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I currently have a new foster, Bozo, whom has only been with me for about 6 days. The previous history I have on him is that he was purchased as a puppy by a man for his son. Bozo was chained outside and that is where we believe he stayed always. Fast forward, Bozo is now approximately 2 years old and man calls a rescue person. She takes him in when the man threatens to shoot him because they no longer want him. New Rescue has him for almost 2 months.

At the rescue, he was in an outdoor kennel and would not fence fight with the other dogs. Most dogs he was fine with being in kennels next to him. Out of kennel dogs he would run and bark at the fence/kennel. Rescue person, thought he would be ok with some dogs, not others. Rescue person did not spend much time with him. She had some recent health problems that prevented her from working him. She called Echo and Echo agreed to foster him.

Again, long story short, I am his foster mom. I have about 15 years of training under my belt. I have had dog aggressive dogs in the past and managed to work with them in the home just fine. I have worked with a dog in the past with major possession aggression and managed things with him just fine. This current foster is totally different than what I am experienced in dealing with. I know it and not ashamed to admit it.

At this point I do not trust Bozo at all. The reasons are many but some of them are:
He is dog aggressive. On the one introduction I tried with one of my own dogs, Malfoy, Bozo attacked him. Both dogs were on lead. The leashes were loose. Malfoy was with my husband and I had Bozo. Watching Bozo very closely, I saw no signs for concern. He looked at Malfoy, but did not have an intense stare. There was no posturing or tail wagging or any clear body signs of too keen an interest or aggression or threat. There were no sounds either. Bozo appeared very relaxed. I allowed Bozo to walk up to Malfoy. The leash was loose the entire time for both dogs. Bozo did not rush up, walked calmly and went to sniff Malfoy's neck/side of his head. Malfoy was not looking at Bozo at all. There was a quick sniff of Malfoy's neck from Bozo and then he attacked. Hubby pulled Malfoy away quickly as I pulled Bozo away quickly. Hubby and Malfoy got scratched from teeth, but I think we reacted fast enough, there were no further injuries. Again, no sound or anything from Bozo. His lack of signals concerns me. Hubby is now holding a grudge against Bozo and nothing I do will change that (Malfoy is hubby's fav dog since Achielles passed away). So, now Bozo is not allowed around the other dogs at all.

Bozo is aloof. He does not seek out human contact. He is content to wander about on his own. Working on name game and such, but has no interest, even with food present. Will occasionally try to play with me, but does more bouncing away than anything else.

Bozo freezes or turns sharply when touched. He does not like being touched anywhere, except when he presents it, his head. His body tenses and he snaps his head around when touched on the side, back, hips etc.

He seems to have very little/no bite inhibition. When giving food by hand he just about takes my fingers off. Not in the way a dog that is trying to get just the food while working does (my Axel is like that) but grabs food/fingers/knuckle/hand, anything that doesn't drop the food. If held tightly, he just bites the hand, though not hard enough to puncture, deffiently harder than I am comfortable allowing other people to try to feed or play with him. He does this same thing with a toy. He is not restricting much in his bite. Deffiently needs more bite inhibition and manners about it all.

He does have other basic issues I would expect a brand new foster to have (not housetrained, likes to mark), no basic commands, dirty etc. These I am not concerned about. The other issues leave me hanging though.

I have talked to Echo about him already. We are all a bit up in the air about him as Echo was not able to personally test him before he came to me. I was fine with that by the way... also trusting of the previous rescue. So now... if I do keep and foster him, besides basic training, which I have minimally started, are there other things I can do to work on his bite inhibition training or is he too old? I will work on socializing to other dogs, but much much much more slowly and no visiting up close for a long time. I do have 2 year old twins and I do not trust him because I cannot read him. He really gives off little to none in the way of normal dog body language that I am accustomed to reading.

Sorry this is so long... additional training advice is welcome. Your thoughts are also appreciated. Thank you.
 

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Thanks for taking him on, and truthfully, I think alot of the issues you are having is because he seems to have had no real hands on interaction or training. So it's kind of like you having to teach him EVERYTHING about being a 'dog' in the world of 'humans'. Stuff that we normally and easily train a puppy, so they learn without us even realize we are teaching them (like him taking the treats with your hand
) sounds like he really doesn't 'get it'.

Kind of picture you got a 'wild child' that's only been raised in the woods without people interaction. So manners and training (and I bet your dog doesn't even know you are communicating with him) are zero. He's really hearing 'blah blah blah blah blah' from you. Rather than most of our dogs hear 'blah blah 'sit' blah blah'.

Think time and one on one. Learning to trust and depend on you. Learning that you ARE talking and trying to communicate with him. He'd be ideal for clicker training because it's all positive, clear as a bell when done right, done with food (you can toss it on the ground if you need to initially) and animals get it's a way to COMMUNICATE and work with us. Not a 'them and us' but more a 'we'.

Think patience, time, and one on one is really key here. And I bet once he starts to 'get it' you'll be amazed how fast he progresses in alot of the issues you are currently having. In many ways, he's almost as empty as slate as a 7 week old puppy just coming to your house.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I admit, when I decided to get back into fostering after about 4 years out of it, I didn't think I would be jumping into a tough case right off the bat lol. I do agree that just about everything is because of lack of being around people enough.

I am a bit concerned because lately things at home have been so hectic I haven't had a chance to do as much as he needs. Not to mention having to have him crated so much of the day because I can't trust him around the toddlers or my other dogs. I am doing the best I can at this point though. Hopefully things will settle a bit and I'll be able to spend more time working on desensitizing him to everything.

I teach obed classes and plan on bringing him with me today. I will see what I can do with him before class and after everyone leaves (continuous classes from 4 until about 7/8pm). I do clicker training and agree that I will be starting him off using this method. I will have to see how he is about taking food in a strange place as he has not been to the training building yet. Hopefully he is hungry enough! He did go 5 days without eating but has started to eat now at home, so he seems to be adjusting ok.

What would you suggest I start working on first though? Should I be focusing more on at home things, like not marking in the house and learning not to pace and whine and be anxious in the house or should I work more on desensitizing him to the other dogs in the house? maybe desensitizing with the kids? He has so many issues that I don't know where to begin really. I know clicker training will be a good start for manners, but that is the easy part and can be done fairly easily IMO at this point. His life issues are more worrisome at this point than his lack of training. I know training will build confience so I will deffinetly be starting... just wondering what others view points are on what should be the focus of his rehabilitation for a new home.

He is a pretty blank slate, but there are still concerns. His lack of proper body language, lack of bite inhibition and his hard to read anxiety cues are troubleing to me. His teeth are bigger and can cause a heck of a lot more damage than a 7 week old puppy's.

At any rate, sorry my posts are so long. I would like to have a successful start back into fostering though!
 

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I would take a look at the Leerburg site if you have not yet. http://www.leerburg.com. There are some great articles that deal with introducing new dogs into a home with other dogs, and on dealing with dog aggressive dogs. I normally say pick and choose what you like out of Ed's writing because some of it is a bit over the top and only makes sense with the most extreme cases, but it sounds to me like you have a pretty extreme case on your hands. If it were me, I would have him exist in a crate in the house for 30 days with virtually no interaction from anyone just to get used to the sites and sounds. Feed him, take him out to go potty, but not much else. Then, slowly start working on everything.

You are a saint for taking this project boy on, and the idiots that chained him in the back yard are the ones that need to be shot.
 

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I agree that TIME will be one the biggest factors here to help Bozo "get" what is expected from him.

Keeta has some of these same issues when I got her, though not as extreme as Bozo (so you have my endless admiration and respect for taking on Bozo, Keeta was enough of a handful for me!). I believe Keeta also was a chained dog prior to me adopting her (she was picked up as a stray), but as opposed to Bozo, what she had going for her was that she was younger (about 1yr old), and LOVED people and attention - but her attention seeking was a bit like Bozo's, growling if I tried to handle certain parts of her body, and shying away when I tried to initiate petting.

Never having been intergrated into a human pack, Keeta resented and fought my attempts of establishing myself as a leader, and my attempts of controling her (like, walking her on a leash - not letting her have certain things). It took time for her to understand that we were a TEAM, that we were family. Although friendly and wanting play and attention, she was in her own world, so to speak. What really turned her around was reward-based obedience training. It was like suddenly a light went off in her head!! It was as if my role in her life "clicked", and she turned out to love and excel in obedience!

Keeta had/has many of the same issues, and most are resolved, some are getting better, and the rest are being managed.

Dog Aggression:

Keeta gives mixed and confusing signals, or like Bozo, no signals at all. This freaks out other dogs and they often will growl, lunge, and bark at her even if she is a distance from them and not even paying attention to them. Keeta would get uncontrollably excited and hyper at the sight of another dog, even now, with all the work I have done with her (have had her three years), keeping her calm around another dog is still difficult. She would approach other dogs nicely enough, tail wagging, but then the dominance dance would start and things would deteriorate from there.

Even in classes while on leash, she would suddenly and without warning, lunge towards a dog, even if she wasn't looking at the dog! It seemed totally random. I'd pull her back, and she would look elsewhere, while the poor victim would hackle and bark at this unprovoked attack. Keeta seemed to know only one way of interacting with other dogs, and that was to jump on their backs and grab their necks, which seemed to be her version of "play".

This is an issue that I manage. I keep her away from other dogs. She is always on leash and under my control. Keeta has calmed down a lot by me taking her to training a LOT and being around other dogs in a controled situation, and by having a boyfriend dog that she respects and defers to who is teaching her appropriate dog-interaction skills. This dog had made such a huge difference in Keeta, it is astouding! But she is still controlled around other dogs all the time, as she easily reverts back to her old behaviours.

Bite-inhibition:

When I got Keeta, she was a mouther. Fortunately had good bite-inhibition from the start, but jusl like a spoiled puppy, was constantly mouthing everything and anything. I very calmly and persistantly discouraged this, pushing her muzzle away with no, no, no, a million times a day. It took about six months for her to stop mouthing furniture, clothes, bedding, cats, etc.
I think for Bozo, you CAN teach him bite-inhibition, but it will take time, especially since he is older.

Issues on touch:

Yup, been there. Time, time, patience. Make it positive all the time. Keeta would growl at me if I touched her tail, or her croup. Wouldn't let me handle her feet. Several times a day I would calmly, matter-of-factly pet her croup, or pick a foot and put it down, and praise, play, reward. The other day, I was just remembering how Keeta would growl at having her tail touched, so just to test her, I bent over as she was walking in front of me and gave her tail a tug: she didn't even react, it was nothing to her now.

It took about 6 months for Keeta to relax and trust me. She used to worry and be afraid of everything and anything new or different.
It seems to me that one day, I just saw her take a big breath, let it out, and her whole demeanor relaxed. She seemed happy and content, her confidence shot up, her fears changed to curiosity.

For Bozo, the main thing will be time. He must be pretty bewildered with all the changes in his life, and confused. As MRL was saying, he probably has no concept of trust, of communication, of relationships. I think that the classes that I took with Keeta was the door that opened her understanding to look to me for direction and helped her understand that there was behaviour, then there was GOOD behaviour (the kind that gets rewards!).

I wouldn't expect too much from Bozo at this point. Though badly in need of training and socialization, I would just keep him at home with a predictable routine to get him settled and help him develop some trust in you (hard with little kids in the house, I know).
All the other suggestions are worth looking into and pursuing, but for the first month, I'd just keep things simple and low key: I woudn't even bring him to the classes yet, that might be just too much too soon. Keep him home, have a set schedule, take things VERY slow. Give him some predictability and stability in his life.

Thank you for taking on such a difficult dog, even Keeta sounds like a walk in the park in comparison, but the key points I'm trying to make is to work on stuff a little at a time and to give him time.

As for what to teach first, I think house-breaking would be a great start. Then just a sit and wait command, and I would re-inforce all desirable behaviours that he offeres you, like looking at you, responding to his name, any attempts at playing with you, even if all he does is bounce away. If he only so much as bounces towards you ONCE (even if it is by accident), I would make a big deal out of that and give him yummy treats!

Let us know how things go.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I am taking your advice (both of you). I left him home today when I went to class. I will leave him home until I feel he has settled in some here at home.

Thank you both for your advice and telling me your experineces. I will keep ya'll updated on his progress.

Anything else you or anyone else can think of would be great!
 

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Our rescued GSD, Nina, has some similar issues, but again, not as bad - and she, too, kept my hands full (still does sometimes!).

Her dog aggression I determined was fear based. Although somewhat dominant, she in general likes other dogs, but on leash would attack first, ask questions later. This took a lot of time and many positive encounters to get it managable. I don't know if she will ever completely get over it - we can pass closely to another well behaved dog, but we still cannot have an unfamiliar dog invade her personal space. She, too, did not alert like most dogs, which is why I found out the hard way that she was like this. My own reactions were also paramount, as I'm sure you already know.

Nina did not know how to play. She did not understand any typical play behaviors other than "wrestle," which does not work well with humans. Her only other "play" was to dance away. Again, time and patience, positive rewards for doing the right thing, etc. She's still learning, but has discovered that chasing balls is fun (still working on brining it back consistantly!), enjoys tug of war, and a few other play type interactions.

We had to adopt a very strict NILIF policy with Nina. My other dog was a pretty dominant dog, and I've had many a working dog in my lifetime, but Nina was a project. Not only did she need the structure for the sake of leadership, but she also needed the structure in her life. Without it, she was terrible. We also made use of a crate as long as we could (she was an escape artist), and have finally been able to invest in a working dog crate. It is a great tool.

My one suggestion would be to keep things as simple as possible for Bozo. Pick just a couple things to work on at a time - for example: one command, one area to be petted, and one random thing. Leave the rest be until those are okay, then add something else. Sometimes they learn/get over something very quickly and you can add something new within a day or two. Sometimes, it takes months (or more). I had one dog that HATED being petted/brushed near her hind end. We went very slowly, only a few inches at a time. After a few years, I could (gently) brush her entire back side, but it took a long time to get to that point. Bozo may need someone willing/able to take that long.

Go slow, and don't rush things. I know it is so easy to want to get a foster ready as quickly as possible, but let me tell you, Nina made much better progress after we adopted her and I stopped worrying about making her "adoptable" (we started out fostering her, too). Try to change your outlook, it may help.

Thanks for taking this guy in, and I hope things go well eventually!
 

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Thanks Shepdog.

I don't think Hoss's (FKA Bozo) dog aggression is fear based. At least not from what I have observed thus far. I did let him see Malfoy and Axel earlier today while getting the two out of the truck after training and Hoss was in the fenced yard. He showed more normal doggy signs today while in the yard. He was so body forward, highly interested and dominate body posture. I saw no raised hair or worry on his face, just keen interest and forward motion. No verbalizing/vocalizing and was just too "high" to have been fear-based interest. I will have to take things very slow with him, but in the end I am thinking he will just not do well in a home with other dogs. I think I can get him to a point like Nina where he will be able to be walked around other well mannered dogs, but I doubt he will ever be able to live with them.

Hoss has started playing more with me, but not in ernest. He is showing more submissiveness to me and my husband, even though we have really given no cause for it. He has taken to even exposeing his belly when we approach
I have been told in the past that just myself is very intimidating. I carry myself "high" I suppose and have an energy and air of confidence that I find most dogs pick up on. I have done nothing but clicker training with him and it's even been all without a leash on in the house and in the yard. The only times I have even had him leashed were in the house to prevent him from marking everything in sight and stay away from the other dogs while in their crates. He is turning out to be a very sweet and loving boy afterall and loves to have his ears rubbed


Anyway, he is on a strict NILIF program also. He has been crated a lot lately too because of his limping (see left leg limping thread). I have stopped a lot of the clicker work with him right now because of the limping. Vet appt in progress for that again btw. Thankfully he is not an escape artist and is content in the fenced yard when he is out there.

I will take your suggestion and simplify things even more for him. Take it down to housetraining, sit and touching his back (not something he is super touchy about but a good place to start with handleing I think).

You are right it is so hard sometimes to not rush things a bit. I would love to see him go to a forever home without other dogs or very young children (I have 2 yr old twins) where more time can be spent with him and his rehabilitation. When I agreed to foster him, we didn't know he had these issues otherwise a different foster home might have been more appropriate. But he is with me now and I will do the best I can with him! Thank you for taking the time to let me know about your experiance with a similar type dog.
Oh and BTW, I figured out how to get him to stop chomping my hand for the treat ... LOL I just toss it to him for now. Later (probably much later) I will work on easiness with taking it (Zen work).
 

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Nice to have an update on Hoss, good to see that he is coming along slowly. Looking forward to hearing more about his progress, as slow as it may be. But, as I always tell people when it comes to rehabilitating difficult dogs, that a small change in benaviour is actually, for the dog, a HUGE change in behaviour!


So congratulations on moving mountains and bringing about miralcles.
 

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My rescue, Rosie, is so much like these dogs its amazing! I found out on the dog aggression thing that its only the dogs that come up into her face that she has a problem with. If they come up and sniff her butt she is o.k. - Go Figure, Huh!!
I also was lucky to find a trainer that works with a Rottweiler/Pitbull rescue and she also owns a training facility with daycare. I take Rosie in to daycare where she has a couple of dogs she can play with. She is a big bully and they don't care, luckily. She is like Keeta above, and grabs them by the neck.
She also gets really excited in agility class which we just started a month ago, when the other dogs are running so we have to focus on paying attention to me. Even after 18months I still have a hard time getting her to look at me when in class. She still, at 3yrs, has no attention span either.
I was lucky that when she tried to bite me to keep a bone I just reacted by putting her in a head lock and prying the bone out of her mouth. She hasn't tried that since but I still have to come down on her once in a while when we are playing 'cause she gets to rough with her mouth. Mostly she remembers to be careful and still play at the same time though.
Rosie is way too smart and picks up on everything so I have that to deal with too. I am guessing Hoss might have some of the same issues but I don't know how different handling males would be from handling females. We normally have female dogs so we can have flower gardens!!!
I was also told by the GSD club in my area to get the dog out more, not less, so when you take Hoss to class put him in a crate. Thats what my daycare does to Rosie to get her desensitized to other dogs. The others can play around in the room with her crate and she has to learn to just sit in there and calm down.

Have Fun!!!
 
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