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Recently Adopted Aggressive Male. Seeking Advice


Guest lizbarrhi
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Guest lizbarrhi

A few weeks ago I adopted a 2nd grey. I have another grey and 5 cats. Sean (my new guy) has some serious aggression issues, not towards the other pets, but towards me. Enough that he bit me in the face. It seems to be a space / dominance issue. I have taken the dog bed out of my bedroom and no longer allow him on couch. We need to establish a mutual trust between each other. Outside of the agressive behavior he is a sweet boy. Any suggestions welcome!

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It sounds as if you are aware of the problem and what to do. I wish you luck and that Sean becomes more trusting soon. Good he is getting

along with your other animals. That seems it might have been harder to rectify.

Pack your patience and hope someone else responds with advice.

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Can you describe the circumstances of the bite? Where were you, where was he, what was happening?

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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Search the forums for NLIF training (Nothing in Life Is Free.) It will help establish boundaries as well as teach him what is expected of him to live in a home. Assuming he is just off the track or adoption kennel and hasn't lived in a home very long, remember that everything is new to him, and life as he knows it from track has taken a complete 180. You might also try some clicker training with both dogs.

 

Some of that aggression may be that his space has always been "his" and he has never had to share anything, including his bed. Sounds like he;s a sweet boy, so some NLIF training or some clicker training will definitely help.

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Camp Broodie. The current home of Mark Kay Mark Jack and LaVida I've Got Life.  Always missing my boy Rocket Hi Noon Rocket,  Allie  Phoenix Dynamite, Kate Miss Kate, Starz Under Da Starz, Petunia MW Neptunia and Diva Astar Dashindiva 

 

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It's a very rare scenario that a dog has aggressive outbursts for no reason, unless there is some underlying pain or medical issue. What happened leading up to the bite? Hopefully we can give you more feedback if we can get some more specifics about what happened before and after.

 

P.S. Dominance theory, or the belief that the dog acts out because he needs to 'be in charge,' is not widely accepted as a legitimate theory among pet behavior professionals. This chart by APDT (Association of Pet Dog Trainers) may help you interpret your new guy's behavior in a more credible way than any of the 'dominant' or 'alpha dog' Cesar Millan type stuff.

 

http://www.apdt.com/petowners/choose/dominancemyths.aspx

Edited by a_daerr
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I think "aggressive" is probably a strong term to use (though the information provided is fairly vague). Sounds like there may be some space issues. True "dominance aggression" is EXCEEDINGLY rare. As in even veterinary behaviourists rarely diagnose it. There is usually some other combination of fear aggression or resource guarding type behaviour. In this case sounds like a space problem. Honestly, we never allow the dogs onto the furniture before we've had them about 6 months and have established a good relationship and understand each other's communication. This means I've had time to observe the dog's body language and find out what things make the dog comfortable and uncomfortable, and how this particular dog lets me know when it is uncomfortable with something. Even Kili who we got at 8 weeks old did not come up on furniture until she was about 7 months old. Occasionally we'll get a grumble if you bump her and we immediately ask the dog to get off the furniture (a good "off" command is therefore important prior to allowing furniture privileges). If I had a dog that sleep startled badly or protected space to the point of doing more than a grumble, that dog would no longer be allowed on te furniture while we worked on trust and bonding.

 

It is important to read your dog's body language and to becoming familiar with his calming signals. These tiny messages are frequently missed but are almost always displayed long before growling or snapping (except in sleep startle obviously).

 

If I had a dog that sleep startled it wouldn't be allowed on furniture with me and I'd wake the dog from a far before asking it to get off furniture I wanted to sit on.

 

If we knew more about the specific incidences we could probably be more helpful.

Kristie and the Apex Agility Greyhounds: Kili (ATChC AgMCh Lakilanni Where Eagles Fly RN IP MSCDC MTRDC ExS Bronze ExJ Bronze ) and Kenna (Lakilanni Kiss The Sky RN MADC MJDC AGDC AGEx AGExJ). Waiting at the Bridge: Retired racer Summit (Bbf Dropout) May 5, 2005-Jan 30, 2019

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As others have said, truly aggressive greyhounds are very rare.

 

IMO, it sounds more like resource guarding of his space. Greyhounds are brought up never having to share their space, at least in a kennel-sized area around them. If you were inside that kennel-sized area, it was probably too much for him. There are many, many, many threads here dealing with this issue, and even one or two active right now. Please peruse them for some solutions to your issue.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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I hope that you are OK.

 

As already stated by others - it would help if you describe how the bite occurred and any other aggression issues that you are having.

 

Generally, walking the dog will help to establish a bond between him and you but, that will take time (at least 6 months to 1 year). Most of the walk should be quick and focused - not smell the roses type of walk. You might also consider going to classes as that might also help to build up the trust too.

 

As others have suggested, no couch/bed privileges for at least 6 months to 1 year. If he has a bed - make sure he is awake before approaching. Do not bend down over him to pet him or try to hug or kiss his head - all these actions could be construed as aggression by him or at the least, make him uncomfortable. Pick up some books on "body language of dogs" and they will cover things like the head positions and the flicking of the lips as signs that he is unsure and when that happens, you need to back off.

 

Maybe others can suggest some specific books.

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Guest lizbarrhi

First of all, thank you for your responses. Here is some more info about bite event and Sean and me.

 

Sean is my 5th grey and 4th male over the past 20 years so I have greyhound experience but it has been awhile since I've had any issues to deal with as my other girl is just wonderful. Sean raced at 6 tracks and was retired in October of 2013 and went into a rescue group. He was adopted out and had his jaw broken at a dog park by another dog. Soon after that he was returned to the kennel. From what I understand he became very cage aggressive - and the kennel is in a greyhound racing compound so his kenneling was the same as when he was racing. Staff has worked very hard with him to help him with this aggression issue and was very picky about whom Sean would go home with. Long story short the adoption group lost their kennel and had to place 59 dogs in less than a month. I was ready to adopt a second and I asked for a special needs dog.

 

The bite(s) - now please know - I am taking full responsibility for my actions on Monday when these events occurred. Sean took a piece of food I inadvertently left on couch and my immediate reaction was to go get it back. I am so used to Trixie (my grey girl) letting me do anything that I was not thinking. Well he clamped down on my hand and wouldn't let go. When I finally freed my hand, he went after my arm. I get that. My mistake, big time. Later that evening, after a walk where I had slight words with a neighbor (condo issue) we came back and he was up on the couch and I approached him and he went for my face. Again, my fault.

 

I fully understand the mistakes I made with him and very much realize I had much to do with his reactions. What I am seeking is some advice to help me get this boy adjusted to my home. I have made some changes in the past few days; no couch, no dog bed in bedroom and I am keeping a leash on him while I am home (not at night) in case I need to grab him, to put some space between me and him and so far this really has helped. I know not to invade his space, hug or startle him and let him come to me when he is seeking affection. Although he is cat safe he does growl at them when they walk too close to him when he is lying down. They are getting the hint and he in no way has gone after them - just growls - but considering how far he went with me with the biting it does make me a bit nervous. Then again he also fell asleep in his bed with my smallest cat and they slept for hours together.

 

Hope this information helps shed some light on my earlier post. Again, I get what I did wrong, now I want to make sure I do the right thing for him. He really is a sweet boy and I just want him to be happy.

 

Thanks,

Liz

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Oh wow. What a situation. :(

 

The biting makes a little more sense, but it sounds like his stress/anxiety is running so high that he's going straight to biting instead of cycling through the usual dog body language first. Poor guy- so much trauma and change in a short amount of time. I would seriously look some anti-anxiety meds, at least while you're going through this transitional period. Until then, muzzle all the time. I'd hate for him to misdirect aggression at your other dog or kitties.

 

Thank you for giving this boy a chance and continuing to work with him.

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Also, to continue what was begun in the kennel, contact a certified veterinary behaviorist. They can give you specific things to do to help him work through his issues. They can also advise you concerning prescription help. You need to be careful with this, as some anti-anxiety meds could make him *more* aggressive. I second the suggestion to utilize his muzzle, unless this also is contributing to his aggression. I would probably not have him around any children at all.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

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Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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Relax.

 

So far what you've described is some space startle/guarding and some food guarding -- both very common in dogs as I suspect (from your words) you already know.

 

I would probably muzzle when you can't supervise his interaction with your other animals (have to muzzle the other grey, too, or separate them; can't muzzle just one) and when you're doing something you think he might react to, such as toenail trimming.

 

I would give him some time to settle and get used to your home routine and start introducing some rewards for all the positives you see. That may require you separating the two dogs for some longish periods of time during the day so there's no competition for treats. For example: The cats are in the room and he's paying no attention? "Good boy!" and treat. He comes when you call him? "Good boy!" and treat. You'll think of some more. 30 of those opportunities every day would not be too many at all. You don't want to pester him, just establish in his mind that you are A Bringer Of Good Things Who Can Be Trusted Somewhat. The goal isn't to solve all his problems; just take the edge off so that, with the restrictions you already know about, he's easy for you all to live with.

 

Best luck.

Star aka Starz Ovation (Ronco x Oneco Maggie*, litter #48538), Coco aka Low Key (Kiowa Mon Manny x Party Hardy, litter # 59881), and mom in Illinois
We miss Reko Batman (Trouper Zeke x Marque Louisiana), 11/15/95-6/29/06, Rocco the thistledown whippet, 04/29/93-10/14/08, Reko Zema (Mo Kick x Reko Princess), 8/16/98-4/18/10, the most beautiful girl in the whole USA, my good egg Joseph aka Won by a Nose (Oneco Cufflink x Buy Back), 09/22/2003-03/01/2013, and our gentle sweet Gidget (Digitizer, Dodgem by Design x Sobe Mulberry), 1/29/2006-11/22/2014, gone much too soon. Never forgetting CJC's Buckshot, 1/2/07-10/25/10.

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Well he clamped down on my hand and wouldn't let go. When I finally freed my hand, he went after my arm. I get that. My mistake, big time.

Honestly, that description is very worrisome. So you're saying he didn't do just a quick bite but really held onto you & only released when he decided to move further up? That's not a minor resource guarding issue. That's a higher level of aggression than I've had to deal with. Yeah, that would totally upset me & stress me out. It's probably something you can indeed work through in time. Since it's outside my experience I won't offer suggestions. But I do want to say thank you for wanting to work with him & not just immediately return him. Good luck & stay safe.

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Guest lizbarrhi

Thank you for your honest response. I know that it is a much higher level of aggression than I have ever dealt with. It very much concerns me too but I am consulting with behaviorists and seeking guidance from forum because he deserves a chance. He worked hard for several years racing and then was a return dog too. Sean was very loved in the kennel and everyone there wanted him so badly to go to the right home and they trusted me with this challenge. I will stay safe and hang in there with him until we work it out.

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Guest lizbarrhi

Also, to continue what was begun in the kennel, contact a certified veterinary behaviorist. They can give you specific things to do to help him work through his issues. They can also advise you concerning prescription help. You need to be careful with this, as some anti-anxiety meds could make him *more* aggressive. I second the suggestion to utilize his muzzle, unless this also is contributing to his aggression. I would probably not have him around any children at all.

Thank you for your suggestions - I am working with a certified behaviorist. And when we go to vet I will suggest trying meds if suitable. Also ABSOLUTELY NO children around him.

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It won't be cheap, but please find a veterinary behaviorist. The triggers you describe arent abnormal, but the strength of the response is concerning. With a dog who is biting like that, I really think seeking professional help is the best choice. In the meantime, avoid any triggers that might provoke aggression. If you need to get something back or move him, do so by getting some very high value food (think steak) and use that to lure him away.

ETA: when you say he bit your face, I am assuming he actually bit and made contact rather than just snapping, but I should have asked, did he break skin? Punctured or something requiring stitches? Bruising? Multiple bites or a single bite?

 

Same questions for your hand and arm.

Edited by NeylasMom

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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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Ok, makes much more sense now....

 

I personally would not do anti-anxiety meds as they sometimes have the reverse action and can make the situation more complicated.

 

Can I assume that he was vet-checked when you adopted him? His being attacked and having his jaw broken by another dog provides more insight that he will not like to be in a "compromised position".

 

The suggestions about muzzling him are good ones and you should probably consider that so that you feel safe and to protect your other animals.

 

The suggestion of a behaviorists is a good one but, there just might be too much going on right now and maybe it would be better to get him into a "less aroused" state before pursuing that avenue. The behaviorist is going to have to push him to get reactions and that will make him feel nervous and likely to strike out - it won't make him feel safe. You might be able to get a video and get some opinions from a behaviorist based on the video. This would only be until your guy settles a bit and then you can decide on your next course of action.

 

Some other questions - does he wag his tail when you come back after being gone? Does he come to the door to greet you? Is he relaxed when eating or guarding his food? Is his dog bed out of the flow of traffic? How is he on walks?

 

edited to add --- I've had greyhounds (more than one) like this before, one that had his side ripped apart by a rottie (by previous owner) and it took time for him to trust me. He was returned twice because of aggression and anxiety. When he came into my house as a foster, I found that respecting his space (and person) and making sure he respected my space and person went far in establishing trust between us.

Edited by MaryJane
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I honestly cannot comprehend someone who is not a professional ever advising someone with a dog who has aggression issues and a bite history not to seek help from a professional, especially one certified in animal behavior. Or someone who is not a veterinarian saying a dog should or should not be put on medication, it's astonishing to me.

 

MaryJane, perhaps your experiences come from "trainers" who called themselves behaviorists but were still using somewhat old school methods. A certified animal behaviorist would never provoke aggressive behavior in a dog. They would get a detailed history from the owner, observe the dog's behavior in as natural a setting as possible (while keeping themselves safe if the dog were very aggressive), and then provided the aggression weren't so severe as to warrant a recommendation for euthanasia, would develop a behavior modification plan for the owner and then teach that owner the techniques involved to implement that plan.

 

 

To the OP, it sounds like you are already on the right track having sought out professional help. I will say that I'm still not clear on the actual severity of the bite(s), but if he clamped down on your hand and even if he then moved up your arm, but didn't actually bite down, that's an indication that he has good bite inhibition and it's very promising. I certainly hope the situation is workable and applaud you for taking this guy in. Keep us posted please.

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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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I honestly cannot comprehend someone who is not a professional ever advising someone with a dog who has aggression issues and a bite history not to seek help from a professional, especially one certified in animal behavior. Or someone who is not a veterinarian saying a dog should or should not be put on medication, it's astonishing to me.

 

MaryJane, perhaps your experiences come from "trainers" who called themselves behaviorists but were still using somewhat old school methods. A certified animal behaviorist would never provoke aggressive behavior in a dog. They would get a detailed history from the owner, observe the dog's behavior in as natural a setting as possible (while keeping themselves safe if the dog were very aggressive), and then provided the aggression weren't so severe as to warrant a recommendation for euthanasia, would develop a behavior modification plan for the owner and then teach that owner the techniques involved to implement that plan.

 

 

To the OP, it sounds like you are already on the right track having sought out professional help. I will say that I'm still not clear on the actual severity of the bite(s), but if he clamped down on your hand and even if he then moved up your arm, but didn't actually bite down, that's an indication that he has good bite inhibition and it's very promising. I certainly hope the situation is workable and applaud you for taking this guy in. Keep us posted please.

 

 

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I'd definitely consult a behaviorist...but in the meantime also get him an Adaptil collar - it might help take some of the edge off of the anxiety he is feeling.

 

Unless he has a huge neck, the 17" one for puppies should fit just fine. I ordered Clarice's from Amazon. Her aggression was not anywhere near as severe as what you are dealing with, but, it helped her anxiety enough that it made working with her much easier.

 

Unlike putting him on medications, the Adaptil certainly can't hurt, but might help. There are also diffusers available. I've used those too and had good results.

 

I'm sure the behaviorist will have some good pointers for you. Working on basic obedience things really helps you to build a relationship with your dog.

 

Wishing all the best for both of you!

Kristin in Moline, IL USA with Ozzie (MRL Crusin Clem), Clarice (Clarice McBones), Latte and Sage the IGs, and the kitties: Violet and Rose
Lovingly Remembered: Sutra (Fliowa Sutra) 12/02/97-10/12/10, Pinky (Pick Me) 04/20/03-11/19/12, Fritz (Fritz Fire) 02/05/01 - 05/20/13, Ace (Fantastic Ace) 02/05/01 - 07/05/13, and Carrie (Takin the Crumbs) 05/08/99 - 09/04/13.

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Guest Jesse12789

i hope everything improves for you guys... i bet he will latch himself to you once he can trust you and his new life.

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Something I thought of last night................

 

Most of the earlier replies to your post were based on the kinds of behaviors that are very common here on the board - general separation anxiety, sleep startle, resource guarding - issues that can cause destructive behavior and can induce growling and/or snapping/biting. These behaviors are mostly remnants from the lives our greyhounds lead in their racing kennels. Not good or bad, just what they are.

 

But your dog has actual trauma in his past. Something most greys and their owners don't have to deal with on a regular basis, thank goodness. Thank you for taking the time to help this dog. Hopefully you can work through this and build a level of trust so that he can live a normal life.

Chris - Mom to: Lilly, Felicity (DeLand), and Andi (Braska Pandora)

35764734494_93de5b5963_b.jpg

Angels: Libby (Everlast), Dorie (Dog Gone Holly), Dude (TNJ VooDoo), Copper (Kid's Copper), Cash (GSI Payncash), Toni (LPH Cry Baby), Whiskey (KT's Phys Ed), Atom

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I honestly cannot comprehend someone who is not a professional ever advising someone with a dog who has aggression issues and a bite history not to seek help from a professional, especially one certified in animal behavior. Or someone who is not a veterinarian saying a dog should or should not be put on medication, it's astonishing to me.

 

MaryJane, perhaps your experiences come from "trainers" who called themselves behaviorists but were still using somewhat old school methods. A certified animal behaviorist would never provoke aggressive behavior in a dog. They would get a detailed history from the owner, observe the dog's behavior in as natural a setting as possible (while keeping themselves safe if the dog were very aggressive), and then provided the aggression weren't so severe as to warrant a recommendation for euthanasia, would develop a behavior modification plan for the owner and then teach that owner the techniques involved to implement that plan.

 

 

 

 

 

I think that you misunderstood what I stated -- as noted in my post, I assume the dog went to a vet check and if there was a need for medicine, the vet would probably have noticed and prescribed it. I also did not say NOT to consult a behaviorist, rather that the dog should be allowed to settle before exposing the dog to a "new experience" of having someone observe their actions. I did suggest video and phone consult to start off.

 

This person has greyhound experience and they (as noted in their posts) understand how their actions played a part in the outcome. If I remember correctly, in their 1st post they were asking how to gain the trust back. This is one smart person!

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I agree with the responses that have suggested giving him time to settle, and wanted to expand on that a bit. Chronic stress causes physiologic changes in the body that increase reactivity and aggression, and multiple stressful events over a period of time has cumulative effects. This is the same concept as stress causing people to have shorter tempers, be less tolerant of things they are usually ok with, and more likely to lash out at people they usually get along well with. Stressful events aren't always just bad experiences - dogs frequently get stressed just from change and transition.

 

Sean sounds like he's been through quite a lot of stressful events in the past 8 months of his life - retirement from the track and going to a group, getting adopted and going to a new home, being attacked at the dog park, going back to the group, transitioning to your home - and those are just the major events. Even minor stressors, like witnessing your 'words' with your neighbor will have an impact on an already stressed and sensitive dog.

 

With a dog who has been under chronic stress for a period of time, sometimes the best thing you can start with is a period of downtime where you keep interactions and training to a minimum to allow the dog to relax and and just 'be'. Obviously basic needs have to be met, and you don't want to ignore the dog if he actively solicits love or attention, but always let him be the one to initiate. Otherwise, just do your own thing around the house, and leave him alone. Try to keep walks quiet and peaceful, and avoid anything that gets him upset or excited.

 

People have a tendency to want to 'do something' and jump right into lots of training exercises, but with a dog who is stressed, these interactions and expectations can lead to more stress. IMO, the first step is to allow the dog to 'de-stress', and wait until after he's more relaxed and settled before starting to address problem areas. When the dog's stress level is lower, some of the problems may be a lot less severe, and some may even resolve. I've found that some behaviorists recognize this concept of the effects of stress on behavior, while others may not.

 

One thing I'm wondering - you mentioned moving the dog bed out of your bedroom. What was the reason for that, and where does he sleep at night?

 

Being aware of your dog's subtle signals and body language can be very helpful in gauging his stress level. If you're not already familiar with calming signals, this is a good article:

http://www.greenacreskennel.com/dog-behavior-and-training/canine-calming-signals-and-stress

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

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