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Certified Animal Behaviour Consultant - Worth It?


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My vet has recommended talking to a behavior consultant after JJ's aggressive reaction to getting his nails trimmed, and then subsequent aggressive reaction (growling, snapping... then turning and staring her down while growling after she backed off) when the vet tried to assess his rear legs to see if he had any pain/weight bearing issues (retired due to rear R left hock injury).

[Edit: I've already gotten lots of fantastic advice for doing nails on another thread here: http://forum.greytalk.com/index.php/topic/291187-nail-trimming-nightmare)

 

I've since done a bit of research into canine aggression online, and read everything I could find on GT and have come to the conclusion that my dog's behavior isn't completely unexpected. And that very gradual positive counter-conditioning has seemed to work for a lot of people.

He's reactive on leash around other dogs (pulling, growling, barking) Reactive to strangers walking straight towards him to try to pet him. He's also reactive to his own reflection in full length mirrors sometimes. Thankfully he doesn't redirect his aggression towards us if we pull him back to get him away from a dog/person if he starts to act menacingly.

He guards bones (which I no longer give him... until he trusts us more), and chicken feet (which I feed him while on leash so I can keep him in the kitchen... I can pet him, but if I get too close to his face, he growls)

He did show some space aggression/irritation once, when I lifted up his dog bed while he was on it (in retrospect, not the smartest idea) to get him off of it so he would go into his crate. It had worked the day before. I haven't done it again, instead I now get his attention with a milkbone to get him to stand up.

No sleep aggression that we're aware. We don't touch him unless we're sure he's awake, but he's fine with us petting him while he's lying down on his bed or in his crate so long as we've made eye contact first.

 

Doesn't seem like major issues, but I'm also unsure of what's causing it so expert observation and advice would no doubt be beneficial. I'm concerned about teaching/conditioning him the wrong way, and having the issues get worse. I also have to keep reminding myself that he's only been here a very short time. At the same time, there are no behaviorists in my city, so getting someone to drive out from Toronto or Ottawa for the initial home visit is something around $450...

 

 

And just so this post isn't entirely negative, here's a picture of him looking goofy wearing socks:

 

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One thing I've done with all my dogs is muzzle them before doing their nails and after doing each foot I give them a little treat and praise them. When all 4 feet are done they get a final treat and we love on them and tell them what good dogs they are. It has worked for us, including Jilly Bean who used to be the worst.

 

I would work on positive reinforcement in dealing with the behavior issues. Lots of praise and treats. I use tiny little Milkbones. They are made for tiny dogs because I don't want mine to gain weight from giving them normal size bones. It's just enough for one bite but it's a treat.

 

There are several people here on GT who have a lot of experience in training dogs. Hopefully one of them will pop in with some good advice.

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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This may sound harsh but before labeling your dog aggressive, try another vet ;)

 

My sweet perfect dog Rainy once went after a vet and continued to go after him for a few minutes after he had backed up. The vet tried to pull the dog bed she way laying on towards him. Rainy was in pain (reason for our vet visit) and the man actually stopped me from calling her into a standing position for him. He got what he deserved and I think Rainy was justified him her reaction. Also get the impression this Vet was scared of larger dogs. I heard that through the grapevine later... I think Vets sometimes forget that big dogs have big teeth and should be treated with respect like any animal with toofers should. Even now Rainy will scream when any Vet palps her belly. I have to remember to warn them! :hehe I can poke and prod all I want, but I'm the Momma so I'm allowed to.

 

Go slowly and be smart with your own dog. Keep working on the trade up game to stop bone guarding. Keep exposing him to other things, work on nail trimming, ear cleaning, random poking and goofing around with his body parts. I think you guys will be fine!

Edited by JAJ2010

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Jessica

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Love the pic!!!

 

Couple of things...My JJ is very rambunctious with non-grey dogs on walks...and hates having his nails trimmed....but in no way would I call him aggressive. He does growl, however, if I try to look at something painful on him, so I do muzzle.

 

However, if you think that this is something a bit more - or of concern, you might try contacting the Small Animal behavior group at Tufts. Dr. Nicholas Dodman is wonderful and is a DVM who is an animal behaviorlist - not a dog trainer who does behavior work (nothing against that, but if you think your dog has a deeper behavior issue, you may want to consult with someone who has the veterinary backround).... I used him for my grey, Jack, before Jack passed. They are often willing to do a fax consult with a dog who is at a distance, or whose problems may not require a visit. You might drop them a line. You can google search them at the Cummings Institute. It is Tufts University's Veterinary small animal practice.

Edited by mychip1

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Robin, EZ (Tribal Track), JJ (What a Story), Dustin (E's Full House) and our beautiful Jack (Mana Black Jack) and Lily (Chip's Little Miss Lily) both at the Bridge
The WFUBCC honors our beautiful friends at the bridge. Godspeed sweet angels.

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I don't think it's a bad idea to consult a behaviorist that uses PR training given the range of issues your dog has. A good behaviorist will help you develop and write out a training plan and set realistic goals, and the consult fee usually includes ongoing follow-up via email and phone so you can make changes or ask questions as needed.

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

Just from the brief descriptions that you give there does seem to be a common thread, trust. Your boy doesn’t know you enough to trust you. It also seems he may also not have a lot of confidence. What I strongly suggest is things that build trust and his confidence. Two things that I have done with fosters that exhibit some of the same issues is:

 

1) Hand feed all meals. I don’t mean hold the bowl, I mean he gets a handful of food then another, until the meal is done. This reinforces your bond with him on an instinctual level as you are providing him food. He will trust you, and bond with you. This works wonders with a lot of hounds.

2) Obedience class. Not just any class, but a class that is for greyhounds, or at the very least, find a trainer that has worked with greyhounds. He needs to gain confidence and can do that with obedience class as he will bond with you and will actually gain confidence in himself.

 

Of course not everything works with all hounds, but the above two things have worked well for me in many areas. It is absolutely non-confrontational and 100% positive training. Before I spent hundreds of dollars to get a behaviorist, I would try a few other things.

 

Chad

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I wouldn't spend hundreds on a behaviourist just yet.

JJ has only been with you for a couple of weeks.

 

As I understand it, when the vet came in to do the exam he was already extremely aggitated and agressive over the Tech trying to do his nails.

Why not take him back to the clinic... just walk in, stay a minute, say hello, give him a treat and leave....a couple times a week?

I know the clinic would be fine with this. I drop in with my guys all the time.

 

I would work on positive reinforcement in dealing with the behavior issues. Lots of praise and treats. I use tiny little Milkbones. They are made for tiny dogs because I don't want mine to gain weight from giving them normal size bones. It's just enough for one bite but it's a treat.

 

:nod

 

Try the PB in the muzzle.

Do one nail.

Treat and praise.

If you only get on nail done a day, so be it. ...It WILL get better.

 

If Karen/Camp Greyhound has a guard in stock she can have it to you by the weekend.

 

 

Just from the brief descriptions that you give there does seem to be a common thread, trust. Your boy doesn’t know you enough to trust you. It also seems he may also not have a lot of confidence. What I strongly suggest is things that build trust and his confidence. Two things that I have done with fosters that exhibit some of the same issues is:

 

Classes are a good idea, but there are no Greyhound specific classes/trainers here.

Heck...There are less than a dozen Greyhounds in our entire extended community!

I can recommend an excellent trainer that we had for our last dog-agressive Dobe.

 

Now...SMILE and BREATHE!!!

Nancy

Edited by BatterseaBrindl

 

Nancy...Mom to Sid (Peteles Tiger), Kibo (112 Carlota Galgos) and Joshi.  Missing Casey, Gomer, Mona, Penelope, BillieJean, Bandit, Nixon (Starz Sammie),  Ruby (Watch Me Dash) Nigel (Nigel), and especially little Mario, waiting at the Bridge.

 

 

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I really think it depends on your experience with dogs. To me your dog does have quite a few issues that I would be concerned about (growling, reactive to dogs, reactive to people, sleep aggression, guarding, etc.) BUT these issues also can be quite common with new greys. The key is how to effectively deal with them so they don't escalate but rather become less.

 

I think almost all greyhound "aggression" stems from fear, especially the nail thing. Also, people approaching can be a big trigger. He is probably giving off signals of "I am uncomfortable with this" long before he reacts by pulling or growling. A behaviourist CAN help you to see these warning signs and redirect them, but you can also learn a lot from reading and researching and just trying on your own. :) Greys do often come around after they feel more comfortable so I would probably try to work on things myself a bit just because of the huge costs of a behaviourist.

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Here's my thoughts, based upon my personal experiences. Katie was a spook, who had some serious issues when I first got her. I've been to several trainers, and have worked with a certified vet behaviorist. In my experience, if you work with (good!) positive reinforcement trainers, there is a lot of overlap in what they and the behaviorist tell you to do. As you say, they will be going over desensitization/counter-conditioning and management with you, and the theory is pretty easy to grasp. What's tricky is the nuances: exactly when should you reward, what to use, should the crate be in this corner here or over against the wall there, that sort of thing. And that's something that I would really want to go over with someone in my home.

 

So, if I were in your shoes, faced with $450 for a behaviorist, I would probably see if I could get recommendations to a good, experienced positive reinforcement trainer in your town. Interview several, discuss your situation, ask what sort of experience they have had with similar types of dogs (trainers have strengths and weaknesses, and someone good with spooks may not be as comfortable with aggressive dogs and vice versa), and then get one to come out for a private session at your house. You haven't had this dog long, and I would rather spend 100-200 per session for a good local trainer, who I can have come back for follow-ups, than the $450 for a behaviorist which might preclude me having enough in reserve for follow-on sessions. And one thing you can always ask the trainer is whether THEY think the situation is bad enough to require a behaviorist.

 

Now, if you were thinking of trying behavior modifying drugs, then I might lean towards a vet behaviorist. But if you are just looking for guidance on behavior modification, a good trainer may be sufficient. An initial consult with one will probably run you somewhere around 100-200, and it will hopefully give you the start of long-term relationship with a local person. If they do group classes as well, it makes for a nice continuum as you and the dog progress in your relationship.

 

My personal opinion, from what you have written, is that you have a lot of small things going on, which could get bad if not handled correctly, but nothing so glaringly bad that I would jump straight to a behaviorist. Not being sure where Kingston is, I am enclosing a link which may hopefully help you find a good trainer: http://www.arfontario.com/EndorsedTrainers.asp

 

Good luck and I hope that things get better!

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My blog about helping Katie learn to be a more normal dog: http://katies-journey-philospher77.blogspot.com/

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Guest Giselle

Would you rather spend weeks, months, maybe even years nicking away at these issues slowly? Making inevitable mistakes? Possibly letting the dog rehearse aggressive behaviors and strenghtening those undesired behaviors? Would you risk the aggression getting worse? Would you risk a nip or bite to a human or child? Can you imagine the emotional and financial cost of worsened behavior??? Dog bite wounds often end up between $500-$800 at the vet.

 

OR would you rather seek the help of a professional now and invest $450, ensuring the immediate improvement of your dog's behavior? It is an investment. You always have to think about the long term.

 

Also, if you mean "certified", as in certified via the IAABC organization, then extra "Yes"! These are true professionals who (should) understand behavior thoroughly both academically and in the applied sense. I know several people certified through IAABC and their knowledge base rivals that of many veterinary behaviorists. It's worth your investment. :)

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Have you thought about having another vet give him a once over? I wonder if the reaction the first time might be because he's in pain somehow--that could certainly make an animal snappish in general (or a person). If it were me, I'd do that and then try a good basic obedience class to build up some trust and confidence.

Beth, Petey (8 September 2018- ), and Faith (22 March 2019). Godspeed Patrick (28 April 1999 - 5 August 2012), Murphy (23 June 2004 - 27 July 2013), Leo (1 May 2009 - 27 January 2020), and Henry (10 August 2010 - 7 August 2020), you were loved more than you can know.

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Guest PiagetsMom

Would you rather spend weeks, months, maybe even years nicking away at these issues slowly? Making inevitable mistakes? Possibly letting the dog rehearse aggressive behaviors and strenghtening those undesired behaviors? ..........

 

 

Also, if you mean "certified", as in certified via the IAABC organization, then extra "Yes"! These are true professionals who (should) understand behavior thoroughly both academically and in the applied sense. I know several people certified through IAABC and their knowledge base rivals that of many veterinary behaviorists. It's worth your investment. :)

 

Regarding behavioral and reactivity issues, this is where I was from the end of May to the beginning of September with my Maya. Taking advice from others, reading books, and trying to take care of the issue on my own. And, not for lack of trying, making little to no headway. I finally called a veterinary behaviorist who was recommended by my GPA, and am now working with her. Fortunately, I was on the right path with what I was doing, but I needed some fine tuning and she's given me several different things to work with that I wasn't aware of.

 

I can tell you that her initial 2 1/2 hour visit and evaluation, which comes with 2 additional follow-up appointments and help through emails, cost me right at $800. It wasn't the cost that made me keep putting it off.......I just kept thinking that I could take care of it myself, but I'm hoping Giselle is right and that it is worth the investment. I do realize that my success with Maya depends on my dedication and willingness to really work on the suggestions that Dr. Haug gives me.

 

Good luck with your pup - he's a beautiful boy!

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I can tell you that her initial 2 1/2 hour visit and evaluation, which comes with 2 additional follow-up appointments and help through emails, cost me right at $800. It wasn't the cost that made me keep putting it off.......I just kept thinking that I could take care of it myself, but I'm hoping Giselle is right and that it is worth the investment. I do realize that my success with Maya depends on my dedication and willingness to really work on the suggestions that Dr. Haug gives me.

I just want to add that a behaviorist shouldn't cost this much money (not that Lisa was implying it would), vet behaviorists are notoriously expensive (and rightly so given what they offer and how specialized they are). If cost is still an issue though, I would follow philosopher77's advice above. Just do your homework before choosing someone. But I do agree with the recent statements that you're better off working with someone than not.

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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Thanks for all the replies!

 

As suggested by greyt_dog_lover, we are hand feeding now (we started out doing it when he first came home, then stopped to teach him to "wait" for his food bowl... and have now resumed hand feeding since we can also practice waiting at doors, intersections, and for treats on the floor). We're also doing more frequently doing short home training sessions. He just started to get more consistent with doing a "lie down." Once he has that learned, we can work on "sit." He does a side saddle, and it's not pretty, but if he can do it while out on a walk, then we can use it to help him keep his cool when being approached by strangers.

 

We've also been giving him bits of grilled chicken breast on walks whenever he notices a person/dog and then more chicken as they get closer, and more if he can walk past without growling.

Also, my BF's brother came by to visit yesterday and we let them get introduced outside with the brother standing in place, and giving JJ a loose leash and all the time he wanted to approach and sniff at his will. There were no growlies, and afterwards in the house, there was very little growling and barking. It's only been 2 days so it's hard to tell, but today on our way back in to our apartment from a potty break today, someone was coming out at the same time. While I was telling him not to pet my dog because he is weary of strangers, he had already stuck his hand out and was touching JJ's head... and everything was fine! Very luckily, because I haven't been putting his muzzle on for potty because we usually don't run into anyone, and anyone we do run into has been very respectful with giving us more space. I need to remember to muzzle every time we leave the apartment just in case.

 

And I think I agree with BatterseaBrindl in that JJ was extremely agitated at the vet, so that probably contributed significantly to how aggressive he was being.

 

Overall, having read a lot of literature recently, and just spending more time with my boy, it seems that he is overall a pretty self-confident dog. He's definitely not what I would call shy or submissive, and not spooked by much at all. He knows what he doesn't like and lets people know by growling, and is willing to correct people if he thinks they aren't paying listening to him. Furthermore, he doesn't know that he can trust us to judge whether strangers are friend or foe so I believe he's growling in self-defense on walks. I have a feeling we may need to continually reinforce that we are his "leaders" because he does seem to have a more dominant (I hate to use the word, but I can't think of a better one) personality.

 

We have our good days and bad, but so far today has been overwhelmingly good!

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Thanks for all the replies!

 

As suggested by greyt_dog_lover, we are hand feeding now (we started out doing it when he first came home, then stopped to teach him to "wait" for his food bowl... and have now resumed hand feeding since we can also practice waiting at doors, intersections, and for treats on the floor). We're also doing more frequently doing short home training sessions. He just started to get more consistent with doing a "lie down." Once he has that learned, we can work on "sit." He does a side saddle, and it's not pretty, but if he can do it while out on a walk, then we can use it to help him keep his cool when being approached by strangers.

 

We've also been giving him bits of grilled chicken breast on walks whenever he notices a person/dog and then more chicken as they get closer, and more if he can walk past without growling.

Also, my BF's brother came by to visit yesterday and we let them get introduced outside with the brother standing in place, and giving JJ a loose leash and all the time he wanted to approach and sniff at his will. There were no growlies, and afterwards in the house, there was very little growling and barking. It's only been 2 days so it's hard to tell, but today on our way back in to our apartment from a potty break today, someone was coming out at the same time. While I was telling him not to pet my dog because he is weary of strangers, he had already stuck his hand out and was touching JJ's head... and everything was fine! Very luckily, because I haven't been putting his muzzle on for potty because we usually don't run into anyone, and anyone we do run into has been very respectful with giving us more space. I need to remember to muzzle every time we leave the apartment just in case.

 

And I think I agree with BatterseaBrindl in that JJ was extremely agitated at the vet, so that probably contributed significantly to how aggressive he was being.

 

Overall, having read a lot of literature recently, and just spending more time with my boy, it seems that he is overall a pretty self-confident dog. He's definitely not what I would call shy or submissive, and not spooked by much at all. He knows what he doesn't like and lets people know by growling, and is willing to correct people if he thinks they aren't paying listening to him. Furthermore, he doesn't know that he can trust us to judge whether strangers are friend or foe so I believe he's growling in self-defense on walks. I have a feeling we may need to continually reinforce that we are his "leaders" because he does seem to have a more dominant (I hate to use the word, but I can't think of a better one) personality.

 

We have our good days and bad, but so far today has been overwhelmingly good!

 

:D

 

Glad you had a good day.

 

Seems like you're super aware of JJ's 'issues', what signals he is giving and how he reacts to things.

 

I am not disagreeing with those who say to take him to a 'specialist' before things get worse, but there are none in JJ's city.

None.

The nearest would be 3+ hours away.

 

Nancy...Mom to Sid (Peteles Tiger), Kibo (112 Carlota Galgos) and Joshi.  Missing Casey, Gomer, Mona, Penelope, BillieJean, Bandit, Nixon (Starz Sammie),  Ruby (Watch Me Dash) Nigel (Nigel), and especially little Mario, waiting at the Bridge.

 

 

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It sounds like you're on the right track. Good job!

 

I think sometimes vets jump too quickly to labelling their patients. (I've seen this happen with human doctors too.) The most huge example I've seen is a cat my hubby used to have. She was a sweet cat, friendly as the day is long. But when he took her to the vet for her routine exams, she would turn into a tasmanian devil; screaming, biting and pooping on the table. They had to use leather gloves to hold her down, and still occasionally got bit. I witnessed it once when I went with them. What I saw was a cat in the highest level of terror. That was a vet that specialized in cats and only cats.

 

After we got married, he switched to using my vet. Before her first visit, we warned them that she was difficult to handle. I didn't want my words to influence how they handled her, but I did want to warn them and let them handle it their own way. They did not bring out any leather gloves. She was unhappy, but not terrorized and there was no screaming, biting or pooping. She was suddenly not a "difficult patient". I'm very sure it was the leather gloves that set her off, and it's rather sad that this other vet who specialized in cats never made the connection and kept feeding into and escalating her fears.

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Obedience class. Not just any class, but a class that is for greyhounds, or at the very least, find a trainer that has worked with greyhounds.

Best training class I've been to was at a Petsmart. Absolute worst training class I've ever been to was a greyhounds only one pushed by a local adoption group.

 

The Petsmart instructor was awesome and Harley and I had a great time. He did everything all the other dogs did (I was new to greys and stupidly assumed that he was a dog :rolleyes:) including sitting readily, though with legs to the side like his doxy buddies.

 

The greyhounds only trainer used her dobie for a demo then had us all turn our backs to each other and work with our dogs. Neither my dog or I got much out of it.

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Guest Giselle

I did not know that the closest behaviorist was 3+ hours away. However, I have several concerns about NOT finding a professional:

 

- Animal behavior has, unfortunately, a very emotional and ideological past. The idea of dominance was usurped and manipulated to be used as an excuse for methods that have no place in modern, science-based animal training. As a result of this complicated past, many dog owners and non-dog owners hold misconceptions about behavior and about training. I am concerned about this because you stated (albeit, reluctantly) that he may have a "dominant personality". I understand that you have reluctance about it because backlack from people these days against using the word "dominant". Let me clarify that the word "dominant" is not BAD. It's just being used incorrectly almost 99% of the time. Dominance is NOT a personality trait. It's meant to describe the social interactions between animals. So, I'm concerned about what you've read and about the techniques you may use in the future if you're taking advice from folks who misrepresent the idea of dominance.

- As others have noted, behaviorists are expensive and specialized professionals because they not only train animals but they also train people, as well. I can tell you from experience and from research that our dogs' behaviors are HIGHLY influenced by our actions. They're masters at reading people. But people? PHEW! We suck at reading dog body language! It's a hard skill to acquire, and even I am always still learning! So, the reason I encourage finding a professional behaviorist is not only to help implement training techniques on your dog but also to refine your techniques, as well. We ALL need help with our own techniques. I periodically videotape myself during training sessions, and I always find something that needs improvement.

 

A certified behaviorist has gone through hundreds, if not thousands, of hours teaching animals and people. It is their job to ensure your success. $450 is expensive, but a hospital bill is much much much more expensive. It is an investment you will not regret. But, if something happens and your dog bites someone/something, that is something you will regret. I have been there done that personally! It's always better to be safe than sorry.

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@Giselle, thank you very much for your input. I've located 2 canine behavior experts who seem to know what they are doing. Both are experts in canine aggression (or are at least considered expert witnesses by the legal system here) and use positive reinforcement training. Of course their services are not cheap, but what reliable consultant is? I certainly don't mind getting a behaviorist if it is going to be very beneficial to us.

 

I think we're going to give it another 2 weeks to see how things go. So far all his "issues" seem to be getting better, and we haven't discovered any new ones. We got some help from my BF's brother earlier in the week who came over to visit. At first when he came over, JJ was in his crate and NOT happy that a stranger had invaded his territory. There was a lot of growling and barking and bared teeth when he got too close to the crate. We then all went outside into more neutral territory and let JJ approach and sniff at his will, while the brother stood in place. After a few good sniffs, there were no growls for the rest of the day indoors or out, and he even got some pets with no problems. Since then JJ has been a lot friendlier with unfamiliar people, going up to them to sniff them, and then move on without issue. We also keep him muzzled, so perhaps he is picking up on the fact that we're a lot more relaxed about letting him go up to people because it is a lot less likely that he'd bite someone.

 

I think we've identified what likely caused this weariness around strangers: the first time he growled at someone that we can think of is when a man stopped to chat as he said he loved greyhounds and used to own one. JJ was fine getting petted during the conversation, but then when the man left, he bent over suddenly and gave him a hug around the neck, and got a growl in return. He saw the same man the very next day, and growled at him when he reached to pet him. Perhaps he thought that every stranger he met would try to grab him around the neck?

 

A friend of a coworker's greyhound was returned after he bit 3 people (including a child). They'd had the dog for 6 months. I'm definitely aware of the consequences of letting things get out of hand.

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Good discussion on the benefits of consulting with a professional for serious behavior problems. IMO, the most important factor is finding a good instructor who uses non-aversive (positive reinforcement, reward-based) methods and has a solid understanding of learning theory. Finding a good trainer/behaviorist can be very beneficial and rewarding, but unfortunately, in many areas, there may not be such a trainer or behaviorist available within a reasonable distance.

 

Depending on one's level of experience in reading dog body language and interacting with dogs, I feel that someone who is willing to learn and research may do better on their own than working with a questionable professional. The dog's reactions are the best gauge of how you're doing. If he's improving, you're probably on the right track. If things are getting worse, you need to reassess and either change tactics or consult a qualified professional sooner rather than later.

 

I completely agree that how a dog (or cat) is approached and handled usually has a huge impact in how they respond. Dogs do not become aggressive without a trigger (unless they have a medical problem like a brain tumor). Even if we didn't perceive a situation as threatening, if the dog reacted aggressively, he did.

 

Also wanted to comment on a couple details you mentioned.

 

He just started to get more consistent with doing a "lie down." Once he has that learned, we can work on "sit." He does a side saddle, and it's not pretty, but if he can do it while out on a walk, then we can use it to help him keep his cool when being approached by strangers.

 

Sounds like you're making progress with his reactions to strangers, so this may not be an issue anymore. But I actually don't believe that using 'sit' in this context is a good idea. For one thing, many greyhounds are not comfortable maintaining a sit for very long. And sitting and lying down are more vulnerable positions that may make a dog more nervous about being approached by strangers. My girl Willow is sometimes uncomfortable being approached by strange men. She is much more likely to react (jump up and snap) if she's lying down. If she's standing, she often approaches to seek attention.

 

I've found that nervous dogs are often more easily distracted from a trigger if you keep them moving. Especially in the early stages while he's still settling in, learning to trust you, and getting used to his new home, you can try to avoid situations where he's expected to put up with direct approaches from strangers. If you get the feeling that he's nervous, try not to stop to talk to people. Or when you do stop, try to stay between JJ and the stranger, and ask them not to try to pet him unless he approaches and initiates contact. I'd definitely continue to use treats to reward him when you pass or meet people on walks.

 

I have a feeling we may need to continually reinforce that we are his "leaders" because he does seem to have a more dominant (I hate to use the word, but I can't think of a better one) personality.

 

As Giselle mentioned, dominant used in this context is inaccurate and misleading. Just because he doesn't act shy or submissive doesn't mean that his behavior isn't based in fear and insecurity. A truly self-confident dog would not feel the need to growl in self defense. Based on innate personality as well as learned experience, dogs react to fear differently - some have a stronger "flight" response (the ones that seem shy and try to bolt when scared), while others have a stronger "fight" response (the ones who show aggression).

Jennifer &

Willow (Wilma Waggle), Wiki (Wiki Hard Ten), Carter (Let's Get It On),

Ollie (whippet), Gracie (whippet x), & Terra (whippet) + Just Saying + Just Alice

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just an update:

 

We've contacted certified canine behavior consultant Kerry Vinson and we are setting up a home visit sometime this month. I am sure he will be able to determine what JJ's motivation is for acting aggressive so we can learn how we can best manage his behavior.

 

Overall, JJ is better and worse. He's better at ignoring most people and nearly all small dogs (he just doesn't take much interest in small fluffy white dogs like shih tzus and maltese... I had expected the opposite!) but if we let him have a clear path of sight, he will fixate on large dogs (not necessarily barking or growling, but alert and starting with stiff legs). As per JJNg's advice, we keep JJ moving when we come across a "trigger dog" and praise if he looks away for whatever reason when the dog is in sight. Unfortunately he's stopped taking an interest in food (not even hot dog or leftover chicken breast!) while on walks, I guess because everything else is just too interesting.

 

On another note, this weekend he's stepped up his marking a notch and is now kicking the ground after peeing. We were only letting him mark in the park (since he will sniff for ages before finding the perfect place to poop, so he will pee 20 times in the process). We've responded by not letting him mark at all, and if he does manage to sneak in a dribble then absolutely no kicking. We've given him 2 choices of places to poop, either at the entrance to the park, or at the exit, and nowhere else. He's handled it fairly well, but he will sometimes try to pee on the sidewalk as we are walking. I'm not sure if he's trying to mark, or if he just wants to pee. I don't know if a belly band on walks would be overkill.

 

I found this guy's blog about his shiba inu really helpful for understanding aggression: http://shibashake.com/dog-behavior-problems

Also this site which even has a printable pdf with really cute pictures for managing leash reactivity: http://functionalrewards.com/more-on-bat/bat-steps-for-reactivity/

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Unfortunately he's stopped taking an interest in food (not even hot dog or leftover chicken breast!) while on walks, I guess because everything else is just too interesting.

 

Dogs also tend to refuse food when they are too stressed. And increased marking behavior can also be caused by stress. Hard to say if this is the case with JJ without knowing the full context and seeing him in person. Let us know how the behavior consultation goes.

Jennifer &

Willow (Wilma Waggle), Wiki (Wiki Hard Ten), Carter (Let's Get It On),

Ollie (whippet), Gracie (whippet x), & Terra (whippet) + Just Saying + Just Alice

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I don't understand why you wouldn't want to let him pee or poop when he needs to? :dunno A belly band on a walk would be totally inappropriate, and ineffective. It won't stop him from peeing, it will just get soaked.

 

If you don't want to spend your whole walk stopping to sniff every 2 seconds, then take about 10 minutes to give him free reign and empty out as much as he likes, then shorten the lead and pick up the pace. Periodically tell him "go play" and loosen the leash and slow down so he can mark some. Then shorten the leash, say "let's go" and pick up the pace again. He'll eventually get that sometimes we just walk briskly without sniffing. I have 2 dogs that mark, a male and female and if I didn't give them those opportunities periodically they wouldn't empty out. In the morning, we walk for 20-30 minutes and that's all we do - take our time and they mark to their hearts content. If we don't, Zuri especially doesn't fully empty and we sometimes have accidents.

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Jen, CPDT-KA with Zuri, lab in a greyhound suit, Violet, formerly known as Faith, Skye, the permanent puppy, Cisco, resident cat, and my baby girl Neyla, forever in my heart

"The great thing about science is that you're free to disagree with it, but you'll be wrong."

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