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I have had Louise for three years now and I love her dearly. She came to me in an unusual way. My grandfather couldn't keep her and so he gave her to me and we have been thick as thieves since then.

Some background information: Louise is four years old and is a female Lhasa Apso. She is in perfect health (the right size and weight and she has never had a bad checkup).

It all started when her and another dog in my house began fighting on a regular basis. Their fights increased in severity and frequency until last October, when it reached a head. They were fighting and I tried to break it up and ended up with severe damage to my right forearm and left hand. I was too afraid to visit a doctor right away because I didn't want either dog to be in trouble, but the wounds got infected and I had to go to the hospital. Anyways, they have not had a fight since then, but my dog Louise has attacked me, drawing blood twice since that first time.

Now, my family has done everything we can think of. We paid a dog trainer to come to our home and try to figure out what was going on. We took her advice and Louise slept in a cage for a long time, but nothing cured her aggression towards other dogs, which seemed to be a catalyst for her attacks on me.

This most recent attack has taken a particularly hard toll on me because my parents have decided that she is too dangerous to have in their house. I also have feelings about this because moving out and having her with me would mean never being able to have children visit me or have children of my own. Or another dog. She is too unpredictable and could never be left unsupervised with anyone.

So here I am, down to two final solutions. My parents want me to put her down. This would devastate me, as I have loved this dog like a child since I got her. The other solution would be to send her away to an animal rescue, but I don't like that solution either because she has already been abandoned and she doesn't handle isolation very well.

I need advice and I need help. So please, tell me what your experiences have led you to believe. I am by no means pro- putting a healthy dog down, but I also believe that mental health of an animal is as important as physical health. The humane thing to do with a dog with incurable illness would be to put them down... I'm just lost and devastated. Either way, big changes are on the horizon and I'm only 23. Will my whole future rest in the paws of this dog who has two completely different personalities? She is so sweet and docile all the time, but she has a zone of madness.

Please no judgment. Just help. Thanks.
 

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This dog should have been helped a Long time ago... She has been telling you for years she is unhappy....

Start with a full blood panel at the vet the search for a positive reinforcement trainer only. You locked the dog up in a crate but did you work on any training? Does this dog know basic obedience?

Also what have been the other situations that have lead to her biting you?
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The trainer we hired worked with her for six months and she was a positive reinforcement trainer. The crate was for sleeping because it was determined that her aggression was due to dominance and we were told to break that habit of possession by taking her down a few pegs. No beds, no furniture. But none of that helped.

She bit me the first time because there was a dog fight going on. She bit me the second time because she misbehaved and I tried to remove her from the situation, and this last time she bit me because I brought another dog into my room and tried to keep her from dominating the other dog. Every situation has been a situation that involved another dog entering territory that wasn't hers.

I have only had her for three years and before that, yes she was abused by my grandfather. I have given her a secure home and spent hundreds of dollars on training and other things to make her a happier dog. None of it has worked. This has been an ongoing issue, but I have been attempting to help her in a professional capacity.

And to answer your other question, yes. We do training on a daily basis. She knows basic commands and even some other more complicated ones that took weeks for her to acquire. Training is a part of our daily life, just as is exercise.
 

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A true PR trainer would not be talking about dominance (which has been disproved by modern science). Look for a different trainer at the site below, or, better yet, look for a behaviorist. Aggression takes a long time to modify, and it sounds like there is some severe reactivity and maybe some resource guarding going on - neither of which are dominance or territorialism.

Association of Pet Dog Trainers - Dog Training Resources

International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)

Also…

http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior/behavior-please-read-before-posting-2868/

http://www.dogforum.com/dog-behavior/reactivity-leash-aggression-barrier-frustration-12538/

The Dominance Controversy | Philosophy | Dr. Sophia Yin, DVM, MS


 

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She perpetuating dominance theory. She was observing her and recognized that she is a very possessive dog. This is true. I have actually joked about her being a sheriff in the past because she is always watching the other dogs. And as for not bringing her around other dogs, in a house full of six dogs this is kind of impossible. And inhumane to boot because locking her up in my room full time doesn't seem like a helpful solution.

Yes, we have an appointment to see a vet sometime next week and there is no decision looming, but a little more than: see the vet and see a trainer would be helpful because I have already done so. I have actually seen multiple trainers with many different view points. And no, the trainer we had wasn't a dog whisperer type who fed us crap about alpha dog etc. She said that louise could have a natural propensity for that behavior for many reasons. It could be hormonal. We haven't been only trying to solve this problem since the first attack. We have been working with both her and the other dog she fights with since they started fighting, as puppies.
 

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"it sounds like there is some severe reactivity and maybe some resource guarding going on - neither of which are dominance or territorialism"

Resource guarding is actually the terminology that she used. My bad vocabulary doesn't diregard her qualifications. Louise did improve, but like the trainer suggested, she has symptoms of some kind of rage syndrome. She focuses on something and there is no snapping her out of it.
 

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You need to keep her away from the other dogs... Seriously... If you need to use baby gates then do it. You just said you brought another dog into your room.... Don't. I don't know what else to tell you. The training method you mentioned spoke of dominance... Find a behaviorist with the link provided. That's all we can tell you because the dog has drawn blood.
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Have the vet check bloodwork and thyroid. Again, behavior modification is a slow process. You would ideally work with a behaviorist for a year + on something like this.
 

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I guess the most important question I can ask, is how do I protect myself while still giving her the life she deserves and needs? I'm not afraid of her a lot of the time, but I HAVE developed severe anxiety related to her. I still need to give her love and affection and I just don't trust her. So while we are working on everything else, what do I need to do to ensure she doesn't bite me, because the second time she bit me, there wasn't a dog. She just thought there might be.
 

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Don't touch her when she's worked up... She redirecting... Stop putting her in situations where she is going to get worked up. She needs a full physical, blood work, have her eyes looked at and her hearing checked
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My opinion, for what it is worth, is that it is going to be very difficult to rehabilitate this dog in the current circumstance; that is with 6 dogs in the house and already 4 years of history of RG and reactivity issues not being well managed. The dog has learned some very ingrained "survival tactics" from her perspective and you can expect it would take quite some time to reverse those patterns, once you figure out how to work with her correctly, perhaps as long as those patterns have been in place. If your trainer is speaking about "rage syndrome" then that may speak of an even deeper issue.

To be honest, with your anxiety and so forth, you are in a real pinch. At age 23, it does not make sense to put your life on hold for the next few years, and that is what dealing with this amounts to. If the situation is such that you cannot figure out how even to avoid triggering her reactivity and RG behaviors, you are not going to have much luck on the next step, changing her emotional responses and behaviors.

There are times when euthanasia may be a humane option for all.


I will now duck while rotten tomatoes get tossed my way.
 

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Pawz is right, you need to stop touching her when she is reactive. In fact, you need to stop touching her entirely, unless she comes to you and asks for pets.

Contrary to popular belief, small dogs generally do not like be picked up and cuddled. You may think that is the affection she needs, but it is likely that this is keeping her stress levels very high.
 

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If you aren't willing or able to keep her away from the other dogs with a crate and rotate system or using baby gates then she is just going to keep fighting with the other dogs and keep redirecting onto you. Eventually, she will either be seriously wounded in a fight or you will be seriously wounded again trying to break it up. Or both.

You speak of giving her the life she deserves, but you aren't doing that. She is tense and stressed and probably fearful and insecure. What kind of a way is that to live? She's not happy now and she won't be getting any happier in a house interacting with so many other dogs seeing as she is dog aggressive.

Crate and rotate while working with a good behaviorist or euthanize her. Rehoming is an option, but not many people would take a dog that has bitten and done that kind of damage and rehoming her without full disclosure is unethical and could open you to a law suit.
 

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That's a serious bite mark from such a small dog! I think there's a policy on here not to advise how to work with a dog after a bite like this. This is a job for a professional in person if you want to rehab this dog.

I agree with Tess about not putting your life on hold for a dog. This is not about working harder to find an apartment that will take a dog, training the dog a little bit, or eating out less so you can afford to take the dog to the vet. If you are considering not having children or a family over a dog's behavior and that depresses you then I'd try to contact Lhaso Apso rescue to see if the dog can go to a no dog/no kid home or consider euthanizing. You are not going to be able to help this dog if you are not calm...they pick up on that. Even with a behaviorist, you are going to be the one to have to do the majority of the work that they suggest...and you have to be in the right frame of mind to work with a dog. If you're both on edge how can the dog learn? I guess I will brace for rotten tomatoes, too! Sorry but the thought of somebody giving up a dream to have a family is really sad to me no matter the circumstance.

This situation went too far and in the future you've got to learn to recognize a problem before it gets so far that the dog has done this much damage to you and your life. Read up on dog body language and dog behavior if you ever want to try pet ownership again.
 

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That's a pretty bad bite from such a small dog.

I'd say you give the dog up. There's not much hope for this dog, you've got to undo years of ingrained behavior and that alone would take a year or more, or you'd never really solve it, just manage it.
Hire a professional and be in it for the long haul, find a rescue, or sadly put the dog down.

I'm very very sorry.
 

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I have a bunch of questions for you.
What sort of behavior modification did the other trainer do, other than recommend you not let her on the furniture? What sort of training exercises?
Was the 'rage syndrome' corroborated by a vet after a full medical exam, testing thyroid and other hormone levels?
Have other health conditions been ruled out? A lot of little breeds are prone to conditions like luxating patella and blindness. A pain issue or a loss of vision are major stresses for a dog and can significantly increase reactivity
What other dogs does your family have? What breeds and size ranges?
Is there any evidence to suggest she has a problem with a specific breed/size/gender?
How does she react on walks?

While you are answering, I will third (fourth?) the recommendation that you regulate your dog's interactions with the other members of the house. Either crate and rotate, or use baby gates to keep your dog in one section of the house. When you do this, you can give her puzzle toys or other chews, break it up with short training sessions, and make sure she gets a walk or a play session before she's restricted. You can also spend time sitting with her (say, if she's restricted to the living room.

In terms of removing your dog from a dangerous situation, put a safe, comfortable harness on your dog and have her drag a light line. That way, if she does get into something she shouldn't (though, ideally, you would prevent that from happening at all) you can remove her with the line from a distance.

I know you are worried about her quality of life, but understand that the stress she is likely under now will decrease her quality more than if she were to free-roam and be forced to interact with other dogs she dislikes or is afraid of.
Stress creates a feedback loop in the brain. The more stress she experiences, the more cortisol and other stress hormones are released into her system, the more she will become reactive - and the more stressed she will make herself. It can take days or even weeks for these hormones to dissipate after a single stressful event (like the bite you received). Right now, because she is being continuously exposed to the things that are frightening her, her body can't equalize itself. She is always in a state of heightened arousal and her adrenals are working continuously to try to fix it.
 

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It sounds like you've done the very best you can, and have been trying for a long time. It also sounds like, temperament wise, she is the worst type of dog for your household.

I'd only suggest euthanasia as a very last result, when everything else fails. Everything would include trying to place her with a Lhaso Apso rescue, or find her a home with a person who is experienced with DA, RG dogs and has no other dogs or children.

If you choose to keep working with her you are in for a very steep uphill battle. You're trying to work with a dog who is dog aggressive and resource guards and is living with 6 other dogs. That means she never has a chance to come down from her anxiety and be calm enough to really begin learning and changing her emotional response. You'd have a better chance moving out with just her and then beginning to try and train her. Yes you could have children over but you'd have to put her in her crate or in a separate room.
 

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Hmm....I can see how much work you have done to try and help her. I know that if I was in your place I would be doing everything I can to keep her from being put down and that sounds like what you are doing. Everyone has given you good advise, the only thing I can really think of to add would be to start trying to find someone who would be willing to take him. It might be hard to find someone who could work with him and you might have to keep him until you do.

My suggestions for places to start looking would be local rescues to start with. Perhaps even someone who is in school studying animals (a vet or a trainer or whatnot) would find working with him to be a great way to learn something they need to work on and it might even be helpful in them finding a job in the future.

If that fails, before you euthanasia I would call Best Friends. I'm a huge fan of theirs but I'm a bit basis since I live fairly near to them. I do know that they often take animals that no one else will take and that they adopt all over the country. If you can't find anyone local they might even have some ideas. It could be worth a try anyways.

When all is said and done, I have to admit I agree with Tess. You need to remember also that this isn't just affecting you and your dog, but also those who live with you (atleast I have to figure it would). You want her to be happy and safe, but you need to balance that with your own happiness and peace of mind as well as the other people and animals in the household. Also don't forget to factor in your relaionship with the rest of the household both human and animal. If you have tried everything and can't find anyone to take him, the sad truth is it might just be time to euthanasia him for everyone's sake, including his own.
 

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It sounds like you may have to make many baby steps to get her to over come her fear/aggression. The one thing is going to be the hardest for you. You have to get over your fear. She will sense this and not know how to deal with it. In return she may be more tense around you. How is she on lead? Do you take her for walks? What does a day for her consist of?
 
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