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border aggression to teen age granddaughter


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First, I am new here, and I apologize for the lengthy post. My husband and I have just taken in a 3 yr old intact male border collie named Logan. We are having an issue with him and my granddaughter who is 19 years old and a dog/animal lover. Here is his history so far.

Bought as a pup for a man and his wife. Man and wife left town and left dog with family. A brother took over the dog, was very unkind, locked him in a shed, hit him, etc. First owner came back after a divorce, took dog back. A third brother moved in the house and started taking care of dog. Never much exercise. Left alone a lot. Then dog was left with the mother of these guys. She lived in a trailer park, was older, and dog did not get a lot of exercise. A granddaughter would come over and walk the dog, but he did not walk on leash at all. Tons of pulling.

 

My son lives next door to me and my granddaughter is dating the nephew of these men. The family asked if my son would board Logan because they had no where for him. The 3rd brother claimed to be owner and said he would visit weekly, pay for food, etc. None of that happened. My granddaughter loved the dog, had it sleep in her room (with door closed). He was friendly to both dogs residing in house, showed no aggression at all. He did not like being in the closed bedroom, so she started opening the door and letting him sleep in the family room with the big lab.

 

January 8th, my granddaughter came home, Logan followed her into the washroom. When she turned around, she opened her arms to greet him and he snarled at her. She did not heed the warning, leaned down to hug him, and he bit her on the lip, breaking her tooth, and causing 5 stitches on her lip. The dog showed immediate concern.

 

We now have the dog. I have had three issues with him. I tried crating him. The 2nd night when I went to shut the crate door, he snarled. I backed up and touched the crate door with my toe to shut the door. He attacked the door. My husband took over and I was very shaken and slept on the couch with my two mini aussies. He has not shown any aggression to my dogs. 4th night, I went to bed late. He growled. I turned on the light and called his name, and he settled. Tuesday, I was golfing. I fed him and then went to get my golf hat. When I bent down to get a walnut shell off his foot, he growled. I realized my hat might be the problem. I took it off and he was okay.

 

We felt most of these could be fixed, but last night my granddaughter came over for dinner. She is at my house every day. He greeted her at the door, then went away from her. She sat down on the couch near my little aussie and was petting her. Logan came up to her, she said hi to him, then he snarled. I was immediatly out of the chair and yelling no to him. She is now very scared and so am I. I am getting him neutered on Monday and scheduling a trainer to come in. Please help me to understand this dog and breed. I don't know if we made a mistake bringing him to our home, but he is really a wonderful dog. We have had dogs all of our lives.

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Based on prior physical and mental abuse I'd get a complete work up done first. You don't know what you can't see. Injuries that healed wrong etc....from there take it slow and learn his triggers. He's had it rough and is new to your home. Patience.

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I can't offer very much practical advice, but I just want to offer my support. It sounds like this poor dog has never had a reliable routine or a chance to bond with any one person before he was passed onto the next. Combine that with the abuse he's suffered and it might take Logan a long time to come to trust people.

 

I will say that dogs (and this breed in general) seem to benefit greatly from a set schedule/routine. They like to know what's going to happen day to day, what's expected of them and want to understand their roll in your household. This dog has never had that and hopefully your family can finally provide him with the stability he needs. Hopefully he will grow to trust you, but it may be a long journey and will probably require a tremendous amount of patience and compassion. All the best to you, your family and Logan as you move forward...

 

P.S. Did you give him the name "Logan" or was that the name he came with? If that's his old name I wonder if there may be some baggage/triggers attached to it (imagine one of the abusive owners screaming his name before kicking him). I am not an expert, but I wonder if a new name... a "clean slate" so to speak... might be in order. I'd be curious what others on this board think. I hope you'll get much more productive advice in general from others, but just thought I'd toss that idea out there.

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Thanks for the quick replies. We did take him in for an exam. He was under quarantine in my yard because of the bite. He just got off Monday and he went immediately to the vet. He was licensed on Tuesday. Monday will be neuter and microchip. This dog loves men, unlike my mini aussies. They gravitate toward women. He does obey me, but if my husband is around, I know I'm a poor substitute. However, I feed him when I feed the other two morning and evening. He gets a benedryl in the evening because of itching, despite deflea-ing him. I go out and play ball with him (he loves soccer) and will, when desperate, play with a tennis ball. I and my husband are also training him to walk on a leash. He is doing pretty good so far. We have taught him down, wait, and stay. He does not stay as long as I like, but we are improving. The name was given to him by the previous owners. He is papered, but they have been lost and I really don't care about that.

 

The big issue is the sudden snarling at a young lady that has been nothing but good to him. He responds well to Logan, and doesn't seem to cower at all when called by that name.

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Full vet workup (including a Hemopet thyroid panel).

 

Behaviorist ASAP. Where do you live so we can recommend a good one?

 

Less freedom, more control. He should not be loose when people who don't live at the house arrive. He should not be loose at night. Get a drag line on him. Start basic obedience and nothing in life is free. For now, use all positive training and don't use any corrections.

 

I see several mistakes people made in your post. The granddaughter turning around and opening her arms was a threat. Hugging is a threat and rude. Not surprised at all that the dog reacted badly.

 

You bent down and he growled. Another action that can be perceived as a threat. Touching his foot is a big no no for some dogs.

 

Don't yell at him for growling Growling is communicating. Never correct a dog for trying to communicate. Figure out WHY he growled and fix the underlying problem.

 

Start here for some good articles, but get him to a behaviorist ASAP.

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Please see a behaviorist. A lot of trainers will see this as a dominance issue, and try very harsh techniques that will probably back fire. None of us have seen Logan, but your description sounds to me like he is a very fearful dog who has been handled very roughly and inconsistently.

 

If he does better with men, consider having your husband interact with him more. Good luck, and thanks for taking him in.

 

Ruth and Agent Gibbs

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I read all posts before replying myself. I would have written just what Liz P did.

 

Definitely have a blood sample sent to Dr. Dodds at Hemopet. Low thyroid is linked to aggression.

 

And, yes, you describe situations that can appear very threatening to a dog, especially one that has experienced abuse. I'd be very careful making sudden movements around him, especially ones involving open arms, bending down or unusual things like hats that he's not used to.

 

I suspect this dog will need to detox from his previous experiences and unsettled life with people. And I'm with Camden's Mom. New life, new name. Especially when the previous life left a lot to be desired.

 

Thanks for adopting him, and thanks for caring enough about him to want to help him get over his fears and defensive behavior!

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I don't have a lot to add, except to say that I commend you for taking on this poor damaged boy. He's had a very hard start in life and I think it's wonderful you're willing to take him on.

He IS going to be a lot of work, and I just want to offer a couple of thoughts. One, remember that although you know you're going to give him a safe, happy, fullfiled life and he's all safe and secure now .... he does NOT know that. All he knows is what he's experienced, and that tells him that humans are risky creatures.

Two: it might help to kind of think of him as having PTSD. Just like a person who has survived war or other violent trauma may suffer emotional scars and have strange reactions to seemingly "normal" situations, so your dog undoubtedly has triggers of his own. You don't know what people have done to him, and things you see as perfectly ordinary may remind him of fear and pain.

I see a common thing in the incidents you describe: people were bending over or towards him. For all you know, people bending over may have meant someone was going to grab and torment him. Leaning over him, towering over him, grabbing or hugging him may all be fear triggers because they could remind him of things those people did to him. Even your movement in the dark may have tripped a fear trigger in him. You just can't know what people did. So, although your granddaughter meant to offer a hug and you only meant to close a crate door or pick something off his foot, he might have flashed back to incidents that were scary and painful.

You've got some good advice and information here and I'm sure you'll get more. But thinking of him as a veteran of violence may help you learn and understand his triggers a little better..

I do wish you luck and I think with the right guidance and lots of patience and care, you'll be able to help this poor boy bloom into the dog he would really rather be. :) Best of luck!

~ Gloria

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PTSD is recognized in dogs. I have one who was diagnosed after surviving two attacks by other dogs. It is just like living with a war veteran. There are flashbacks, nightmares, unexplained anxieties, etc. Mine is on several meds to control his anxiety. Thankfully the nightmares and flashbacks are much less frequent, but you never know when he will have a panic attack.

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Not much to add, but be sure to check out these stories for inspiration:

 

Kelso:

http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=31080&hl=kelso&page=1

 

Dexter:

http://www.bordercollie.org/boards/index.php?showtopic=35956&page=1

 

Dexter is still work in progress, but I absolutely love to read how his owner is working so hard to rehabilitate this wonderful dog. One of my favorite threads on the Internet. Period.

 

Good luck with your dog! I'm sure that inside that abused shell is a wonderful dog waiting to come out! Don't give up!

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I have a trainer/behaviorist coming tomorrow. He seems very knowledgeable and comes recommended. His questions about Logan and the other two dogs are very good and we will know more tomorrow. My granddaughter will be able to be present at least for part of the session. So, wish us luck. This will be the first session and will be about 90 minutes.

 

I would like to know what you think about timing for the sessions. One person I contacted said at least 2 1/2 to 3 hours for the first session. I didn't think I WOULD last that long, let alone the dog. This person said maximum 1 1/2 and later sessions about 1 hour unless he felt differently. He does not set time or specifics until he meets the dogs and determines what to do.

 

I will post our progress tomorrow, and Monday he gets neutered.

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Contact the VETERINARY behaviorist. You will end up spending a whole lot less money for better results in the long run. They generally offer free follow up advice via e-mail and phone. I worry about non veterinary behaviorists because there is no certification or standard for them.

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Again, what Liz said.

 

And I wouldn't count on neutering making any difference. I strongly suspect this is more a PTSD type thing (Thanks, Liz, for verifying that PTSD is a legitimate canine diagnosis) than it is hormonal.

 

Best wishes on your journey with this dog.

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I have a trainer/behaviorist coming tomorrow. He seems very knowledgeable and comes recommended. His questions about Logan and the other two dogs are very good and we will know more tomorrow. My granddaughter will be able to be present at least for part of the session. So, wish us luck. This will be the first session and will be about 90 minutes.

 

I would like to know what you think about timing for the sessions. One person I contacted said at least 2 1/2 to 3 hours for the first session. I didn't think I WOULD last that long, let alone the dog. This person said maximum 1 1/2 and later sessions about 1 hour unless he felt differently. He does not set time or specifics until he meets the dogs and determines what to do.

 

I will post our progress tomorrow, and Monday he gets neutered.

 

 

When my dog saw the veterinary behaviorist it was a 2 hr consult. I got a lot of email and phone follow up for several weeks, there no extra charge. We had one follow up visit for 1 hour. Once we were happy with the results of treatment he transferred care back to my regular vet.

 

Let me 3rd (4th, 5th?) the recommendation for a VET behaviorist. I would bet there is one at UCDavis.

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PTSD is very different than just "abused" or under socialized. It is a recognizable disorder with specific elements and behavioral problems. It also requires just the right circumstances to develop (for example, a traumatic event as a pup or unstable upbringing plus a trigger even as an adolescent). Read about human PTSD for an idea of what you go through with a dog.

 

http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/PTSD-overview/dsm5_criteria_ptsd.asp

 

For example, my dog Sage..

 

Criterion A:

 

Attacked twice by other dogs without provocation. First incident as a pup; dog rushed him, grabbed him by the neck and chest and bit down/shook until he turned blue. Second incident he was 14 months old; dog set loose, ran over, grabbed him by the neck, pinned him and wouldn't let go (had to be pried off by several people). Sage was left with abrasions, puncture wounds and a bruised trachea.

 

Criterion B:

 

Flashbacks. He would scream, pee himself and bite me if I touched his neck when he wasn't expecting it.

 

Nightmares. He would often wake up screaming in the middle of the night. One time he woke up and attacked me in the midst of the nightmare.

 

Intense and prolonged stress. Yes. :(

 

Marked physiological reactivity. Will urinate, blow his anal glands, scream, foam at the mouth, etc when exposed to certain triggers.

 

Criterion C:

 

Went months refusing to go outside, sometimes even refusing to leave his crate. Would not engage in play and did not seek affection.

 

Criterion D:


Sage definitely has a "the sky is falling" attitude.

 

Harder to judge some others because he can't talk, but he had a diminished interest in life. He dropped more than half his body weight and had to be drugged just to get him to eat.

 

Criterion E:

 

  1. Irritable or aggressive behavior
  2. Self-destructive or reckless behavior
  3. Hypervigilance
  4. Exaggerated startle response
  5. Problems in concentration
  6. Sleep disturbance

All of the above. It's much better, but was exhausting to deal with.

 

Criterion F:

 

The severe stage lasted for years and he still hasn't gone back to his "old self."

 

Criterion G:

 

Yes, difficulty concentrating on work (sheep).

 

Criterion H:

 

Yes.

 

The good news is that he has recovered enough to compete in sheep dog trials. I burst into tears of joy last year when he finished his very first run at a trial. I never thought I would see the day because he used to be so fearful. The bad news is, he will never be a normal dog.

 

ETA, here is my special boy at a trial. He tries so hard for me.

 

SAge44_zps7a916cac.jpg

 

Sage34_zps20c1806f.jpg

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Sounds like the gentleman you have coming in is someone you feel comfortable doing an initial consultation with but I just wanted to say this one thing...

 

If the trainer you bring into your home starts to excessively throw around the word "dominance" as an explanation of Logan's behaviors, OR if he suggests physically/mental threats to change the dog's behavior (i.e. leash popping, staring the dog down, alpha rolls, harsh verbal or physical corrections, etc.) kindly show him the door. Even as a novice dog owner I can assure you a trainer who works in this style is the exact opposite of what Logan needs right now. No need to be rude about it, simply thank him for his time and send him on his way.

 

Having said that, I hope he turns out to be a wonderful trainer and that you begin making positive progress with Logan as of today! I hope the initial session goes well and we're all rooting for you and your pup!

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Thanks so much. I am starting with this guy for several reasons. His website talks at length about positive reinforcement and nothing physical that will hurt the dog. On the phone I really liked his attitude and questions. He does not use so called training collars. He uses a rolled leather collar up around the top of neck, which is what was recommended for my aussie years ago. Not sure about that, but we will see.

 

He works on an hourly rate, which I felt good about not shelling out tons of money until I was sure I was happy with the person. All others wanted from $600 to $1200 up front. They had "lifetime guarantees", etc., but that is meaningless to me if their methods don't work. We will follow your suggestions about leash popping, staring dog down, etc. I really appreciate it.

 

He is coming to our house and working with the dogs (all of them) here. And, he has come with personal recommendations so I think he is a good starting point. I will contact UC Davis and see about an appointment. My personal experiences with UC Davis (and I have had many) are extreme cost, wait delay to get non-emergency appointments, and aggression from some of the vets as to surgery.

 

We are on a budget, so some things are just out of our reach. But I promise, I will call, and if they can give me a consult at a reasonable cost, I will go through with that. So, today, we will see what will happen.

 

Thanks again. I am appreciating all of the input. It is so nice to have somewhere to ask questions about this wonderful dog.

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I paid $250 for a behavior appointment at Tufts and about $150 six months later for the follow up appointment. For $400 I got a treatment plan, training plan and year of phone calls and e-mail support. Worth every penny. (This was 6 years ago, so prices have likely gone up!)

 

You will find the experience with a behavior vet is generally very different than with a surgeon. Surgeons are their own special breed. ^_^

 

For a dog like yours, any correction, no matte how benign it seems, can potentially set you way back.

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Just a quick update before trainer gets here. I called UC Davis. The cost for the behaviorist is $500. That includes a 1 1/2 hr to 2 hr visit, followed by 3 months of phone calls. A followup visit is scheduled after 3 months. That was not included, I think. Also no appts for over 2 weeks are available.

 

I REALLY hope Jaime (trainer/behaviorist) works out. But, if it doesn't, UC Davis will be our next stop. Logan is out in the back yard right now playing. He and Ruger (mini boy aussie) played out there for a while. It was good to see. I need to get over my fear of the little one getting hurt. That's my fault. Ella (girl aussie) jumped on my lap this morning and Logan came over to say hi. I could feel myself stiffen up and tried to relax and watch Ella's mouth (as she has snapped at him before when he invaded her space). Nothing happened. Sniffed, nose to nose, then Logan laid down. He also tried to engage in a couch play first thing this am. I let him and nothing happened, but I redirected him outside after just a short time so it wouldn't get out of hand. They were all happy.

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