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Stress behaviors..?

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Dublin has been on his reduced activity/modified crate rest schedule for about 10 days now. He is miserable. I am seeing behaviors in him that are new and that I *DON"T* like.


He, for the first time ever, has become dog aggressive. Not to every dog, though. I took him to class last week and we walked into the waiting area, like we always do, and waited for the other class to come out. A fox terrier came out (female) and started to walk by us. Dublin lunged and growled at her. I didn't react right away because I was so shocked. My trainer - who is always quick to react - had the same problem. I took Dublin outside to wait while the other class emptied and Dublin lunged for the terrier again (though we were very far away at this point). My trainer (I also daycare and board Dublin with her) has said she never saw Dublin act like that before - he is usually the one to diffuse situations and initiate play with other dogs.


Once we got into the training center, there was another dog - a pit mix, male, fixed - that Dublin lunged at as well. Though this was also disturbing, my trainer and the pit's owner were not as concerned. Evidently this poor dog (who was really sweet and friendly) usually gets that reaction. They think it has to do with some subtle body language he is inadvertantly giving off.


Dublin was calmer in class, though not focused at all. He even went for one of the other dogs (female BC) that he knew when her owner was playing tug with her. It wasn't quite the same though - more of a "hey, stop that nonsense right now" kind of growl, rather than an "I am going to kill you growl".


Twice on walks he has lunged at dogs (both times Standard Poodles) and his car chasing behavior is getting worse (and we had been making progress).


I took him to an agility trial this weekend to walk him around and get him mentally tired (which worked) and to let him play with his pomeranian girlfriend (little dogs=low impact play, for Dublin at least). Again he lunged at 2 dogs (both Standard Poodles again) and a few times he lunged at some *very* slow moving cars that were leaving the trial. The faster moving cars that are his usual trigger, he ignored.


He has been doing a lot of stress barking and seems to be doing some excessive grooming, but nothing that has caused hot spots yet.


I never realized how much activity we usually did, because I always felt like we could be doing more - but as we were always busy, I never realized how much a couch potato life would drive him nuts! I have tried all sorts of mental games but he can't seem to focus - when normally he has great attention/focus. He has a very low frustration tolerance now.


I am afraid this behavior won't go away once we start being more active. These behaviors are so opposite from his normal personality.

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One thing you can do with Dublin to keep his mind busy and tire him out is to teach him dog tricks, and things like targetting to a particular target, and then he has to continue to touch that target with other things are options. Then you change which obstacle becomes the target, etc.

You can teach him to identify objects by name and giving them to you - even if they are only 6 inches from you. Put his toys in a box and close the lid, etc.

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As I understood it Dublin doesn't have the focus or patience for tricks. Can he play tug of war?

When Meg and I are housebound, (all you purists please go away) I get down on all fours and play as if I were a dog with her. I use a clean tug toy or plushie and we play tug of war and prance around each other a bit. You have to trust your dogs bite inhibition, but tug of war will tire a border collie out better than most indoor games. It satisfies that aggressive energy and channels it and gives the pup lots of passive exercise. -2 cents doesn't buy much but eventually a bunch of em make a dollar.

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Before I forget again, here's the info you wanted.




Boy acts just like you described when he isn't in close contact with other dogs for a period of time. He was like that when I first adopted him, showing a level of aggression, but there was also a whine and look in there that told me he wasn't a vicious dog or anything. If he's not around other dogs for a while then he'll do the same.


It's funny you mentioned standard Poodles. Boy doesn't like them and even growled at one on tv once!


I've found that letting him off leash with another dog(s) on a regular basis keeps this sort of behavior at bay. Maybe that's what's going on with Dublin?

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It's funny you mentioned standard Poodles. Boy doesn't like them
Perhaps that is because other dogs think Poodles are part of some weird religious cult, and respond to them the way humans respond to Hare Krishnas at airports...


Annie is generally good around other dogs; Missy, on the other hand, seems to possess a distinct dislike for Akitas and Pit Bulls.

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Tiga gets like this too when he hasn't been around other dogs for a while. The dog park is a 20 minute drive from my house, so we don't get there sometimes for a couple of weeks. He does get to see his rottie girlfriend way more then that. But when he isn't around other dogs, when we go to the dog park after not being there for a while he is more aggresive with smaller dogs. Now Tiga being aggresive is just him making more noises when he plays. He seems to have a particular aversion to hounds for some reason. Once he's been in for a while he settles down his noises and the more dogs there are, the better he is.


Sounds like it's pent up energy. I hope that's all it is and I hope it fixes itself when he is not on a rest schedule.

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Hmmm....what would you considered a while without dogs? Dublin goes to class every week, so even with his reduced activity, he is seeing dogs at least once a week. He sees dogs on walks but not to interact with, so I can see how that might frustrate him. He gets to interact with my brother's golden every once in a while too. So maybe the reduced dog interaction has something to do with it, and Dublin has a rather short "no-dog frustration" time?


Tricks are out - been trying that for a while now. Even getting him to do things he knows is difficult. Class has been more for me these last few times than for him. Just hope I can remember everything we did when Dublin is back to his usually attentive self.


He isn't even interested in food really. He has turned away from his food dish (even with stuff he normally loves) probably every other day or so. Don't know how much is due to the inactivity and how much is due to the hot and humid weather we have had recently. He is not a hot weather dog.


I can tug with Dublin (he loves tug) but only if he remains laying down - nothing that causes him to use his back legs for leverage. When the vet said this I didn't think too much of it, but getting Dublin to remain in the down position is *very* difficult!


I really hope it is only pent up energy and the frustration that comes with not knowing why his routine has changed so drastically. I can't wait until we can start being more active and I can *hopefully* get my sweet-natured, lovable, hey-do-you-want-to-play dog back! I get my foster dog on Friday and before this "rest" it never occured to me that Dublin wouldn't love having another dog here. I hope he doesn't take a disliking to poor Mick.


One thing this has taught me is a greater understanding of why people give BCs up to rescue. (NO, I am not even considering that! :rolleyes: ) but I can't imagine how someone who wasn't prepared for the BC personality - maybe only got the dog because the kids wanted one, thought the dog would be happy in the backyard and had no clue what they were getting into - would be able to deal with this on a regular basis.

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Bummer, Kerry.


Have you tried doing some T-touch or other pet massage on Dublin? I'm thinking that is something you could do with him lying down, and if it goes well at home, you can use it as a stress-management tool while you're out.


How long do you have to wait before 'normal service is resumed'?


Oh, and on the pitty, Akita etc. thing, I believe that some dogs - maybe Border Collies in particular - maybe not - can have 'issues' with these sorts of dogs because the picture they present is of impending or actual aggression (even though the dog itself may not be intending that.) It's a combination of the tail over the back, the forward leaning stance, the big head, shoulders and chest - all of which are typical of an aroused dog, and our dogs read it as such. Sometimes too dogs can have 'hard' eyes - without really meaning to, and other dogs will react to that.

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Yeah I was thinking that may be what causes the reaction to the poodles, as they are very upright standing dogs. Even the terrier, maybe.


We are on restricted actvity until the end of June, then we can slowly start increasing activity week by week in July. It will probably be the end of July before we can do anything intense like herding.


On the upside, Dublin was great in class tonight. He was boarded yesterday and today with my trainer bc I had a business trip. I got back in time for class and he was so attentive! I don't think it was because I had been away - he is boarded fairly often and loves it there - I don't think he even notices I am gone half the time :rolleyes: . I do think it had a lot to do with the increased activity of the place - interacting with all of the dogs (even if it is low key right now) helped to burn off some energy.


There was a thunderstorm just as class began and that worried me because Dublin gets freaked over the thunder - nothing destructive, he just gets very stressed and becomes clingy and drools/pants a lot. He did great though after the first 10 minutes. I have tried distracting him during storms before and it hasn't worked, but it was only the two of us. This time there were 5 other people and dogs which was a much bigger distraction. Unless there was a particularly loud crack of thunder, he forgot all about the storm - so 2 successes tonight!


It also gave me hope that his personality change is a temporary thing.


One sort of funny thing that happened: The storm started right before class - about 15 minutes before I got there. My trainer, knowing how Dublin gets during storms, brought him out of the back room where the crates are and put him in an x-pen in the training room while she was teaching her 7pm class. As the class broke up, I arrived for my 8pm class and as I walked in the woman who owned the pit said "oh, you didn't bring your dog - I wanted to see how they interacted this week" to which I replied, (having spotted Dublin at this point) "he is standing right behind you". She was so shocked. Her dog had been sitting next to Dublin for the last 5 minutes as she spoke with my trainer and neither dog reacted. She couldn't believe it was the same dog.


I had been dreading class after the way he behaved the last two times; I am so glad we had a good night tonight.

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Oh, that's good, Kerry. Very encouraging.


It was interesting about the pitty - makes you wonder to what extent we contribute by tension down the lead - even unconsciously. I'm sure I do - and sometimes I know I'm doing it. I read an interesting article one time about deliberately proofing the dog against the tension we put on the lead, given that it's likely to happen.


Luckily we don't get many thunderstorms here - I'm not exactly thunder-phobic - but I sure don't like storms. We did have one one afternoon when I was down the bottom of our 2 acre training field teaching a class. At the first crack of thunder they were all doing the "There, there" thing, since they didn't know any better then - so I explained about the importance of staying upbeat and asking the dog for normal behaviours like 'sit' and concentrating on the training. So at the next flash and crack, they did great - and of course, so did their dogs - they were amazed. At the third lightning flash, I said "OK, I think we might go in now....!!" I didn't exactly run back into the shed, but it was a near thing. :rolleyes:

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