View Full Version : Please help or dog may go back to shelter!
09-06-2005, 10:18 AM
I posted a while back about my mom's issues with her new shelter dog. He basically freaked out and spazzed every time he was on a walk and we were afarid he was going to hurt her or cause her to tall since he's veyr large and she's very small. They have been working on it and seeing slow porgress, but we defintely thought things werw workign out. He's also been attending doggie claess adn has had a trainer visit the house several times. My mom has been very committed to helping this dog, even through my dad's loss of patientce and as I mentioned, they were finally seeing small but defninte signs of progress. He was able to walk in a normal way 90% of the time, with only the occasional spazz. He also has a habit of occasionally grabbing hte leash in his moth during the freak outs and tugging on it briefly. We all thought this was a minor probelm compared to the rest but it was something they were working on as well.
I got a call form her yesterday telling me that on their walk the night before there had been an incident. She thinks he was attempting to grab the leash in his mouth. When he does this he sort of rears up on his back paws and spins to face the walker as he grabs the leash and she think he was just doing that again this time as well. Unfortunately, he got her arm instead of the leash and she ended up with 8 stitches.
She really wants to give this poor guy a good home, something he's never really had, and she was very committed. On the phone last night, however, she mentioned that she's just not sure it's going to work. She's an older woman and very small and she's afraid he is really going to hurt her, yet she still wants to give him a home and to love him. I understand her predicamant. He's really a sweet dog and is coming around now that he's been in a stable home for a while and he's starting to open up and be friendly to people and his manners have improved some, but they really need to get him to the point that he's not a danger to my mom.
Does anyone have any suggestions for a dog that absolutely freaks when he's walking? He's not sacred or upset. He looks happy and it seems like he just gets overly excited. We've tried a Gentle Leader harness- he yanked so hard that he broke three of them and wore the fur off his poor snout adn left a raw spot. We've tried stopping and making him sit at each freak-out. We bought him a doggie backpack. He's currently using a choke chain. She's tried having him wear the leash around the house or "walking" him on the leash around the house and in his own yard so it isn't such a big deal. Some of these things have worked a bit, but she really need something else. Any suggestions are more than welcome!!!
09-07-2005, 03:19 AM
Did the dog seem repentent after he bit her? What about a muzzle when he's on the leash until he learns to calm down a bit?
Zelda Von Yitz
09-07-2005, 05:36 AM
Has she tried bitter apple sprayed onto the leash? (spraying it onto her hands or her shirt also will help -- when he tastes the bitter apple he'll be less bound to bite whatever it is that has the bad taste and he's bound to associate the bad taste with not biting the leash)
Shaking a can filled with pebbles when he spins around and spazzes will help, too.
Have they also incorporated the NILF technique? "Nothing In Life is Free" -- the dog should learn to sit to go out, to go for a walk, to eat, to be played with, to be petted, etc. You have to show the dog who the alpha is in the house.
09-07-2005, 06:01 AM
Wow, that's a tough one. If she wants to keep the dog I'd second the muzzle idea. Also a choke chain isn't going to do much with a large dog and a small woman - either a pinch collar or a shock collar would work better.
However....does she really truly want an unpredictable dog around who may hurt her, others, or even a child?
09-07-2005, 07:06 AM
If he is not doing this aggressively, but rather playfully, then I think obedience classes could be a huge help. Part of our obedience class included walking the dog propertly. It really taught our dog that she had to walk by us and not pull ahead. It also taught us how to better deal with her problem behaviors.
We have a larger dog, too, so it was a struggle for me to teach her. Our teacher recommended to walk her with a training harness like this one:
It made the world of difference for me. It really allowed me to control her better while we were in the training stages. Then we upgraded to the choke collar and now she is so good she walks great on a normal leash.
Since you mentioned she was using a choke collar - make sure she knows how to use it properly. A lot of people don't and they end up choking or hurting the dog. If the dog is in pain, this could cause the dog to act like she did.
I think obedience class is the way to go. If someone could go with her at first, that would probably help ease the tension.
09-07-2005, 09:03 AM
Thanks for all the suggestions!
I called it a choke collar, but I htink it's actualy a pinch collar- it's the kind with the prings on it. She had her trainer show her how to pu tit on to make sure she's using it properly.
If she thought there was any chance this dog would hurt anyone or intentionally hurt her, I'm sure she would find him a new home immediately. However, he's great with people and his only problem is when he's on a leash, and even then, any damage he does is accidental, so she isn't keeping a dog that is unpredictable and a danger to anyone, except maybe accidentally to the person walking him. She certainaly wont' let any friends or strangers take him out on a leash until all this is sorted out so there is no danger. He's clearly had a very bad life at the hands of humans and he deserves a good home. He's not mean or vicious and certianly shouldn't eb destroyed, so he has has to live somwhere and my mom (and dad too, though he's pretty much ready to throw in the towel after my mom's injury, I think) really wants to take him in and show him a loving home.
Ivern never heard of "NILF" before, but he does have to sit before being petted, getting food or treats, walking, going outside to play, etc. He als has to stop and sit each time he freaks on the walk, but that's mostly to get him calmed and focused again. HE does have to stay seated until the walker decides to continue the walk, though, and if he gets up on his own and tries to walk, he has to sit again. THis works well at calming him, but it only lasts until he's distracted or just gets a notion to act out.
I'll suggest that harness. She tried a different harnes at one point but it allowed him to use more of his body when he was pulling since he could pull from his chest and legs, so he was c
harder to control. Maybe a different one would be better though.
Perhaps she should try a differeent obedience class? He's finishin gup his six week class and my mom says she's learned a lto about how to train him to do new "tricks" ( down, stay, etc.) but it hasn't helped at all with the big walkign problem. WHen they get to the leashpart of hte class, even the trainer is at a loss at this point.
I think the bitter apple on the leash is a great, simple idea and Ill pass that along. I'll also suggest a muzzle.
Has she looked into private obedience lessons? Your mom should contact her local SPCA/Humane Society and tell them she wants to work with a behavioralist. Have your mom tell the SPCA the specific problem and see if they can recommend someone. If they don't have someone, have her ask her vet.
09-07-2005, 10:13 AM
I think ejs has a good suggestion, about looking for a behavioralist. And I definitely think the muzzle should be at least tried, before taking him back. Some people might not like the look of it, but it's so much nicer to the dog to muzzle him on walks and allow him to stay at a good, kind home, than to have him going muzzle-free but living at a shelter!
BTW, does your mom have a dog park near her at all? Or access to a doggy play group? Because our boy Davey used to get way over excited when we'd go on runs (he bit my knee a couple times, when we'd see other runners/walkers), but he's calmed down dramatically since we started taking him to a dog park regularly.
09-12-2005, 04:19 PM
Is a behaviroist different than a trainer? He's had private lessons with a trainer who coems to the hous ebut it doens't seem to be working.
The good news is that my mom seems really re-committed to keepign him. THe whole thing had her quite shaken but she's decided she has to keep trying. The new plan is to walk him in circles aroudn the back yeard and eventually out the side gate and into the street. She takes him as far as he gets without freaking and when he acts up, she truns aorudn and take shim home. She said just casually transistiong form the back yard into the walk seems to do a little better than going out the front door, and right now he can go about oen or two houses before he spazzes. So his walks consist of a lot of pacing in the back yard and five or six trips to the next house or two and back, but hopefully he'll gradually work up to a real walk. She's also not walking him at all at night because he's much much worse then, likely because that's when he sees rabits and squirels and therfore he's much mroe overstimulated and excited.
She's afird to take him to a dog park yet since she can't control him if he has an episode, but she is goign to continue with the classes if for no other reason than the social experience of being around other dogs and playing with them during their free time.
09-12-2005, 05:20 PM
A veterinary behaviorist is a DVM with advanced training in problem behavior. They can prescribe medication if needed along with giving you tools for training. If it's that or the shelter I would try and find one.
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