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Kind Of An Odd Issue


Guest k9soul
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Cole has been here a year now, and for the most part he and Rudy get along fine. Lately an issue has cropped up that seems odd to me and is escalating, and I'm not quite sure what to do about it. Rudy is a licker, meaning he likes to simply lick sometimes. Mainly his bed or people, in a sort of grooming manner. It seems to be a relaxation thing for him because I've noticed he often does it before going to sleep, and while he is licking his eyes drift closed like it is hypnotic for him.

 

Anyway, for some reason Cole has gotten increasingly irritated by Rudy's licking. It seems like the sound of it irritates him. He can be asleep and if Rudy starts licking (they are on different beds), Cole wakes up and gets upset and growls. Sometimes Rudy stops then and sometimes not.

 

I've tried soothing Cole by saying his name and speaking in a reassuring quiet tone, just saying "take it easy." He does stop when I do that. When I decided not to say anything and see what happened he got more and more upset until he actually got up and lunged toward Rudy a bit. I definitely don't want a fight on my hands, but I'm really puzzled about what to do about it to de-escalate the situation other than trying to redirect Cole ASAP. Lately even when Rudy comes up and just licks my hand Cole starts getting aggravated. Any thoughts?

 

Edit: Somehow just writing this down has made my brain go to work on it more. I feel like somehow, at some point, the licking correlated with something that gave Cole anxiety and that now he has that association with the licking. So to address the root issue the challenge is to get the licking associated as something good now. I can't really predict when Rudy will do it but I wonder if tossing Cole a treat as soon as it starts would help. Just brainstorming the situation. I do work from home so I am around them all day.

Edited by k9soul
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That is unusual. I'll ask my boss if she's ever encountered that specifically. But otherwise, counter-condition Cole to the licking. Every time Rudy starts licking, high value food appears. When the licking stops (or have someone remove Rudy) the food goes away. For CC&D to work well, a couple of things need to happen. One, the stimulus has to *predict* food is coming. In other words, the licking becomes a tip-off that he is going to get fed. So the timing of the food's appearance (not just the feeding itself) immediately *after* the licking starts is important. Likewise, feeding stops and the food has to disappear when the licking stops. Until then you are feeding continuously during the licking. The food also has to be very high value - think cooked chicken or hot dog. Imagine if you were terrified of snakes and every time I made one appear I gave you $100. Now imagine the same thing but I give you a penny each time. Which one is going to make you feel better about snakes sooner (or at all)? Lastly, it's ideal if the CC happens every time the stimulus does so you may want to separate them at times when you can't actively counter-condition like at night or when you aren't home. You can also do set ups by giving something to Rudy to lick like a kong with PB.

 

ETA: I just saw your edit. I was going to ask if there was something negative that happened along with the licking but figured you would have mentioned it already. Do you remember what it was?

 

You could also try natural calming aids in the meantime to see if you can lessen Rudy's licking. Has he always done it or has it increased recently? I ask because it can also be a sign of pain. When Zuri's LS is bothering him he licks his front legs even though the LS pain is with his hind end. If you're fairly confident it's not pain related you could try DAP, Composure, or l-theanine.

Edited by NeylasMom

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

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

I agree with Cole, its annoying. =} It sounds like a behavior related licking. Since it is, you can fix it by redirection with a treat or other behavior whenever he starts to lick, hopefully that will help exterminate the issue. I doubt that you would have a serious fight on your hands. I would bet that Rudy will stop before Cole actually makes contact. They can sound really mean when they get growly with each other, but its actually pretty rare for greyhounds to actually fight. I have had experience with that, but then again, i typically foster the behavior problem hounds to begin with.

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I don't worry about Cole doing damage, but Rudy I do. Rudy has attacked my lab mix twice, once when she snapped at him when he was walking by her dish and once to steal a bone she had (he gets separated completely now for bones). Both times there was bloodshed on Raven's part, so I know Rudy, if he actually gets into a fight, may very well bite. Most of the time he's quite patient and tolerant, but if anything pushes him over the edge he is serious about it.

 

Anyway, the licking IS annoying! LOL.

 

NeylasMom, that's where my thinking was going too. I just have to figure out the easiest way to be prepared and be on the dot with timing. Thanks for your thoughts on this. This is a real new one for me!

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

Sounds like Rudy was defending himself in both situations you describe, not the instigator. In this scenario you are describing, he is actually the instigator. You could muzzle everyone when you arent around, that would help keep piece of mind when you arent around to supervise.

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But Cole is instigating, so Rudy may feel like he needs to defend. In the second case with Raven, Rudy was definitely the instigator though. I watched it happen. He walked up to her with his ears flattened and she looked away with her face pointed into the sofa and he jumped her and grabbed her by the head and ears. I couldn't get him to stop at first, he had her by the ears and was shaking her, but she finally tore away. That was the first time I ever saw him walk up and completely instigate an attack (he had his own bone, he just wanted hers). She didn't defend herself either time; just screamed and ran away. I just make sure the other two are gated in their own area with their bones now apart from Rudy. Rudy also attacked my senior dog Tasha a few times before she passed away last year when she walked too close to his bed. In one he tore the tip of her ear off.

 

That is why my concern is for Cole in this case. When he lunged towards Rudy it scared the hell out of me, but Rudy did not react thankfully. I want to be sure and de-escalate the situation though so that it doesn't end up badly.

Edited by k9soul
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Muzzles. For everyone. And one with a poop guard for the licker.

 

It's a short term solution but could also snap him out of the licking behavior. Or not. Only one way to find out!

Introducing Tessie, PK's Cat Island 12/9/13
Jackson the Airedale 12/12/05
Forever missing Grace 2/18/03 - 1/19/13 (RT's Grace, 18156/23B) and Fenway 10/10/06 - 9/25/16 (not registered)

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I'm not inclined to think muzzling is a solution unless they are unsupervised. The licking is just a couple times in the day perhaps and doesn't have a specific pattern. Rudy has been a licker from rhe day he came home and is 8 years old. Cole used to be unfazed by it, but seems to have developed an aversion to it for some reason within the past month or so. So I think the best plan is to work on reversing the aversion. It is not something Rudy does constantly. Since I'm with them all day I think it's a feasible plan. I have been thinking about it and have a possible theory how this may have developed. I will type out my idea when I'm at my computer again.

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Mine licks like a cat, he grooms himself all over after each meal or if he's been out to potty. I asked my rescue group about it and they said some greys do that and some more if they are in a cat household (we did have a cat).

 

I'd be more try the treat thing, make it a good thing when Cole licks.

 

Why muzzle a dog that isnt doing anything wrong?

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Guest Greyt_dog_lover

Muzzle = safety device (think seatbelt in car)

 

If she is not around to supervise and it is known that there is a possibility of a fight, then a muzzle is a good thing

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My theory about the possible origin of this issue is that Cole came to associate Rudy's licking with an intrusiveness that makes him anxious. You see Rudy goes around after any meal time or treat and licks the bowls or area where the others ate. After they have had marrow bones and I pick them up, Rudy visits each place the others had their bones and licks around that area. So I think it's possible that this got to feeling pushy and invasive to Cole and he started reacting any time Rudy is licking.

 

Another thing I think was causing some tension was that Rudy kept manipulating Cole out of his favorite bed and then taking his spot. So I decided to make that one bed off limits to Rudy and letting that be completely Cole's spot. Just over the past couple days there seems to be less tension already. Rudy has a lot more available places to lay since he gets on furniture but Cole does not.

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Muzzle = safety device (think seatbelt in car)

 

If she is not around to supervise and it is known that there is a possibility of a fight, then a muzzle is a good thing

Indeed! It serves two purposes. First, prevents injury from a fight. Second, could possibly break the licker's habit.

 

Can't hurt, might help.

Edited by gracegirl

Introducing Tessie, PK's Cat Island 12/9/13
Jackson the Airedale 12/12/05
Forever missing Grace 2/18/03 - 1/19/13 (RT's Grace, 18156/23B) and Fenway 10/10/06 - 9/25/16 (not registered)

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My theory about the possible origin of this issue is that Cole came to associate Rudy's licking with an intrusiveness that makes him anxious. You see Rudy goes around after any meal time or treat and licks the bowls or area where the others ate. After they have had marrow bones and I pick them up, Rudy visits each place the others had their bones and licks around that area. So I think it's possible that this got to feeling pushy and invasive to Cole and he started reacting any time Rudy is licking.

 

Another thing I think was causing some tension was that Rudy kept manipulating Cole out of his favorite bed and then taking his spot. So I decided to make that one bed off limits to Rudy and letting that be completely Cole's spot. Just over the past couple days there seems to be less tension already. Rudy has a lot more available places to lay since he gets on furniture but Cole does not.

Good observations. Sounds like you're on the right track. Let us know how the CC&D goes. You mentioned issues with timing - I really suggest doing set ups where you have high value food at the ready and give something to Rudy that you know he will lick (including a food bowl). Have Cole on leash at a distance at first and only move closer when he is automatically looking to you for treats when he hears or sees the licking. Edited by NeylasMom

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

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 tried to set something like that up, but Cole actually doesn't have any reaction when Rudy is licking something real that I've given him. Cole just looks at me alert and eager to get something himself. I think in order for it to work Cole would have to be unaware Rudy was getting something which is kind of impossible. Last night after cooking pumpkin I let them lick the mixing bowl and they both licked peacefully at the same time with their faces touching together.

 

Last night though (before the pumpkin) Rudy started his bed licking thing and Cole had no reaction at all. It seems almost too easy that just ensuring Cole has his own personal space that is off limits to Rudy would be the answer, and I'm not totally convinced yet, but I guess it's possible. I will update again when I see how things progress. Cole really does seem more relaxed though, and Rudy is adjusting pretty quickly in accepting he can't have that particular bed. My fingers are crossed that it really will be this simple of a solution :lol

Edited by k9soul
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Well, stressors build so reducing one stressor could certainly lower his threshold on the other. That doesn't mean Cole doesn't still have a negative association with the licking though, or that he won't behave the way he has been in response if his stress levels go up for another reason down the road. So to be cautious, I would still do the CC&D. It doesn't really matter that he responds differently when you intentionally give something to Rudy. The point is that you are teaching Cole to associate Rudy licking with good things happening for him. That association will be made provided you do the CC&D as I outlined. What you could do to simulate things more accurately would be to put PB on the things that have elicited a reaction before when Rudy licked them, so putting a smear of PB on Rudy's leg for instance, or in food bowls. Though you may not want to do the leg too much or you may increase Rudy's licking. :P

 

Anyway, point being, people often think CC&D isn't working because nothing bad is happening (no reaction in the dog being counter-conditioned is being elicited) during the process, but if you're doing it right, that's the way it should be. In other words, that's the desensitization part of it. You expose the dog to whatever he has the negative reaction to in a way that doesn't put him over threshold and then you change his association from a negative one to a positive one by pairing it with something good. I hope this is clear.

gallery_12662_3351_862.jpg

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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Good points. I think the best replication would be doing it in their bedding area. Thanks very much for your insight. Funny how solutions don't seem as obvious when it's my own dogs!

Edited by k9soul
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