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So for anyone who doesn't know, Delilah is my rescue Toy Fox Terrier. Spayed female, about a year old more or less, I've had her since July. Delilah and I live with my boyfriend and she has lived with him ever since she was adopted. He is not a new person in the household. She had some minor behavioral issues we had been working on and seeing improvement.

Past/Known Issues

-She displayed some minor resource guarding towards dogs and this has gotten much better through spending more time with Mia and at work with daycare dogs. She seems more comfortable around them now and hasn't displayed any guarding of toys or people she likes for 2 or 3 months now. Hasn't shown any resource guarding towards people before last night.

-Reactivity and fear of strangers. Has gotten better outside. Still pretty bad in our apartment or my parents' house if someone's at the door or we have a friend over. Manifests in yapping, snarling, low body posture, and lunging if on lead. For both of these things we've been doing the LAT game with a clicker and also reinforcing her for having neutral or positive reactions to strangers. Not forcing anything, but if she wants to approach on her own that's great. As I said, outside of the house, she is becoming more comfortable and even friendly towards some people! Inside of the house is a different story. I wonder if there's some territoriality going on as well which is what makes inside more difficult?

-Impulse control. Just bad in general. She literally screams if she is restrained and wants to get to something exciting like squirrels, hose, toys, etc. We've been doing impulse control games and working on things like "stay" and "drop it." Has gotten a little better with toys but not with SUPER exciting things like squirrels or hoses.

New Issues that are Concerning Me

-Hyper attached to me. When I bring her to work she spends her time screaming in her crate (even though she loves her crate at home) or if she's in a playgroup that I'm not in she cries and tries to escape to come find me. She doesn't come much anymore. She used to like being home with my boyfriend but he says now she just runs around the apartment looking for me or sits on the couch staring at the door until I come home. He has some success in taking her for walks or doing clicker training while I'm at work but he said one day he tried to play with her (and she LOVES playing) and she wouldn't have any of it. When we're both home it's clear there's a preference. My boyfriend's understandably jealous and put out by this. I also don't think it's healthy behavior in general. I'm worried it could develop into separation anxiety. How can I help her become more independent?

-Bit my boyfriend. This is the most concerning thing and from my understanding of the rules you guys can't technically instruct me on how to handle this but any insight would be appreciated. Twice she's snapped at him over the past few weeks. This has happened after about 9 pm when she is lying on the couch. Both times he had been trying to play with her. Both times were warnings, no contact. We figured she was tired and grouchy and put her in her crate to go to sleep after both incidents.

Last night we all had gone to my parents' house (Delilah LOVES it there by the way, she gets so excited to go. She loves my mom and Mia and she even likes my dad now.) My mom gave her a chew to bring home. We got home around 8 pm and she was chewing on the couch. I went to take a shower around 9 pm and my boyfriend went to sit on the couch and watch TV. He wasn't trying to play with her, touch her chew, or interact with her at all. Just went to sit on the couch. She lunged and bit his face. He got a "large" (from a small dog) puncture on his eyebrow and a smaller one on his eyelid. He said there was no warning. I'm sure there was a subtle one that he missed, as he doesn't understand body language as well as I do. But the fact that she lunged and bit so close to his eye when all he did was sit near her is very disturbing. If she were a bigger dog or if he hadn't closed his eyes when it happened, she could have caused damage! He was VERY upset but had self control and didn't yell at her or physically reprimand her. He did yell in shock/pain but didn't try to punish her.

He used to yell at her when we first got her for having accidents or getting into things and wasn't good at listening to me when I told him not to. But ever since we took a R+ class last month he's been really good about interacting with her positively and even told his mom that she should try clicker training with her puppy. Their relationship should be getting better but I'm worried that since she's gotten more attached to me that it's getting worse. She's never shown aggression towards him in the past. In fact, when we first got her, she seemed to like him more. I spend a little more time with her than he does but we both spend a lot of time with her. I will say most of the time when I'm with them she doesn't seem uncomfortable with him and will play with him or jump on his lap. She gets SO happy when he comes home from work too. So it's not like she hates him. But she's getting snappy and it's a problem.

I'm going to try some management with her. Let me know if these rules sound like good ideas or bad ideas.
New rules:
1) She goes to bed by 8 pm every night, and we'll take her out one last time to go potty around 9-10, but she can't be out when she starts to get tired.
2) No toys out, she can't play with them unless she's playing with us on our terms.
3) She can only get chews and kongs in her crate.

I also have the book "Mine" which I will be consulting for insight on the possible resource guarding towards Sam (still not sure if it was resource guarding or crankiness or something else, probably a mix of a number of things).

Lastly the money I was saving for her agility prep class will have to be used for a behavioral consult instead. I'll have enough in a few weeks for that. :(
Now for the daunting task of finding the best trainer/behaviorist...


So, I know there's a rule about bites but if I can't get any help on that I'd still like insight and advice on the other problems we've been having; and thought I should at least mention the bite to make it clear how bad her behavior is getting and perhaps it's connected to the other things?
 

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I'm sorry it's been hard. :( I know all too well that fearful, sinking feeling when behaviors go south. It's so much easier to deal with house training or getting in the trash or really anything else as opposed to reactivity and/or the fear your dog will be a biter.

I would absolutely mention the bites to the behaviorist - I'd do so first, in fact.

Hopefully the behaviorist can tell you if her behavior is RG based, fear based, or if she's just got a bit of an attitude (as my terrier mix does!)

For now, I'd even up management to the point that you don't allow her on the couch unless you are around and ONLY if she is able to behave. Any bad behavior and you could coax her down or lead her off with a leash.

For the attachment, how does she act when you are home but your BF leaves?

Best of luck to you, and do keep us updated. I'm interested to hear what the behaviorist says.
 

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It's very possible she's genuinely not warning. A lot of people seem to think the best thing to do with a dog that warns the natural way, growling, is to smack them or punish them until they STOP giving warnings. This leads to many dogs just going right for the snap or bite instead. I'd definitely mention it to a professional trainer though, as Poppy suggested.

And no more treats on the couch. She can chew on the floor, or chew in her crate.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the sympathy and management tips guys. I haven't had ANY problems with her since the bite but I'm still going to hire a behaviorist in a couple of weeks when I get my paycheck.

For the attachment, how does she act when you are home but your BF leaves?
Pretty normal- playful, happy, really likes cuddling with me. She wants all of my attention- if I'm reading a book or on my laptop sometimes she'll sit ON the book or laptop. Right now she's on my shoulder :eyeroll: She also follows me around everywhere. If I shut a door on her she'll cry, scratch, and wait on the other side. While she's excited to see my bf when he comes home she could care less when he's gone.




Here are two people I'm looking at. One is a behaviorist our obedience/agility trainer recommended and one is a trainer with experience with behavioral issues including aggression. I'll post the links so if you guys see something that looks particularly good or particularly bad about either one you can let me know. Otherwise my decision will be based off their rates and how confident they feel that they can help me (gauged through an email or phone call).

Trainer:
Follow the Leader - Dog Training Services - Vermont - Home

Behaviorist:
Peak Veterinary Referral Center – Behavior
 

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I just glanced at both sites and didn't see anything alarming, though the behaviorist isn't terribly detailed on what their help includes (just a consult, or follow up visits too?)

I think the trainer looks really good, but don't love that they seem to look at your dog and tell YOU what to do about it. Of course, if you are truly willing and able (and I do think you are) that's probably fine...but for me, regular check ins and advice are helpful to not only assist in the training process and tell me how to adapt my approach, but also to provide positive words of encouragement.

It's pretty darn disheartening when your dog goes Cujo over a strange bag in the house....but when your trainer tells you how smart he is or that it's clear you've been doing good work with him... It helps. :)
 
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