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Old 12-28-2010, 06:03 PM
help_with_my_goldie help_with_my_goldie is offline
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Default Please please help!!!

I have recently moved in with my girlfriend. She has a 6 year old golden retriever-collie mix named Cobe.
Cobe has MANY problems its hard to know where to start with him.
He is generally a VERY friendly dog to humans. He is terrified and generally uninterested in any dogs bigger than a dachsund. But with smaller dogs he will socializeHe lives in a 2 story condiminium with a small patio in the back. He is allowed anywhere in the house including upstairs (before I moved in he slept in my girlfriends room). Because of our jobs Cobe does spend most of the day inside the house or patio (roaming freely as we leave the backdoor open for him). If he is left outside with the door closed he goes bizerk barking and jumping on the doors. If we leave our bedroom door open while out, Cobe always gets onto it messing it up and attempting to mate with our pillows. He also gets into the trash frequently and will jump onto the counters during the night to eat certain things. And we know CObe knows what he is doing is wrong because sometimes we will come home and he will be cowering somewhere and then we will find something he has done after that. And when his master, my girlfriend, punishes him he growls at her and refuses to back down.
Since I have moved in he has biten my girlfriend and I.
Circumstances:
Girlfriend-had Cobes paws on her shoulders and their faces close and totally in a loving way. Out of nowhere Cobe nipped her nose and she was left with a ER visit and a 0.5" scar.
Me-had a repairman over so in order to have the repairman relaxed I took Cobe outside on a leash. As soon as Cobe saw the man walking into the house he barked like crazy and struggled with me and eventually reared back and bit my hand wil where it bled. He got loose and barked right at the terrified repairman. I then took him by the collar to take him outside and leave him. Cobe reared back and bit me again in the hand, i fell over and he then bit my foot and shook it like he would do with a toy. This was maybe 2 months ago.
Then just recently Cobe was barking at someone outside and I got up to tell him to hush and he immediatley came at me and grabbed my foot and shook it violently. If I hadnt had shoes on it would have been very bad.
I have told my girlfriend many many times that the dog needs to be euthanized before anything else happens. Being her dog and companion for 6 years, she is in denial.
We have tried to find a farm or something for him as well, but knowing his aggresive history I dont think its a good idea.
I`m looking for ANY help I can get to resolve this situation.
Thanks so much!
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Old 12-28-2010, 06:16 PM
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corgipower corgipower is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by help_with_my_goldie View Post
If we leave our bedroom door open while out, Cobe always gets onto it messing it up and attempting to mate with our pillows. He also gets into the trash frequently and will jump onto the counters during the night to eat certain things. And we know CObe knows what he is doing is wrong because sometimes we will come home and he will be cowering somewhere and then we will find something he has done after that. And when his master, my girlfriend, punishes him he growls at her and refuses to back down.
The cowering doesn't at all mean he knows he did something wrong. It means he knows bad things happen when there's a mess and you walk in. But he doesn't associate that with the act of making the mess. Management - crating the dog, baby gates to keep him out of certain rooms, making sure things like trash are out of reach - goes a long way to help when he's unsupervised.

Also, your girlfriend (and you if you're punishing him also) needs to stop punishing him. He views her as unpredictable and threatening. Think in terms of what is he doing right and reinforce that. Ignore the bad or better yet, manage him and his environment to prevent inappropriate behaviors.

I would very much suggest having a behaviorist look at what's going on regarding the aggression. Make sure they only use positive motivation methods.
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Old 12-28-2010, 06:46 PM
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Romy Romy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by help_with_my_goldie View Post
And we know CObe knows what he is doing is wrong because sometimes we will come home and he will be cowering somewhere and then we will find something he has done after that. And when his master, my girlfriend, punishes him he growls at her and refuses to back down.
He doesn't know it's wrong. That cowering "guilty" look is dog language for "please please please don't hurt me". Dogs aren't capable of feeling guilty. That look is an appeasement behavior. They do it among each other too, if they are afraid another dog might attack them.

Corgi is right. He's afraid because something bad happens every time there is trash on the floor and humans walk into the room. The mess making part was fun and happened much earlier. To him they are two completely unconnected events.

Being the leader in a household with a dog is not about punishing them when they break our rules and making them back down. Since this dog has already bitten you guys and gets defensive when you correct him, I'd totally avoid correcting him at this point. This does NOT mean he gets to do whatever he wants.

Leadership is 100% about controlling resources. That trash, the pillows, food on the counter, even the food in his bowl is YOURS. You two bought it. You OWN it, he absolutely should NOT have access to those things if he's breaking rules and especially if he's biting you guys. If you take his access to the fun stuff away and make him work for the things he can have (like his food) you won't have to correct him and end up in a situation where he's defensive and biting, and you're getting injured.

You'll probably find that putting him on a strict NILIF (nothing in life is free) regimen will keep him out of trouble and help him learn some boundaries while you find a good behaviorist to work with. You can google articles, or hopefully someone here will have a link to some good ones.

Quote:
Originally Posted by help_with_my_goldie View Post
Since I have moved in he has biten my girlfriend and I.
Circumstances:

Girlfriend-had Cobes paws on her shoulders and their faces close and totally in a loving way. Out of nowhere Cobe nipped her nose and she was left with a ER visit and a 0.5" scar.
Face to face with a lot of dogs is a bad idea. You now know it's a bad idea with this one. A lot of dogs never learn that it's a loving gesture, to them getting in their face is threatening.


Quote:
Originally Posted by help_with_my_goldie View Post
Me-had a repairman over so in order to have the repairman relaxed I took Cobe outside on a leash. As soon as Cobe saw the man walking into the house he barked like crazy and struggled with me and eventually reared back and bit my hand wil where it bled. He got loose and barked right at the terrified repairman. I then took him by the collar to take him outside and leave him. Cobe reared back and bit me again in the hand, i fell over and he then bit my foot and shook it like he would do with a toy. This was maybe 2 months ago.
You definitely need a GOOD behaviorist with this issue. And like Corgi said, make sure they use positive reinforcement. He's insecure and doesn't have proper boundaries, there may be other underlying problems too. The problem with using punishment/corrections on insecure aggressive dogs is it only shuts them down. And since they are acting out of fear, they become even more afraid which makes the problem worse when they do finally lash out.

Quote:
Originally Posted by help_with_my_goldie View Post
Then just recently Cobe was barking at someone outside and I got up to tell him to hush and he immediatley came at me and grabbed my foot and shook it violently. If I hadnt had shoes on it would have been very bad.
I have told my girlfriend many many times that the dog needs to be euthanized before anything else happens. Being her dog and companion for 6 years, she is in denial.
Has he always been like this? Or is this a recent change in behavior? Has she taken him to a vet? There are many physical problems that can cause aggression. Just being in pain is one, another is low thyroid, brain tumors, etc. It's good to rule out the physical, though from the sounds of things he could definitely use boundaries regardless.

You really need a good behaviorist who can evaluate him in person.

Quote:
Originally Posted by help_with_my_goldie View Post
We have tried to find a farm or something for him as well, but knowing his aggresive history I dont think its a good idea.
I`m looking for ANY help I can get to resolve this situation.
Thanks so much!
Definitely not a good idea since he has a known bite history. If you give him away and he injures/kills someone, you can be held liable because you knew of the issues when you handed him off.
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Old 12-28-2010, 06:48 PM
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Doberluv Doberluv is offline
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First of all, you must understand and believe that dogs do NOT "know they did wrong." If you can't accept that behavioral fact, you'll get nowhere. This is a situation that stands a good chance of reversal...at least up to a point. Dogs do not have a sense of morals, do not understand that our stuff has monetary value, do not understand that scavenging in the garbage is "wrong." It is very right for a dog. That's how they evolved....by scavanging. The dog looks "guilty" like he knew he did wrong because you're interpreting his body language incorrectly. He is appeasing you. That kind of body language is what dogs do when they're anticipating punishment and they're afraid. He has been put on the defensive by punishment. This is what has caused this aggression in a normally very gentle and tolerant breed. Your girlfriend was close to his face and although it was a friendly gesture on her part, the dog is distrustful. He is not sure if things are going to remain friendly or if someone is going to lash out at him suddenly. To him, there are no predictive factors to judge whether he'll be frightened or not. Putting one's face in the face of a dog is, to a dog an uncomfortable, aggressive act UNLESS the dog has become conditioned to it through ALL good things happening to him when close to humans. This dog has not experienced a consistantly pleasurable and trusting time with humans, is what I'm getting from your post. Maybe it's not as bad as it sounds though and I'm misunderstanding.

This needs to change. Absolutley no more harsh scoldings or physical roughness (if in fact that is what's going on)...no grabbing a collar. You can condition him a little later on to associating grabbing a collar with all good things....yummy treats. I can explain how later. But first, you guys need to regain his trust in you that nothing unpleasant will come from your hands. Your girlfriend is not his master. Think of it more as a partnership....working together to learn things about each other and learn how to communicate the way dogs understand.

When you take your dog out and about and he sees strangers from a little distance, start giving him tiny, pea sized treats. Dogs learn by association very, very strongly. So, pair the things you want him to get use to with good things; chicken tid bits, hot dog, white cheese....something super yummy and lots of praise. Keep your garbage inaccesible to him. It's up to you to prevent him from getting into things. It sounds like he's bored out of his gord. You can put your hands on him in a way he feels most comfortable and start handing him tid bits of goodies when you do it.

How much exercise and walking does he get? What about mental stimulation....training specifically. Teach him something using positive reinforcement methods....no corrections or punishment. We can help you with this here. This dog needs to be handled with kid gloves from now on. He must learn that he won't be punished out of the blue...because to him it is out of the blue. He does not know he is doing anything "wrong." Learning a trick, having fun, learning some basic obedience skills, giving him small challenges, but all made into fun and games is very important. All dogs need training and exercise.

Now, if there has only been mild punishment...nothing too scary or too harsh, it may be more than this which is causing this defensive type aggression. He may simply have a weak temperament. If you can't afford a certified behaviorist who uses ONLY positive reinforcement type methods (most certified behaviorists do) try some of these things. Never punish him when he growls because you want the growl. It's a communication that he is uncomfortable. Respect that. It may be that his issues are so severe and due to more than I perceive from your post. In that case, I highly recommend a certified behaviorist. Actually, in any case, that would be the best chance for turning this around. Give him a shot at recovery before euthanizing him. But at the same time, keep other people and yourselves safe. Use preventative measure to avoid getting him into situations where he may feel defensive. Keep him at a safe distance from people and reward him for looking at them, for being in some kind of proximity to them. And gradually, you can get him closer as he becomes better. But you can never trust that he'll be 100% safe, even with marked improvement. This kind of issue is like diabetes. You can treat it...manage it, but you can't cure it.
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Old 12-28-2010, 06:50 PM
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I started typing before any other posts were written, so I guess I'm being redundant. All terrific advice from the others. A vet visit is definitely the first thing to do. I forgot to mention that.

I can reiterate the part about being a good leader is not about harsh corrections or punishment. It is indeed about controling resources and training. You have control over the things he likes and needs in life....food, treats, toys, walks, going out the door to play etc. Use those things as reward for behavior you like..for a state of mind you like to see in the dog. Look for things you like and reward. Ignore attention seeking behavior if it is obnoxious. Use distraction and giving alternatives for unwanted behavior. There is a lot more, which you can get help with but for now...that's the gist.
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"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

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Old 12-29-2010, 08:47 AM
help_with_my_goldie help_with_my_goldie is offline
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Thanks so much!
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Old 12-30-2010, 12:50 PM
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You're welcome. Please, please keep us updated. I really hope things will turn around for you and your goldie.
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"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty."

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