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Old 05-18-2008, 05:50 PM
mjb mjb is offline
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Default Well, here goes....an incident we had

and a kind of long story about it.

I have been hesitant to post about this. Sad, depressed, feelings hurt...nothing that really helps anything.

Spanky is 4, and we've had him since he was a puppy. We got him from the Humane Society. He's a 30 lb. mix...their guess is terrier/hound. He was a difficult puppy early on, but I am an inexperienced dog owner. He was extremely mouthy, and all the classes we took him to didn't help, and sometimes made him worse. They were good classes, but they all were saying I needed to get it under control (which made me nervous that I had a monster on my hands) and showed me how to correct him with the leash. Nothing extremely harsh, but a correction none-the-less. It just made him wild-eyed and more nippy.

I finally got the name of a behaviorist whose website said all training was off-leash. I didn't know what it meant, but I knew I wouldn't be doing leash corrections. He came in and by our second session, Spanky was a different puppy. Before, no kid in the neighborhood wanted to come in around him, and by they time we were finished with the trainer, all the kids were coming to play with Spanky instead of my son!!

I really think the main thing he did was assure me I didn't have a monster! After that, I was much more at ease and could handle the play-bite while doing all the exercises to get him to quit. It took him almost no time to figure out what we wanted and didn't want for him to do, and it was so enjoyable seeing how much he wanted to please us.

Through our 4 years together, he has been the best dog. Everyone who meets him falls in love with him. The vet talks about him being the most easy-going dog to work with. We are quite smitten with him, but he seems to have that effect on everyone he comes in contact with.

He's so sweet we have indulged him quite a bit. He has gotten increasingly more and more treats. His pleading eyes and cute face are hard to resist, and we're all a bunch of softies. He has gotten overweight, and we have needed to do something about it. He's also gotten worse and worse about sitting and staring and sometimes barking to get a bite of something if we're eating on the couch in front of the TV.

Fast-forward 4 yrs., and my son-in-law tells me he 'kind of bit' him when we were here. He said his teeth contacted skin, but his expression really didn't seem like his play-biting. He was on the sofa with a dish of ice cream, and he joined him. It was bothering SIL, so he pushed him away, and that's when it happened.

I kind of disregarded it. He's never shown any kind of aggression. We can take food out of his mouth with no problem, etc. Then, it happened to me. My daughter sat down with food, Spanky jumped up to join her (and beg), and my daughter was telling him to get down. I decided I would push him off, and he put his teeth on me. The face was definitely a no-nonsense face.

I didn't want any escalation. I didn't know if he was trying to change his position in the family or what. I decided to call this behaviorist we had used at the beginning. I had really liked working with him. Also, the vets around here have a list of behaviorist/trainers they recommend, but he is the only one endorsed for bite work by the Northeast Florida Veterinary Assoc.

He has come out and worked with us. He has admitted that watching us interact that it was still hard to see him snap. He says his behavior still indicates he accepts us as the leaders.

Through his time with us, he has seen that Spanky is not resource guarding, but he is highly food motivated and can be food reactive. His conclusion that his over-indulgence gave him the sense that he is entitled to food. His only reaction comes when someone has a high value snack and tries to push him away from waiting on what he perceives as his portion. He doesn't try to take it, though, and he has no problem if he gets something that we need to take from him. (If he can swallow fast enough, it's gone, though).

The behaviorist is recommending a lifestyle change for all of us. No more indiscriminate treats for Spanky. He's on a No Free Lunch program and will work for his treats. We will also crate him (with his own treat) when we have food in the family room and will let him rejoin us when we have cleaned the food up. His preference is that we have no more confrontations....that we don't 'try' it again to see what his reaction would be.

On the plus side, the behaviorist says just what we have thought all along. Spanky is about the sweetest dog he has ever worked with. He has no aggression. He can handle him in any way with no problem. He's happy and loving and makes him smile every time he's with him. That's the dog we've known for 4 years.

I was heartbroken and my confidence pretty shaken with this incident. I feel better with the assessment from our behaviorist, and maybe Spanky and I can work it out. Before he came in, we weren't relating to each other like we had been before all of this. Now that he's come in, we seem the same towards each other again. Of course, he admitted that it does take some time to build up that trust again.

Since I read this forum, and it's a dog forum, I decided to share the story. I was embarrassed and hurting and didn't want to at first. I also am going to try right now to follow what the behaviorist has recommended since he's highly regarded in bite behavior, so I'm not looking for a debate in how it's being handled. I can imagine that some might not think this is the answer, and if we continue to have problems, we will eventually come to the same conclusion.

Right now, I think we're on the way to mending our relationship, and I believe we're working it all out. I sure hope so!!

Anyone who read this whole long thing, thanks for the interest in it!!!
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Old 05-18-2008, 06:08 PM
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Baxter'smybaby Baxter'smybaby is offline
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glad that you are consulting someone who can SEE what is going on--and that it is helpful to you. Sounds like it will be hard to change the habits that have been established--but truly sounds like it needs to be changed. Good luck and let us know how things progress. And some pictures of the guy wouldn't hurt!
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Old 05-18-2008, 06:17 PM
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I commend you for writing this and sticking to the problem !!! So many would have given up . I agree !! We need pictures !!!
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Old 05-18-2008, 06:52 PM
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Good for you for not overreacting and immediately having him put down either! You got help and it sounds like it'll work just fine. Sometimes dogs forget that they don't get to control the food and need a bit of a reminder. NILIF is a great place to start.

Kudos to your behaviorist!
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Old 05-18-2008, 07:02 PM
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The family that had Chip before I got him back spent a lot on a behaviorist . Counter surfacing mostly ....I never had a problem with him !!! I think he just wanted attention.
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Old 05-18-2008, 07:10 PM
mjb mjb is offline
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The only way I know how to post pictures is from Photobucket, and I don't usually put pictures there anymore, so here are a few that are old and I think I've posted before.

He is cute, and he really is a sweetheart, despite the problems I've had recently.
.





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Old 05-18-2008, 07:11 PM
mjb mjb is offline
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One more.....


There you go. As you can tell, I'm pretty bowled over by this little guy even if we did have a setback. I'm pretty sure we're gonna be okay, though.
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Old 05-18-2008, 07:15 PM
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He is amazingly cute. And it sounds like you are fortunate in having a good behaviorist available to you.
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Old 05-18-2008, 07:15 PM
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Looks like a sweet guy with an attitude !!!
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Old 05-18-2008, 07:22 PM
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Good luck with your new training program. Kudos to you for realizing you needed some help to get to the bottom of your problems with him & having the conviction to make those changes needed happen. I hope you have a speedy turnaround & all good things ahead. Keep up the great work & you'll see great results.
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