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Aggression Toward Humans


Guest Frannie
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Guest Frannie

Yurtie has been with me for 15 months and is about to turn six. When I adopted him in March 2013, there was another grey in the house (a 13-year-old shy female, who was, despite her spookiness, a matriarch). She died in August. During the five months that they were together, he was a lovely dog. Goofy, silly; not a single problem.

After her passing, he started showing aggression with our dog walker (he knew her well, and had always loved her.) She had to stop coming. It escalated to other people who came to the house. Over time, he started nipping my friends, particularly men, on the butt. He then graduated to flat-out trying to attack. It was only when someone came to the house, it is very gradually becoming a bit more general.

 

This past week, he bit one of my coworker's butt and left a red mark. Then he bit the butt of the electrician who my landlords brought in (they were with him.) It left an abrasion significant enough that they assured the electrician that Yurtie was up on his shots. Now the landlords, who love him, have offered to bring Yurtie to their apartment if someone needs access to mine. I am having frank discussions with them. They do not want me to have to surrender him.

 

He is the neighborhood's favorite dog (never shown this behaviour out in the world), but today he tried to attack someone who was walking past the house as we left. (Distance of about 20 feet; Yurtie barked big&loud and tried to fly at him; guy just on his way to work.) I gripped the leash and nothing happened, but I am still shaking.

 

Yurtie adores me. That may be part of the problem. I am small in stature, and non-dominant (I am working on this but I'll always be who I am). I have a gate in the kitchen (if I use it, he panics and tries to chew his way through it), a soft muzzle, his racing muzzle, treats treats treats for good behavior (guests toss him these upon arrival so that he can associate friends visiting with something good.)

 

We are working with a trainer, and Yurtie has started Prozac (too soon to know if it will help.) The adoption kennel is aware of all of this and we are keeping in touch. I should also add that Yurtie is my seventh adopted grey over 21 years. I've never seen this.

 

Please treat this post gently. I am absolutely beside myself.

Edited by Frannie
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Sounds like the other dog have him confidence and he's now acting in fear. What type of training does your trainer use? Positive reinforcement? Dominance theory? If it's not positive reinforcement, I would find a trainer who does use it. If people are coming over, make sure he's wearing a muzzle. Have him on leash and give him treats through the muzzle as people come in the house so he has positive associations. Is there any way you could adopt or foster or even borrow a confident dog to help?

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So glad you are using a trainer and hope the trainer is only positive (as mentioned above) and the sessions are in your home. Parts of your story resonate with me. I'll briefly share my story.

 

My girl came to me a reactive mess (not aggressive and I think your boy is reactive not aggressive as well) three years ago. She was an only for over four years in an adoptive home and was returned when she "went after" the boyfriend one night when he was walking down the hallway. She had other reactive episodes that were off and on reported in those four years. She then bounced around between three foster homes and one failed adoption in the next year and a half. In each of the foster homes and adoptive home she was reported having at least one episode involving a nip (often on the butt). The last straw was a weekend biting binge where she bit three people sending one to the ER. During that "binge" she was reported moving off her bed to charge people and the ER person was sleeping on the couch when she went to lay down there too. He went to push her away and then... It was pretty much my house or the end for her.

 

Today she's my snuggle buddy and welcomes people with a happy wag and a relaxed body. What I have come to believe as I look back on the last three years is that consistency, patience, love and drugs can do a lot. The first six months were not easy for us. She was jumping off her bed to charge people and bit my FIL and at least one friend. We stayed consistent even during the bad events. She had her own space. She stayed in an xpen when guests were in the house. She still goes to her own space when we are hosting parties, even though I believe she would do fine. We had friends come over when she was in the xpen and hang out on the couch and every once in a while throw a treat and always toss a treat at her the minute they walked into the room. We slowly graduated to letting her out of the xpen to sniff them while they stayed on the couch. NO ONE approached her outside the xpen, she initiated any contact.

 

Her walks were off peak so we wouldn't run into anyone on our walks. If we did, I would cross the street or change direction with a high pitched "wee this way" to get her excited to go with me. After doing this for a while we then stepped up to the "look at that" game on walks. We also only walk her in our neighborhood. She is uncomfortable and stressed when in a new place.

 

The major point of these two situations is that we never had contact thrust upon her. She made the decision to interact or not. What I think your boy and Zoe share is major under confidence. The under confidence becomes reactivity and when she stress sticks around it gets worse. I know someone on this board can talk about the theory about continuous stress on dogs and their serotonin (or something) levels. She was also on 40mg of Prozac a day for two years. She's now down to 20mg.

 

Oh and to add, when we had to hire a dog walker we did the meeting in our home with my husband and I there and only after she had graduated to meeting people without the xpen. It's a long long road. She's still not perfect, but she hasn't bitten a human or been reactive outside in a year and a half maybe two years. I'm happy to talk to you more about what we did.

Colleen with Covey (Admirals Cove) and Rally (greyhound puppy)
Missing my beloved boy INU (CJ Whistlindixie) my sweetest princess SALEM (CJ Little Dixie) and my baby girl ZOE (LR's Tara)

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Guest Downtownhoundz

Oh dear sounds like you have your hands full! I feel so bad for the dog, he is probably so confused as the pack dynamics have changed and he doesn't know where he fits in. Along with training, get him a calming collar which will help to soothe him. They work wonders. They are made by Sentry avvailable on Chewy.com.

Has he been assessed by your vet for any health issues ? Good luck and lots of hugs to you and your boy!

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Guest Bean_Scotch

Aggression is a very complex behavior chain...I would ensure you are working with a trainer that only uses positive reinforcement. www.apdt.com is a nice resource to start you out with and www.ccpdt.org is another nice resource. www.petprofessionalguild.com is also a place to look for +R trainers. I happen to be a trainer, and also specialize in treating aggression in dogs, but it sounds like you're moving in the right direction with a trainer and I stay away from giving advice for aggression problems over the internet without speaking with/seeing the dog/situation/owner in questions. I hope you get past this!

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Guest Frannie

Thank you all so much. These are exactly the kind of responses that I was hoping to get. Inugrey, It sounds like Zoe and Yurtie have a great deal in common. Interesting that Zoe went after butts.

I have noticed that he, too, gets incredibly spooked when I make any motion above his head, even a gentle one (taking his leash off its hook, lifting a pot off the stove or the counter, taking his empty food bowl to the kitchen to fill) or drop something (a spoon, anything that makes noise). He either cowers and backs away or runs out of the room. This breaks my heart. So I think it is, in fact, a matter of underconfidence. you make an interesting point that it's important to let him come to people rather than having contact foisted on him.(we aren't at the place right now he can do that in a normal way in the house.I hope the Prozac will help us get there, along with some more aggression-specific training.)

 

I agree that the Internet is probably not the best place to go for tips about working with aggressive dogs. I googled "aggressive dogs" myself, and right away you come up with the awful stuff: the lawsuits, the bad outcomes, the stitches in the emergency rooms, the euthanasias (I choke on that word). Just as I've learned to avoid reading the news online, I think I'll stay away from too much "google-exposure" to this, too.

I just spoke with my vet, and we're going to up the Prozac from 20 mg to 30. Yurtie had blood work done toward the end of the winter, and everything was normal (no thyroid issues.)

it's been a hard day acknowledging that this hurts as much as it does. Having gone to the necessary "dark place" of possibly having to return him (after 15 months, this would be a HUGE loss in both our lives), I'm very glad that the kennel did not go there during our discussion. I really need to give him a chance. He's a love, which, of course, makes it worse. (Why can't all dogs with aggression problems be complete sht-heads?)

 

thanks again, everyone.

Frannie

Edited by Frannie
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it's been a hard day acknowledging that this hurts as much as it does. Having gone to the necessary "dark place" of possibly having to return him (after 15 months, this would be a HUGE loss in both our lives), I'm very glad that the kennel did not go there during our discussion. I really need to give him a chance. He's a love, which, of course, makes it worse. (Why can't all dogs with aggression problems be complete sht-heads?)

The overwhelming majority of aggressive dogs aren't **heads. They are instead scared dogs who have for some reason decided that the best defense is a good offense. The key is to not only help them feel more confident & less threatened but also help them learn more appropriate ways to respond when he does feel scared. I wish you the best of luck & success as you work with your boy.

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Just be aware that sme anti anxiety meds can actually increase aggression, depending on how your boy reacts to it. Or you may need to try a different one to get an adequate response.

 

Just keep in mind that these problems didn't just happen. They developed over time. And they will take time to fix. It's definitely to your credit that you are sticking by this dog and are trying to help him rather than just discard something that might be temprarily broken.

 

Be safe. Be patient.

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 also wanted to add that you should check his thyroid if this hasn't been done recently. Aggression can also be a manifestation of some physical imbalance.

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 would not consider "blood work, at the end of winter" to be enough to rule out some kind of medical issue.

 

He needs his eyes checked, his hearing checked, to be checked for pain--

 

It would be a shame to invest a lot of time and money in drugs and training only to realize he has a medical condition that can be treated!

 

Best of luck. I'm sure this is very difficult for you.


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Susan,  Hamish,  Mister Bigglesworth and Nikita Stanislav. Missing Ming, George, and Buck

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

I would agree that a much closer look at his physical condition should be assessed, as well as the prozac could be increasing issues also. Maybe if you can afford it, take him to a clinic that has specialists such as internal medicine and such, they should have very good diagnostic equipment that can give you better test results.

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