Suggestions needed for treating fear aggression...

Joined
Sep 22, 2006
Messages
311
Likes
0
Points
0
Location
Chester IL
#1
After pondering many recent postings, I have decided to ask for help rather than rely on my usual and possibly archaic methods and I am always willing to open my mind to new techniques...I was at the vet's yesterday when animal control brought in a little chi for euthanasia...the officer had on welding gloves and the chi was grabbing at anything he could get a hold of...of course, being the crazy chi lover that I am, I asked that the little dog be released into my custody because I know how traumatic the system can be for such a wee one...well, my vet agreed to give him his shots, and we trimmed his nails which were possibly the longest I have ever seen, and we put on some Frontline since the poor little guy has a nasty case of flea dermatitis...he kept trying to bite the whole time and he cowered at the back of the small kennel that I borrowed to take him home and lunged at the door snarling if anyone got close...my vet wanted to go ahead and euthanize him, but I asked for 1 week's reprieve...midway home, the little guy seemed to relax a bit as I talked to him and explained that I was taking him home...I stopped by the grocery store on the way home because my usual travel companion wanted a treat so I offered the new guy a bite through the kennel door...leary at first, he took a bite from me and then another and another...once home, I gave him a few minutes to settle down, then I opened his kennel door...he crept out and looked me over...he was still very skiddish. I did not attempt to touch him. I let him check out the kitchen and then I called him to the door to go out to potty...I have a fenced in yard...he followed me out and then back in again...I gave him another treat and asked him if he would like to get back in his kennel, which he did...no touching involved, just a calm, soothing voice...a little while later, I introduced him to the other dogs through the kennel...he came willingly to the door and showed no signs of aggression toward the others...in the afternoon, I opened his door and let him come out and meet the others face to face...no problems...after going out to potty again, I asked if he wanted to go back into the kennel, which is his safe place right now...later on, I sat on the floor outside his kennel and talked to him and the other dogs sat on my lap and were given affection...he began to whine, so I opened his kennel door...he stayed inside but he watched me interact with the others very intently...I did not reach for him or make any attempts to touch him...by evening time, he was getting very close to me, so I held out my hand and let him sniff me...he seemed relaxed so I stroked his back...he liked it, but he was still very nervous, so I kept it light and pleasureable...at this point, I can touch him although I have not attempted to pick him up....my question to all of the trainers out there is how should I proceed with this little guy? I normally try to build a repoir slowly and allow them to trust me and when they come to me, I move forward...I am by no means a pro, I have just always tried to follow my heart, but I would like some professional advice...he seems nothing like the viscious biter that was dragged into the vet's office....he isn't aggressive toward my husband...no question this little guy was just scared to death and traumatized by the events leading up to and including his incarceration...he sure would have failed a shelter temperment test, but I think with a little love, patience and training, he will be just fine...any suggestions will be appreciated!
 

Doberluv

Active Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2004
Messages
22,038
Likes
2
Points
38
Location
western Wa
#2
What a lucky Chihuahua! I think you are doing everything absolutely stupendously! You're gradually building trust and a relaxed atmosphere. At this rate, I think he's going to be fine. He'll be one of those little, timid guys who will benefit so dramatically to "positive" training methods. That keeps their trust and confidence intact and there is just no stress added. What a great thing you did rescuing the little guy. I love Chihuahuas....have two. They're responsive and cheery. I think he'll come around well the way you're going about it. Be sure and give us updates.
 
Joined
Sep 22, 2006
Messages
311
Likes
0
Points
0
Location
Chester IL
#3
Thanks Doberluv-Here's a short update...the little guy is doing great. He hopped up on my lap and asked me to pet him the very next day and he has been a buddy ever since...he has moved out of the safe kennel and is living amoung the rest of us...he still growls a bit if I stop petting him, but his tail will be wagging as if he is really wanting me to love him even more...it is like he does not understand that a growl is supposed to indicate displeasure...he uses it for several meanings...I think it is the only language he has known...when he growls at me, I get up and move away from him...I am trying to get him to understand that a growl is inappropriate and that if he wants me, he has to give me a pleasant indication. So far, he is a completely different dog...there are still clouds in his little eyes...I am guessing he has known his fair share of abuse, but that is all behind him now...he is at Heaven's Gate....I'll try to take a picture to post...he is as cute as a teddy bear...
 

Doberluv

Active Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2004
Messages
22,038
Likes
2
Points
38
Location
western Wa
#4
Oh good news! You seem to have a good sense about what to do with him. You can also, rather than react to his every "demand," be the one to instigate things some of the time so he doesn't get the idea that he acts and you react. You don't want too much of that. It could be easy to fuss a whole lot over a dog who you suspect was mistreated or had a lousy time before. But since he doesn't think about anything but the present, it's just like you said....behind him. I bet he can learn some little tricks or basic obedience skills. That is so fun for a dog and it builds confidence in them too. I hope you browse more on the forum.

Can't wait for pictures! I think Chi's are just adorable dogs. I put some pictures up, in fact in the general dog chat forum....http://www.chazhound.com/forums/showthread.php?t=38591&page=2
 

tinksmama

New Member
Joined
May 10, 2006
Messages
268
Likes
0
Points
0
#5
That is a cool story.... of course the little guy was aggressive,he was scared! i think you've proved he isn't mean,just needs some work!
I like the book- "click to calm" it's worked wonders on our Tink, though she had no excuse for being a little stinker:rolleyes: ,she just sort of naturally came into this world trying to defend herself against everything...:yikes:
It's a great book-
 
Joined
Sep 22, 2006
Messages
311
Likes
0
Points
0
Location
Chester IL
#6
Photos as promised...

Thanks guys...I will start working with him more now that he has settled in...here he is:




Doesn't look much like a killer does he?:)
 

Doberluv

Active Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2004
Messages
22,038
Likes
2
Points
38
Location
western Wa
#7
A-w-w-w...what a sweet, but a little lost or bewildered expression on his face. You are doing such a wonderful job with him, building trust and a good bond. That's the most important tool between dog and owner and from there, the sky is the limit with what you two might accomplish. Kudos! Thanks for sharing the adorable photos.
 
Joined
Sep 22, 2006
Messages
311
Likes
0
Points
0
Location
Chester IL
#8
I'm glad you noticed his expression...I can still see clouds in his eyes...I know that with time and patience, he will learn to be happy, but someone really did a number on this little guy...he has come a long way in a short time...I will be calling upon you with training questions as we progress...I think he is going to need to be challenged so he can have some new thoughts to replace those bad memories!
 

Doberluv

Active Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2004
Messages
22,038
Likes
2
Points
38
Location
western Wa
#9
I don't know that he has vivid memories persay, like we do. It is thought that dogs don't really move forward and backward through time. But it certainly happens that bad experiences attribute to personality development. The associations that he had are what makes up a good deal of his reactions and feelings. There needs to be, like you explained, new associations to over ride those which were made in the past. But I would be very careful not to think too much about his past because you might inadvertantly feel so sorry for him that you plunge him into that learned helplessness state of mind. He's actually probably thinking about the present so that's a wonderful thing about dogs. You can just go from here forward and not dwell on the past too much.

If he'll play a little bit, take a little walk, learn a few skills, that will help build his confidence. I think tricks are a great thing for a dog's mind. Hide and seek, hiding Kong toys with something yummy in them around the house and helping him get started on finding them is fun, teaching him the "give" and "take" game...all this stuff builds confidence and "self esteem." Or what we might think of as self esteem. I don't know that they have an actual self image.

But anyhow, the more interesting his world becomes and the more pleasant and rewarding it becomes, I think that momentum will really make a difference to him and you.

Let us know the progress that he makes.
 
Joined
Sep 22, 2006
Messages
311
Likes
0
Points
0
Location
Chester IL
#10
Thanks for your quick response and input...His bad "memories" or associations really come out if I inadvertantly touch him abrubtly...he gets very upset if I touch his neck...he has a "flashback" once in a while and goes off the deep end...no biting but lot's of growling and posturing...he doesn't seem to know how to play and putting a collar around his neck right now is out of the question...I don't feel sorry for him...he is a very lucky boy...he will never know abuse again...I do feel anger toward the people that mistreated him though...I need to be careful that I don't let that show through...I am trying to be patient with him...he is doing very well with the other dogs...I am hoping that he will begin to learn play through interactions with them...he watches me play ball with them but he doesn't quite get the jist of what we are doing...he just looks at us longingly...like he really would like to join in...I have a whole house full of dogs with sad stories of abuse and neglect...some of them are with me for years and others just for a short time...it doesn't matter if it is 2 days, 2 weeks, 2 months or 2 years...my goal is to make the balance of their lives as happy and healthy as possible...I really appreciate all of your input...anything that I can learn to help enrich their lives is terrific!
 

Doberluv

Active Member
Joined
Dec 31, 2004
Messages
22,038
Likes
2
Points
38
Location
western Wa
#11
I do feel anger toward the people that mistreated him though...
Yeah, no kidding. But it could be too, that he wasn't abused directly at all, just unsocialized. That can really do a number on pups. But of course, not socializing a pup is mistreatment, albeit sometimes from ignorance and not purposely.

Anyhow, I don't know if my input is correct for sure on every point. I'm sort of thinking out loud and just mulling things over.

You might do some hand feeding and let him know that you're providing for him. You can save part of his meal or use some tiny treats to associate certain things with good things. If he makes the tiniest improvement or showing just a little more confidence (baby steps) give him some food. But don't while he's in the super afraid mode. It's sad that he doesn't understand play. He probably never had the chance when he was a baby. I hope he can get happy and learn to play a little.

You'll probably have to go very slowly with the touching of his neck. Can you touch his chin and stroke him? Or his shoulder area? I can't remember what I've already written but there are calming signals you can use to help him feel more at ease, like not making eye contact, turning your head and body a little sideways instead of facing him head on, stuff like that. They're so intuned to our signals. There's a book called Calming Signals that might be useful. I've heard good things about it.

Well, when he growls or postures, just be careful you don't react to that, back off or anything or he'll learn how to use it more. Don't let him see that it works. LOL.

What a sad thing to see all these dogs with abusive and negletful pasts. It is really a great thing that you're doing. With your gentle, gradual approach, I think he'll come around at least to some degree.
 

sourjayne

New Member
Joined
Aug 16, 2006
Messages
91
Likes
0
Points
0
Location
Seattle
#12
I also would recommend the book "Click to Calm" -- it really covers all the things discussed above in great detail and offers lots of suggestions for dealing with them.

This story is really sad and wonderful and touching. Your poor little guy looks so sweet.
 

Members online

No members online now.

Latest posts

Top