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Fear/ Aggression


Guest Houndie
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Guest Houndie

We adopted our greyhound from the local animal shelter. He had been dropped off by somebody who said they could no longer care for the dog. According to the shelter workers, who were very kind, and seemed to have taken a special liking to this little guy, he was just extrememly shy, and scared of everything. He was at the shelter for about a month. He seems to have adjusted to our house pretty easily, and loves to be right beside us. He has shown no food aggression, though he is highly food motivated. When we got him, he had a dog bite on his ear, and some dental issues, that we have taken care of. The vet estimates the little guy is 2-3 years old. When I say little guy, I mean little guy. When we got him, he weighed only 50 pounds, and was totally skin and bones. Even for a greyhound, he was skinny. We have had him 8 weeks, and he is up to 55 pounds, despite the dental issues, and a bout of the big D. This poor guy is very comfortable with my husband and I, and eventually, anybody who comes in to our house. My parents came to visit, and he acted like they were his long lost friends. They drive a mini van, and the moment he saw the car, and them, he acted like a different dog. I have to wonder if the dog had been owned by an older couple who had a mini van. He seems to have had very little interaction with other dogs, and to some extent people. When we walk, he starts barking and acts aggressive toward any dog we encounter, even when they are on the opposite side of the street. Our vet, who has several sight hounds of his own, believes the dog is acting out of fear. Grey truly seems to be scared of the other dog. Even with people, he will not act aggressive, but will hide behind us. We have been in contact with a Regap group that lives in a town not too far from ours. We have followed all of their suggestions, trying to slowly desensitize the dog, and rewarding him for passing the occasional dog without barking and lunging. Are there other things we could/should be trying? Is this going to get better, or will walking him always be a challenge? We are open to any good suggestions that have worked for you. Thanks for reading, and any help you can offer.

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Guest Lovey_Hounds

Honestly the best advice i can give is to keep working with him, keep walking him no matter how hard it gets just take baby steps some dogs get over it some dogs dont. try to keep walking him on the same route praising him a lot while walking maybe feeding treats as he goes to encourage him. desesetization is the key to this hopefully he will one day realize that nothing is comming out to get him and he will settle down a bit just make all it as positve of an event as you can so he sees that good things happen on walks not scary things.

 

Good luck with your boy.

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

I believe you have been given good advice, the only thing I would suggest, although I bet it was already said to you, is that you need to be sure to treat your hound BEFORE the fear starts. If you see him tense up, remove him (meaining, turn the other way and increase the distance between him and the other dog). This is very difficult desensitization training that you need to do, but it is possible. You need to be hypervigilant about his body language and treat him for calm neutral behavior. If you see him start to tense up, you have pushed him too far. Remove him and start over. You should be able to shorten the distance he can handle. Dont be suprised if it takes many tries to determine his exact "trigger" distance, but once you do, then training should start to accelerate as you can treat him before the fear starts. Have you had him around other greyhounds, and does he exhibit the same behavior with them?

 

Chad

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Guest LindsaySF

I believe you have been given good advice, the only thing I would suggest, although I bet it was already said to you, is that you need to be sure to treat your hound BEFORE the fear starts. If you see him tense up, remove him (meaining, turn the other way and increase the distance between him and the other dog). This is very difficult desensitization training that you need to do, but it is possible. You need to be hypervigilant about his body language and treat him for calm neutral behavior. If you see him start to tense up, you have pushed him too far. Remove him and start over. You should be able to shorten the distance he can handle. Dont be suprised if it takes many tries to determine his exact "trigger" distance, but once you do, then training should start to accelerate as you can treat him before the fear starts. Have you had him around other greyhounds, and does he exhibit the same behavior with them?

 

Chad

This. :nod

 

 

 

 

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Yes, it is possible! Do not despair. You little guy sounds like a really sweet dog, who perhaps has been picked on (you mentioned a dog bite to the ear) and has developed a strategy to keep dogs away. He's almost certainly fearful, especially since you say he hides behind you when approached.

 

The important thing is to not overface him while you're working with him. Take a bag of treats and treat him often. I have done it the way greyt_dog_lover suggested, treating for neutral behaviour, with a previous dog, but now I'm working with Sid with a slightly different method. I have taught him 'look at me' using the clicker, so we use distraction plus treats. To start with, he got a treat for simply being in the same general area as a dog. Then for getting closer without grumbling. Then for actually standing and watching one go by without a fuss. Baby steps, as others have said! If he actually greets one nicely, he doesn't get a treat till afterwards, because actually, the social interaction is its own reward, but I make sure to get him to 'look at me' and give him a treat as we walk away. But remember, each of these stages may take a week, or several weeks, and if he forgets at any point, take him back a stage and take him slowly through it all again.

 

The 'look at me' command is very useful, because it focuses the dog's attention on you, and on the treats, instead of worrying what else is going on, and teaches them that they can look away from another dog without being attacked.

 

Try not to tense up yourself (difficult, I know!), because this communicates itself to the dog. If you can pretend to yourself and your dog that the dog who is approaching is a friend, that dog may relax his or her body language and seem less threatening to your own. Try relaxing your shoulders and dropping your head slightly as you look at the strange dog, smile, and walk loosely. It's amazing how this can work!

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The plural of anecdote is not data

Brambleberry Greyhounds My Etsy Shop

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Guest Houndie

Thank you all for your replies and encouragement. My husband and I both just adore this pup, and want to give him the good life he deserves.

 

Chad, what you have suggested is exactly the approach we have been taking. It seems like some days are better than others. I thought we were making a wee bit of progress, but today we had two instances where we seemed to be headed backwards. We will keep on working with Greyson consistently, and see if we can't over come this. He does seem as if he really wants to please us, so hopefully, with more time, we can work through this behavior. My husband may be better than I am at figuring out the trigger distance, and I need to work on being more aware of that. Thanks for mentioning it, as I had probably not focused on that as much as I should. I walk the dog during the "high dog traffic" times, and am probably worrying too much about what others think about our "vicious" pup.

 

Silverfish, I think you are correct in that this little guy was likely picked on, if for no other reason than his size. We have not used the "look at me" command with him, though we have with other dogs we've had. I don't know why I didn't think of teaching him that, as he is a pretty quick learner, and does seem to want to please us. Thanks for the suggestion.

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Fear aggression is one of the hardest things to overcome. Our little Jilly Bean was fear aggressive. She's come a long way but it's taken quite a long time. Persistence and patience will get you through this.

Judy, mom to Darth Vader, Bandita, And Angel

Forever in our hearts, DeeYoGee, Dani, Emmy, Andy, Heart, Saint, Valentino, Arrow, Gee, Bebe, Jilly Bean, Bullitt, Pistol, Junior, Sammie, Joey, Gizmo, Do Bee

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