Is my dog a bully?

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by jennyw, Aug 3, 2010.

  1. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Oh you certainly don't need to explain about the prejudice against certain breeds - the same goes here. And yes, Staffies and Pitties are held in high "disregard" here also - thing is, in years past, it was Rotties, Dobies, and Germ Shepherds, so it seems the 'tough' breeds all get their turns. It's such a shame. In certain cities across the country here, there are actually breed bans, it's so sad.

    Back to Jess ... it sounds like she's doing really well. Keep working on keeping her calm in front of dogs, because one day she'll be able to do it all by herself - and then yes, you're right, you can start working on the kittie situation. My two sheppies lose their minds around kitties, especially my boy - good grief! Fortunately, it's not a huge problem, so I just do my best to deal (and hang on to the leash, TIGHT!!). :doglaugh:

    I do have one suggestion for you. At my training center, we use what are called "calming ovals". These are recommended before every walk, and actually to be practiced a few times a day in the home (or yard, wherever), especially for reactive dogs. You basically take the dog and walk him/her very very slowly in a very small oval - it's B O R I N G. You walk for about 5 min, but the dog really relaxes, gets kind of in a zen mood, just kind of 'gives it up' and goes with the flow. Here's the link to the training center, scroll down a bit, look on the right hand side, and and there's a video to show how it's done: Dog Training - San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, Central Coast - Gentle Touch Pet Training It may sound kind of weird or like nonsense, but they really work. It's kind of like us doing a few minutes of relaxing meditation or listening to soothing music before doing something stressful. I'd really recommend you trying these consistenly for a few weeks (before you make a decision on whether you like them or not). It will probably take several times of doing them before Jess finally just quits wondering "what the heck?" and goes with it. You don't talk to Jess, don't look at Jess, no communication at all during these ovals, keep the leash short, planted against your core/chest, and just keep walking very s l o w l y. They really do help the dog to relax. They start every Feisty Fido class with calming ovals, and do recommend them before each walk and a few times each day. I did them with Makena for months and months and truly, she seemed to love them - she really relaxed and just went with them, just stayed with me, step for step, in no time.

  2. jennyw Well-Known Member

    I like the look of the calming ovals, I think they could help Jessie quite a bit. I'm so envious of you American dog owners, you seem to have access to so many forward thinking people with new ideas! And not a check collar in sight! Any suggestion of not trying to yell at or physically chastise your dog over here is met with accusations of spoiling the dog and allowing it to think it's the boss. Ho hum.
    Some more advice needed please! We are taking Jess to visit some friends and their lovely Newfoundland in a few days time. They have met before and it was one of Jess's better interactions, she got a little bossy with him, trying to put her paw on his neck and barking at him but he is far too sweet to retaliate, he just looked confused. Thankfully because he didn't react it didn't turn nasty but I want to make sure this second meeting goes well. We are going straight into their house and then will be taking the dogs for a walk together.
    Basically I want to know what signs to look for with Jess if she's getting too bossy and how to deal with her if she does. I think on the walk she will be pretty good as she will be too busy sniffing everything but I am worried about the initial meeting in their house.
    Thank you!!!!
  3. jackienmutts Honored Member

    I couldn't tell from your post whether you're going to visit with your friends for a period of time, several days, or just the day or ?? Anyway - if I were you, if at all possible, I'd start out the visit with a walk. Walking the dogs together will give them a sense of being a pack, and take some pressure off Jessie. She can smell the Newfie and "get to know him" on the walk, rather than suddenly being thrown in a house together with him. Don't even let them meet at first - just bring him out to Jess and start walking, keeping them as far apart as necessary, and you can gradually decrease the distance. Make it comfortable for Jess, since he doesn't seem to have a problem. Maybe start walking with him 6-8' in front of you, that way she can get a really good sniff from behind without getting too close. Once you can tell she's relaxed, get a bit closer, then gradually catch up and go along side, maybe keeping her several feet away, til you're comfortable enough to let them get closer. You'll have to be the judge - just go slow. Don't ever rush her, you'll be much happier if you keep things really really slow - even slower than you think they really need to be.

    Once you're in the house, keep an eye on her, and if you think she might be getting stressed, separate the dogs. If you have a baby gate, they work wonders. It's not cruel to separate the dogs by a baby gate, and don't feel bad that one of the dogs is not in the same room as you are. If the stress level is rising, and Jess is starting to tense up or bark, separate her - and you'll see her relax. Even if there's only a baby gate between her and the Newfie, she'll be able to relax because the pressure will be off. Don't force them to be together. If she can only socialize for 30 min tops before she gets too aroused, then let her socialize for 25 min then remove her - always keep her under her threshhold, don't ask her to give more than she can. If you keep her calm all the time, what will happen is that eventually, her threshhold will increase - it will just take time, and she needs to take baby steps.

    When they're in the house, keep a watch on her body language. Watch for her body stiffenning, watch to see if her hackles go up, obviously if she starts barking she's aroused, watch her tail, if it's straight up it's not a good sign. Those are all signs of an aroused dog - a dog who needs to relax and calm down.

    It sounds like your friend's Newfie is a good dog for her to be around, tho. He sounds very calm and non-confrontational, so most likely she won't get in a fight - altho keep your eyes open, cuz that's the last thing you ever want. Be on the alert and do Jess a huge favor by not letting her get too aroused. If there's not a baby gate available, put one dog in a different room if necessary, to separate them if there's any doubt on your part. When in doubt, separate. It keeps everyone safe - and that's always your first priority.

    Can't wait to hear how it goes, good luck!!
  4. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    I've been away a while, so I'm happy to hear things are going well with Jess!
    Don't be fooled, America DEFINITELY has it's fair share of "yank and crank," "Cesar fans," "Don Sullivan worshipers," etc. My area in particular has tooooooons of trainers that heavily favor prong/pinch collars, choke collars, shock collars, and other aversive methods. I work in a hunting/outdoor supply store, so you can imagine how many people I meet on a regular basis that have hunting dogs--and sooo many hunting trainers love those darn shock collars. Fortunately most of my coworkers don't really go for that so I'm not completely outnumbered.
    Forunately though, America has had a push for positive reinforcement training in the last decade or so.

    Anyway...nothing to add to Jackie's advice; all spot on. Good luck with your friend's Newfie!
    One of my dogs is not trustworthy with cats either. His is more like a unhealthy obsession though, definitely prey-driven and not just "HEY A CAT!" He's extremely stock aggressive, and his reaction to cats is very much the same. We've done a ton of work on self-control and earlier this year we had a little breakthrough. Now, if he's separated from a cat but can see them through a door or window, I can call him off of it. If they aren't separated he can't take his eyes off of kitty just yet, but we'll get there. Unfortunately, my cat is a little on the unintelligent side, lol...she's used to dogs who love cats so she wants to play with him. So I have to keep them separated to keep her safe, which is completely fine with the both of them lol.
    Anyway...good luck and keep up the good work with Jessie!
  5. jennyw Well-Known Member

    Thank you both, I have been wondering if it would be too much for her to meet him inside the house as last time they met it was in a big garden. I will ask my friends if we can go walking straight away, pretty sure they won't mind. They do have baby gates too but it will have to be the Newfie who gets put in the other room as Jess is very clingy with me especially in unfamiliar places.
    We are only visiting for the day and so will only be there a few hours. I'm really hoping it goes well and she gets some much needed lessons on manners and friendliness! They will both be wearing haltis for the walk which should keep things under control.
    Fingers crossed that it is a good experience for her. I want her to have at least one dog friend in the world!
  6. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Jenny, I hope it goes well for you - and mostly, for Jess. You just remember to remain calm and positive, as if you're nervous at all, Jess will feel that and feel she probably should be nervous too. You're there to relax, have fun and visit with friends - and that's what you hope for her, too.

    Here's crossing fingers - and paws - that it goes well! Can't wait to hear!!

    And yes, Tx cowgirl is oh so right - we surely have our share of harsh trainers here, don't be fooled and think everyone is on the positive track over here. It's a daily battle - I believe the more we all try to educate (patiently) and by example, and treat our dogs with respect, the better chance we have of recruiting those who still believe you have to basically scare and bully dogs into submission.

    Having German Shepherds, I watch them and sometimes am in awe of their power and strength. I sometimes really sit and think about what they're capable of and am so glad we have the mutual respect that we have. They are both rescues, as are the the Shepherds I've had in the past (all my dogs have always been). My female now is dog-aggressive (recovering) and has taught me so much about trust thru the journey we've taken together. No need for yanking her into submission to stop her from aggressing when she sees other dogs. We've worked very very hard - she now can take great walks very calmly, even when she sees other dogs (no, she'll never be a dog-park girl). But - the trust that's developed between us thru this journey has been immense, and I don't believe for a minute that if I had yanked and jerked her into "stopping her aggression" (cuz we all know she'd have stopped - for a while - but have still felt it inside) that we'd have the relationship we have. She looks to me for so much because she trusts me to always keep her safe - and I know she'll always keep me safe - and that's something I wouldn't trade for anything. Trust is an amazing thing.
  7. jennyw Well-Known Member

    That's exactly what I want for Jess and me, for us to be a team and for her to know that she can always trust me to do the best thing for her.
    It was a very eventful day! We took the dogs straight out but as soon as Jess saw Loki she went ballistic, jumping and barking. We walked behind them for a long time and she found it incredibly hard to settle, she kept squeaking and every time Loki turned round to say hello to her she barked at him. Gradually she got nearer and nearer to him and was able to sit a couple of feet away from him and hunt for treats whilst he watched. We got to a secluded spot and let them both off and they had an absolute blast with each other, running and chasing and getting covered in mud. She was having such a good time with him she even had a little swim in the river with him which she never does usually.
    They walked back side by side and she was so relaxed that she walked as she normally does, enjoying all the different smells. Then they played for about half an hour in the garden together until she was worn out and came in covered in his slobber! Even when he came to pester her to carry on playing she didn't get cross. She did have a good old bark at all the other dogs we saw but the main thing is what a good time she had and hopefully what a good lesson she had in doggy etiquette. I felt quite emotional watching her play and when I told my mum about it she nearly burst into tears!
  8. tx_cowgirl Honored Member

    Awww, so happy to hear it was a good day for sweet Jess. ^^ I can imagine how emotional that must have been for you.
    Loki deserves a big hug and some cookies for his help. ^^ I just love Newfies, such patient, sweet giant dogs...

    Keep up the good work with Jess!
  9. jackienmutts Honored Member

    Oh Jennie, I'm so happy to hear that your day went really well for you and Jess - that's just wonderful! And I do know how emotional it can be, cuz I definitely understand how much you want for her to just have a 'normal' life. It sounds so simple to some, to just go play with another dog - but for dogs like ours, it's a momentous occasion. Loki truly does sound like the perfect play partner for her right now - he just takes her for who she is, ignores all the loud 'stuff' she hands out, then says hey, when you're done mouthing off, let's just go have a good time. It's great that he was so non-reactive, she mouthed off, nothing happened, you sound like you handled it beautifully - and the day was fantastic. She's now got a great day under her belt - well done!!

    Do remember tho - that the next time you go visit, you'll need to go slow again, let her take her time, and tell you when she's ready to go play with Loki again - altho I bet she'll be really happy to on your next visit.

    All these baby steps you're taking will keep adding up. Keep up the great job!!
  10. jennyw Well-Known Member

    Didn't realise how long it had been since I was on here! We finally found a good, positive, qualified behaviourist but unfortunately she lives five hours away from us so there has been lots of emails and phone calls before we finally got down to visit her so she could assess Jessie. Her conclusion is that Jess has incomplete socialisation as she gave lots of good body language signals when walking near a GSD and a cocker spaniel. She's written us a detailed plan to work on and in the meantime Jess has made a few more canine pals who she can play with. Plus she now has a "little brother", a springer spaniel pup who we took on from a breeder who wanted rid of him. Finley thinks Jess is the sun, the moon and the stars and she has been incredible with him, she does seem to enjoy having a playmate. I've had all your advice running through my head while we work on Jess and some friends who hadn't seen her since last year said how calm she seems now so we are slowly getting there! Can't thank you all enough for your advice!
  11. jackienmutts Honored Member

    This is all just the best news!! Oh Jennie, congrats on so much!! :p First, good to see you back on dta. Congrats on your new familiy member - I just love the name Finley, so cute! I'm so happy to hear that he and Jess are getting on so well, maybe that's just what she needs at this point. I'm so happy to hear that Jess has made a few more friends who she can play with - that's HUGE (I wish I could say that about my girl :confused:). Having a few more friends, and now a little brother has just made her world so much bigger - I'm so happy for you and her. Maybe little Finley can really help her to overcome her fears and issues and become closer to being that dog you wished she'd be -- the one who could just relax and enjoy life.

    So glad you were finally able to meet with a positive behaviorist who was able to observe Jess, and give you good input. Sounds like you're really doing great. So happy for you!!! :LOL:

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