Well, he bit (non-GSD) - German Shepherd Dog Forums
 
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-03-2010, 04:00 PM Thread Starter
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Well, he bit (non-GSD)

Along with our 2 GSDs, we have a rescued Border Collie or Australian shepherd mix - no one can really tell us what he is. He has a number of health issues, the most recent being seizures.

I have always felt that there is something mentally wrong with this dog (I've been criticized on this board for thinking this), and I think I have done him a disservice by feeling too sorry for him and therefore not expecting behaviors from him that I expect from our shepherds.

When he has stolen stuff from the bathroom trash and I try to get it from him, he growls at me. When we accidentally leave the other dogs' food bowls down with food still in them, and he descends upon the bowls, I have had to take things like shovels to separate his mouth from the food bowl as he growls at me. Last night, my husband reached down to take the bowl, and the dog bit him. What was especially bad is that Kasey didn't stop. Even after my husband had picked up the food bowl, Kasey was "hitting" my husband's hand with his head very aggressively trying to get the bowl. . . and growling the whole time. It sounded like a full-fledged human-dog fight was going on in the next room!

Yes, this dog fixates on things, as I hear some herding breeds do. He fixates on food, lizards, and spraying water, and it is as if he goes into a trance and becomes a different dog. I am also seeing that this dog thinks he's the boss, as if the whole food thing is HIS call. (He will also take his toys and try to force you into play by literally coming up behind you and surprising you by trying to shove the toy you know where!) He is normally an extremely sweet and goofy -- clown-like -- dog, and it's hard to wrap my brain around the fact that a dog with this demeanor could actually think he's in charge around here.

I spoke with my puppy's trainer today about this. She reiterated some ideas I had. . . try some hand feeding, hang out with him when he's eating, use a leash/collar and some good boots (for protection) when easing into getting near his food dish. I suppose we could try NILF.

Any other ideas?

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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-03-2010, 04:07 PM
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NILIF would have been the first thing on my list. I would also do away with a bowl and feed from hand only for awhile. But he should be able to eat in peace without the threat of his food being removed.
I would feed the dogs separately so the other dogs bowl is a non issue.
What does he do for exercise? Mental and physical? His mix is high energy and he needs an outlet for it.
Lay tracks with his meal and make him work for it, that really does wear out a dog mentally.

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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-03-2010, 04:36 PM
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For the biting:

If you do any kind of clicker training or have considered it, this group is a good one and they seem to have a lot of border collie owners on the list as well as a few behaviorists. Couldn't hurt to look into it, even if you don't want to clicker train, you may find some info that relates to your dog.

ClickerSolutions : A mailing list dedicated to finding positive solutions to training and behavior problems. Although clicker training is the main

What you described sounded like resource guarding. Something else they talk about on the clicker solution list quite often.

Good luck, it's a tough spot to be in.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-03-2010, 04:43 PM
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I dont know what you have tried in the past, but this would be what i would do.
Assuming that your dog is a 'soft' dog I would not use a prong on him. Personnally most border collies and or aussies dont need them, except in severe cases. I have not seen your dog personnally so I cant attest to his behaviour. Martingales are great, but I do not like full out 'choke collars'.
When he fixates, the second you see his demeanor change the slightest bit, snap him out of it. This could be a quick(light, as im assuming your walking with a flat collar) leash correction, a foot lightly and quickly applied to his flank(im not saying boot your dog. I am assuming your dog is in the heel position and all you do is bend your leg and connect SOFTLY with the dogs rear), a quick 'biting motion' to his scruff, whatever works for you, and the dog. Do NOT over correct. Just something strong enough to get the glazed look out of his eyes. This may take practice as you need to get a feel for what works, what works at what pressure and so on.
When the dog stops fixating and looks you in the eyes, CLICK AND TREAT. Most people, who have had their dogs from puppies go through the landshark time. Most people, when the dog starts nipping/biting trade with the dog for a toy. Later in the dogs life when it becomes overstimulated watch the dog. He will run for a toy because that is what he has been taught to put his mouth on when he needs to alliviate anxiety/energy. Your dog will eventually learn that when his mind goes into overdrive, he will LOOK AT YOU. I believe in both positive reinforcement and proofing dogs. So i use a clicker but i also use a prong/ecollar.
As for the food aggression I agree with the handfeeding. Over time, start putting a few kibbles on the ground and 'claim them'. Work with 'leave it' with toys or other things that are not as high valued as the kibble first. Then slowly work back to feeding with the bowl.
This takes time! And energy, and patience. I'm sure you know that there is no quick fix for doggie problems but keep grounded, consistant and firm and I bet in a few months you will have a much happier household, even if you use a different programme. The key is consistency, with whatever you are doing.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-03-2010, 05:30 PM
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Seems as though this behavior came after he started having seizures, are they controlled with medication?
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-03-2010, 06:15 PM
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I take my post back. I should have read your other posts before jumping to the its a behaviour problem bandwagon. I would strongly recommend having his thyroid checked and perhaps ask for a referral to a specialist. There appears to be several in Florida, sorry I could not help more!
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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-04-2010, 08:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thank you for your replies. He is not on medication for seizures because he hasn't had them frequently. He was growling over stolen trash and food prior to seizures, but I must say, he did undego a huge behavior change after his last seizure in August (we had to coax him outside, sometimes had to coax him inside, etc...it seemed his whole personality changed for a few weeks). Then he came back around.
He's had bloodwork done and eveything came back fine. At first I was thinking this behavior might be due to his medical issues, but I am leaning toward it being behavioral after all.
Your suggestions are good ones, and we'll work on it.

P.S. I hadn't realized the puppy hadn't finished her dinner this evening, when he went barreling in the room where she eats (the dogs all eat in separate spaces, but it seems that there's always someone who didn't finish and we weren't alert) and began chowing down. I was happy to coax him away from her food with a yummy treat. Then I praised him a lot.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-04-2010, 09:03 PM
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I can't imagine a puppy not finishing the meal...that is strange in my house!
Have you researched epilepsy? I would get him on a raw or at least grain free diet.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-04-2010, 09:06 PM
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Deathmetal - great post, and all sorts of good advice on this thread - wow!

Sorry that this happened. I have a dog with a head injury and also the desire to be the boss (but she's so darned cute!) so I have to walk a careful line with her - on one hand she's frozen at 4-6 month old puppy stage, on the other, she's quite intelligent and capable of being a real little monster.

IF there is something you can do to help with the physical aspect of the behavior - seeing a neurologist etc, that may help a lot. Good luck!





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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 10-14-2010, 01:39 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by onyx'girl View Post
I can't imagine a puppy not finishing the meal...that is strange in my house!
Have you researched epilepsy? I would get him on a raw or at least grain free diet.
The puppy is a strange (but good) little critter in many ways. She is 5.5 months going on 10 years.

I have considered going back to grain-free feeding.

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