German Shepherds Forum banner

1 - 20 of 47 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
218 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
... How do you do it?

As much as I love Peone, living with her is so difficult. As a family pet she is fantastic, obedient, loving etc. But when people come over to visit she turns into a whole other dog, hackles up, barking, snarling - then after a few minutes she'll calm down, usually that's the end of it. But in tonights episode, my parents had some friends over and Peone did her usual crazy dog act and then settled down. Later in the evening one of the guests got up to go to the kitchen, getting up and going Peone was fine with him doing, however when he came back into passage she went insane again. My parents keep making excuses such as "she got a fright". I find it unacceptable, this person had been in our house for nearly 2 hours, there is no reason for her to get all worked up again! I'm stressed, I'm tired and very close to tears. Peone is only 5 years old, I don't know if I can put up with this for another 5+ years.

I've consulted trainers, had behaviourist in, I even had an animal communicator come over (everyone thought I was crazy with that one). I've tried all manner of positive training. Reward the good, quiet behaviour, have the guests drop treats on the ground, get them to feed her when she's settled etc. But yet we are making no progress. I hate having people over to the house because I can never relax.

I don't know what to do anymore, there is no possible way I can rehome her, she was passed around too much before I got her and it's not fair to hand her problems over to someone else. I also cannot face putting her to sleep, because then I've failed her

I just need to know how other people live with dogs like Peone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,138 Posts
It isn't easy but maybe with some different managment tools things could get better.

First, you need to understand that Peone can't help the way she is. This is what Mother Nature gave to her and this is what she has to live with.

Second, you need to break down the behavior to understand it. It starts with FEAR, then aggressive because she feels threatened.

Third is to try different managment things. Have your tried putting her on a leash when guests are over. Don't let her follow guest where they could meet in a small area where she feels threatened. The reason I mentioned the leash is a leash can work as an umbilical cord, security line.

Another management thing is to try not to let her get into situations where she will feel threatened.
Quote:however when he came back into passage she went insane again
In situations like this you need to have her by you. She isn't capable of making decisions on who is safe and who isn't.

Management is the KEY for dealing with fearful or fear aggressive dogs. It isn't easy, but your choices are to have her put to sleep or learn to deal with it.

I am sorry if I am blunt and possibly upset you, but life didn't deal this dog a good hand of cards. It is up to you to try to make her life more comfortable.

Val
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,255 Posts
You know what struck me is your description of how stressful visitors are for you. I'm a newbie with dogs, but I can tell you horses absolutely KNOW your stress and react to it. I wonder if crating her when company comes could at least help that problem and give her a chance to observe that there's nothing wrong when company comes- and stop that feedback loop at least.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
27,212 Posts
I know what you are feeling in a way, but for me it is with smaller kids. I either put Onyx in her crate or will muzzle her if we have them around. She just doesn't know how to read the younger~ under 10 age if she doesn't know them so is a bit fearful around them, thus acts aggressive. I do NOT trust her, and will not put her in those situations until I can trust her. She has never bitten anyone and I want to make sure it stays that way. I think if I were to put a leash on her, it would make it worse for her. Have you read thru the other threads about this behavior in this section? There were many helpful posts, and books available on the fear aggressive dog. Good luck with Peone:)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
218 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Val - thank you for the suggestions. I realise that Peone can't help how she is, and that it's my responsibility to keep her out of situations that cause her fear. I've tried the leash before, she got very stressed that she wasn't allowed to go where she wanted, especially when Bonnie and Badgar can still roam around. S
he's a very sensitive dog, during clicker training when I'm trying to teach her new behaviours if she doesn't get the 'click' after a couple of minutes then she just shuts down - which is what happens when I put her on a leash and she can't wander freely. But if it's for her (and our guests) safety then it's something I'm going to have to work on with her.

Lucina - I thought of using a crate, but they completely freak her out, I don't know what happened to her before I got her with regards to crates, but she hates them - although it is something I can work on if I have to.

onyx'girl - Thank you
I'm going to have a proper search through this section about fear aggression.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,348 Posts
Peopne sounds like a wonderful girl.. obedient and so loving. I can understand your frustration, even embarrassment! Pople look to us when our dogs go crazy, and it's a hard situation. We feel our dog's stress, we get overwhelmed too because stress transmits to the handler from the dog, nearly as much as stress travels from the handler to the dog. (does that make sense?) Anyway, I have a dog who loves everyone, but goes crazy on-lead when he sees another dog. It isn't fear aggression, it's frustration... but it seems similar. Anyway, Here are some ideas:

Try reading (it can't hurt..) books by Ali Brown. She writes about reactive dogs.

There's a book out called Scaredy Dog that people here reccomend.

Emma Parsons has written Click to Calm. This method takes a looonnng time, but it helps very much. Yes, the fear will always be there for her to a degree. But, this can help make things manageable for you both.

Take deep breaths.. there is help out there. Have you asked at dog shelters, animal rescue homes? Remember, they get dogs off the streets that have enormous aggression problems. Before re-homing them, they often have trainers who specialize in fear aggression. They may have a solution with regards to a better trainer or behaviorist.

HUGS to sweetie Peone and yourself!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
7,764 Posts
you definitely have to be on your toes with "fear aggression". i think the biggest favor you can do for them is let them know you are in charge, you will handle situations and protect, then she may come to relax a bit. no, it will never go away, and you do have to forsee any possible situaions that she is uncomfortable with. it can be managed with the right approach, etc.

debbie
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,255 Posts
It must be tough when damage was done before you get them. My hat is off to everyone that helps rescue animals. My contribution can only be financial, but I'm glad there's you folks in the trenches.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
218 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
Technically Peone wasn't a "rescue" as such, I got her from a breeder who no longer wanted her (wasn't doing well enough in shows I guess)... I don't really want to go into the details on a public forum, but if anyone is really interested in her background they can message me.

Patti - unfortunately our animal shelters around here are not so good as those in other countries, they're better than they used to be, but they still don't do proper behaviour assessments/training before dogs are placed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,204 Posts
Very experienced people may be able to solve these problems but I had a dog like Peone and I was unable to be certain that my old dog Cisco (from about 9mo - she was teased without my knowledge) could be trusted despite a lot of rehabilitation - she was fear and property aggressive yet outside our houses she was trustworthy although I monitored those interactions. So, .... and it may be a cop out .... I chose to protect visitors and Cisco and I just had a secure place she could be which meant that she and visitors did not interact at all - sometimes it was simply the backyard, other times it was my bedroom or sometimes a gated off area. She did not need the hassle and I did not need the risk. She had a good long life (6 weeks shy of 17yo) and I still think of her with a great deal of love and affection. She did not need to meet my visitors and my visitors were coming to see me not my fearful dog so no-one was disadvantaged.

You just need to manage this situation and it really is not that difficult once you determine what you are going to do - Cisco was wonderful with family and once a stranger gained her trust her loyalty was absolute and they could do anything with her. I met my partner while I had Cisco and she was fine with him when we went for walks together but as soon as he came into the house she became protective. I had a low barrier on a doorway into the kitchen and one time he came over without knocking and Cisco decided he was an intruder. Well ... she got an immediate and definite correction (nothing violent or extreme just an immediate harsh "NO" and removal) and was totally banished to the backyard. After that, she saw that he was definitely above her (not that was necessarily the case
) and she accepted him totally - in fact, I sometimes got a bit envious of their loving bond even though I was glad that it was possible.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,138 Posts
What I think I am reading is Peone is pretty weak nerved, so you have a lot of fear going on not just fear aggressive.

There are lot of tools out there if you can get them shipped to you, I will try to list some and explain how I would use it.

First you could start with something as simple as putting a T-shirt on Peone. It is part of a program called Body Wrap. It can give a dog comfort by having it on.

There are also products called Rescue Remedy and ComfortZone. Rescue Remedy you put a few drops in her mouth and some in her water. The ComfortZone is either a Plug in (may not work with your electricity) or the have a spray, which I put a bandanna on my dog that has the ComfortZone Sprayed on it.

http://www.drsfostersmith.com/product/pet_supplies.cfm?c=3307+11260


Then there is a Program called Tellington Touch. It is a whole look and DVD of massage Touches and how they work, some calm and some heal. I do TTouch with my DeeDee when she is stressed, lots of head and ear work.
It is the TTouch set for dogs.
http://www.tellingtontouch.com/productsBooks.shtml#dogs

Now some may disagree with me, but you need to treat these weak nerved fearful dog differently than normal dogs. If you find that rubbing her face or ears lowers her fear stag, then that is what you have to do. The whole key with these dogs is to try to find some a program that keeps them in that happy place in their head.

For learning if she stressed she can't learn. S L O W things down and try without the clicker. My weak nerved gal can't stand the clicker.

One question for you, was she kenneled at the breeder? If she was kenneled and you let her have run of the house that is a real stress situation when you bring people into the house.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
964 Posts
I like the idea of crating her when visitors are over. That and work on your own stress level.
If you have her out then she should be teathered.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,492 Posts
I am a total novice, but I have been able to help our wonderful adopted, fear aggressive Wolf. Check out the Yahoo shyK9s group. Its files are extremely helpful.

There are a few things to do that might help. One thing is to separate each step of the stranger in the house problem and address each one. Many dogs have a specific problem with passages, doorways, entries. Peone should have a safe place, maybe a back bedroom with a baby gate-although a crate is easier. Keep her happy and out of the action in her safe place until the guests come in and are seated (this works with two people-one to greet the guests and one to reward calm behavior of the dog.) When people are seated, let Peone out and again reward calm behavior. She does not have to take treats from people, it may be too much for her. You are working to change her idea about the risks guests pose, so you can treat her if you wish. Changing her mind does not mean she has to like everybody, just be able to relax.

What you describe about the guest just entering the passage might fall into the general desire of the dog to keep the stranger away. What we have done is simply occupy Wolf while people are walking around, until he is calm with the particular guest. Occupying for us means some ball tosses. OK, it is crazy that a guest wants to wash his hands and that elicits ball tosses for the dog, but you don't have to do it forever.

With cooperative people (who don't stretch out their hands to pet Wolf's beautiful head), Wolf calms right down after the person comes in and both the dog and the guest can enjoy the evening. It may just take rewarding calm behavior and not putting Peone in a situation where she has to confront a stranger until she is confident that they pose no threat.

Wolf is one of the best things in my life and I am glad to work with him to learn who to accept.

Good luck,
Mary Jane
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,348 Posts
WiscTiger has absolutely THE best suggestions!! I would definitely try a TTouch DVD.... you can put it on your computer. If your computer has no DVD player, the library, a university, or friend's computer may allow you to watch and learn.

This is my next step for my own dog. He is not fear aggressive, but frustrated when he wants to interact and cannot due to being on-lead.. but, it has become a habit. Fear and it's responses can also become habits over time, overlaying the weak nerves and making it all seem worse... so, i want to try TTouch. I cannot yet afford the DVD but I am desperate now.. I suggest you try this with Peone. She loves you, you love her-- she will feel that and probably respond to the methods in TTouch.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,348 Posts
Also, maybe this is like a person with an anxiety disorder.... not hinting at meds being the answer per se, but, maybe management techniques need to be geared towards, well, management of symptoms.. basicly, again, what WiscTiger said. Doggy version of yoga and massage every time a guest comes over and remains just outside of her zone.... and maybe too, try doing NILIF. It may just help her feel more secure and reassured, who knows?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
904 Posts
Originally Posted By: Lucina... can tell you horses absolutely KNOW your stress and react to it. I....
GSDs do know when someone fears them. A well trained dog with no issues will look to it's owner for clues but a fearful dog or one that senses his owners nerves can act out like this. It is so difficult for humans to unlearn this nervous behavior that the dog will sense. Try deep breathing loudly enough the dog can hear you next time this happens and see if the dog will look your way.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,708 Posts
Crating or removing her when people visit is the easiest solution & perhaps the best.

Acclimate her to the crate by coaxing her into it with either really good food or toys. Keep the door open initially so she hasn't been 'tricked' & she can learn that it isn't a threatening or bad environment.

She's so fearful that you should consider moving the crate from room to room. Each move s/b pleasant (food again & keep it open if she's initially uncomfortable) so that if you ever need to have it in a different room she won't come unglued at the interruption of her 'safe' routine.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
218 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
We've got people here tonight for my Dads birthday, only family that Peone already knows. They've only been here 5 minutes and it's already a disaster. I was about to put Peone on a leash when for some unknown reason my mother just opens the front door to let my Uncle and Aunt in (she wrongly assumed Peone was already under control), Peone gets away from me before I can grab her collar rushes up to my Uncle and bites him on the leg.
My parents decision is that she's being put to sleep. At this time I don't know whether I can convince them otherwise
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15,138 Posts
I feel sorry for you that the decision isn't up to you. I think she could get better but it will be a managment situation for the rest of her life.

There are some dogs that really can't be helped and letting them go is the kindest thing you can do for them. This type of dog lives in fear every day, that is very hard on a dogs brain.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
9,348 Posts
Oh, Settican-- I am so very sorry. This was too many people distracting eachother-- and a bad thing happened. In hindsight, yes, she should certainly have been onlead before anyone came over, but it's in the past now. I am so very sorry for this. Is your Uncle okay? Is your Mom, Aunt, Dad and Uncle all aware of your efforts and plans to rehabilitate Peone? Are any of them on board with the idea, to back you up? Or, do they simply want her put to sleep? Is Peopne your dog-- or does your Mom get to decide what her fate is? Whatever happens, please keep us updated. I am sending you good thoughts.
 
1 - 20 of 47 Posts
Top