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Old 03-28-2010, 10:24 AM
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Lilavati Lilavati is offline
Arbitrary and Capricious
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Alexandria, VA
Posts: 7,643
Unhappy Docket's problem

I've not posted on this because well, its sort of embarassing, and because we felt it was under control, but I am beginning to feel at a loss.

First, Docket's birthday was Friday. He's two. Happy birthday, Corgi-boy.

On a less cheerful note, Docket has developed some serious DA problems. I'm going to describe the sequence of events and what we have done/been told.

When we got him, he had never seen a dog that wasn't a corgi, and at first reacted fearfully to Sarama. BUt within a day, he was playing with dogs of all descriptions. He didn't have the world's best social skills, but he clearly wanted to play and had no trouble finding playmates at the dog park. He was like that until early last summer.

He had begun to develop at taht point, a habit of lunging for other dog's ears. It appeared to be play, but the other dogs, understandably, did not appreciate it. Then, some time in June, he went nuts at a black goldendoodle who had in no way threatened him, barking and snarling.

The next week, at agility, he did the same with another large black dog. From then one, dogs that were larger than he received barks, snarls, yanking at the leash, growls and air snaps. After a particulary unpleasant encounter with a few standard poodles, I took him to a trainer I knew who specialized in agressive dogs. She said that we had spoiled him, and that he was resource guarding me. THat seemed plausible. Sarama used to pick on him, and we would let him hide behind us, even climb up next to us to get away from her. He was permitted (as was she) to curl up on the bed. So we went through the program the trainer recommended. His behavior at home (which was being bratty, mostly to Sarama, who when then clobber him) improved. His behavior in public also improved as I made a real effort to be the leader and convince him that I didn't need protecting . . . but it only improved so much. I moments inattention from him and I had a vicious landshark at the end of the leash. But by and large the problem seemed under control. He was even politely saying hi to other dogs that were not huge and black.

In the winter, both Sarama and Docket were enrolled in agility. I was handling Sarama in agility II (which we take over and over because III is at a time I can't make) and Mike had Docket in Agility I. After about three weeks, I took over Docket in I. He was throwing terrible scenes, and seemed to have decided that two big white curly dogs (a poodle and a labradoodle) where unholy, and would actually try to get loose and attack them. The agilty traininer, when asked, told me to take over Docket's class because Mike was getting very upset, embarassed, and angry.
Once I took over, Docket's behavior improved, but only in the sense that I could handle him when he acted like that and see it coming, which Mike could not. Notably, Docket has no good reason to resource guard Mike . . I was the one who spoiled him, Mike actually didn't like him that much and paid attantion to Sarama.

Docket has made progress with me handling him at agiliy. THe agility trainer has had a dog that has similiar problems and is wiling to work with us (she also teachs obediance and rally). She thinks that Docket, for whatever reason, has developed a fear of larger dogs, and that it has spread to most dogs he doesn't know. With strong leadership, I can convince him that there is nothing to worry about, and he will eventually get to the point that he, if not friendly, will not be a menace. However, Docket has bitten me (not drawing blood) during several of his psycho barking and snapping episodes, and although I don't intend to get rid of him, it is getting old. He has also snapped at Mike. But outside of these fits, he has never shown aggression to a person. He is also very submissive when he is not going after another dog.

There is another twist. I took him down to the farm over Christmas. I warned my family that he was not good with other dogs, but my aunt (who is a dog trainer) suggested we put him out in the yard with Ticker, a border collie about Docket's age. Docket had reacted badly to BCs before, but we gave it a try. Not only was there no violence, Docket was delighted! They played together for the next three days. When another corgi and BC got out in the yard, he played with them too. No problems whatsoever. Indeed, when Ticker was removed to go to an event, Docket cried, and cried and cried for his friend. And he did not become protective of me when I would go out there. Note, he was off leash the entire time.

We are taking Docket to the corgi club meeting today (it is cool enough we can leave him in the car if he goes nuts) I have my fingers crossed.

But what on earth is going on? And how do I fix it? I don't think its mostly resource guarding . . . I think he is genuinely afraid . . . he may also be trying to protect me, and herd me away, but I think he is more scared than aggressive. Our agility instructor thinks that being on leash makes him feel helpless, but we can't take him off during class, its just too dangerous. If I keep Docket focused on me, with a handful of treats, I can get him quite close to dogs he was threatening before.

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