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Discussion Starter #1
I've posted a few things about little Prandtl now, but today she surprised me.

As some background, I adopted her from Last Chance Rescue a little over a month ago as a 6 month old pup. She was very timid and shy around me and my boyfriend for about 3 days. She'd follow us around to see what we were doing, but other than that, she didn't want us to touch her. It took her about a week to be somewhat comfortable, and now she follows me around all day and has gotten clingy. My boyfriend, Dan, on the other hand has had trouble bonding with her. Currently, she is fine with him when I am around (though still a little timid and will sometimes growl/bark for some reason), but when I'm gone, she just hides from him all day. And the weird thing is, he is around all day while I am gone for work 10 hours a day. But she is fine with him once he gets a leash on her.

Today I took her to the vet to get a bordatella shot, since we forgot to get it last week. Last week Dan took her to get a 7 in 1 booster and she did just fine. Today I took her and she didn't want the nurses to touch her. She kept hiding behind me and at one point she growled and snapped at the nurse. Eventually they told me to leave because it looked like she might be trying to protect me and they got to give her the shot (and she didnt try to bite/growl again). After that, her butt was smelling pretty bad (I forgot the technical term - anal something) so the nurse wanted to wipe her butt. I held Prandtl by the collar and put my other arm around her belly to hold her up, and Prandtl tried to get away and ended up threatening her by looking at her and growling.

As a few side notes, she is, on her papers, listed as shiba inu/collie.. but we really don't know 100% her breed. She does look a bit like a german shepherd though. We have worked really hard at socializing her since we got her. We take her to dog parks, we've started training at petsmart, I've taken her to my parents to meet my mom and play with her dogs, and we give her a lot of walks to get energy out of her. Also, if strangers want to pet her, we have them hold out their hand and wait until SHE approaches and we give them treats to offer. We also take her to the outdoor mall we have here. We have friends over sometimes.. and we have them ignore her for the most part so she is comfortable and they will give her treats every so often. So as far as socialization, we have been trying our hardest.

I've seen her get afraid, but I haven't seen her agressive, and now I'm really worried that it's going to get worse. We are doing our best with getting her around others, but I'm really not sure where to go from here. I don't really have money to see a animal behaviorist... can anybody tell me what I'm doing right/wrong?
 

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I wonder... do you coddle her? What did you do when she hid behind you at the vet? How did you react? Basically, do you think you spoil or baby her? Has anyone said that you do? Where does she sleep?

I'm just asking to get a better idea of the relationship between the two of you. The fact that the nurses at the vet asked you to leave and then gave her the shot with no problem and was fine with your boyfriend indicates to me that it is something about your relationship with her.

Have you tried NILIF with her? I strongly recommend you practice NILIF with her.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I wonder... do you coddle her? What did you do when she hid behind you at the vet? How did you react? Basically, do you think you spoil or baby her? Has anyone said that you do? Where does she sleep?

I'm just asking to get a better idea of the relationship between the two of you. The fact that the nurses at the vet asked you to leave and then gave her the shot with no problem and was fine with your boyfriend indicates to me that it is something about your relationship with her.

Have you tried NILIF with her? I strongly recommend you practice NILIF with her.

I don't coddle or baby her. I do the opposite... I ignore her unless I want to give her attention. It drives Dan crazy because he tries so hard to get her to like him by giving her treats and praising her. I have him give her the food and take her for walks because we've been trying to work on her relationship with him. And she sleeps on the floor in her bed (which I have next to my bed)

When she sat behind me at the vet, I admit I did pet her to soothe her (oops) but after a few seconds I just tried to move my feet out of the way and let them do their thing. But for the record, just because I was gone, it wasn't easy.. she still resisted a lot.. she just didnt growl/bite

I could go farther with the NILIF. While I dont lavish her in attention, I can't say I don't put my hand out to pet her when she walks by (shes just so soft :D)

If it IS a problem with her relationship with me, is there anything else I should do?
 

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I'm not sure it is a problem with your relationship, I'm just kind of puzzled. Hopefully someone else here will see something or have some suggestions. Frankly, it sounds to me as though you're doing everything right...

So, the only time she was aggressive is the one time at the vet? It could be that she was just afraid. Is there any other time you've been concerned that she would aggress? How is she at her training class?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
The vet was the only time she has been agressive. Usually she is scared and timid, but I never thought it would turn to biting.

I asked Dan the difference about the vet visits and mentioned that they had me keep her on the floor for her shot. When he took her, he said she was on the table and very well behaved. Maybe 2 strange people hovering over her was just too much to take and the table would have been less nerve-racking.

Shes ok in her training class. I really thought she is starting to make progress with strangers because she was well behaved during class and not trying to hide and she was sniffing people and other dogs without running away... she was even jumping up on another womans lap for a treat (I usually dont allow jumping.. but I was just so proud of her :D) it was just her going over the edge today that really made me nervous I was wrong and she was going in the opposite direction.

When she goes back in 3 weeks I am going to put her on the table and see what happens.
 

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Growling and snapping at the vet is not unusual (I used to work at one)..it's not GREAT, but it is not super bad either. I just wanted to point out that there is a WORLD of difference between a growl and snap and a BITE. Huge. Bigger than huge. Smaller dogs do well on the tables, bigger dogs usually better on the floor.

You say when you first got her she was hesitant and shy, she's a fearful dog and you are doing GREAT work. She's what I call a "slinker".

Some dogs are very "space sensitive", having a couple of vet assistants, the vet, and you with her in a small room where uncomfortable things happen is very stressful to a sensitive dog. Having her on the floor where everyone has to lean over her is setting her up to fail, miserably. Can you "pop in' for visits at the vet now and then for a treat only?

I would recommend you start working on a couple of things. Getting her accustomed to handling by feeding her at the same time that you are touching her ears, feet, belly etc while she is standing or sitting. Use REALLY good treats. Touch equals food. Use a mat of some kind that you can take with you to put on the treatment table (non slippy) so she is accustomed to being handled on the mat. This will help her associate the vet table/mat with being handled and with rewards.

Then, when you go for the next appt. take very high value food with you. It should be you that puts her on the table on her mat and rewards her. While the vet is examining, feed her constantly if you can, very small bits of the really good yums.

The last appt was probably a real stressor, I have yet to meet a dog that enjoys having their anal glands expressed and it isn't much fun for the vet either (STINKY) LOL.

Good luck.
 

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You're on the right track but, just a clarification on Socialization. Socialization is about teaching the dog how to cope with their fears...fear of new places, people, sounds and/or sights. Just getting the dog out and about helps somewhat but, what specifically are you doing to help her cope with known issues when you run into them?

As for the growling and snapping...from your description this sounds like fear...backed into a corner and felt threatened......aggression is something entirely different.
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Some dogs are very "space sensitive", having a couple of vet assistants, the vet, and you with her in a small room where uncomfortable things happen is very stressful to a sensitive dog. Having her on the floor where everyone has to lean over her is setting her up to fail, miserably. Can you "pop in' for visits at the vet now and then for a treat only?
I will definitely ask! They were very concerned about her behavior, so I think that they would be willing.

I would recommend you start working on a couple of things. Getting her accustomed to handling by feeding her at the same time that you are touching her ears, feet, belly etc while she is standing or sitting. Use REALLY good treats. Touch equals food. Use a mat of some kind that you can take with you to put on the treatment table (non slippy) so she is accustomed to being handled on the mat. This will help her associate the vet table/mat with being handled and with rewards.
She is actually really tolerant about being touched (at least by people she trusts). When I adopted her she was already okay with being handled so I never thought of reinforcing her behavior since she never acted negatively. I guess I also never tried to wipe her bum (I've stayed clear of that area and don't want to go near it unless I really have to, lol) I will start giving her treats and telling her good job.

You're on the right track but, just a clarification on Socialization. Socialization is about teaching the dog how to cope with their fears...fear of new places, people, sounds and/or sights. Just getting the dog out and about helps somewhat but, what specifically are you doing to help her cope with known issues when you run into them?
Umm.. kids always want to pet her, so I usually try to bring treats for them to give to her and I tell them that if they want to pet her they have to squat down and hold out their hand before I will even bring her near them. Adults I don't make squat down before we come near them, but I still have them hold out their hand and I give them a treat to offer.

She gets scared of silly things on our walks... fire hydrants, plastic bottles, etc.. and whenever I see her getting nervous about something I will stand next to it and wait for her to sniff it. When she sniffs (sometimes it feels like it takes her forever) I tell her good job and she gets a proud look on her face. She has actually gotten much better with inanimate objects.

I didn't really do anything for the vet... I'm trying to get better prepared for next time. I'll try to feed her treats when I am handling her and I will try out getting a mat.

Do you have additional suggestions?

As for the growling and snapping...from your description this sounds like fear...backed into a corner and felt threatened......aggression is something entirely different
Regardless, I don't want her attacking people just because she feels threatened. I'm afraid it's going to get worse as she gets older (the vet definitely repeated that a lot while I was there as she suggested I go to an animal behaviorist) and I want to do everything I can to stop that from happening.
 

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Any dog if feeling sufficiently threatened has the capacity to bite. Anydog.

You are doing a great job helping her get over her fears. Keep up the good work and don't give up, your vet is right but may have overemphasized it because most people just don't "get" that their dog has the potential for aggression.

So don't panic.

Take his advice, work on making her more comfortable in new environments and positively reinforcing each and every RIGHT thing she does in overcoming her discomforts. Work hard at not putting her in "over her head" too much..it's a fine balance between acclimatizing her to new and "scary" things and overwhelming her.

Learn her body language signals (the little ones) that can tell you how she feels BEFORE she feels the need to aggress. The vocal (growling) and the nipping are not the first signals given that a dog is uncomfortable, but many people miss the more subtle ones because they don't know to look for them. If you notice the small signs you can work RIGHT THEN on averting the issue by adjusting what you are doing with her, and not letting her get to the point of being frightened enough to growl or snap.

I don't remember if I wrote earlier about the website www.fearfuldogs.com you can get some great tips there and information on fear and fear aggression. You are not alone, believe me.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ok, I will keep working at it and keep a close eye on her concerning her "signals".

Thanks for the help!!!
 

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I'm a big fan of counter conditioning, and fortunately my vet is as well.

As far as your relationship, the biggest danger I see with fear is damaging the dogs trust in you if you try to force her too much to confront fear inspiring situations. Letting the vet do that might be best, better she doesn't trust him than you probably.

Eyes, ears, mouth, tail all show signs of stress when a dog starts getting fearful long before they act out. You might want to try your own "doggy" signals to the dog as well. Dogs are very good at reading humans. Here's a little start for reading..

http://www.neholistic.com/articles/0099.htm

http://www.diamondsintheruff.com/calmingsignals.html
 

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I think you've gotten some good advice here, and it does sound like you're doing a great job at the socialization. I am in the same boat somewhat with our 9-month-old puppy. Some weeks she does great, and other weeks - not so much. I completely understand about your not wanting the timidity to turn into true fear-based aggression.

I highly recommend a book by Nicole Wilde: "Help for Your Fearful Dog". She stresses densensitization and counter conditioning. I've gotten some really helpful ideas from this book.

One other thing, don't hesitate to find a different training class if you feel that you need a different instructor. We are beginning another obedience class this summer at a new center. I feel much better about the training methods at this one after attending one class there. I think we would be in better shape now if we had started at this center, rather than the puppy class we were in (at a Petsmart). It all depends on the trainer, I guess.

Good luck and hang in there!
 

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Just curious Sweet, what did the rescue tell you about the dog before you got it (ie with respect to its personality / fear problems)?
 

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I'm curious as to how far you live from your vet?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Eyes, ears, mouth, tail all show signs of stress when a dog starts getting fearful long before they act out. You might want to try your own "doggy" signals to the dog as well. Dogs are very good at reading humans.
I read what you posted and thought it was really interesting. Even better - I saw her using the signals when I took her to training! Thanks for posting this, I learned a lot from it. I learned more about her in an hour than I ever thought I would!

I highly recommend a book by Nicole Wilde: "Help for Your Fearful Dog". She stresses densensitization and counter conditioning. I've gotten some really helpful ideas from this book.

One other thing, don't hesitate to find a different training class if you feel that you need a different instructor. We are beginning another obedience class this summer at a new center. I feel much better about the training methods at this one after attending one class there. I think we would be in better shape now if we had started at this center, rather than the puppy class we were in (at a Petsmart). It all depends on the trainer, I guess.
I will try to find it to give it a read. And as far as the petsmart class, I think I lucked out with a great trainer. She cares for unadoptable dobermans in her spare time and she has for 10 years, so she's really considerate of our needs and gives us some advice. But like you said, it depends on the trainer. I'm glad I got her!

Just curious Sweet, what did the rescue tell you about the dog before you got it (ie with respect to its personality / fear problems)?
The foster didn't say she had any extreme fear problems, just that she had a problem with men. She told us she was very tolerant to touching and would do whatever you wanted (she showed us this by basically flipping her upside down). For personality, she told us that she was very cuddly (which she is) and a sweetheart (which she is when shes not puppy hyper).

She did tell me that her dog taught Prandtl to bark at men .. which is something we are trying to stop her to do because she keeps barking at my boyfriend. But she never said anything about her barking and growling. She only had her for a week though, and I've had Prandtl for a month and she's still getting more and more comfortable.

I'm curious as to how far you live from your vet?
About 5 minutes.... maybe not even that far. She doesn't get stressed out from car rides though. She takes naps or sticks her face out the window.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Since our vet visit, I worked with Prandtl and she was much better on our nd vet visit. I never ended up buying a mat for her, but I gave her lots of treats while I handled her almost daily. She was still nervous at the vet, but she didn't growl or snap. We also had her up on the table instead of on the floor. I wouldn't say she enjoyed herself, but I wouldn't say she was scarred either.

She is definitely coming along! Thanks again everyone for your help :) I just think this will be a long, slow process.
 

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Please keep working on the problem. One of the most important things I have read about dogs and agrression came from a book, maybe Patricia McConnell. Anyway, she said that most people think of fear and aggression being on a continuum with fear at one end and aggression on the other. She believes that fear and aggression are pretty much the same thing. In short, the dog becomes aggressive because he/she is afraid of something. The "something" may be a loss of status or it may be men with beards but the point is that we should treat it primarily as a fear response, and that certainly sounds like the issue with your dog.

I had a dog who demonstrated fear aggression and I still cannot tell the whole story but let me tell you that it did not end well for anyone. Thank you for paying attention and caring enough to learn everything you can.
 

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The biggest myth is that when your dog is afraid petting them will reinforce the behavior. This is not true, and there is nothing wrong with it. If you were scared of something and someone was right there saying, hey everything is okay, you'll be fine...your not going to become more afraid. Of course if your completely all over your dog when she is afraid thats probably not going to help, but a good girl and petting isn't going to harm anything.
 
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