Dog Forum banner

1 - 20 of 22 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
880 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I wanted to put a more detailed account of our first experience with a vet behaviorist outside of Trucker Training Journal so that I couple get some more opinions on the program we were given for experienced dog owners.

Sorry for the super long post this is going to result in.:eek:


The vet behaviorist we met with was very through in going over problems and history before even attempting to work him him. 72 hours before we met with her I was to return an "Interview Form" and Home/Reactivity Videos so she could begin to understand Trucker. She provided me with a report and program at the end of the session so a lot of the information I am going to detail comes from there but some of it is what she said during our session also.

Her summation of his history:
-He has phobic behaviors
-He is a 10 out of 10 (terrified) while outside his home
-He has improved from a 5 out 10 to a 3 out of 10 while inside the home with just me
-He is awesome with all dogs
Her evaluation:
-He exhibited all his problem behaviors (froze/would not walk, frozen growling in pen, growl and bark when approached, trembling, tracking strange person)
-Through use of training techniques we improved his behavior 100% (allowed stranger to walk him, move and not freeze around stranger, would not growl when stranger turned head, stopped tracking stranger)
-He was able to eat treats while stranger was around
-Walked past stranger without cowering or fully tail tucking (after only 20 minutes of training)
-By the end he could stand near stranger without terror but was still fearful
Her behavioral assessments:
- He has a genetic predisposition to fear, from a lack of socialization and trauma
-Accounts for his persistent fear from both people and the environment
-Was most likely never socialized with people properly but grew up with dogs
-Traumatized by interactions with people
-Due to reports give by finder, he was brought to animal control with long injuries on his back that appeared to be from a beating
-Exhibits scaring under chin and on inside of legs that are consistent with escaping (climbing a fence)
-Likely he was escaping confinement and was beaten when owner found him
-Displays fear aggression
-Exhibited fear aggression behavior if a stranger merely turned their head or looked at him.
-This behavior escalates to if he is kept in place
Cautioned to keep all people away at this time
-He has generalized anxiety & hyper-vigilance
-Constantly paces inside home (varies pattern and is not "zoned out" so does not appear to be exhibiting seizure behavior)
-Appears excessively stimulated because he will continue to paces even though he is so tired his "eye will close"
-Only rests while eating or playing
-Triggers for panic are primarily humans & human noises
-Has generalized noise phobic but human noises cause the most panic
-Exhibits unusual repetitive behavior of shaking head and scratching ears with hind leg
-Exhibits ear scratching about 5 times an hour, lasting 5 seconds with no trigger (sometimes even while mid-walk)
-Exhibits head shaking about 1 time an hour, for 5 seconds. About 80% of the time barking will trigger head shaking.
Her protocol/program recommendations:
-Exert extreme caution around people, prevent any threatening behavior
-When visitors come, put him away or leashing and keep him focused on me
-Stop people from reaching for him unless he approaches them with his tail wagging
-Stop taking him to the dog park
-This does not reduce his fear of people and he should never be loose around strange people (it also increases his thought that dogs are better than people)
-He is a "special needs" dog and cannot be trained like a regular dog
-He should never be punished (shouted out or let loose to make mistakes)
-He should only encounter people when he is working with them (they should not talk to him or reach for him)
-I must predict any aggressive threats and back away before they happen (every time he practices aggressive behavior it gets better & he gains confidence in it)
-First eliminate pacing/restlessness around home & increase attention on me
-Stop all "corrections" (even mild ones because they maintain his fear of me and strangers)
-Eliminate all triggers that elicit a terrified response
-Begin with Noise Desensitization
-Play a CD of people noises while at work. Start with a barely audible level. After 3-5 days turn volume up 10-20%. Repeat until he does not respond to the CD
-Later we will record actual neighborhood sounds and repeat process both inside and outside of home
-Only allow for controlled exercise (preventing any play aggression)
-While tethered play tug for 5 seconds then offer his food so he releases toy (repeat)
- Do NOT use the "Leave It" command
-If he exhibits play aggression, place board in between him and I and walk away
-Use all food for exercises
-Record how much he is eating everyday
-Use a feeding toy to feed him, this will replace pacing because he has "to hunt his food"
-Stop all obedience commands
-Only work on tricks/commands that require him to move
-Tether him at least 2xs a day for at least 5 minutes/at most 15 minutes to teach him to remain calm
-He must wear a harness and leash at all times
-If he picks up something he is not allowed pick up leash and walk him outside (he will drop it)
-Tie him up/pen him to brush him
-Use 2 brushes, when he grabs one then use the the other to continue brushing (repeat)
-When he starts performing random commands/behaviors be a zombie and do not move until he is calm
-When home he must be tethered, I must hold leash, or he is in a pen
-Cover all glass (doors & windows) so that he cannot see outside
-Block all access to hiding places
-He must remain in the same room I am
-Only walk 50-100 feet from home, use treats on these walks
-If he freezes, stop, hold pressure on leash until he moves (do NOT turn around or talk to him)
-Use high value treats
-Use front attach harness (we will use a head collar later but he is too fearful at this time)
-He must wear a head collar (Snoot Loop) while training with people
-Have strange person first ignore him but toss food over the side of pen, then have stranger toss food back and forth until he passes person (reward). Practice until he runs back and forth past stranger and acts normally.
-Practice having him wear head collar and run back and forth for food while alone multiple times a day

Any things you think are weird or advice you have, please let me know. I am not sure how I feel about all of her program suggestions, so I would like to get the thoughts of experienced dog owners (he is my first dog after all).

By the way if you got to the end, THANK YOU! :thumbsup:
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,437 Posts
My advice is to join the FB group Fearful Dogs and look at the website of the same name. Maybe some of the info there will reveal why I feel the way I do about some of the advice you've been given.

Must say that the advice to tether and not allow the dog to find a safe haven and must remain in room with you, raises a huge red flag that reads "flooding".
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
884 Posts
I've never had a dog like yours. It sounds like a whole lot to take in and implement. I did read carefully, but given his level of fear and history, sounds about right.
I haven't followed all of your threads, so I assume he hasn't actually been aggressive, so this is more along the lines of making sure that never happens? A lot of the restrictions are there to prevent him from ever getting into a situation where a correction/aversive is needed. By needed, I mean, obviously, if he was about to land a bite you'd need to do something about it, and that would be damaging to your dog (increase fear, to say the least), so the program is designed to keep him out of those situations. And then, with time, desensitize. So yes, sounds about right. I don't read anything there that sounds unkind to the dog. A whole heap of work for you though.
Would like to hear others thoughts. I hate being the first. I am not a behaviorist. But you are giving this dog a great deal of dedicated efforted and I thought a response is the best way to say I respect that. You are awesome.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
880 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
My advice is to join the FB group Fearful Dogs and look at the website of the same name. Maybe some of the info there will reveal why I feel the way I do about some of the advice you've been given.

Must say that the advice to tether and not allow the dog to find a safe haven and must remain in room with you, raises a huge red flag that reads "flooding".
I am part of the Reactive Dogs group on FB (I asked to be added to the Fearful Dogs group but was never accepted) and we have defiantly been working on the CARE program as best we can. But I will be honest when I say that my family dog growing up walked all over us and that Trucker is my first dog (I picked a hard case I guess).

When I introduced myself and my dog to the group, I got responses about "My dog needs expert (vet behaviorist) help" and when I asked where to find a Vet Behavorist, I had a couple really rude responses about "Well I am in Maryland, it can't be that hard to find a qualified person". I have interviewed upwards of 20+ trainers and behaviorist, so clearly it is hard to find a qualified person.

I decided that I didn't need the rude comments or to be treated like I wasn't trying to do what is best for my dogs (asking for help). I haven't posted anything since, I just lurk (and a lot of the time shake my head at the inconsistent advice given).
 
  • Like
Reactions: Artdog

·
Registered
Joined
·
880 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
I've never had a dog like yours. It sounds like a whole lot to take in and implement. I did read carefully, but given his level of fear and history, sounds about right.
I haven't followed all of your threads, so I assume he hasn't actually been aggressive, so this is more along the lines of making sure that never happens? A lot of the restrictions are there to prevent him from ever getting into a situation where a correction/aversive is needed. By needed, I mean, obviously, if he was about to land a bite you'd need to do something about it, and that would be damaging to your dog (increase fear, to say the least), so the program is designed to keep him out of those situations. And then, with time, desensitize. So yes, sounds about right. I don't read anything there that sounds unkind to the dog. A whole heap of work for you though.
Would like to hear others thoughts. I hate being the first. I am not a behaviorist. But you are giving this dog a great deal of dedicated efforted and I thought a response is the best way to say I respect that. You are awesome.
Yeah, he has never actually been aggressive (never even lunged, the most he has done is change his growl to a less under his breath/more aggressive growl). Yes, it is to prevent that and help him understand people are not out to hurt him.

Thank you :D, in only 3 months he has buried a way into my heart and I am really willing to do what it takes to help him not live in fear. The behaviorist said that had I not adopted him, he likely would have been a dog that was ethier adopted a lot and returned quickly (living his life in and out of the shelter) or been adopted and pushed to the point he had to escalate to a bite and then be put down. This statement baffled me, he is an amazing dog, just has some PTSD baggage (and who can really blame him).
 
  • Like
Reactions: Artdog and Arwen

·
Registered
Joined
·
286 Posts
awww, poor Baby, i had tears in my eyes reading some of that. he must have had such a differcult, awful start in life.
i have never had a dog like that either, but i must say most of that makes allot of sense.
the only times i thought hmmmm?, was when she said use all food he has for training, as i think he would be entitled to have at least his evening meal in peace, and just train with day snacks....
and when she said stop taking him to the dog park...it makes sense if he really is that terrified of people...only you can judge that....
but reading between the lines, she wants him to stay close to home for now, so he has a comfort zone, and then expand from there.
im wishing you and Trucker good luck and all the best. at least he has landed on his "paws" now. god knows he deserves it. <3
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,884 Posts
Overall, I think the program and assessment seems ok and very reasonable. Lots of good things.

The block all hiding places to me sounds more like a management technique, rather than an attempt to flood him. I'm not 100% certain of all trucker's issues, but it sounds like there's some low level fear aggression, and some destructive habits and taking/picking up items that aren't his. It doesn't sound like he's living in total fear all the time in his own home. Preventing access to hiding places like under the bed prevents him from taking items under there to hide so they cannot be taken away. Which is obviously a health hazard. It also prevents the OP from being in a situation where he's cornered himself when he is fearful, and becomes more aggressive as a result. She also cannot work on DS/CC of scary items if he's hunkered down. I don't think it's meant to take away safe places, because his pen should serve that purpose. But she really cannot manage him and work with him on fear if he's making himself inaccessible. So it makes sense to me to block off these places.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
880 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
awww, poor Baby, i had tears in my eyes reading some of that. he must have had such a differcult, awful start in life.
i have never had a dog like that either, but i must say most of that makes allot of sense.
the only times i thought hmmmm?, was when she said use all food he has for training, as i think he would be entitled to have at least his evening meal in peace, and just train with day snacks....
and when she said stop taking him to the dog park...it makes sense if he really is that terrified of people...only you can judge that....
but reading between the lines, she wants him to stay close to home for now, so he has a comfort zone, and then expand from there.
im wishing you and Trucker good luck and all the best. at least he has landed on his "paws" now. god knows he deserves it. <3
Thanks :) Every time I write or tell people about is start I have the intense urge to find his former owner and whip them for trying to escape when I start yelling at them. :eek:

I am focused on making Trucker feel safe and just want to make sure what I am doing is "right"
 
  • Like
Reactions: Arwen

·
Registered
Joined
·
286 Posts
Overall, I think the program and assessment seems ok and very reasonable. Lots of good things.

The block all hiding places to me sounds more like a management technique, rather than an attempt to flood him. I'm not 100% certain of all trucker's issues, but it sounds like there's some low level fear aggression, and some destructive habits and taking/picking up items that aren't his. It doesn't sound like he's living in total fear all the time in his own home. Preventing access to hiding places like under the bed prevents him from taking items under there to hide so they cannot be taken away. Which is obviously a health hazard. It also prevents the OP from being in a situation where he's cornered himself when he is fearful, and becomes more aggressive as a result. She also cannot work on DS/CC of scary items if he's hunkered down. I don't think it's meant to take away safe places, because his pen should serve that purpose. But she really cannot manage him and work with him on fear if he's making himself inaccessible. So it makes sense to me to block off these places.
i agree with that. i think taking things that are not his, is just a thing young dogs do, Ben does it too if you turn your back lol, and he has discovered he can get behind the couch, ......not good when he has got something, or i just want him to leave the room with me, and he thinks its all a big game...so yeah, very true!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
880 Posts
Discussion Starter #10
Overall, I think the program and assessment seems ok and very reasonable. Lots of good things.

The block all hiding places to me sounds more like a management technique, rather than an attempt to flood him. I'm not 100% certain of all trucker's issues, but it sounds like there's some low level fear aggression, and some destructive habits and taking/picking up items that aren't his. It doesn't sound like he's living in total fear all the time in his own home. Preventing access to hiding places like under the bed prevents him from taking items under there to hide so they cannot be taken away. Which is obviously a health hazard. It also prevents the OP from being in a situation where he's cornered himself when he is fearful, and becomes more aggressive as a result. She also cannot work on DS/CC of scary items if he's hunkered down. I don't think it's meant to take away safe places, because his pen should serve that purpose. But she really cannot manage him and work with him on fear if he's making himself inaccessible. So it makes sense to me to block off these places.
Thanks, he is a major thief (it ends up with me being frustrated a lot) and he does pretty much always take it back to his hiding place. I think that the penning and tethering were two of the things I was most worried about. I feel like I am taking away his security blanket (I think I am going to think of it like taking away a baby's pacifier once they get to old, maybe it will make me feel better).
 
  • Like
Reactions: Arwen

·
Registered
Joined
·
884 Posts
Wow. Unbelievable behaviour from a group (or I am naive). That is so sad. Sometimes folks have more of a personal agenda. It's important to get advice from those who like and understand people as well as dogs. You are an important part of the equation, and that includes you feeling confident and comfortable.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Arwen

·
Registered
Joined
·
884 Posts
The behaviorist said that had I not adopted him, he likely would have been a dog that was ethier adopted a lot and returned quickly (living his life in and out of the shelter) or been adopted and pushed to the point he had to escalate to a bite and then be put down. This statement baffled me, he is an amazing dog, just has some PTSD baggage (and who can really blame him).
She is right. And give yourself a whole heap of credit for taking him on and following through. When I look for dogs to bring in my home, I look for confident and socialized. So I would not have been coming to his rescue. He is lucky to have found you, and it sounds like you are lucky to have found him. I'll bet you're learning more than you ever expected about dogs and their behaviour, expanding your universe.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
880 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
She is right. And give yourself a whole heap of credit for taking him on and following through. When I look for dogs to bring in my home, I look for confident and socialized. So I would not have been coming to his rescue. He is lucky to have found you, and it sounds like you are lucky to have found him. I'll bet you're learning more than you ever expected about dogs and their behaviour, expanding your universe.
Thanks, I sometimes forget he is a "special needs" dog because he is just Trucker in my world. I defiantly am learning so much. I will be so much better prepared next time :)
 
  • Like
Reactions: Arwen and Artdog

·
Registered
Joined
·
880 Posts
Discussion Starter #14
Wow. Unbelievable behaviour from a group (or I am naive). That is so sad. Sometimes folks have more of a personal agenda. It's important to get advice from those who like and understand people as well as dogs. You are an important part of the equation, and that includes you feeling confident and comfortable.
Yeah it was stunning. I have also seen people think it is okay for them to bike while their reactive dog wears a prong collar.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Artdog

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,437 Posts
In order to be able to post on the fearful dog FB group's page you have to watch a webinar. Small fee that is well worth the cost. The info is at the top of the group's page.

If you got treated badly in the RD group, I wish you had contacted an admin. Yes, there is inconsistent advice given in that group. You won't see the members who understand the concept of D/CC give inconsistent advice but I do know that it can be overwhelming to wade through the many threads and posts to weed out the good from the bad.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Everything looks pretty good in the recommendations.

The restriction from the dog park makes sense as I do understand that it's risky for Trucker to be loose around strangers, I don't agree with the mentality of keeping him away will do anything about him preferring dogs to people -- that isn't going to change and probably never will since he missed the socialization window. You can make up ground...you certainly can't erase the past.

My fearful girl LOVES other dogs. But she's bonded enough to me that if we're out walking offleash and she's playing with a dog, if I move along, she follows. I used her love of dogs to my advantage when I first got her. I saw that playing with other dogs gave her confidence, so I would introduce her to a friendly dog and then I would introduce new/scary things we were working on that week (approaching her, reaching for her head, talking to her, luring a sit...whatever the present challenge was). I gauged when she was feeling happy and confident and took those as learning opportunities.

Basically what I'm saying is, I get that the behaviourist recommends not letting Trucker loose near strangers, but maybe you can set up some puppy play dates with people & dogs you trust?

I agree with PP about the recommendation to block off hiding spots, as long as he has a crate or his bed that can be his "safe haven" -- I see no issue with not allowing him to hunker down out of reach. I also see no issue with making him "work" for all his food. This dog needs to gain confidence, even something as simple as figuring out how to get his food out of a wobbler/puzzle toy can be a confidence builder for fearful dogs.

It's a daunting path, and don't expect your dog to ever be outgoing with people. But watching the improvements that they do make is such a wonderful experience. I remember the first time I got a full body wag from my girl when she greeted me, I nearly cried from joy. And the first time she approached a friend of mine (stranger to her) and stood quietly to be petted, I actually did tear up.

It's a long road, but these little dogs definitely do wiggle their way into your heart!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
286 Posts
i wonder sometimes why people feel the need, to belittle others... we are all "here" to help each other. some people just like to feed of others, because it makes them feel bigger and better.
you are doing everything right @TruckersMom. you are wanting to get the right help for him, and im very happy too, that Trucker and you found each other.
Did they actually tell you his history and problems before you adopted him?
they must have done some sort of assessment at the shelter he was at?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
662 Posts
Re: PTSD in dogs, there is currently a program in Gothenburg University in Sweden comparing behaviorism vs Natural Dog Training (Kevin Behan's work) in dogs with PTSD. The later is testing very well against behaviorism. You want more info PM me and I can give you the name of the person in the US who is working with the Swedish student at Gothenberg. The US trainer has done a great deal of work with PTSD dogs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
880 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Everything looks pretty good in the recommendations.

The restriction from the dog park makes sense as I do understand that it's risky for Trucker to be loose around strangers, I don't agree with the mentality of keeping him away will do anything about him preferring dogs to people -- that isn't going to change and probably never will since he missed the socialization window. You can make up ground...you certainly can't erase the past.

My fearful girl LOVES other dogs. But she's bonded enough to me that if we're out walking offleash and she's playing with a dog, if I move along, she follows. I used her love of dogs to my advantage when I first got her. I saw that playing with other dogs gave her confidence, so I would introduce her to a friendly dog and then I would introduce new/scary things we were working on that week (approaching her, reaching for her head, talking to her, luring a sit...whatever the present challenge was). I gauged when she was feeling happy and confident and took those as learning opportunities.

Basically what I'm saying is, I get that the behaviourist recommends not letting Trucker loose near strangers, but maybe you can set up some puppy play dates with people & dogs you trust?

I agree with PP about the recommendation to block off hiding spots, as long as he has a crate or his bed that can be his "safe haven" -- I see no issue with not allowing him to hunker down out of reach. I also see no issue with making him "work" for all his food. This dog needs to gain confidence, even something as simple as figuring out how to get his food out of a wobbler/puzzle toy can be a confidence builder for fearful dogs.

It's a daunting path, and don't expect your dog to ever be outgoing with people. But watching the improvements that they do make is such a wonderful experience. I remember the first time I got a full body wag from my girl when she greeted me, I nearly cried from joy. And the first time she approached a friend of mine (stranger to her) and stood quietly to be petted, I actually did tear up.

It's a long road, but these little dogs definitely do wiggle their way into your heart!
He has always been so much better with me than anyone else I never thought there were times he still feared me. He is tail wagging bouncing up and down happy to see me when I come home, I never even considered that giving him a stern No was causing him to still have some fear towards me. After thinking about it, now I see that when I do this or tell him to leave it he immediately starts calming behaviors.
 
  • Like
Reactions: Arwen

·
Registered
Joined
·
880 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
i wonder sometimes why people feel the need, to belittle others... we are all "here" to help each other. some people just like to feed of others, because it makes them feel bigger and better.
you are doing everything right @TruckersMom. you are wanting to get the right help for him, and im very happy too, that Trucker and you found each other.
Did they actually tell you his history and problems before you adopted him?
they must have done some sort of assessment at the shelter he was at?
The rescue told me he was nervous but that was because he was in a "city" have being a very remote small town dog. They said he was good with kids, other dogs, and cats. He never lived in a foster home just the animal control then a doggie day care.

I contacted the animal control who had him and that where I got the information about his past. The rescue had just said that he was found in the woods. I found out he was brought in the the animal control with what they believed where injuries from being whipped, cut on his legs and chin, and severe kennel cough.
 
1 - 20 of 22 Posts
Top