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Teagan Update

1249 Views 12 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  rowansd
It's been a while since I've posted.

Some of you might remember Teagan, black and tan long coat posted in Urgent who was at Toronto Animal Services.

I adopted her October 28th - brought Luc to meet her and they did alright together, I brought her home reeking of feces (I don't think she always got out to go to the washroom). At TAS they indicated she would do better in a home who had GSD experience - well heck, I'd had a dog - a GSD - for 4 months!

Teagan. Well, she scared my friend who came with me a little bit. She was....excited. Very very confident, which was what I was looking for to compliment Luc's less-confident behaviour. She pulled all over the place, very strong, and totally ignored the humans. When we got home, she almost pulled my friend off his feet and took him down the street.

She and Luc have become friends, I introduced them slowly and Luc has always been very submissive to Teagan.

Teagan was definitely used to being in charge - I do not think she is a truly dominant dog, but I think she was allowed to get away with anything at her old house. She's extremely intelligent, while Luc is of course smart as well, Teagan exhibits more reasoning thinking/behaviour than Luc does, and she obviously does weigh her options and make a decision. Luc does what I ask him to, b/c I asked him to and he's just a sweetheart. When I got Teagan, I thought she must not know any commands - how could a 5 yo not know any commands - until a few weeks in when she suddenly started sitting for me. I watched her look at me, consider me, and then sit. She'd decided I was worthy to tell her what to do. Having her has taught me so much.

Teagan bit me in the second week I had her b/c I took away a toy that was next to her on the floor (she wasn't playing with at it that moment). That lead to us taking a step back and working a lot more on leadership for my part. I also had a really great trainer come in, and look at what I was doing since Luc is so submissive, Teagan is just the polar opposite. We've come a LONG way since then

Teagan also has very high prey drive. She cannot be around any small animals or dogs 20-30lbs and under as she is set on 'kill'. (The trainer/behaviourist commented that a lot of dogs w/high prey drive want to play w/their prey....but that she just wants to kill. No kidding!....She'd caught him by surprise) We're working on it, using tethering and muzzling, but when her prey drive kicks in, I've dumped a litre of water on her head and she didn't notice it. I'm going to get an e-collar to do some work w/that.

Teagan is also exhibits dominant behaviour to non-pack (aka not luc) dogs. She stays very calm, very confident, but if there is a dog she judges not to be sufficiently respectful/submissive, she judges the optimum time, leash-wise, to attack, and then goes for it. The trainer commented she gives very little warning, body-language wise, but learning to read the tiny signs has helped. I've seen her stare an off-leash dog down from 30M away so that the dog left the sidewalk and walked further away, in the middle of the road, and the dog went from displaying forward confident body language to submissive language. We're working on refocusing her staring, as she also hard stares at people. The only time she tried to attack a person is when I'd taken her off the prong (she'd been doing really well!) and was walking her on a flat collar. She is walked on a traffic lead so that she is tethered to me outside as well.

I took Teagan to a SchH club shortly after I got her - maybe a month after? - to see if that would be a good outlet for her prey drive - she did okay, wasn't sure what to make of it, however the next week she was diagnosed w/hip dysplasia (and she has a bone chip in her left hip) so that's out. We've worked on getting her down to a healthy weight, plus she is on metacam and supplements. I started taking her to a dog pool to do swimming rehab, and as we lived in an apartment on the second floor, this month we moved to a bungalow (no stairs!) and we have a yard now too.

For all that Teagan can be aggressive, she's not a mean dog, and I just love having her. She's taught me so much about dogs, and about myself as a leader. She's challenged me, but that's good. And, her confidence has really helped Luc - times when he'd get nervous, he'd look over, and see her going along without a care in the world, and suddenly he'd be walking a bit taller. It's great.

Sorry if this is long, I think it's within the limits though
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You are my hero! Great to hear you are working with her when most would give up !
wow! i'm impressed; she's lucky to have you; stay committed to her; she'll come along w/time; congrats on saving what sounds like a wonderful dog
Thank you for not giving up on her. She sounds like a sassy handfull, and it sounds like she's got the perfect owner for her!
Originally Posted By: MeimaThank you for not giving up on her. She sounds like a sassy handfull, and it sounds like she's got the perfect owner for her!
+1!! Keep up the good work!

I thought something happened to you when you were out backpacking--you disappeared for such a long time! Glad to hear that Teagan's coming along so well but sorry to hear about the HD. Long walks and hiking are still good though so at least you can still get in lots of exercise with her!

Sounds like you're doing a great job working with her!

I can't remember if you have cats? I hope not with that kind of prey drive!

My friend has a rescue gsd who sounds a lot like Teagan when it comes to small animals. He rushes right over and picks them up! No warning or anything! Very scary! She did one of those feisty fido classes with him and that helped a lot.

Good luck and keep us posted!
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thanks guys....she is a lot more than i expected, but that's actually good i think. teaches me a lot

ruth, i just went backpacking mishaps, thankfully

i do have cats - including my foster cat and my friend's cat who lives w/me b/c her dog punctured her esophagus over food aggression, i have 4 cats - including a 16 year old w/three legs and no teeth - 2 rabbits, and 2 guinea pigs.

i knew it was a risk, b/c the shelter didn't temperament test for small animals. teagan does have a crate, and before, during the evenings i would put the cats away in my room and bring teagan out tethered to me (otherwise she'd be over at the rabbit condo, staring in a most murderous fashion.....sometimes she'd sit in the dog bed, stare at the rabbits, and death shake the bed wildly. sigh.). she only ever saw the guinea pigs a couple of times,! her cuz squeaks just like a guinea pig so she'd manage to get them going (they were up above out of her sight) and she'd just go crazy w/excitement.

she needs to be caught quickly b/c if she goes into drive, i'm not weak, but correcting her to even just get her attention 'no killing the cat' just didn't work. like i said, i dumped a litre of water on her head once and she didn't blink.

so we need to be careful, i've also been using the muzzle, she was clearly muzzle trained before.

also, we moved to the bungalow, which is good for her HD, but also has a lot more room so the small animals have their own rooms, complete w/child safety knobs (teagan understands doorknobs, and has learnt how to work latches). at nighttime, teagan is crated and they switch being out. it's working pretty good, and it's a lot nicer at the new place due to the space.

yup, i still walk teagan and hike w/her. i had been doing short runs w/her, to try to get her weight down, and the vet said it was OK, but i decided to stop those and just work w/walking/hiking/playing with the ball etc.

i also really want to work on her with other dogs. i got her improved w/strangers petting her - she used to bare her teeth if they reached over her head to pet her - she's totally fine w/side or bottom of the head pets, so my understanding is that's another rank issue - but she now knows she can't bare her teeth at people no matter where they pet.
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i was thinking what i wrote wasn't totally correct.

she did try to attack another person one other time. we went away to a cabin (part of a 'resort') over xmas to do some hiking, and my mom and i were walking the dogs. the owner was a former cop in england and a PSD handler, apparently - he has two GSDs, the male a retired PSD, the female a washout who he has to 'take on' every couple of weeks. he was walking them off-leash and they saw us and went for the attack. he never called them off, and while i defended the dogs, i didn't do so as strongly as i normally would b/c i just couldn't believe he'd stand there and watch, but that's what he did. my mom had teagan, i grabbed her back from her as i knew teagan would be aggressive and my mom doesn't have the same experience (not like i'm some expert). so i had both dogs, and i yelled NO!, and blocked, which is hard w/two dogs of your own and two circling/attacking dogs, eventually luc slipped his collar and ran off, i managed to stop one of his dogs, the whole thing was just awful, i was screaming at him to get his dogs, and we ran down the road looking for luc, then i gave teagan to my mom so i could cover more ground faster. luc had actually gone under a trailer, my mom, teagan, and the owner (who had got his dogs away) found him, teagan growled at luc to come out, and i was coming back having not found him on the road, so i went under the trailer and got luc. teagan had broken her prong from plunging at the other dogs, and b/c we were in the country, i didn't have a back up on her, but she allowed my mom to restrain her, and i had my mom but her lead on the agitation collar she wears at all times (i find the handle handy w/her). they were on the other side of the trailer, and the owner told my mom he could take teagan, and moved towards them. teagan then snarled and shot out at him....and he didn't take teagan after all. on our way back, i yelled at the owner for walking dog aggressive dogs off-leash w/no recall when he knew there were other dogs at the resort, how irresponsible he was to do that, and then not to try to stop the attack. he said 'is the dog under the trailer the one who was in a shelter for 3 years?' and then said a small 'oh' when my mom told him yes. what an ass. i should've been stronger in my defence instead of assuming that a cop would actually stand up and do what was right. i did make it clear to him (this was xmas eve) that if his dogs came near mine again he'd have a couple of dogs with broken ribs. he got upset at that, but F*** him. normally i take out aggressive dogs, it was my fault that i gave him and his dogs more respect than they deserved. anyways, we didn't see his dogs again.

so teagan did try to attack someone then. i didn't find out about it until a half hour after the fact, and since i honestly think she knew who was with us, and who was against us, and since it was long enough afterwards she couldn't make the connection, i gave her a treat for going after him. luc was fine, no injuries, and i acted like nothing happened and he did okay. i felt terrible about the whole thing though.

teagan also on that trip did slice a little cut on my brother's hand, she got out when we were moving stuff in (i was in the bathroom) and tried to get into the car - she loves the car, she tries to get into the trunk - and he grabbed her by the collar and she whipped her hand around, and as he threw her off him her tooth sliced a really small cut. i was not happy with teagan at all - to me that's as bad as biting, though my brother insists it wasn't a big deal.

teagan is not muzzled on regular walks, but if we're going somewhere where there will be a lot of people interaction or other dogs, she is muzzled.

and teagan did give me a warning bite in the side of the head a few weeks ago. we were practicing lifts (she was not in pain while doing this, i'm just trying to be proactive in case of pain/issues w/her HD in the future....get her used to it now). she knocked off my glasses and missed my eye by an inch and a half. perhaps she was being defensive, to be honest, i didn't stop to consider her motivations, which i should've, i just reacted and held her down, then made her do obed.

after the first bite, where i backed away b/c the look she gave made it clear she was willing to go after me, and i don't have the experience to handle that sort of situation, i really worked in my head to have a confident proactive response. i'm not sure if it was necessary w/this second situation, but i will say, she didn't go after me for holding her down, so that's actually a big change in terms of roles.

she really loves the new house, but b/c she can look out now, it being a bungalow, she stands up at the window and watches people go by and sometimes - she's generally not vocal when aggressive - will let out a low growl or a sort of huff, like a 'hmmph!' - but she's starting to show some territoriality, so we're working on that, moving is another chance to really work on our pack structure. she never had the chance to watch people go past our 'territory' before.

i also realized this sounds all negative, but she's made huge strides, and so have i. she's far calmer, far more deferrential to me, she's doing great with recall and learning new tricks that luc is much slower at, she really is a great dog. and just a sweetheart who loves to hang out with me.
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Wow, lots going on there. What a jerk that guy was. I am glad that no one got hurt! Very scary.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding but it sounds like you perceive a power struggle there and are trying to prove to her that you are more powerful by holding her down. I think such strong arm techniques may feel necessary but, in the long run, will be detrimental to your relationship. And I would stop alpha rolling her (the holding her down business). There is no purpose for that whatsoever and it may her her life if she decides she needs to defend herself at full strength. Fair and consistent leadership is the only way to go with a dog like this, in my opinion. You want Teagan to trust you 100% and as long as you act like that she will never fully trust you.

As for Teagan snapping for the collar grab--that's totally normal and expected. I NEVER grab the collar of a dog I don't know because I know how threatening that is through all the years of working with dogs with issues. From the dog's perspective, such a defensive move is totally justified when someone you don't know grabs you around the neck. It may not be socially acceptable but it is understandable. As for the lifting, it sounds like she's not ready for that. Forcing her when she's not ready can be counterproductive should/when you really need to do it. Keep working on building trust with her and the small steps will pay off in the end.

Have you read Suzanne Clothier's, "And Bones Would Rain From the Sky" and Pam Dennison's, "Bringing Light to Shadow?" I think both would be really helpful for working with Teagan.
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oh, i didn't alpha roll her - i held her down for a really short period of time. it was just instinctual, but do i think it was the best thing to do? no. i may not have behaved perfectly, but she bit my head, close to my eye, so neither did she. that doesn't excuse me, but - i'm not perfect. it happened one time, and we really focused on doing obed. afterwards, and our bond is good, improving everyday.
we moved past it. doing that kind of thing is not how i work w/her or train her.

isn't bringing light to shadow about a fearful dog? teagan is most definitely not that. i know the dog was also aggressive, so perhaps that would be useful, i don't know. i have been reading the other end of the leash and it's great, very helpful, it's really helping me work on my non-verbal signals.

i do small lifts with her. this was the start of a higher lift - we didn't get high - but she obviously didn't like it.
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I understand--you reacted in fear just like she did! You said that she's getting more comfortable with you holding her down so that's why I thought you were alpha rolling her. Sorry for misunderstanding.

"The Other End of the Leash" is excellent. Dennison's Shadow was anti-social and also aggressive. I know it has been very helpful for people with aggressive dogs. And the Clothier book is a really nice one for perspective and bonding.

Maybe you could just keep it at the level of sliding your hands under her for a while. In an emergency you can also wrap her in a blanket and lift her that way.

I love the pics, btw! What about getting Luc a jacket? They make some great ones now. Something like a horse blanket would probably help a lot. Chama loves her jacket and it enables her to stay outside with me when it's really cold.
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Originally Posted By: BowWowMeowI understand--you reacted in fear just like she did! You said that she's getting more comfortable with you holding her down so that's why I thought you were alpha rolling her. Sorry for misunderstanding.
oh, no worries! i was referring to, the first time she bit me, i was told it was a dominance thing, b/c she'd been playing with the toy, had stopped, and when i picked it up, she went for me and bit me - just scratches, but it still wasn't pleasant. i looked at her, and i could see in her eyes, and her whole demeanour - she was ready and willing to take me on, and to take me down. honestly, my reaction was - i don't know how to do that safely, this dog doesn't give a sh*t about hurting me - so i backed away and then immediately put her through an obed. routine. i was told after that that i needed to be able to proactively respond to her. so a few weeks ago, with the warning bite, especially in that location, i'd worked through so many scenarios in my head to confident if it happened again, that i just held her down without thinking. but that's been the only time. and looking back over the scenario, i think i responded w/dominance and i'm not so sure that's the basis on which she warning bit me - so not the best, but i figured at least she knows i'm confident and proactive, which given her personality, isn't a terrible thing.
that she didn't go after me for holding her down i think is a sign of the progress we've made with me being leader, but generally, i try for the calm confident leadership.
actually, i was so happy. last week we were in the old apartment, and she was tethered to me, but moving towards the rabbit condo, and i reached out to her side - she whipped her head around with her teeth bared, saw my hand, stopped, and then licked it.

b/c actually, watching her - and i do want to expand my dog library - and reading the other end of the leash - at first i was told teagan was a dominant dog. now, i strongly believe she was allowed to be dominant in her previous home - but i don't think she's a true dominant dog. to me, mcconnell's descriptions of 'alpha wanna-bes' and 'testy, status-seeking dogs' fit teagan perfectly. she will challenge for status, but still on some level needs to prove that she is dominant, which to me sort of shows that she truly isn't.

but it was definitely a road for me, to get used to handling a dog who was perfectly willing to go after me, or, off the prong, after some random stranger. not to mention the dogs. she's taught me a lot, and she's not at all a bad dog, but compared to luc, who has massive under-socialization/confidence issues, here comes this confident dog who brokes no challenger, at least in the dog world. she's learned to be better with me, but it's very hard for her not to constantly reinforce her dominance around other dogs.

thanks re: the pics! luc has a jacket from ruffwear, it's really nice, he usually wears that, and i also got him a navy blue sweater edged in bright green w/a bright green whale on the back
. i think one of the problems is he doesn't have a lot of fur under his arms and around his privates - still normal, but coupled w/his low body fat, it makes it harder for him. i'd like to get a belly blanket and then try and see how that is early next year, early november again, and then see if we can be successful there, if we can camp in the winter. we were supposed to be backpacking this weekend, but i can't have him be as cold as he was before. he's fine for day hikes, it's really just hanging out outside in camp that's hard for him.

have you been doing anything on the bruce lately? i'm not getting out as much as i'd like, sadly....
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Hi Jarn, Glad to see you posting again! I too wondered where you had gotten off to, glad things are going well, it sounds like you are doing a great job.
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