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Lunar

O/T Continuing problems with Zeeke

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I am pretty much at my wit's end. Zeeke tried to bite me again yesterday, because I lightly touched his paw with one finger (trying to take a look at a crack in one of his claws). In addition to his possession aggression, he has severe issues about his paws, he hates them being touched. I did not get bitten - but only because I am getting used to this behavior from him and I grabbed him by the scruff before he could get around to get hold of my hand.

 

So today I am contacting behaviorists to at least get an evaluation for him. That much hubby agrees to. Hubby and I both want to have kids very soon - and I have some very serious doubts as to whether or not Zeeke would ever be trustworthy around small children. Husband believes that he will be the kids' "protector" and never harm them - I am not so optimistic. At this point I am really fearing that we will not be able to keep Zeeke and raise children at the same time.

 

I laid in bed for hours last night, crying over the situation. I don't even know if any rescue would take him, seeing that he has a bite history with me. My husband loves that dog so much, and as much as I don't really love him, it would break my heart to have to give him up. I never thought I'd be one of THOSE people. He can be such a great dog, he's made progress. We've stuck it out for two years now. When he bit me the first time, the second time, I didn't demand hubby get rid of the dog. I tried. I TRIED. I do NILIF with him, I do training with him, I am home all day with him. I tried SO HARD to bond with him. And none of it really seems to matter when it comes to his issues. I just can't keep living like this. And I certainly can't bring a child into this house when he can and will snap like that.

 

I really hope a behaviorist can help us sort things out. At the very least, maybe she can convince hubby that we need to find him a better home, one without small children, without a smallish, soft-spoken female who can't seem to get a handle on the breed. I really don't know if anyone can make miracles and "cure" him of his issues - not enough that I could trust him around a child.

 

I'm sorry for unloading this all here. I just can't stop crying.

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Update: The Behaviorist wrote me back. She said she'd be happy to work with us on his issues, and that with time and a lot of effort we could *modify* his behavior, but that keeping a dog with aggression issues is a very scary thing when you have children. Bottom line, she said she does not recommend keeping a dog with these particular issues if we want to start a family shortly.

 

Hubby is not going to like this answer, not at all. I think he's going to have a lot of soul-searching to do.

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Did you contact a certified veterinary behaviorist? Or a trainer who calls herself a behaviorist? I can get you a referral if you are interested.

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aw :rolleyes: I hope you can find something that works for everyone involved. I dont think anyone here will think you are one of "those" people. You did try, you have and still are trying. No one can ask for more from you.

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Melanie, a referral would be good. Hubby wants a second opinion.

 

Here's what the website says about the behaviorist. I was referred to her from a coworker, who also works at a shelter. (Whom she does evaulations for.) "Ms. Bollen has a Master's Degree in Animal Behavior and is a Certified Animal Behavior Consultant (CABC) and a clinical member of the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants (IAABC)."

 

Hubby is obviously not ready to give up on Zeeke yet. A friend of ours (who has a baby and a german shepherd) is telling me to wait it out, that Zeeke may be just fine with a kid. I just don't know what to think. I just know that I am very unhappy about everything.

 

I looked up the local german shepherd rescue to just even see if we had options. We don't. They don't take private surrenders, and on their site they said dog with bite histories should not be adopted out (because you are liable, and so is the rescue, if the dog bites again) and that the only two options are behavior modification with a behaviorist, or euthenasia. The thought of putting Zeeke to sleep just made me start bawling.

 

So I think at the very least we're going to be seeing a behaviorist and working with them to get a better feel for everything.

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Oh I feel for you, sweetie....hopefully your hubby will relate when he hears it from someone other than you. I know you have worked so hard with this dog to become his friend and yet he isn't letting you in for some reason. Hopefully you can reach a decision for the best for all of you and good luck on starting additions to your family!!!

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I know you have worked so hard and are continuing to do so... You should definitely have him evaluated by a certified behaviorist... Then, start your sole searching. I don't like that a behaviorist made intimations that you might have to give Zeeke up without meeting and evaluating him, but I wasn't on the phone - so I can't judge the conversation. Certainly though - you are not one of "those people." Aggression issues are a different beast - this is not your run of the mill problem - it is a scary thing, I know, because we have got some aggression issues too... We are not in the same boat, Wes's issues have progressed from issues with everyone, to issues with strangers - and we will continue to work, and when we can't go any further, we will manage the behavior - BUT, when he was exhibiting aggression toward us, I spent many a night crying my eyes out about what we would do with him. I feel for you right now - and want you to know that in NO WAY are you failing here... Sometimes the choices we need to make to keep our families safe are very very tough choices.

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Thank you so much for your reassurances.

 

I don't find it so odd that she said what she did. I really do believe her - that aggression issues like what he has (posession guarding and handling issues) are bad ones when you have children. That's been my worry all along. A kid WILL take things from a dog, and they WILL grab the dog's paws. Those are Zeeke's two hot buttons.

 

Making it even worse on me is the fact that hubby is away right now. We talked on the phone, but there's only so much you can do, and he certainly can't help me while he's gone. We're going to have some big discussions this weekend when he gets home.

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I don't like that a behaviorist made intimations that you might have to give Zeeke up without meeting and evaluating him

 

Neither do I -- red flag -- huge. PM me and I'll try to find you someone near you. If you're willing to drive to PA, then consider Karen Overall as well.

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natalie,

i was just curious if he has any aggresion issues with your husband??i have trained several gsd for police work and have found some of them to bond with only one person.most officers with these dogs had to crate them at all times when off duty.i pray you can work to erradicate zeke's problem. it alot of work!!!

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Originally posted by SoloRiver:

I don't like that a behaviorist made intimations that you might have to give Zeeke up without meeting and evaluating him

 

Neither do I -- red flag -- huge.

Interesting. Will keep that in mind.

 

i was just curious if he has any aggresion issues with your husband??i have trained several gsd for police work and have found some of them to bond with only one person.most officers with these dogs had to crate them at all times when off duty.i pray you can work to erradicate zeke's problem. it alot of work!!!
He does show the same types of issues - possession guarding and issues with his paws - but he has never snapped at or bitten my husband (he has snarled and thrown fits, though, like when we attempted to trim his nails). He absolutely positively bonded to my husband, not to me. I do most of the training with Zeeke, but it really doesn't seem to matter, he does NOT view me as an important person in the house - unless husband is away, then he does want attention.

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Natalie, I am so sorry to hear about the horrible dilema you are in!!! I so much hope that a behaviorist can help you guys out and work things out with Zeeke.

We all know how much you tried to make it work with Zeeke, and it is heart breaking to hear about his agression issues. I hope everything is going to turn out all right and you guys won't have to part ways with Zeeke.

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I just wanted to update: my husband did not like what the behaviorist wrote either, so I asked Zoe's OB trainer for a referral for a certified behaviorist, whom I then contacted. And I got back basically the exact same response as the first one: that, while progress can be made with aggression issues, a dog with these particular issues WILL NEVER be 100% safe around children.

 

Further compounding my frustration, my husband managed to watch an episode of Cesar Milan's Dog Whisperer on TV and told me about it. Now he thinks we can "cure" Zeeke - and he probably thinks it can be done in one 10-minute session. (BTW, what I just watched on this show? Is making me feel very angry. I could get into it, but basically I do not believe for one second that Cesar just "cured" this one dog's aggression problem, and I have no idea how they can morally make it look like he did. Not to mention they did two segments with that dog because after the first "cure" the dog BIT A NEIGHBOR. Yeah. Some cure, bucko.)

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His episodes arent "cures". I use the ceasar Millan techniques with Riven and its great. But it is by no means a cure. And, Riven has zero aggression, meaning, I dont worry about her biting me. If your husband or you tried to roll Zeeke or try his techniques on him, there is a great chance you'll be bitten. Ceasar Millan shows people how to handle the dogs, he does NOT cure them, and if the people dont continue on the path he showed them the dog will make zero progress. His show is just showing how to handle the dog using his techniques, it doesnt mean the dog is cured in 10 minutes. And, Im sure there will be a ton of people telling you not to use those ways with Zeeke. Im by no means a dog expert, but I do know Ceasars show, I've watched every episode (I think). Lots of various opinions on here in regards to him lol.

 

ETA: Does Zeeke go for walks much? Im wondering if he could have pent up energy that makes him even more difficult to handle for you. I dont think walks will cure him, but does he have an energy release outlet?

 

ETA more: Im sorry I keep adding, if your husband is wanting to do Ceasar and you cant talk him out of it, Miztiki would be an EXCELLENT person for him to talk to. I think she tried his techniques with Boyden.

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Well, the problem with Cesar's methods for us is that DH does not have handling problems with Zeeke, I do - so it would have to be ME doing it. And I do use different methods to handle him, and they do work - IE, to get garbage from him, if I walked up to him and grabbed it he would (and has) bit me before. However what I do now is get him to drop the item without me grabbing it - or I get him to move somewhere else (using my body to put "pressure" on him to move him around). It works well - for handling things. But it has not really changed his behaviors.

 

Hubby has always been fond of the old model of training - the alpha rolling and such. He compounds that by doing it very badly. He even talked me (who at that point was willing to try anything) into trying an alpha roll once - and I can't even tell you how close I was to getting bit. I have never - and WILL never - try that again. That was just plain stupid. (And no, it didn't solve anything at all!)

 

As to your first question, no he doesn't get much energy release at all. We still can't afford a fence to be put in, and DH doesn't walk him.

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Why would your spouse want to keep a dog that bites his wife(YOU)?

I do not undestand this seems strange to me! No dog can be trusted 100% to not bite a child.

Zeeke is a GSD right, Oh ya i am going to get on top of a dog that has bitten me .Not to be rude but whats up ! I can not in any way understand this situation at all.

Love is strange !!

bobh

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Originally posted by Lunar:

And I got back basically the exact same response as the first one: that, while progress can be made with aggression issues, a dog with these particular issues WILL NEVER be 100% safe around children.

I would be very surprised if anybody said anything else about him, or any other dog. First, because as bobh said, nothing is EVER 100% safe, and second, well, these are the days where people (successfully!!!) sue the whole wide world if they trip over their own feet and fall on their faces :mad: . Not to say that you're one of those, but any dog trainer saying a dog is "safe" is taking a big chance, I imagine.

 

It's your heart that will have to decide, but I feel I should at least tell you what my heart says: It says Zeeke should at least be given a chance. He might be fine with the kid after all.

Most of all I feel that way because he is an existing pack (or family) member, whereas the child is still "only" a future possibility.

But I know I'm more "dog-centered" than those who call themselves sane, and your values may be different, so I'm not able to judge any decision you'll make...good luck with it!

 

Btw, if your hubby's such a fan of Mr Milan, how about getting that dog some exercise!?! :rolleyes: It's what Cesar seems to preach up and down in each of his shows, and on that part I definitely agree with him!

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Just because Zeeke may not be right for your family, ie. doesn't respect YOU and may not kids, doesn't mean he can't live a nice life with someone in a diff situation. You can have someone sign a release of liability when you place him. Just because rescue won't take him, doesn't mean he can't be placed.

 

We adopted a very very fearful dog (didn't realize how fearful til we got him home) and he did fearbite my hubby on the 6th day we had him. Hubby was just trying to coax him out of hiding in our bedroom so he could go outside to go potty (i swear that dog could hold it for days if we let him). But as we have 3 kids, little at the time, the dog was returned to the rescue. He probably would have made a great and very loyal dog, but he wasn't right for our situation. Just couldn't take the chance.

 

Best of luck.

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RaisingRiver - I agree. I think Zeeke did very well with hubby when he was a "bachelor" for 8 months and would do very well in a different situation where there was no kids, and no meek little shy wife. :rolleyes: Thank you for pointing out that we could privately re-home him. We may have to look into that.

 

Sandra - You may be right about that being a disclaimer. *nod* Hubby says he at the very least wants to have a one-on-one consult before making any decisions, and I fully agree. I also do feel like Zeeke should get a chance. (And it's funny hearing the different opinions from dog and non-dog people. Non-dog people say, "Why on earth would you EVER keep it around kids EVER?!" Which of course is not exactly my opinon!)

 

I'm already starting to push the, "Well Cesar Millan says EXERCISE EXERCISE EXERCISE," to hubby. At the very least I can do that! However unfortunately the discussion did turn out how I expected it to be - hubby was like, "Well Cesar did it, so why can't we?" Oh dear.

 

However at this point I'm actually fearing for my marriage. Hubby and I are really at odds about this. We argue about Zeeke ALL the time, it's become a real nightmare. So we're going to consult a behaviorist and see if it changes anything for the better, or at least gives me hope that it will change for the better. Because currently I'm at my breaking point. Something's gotta give.

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Natalie, I really feel for you, I've been reading your saga, and you just have to go with your heart. When I was three years old I was attacked by my cousins dog and had 40 stiches in my face. So I understand the dogs and kids scenario. Before we took in Lilly we tried a foster dog, standard collie mix. He LOVED me, I loved him, however he did not bond with my husband, or my 2 kids at all. The worst part was when my kids would come bounding to me on the couch, he attacked them protecting me from them. I can't tell you the anguish I felt at that.

 

The deciding blow was a bite on Connor's side that broke the skin with a bite marked bruise. I had to send him back to the foster home.

 

That dog was a one person dog, and maybe Zeeke is too.

 

Also, have you experience Zeeke around children at all? That might help you make your decision, a dog that understands children will show you, if you know what I mean. Some people say that if a dog has not been socialized around kids before 12 weeks its really hard for them to adapt - though that's just someone's opinion.

 

Anyway, I don't really have any answers, I am NOT a dog training expert but I really feel for you, and its I understand your worries.

 

--Denise

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Hey Natalie,

 

I don't have any grand advice. I just wanted to say that I've been following the Zeeke saga since you guys got him. I have no doubts that you have done/are doing absolutely everything you could/can. I would say that it would be worth it to have an actual consultation with a behaviorist. I would even consider calling in advance and telling the behaviorist that DH is trying the Ceasar Milan methods on Zeeke. Maybe he/she can then back you up during the consultation (without saying you told her to :rolleyes:.

 

In regards to children. I have a 6.5 year old border collie who has been MY dog since college. She is very friendly to everyone but most of all, she absolutely adores children. She was never, I repeat, never raised with children and she has always loved them. Maybe you could find a dog savvy child who you could try Zeeke out on (with careful regards to the child's safety.

 

Good luck on everything you are trying. I know you guys will do the right thing.

 

Try not to let this do irrepairable damage to your marriage. Take a night and have a date, making a deal not to talk about Zeeke during your date.

 

Olivia

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Have you had a thyroid panel done on him? THere is a strong correlation between low thyroid levels and aggression.Jean Dodds has research on this- some of this research can be found in the first link.

So often aggression issues originate from an animal's body being out of balance at the cellular level....

Thyroid aggression

Thyroid

 

Regards,

Deborah

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I don't *think* we have had a thyroid panel done on him. I'm willing to bet that's not the issue, though, because he's only aggressive in very specific situations (posession guarding and paw handling). But absolutely, that is worth doing.

 

As for Zeeke around children... he's met DH's neices and nephews, but only once or twice. DH's newphews are twin boys, and they were about 12 years old at the time. Zeeke LOVED them. He ran through the house with them, cuddled on the couch with them, and looked at me with complete glee. The older, rough-and-tumble boys is absolutely his niche. Now DH also has twin neices who are now 5. Zeeke has been allowed to meet them on leash, outside. The girls took turns "walking" him (with DH holding the leash as well). Zeeke did very well. But that's the extent of their relationship, and the girls' dad does NOT like dogs (so would not be open to more, lol). Zeeke has never met a baby before.

 

Zeeke does love certain other people. DH's mom, for example. Zeeke worships her. She used to own German Shepherds as well (mixes, but still). She walks in the door and Zeeke practically grovels at her feet. It really was an instant reaction. But most people - including me - he just... doesn't react like that. His daddy is home now... and yesterday evening was very quiet and calm, Zeeke layed on the floor. I *know* that if it was just me who got this dog by some twist of fate, that I would have returned him ASAP. He is so not the kind of dog I like or want. I do not enjoy interacting with him (because the entire time I have to be "the big strong alpha", and because he likes to push me around).

 

I don't know, maybe I'm just being paranoid and over-protective of children we don't even have yet. But I'm also feeling nervous for *me*.

 

I thank you all for your advice and support.

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What about giving agility a try with you as handler? I know you were considering that a few weeks ago and I think it could **really** improve your standing/relationship w/ Zeeke since he'll learn to take direction from you in a completely new setting rather than your home which is obviously full of tension at this point.

 

I think it is *very* good that he's shown appropriate behavior around kids - that's one of the toughest things for dogs to adjust to imo. My girl is uncomfortable around large groups of kids, but if I am right there, she settles nicely after a few mins. It took a long time to get her there, but I did it since I didn't know what my future plans might include. It sounds like Zeeke is way ahead of my Maggie in that respect.

 

Do the behaviorists you've talked to know about Zeeke's experiences w/ kids? If they only know his reactions around you that could def skew their veiws.

 

Also, and I know this is tough stuff, but might it be beneficial to spend some time shadowing a good trainer in your area so you can work w/ other dogs and learn their secrets about projecting a more "leader" like persona? You know that dogs pick up on doubt and worry pretty easily, and I bet you're not alone in being unsure about your abilities to handle certain dogs and gain their respect. Being able to work around dogs other than Zeeke might just give you the confidence to work with him more effectively.

 

You have good skills with Zoe it sounds like, and an intuition about dogs that can be hard to find - perhaps applying these at a shelter as a dog walker or w/ a trainer as an observer as I mentioned above might help?

 

Just my two cents...HTH.

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Maggie - Thank you for your input.

 

Agility has been tabled because a behaviorist is going to cost a bit, and unfortunately money is an issue right now. But yes, that is definitely something that could help us out with Zeeke. I haven't given up on that idea, just postponed it for a bit.

 

Zeeke's problem around *small* kids is that he knocks them over. He's big and, ummm... spazzy. Large kids that's not so much an issue with, but he's knocked *adults* over before. So we are going to have more training to do in regards to that. (We've been working on his house behavior, but obviously, we have a ways to go yet.)

 

I didn't go into any detail with the behaviorists, I just let them know that we want to work with Zeeke and that his two issues are possession guarding and people handling his feet. When we have a consultation we'll go over everything, I'm sure. I'm going to let DH choose the behaviorist we have a consult with. I figure the better he feels about them, the more likely it is he'll listen to them.

 

I hadn't really thought about working with training. I'm not sure where I could do that. I do like Zoe's OB trainer, but I'm not certain how much they'd let me do. Without much experience it's doubtful they'd let me do anything at all. A shelter... maybe. But the shelters aren't very close. I was lucky to find a cat sanctuary in this area to work with. And you're right - after working at the cat sanctuary I feel MUCH more comfortable around cats in general. I *liked* cats before, but now I know how to handle them. (Though I still get scratched and bit on occassion, ha. Cats, what can I say.)

 

I love dogs and I love working with them... but I'm definitely most comfortable working with the shy and submissive dogs. Even to the extreme that Zoe is. Obviously I'm not perfect, I'm sure I've messed up with Zoe a LOT. But I feel comfortable working with her. (DH on the other hand feels the opposite. Zoe's submissive behavior frustrates him to no end and he really mis-handles her and makes it worse sometimes. Though that's not too often an issue, since she's *always* with me.)

 

Lots of good thoughts.

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