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Old 12-29-2009, 03:53 PM   #1
CerbiesMom
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Trouble with the Brig (long)

I really dont know what to do with her. She's such a good dog so much of the time, but other times she's absolutely insane. We've been training more, and she's actually the fastest to respond to cues while we're out at parks and public places training. She was staying at the end of a 50' lead in the park where ducks, dogs, and kids were running around making all kinds of noise, and I was even moving around. The boys aren't that good, they'd rather go get the kids to play with them.

Last night, she was a monster, though. She found a headband on the floor, and she picked it up. I told her drop, and she sat, looked at me, and started to shiver like she was cold. And she had scared body language like I was gonna beat her for it. I've never hit my dogs. Ever. After about 5 minutes of her shivering and holding it, she slowly walked over to me. She let me put my hand on it, then she dropped it. She stayed and cuddled with me, and as soon as she dropped it, she stopped shaking. I know she's an anxious dog, so I wanted to wait for her, so as not to stress her further. And she got lots of praise and petting when she finally dropped it.
A little later, she was on my lap and launched aggressively at our special needs kitty. There was absolutely no forewarning. I was looking at her face, her eyes were sleepy eyes, the jaw wasn't tense, ears were relaxed, no tail stiffening. She just launched. Her body didn't tense up in any way. I caught her in mid-launch, so she didn't actually get the cat. And immediately after, she was back to her regular self. She even licked Pookie(the cat she went after) and groomed her ears for her less than 10 minutes later.
I'm leaning toward thinking she's just got some sort of mental disorder. There's never a trigger, it always happens at different times, after different things. before and after meals, etc. i've written everything down, hoping there would be some sort of pattern, but I don't see it. I really don't want her to hurt the kitty. She always goes after Pookie, never the other 2, sometimes I wonder if she can smell that there's something wrong with that cat. Every once in a while Cerbie will look at her pretty crazily, but I can tell him to go to his bed. Brigit is just so unpredictable.
I'm thinking about going to a veterenary behaviorist, but it's gonna run me $300, so I don't know when I'd be able to do that. I looked at all the paperwork, and the woman appears to be very thoughrough(sp?). She looks over diet, excercise, previous health issues, recommends health screenings/testings. Then there's the behavior modification stuff. Which I'm absolutely clueless about. I've never been to a behaviourist. But, I already feed good, homecooked food, we walk so much its not even funny, we train using positive methods, and i already had her thyroid checked. Im sure there are other tests, but I kinda feel like I'm already doing most of what this woman will tell us to do. I just don't know what to do with my crazy girl anymore. she hadn't gone after a cat in months. She's never connected her teeth with one, but I don't want to wait for her to decide to really get at one. I also don't want her to be kenneled all the time in the house, but I want my cats to be safe. I just don't know what to do with her anymore.
Thanks for listening, guys. Any suggestions at all are welcome.
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:04 PM   #2
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Shara does the exact thing you are describing with the shakes, its anxiety or feeding off anxiety you have. Doxies are very strange dogs, because they have little dog syndrome, but also because they dont want to be subbordinate. Giving up items/toys is hard for them mentally, as they are wanting to go hide it. Shara hides so many things, under couches, beds, or under a blanket or anything else she can find. When they are asked NOT to do those things, they go into an anxiety mode, and shake. Tyra is just the opposite, she loves to retrieve, for some reason...shes an odd duck for sure (we think shes a mix anyways...lol)

Yes, when she gave up the headband it relieved her of the pressure of what to do, to flight to hide it, to run from you, or to do as you asked, to drop it. I personally do the 'drop it' command, with them near me and while im on the floor, when they dont drop it, i stick my finger in the mouth. This is for a drop on command that I need in the ring, but you might want to try this so she will know to drop it means to drop it then and there, so she wont have the anxity of "omg what do I do"

Drop it is a command all dogs need to know as well as 'come here' because they could have something dangerous in their mouth.


A question about Brigets attacks, does she EYE the target. She could be looking at the cat out the corner of her eye, or switching views from 'innocent' to 'target' back and forth, like anxiousness. Tyra never showed signs of stiffness, or body posture thats normal for other dogs, but she did eye them down, then attack. I would suggest having a squirt bottle or rolled up paper with you at all times and when she goes for the cat, squirt Bridget, so she will learn, when she does that she gets a negative consiqience. There is no positive way to train her not to harass your cat, I know you want possitive only but I am clueless to what would work.

I know my methods are more on the negative vs positive side, but when you are dealing with behavior problems such as attacking I tend to be more on the extream side. I use positive when they get things right, but negative when they are messing up.

I would suggest putting the other 2 dogs up and set Bridget for her to attack your cat (its happening anyways...right), and have the water bottle ready to nail her. Rince and repeat, I think in a day or so you will have this sorted out. I hide the bottle behind the back so she knows you dont have it, and then change it up by covering it with a sock or towel, otherwise she will get 'waterbottle' wise.

I would not put a command to it when you squirt her, such as leave it, it should be a scilent command that when she attacks the cat, omgosh outta no where she gets squirted. If you can dont let her see the waterbottle or you pulling it out, or again, she will 'know' what is coming.

Hope this might help, I dont know what to say about the dog-behaviourist...I think your k9mania family will help you out though with many suggestions and support. The behaviourist might be able to point out things you havent noticed and suggest things we cannot, but I would try as many things as you can on your own before resorting to spending a lot of $$$. You could enroll Bridget in many obdeience classes for the amount you are fixing to spend on a behaviorist.
~Meredith
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:16 PM   #3
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I dont think she has a mental disorder, doxies are a hunting dog breed, and so she is triggering her instint to hunt/attack. She just doesnt know the cat is off limits.

I think you are feeding her properly and exercising her properly, so I do not think that is an issue.

Is she attacking to kill or attacking to play is another question. There are two types and doxies really are rough players. With Shara and Tyra now buddies they play HARD but they do not go into "Attack mode" And since Bridget is attacking a cat its hard to guess what the cat is interperting it as. Because cats like to play hard too.

Kenneling her would not solve the problem, but potentially make things worse, as you must face obsticals your dog has head on, and not avoid the issue.

Buying a muzzle also might be an option, put the muzzle on after she attacks the cat, would send a message, attack the cat, you get the muzzle put on. You would only have to keep the muzzle on her for a minute, or even less, to get the cause-effect put into her head.
~Meredith
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"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:27 PM   #4
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She knows what drop it means, she'll drop just about everything. The other day I got her to drop a pecan outside, which would've had her chasing me down to attack me 2 years ago. She drops balls, she drops paper ( her other great love) she'll even bring stuff up to me so I can tell her to drop it. She just gets these weird moods (for lack of a better term) where it's like she's a different dog. I didn't want to push her, bc she was already anxious, and the next step when she's like that is to go aggressive, and we've been trying to keep her from getting to that step, and to raise her threshold so that things that stress her become less stressful, if that makes sense. Makes me feel better that Shara does the shaking too, maybe Bit isn't just insane.
she already is water-bottle wise, and if you spray her, that's when she'd go from anxiety to aggression. All of your suggestions make so much sense,a nd would work with most dogs, but Brigit doesn't react the way other dogs do. Plus, I never know when she'll try to get at the cat. 39 times out of 40, I'd say, she'll just walk up to her and lick her face for several minutes at a time. Once in a blue moon, the cat flips her out. I was looking in her eyes, and she was relaxing with me, I was giving her a massage, and she just exploded. There was no time for me to get her to calm down before it got to that point.

I'm debating just trying to start teaching her to walk away when all the cats approach her, but the cats enjoy playing with her, and I think that if I tried to teach her to go away when cats approach, that they'd follow her, and that would stress her out more. I just dont' know. The weirdness is happening less often now, but we'll think it's gone for months, and then she'll flip out at something.
Thanks for reading my rant, it's just nice to know somebody's at least doing that much. And for your suggestions. Maybe canned air would startle her without setting her off?
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Old 12-29-2009, 07:35 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Shara View Post
I dont think she has a mental disorder, doxies are a hunting dog breed, and so she is triggering her instint to hunt/attack. She just doesnt know the cat is off limits.

I think you are feeding her properly and exercising her properly, so I do not think that is an issue.

Is she attacking to kill or attacking to play is another question. There are two types and doxies really are rough players. With Shara and Tyra now buddies they play HARD but they do not go into "Attack mode" And since Bridget is attacking a cat its hard to guess what the cat is interperting it as. Because cats like to play hard too.

Kenneling her would not solve the problem, but potentially make things worse, as you must face obsticals your dog has head on, and not avoid the issue.

Buying a muzzle also might be an option, put the muzzle on after she attacks the cat, would send a message, attack the cat, you get the muzzle put on. You would only have to keep the muzzle on her for a minute, or even less, to get the cause-effect put into her head.
It's not attack to kill, it's more like "you, get out of here NOW". I've watched her go for the kill, and I know it's not that. It's not play though, either. She doesn't wrestle with kitties like she does the boys. My husband just suggested it could be her guarding me. he says it's never happened when he's home with her by himself. Any thoughts on ppl guarding? What would I do to work on that?
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Old 12-29-2009, 09:06 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by CerbiesMom View Post
It's not attack to kill, it's more like "you, get out of here NOW". I've watched her go for the kill, and I know it's not that. It's not play though, either. She doesn't wrestle with kitties like she does the boys. My husband just suggested it could be her guarding me. he says it's never happened when he's home with her by himself. Any thoughts on ppl guarding? What would I do to work on that?

Tyra was claiming me/parents when we first brought her home. She would attack to maim Shara/Tayla. It was very serious. We had to kick Tyra off the couch, and muzzle her when she did it. We tried flipping her over but it really didnt click with Tyra.

As far as the diffrent moods goes, its her deciding its her turn to be the girl in charge, its not so much as pure dominance or pure aggression. Its a momment of when she decides she might be the one in charge.

Have you taught her to down on command? All my dogs have learned this, and will go down when told, it gives them a position to go to and its technically a postition of submission. It takes a long time for doxies to learn to lay down, a lot of my dog-trainer friends say its the way they are built (big bulding chest) but they have to do this in open comeptition (drop on recall) but this might get her undercontroll when she 'flips her crazy switch' it is also usefull when out in parks and such, and is impressive to just be able to say 'Bridget down!'. You can positive-only train this too, and even teach 'head down' from the down position...
~Meredith
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Old 12-29-2009, 09:16 PM   #7
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I do see an issue with the waterbottle.

If she turns agressive when you use it, thats her saying shes the boss. I wouldnt take that from her. Even though you might be thinking, she doesnt like the waterbottle, shes infact saying shes the boss. She doesnt like that, and you better quit. When you quit, you are letting her win.

If she barks when you bring out the water bottle, have you continued to squirt her till she stops or do you stop squirting her and give in.

As petty as this sounds, something as simple as this issue might be one of those 'momments where she thinks shes the boss.' It might be a weak link, there shoudlnt be something like an time like this where she thinks shes boss over you.
~Meredith
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"He is your friend, your partner, your defender, your dog. You are his life, his love, his leader. He will be yours, faithful and true, to the last beat of his heart. You owe it to him to be worthy of such devotion."
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Old 01-11-2010, 06:19 PM   #8
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More problems

Brigit snarled and snapped at Max and myself this morning. My husband just called me at work to tell me that she's peed on the floor 3 times since I've been at work (3 hours), and he's taken her out to pee several times as well. That makes me think she might have a Urinary tract infection, so I'm not upset at that really, but this snapping has got to stop. Max wasn't even touching her. I didn't even touch her. If she hadn't been in her kennel, she would've bitten me. The only thing in her kennel was her blanket, so it's not like she was being possessive of a toy/food/object. I'm just at a complete loss with her. It's like she's reverted a year in a day's time.

So I guess I'm starting to save some money to go to that behaviorist and hope that she can help me. I really like this little dog, but if she gets ahold of one of the cats, she's out. Or if she turns on Max, I don't think he'd back down if she all-out attacked.
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Old 01-11-2010, 08:39 PM   #9
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Brigit snarled and snapped at Max and myself this morning. My husband just called me at work to tell me that she's peed on the floor 3 times since I've been at work (3 hours), and he's taken her out to pee several times as well. That makes me think she might have a Urinary tract infection, so I'm not upset at that really, but this snapping has got to stop. Max wasn't even touching her. I didn't even touch her. If she hadn't been in her kennel, she would've bitten me. The only thing in her kennel was her blanket, so it's not like she was being possessive of a toy/food/object. I'm just at a complete loss with her. It's like she's reverted a year in a day's time.

So I guess I'm starting to save some money to go to that behaviorist and hope that she can help me. I really like this little dog, but if she gets ahold of one of the cats, she's out. Or if she turns on Max, I don't think he'd back down if she all-out attacked.
Urinary tract infection is a very good posiblity. Have her tested ASAP.
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