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Discussion Starter #1
Okay, well not exactly never leave, but pretty darn close. I'm hoping someone has some insight and ideas that can help with one of our rescue dogs.

Some background . . . Ozzy came to rescue after his original owners were imprisoned. Another family member was coming to the house as often as possible for some time afterward to feed him and let him out, but he was left alone most of the time and all in all it was a bad situation. He came to us very underweight, very anxious, and had no idea how to play. (The first time they threw a ball it clunked him right in the head because he didn't get the idea of playing catch.) He's a very affectionate boy, but has serious barrier aggression. He also flips when visitors leave the house - all you need to do is put on your coat - and that's the bigger concern for the moment.

His foster family has done an amazing job with him over the last few months and it looks like he'll be getting a new home next weekend. We'd love to see this be a forever home so it would be great to have some tips for them to manage this "exiting" aggression. Could it be related to abandonment/separation anxiety?
 

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i've heard a lot about this and have been around a dog that was like that and they weren't all GSD's..dont kno why they do that..maybe has to do with seperation anxiety or somethin..??
 

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I don't know about separation anxiety, but I would think, after what you've said, that he associates people leaving the house with him being alone and hungry for long periods of time. Or something equally negative.

He may also have some misplaced ideas about what his job is, and be desperately trying to keep his pack together.

I'd think that creating positive linkages in his mind between people leaving and him being OK would help, such as -- have people put on their coats and reward him for sitting and being calm, and then work up to rewards when they leave and he stays calm, then have people leave and come back quickly and reward him for being calm, and so on. And do the whole leaving without a fuss business, too.

And somehow establish that the family is OK about people leaving, so he needs to be OK about it too, to relieve him of any ideas that he's supposed to be the one who keeps everyone together.

Best of luck to everyone. These stories are so inspiring -- I look forward to the time when I can be a furball foster home.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Parsifal - thanks for the ideas. I'll pass them along to the foster home to share with the adopters. We've got all fingers and paws crossed on this one. Ozzy's such a love and has really won the hearts of everyone in rescue.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
The adopters decided not to take him. Although Oz-man was great with them and their female GSD on their visit to the foster home, they talked it over and did some more research on their training options. Because Ozzie exhibits extreme people aggression in public, the trainers they trust to work with him would not be willing to have him in a group class. They would end up doing private training at home and in more controlled public settings. They've been done that road and just didn't want to go there again - although they would consider a dog with less complex issues. They just knew they weren't up to the challenge right now.

It was a blow to the foster home to get the call, but we all agreed we admired them and respected them for doing the legwork and thinking it through from all angles. In the meantime, we're considering a "bad boy" session with one of our volunteers who does training. Ozzie, my foster Duke, and another volunteer's wild man, Tyler. Each one is more devilishly handsome and more complicated than the next! They'd probably stage a coup!
 

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For the leaving thing - what if you take the dog out first? Start with that then move to taking the dog and the people out at the same time (or closer and closer to the same time) then as he gets used to that, move the people so they leave ahead of him, then before him by a greater amount of time and so on.. Just a suggestion.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
middleof . . . thanks, I'm sure they are willing to try just about anything to help Oz. It's tough because they husband and wife work opposite shifts so there isn't too many opportunities to safely try things. He's a big boy and I think they need a handler and a back-up to do any training once he gets in aggression mode.
 

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What if they change whatever it is just *before* he gets to aggression mode? Otherwise you're correcting defensively and in my experience (especially with rescues!) that's a losing battle. Is there a routine they can do - a "happy" routine - take him to his crate with a special toy or ??? so that he's comfortable during the time they're gone?

I had one that'd get wound up - started giving him a chew toy slathered in peanut butter and I tell ya - he never noticed me leave! Maybe find something that he likes that can reduce the stress for him? (each dog is different).

I did do some with mine - various sizes - where I'd act like I was leaving then after a minute or so "forget" something and come back in. When they remained calm I praised them. Then went out again for a few minutes, came back in. After several times they'd look at me bored like "just leave already!"
Just a few thoughts. :)
 

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Discussion Starter #10
He's actually okay when his foster family leaves, they did exactly what you suggested and eventually he figured out it was okay. It's just with guests that he is getting so worked up. The peanut butter kong is a good suggestion.
 
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