silk flower arrangement had fallen. He went to investigate, and I pulled his collar and told him to leave it. I had no idea he had "claimed" it. He turned and bit my arm, 2 punctures.

When he was still a puppy, maybe 9 months old (so pretty big already), he was chewing on his bed. My husband didn't realize that he was starting to eat the stuffing, so when he tried to stop him, Wrigley bit him pretty badly on the leg.

Lately he has been acting up in his crate. He has always loved his crate and does great in it. When we adopted Luna, we started to feed both dogs in their own crates to keep them separate and prevent any incidents. This was recommended by our trainer. Their crates face each other in one of our bedrooms (which we use as the office). Recently, Wrigley started barking at Luna with is "guarding bark" while they were eating. I started feeding Luna in a different room and still feed Wrigley in his crate, and that has kept both dogs calm while eating. But even when he does not have his food bowl (which he only gets at meal times), he growls and/or barks if you walk by his crate. His crate is closest to the door of that room, so Luna has to walk past him to get to her own crate if he is already in his crate. Sometimes she is afraid to even do this because of how he acts (growling and barking if you walk by).

His arthritis symptoms started right around the same time that I got pregnant, so it is hard to say whether he is acting up because of me or if it is mostly related to his pain. He is starting Adequan injections as soon as the Adequan arrives, so we are hoping to get his arthritis under control as much as possible.

Just today, I was examining his paws because he had a broken toenail. He was completely relaxed while I was doing this. I went back to the paw with the broken nail, and I don't know if it was because of the nail or because this is one of his arthritic legs, but with NO warning, he bit my hand. He was totally relaxed one second, and my entire hand was in his mouth the next. It was not a bad bite at all, just a few scratches. But the fact that he gave me no warning worries me.

To be honest, the only person I am comfortable taking advice from with this situation is our trainer. She has been recovering from an injury, so we have not had her come over again since all of this started happening a couple of months ago. It is now a high priority for me to get in touch with her and find out when she is able to come help us.

He is my baby. I don't know how we went so wrong when we had him from only 8-9 weeks old. We have been told that Chessies have it in their breed to guard, but then we were told that mixed breeds often have better temperaments. I feel incredibly guilty in two ways. First, I feel guilty for the twins we are having, because if it was just us 2 adults, I would not be nearly as worried about this problem. Second, I feel guilty toward my babies that I might be putting them in danger. I don't plan to ever leave them alone with either dog, for both the dogs' safety and the babies', but I know I can't control every minute of every day.

I apologize again that my posts are so long. I wanted to be sure to answer your questions. Thanks for reading.

Last edited by WrigLuna; 02-20-2013 at 08:57 PM.
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Old 02-20-2013, 09:06 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Sorry, double post.

I meant to just add to the above that we do not leave his bowl out anymore; he only gets it at meal times. Also, he knows he has to "wait" before eating. With the things that we have the routine down for, we do fine. It's when we're not expecting it that he has bitten us, which worries me.

Last edited by WrigLuna; 02-20-2013 at 09:09 PM.
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