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Escalating Resource Guarding + Biting


Guest tranquill
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Guest tranquill

Background:

We adopted our sweet boy Alphonse six months ago, he is the first dog for both me and my husband. He is a happy, cuddly, outgoing dog who loves people--he will go up to strangers on the street and say hi. He was bounced from his first adoption for snarling at someone who sat on his bed, and had a record of peeing in the house when left alone for too many hours when he was in foster. We were prepared to deal with and work on both of these issues.

 

He is not generally spooky, but he is afraid of any non-carpeted floors and of doorways. These issues developed suddenly about three months in. We do not force him to go on slippery floors or through doorways unless it is absolutely essential to his safety. Lots of treats for crossing scary floors, etc. We keep mats on the floor in our apartment.

 

Al bit my husband twice in the first few months--both times he was eating something dangerous to him (a chicken bone and chocolate, respectively) and my husband was unable to get him to trade for a treat and had to pull it out of his mouth. Alphonse growled and bit him. We were not overly distressed by this, and did not reprimand him. Our solution was to work on a "drop it". My husband hand-fed Al a few times after that and they were fine together.

 

Separation Anxiety:

We started working on his SA, leaving him for short amounts of time, etc. When he had to be left alone for longer than half an hour, he got a long walk beforehand and that often did the trick. However, he started messing in the house (couldn't keep him crated, he panicked) despite walks, calming aids, thundershirt, etc. He started pooping in the house after being alone for only a few hours, so we knew we needed help.

 

We contacted a CPDT-KA trainer, positive reinforcement only, who has experience with separation anxiety cases. We started an intensive alone training program where Al was never alone except for the increments we were training. We were working on 30 second increments when things started to go downhill.

 

Resource Guarding:

As I indicated above, we knew Al was a resource guarder over things like treats/scavenged food. He would bark if we approached and he had a kong, so we just left him alone when he had things we had given him. He was fine with us walking around him when he was eating though.

 

My husband bought him a new toy about a week and a half ago, a squeaky rubber elephant. Normally Al does not care about his toys at all. He squeaked this one a few times and they lay down on the floor next to it. I assumed he was bored with it and sat down beside him. He did not look to be guarding it and did not seem overly interested in me sitting next to him, but when I reached down to squeak it, he bit me on my bicep and broke the skin through my shirt. We put him in his crate for a few hours so everyone could have space to calm down and contacted our trainer.

 

Since then his resource guarding has been escalating rapidly. He started guarding the couch and growled at me when I went to get something from the drawer in the bottom. We got him a new dog bed for the living room and encouraged him to lay on it by throwing food at it every time he came over to the couch. That same evening, I was walking by him as he was sitting on the floor on a mat (our living room is really narrow) and he lunged at me without warning. His teeth connected with my finger, though it was glancing enough that I think it was a warning snap that connected, not a real bite. There was no growling that preceded this. I backed off, he barked and growled at me until I went into the bedroom and shut the door.

 

Vet:

I took him to the vet for a battery of tests, his T4 came back greyhound normal, way elevated ALT; we did a full liver panel and all the rest of his liver indicators are fine, and his ALT was already falling, so vet thinks he just ate something he shouldn't have. Currently Al is off his food (iams green bag), but since his bloodwork is otherwise ok, vet is not too concerned and thinks it might be stress.

 

Examination yielded no indication of any physical problems that could be causing him pain and causing him to lash out like this. He does have an occasional limp in his left front foot when he runs too much, but he walks it off within minutes. Two separate vets examined him and found nothing wrong with that foot or leg and are not concerned since he walks it off so quickly.

 

Our current vet thinks it's a behaviour issue and our trainer agrees.

 

Currently:

In consultation with our current vet, a previous vet, a friend of mine who is a vet and our trainer, we decided to put him on prozac/fluoxetine (40 mg). I can handle a dog that growls, but a dog that bites with very little warning is too much for me. The trainer thinks that the stress of doing the separation anxiety work has stressed him out to the point that other behaviour issues are escalating and he is fearful all the time, hence the biting. She recommended drugs in the hopes that it would calm him down enough to start a behaviour modification plan.

 

Currently we are on dog lockdown until the fluox kicks in. Al has lost all couch privileges (we put chairs on it when we're not sitting there so he can't get on it) and is wearing his muzzle all the time in the house except for eating. We are going to get our trainer to send one of her colleagues in to do a resource guarding specific assessment, build a DS/CC behaviour modification plan, and help us out in identifying his more subtle cues. We have never punished for growling ever--he has growled at me before and I just turn away from him. Sometimes I say "hey," in a not-angry-just-disappointed voice. Neither of us have ever gotten in his face or shouted at him for growling. The only time we speak sharply to him is if he is doing something that might endanger him (trying to eat broken glass, for instance). Not sure where his growl went but I'd like it back.

 

We are going to give it a month of drugs + behaviour mod and the reevaluate. We had to contact the rescue we got him from about seeing if we can rehome him, should it come to that. I do not want to give him up as I love him very dearly, but I also cannot live like this. The rescue has been slow to agree they can try to rehome him and are very displeased we have put him on drugs. I am entirely at my wits' end.

 

Al is currently off his food but drinking ok. He was a bit sulky for a day or so but he is still his bouncy self. Very excited for walks, and comes up to us for pets and to say hello. He gets way fewer cuddles than he used to, but currently I am having a hard time trusting him and he is on couch probation.

 

Anyone dealt with suddenly escalating behaviour issues? Greys that bite without growling? Fluoxetine? I am completely at my wits' end here and would very much like some advice. Please be gentle, I am extraordinarily torn up about this.

 

 

 

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I'm sure others will chime in with advice, but I just wanted to say how I feel for you. We have a resource guarder too, and sometimes it seems like everything is great and then another growling incident. Good luck. Really hoping for everyone's sake that you can work through this.

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

I currently have a foster returned to me for the exact same issue of biting. Of course my boy was literally starving (adopted at 82lbs and returned after bite at 59lbs). He guards food, high value treats and new toys. I understand exactly what you are going through. One difference is my foster doesnt guard beds and does not get on furniture, otherwise he's the same thing. My foster has no self-confidence and is a nervous about a lot of things. We understand where his issues come from, so for us, its no big deal. We are working on things, but it takes a lot of time. He has also bit our other greyhounds on various occasions before we understood what his triggers were. You need to first understand what the triggers are, once you know that, then you can begin to modify the behavior. Additionally, i can guarantee you he is giving you signals before he bites, you just dont see them. It can be as simple as a tensed mouth, or as obvious as the "whale eye" (looking at you out of the corner of his eye and opening his eyes wide so you can see the whites of his eyes). It may be a very quick reaction before the bite, but there is something there. First and foremost, do not take it personally. It sounds as if you are working very hard with your boy and doing everything you can to help him through these issues. I commend you, most people wouldnt have done have the things you have. They would simply give him back and say its not worth it, so KUDOS to you for your dedication to this boy. I can also tell you that you CAN work things out, and when you do, it will be one of the most special relationships you have ever had with a pet. It will take time and a lot of effort, but it looks like you already know that. I think the hand-feeding of all meals will help immensely, since trust is an issue. A dog that trusts you will not bite you out of fear. I also agree that no furniture privileges. The snuggles shouldnt stop, but be sure to have him come to you for loving, do not approach him. I think one of the biggest things that will help build the trust is the hand-feeding. I believe a behaviorist could help as well if you havent already gotten one. They are hard to find, they are not "trainers" or vets, typically i believe they are a vet with additional certifications. An animal psychiatrist if you will.

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You have already tried so many things and are to be commended for doing so.... I think he needs to go to a kind of dog rehab situation with an experienced foster carer for a while. Think of it as a short vacation for both yourselves and the dog. On taking him back home follow the new rules. It may sound like Ceasar Milan style show nonsense but it's what would happen if he bounced back for rehoming anyway. Just give the fosterer a decent donation.

Learn more about canine Calming Signals ... how to read the dog's intent, how to send the right kind of confidence to the dog. He probably thinks you have become unreliable and unreliable is threatening in the dog world.

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Guest tranquill

Thanks so much.

 

I know he is probably giving signals, I just can't catch them. Thats why we're working with the trainer, who hopefully will be able to point some of this out so I can feel he is more predictable. And hopefully the fluoxetine will give us a little more lead time between signal and bite?

 

We found out today that apparently you legally cannot rehome a dog with a bite history in our jurisdiction. I am trying to find out more about this, but it seems like we may be Al's last hope.

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You have my respect - you have been through the wringer and it probably seems like a solution is still far away.

 

First, no more treats/kongs that take more than 30 seconds to eat. He is not going to guard the food if there is nothing to guard.

 

Second, take out toys for a predetermined amount of time each day and then put them away. Maybe 30 minutes in morning and 30 minutes at night. Do not leave them out.

 

Third, when you take a walk with your boy, walk with a purpose and with a tight lead so that he stays right by your side - he can wander a little but he should be by your side and not ahead of you. Every 10 minutes or so into the walk, stop and let him smell a bit then back to a "walk with a purpose". Try carrying on a conversation with your dog in addition to going through commands like heel, stay, quick, slow and so on. Find a quiet street and do figure 8's" - this teaches them to stay by your side as you are changing directions. Over time, this will build a bond between you and the dog and it helps to resolve trust issues.

 

Greyt_dog_lover had some great suggestions - he fosters many dogs and deals with many issues - very wise advice. He mentioned the trust issue - I think this is a big issue in this case that needs time to work out. While the SA needs to be addressed, it seems that may have triggered some fear ... so best to put the SA on the back burner for now.

 

If this was my dog, I would back off any training at the current time until your dog "cools down" or de-escalates. New trainers and procedures are likely to set him off again especially as some of these may serve to push the dog to the limit which would not be a good idea at this time. Without trying to cause any reactions, maybe take some videos to show trainers/behavorists. Looking for the slight changes in behavior that signal an escalation would also be beneficial.

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

Something else i was thinking about is obedience training. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I do believe that obedience training builds trust and a bond between human and hound. I do obedience training with every single foster that I get. I teach sit, down (sphinx position), shake, lay down (different than down in that lie down means on the side in a comfortable position), stay, come, up (into car), out (out of car), back up and leave it. Leave it is by far the most difficult especially with a hound like ours.

 

With the laws about re-homing, do a search for "lexus project" here on GT. they are a group of people (lawyer started the group) that helps in situations with bites. They are in the U.S. so they may not know your local laws, but they may be able to help point you in the right direction to assist should something happen in the future.

 

Chad

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Guest tranquill

Thanks for these suggestions, we are on most of them already to greater and lesser degrees. The SA is already on hold, we are focusing on the RG. The SA is unpleasant, but we can live with it. The RG, we can't. Right now we are avoiding all triggers and just trying to keep the household calm and to de-escalate the situation.

 

Handfeeding was my instinct too, I'm glad you guys agree. I am going to hold off on it for a bit though until I get a better sense of his signals.

 

Thanks for the tip on the lexus project, i will look into it. I'd be more than willing to send him back over to the states if it meant he would get a second chance if it won't work out with us.

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Resource guarding:

 

For items you want to take away from the dog, we use trading up to teach a solid "drop it!" command. This is not something you teach once and forget, with most dogs. It's something you continue to work on. We start with something totally undesirable like an old washcloth and progress to much more valuable things. If you do a search in this forum for trading up or leave it posts by me, you'll probably find some more detailed descriptions. Note that I do not practice with emergency objects like stolen chicken bones or extremely desirable things like chew bones. I rely on the solid foundation of person says a cheerful "drop it!" and dog drops whatever he has and looks up with happy expectation and maybe a little drool too :lol .

 

For space guarding, we do essentially the same thing. Here you have to treat and "good dog!" BEFORE the dog gets snippy. That can be a little challenging but often not. For example, if he's wary of people walking by his bed, then you may have to walk by a little further away, so he doesn't react. And every time you DO walk by, shower of delectable little treats magically appears on/right near his bed. Repeat repeat repeat until he senses you coming from a little ways off and looks up with happy expectation. THEN you can start walking by a little closer; repeat repeat repeat until .... ditto ditto.

 

For a dog who has become wary, step 1 in each of those things -- working with an undesirable object or walking past a long ways from his bed -- might take a couple weeks! Not to be rushed! You want the desired response 100% of the time every day for @ a week before you move on to the next step. Slow, steady, a smile in your voice, and the best treats you can find will win this race.

 

Best luck with your pup!

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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Sounds like you're doing everything right, and it's not working. :(

 

One of my boys is on Prozac. His thresholds are very low, in addition to anxiety-related aggression and compulsive licking. The meds aren't a cure all, obviously, but they do help him be a happier and more stable dog. Don't let ANYONE make you feel bad about resorting to behavioral mod meds. Your dog is what I'd consider an extreme case, especially because he is not giving typical cues prior to biting. You've tried all the right types of training. Now, I think it's time to head down the medical route. I give you all the credit for giving him a chance and trying to work past these issues. That's not an easy thing to do given his bite history. Best of luck to you.

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Guest Clawsandpaws

My experience with resource guarding has been very mild compared to yours, and I saw vast improvements with just a few sessions of behavior training and re direction. Some dogs need more work and time than others, and although you love him he may simply not be the right fit for you. The dogs I have seen in the kennel with resource guarding issues (to the point of biting) needed to be placed (often rehomed, as we really wouldnt see resource guarding until they were in homes) in experienced homes where the person is willing to work and manage a dog for a long time before they can safely coexist.

 

In my opinion, you are doing everything right so far, and you can either keep at it and hope that he improves, or you can decide to rehome him, and there is nothing wrong with either choice.

 

For now, I would follow Batmom's advice and make sure the pup does not have the chance to bite anyone else (meaning house guests, passerby, etc, for legal purposes)

 

Do NOT let the adoption group make you feel guilty about any of your choices. However, if you are worried that they won't take him back (the mere fact that they are hesitant really bothers and angers me) PLEASE try contacting another group in your area and ask for their advice and see if your group is willing to allow another to rehome him (in case you do decide to rehome) Some dogs NEED medications, just like humans! I was on prozac when I was younger and it greatly improved my quality of life.

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First, I want to reiterate what others have said - I applaud you for doing what you've done so far. It's not easy working through issues like these. It can be financially and emotionally difficult and time consuming. And it certainly can't help to not be receiving the support you need from your group. On that note, I think the medication is a very good idea and it sounds like you've found yourself some qualified professionals to help you. Please continue working with them and using their advice to work with your dog as they have the training and the knowledge (based on actually seeing your dog in the office/in your home) to guide you.

 

The only thing I would recommend that you haven't covered is x-raying that leg. It's very unlikely, but there are injuries that could be causing pain that are causing the escalation in the behavior, or contributing to it and I would really want to make sure I had ruled that out if it were me. It's especially unlikely to find bone cancer in a young dog, but not impossible and that would certainly be painful enough to explain the behavior, and can appear intermittently symptom-wise. Again, VERY unlikely, but I would rule it (and other things like arthritis, etc.) out.

 

Otherwise, just keep doing what you're doing and come here for support as you need it. Good luck. :goodluck

 

ETA: You could also consider working with a veterinary behaviorist. Very expensive, but you know you're covering both bases with someone who is the best of the best in terms of knowledge/training. Also, Fluoxitine can affect appetite and that's a fairly high dose to start a dog on without building up so that could explain the appetite issues. Make sure you let your vet know about it.

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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My goodness, your first pup and you seem to be trying to take care of a lot of things, and rather diligently too. I don't have much to offer, the suggestions above are helpful indeed. Keep in mind this likely won't change overnight, but I can feel your persistence in your writing. He has only been with you for 6 months, things could still be rather new for him as well. Their personality certainly can develop in a much longer span of time (my Kasey didn't fully come into his personality until we had him for a year). I'd say yours might grow out of it, but I don't think that is likely, although it is something to consider for his nervousness, etc. He still might just be getting used to things. Keep a regular routine with whatever you are doing. Good luck, and keep us updated.

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Guest PiagetsMom

I just want to send you a :grouphug You've received some very good advice, and as Jen said, other than perhaps working with a veterinary behaviorist, you seem to be doing everything right. It is not an easy or quick fix, but I really hope you can find something that will make things work for you and for Alphonse.

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Guest DeniseL

My boy is on 30mgs prozac for anxiety related aggression. He has done fantastic on it and we can all live together peacefully. He will never be 100% safe, we know what his triggers are...he has space issues. But, it was a huge improvement with the prozac. He is my love. I hope you have the same experience with your boy....

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I'm sorry you are dealing with this situation. Bravo for your effort. Please remember that his reactivity could be rooted from his previous life experiences with humans, not necessarily stemmed from his current situation. It isn't uncommon for each life move for a dog to increase their stress levels. Humans in his previous life might have used inappropriate or forceful scary techniques that increased his distrust of people. I'm guessing your boy is likely feeling extremely fearful and acting out defensively in an attempt to keep himself, his space, and his personal items safe. Seems he's trying everything he can to protect himself. Many dogs can become more trustworthy of humans in time.

 

One of our hounds has the potential to react similarly. We were able to respectfully earn his trust in his comfortable time frame. We followed the valuable adage: "Let resting dogs lie." We gave him space and did not approach him on/near his dog bed for almost two years. That helped him feel his new home would be safe enough to relax, and his new humans could be trusted. We only gave him petting attention from his side while he was standing-up after he came over to us. E.g., we affectionately pet his shoulder or stroked him in the same direction as his fur grows (not against fur growth). We were careful to not lean over him, or have close face-to-face or direct eye interactions, including arm over head petting, nor body-hugging, all of which is often considered threatening or aggressive in dogs' language. I only taught minimal basic obedience during his first year by rewarding with food and praise for his natural movements (e.g. capturing "down" as he's about to lie down and adding the verbal word, or "come" at feeding time, etc.) which is the best way to teach any breed of dog, especially our sensitive Greyhound breed. We doggie-proofed the house as if we had a very tall 2 year old toddler. No food or medicine bottles left on kitchen counter tops, no remotes, mail or checks on coffee table tops, etc. Quietly hand-holding bowls of kibble (without direct face-to-face/eye contact) is excellent for several days or a week. (None of our dogs have ever been allowed on human furniture in decades for many reasons, human safety being tops.) He's a wonderful senior now, extremely intelligent, and responsive when respectfully shown what we need him to do. E.g., we ask vet staff to gently guide him by leash to walk onto the weight scale or circle around to reposition him, instead of trying to physically manipulate/man-handle him into place. Many dogs don't respond well to their body being physically pushed into place. It took two years before he gave me his first kiss. He's been our loving "heart boy" ever since. The hounds that need a little extra time and care to adjust can become amazingly special family members. I'm not saying that every dog can adjust, but many can become wonderful family companions with experienced care.

 

Many hounds who suddenly become more fearful of smooth floors had a scary experience. Even though you didn't see him struggle, he might have almost slipped at some point. Glad you have mats now. Rubber-backed rugs/mats or rugs with gripper mats underneath should enable him to feel more secure again (without grippers, the rugs can fly out from under them).

 

"Trading-up" (as others mentioned) with higher value meat, like stinky tripe, or another valuable toy often helps resource guarders "leave it" for a better reward. Figure out what excites him. If you need him to move off human furniture again, try going into the kitchen to excitedly call him to you for special rare treats, or to the door for a dog walk, or other high value doggie reward. If he won't come, begin tossing him treats on the floor from a distance to happily lure him into another room (like you're playing a fun game with him). Distractions like this often prevent a growl challenge or a bite.

 

Great that you're already knowledgeable about not reprimanding a dog for having an accident in the house, since it magnifies their confusion and fear. Like humans, when dogs feel fearful (S.A. is fear-based) many dogs physically need to do business more frequently than when they're feeling secure and relaxed. Even many non-SA dogs can't wait longer than 4-6 hours during their awake hours.

 

If possible, try to place his bed in a far corner of the living room, or where he can see/feel as part of the family, but away from the human traffic pattern. Retired racers are not used to people in their resting space. Since he had previous sofa privileges, he may feel the narrow living room is like his own crate space. His new dog bed on the floor should eventually help that problem.

 

Many hounds are "collectors" of things/toys, meaning they collect their treasures to keep safely on (or by) their bed. (Similar to hearing about dogs who bury their most prized possessions in the yard, so other predators won't find and steal them.) "Tuffie Toys" are one of the safer dog toy brands that are not as dangerous for dogs since they're less apt to chew them open to eat the squeaky. Our Tuffie Toys have lasted many years through our own Greyhounds and new fosters. They like the "ultimate" size ring shapes, etc.

 

Growling is a dog's only way to communicate their discomfort or displeasure with a warning. If humans (in his past life) ignored his warning growl, and reprimanded him for growling, dogs often learn to avoid being reprimanded next time by skipping the growl and going directly to a bite to communicate. It's usually a warning air snap that can land on skin if a human is too close. Dogs have good aim when they really need it.

 

I'm not clear on the timing, nor Al's weight in relation to his Prozac dosage, but I agree that 40 mg. of Prozac for a Greyhound is more like an advanced upper dosage. Many Greyhounds build-up a Prozac dosage very slowly i.e., 10 mg, then 20 mg., 30 mg., then top at 40 mg. so their system has time to adjust to the drug, and they can continue eating enough food. A side effect of Prozac is appetite reduction, but possibly less so in smaller graduations. Your vet may have started at a higher dose due to case severity. Prozac often helps relax dogs for more effective S.A./behavior training. Most of those drugs can affect bite inhibition, so the muzzle is important as you continue evaluating his reactions. IF his lack of growling happened to coincide with the Prozac, that could be "where his growl went".

 

Re: his periodic limp. Glad the vets feel that he's okay physically, but please watch his limp closely. Even periodic limping usually equates to pain to some degree.

Also, dogs are excellent at watching, reading and feeding off of humans' moods. I imagine you both may be feeling many emotions including some fear; please take care to reflect happy and relaxed calmness as much as possible. You seem to be doing a great job trying to help improve this situation. Please let us know how things go. We are wishing you much progress with Al.

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  • 2 weeks later...
Guest tranquill

Hi all, thanks for your support. I thought I'd add a little update.

 

It is one step forward/two back with Al right now. We had the trainer come in last week to do some work re resource guarding protocol, it went well. He was very good with the trainer, very friendly and outgoing. Trainer went over RG protocol re food and some cues to help with management (touch, drop, go to mat, etc). He likes the training, his ears perk right up and he gets really into it. But we have not had any success trying it outside, no matter how high value the treat.

 

We started mixing his food with wet food, so his appetite is back with a vengeance.

 

But. He is getting more and more reactive on leash these days, barking and growling at people when they're walking down the street, etc. and he has started barking whenever he hears anyone coming up the stairs. It used to be he would bark on the rare nights my husband came home really late, but now he is barking whenever he hears footsteps on the stairs.

 

We're going to go back to the vet next week to get his foot xrayed and evaluate whether the meds are working. My sense is not, given the sudden jump in barking and growling. Any recommendations for meds to try if prozac does not work out?

 

He likes his bed though, and has mostly stopped trying for the couch. We do not approach him at all these days, we let him come to us. But we are confident to leave his muzzle off in the house. Mostly he stays on his bed, which I admit I am grateful for since I don't have to worry about accidentally walking through an area he is guarding.

 

This is starting to feel like whack a mole with this dog's issues. Really hoping we can get some improvement soon.

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Well done you!

 

Can I just say that even though you characterised this as one step forward, two back, I don't think you're being fair to either yourselves or to Al? I've found with mine that working through issues is less of a one stop shop solution and more of a journey. It's like little issues unravel like a knotted piece of string.

 

Celebrate the steps inside. That's huge! He's starting to trust you and enjoy himself and feel at home!

 

Leash reactivity I've also dealt with. I've found that super dooper treats are my go to for my leash reactive dog(s). This also works for prey drive. I'd be starting be wedging treats into his mouth before he gets to threshold and begins reacting. But before this was possible with mine, I was putting treats in her mouth while she was barking. She used to spit them out, but the really good ones, she'd stop, look confused, chew, swallow then keep barking. So I'd get another treat into her mouth. Gradually, when she saw something that aroused her (cat, dog, person... birds we still work on) she would think about starting up, then look at me and dance at the end of the leash. I give her a treat, and she'd chew it happily while watching the exciting object, by which times we were usually past. Sometimes she needs a second or third treat, and sometimes she games me because she thinks it's fun, but the trick was to have her looking at me for guidance. This has now translated into scarey things (garbage trucks, trains, lawn mowers and leaf blowers) and it works for all of my dogs.

 

Note that I'm not asking my dog to 'do' anything. This one doesn't drop, sit, lie down... she has her own agenda and my little tricks have no place in it. All I've told her is that outside, if something exciting comes along, if she looks at me before barking, or even after barking once or twice but then comes back to me, she gets good treats. And I'm happy with that.

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

The key to the leash reactivity is catching him BEFORE he starts to react. Once he reacts, any training is pointless as he has already crossed the threshold. Hopefully your trainer explained this to you. So you will need to judge what the distance is when he reacts and give a treat just before he reacts and continue to treat as you cross over his threshold. That will hopefully start to desensitize him.

 

Chad

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Guest tranquill

 

 

Can I just say that even though you characterised this as one step forward, two back, I don't think you're being fair to either yourselves or to Al? I've found with mine that working through issues is less of a one stop shop solution and more of a journey. It's like little issues unravel like a knotted piece of string.

 

Perhaps you are right!

 

We are doing really well on the inside stuff. Al enjoys the game where we throw treats into his bowl as he eats. He has been coming up to me for pets during the day, though I have to say I really miss our couch snuggles. He lets us come near his bed in the living room. We don't, unless it's for training purposes, but he doesn't seem overly protective of it.

 

The leash reactivity came and went; the past couple of days he's been fine, even for things that set him off a couple of days ago. He's also given up on being the stairs alarm. I know the key to DS/CC is keeping him under threshold, I just can't figure out what his threshold is. His triggers seem so varied, and he doesn't react in a consistent way. What sets him off one day will pass completely without reaction the next. It makes me doubt the progress we're making on the other things, since triggers seem to flare up and die down with no rhyme or reason that I can sense. And since he's been on prozac three weeks, shouldn't we be seeing a reduction in his responsiveness to triggers, not a seeming expansion?

 

We were doing so well on the SA too when the resource guarding started. So I'm cautious.

 

When all this started, he stopped sleeping at the foot of our bed and now won't come in the bedroom. Nothing has ever happened to him there. Does he feel uncomfortable with us, or is he just growing into an independent hound?

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