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My six year old labrador/mastiff mix had an episode yesterday with my dad. She was getting in the garbage and my dad came in the room, raised his voice, and moved toward her. She was in a corner and she made a noise that I've NEVER heard her make. It was a frantic, higher pitched bark that didn't sound like her at all. To the point where I thought another dog was in the house. It was bizarre. I use the word attack in quotations because she didn't make contact and I don't even know if she lunged at him - it was definitely a warning. But either way, she acted in a way that she's never acted. She loves my dad. He's one of her caretakers and I often jokes that she loves him more than me. However, she's also more scared of my dad. She'll sometimes cower or roll over if he raises his voice or moves too quickly toward her. I told him that it sounds like he scared her and her flight/fight response kicked in and she couldn't escape. Do y'all think that's an accurate assessment? Should I be concerned? I've never had a dog respond this way. And since then she seems to be fine. He says she acted guilty afterward. I'll definitely keep an eye on her - but this dog is the biggest sissy ever so this is completely out of character.
 

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My six year old labrador/mastiff mix had an episode yesterday with my dad. She was getting in the garbage and my dad came in the room, raised his voice, and moved toward her. She was in a corner and she made a noise that I've NEVER heard her make. It was a frantic, higher pitched bark that didn't sound like her at all. To the point where I thought another dog was in the house. It was bizarre. I use the word attack in quotations because she didn't make contact and I don't even know if she lunged at him - it was definitely a warning. But either way, she acted in a way that she's never acted. She loves my dad. He's one of her caretakers and I often jokes that she loves him more than me. However, she's also more scared of my dad. She'll sometimes cower or roll over if he raises his voice or moves too quickly toward her. I told him that it sounds like he scared her and her flight/fight response kicked in and she couldn't escape. Do y'all think that's an accurate assessment? Should I be concerned? I've never had a dog respond this way. And since then she seems to be fine. He says she acted guilty afterward. I'll definitely keep an eye on her - but this dog is the biggest sissy ever so this is completely out of character.
No offence or anything, but you have a 6 year old dog that goes in the garbage? Omg, I would fix that in 5 minutes.

Sounds like the dog was resource guarding your garbage lol.
 

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No offence or anything, but you have a 6 year old dog that goes in the garbage? Omg, I would fix that in 5 minutes.

Sounds like the dog was resource guarding your garbage lol.
If you have to start a reply with "no offense", then it's probably best left unsaid.
 

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Has she ever shown any signs of resource guarding in the past? Have there been other behavior changes recently?

Six can be considered a senior dog for giant breeds - an I assume she's in the large-to-giant range given her breed mix. It may be worth getting her a veterinary exam with full bloodwork to make sure nothing's going on medically that could change her behavior. Even if there's no obvious illness or pain issue, older dogs can experience loss of senses just like humans, and if she can't see, smell, and/or hear as well as she used to, your dad might have really spooked her. There's also the possibility of Canine Cognitive Dysfunction - essentially the dog equivalent of dementia in humans - but I'd rule out other possibilities first, unless you've been noticing a pattern of strange behavior.

In the meantime, I would manage her so your dad isn't put in the position where he feels he has to raise his voice at her. Things like keeping her confined to a dog-safe space when you can't supervise her and making sure tempting things are put away or locked up so she can't get to them. If she's dealing with a medical issue that makes her more unpredictable (think about how being injured/in pain or sick can make most people extra cranky and quick to lash out), she may eventually feel that she has to make contact to protect herself, which will make the whole situation way worse for everyone involved.
 

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My six year old labrador/mastiff mix had an episode yesterday with my dad. She was getting in the garbage and my dad came in the room, raised his voice, and moved toward her. She was in a corner and she made a noise that I've NEVER heard her make. It was a frantic, higher pitched bark that didn't sound like her at all. To the point where I thought another dog was in the house. It was bizarre. I use the word attack in quotations because she didn't make contact and I don't even know if she lunged at him - it was definitely a warning. But either way, she acted in a way that she's never acted. She loves my dad. He's one of her caretakers and I often jokes that she loves him more than me. However, she's also more scared of my dad. She'll sometimes cower or roll over if he raises his voice or moves too quickly toward her. I told him that it sounds like he scared her and her flight/fight response kicked in and she couldn't escape. Do y'all think that's an accurate assessment? Should I be concerned? I've never had a dog respond this way. And since then she seems to be fine. He says she acted guilty afterward. I'll definitely keep an eye on her - but this dog is the biggest sissy ever so this is completely out of character.
Yes, I think from what you describe that your dog was cornered and responded with fear. there's no indication in that that your dog is dangerous to your dad.

What you need to be concerned about is your dad's behavior, not the dog's. Your dad would be very well advised to be softer and quieter when around the dog so as not to provoke such a response again from a dog who is already afraid of him. this is on your dad, not on the dog.

Also, your dog was NOT "acting guilty". that is a fallacy perpetuated by people who scare or threaten their dogs and then post videos of their dogs showing fear and call it "guilty".
dogs do not feel guilty. Period. What you see when a dog acts like that is fear of punishment of some kind, or of being sent away from the people, or another unpleasant thing.
Your dog was continuing to show fear. Even though she loves your dad, it is clear that she is also afraid of him. the two are not mutually exclusive. Please ask your dad to be quieter and more gentle when he is around the dog. It will pay off well if he does, and could lead to a worse event if he does not.
 

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I'll add that your dad should talk more to the dog. It doesn't have to be anything particular, just common conversational snippets throughout the day. Like "how about I make lasagna for dinner" and going on to talk about the ingredients, or "well that was a stupid show" or identify the mail, and so on. And when he gets up or comes into the room with her, announce himself. Do it in a gentle voice. This can help a lot to ease her fear of him as she gets used to his conversational and not just his "loud voice" and it prevents him from accidentally sneaking up on her.

P.S. Dog do most likely feel guilt, but it will not be over things that we deem inappropriate like chewing up a shoe or getting into the garbage. And it won't be that look that we see people say is a guilty look. A study, often misquoted as saying dogs don't feel guilt, actually determined that people are lousy at reading dog body language and read "guilt" when the dog is displaying fear of punishment as mentioned above.

If you've ever watched two dogs playing and one dog bites too hard, the other dog may snap or yelp. The dog that bit too hard will immediately start licking at the first's mouth - that is most likely dog guilt.
 

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I agree that as a large/giant breed mix, it's possible that she might be experiencing some cognitive decline or physical issue, and that a vet check is in order.

As far as her "acting guilty", what most people interpret as a dog acting guilty is actually a dog desperate to defuse a situation where they feel uncomfortable, and showing what are called appeasement or calming signals.

Getting a dog-proof trash can (I'm on my second Simple Human after nearly 20 years with the first) would be a good idea, since eating garbage can lead to GI upset or even obstruction or bowel perforations.

No offence or anything, but you have a 6 year old dog that goes in the garbage? Omg, I would fix that in 5 minutes.
As mentioned, when people start a sentence with "no offence...." they usually intend to offend.
 

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How often is dad around ? I need my dogs to respond to family members in the same manner as they respond to me. My approach is to show the dog that. One of the ways this is accomplished:

1. Everyone feeds the dog ... in the wild, there's a herarchy, the one who provides the food establishes control over the dog.
2. Everyone takes the dog out, tells the dog to get off the couch, stop barking whatever.,,, the dog recognizes that.
3. two things happened in your instance a) your dog thought he was being attacked and b) you weren't there to provide protection.
4. If you are the one that is providing the training,you should be there when family members are doing the same. Dog needs to see that you at the family member are on the same page.
5. Has the dog done this before ? What was your response ? A common response for example might be call the dog to your side, pick up the garbage and wave it around in front of them allowing them to smell it and scolding the dog, ending with a time out. If its reluctant,I will go to her and do the same ... but anything physical with a dog in the corner is likely to evoke an undesired response.
6. If Dad is a frequent presence let him do some reeard training too,establishing him as above in the heirarchy. Then also on the other side, providing discipline when necessary and echoing a behavior that he / she is already used to.
 

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1. This is untrue. Heirarchy in wolves is different than with dogs. And feral and street dogs vary not only from each other, but between packs and individual dogs AND between an individual group's actions. For example, which dog leads a hunt will vary. And while a mom may "be in charge" at the maternal den, one of the other dogs will feed the pups.

2. Not only should everyone participate, but everyone should do so in a consistent manner and using the same cues.

5. Waving the garbage in front of the dog and scolding her is not appropriate. It will create fear in the dog which very well might instigate a bite. Simply redirect the dog with an appropriate toy or chew and remove the garbage.

6. Discipline is not necessary and can cause negative consequences. To a dog, getting into garbage is a normal natural behavior. Dogs are by nature in part scavengers - it's how we domesticated them. Disciplining for a natural behavior is confusing to the dog. Simply redirect the dog to a more human appropriate behavior and remove the garbage.
 
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I agree 100% with what Toedtoes says above.
To wave a piece of garbage in front of a dog, basically teasing or tempting the dog and then scolding is exactly the wrong way to go about things here.
the dog will not understand and will only be confused, and feel a lack of trust in the human being who is behaving in an irrational manner from the dog's perspective.

Don't do this.

Instead, just make the garbage inaccessible to the dog. simple solution.
 

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Waving a piece of garbage in front of a dog and scolding them only teaches them that you go nuts when you pick up a piece of garbage. Especially if it doesn't happen the instant the dog is getting into the can and strewing things about.
 

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People sometimes assume that big dogs are more immune to raised voices or other harsh treatment. I once took a friends Bernese mountain dog for play time with my lab, when his owner had a broken leg. When it was time to take him home, I lost my temper and yelled at him. All the way home he sat in the back of my van and would not look at me. I ended up apologizing. I was afraid his owner would think I had beat him.

Our groomer has a Great Dane that is the biggest dog I've ever seen. The owner has told me that she can never, ever raise her voice because he will pout for hours.

My own 116 pound lab was very sensitive. Fortunately he rarely gave us any reason to even think about yelling.
 

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Very true. My Moose-dog (shepherd, poodle, newfie) was extremely sensitive to loud voices.
 

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1. This is untrue.
All I'm gonna say is 40'+ years of experience and results says otherwise. You can not say something is untrue when thousands of people have seen it work ....when there's 100s of youtube videos, books,and articles stating otherwise and seeing the results that it works ...as the saying goes ... "the proof is in the pudding".

Does a sled team have a leader ? I trained and cared for security dogs (Shepherds) for 4 years, there was definitely a canine hierarchy with the older / larger dog having established himself in that position by exhibiting dominance. The original caretaker had had full control of the dogs, when the son took over he had issues with the dogs snapping at him and his children, camp attendees, and employees when they were in any way restrained (kennel, leash, chain). He would place the food in the kennel as a means of getting them to go inside. He would not use the tie out as, after he clipped the older one in, the dog would snap at him as he walked away.... the 2nd dog always emulating the behavior of the 1st. When the dogs left the camp, presumably drawn by dogs in heat to the nearby housing development at night, he'd go get them with his truck ...they'd jump in,they wouldn't get out. Why did they not heed the new caretaker ? They had no reason to.

I lived in that neighborhood as 17 year old and the teenagers would run inside at the approach of the dogs. I loaded them in the car, took them home they refused to get out ...drive them around,bought a hamburger at McDonalds, walked to the Kennel, they followed and got half each. From then on dogs were my responsibility. Instead of them "finding food" in the kennel, I brought it to them. They would bark and act up but I didn't open the door till they chilled. So I'd sit and eat my egg sammie and when they were quiet they got fed. The kennel was rather tiny, 6 x 10 they were much happier on the tie outs while camp was in session being allowed to see everything and not have to walk around in their own excrement.

When they'd snap or go bark crazy... they'd get "scolded" (firm low voice ... not stupid enough to scream at a pair of large guard dogs ... such behavior would be a sign of weakness like a dog showing aggression when it's scared) and brought to the kennel. The older, larger dog always initiated the behavior... so he started to get "sent to prison" . Within 6 weeks, all negative behaviors were gone. The caretaker took over the feeding, the wife and kids joined in. At the time ... I wasn't thinking of hierarchy...my only thought was, they will be more interested in food than me.

In a sense, semantically at least, hierarchy might not be literally correct but it serves to convey meaning. With multiple dogs the word in its truest sense applies. For the inter species interaction, it might better be called "deference". I had the food, they wanted it, they weren't going to get it till they deferred to me. It made sense. A better way to put it would be that we are not talking litrally about canine pack hierachy but a "home hierarchy". Understand that there is a difference....a huge difference. And while trainers and animal behaviorists know or should know the difference, it's unfortunate that they don't educate their clients in this regard. I guess it's like a biblical thing (earth created in 7 days ?) where it's dumbed down for the audience.

That was 1970 ... 50 years later I was illuminated by that dynamic and understand why this approach has worked so well in the interim


See 11:00 mark for hierarchy or deference... (unfortunately she used the pack metaphor here, she's not ther to teach a course in cannine behaviors,it's a simple metaphor and it works to get the message across)
See 11:50
See 12:25 - 12:50 for "scolding"

In the video, results speak for themselves, no more jumping, no more mouthing, no more humping, no more everything Problem solved ...same as my 1970 except than I had no clue ... it's worked since (if it ain't broke ...), and now I know why it did.

As for scolding, I wrote ...."anything physical with a dog in the corner is likely to evoke an undesired response" it would have been better said "anything physical, or threatening, with a dog in the corner is likely to evoke an undesired response". Yelling and screaming will also likely be considered a threat.

"Because of this, fighting with or losing your temper with your dog is never encouraged. If you feel the need to show off your "dominance," this would be a sign of insecurity in a dog pack, not an indicator of a strong leader. "

When in training mode, there's my reward voice, the one we use when the dog has dome something we want which is higher and soft edged, words running into each other; then there's my scolding voice, lower than my normal voice and with words sharply enunciated individually .That's doesn't mean yelling, it means louder than your reward voice but not yelling and screaming ! When working with dogs whose misbehavior can cause serious injury ... a happy-happy voice and treats is a ticket to a lawsuit.

I have no video from 1970, but the technique is well enough demonstrated in the above linked video, she uses a 2 syllable trigger for bad behavior. I used just one.

Reward Voice: Ohyoursuchagoodgirl ...
Words run together, higher pitched, exaggerated body movements (14:22 - 14:30 in the video)
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Scolding voice: Eh Down Eh Bad
Words Sharp with pause in between, louder, short, 14:32 - 15:20 in the video

When Owner walks into the kitchen and Dad is being threatened ...what do you to discourage this behavior..."Well dad,sorry you got bit but ya know it's just a dogs natural behavior". I'm puzzled as to your inferences from written word to the furthest extreme. Please understand that there is a difference between what you infer: a) Me in a dogs face waving a piece of garbage an inch of his nose as if rubbing his nose in poo yelling and screaming when the reality is me standing by the garbage can in front of and in full view of the dog waving the item around and uttering "Eh !" "Garbage" "Eh" and putting it back in the garbage "Eh" closing the llid . Just as Stillwell uses the down gesture to convey meaning, the waving the garbage brings her attention to undesired item, brings attention to the garbage can. The dogs have never shown fear, the most common response is to approach with head down and lean against me for a pet.

The true folly here is demonstrated in the video at about 14:22 where the narrator says "as well as scolding your dog". She scolded the dog and taught the Owners how to scold the dog probably 100 times. Which one of those "scoldings" do you have an issue with ?

I fell into training dogs in this manner 50 years ago.basically trial and error...I have oft doubted if it's the best approach. Now I have had the opportunity to consider Stillwell's reward / scold approach views and yours ... I think you can guess which way I'm leaning

a) I have observed "Home Hierarchy" dozens of times over the years ...my wife's older 12 pound dog being "the boss" of my lab from puppy thru adulthood. We saw it in Stillwell's video. My eyes and results tell me it's a real thing. There's hundreds of books, articles, videos documenting it. And there's many saying the thought is silly. Some scientists refer to this as the "Domestic Pack". It is very different than the "canine" pack" ...dominance governs canine pack behavior ... deference governs domestic (family) or home interspecies pack (family) behavior ...you're simply showing the dog that if it does what you want, he gets what he wants. It's not helpful to confuse the two or pretennd that they are the same. You can call it a family or you can call it a pack ...they label you choose to put on it doesn't change a thing. The truth remains the behaviors of human families with dogs are accurately represented by the standard bell curve norms.

b) Also, let's not confuse the yelling and screaming kind of scolding with the scolding used in dog training. At what point in this video did the behaviorist / trainer or Owners "scolding the dog" relate in any way to what you described ? I saw no fear, biting or other negative reactions, not even a hint thereof. Where's the beef ?

c) All of the dogs objectionable behaviors in that video are NATURAL behaviors.... mouthing, marking territory, jumping, humping .... Was anyone bitten ? Was the dog unable to recognize and cease exhibiting the undesired behavior ? Did it work ?

d) Every dog I have ever had at one point raided the garbage can ... they certainly seem to have recognized the undesired behavior and all it ever took was a few gestures and a couple of "Ehs" . New Dog raided my Triscuit and Cheese Slices a couple of days after Xmas from the coffee table ... "Eh My food Eh" ... followed by a pointed fiber and "crate". Ten minutes later, I was back with a new plate of cheese on the table and a dish on the floor and called her over. She went to sniff my plate "Eh", she stopped, ate a slice, waited a bit and dropped a treat in her bowl. Rinse and repeat. 1) Positive reinforcement works ... 2) positive and negative works better and faster....3) scolding oesn't mean abusing a dog.
 

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Waving a piece of garbage in front of a dog and scolding them only teaches them that you go nuts when you pick up a piece of garbage. Especially if it doesn't happen the instant the dog is getting into the can and strewing things about.
Wow... kinda shocked and the inferences being made as to what constitutes "scolding a dog"....in the posted video, the narrator makes particular note of the scolding and the trainer / owners scold the dog maybe 100 times ... which one would you say is represents "going nutz".

People sometimes assume that big dogs are more immune to raised voices or other harsh treatment.

The owner has told me that she can never, ever raise her voice because he will pout for hours.

My own 116 pound lab was very sensitive. Fortunately he rarely gave us any reason to even think about yelling.
I would say that some large breeds will completely ignore loud voices if among the "independent" breeds but such is by no means necessary and has no real effect. My lab would bow his head if I gave him certain "look". But there is no need for yelling and screaming. You do need to differentiate your tone, cadence and body language or the dog won't be able to differentiate reward and behavior aversion.
 

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Oh my god. Another lengthy essay.
No matter how much you write, it doesn't make your opinions Right, @Jack Naylor .

They are your opinions, and you get to have your opinions. But that doesn't make you Right and other people Wrong.

It means we have different opinions and different approaches with our dogs, and it appears we also have very different relationships with our dogs as well, from what you have with yours.

Writing longer and wordier essays doesn't change that; won't ever change that. It is clear to me that no matter how many words you write, there are people here, myself among them, who will disagree with you.
More and more words won't change that, because we know what we are doing with our dogs, and why, and how it feels to us. We know what we know.

We who disagree with you have a very different way of approaching our relationships with our dogs, and we are happy with that and the dogs that those approaches have produced.

Apparently you are happy with what you have done as well, and clearly you won't change your opinions either.

Could we leave it at that?
 

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Polite disagreements are primal to Internet bulletin boards. It would be a very boring place if everybody agreed. As long as the disagreements remain polite, they are not just tolerated, but encouraged.

Still I think we could take a clue from Twitter and put a word-count limit on posts.
 

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Additionally, going off topic has become a serious problem lately. I'm going to remind everyone to please keep responses relevant to the original post, and any diversions short and limited. If you have more to say about a topic, start your own thread. Otherwise we will be forced to start deleting off-topic posts and closing threads that become derailed.

Edit: And, to be perfectly clear, temporary bans will start being handed out to the worst offenders should this trend continue.
 

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As to why scolding is wrong is because 1) it is unneccessary - the same result can be had without the scolding; and 2) it can be harmful to the dog-person relationship, as well as to the dog's mental well being. Do some dogs deal with scolding without harmful effects - sure. But many develop issues from that scolding. So, if you can get the result without scolding, and scolding may have harmful effects, then it's better to skip the scolding completely.
 
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