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Everything posted by pansmom

  1. I mean, she starts barking in this frenzied scary aggressive way (not a high pitched fun play bark but a worried series of many barks, close together, with a growly tone), she may go rigid, ears back, and if you move toward her or in any way too fast she will growl or snarl (showing teeth) OR very occasionally if she really feels scared or trapped (like if it is a super new super strange sound or if you move toward her in such a way that it would be hard for her to get past you--for example, one of the front windows is kind of a nook and if she is at the window looking out and you go toward her at all she will feel trapped) she will turn and bite. The bites are barely puncture wounds. They break the skin, but just barely, she is definitely not TRYING to hurt us. But she is really freaked out. That's why it feels like an apology when she licks, it's almost like what have I done. See it just happened again, the cat was playing with the bottom of the stove (for the first time in months) and she freaked out and started doing the low growly repeat-bark. Aggression like this not directed at us is a fairly common thing. This was fairly mild so I didn't need the spray gun or anything. I just said SHHHT and got up and walked over to the stove, had her go into a down stay a few feet away, and threw her food every time I did the same thing with my feet. After about five repetitions with treats I desensitized her to it. She learned if she didn't bark she got a treat. Now she's fine with it. There are a few exceptions to this pattern. The first three are resource guarding related (which she doesn't do anymore), and another is half resource guarding half REALLY OVER THRESHOLDness when she went to intermediate training and basically got kicked out and told she could only have one-on-one sessions because she bit someone. But I will admit that after her freaking out over a pig's ear I was petrified when the trainer suggested we let strangers pet Pan. And Pan was looking at me during the meet and greet and she let the first person pet her very nicely (but I trusted her and Pan already knew her from the dog park), but the second person (whom I didn't know and whom I was petrified of Pan biting) she bit. But she was looking at me the whole time and I managed this very poorly because I *gave* her over to the trainer and was standing six feet away looking on trying not to look scared but so nervous I was even forgetting to praise her so... it was a bad situation. And she didn't bite that guy very hard either. He just shrugged it off. And on the third one-on-one session at the store, the trainer encouraged her to wander PetSmart on a long leash and she started approaching strangers and being very friendly. But that night when she came home she was nervous and that was the last time she bit me, one and a half weeks ago, at the window, when the FedEx guy came to drop something behind our screen door and I approached her to touch her back and tell her to settle down. I think so too, she's not TERRIBLE, really she isn't. She's just VERY spooky. The thing is she NEVER does this out of doors, when she's off leash or on a long leash (like a twenty foot training leash). Then she is confident. But indoors, that's another story. My husband simply won't trust her around kids. Also he knows how much work she will require as an indoor dog, and he knows I won't have time for that and children... Especially since I work, and he is really busy with his studies, only one year into a Master's program and planning to get his PhD... I still plan to try to get her bloodwork done. But tonight, an old family friend's father offered to take her on at his farm in Mississippi, where there are no children (except when the old family friend visits, at which point the dogs can be put up if they're around). He loves dogs, and frequently adopts neglected or abandoned animals. She would be an outdoor dog, but we are considering it. She could roam freely and hunt squirrels in the forest (a favorite pastime in the backyard). She wouldn't even be in a fence. (This is a secluded farm in a wooded area, miles away from the nearest gas station, on a secluded country road. There are goats and chickens and pigs. The goats roam free.) Also, he just adopted two abandoned dogs, so she would have company and feel like she is part of a pack. I honestly think once she got over missing us - so heartbreaking because I honestly think she would, she whines when we leave and she isn't allowed to come with us - she would be happier, emotionally, to be free. We are thinking about taking her there in a couple of weeks to see how she likes it there. They suggested we just leave her there if she is okay, but I think I would want to introduce her to them first and bring her home and do that a couple times so I would know she felt comfortable there and liked the people and other dogs (she will get along with other dogs if introduced to them properly). I feel like if we didn't do that she might just run away. And I think maybe if we do this we should reintroduce her crate before then and bring that with us... I don't know. How to teach her this is her new home? God this is sad. Anybody have experience with this kind of thing? I'd prefer taking her to a family that had experience with trying to cure fear aggression, but I definitely think this option is better than PTS. She is at heart such a sweetie. And so smart. I really don't want to do this but working with her takes at least three hours of my day, every day, and I am constantly wanting her to be something she isn't: a cuddly dog I can pet without fear that a noise or something else I can't control (or even overpetting or leaning over her the wrong way) will cause her to growl, a dog that will be okay around kids. And I know some people have said they're not sure rehoming is ethical in this case, but I don't really believe as an outdoor dog at a place with no kids she would put anyone in danger. She never like just runs at people she doesn't know to attack them. It's not in her nature. It's more in her nature to run up and bring you a stick to throw for her... Or lick you... Or roll over on her back... Or, when she's not confined indoors, or on a leash, to run away!
  2. Where does it say he will do that and how much it costs? Or do I have to contact him personally? Do you know someone who has used him?
  3. Actually, there are some predictable triggers, they're just not controllable or all identifiable: the ones that are left are sounds from outside, people or people with dogs walking in the front yard, the cats going near her while she has food or a toy, strange new smells from outside (especially of other dogs) on our clothes, the mailman (we pulled down the shades in the front rooms and that makes her less sensitive), barking approaching dogs (if they are just walking by onleash she is fine but if they are offleash god help us all, unless they are tiny dachsunds or corgis which she seems to have an affinity for)... Some of the triggers we've desensitized her to include sizzling food, the hair dryer, other dogs in neutral situations, smoke from food or boiling water... Once I found out all you have to do is give her something happy a couple of times while the sound is going on, I grabbed some cheez whiz and got to work. It's just life is complicated and ANYTHING new it seems sets her off. And sometimes we have no idea what has done it. The spray gun is the only thing that diffuses the situation nonviolently. I'm reluctant to stop using it even though it might give her a complex because all I have to do lately when she's freaking out is reach for it and she stops. I don't know. The problem is if we bring a baby into this situation, she could go berserk at all the new sounds and there won't be time to work with them both at once. A general note: one person did private message me and ask some questions geared toward the possibility of rehabilitating her. One thing that may be important to note is that when she bites she JUST BARELY breaks the skin. And when I tell her "drop it" she does. It's like she's not trying to hurt me. No stitches have ever been needed, nothing like that. She's just really freaked out and over threshold. She was taken away from her mom too soon so it may be as simple as lack of bite inhibition. We tried to help her with that as a puppy but it doesn't seem to have stuck as well as it mightve if her mother had taught her. The problem is she has a really strong prey drive and has killed squirrels before and sometimes growls and snarls at the cats, so I do not want her indoors with a baby around. And we have already put off our life plans for several months. Plus I'm thirty. And we're broke, except for our meager emergency savings which we have earmarked for emergencies relating to our future child... You get the idea. I love the dog, and I wish I could say I would do everything I could to save her, but my husband and I really do want kids so I am trying to be rational about this. We can't put off having kids indefinitely for the dog that maybe will, maybe won't, recover from her fear aggression... It sucks.
  4. I understood what you meant about the crate, incidentally. Before we put it up, we DID claim it. And she stopped growling at us over it. And she doesn't try to "own" anything in the house now. But we put the crate up because part of the program our behaviorist recommended was showing her that NOTHING in this house was hers, it was all ours to let her use anytime. Giving her things to call her own hade made her obsessive over them, so she suggested we put them up. OK, so now, really, BICYCLING!
  5. OK, I read this only after I just posted what I did, believe it or not. Read my last reply? I need help. If you're remotely serious, you might talk to your wife, and I can check with my husband and see how much we can afford. What do you think yearly vet bills and food would cost? Or do you think if you "fixed" her she would retain that behavior when moved and be safe around kids? I have no idea how that works for dogs. (See previous explanation: Pan is my first dog, and only my husband's second. I am trying my best. I really am.) Sorry, everyone, for being so desperate.... We will get that bloodwork done soon. And now, Pan and I are going to go bicycling.
  6. OK UPDATE - I have talked it over with my husband, and we are going to try to get someone to do bloodwork at a reduced rate, to see if there is any obvious problem that is fixable. But it will take a while because I am going to stay with friends for a week so she is going to stay home with my husband. But we have decided, since we want to have kids (we were actually going to start trying in January, right when all this started, seemingly out of nowhere), that no matter what, we can't keep her in our home forever, so the veterinary behaviorist is out of the question for us (especially since they wouldn't be able to cure her 100% guaranteed and they are so expensive and far from our home). In the meantime, we will try to get this bloodwork done and continue to work with her, nurturing the many positive aspects of her personality. At heart, she really is a sweet dog (she is lying at my feet right now with her nylabone chewtoy, the only thing in the house she chews). If anyone knows a rescue organization or a foster home with border collie experience that would like to see if they could rehabilitate her, after we have the bloodwork done, we would be eternally grateful. We would happily drive her anywhere in the country, if it meant she might be able to get help from people with more skills and experience than we have. We love her very much, but we worry that we aren't qualified enough dog parents to be able to read her body language quickly enough to understand and thus help shape her behavior. Also, we understand she might not be rehabilitatable, but we don't feel qualified to make that call either, this being my first dog ever and only my husband's second. In other words, we don't think we can give her the care she very much needs. If anyone out there with more experience than us thinks they can give her that care, one thing we would be willing to do, if you think you could help, but you already have too many dogs or only keep one dog at a time, is to take another dog you are fostering, who is more suited for a house with cats and children. I promise you, we are a very loving home and are willing to spend lots of time training a dog and taking them running and playing. I am a college instructor who has the summers completely off, and my husband has gone back to graduate school, so we are home a lot. And we both love dogs. Here are some pictures of Pan. Her mother was a purebred border collie, and her father they're not sure about but they thought he was part border collie at least. As far as her personality, her mannerisms, the intelligence, she's alllllllllllllllllllllll border collie. She does the eye, the silent stalk, she herds our cats (it's great, if one escapes into the backyard, I just call her and she comes running and I say "Get her!" and she herds the cat back in). She actually got BORED at basic training because she picked up every single command just by watching the trainer's dog do it once! If she didn't have this aggressive streak, or if we had more land and like sheep or something to keep her occupied outside, I would definitely keep her because she is SO smart and usually good natured. But our yard is only about the size of our house, so it wouldn't really help curb the wandering instinct. I wish we had ACRES! I will post this in the rescue and rehabilitation and adoption thread also with a link to this one. I know I am asking something difficult, but I would definitely be willing to take another dog in return, and I promise you, we are a very loving home. I really, really, really, love animals. At seven months, with me, graduating from basic obedience class Pan now - isn't she gorgeous? Pan now - smiling.
  7. Sorry, but you haven't seen the dog in these situations. She is no longer guarding ANYTHING from us. I cured her of the resource guarding and protectiveness of areas in the home through training (the kennel we got rid of weeks ago, so she wouldn't think anything in the house was her own--it really seemed to help, too, now she doesn't guard anything from us at all). I can tell her to get out of any area in the home and take it myself and she is fine. She asks before she comes into our room, she doesn't jump on the couch, she does whatever we say! She even drops things (food and toys, even her KONG which once sent her through the roof over resource guarding) and brings them to me if I ask, and obeys any commands I ask her to. The aggression that remains now seems to be fear-based not dominance-based. Her tail goes between her legs, she goes rigid, she is not confident when she is aggressive toward us. The solution is not as simple as you say at all. Treating this like dominance aggression, which we tried in the beginning, only made it escalate because she was way over threshold and confronting her amped up the fear that seems to be driving the aggression in the first place. (Note: this is a dog who was SUPER SHY AND SUBMISSIVE all through her puppyhood. During basic training, she hid from the other dogs under my chair and KEPT her tail between her legs and her ears down. She is only as confident as she is now around people and other dogs because we did a lot of desensitivization.)
  8. Actually, we WEREN'T confident they would work at first. At all. In fact for the first week she was AWFUL, awful, awful. But that was over a month ago. For the last several weeks she's been obedient. Sit, stay, down, rollover, out, move, left, right, shake, kiss, touch, heel, very obedient. Drop it, even, in the middle of a bite. The problem is she goes over threshold and then the brain isn't available to interact with anymore temporarily. Not to mention she has always been, yes, an assertive dog - although in some situations she is fearful too, depending where and when we are (around other dogs she is usually fearful and shy and UBER submissive - if aggressive, it's tail down, scared, ears back, she was petrified when we brought her back to obedience class). I guess the truth is she's neurotic.
  9. Complete physical it is. We'll see what we can do. I'll make the phone calls ASAP. And oh yeah, I used to get SO UPSET when she bit me or snarled or whatever. Now I'm used to it. Honestly, she's not trained to kill or anything. All she ever does is bite my hands and give me small puncture wounds. When she growls or snarls, we just spray her with the water gun and say "no ma'am." And when she bites, I calmly say "drop it," and she does. It's truly bizarre. ETA: Did I mention after biting or snarling she will come over with her tail between her legs to LICK my hand? Truly bizarre. God how I wish she could talk.
  10. Thank you very much for your advice, Ruth. It's tough to say what you've said, but I think I probably needed to hear it. I am going to call some regional CAABs and vets to see if anyone will do this out of charity or greatly reduced rates. My husband and I are both willing to make the drives, of course, we can afford the gas! We just can't afford any more multi-hundred dollar vet bills. But if no one will take us out of charity, and no one else comes through for us (we've contacted a whole network of people with resources), we will probably have to PTS, which will break my heart (it would be the second animal I've had to PTS in the last year - the first being an elderly cat who had metastasized abdominal cancer, whom I kept alive way longer than I should've before I knew it was cancer by handfeeding him). But I think you're right, it probably wouldn't be ethical or responsible to simply displace her. Probably she is too sick to be helped by something as simple as a change of locale. Medical care it is. Thanks everyone for your help. And I'm so sorry to be such a depressing post.
  11. I did, yes, thanks. She said she could look into some resources who might help us, but we haven't heard back yet. I just sent her a followup email today. I think she would've been great for just a regular dog. And what she told us to do really worked at first, SO WELL! I just think our dog is a special case.
  12. Thank you. I appreciate your saying that. I just started crying and she came to love on me and comfort me. This is all so sad and screwed up.
  13. No, she didn't discuss that. She wasn't a CAAB. She didn't even recommend the Quiet Moments. That was someone at PetSmart. The behaviorist was more like the do-it-naturally and don't rely on chemicals kind of person. I didn't know there was such a thing as a CAAB frankly! We couldn't have afforded to take her to New Orleans - we've already spent too much on regular vet bills and so forth. And my husband doesn't think we should charge anymore, even though at this point we are both starting to think she is sick and it is not her fault. Yes, I see, this is something different. Thanks for explaining. But New Orleans is almost 3 hours from my house, and honestly, we have already spent over $2500 on a fence and vet bills in the last year and simply can't afford anything more. There's no internal medicine here in town and nothing has worked. It's at the point now where the dog is affecting our plans for a family, putting us into debt, and biting us to boot, causing a lot of tension. My husband thinks she is sick, and either we find someone who can afford to take care of her, or we put her under, because she is too violent to maintain. Does anyone know any of these CAABs personally? Should I just start calling the vets around here and the CAAB in New Orleans to see if they will take a charity case?
  14. We have already seen a behavioralist... And we can't afford any more vet bills. Although we were a two earner family when we got her, we are living on only one salary and barely making ends meet anymore. Does anyone know a vet in Louisiana who will do #1 for free? Thanks for your reply.
  15. Oh, we have actually already done all of that. See the second to last paragraph. She doesn't even have a crate anymore (she sleeps in the corner of our room, if we let her in (she has to ask first) or under a desk in the dining room. She doesn't get to keep any toys on the ground. The only things she gets to use are things we give to her. She doesn't even try to guard anything from us anymore. (The mailman is another story...) But ever since she's been on NILIF, she knows better than to do anything to us. Now she is extremely obedient, it's just now we have an extremely obedient dog with an inexplicable aggressive streak. What she does now is growl/snarl at random times. Like if we lean over her, or something like that. Or if she feels threatened somehow. It's just, for a dog that loves lying at your feet, and then falls asleep there, she is often feeling threatened. To keep her from growling at us altogether, we'd have to disallow her from being near us at all which would totally suck!
  16. Hi everyone, I have a non-pedigree border collie whom I adopted when she was only 5 weeks old (taken from her mother too early due to circumstances beyond owners control). She was a great dog until she was seven or eight months old, at which point she began resource guarding high quality treats with great intensity. The first incident, she was gnawing on something unbeknownst to us beneath our feet as we watched TV on the couch, and my husband reached down absentmindedly to pet her, at which point she FREAKED OUT and bit him. Apparently she had the item in her mouth, hidden from sight, and thought he was going to try to take it. The second incident was similar. We stopped giving her those kinds of treats. She was in Beginner Puppy Training at this point and responding well, and for months she didn't have any aggression. During that time, we had scheduled to have her spayed, but she went into heat before the vet could get to her. After she came out of heat, we got her fixed, and things got worse. She began to be aggressively protective of many things: her kennel, her toys, her food bowl, everything. When my husband went to the inauguration, she bit me for no apparent reason (I think she thought I was going to take a toy from her). After that, we tried to get her back in obedience training (we were still doing obedience work at home, but thought maybe if we did something more formal she'd be less bored). But she aggressed another dog for a treat while there, and then later bit another dog's owner during a meet -n- greet. We took her to a behavioralist, who told us to run her like seven miles a day, so I now bicycle with her for about an hour, an hour and a half, every day, and I've taught her commands for left, right, stop, etc. The behavioralist also told us to put her on NILIF (nothing in life is free), put her on a low protein diet, and take away her kennel so she wouldn't have anything in the house that was "hers" to protect. We did all of that, also giving her walks at night and teaching her new words to keep her brain occupied (she now knows over 40 commands--she is WICKED smart and very eager to learn new words and things--I love that about her). Plus we put her on Quiet Moments (with tryptophan). At first she got worse (as if she didn't like this new development), but then she began to improve. We thought everything was going to work. For three weeks there was no aggression, no biting, not even growling. She got really obedient and devoted; she was a joy to be around. Things were wonderful. She lets us introduce her to strangers, trusting us to tell her when someone is friend or foe. She has been able to go back to PetSmart and play with the trainer's dog, even walk beside him nicely on leash. But now the occasional growling has come back, and escalated to occasional snarling. She growls in common situations that we cannot control, once or twice a day. Once or twice she has snarled at our cats, which she grew up with, making very scary sounds. (Most of the time she plays nicely with them or harmlessly tries to herd them; we are not sure what makes her snarl; she has never bitten them though.) Every other day or so she growls or snarls at us. During the course of all this, she has bitten me at least three more times. She breaks the skin. She doesn't just bite and let go - she will clamp down - I have to tell her to "drop it" (then she obediently does). But she bites pretty hard, and there is rarely a warning growl. It happens all at once. Sometimes she freaks out when people come to the front door, if another dog walks across our yard, if there is a strange noise in the house. If we spray her with a water gun, she immediately calms down (at which point we praise her), and then she comes up to us and licks our hands as if to apologize (!!!!), but it is impractical to carry a water gun around with you at all times. Also, we want to have children soon, and we are scared to bring her in such close proximity to them. I have heard a variety of things, from if your dog is a habitual biter, you should put her to sleep, to maybe your dog should go live on a farm. We live in an urban area and cannot adjust our lifestyle any further (I love dogs and love having her around me all day, also I love the biking, but we can't afford to move out of the city as our jobs are here and we share a car). I love the dog very much and don't want to put her to sleep unless it is clear she is ill and incurable. But we have spent so much on trainers and behavioralists and so forth that we can't afford to take her back to the vet anymore. We did that in February and he said she was healthy, but he didn't run any blood tests or anything. (We have to drive to another town for internal medicine. Our town is pretty small.) Does anyone have any advice? Thanks, Pan's mom ETA 4/10/09 - Additional information about how good she is being NOW for the most part in the fifth paragraph (the one beginning "At first she got worse..."), since many people seemed to think she was still a terror - I wanted to clarify, she is REALLY obedient now, she just has an inexplicable aggressive streak that seems to pop up randomly once a day or every other day.
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