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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Some interrelated questions on dog's "safe place", marking, and aggression...

I have a few issues that, combined with one another, are making the logistics of day-to-day life with Finnegan difficult, and I'd love some suggestions.

Our trainer advised that Finnegan's playpen+crate setup should be his "safe place" where he can feel confident that no one will bother him, and that it should be the only place where he has access to chews/treats/food. However, when I open the door he usually picks something up and carries it out, and I'm not supposed to take anything away from him. How do I control when and where he chews his bones?

Another issue is getting him into the pen in the first place. He has access to it when it's not "time" and will go in there for food/water or to grab a toy, but will not be lured there or enter on command because he knows I will close the door on him. I reward him, give him stuffed kongs, interesting chews, puzzle toys, smelly fish treats...the simple fact is that he does not like being isolated. He will settle, as long as there's nothing else going on, but he definitely doesn't see this as a safe/happy place.

In any case, for a while now I've been keeping him confined in the pen any time we weren't actively training, playing, or exercising. Sometimes I would leash him and let him follow me around the house while I did chores, and sometimes I would tether him nearby. However, I started seeing some bad aggression from him while tethered, so I stopped. Lately he has even snapped at me a few times when I tried to attach his leash, so I've been using it less. The past few days I've experimented with giving him more freedom to roam around the house, which was going really well for the most part, but today I caught him marking (I think? He had his leg raised up) against the couch in the living room. He just started marking outdoors recently, but has never done it in the house before. I have no idea why he would. He also growled and snapped at me when I started cleaning up the pee. So, I no longer trust him to roam around the house, which is a huge bummer because we were both enjoying it a whole lot.

So....I can't let him roam free anymore, which means I have to keep him leashed while in the house (assuming he will allow me to leash him), but I can't risk tethering him, which means more time spent in the playpen/away from me (if I'm hanging out in a different room)...which means I really need to figure out how to make him enjoy the playpen more. But of course, I don't want this to be forever--assuming I am able to keep him--I want him to be able to be out and about the house with me. Any thoughts on why he would mark inside the house or what I could do to stop him from doing it again? In every other thread it seems there are multiple animals or new animals or people, but it's just me and him.
 

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"and that it should be the only place where he has access to chews/treats/food. " what is the trainers reason behind this? you guys seemed happier with more positive behaviour when you did your old routine in the house?
 

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@Lielu it's likely for good management and safety to prevent any bites and minimize rehersing resource guarding.
@Bexille I think I would personally remove the toys from the pen own all together. No free access at all. Leave the bed and water.

I would likely give a single toy or item to enjoy when you need him in there (gets as a reward for going in). I might start with chews that can be completely (and safely - will depend on your guy) eaten. Bully sticks, whimzees... That way he has a plesant experience in the pen and is having the opportunity to chew, but you can just wait until it's gone before letting him out.

I would work on trading games with individual toys, non ebible chews, etc. and once taught begin to incorporate them into the rotation (still one at a time in the pen) for pen time when I have the time to play a trading game when letting him out later.

For going in...
I would probably train matmork (a "go to place" type behavior) using the bed, blanket or whatever you have in there for him. Train it first with the bed outside the pen. Then once "magnetized" (he REALLY wants to be on his bed) and you can send him to his bed, try placing it in the pen. Be sure to send him sometimes without closing the door.

I might also capture and reward with some dropped treats anytime he went in and settled on his own.
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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks @kmes, I will try that...he was quick to learn to stand on his mark bucket in agility class so I should be able to train him to go to a mat or bed, though I think I'll have to do it with something new/no negative associations.

My biggest concern now I guess is the leash/off-leash issue...this morning I discovered two huge urine puddles in his playpen. I didn't leave him there any longer than usual, and he didn't whine to be let out at any time during the night or early morning. In fact, the puddles were sort of outside the playpen, as though he had lifted his leg and peed through the bars...so was he trying to mark again?? One thing I have noticed lately is that when I take him outside, he'll only pee a little bit, almost like he's "saving" his pee in case he wants to mark something. Is that a thing? I took him out I think 4 or 5 times in the space of 1.5 hours before bed last night just to make sure he didn't need to go more, and yet I woke up to puddles...

I don't think this would've happened if he'd been in his crate, but I started leaving the crate door open because he was getting crazy anxious in there. When he was younger I would take him out to pee, say "bed time", and he would go straight into his crate. As he got older he started hating it and it got harder and harder to get him to go in, and he would spend the first 5, then 10, then 20 minutes barking, screaming, and digging to get out. I always ignored it but it kept getting worse. He settles more easily in the playpen and will go back and forth between sleeping in the crate or on the floor, so that's what we've been doing lately. But apparently now he thinks it's okay to pee in his playpen/in the house in general.

So now I'm even nervous to let him free during play and training, because I know that if he attempts to use the bathroom and I interrupt him, he will snap at me.
 

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I think this dog is way smarter than you and your "trainer". He has artfully controlled you by keeping you in a state of fear and anxiety. As you chase your tail trying these behavior modification tactics without addressing the problem he entrenches his control of the situation. He is the leader you are not!
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I think this dog is way smarter than you and your "trainer". He has artfully controlled you by keeping you in a state of fear and anxiety. As you chase your tail trying these behavior modification tactics without addressing the problem he entrenches his control of the situation. He is the leader you are not!
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So... What do you suggest the op do?
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So... What do you suggest the op do?
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If I can offer just one piece of advice - stop trying to train the dog.

You don't have a relationship or a bond with this dog - it was either never developed or it's broken. Either way, there's no trust, there's no respect, and there is no confidence between you. Getting the dog to stand on a bucket is not going to help matters at all - trying to get the dog to conform to you is likely causing much frustration - and hence his attitude.

My little guy is a MinPin, renouned to be stubborn, renound for being tenacious little buggers, they do everything with a vengeance - he is smart little guy. It's the morning of day 10 of him in my life and all I have done with him so far is work on that bond, there has been no real training whatsoever. It's all about getting him out and about into public spaces, let him explore, let him be a dog, let him evolve into what he is going to be cause that is what I want to work with. I want his personality to develop and shine, I don't want to control what his personality is going to be. He's not perfect, there is no such thing, but once that 2 way trust is there, once that bond is there - then training will be so easy. Last night is the first time he actually slept in my bed for the whole night, under a blanket beside my head - that is a huge hurdle with a rehomed Pin.

I did the same with Jagger - another purebred MinPin, the results were magical.
 

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If I can offer just one piece of advice - stop trying to train the dog.

You don't have a relationship or a bond with this dog - it was either never developed or it's broken. Either way, there's no trust, there's no respect, and there is no confidence between you. Getting the dog to stand on a bucket is not going to help matters at all - trying to get the dog to conform to you is likely causing much frustration - and hence his attitude.

My little guy is a MinPin, renouned to be stubborn, renound for being tenacious little buggers, they do everything with a vengeance - he is smart little guy. It's the morning of day 10 of him in my life and all I have done with him so far is work on that bond, there has been no real training whatsoever. It's all about getting him out and about into public spaces, let him explore, let him be a dog, let him evolve into what he is going to be cause that is what I want to work with. I want his personality to develop and shine, I don't want to control what his personality is going to be. He's not perfect, there is no such thing, but once that 2 way trust is there, once that bond is there - then training will be so easy. Last night is the first time he actually slept in my bed for the whole night, under a blanket beside my head - that is a huge hurdle with a rehomed Pin.

I did the same with Jagger - another purebred MinPin, the results were magical.
I was asking cfcgc what he/she suggests the op do...

Your personal story with your min pin (btw I am a min pin owner, well aware of what they are like).... Not sure how helpful it is to the op.

What do you suggest the op actually do? Building a bond and working on relationship is great, but it's pretty generic advice and means different things to different people. Plus as the op is dealing with a dog that had bitten multiple times, the op does need to consider management so as to work with/handle/live with this dog safely.
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I was asking cfcgc what he/she suggests the op do...

Your personal story with your min pin (btw I am a min pin owner, well aware of what they are like).... Not sure how helpful it is to the op.

What do you suggest the op actually do? Building a bond and working on relationship is great, but it's pretty generic advice and means different things to different people. Plus as the op is dealing with a dog that had bitten multiple times, the op does need to consider management so as to work with/handle/live with this dog safely.
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You can't train a dog that doesn't have any respect. You can't train a dog that you fear.

Muzzle train for one, the dog can't bite. If the OP can't put the muzzle on, then her father can do it.

How is putting the idea of training away and working on the dogs personality a bad thing? How is working on a relationship a bad thing? It takes patience and time.

and again, it's not just these two minpins, it's 40 years of dogs - every dog is treated the same. It doesn't matter what the personality is starting out, dealt with many aggressive dogs both fear based and just being a jerk. Once the true personality shines through, now you have something to work with, now you can train.
 

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Last evening for example, had him on leash, locked the condo door and headed for the front door. When Monty rounded the first corner, he lost it - barking, snarling, trying to go on the attack. Took me off guard. Reeled him in, my neighbour is standing there with her beautiful and calm service dog, a lab. I apologized to her.

Option 1. I pick him up and walk away - reinforcing the idea that it was ok, which I'm not going to do if given the chance.

Option 2. I held Monty back, didn't pick him up and I asked if she was willing to help Monty through this. He's great off leash, I explained what I was going to do and she was fine with it. Monty calmed when the leash came off - and the sniff began. Turned out to be a great meeting after all is said and done.

So a negative was turned into a positive. That's what I've been doing - and it works. I'm not correcting the dog as he screws up, I'm trying one step at a time to adjust his behaviour as we go. I've learned much about this little guys personality just by seeing how he reacts to different situations. There is no harm in asking people for favors. When I'm out and about, people want to pet Monty - do me a favor, pick him up and pet him. There's no possible way in the world that it could be a more positive experience for the dog to enter new environments, he walks into new places now like he owns the place, no fear. That has build lots of trust and confidence. No training necessary.

The OP needs to find people that are willing to work with her, explain why the dog is muzzled, explain what you're trying to do - it's surprising many people are apt to help. I love meeting dogs like this out in public, I love having the opportunity to work with strange dogs with behavioural issues.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
A few people on here have told me my dog is "in control" because I'm afraid of him, living in fear/anxiety, whatever. I don't know where they're getting this idea because I am not afraid of him. Our normal interactions are positive, fun, loving. When he lashes out, I don't panic or cower in fear, I rationally figure out how to end the interaction without getting hurt (much) and without hurting him (at all). There have been times that I have felt nervous in particularly bad situations, but in general, no. I have dealt with too much else in my life to be scared of a 20 lb dog.

In any case, I have to agree that "stop training", "work on the dog's personality", and "work on your relationship" are really vague pieces of advice. Your example, @jagger, really isn't relevant to my situation at all, nor do I see any way to extrapolate helpful information that I could apply. If you can, please do. I really appreciate all the advice and perspectives I'm getting here but I struggle to understand some points of view when there are no specific instructions or suggestions.

@cfcgc I'd love to know why you put the word trainer in quotation marks. Are you suggesting this person isn't certified or experienced? Because she is one of the best. You say I'm "chasing my tail trying these behavior modification tactics without addressing the problem". What is the problem, exactly, in your perspective? That "he is the leader" and I am not? What does that mean? I have been in contact with vets, trainers, behaviourists, breed-specific rescue/support groups, and everyone is telling me the same thing: I've been doing everything right, and Finnegan is not a typical dog. Again, I'm very open to different perspectives/ideas/suggestions, but if you're not being specific then I don't really know how to consider what you're saying.

In any case, though, I started this thread in the hopes of getting some tips on management logistics, not to debate the actual aggression problem. That discussion is taking place in "Finnegan bit me unprovoked".
 

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Lets put it this way...

I'm 45, and have a couple of very good friends that I actually trust with my life. I would do anything for them, they would do anything for me. I have friends that I allow in my condo and trust that they don't party and get me any warnings or cops showing up - but I wouldn't trust them with my life. I have acquaintances that I wouldn't trust with a pair of my socks.

Do you have friends that you don't really trust? Would you do anything for these people that they asked? Probably not.

Do you trust your dog? That answer should be clear as a bell. Why would your dog trust you. And how is it you feel getting your dog to stand on a bucket is helping your relationship? do you feel you have a relationship? And who is in control at the moment - you or the dog?

My last example may or may not apply to you, it's an example of what I do with my dogs. I have to have faith in Monty that he wouldn't go for an all out attack, I've taken the time to get to know the dogs personality - the dog that he has become under my care, not the dog he was - I have to give trust, and in return, I get it back. Make more sense?

Question for you - what do you think your dog needs. Put away what you want.
 

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I find it interesting that it is even a topic of discussion that dogs, like people, are born with a unique neurology, for better or for worse. I thought that was a given
 

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Is the blood panel coming soon? This dog is pretty much living a horror movie or a haunted house. Juno USED to be bad enough that she would jump and freak out if a stranger bent down near her or over her. That is bad. It's hard for a dog to catch a break when they are totally losing their marbles over stuff that you need to do in order to live in your house.

I know this might be taken with controversy but were this a dog I was working with I would be pushing blood panel and (pending clean results) meds (Prozac, ideally) ASAP. It's very debilitating for dog and owner when you cannot despite your best efforts have a "scare-free" day. He has no time to recover. He is probably living with an anxiety level of 8-10 out of 10 constantly. Just as he begins to normalize (cortisol and adrenaline levels) from one outburst he is already having his next one. This dog needs pharmaceutical help in order to chill, IMO. DAP and a thundershirt can work in a pinch. Only when his nerves are under control will he be able to legitimately learn and remember any training-- even bonding and relationship stuff that you attempt. It's a chicken-or-the-egg deal, I know.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Lets put it this way...

I'm 45, and have a couple of very good friends that I actually trust with my life. I would do anything for them, they would do anything for me. I have friends that I allow in my condo and trust that they don't party and get me any warnings or cops showing up - but I wouldn't trust them with my life. I have acquaintances that I wouldn't trust with a pair of my socks.

Do you have friends that you don't really trust? Would you do anything for these people that they asked? Probably not.

Do you trust your dog? That answer should be clear as a bell. Why would your dog trust you. And how is it you feel getting your dog to stand on a bucket is helping your relationship? do you feel you have a relationship? And who is in control at the moment - you or the dog?

My last example may or may not apply to you, it's an example of what I do with my dogs. I have to have faith in Monty that he wouldn't go for an all out attack, I've taken the time to get to know the dogs personality - the dog that he has become under my care, not the dog he was - I have to give trust, and in return, I get it back. Make more sense?

Question for you - what do you think your dog needs. Put away what you want.
I'm not sure what the big deal is over the mark bucket. It was part of his agility training, that's it. All I said was that he was good at it and a quick learner. Either way I'm not sure why you seem to be looking down on it, because doing agility requires communication and it absolutely is a way to build a bond and build trust with your dog.

You're saying I don't trust Finnegan, which means he doesn't trust me, which is the cause of our problem? How about the first time he bit me while I was petting him? I certainly trusted him then, so what did I do wrong? How about the first time he bit me while I was cleaning up his pee? I had no reason to mistrust him then, either, and he had no reason to lash out. Trust doesn't have anything to do with the vast majority of his outbursts.

What do I think my dog needs? It seems like you have something in mind, can you share your thoughts?

@kelly528 the bloodwork will come back sometime in the coming week. Both of the vets I have seen were very uncomfortable medicating such a young dog, otherwise I would be trying meds by now. He has been wearing a DAP collar for around 2 weeks and the vet I saw today sold me some "calming" treats. Where before we would have a few bad days followed by a few good ones, the past week or so I definitely feel that we are stuck in a bad cycle of high stress levels causing more outbursts causing more stress. It's hard.
 

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I'm not sure what the big deal is over the mark bucket. It was part of his agility training, that's it. All I said was that he was good at it and a quick learner. Either way I'm not sure why you seem to be looking down on it, because doing agility requires communication and it absolutely is a way to build a bond and build trust with your dog.

You're saying I don't trust Finnegan, which means he doesn't trust me, which is the cause of our problem? How about the first time he bit me while I was petting him? I certainly trusted him then, so what did I do wrong? How about the first time he bit me while I was cleaning up his pee? I had no reason to mistrust him then, either, and he had no reason to lash out. Trust doesn't have anything to do with the vast majority of his outbursts.

What do I think my dog needs? It seems like you have something in mind, can you share your thoughts?

@kelly528 the bloodwork will come back sometime in the coming week. Both of the vets I have seen were very uncomfortable medicating such a young dog, otherwise I would be trying meds by now. He has been wearing a DAP collar for around 2 weeks and the vet I saw today sold me some "calming" treats. Where before we would have a few bad days followed by a few good ones, the past week or so I definitely feel that we are stuck in a bad cycle of high stress levels causing more outbursts causing more stress. It's hard.
Hmm. How versed are these vets with behavior? Might want to take the results to a behaviorist. Barring that, call every trainer in the area and ask for their recommendation on a vet who knows animal behavior.

The reason I say this is that without whatever necessary intervention, this dog's brain is growing-- in a very stressed, undesirable state. Not ideal at all. Think of a kid growing up with untreated anxiety/depression/psychosis. The issues don't get better, they get more severe because of the cruddy environment that their brain developed in. My 2 cents.
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Ok I have not followed Finnegan and yours story all the way through but I have read the entirety of this thread. How much and how often do you exercise him? How much is hard exercise? It may not help tons but it can help take the edge off definitely if he needs an increase of hard exercise. Mini aussie do have some bad breeding, but I have seen more healthy and we'll adjusted mini aussies than I have reactive. However since he is so young I would assume this is either something biological or something regarding basic needs (not saying you aren't doing amazing because you are). Just his basic individual needs may be extremely different than others of his breed. Minis are also still a working dog in genetic aspects, so their energy levels are really really high. From what you said about him suddenly getting worse when he hit like around six months (?) it sounds very much like he has hit a stage of emotional growth that he is having difficulty controlling. Especially since he isn't neutered, no matter what people say, (because I do agree many many dogs are perfectly fine being intact), but some dogs simply aren't. Dogs may have breed similarities but there are very much individuals.
 

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Just to give you some information, I have only had one dog so far, yet I started out with a severely fear aggressive chi/rat terrier mix from the shelter. He literally chose us because he acted different with us than any other family. However as he adjusted to our house, about 2 months in, he became severely reactive to anything living that wasn't me or my mother. It took a lot to work through it with him during his first two years of life. He went from stages of getting better to getting worse. Then I increased a lot of things in his life, such as the types of training techniques I used until I found something that worked for him. Honestly not one type works for every dog. He got different types of chews and bones, he got a lot more exercise, but most of all he got tons of mental stimulation. Whether it was different types of toys to put treats or food in, or new types of places to walk him, work on new training tricks. I have also helped my friends train dogs that they viewed as difficult, and helped a few people I have met train their reactive dogs to be less so, with the help of Dewey. It just takes a lot of work and research into different training types.
 

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Aha! Just now seeing this thread. I've read and responded to the other one about him biting, and it seems my suspicions on that thread were spot on.

This dog needs to live outside. It's that simple.
 
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