Lewis' Journey

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by 648117, Feb 19, 2014.

  1. 648117 Honored Member

    I"ve been working on Lewis for the last few months. So although he still isn't ok with other people and dogs he is predictable. I know pretty much what he is going to do and what will make him act up.
    I slowly started taking him with me to things to get him used to the environment.

    I started last year in about September/October (can't remember exactly when), I started taking him to Holly's obedience classes. At first I didn't take him in, he stayed in the car (the "carpark" is shaded by trees and it is a private residence so once everyone is in class there is nothing happening in that area and I can see the car from the training area so I could keep an eye on him - it's summer so we train outside otherwise it would have been harder) then I started just getting him out and give him treats for a couple of minutes after class when all the other dogs are away and the owners from Holly's class are just chatting (the first time I tried it was too soon and he did get a bit upset and was spinning at the end of his leash though).

    Then I started taking him to Rally-o classes. Our Rally-o classes are pretty informal and there were only about 5 or 6 dogs that went, and only 2-3 others at our end of the training hall (we go to a small club for Rally-o). Everything is pretty calm at our Rally-o classes. During Rally-o an agility class starts outside (about 50meters away, the double-doors to the hall are open so you can hear them, the agility dogs are a little more loud but not too bad, again it's a small club so not many dogs) so I started to sit and watch the agility after Rally-o with Lewis and Holly (there is a wire fence between the agility and where we sat).
    Then once he was pretty comfortable with all that (the Rally-o really boosted his confidence, after only a couple of classes he was able to focus for the entire class and ignore the agility) I started taking him in the car to Holly's agility (different, larger club). Agility is outside and, again, I can see the car from where we do agility, I make sure I park near the fence. Even sitting in the car he can see all the agility and at that club there are more dogs, some bark, and some of the other dogs left in cars bark.

    Then I started taking Lewis to our other obedience class (at the club that we do agility - yeah O_o , we have obedience at two different places each week and go to a different club for Rally-o, although we arn't doing Rally-o at the moment). I would get Lewis out at the end and do some training with him for 10mins when most of the other dogs were gone (just a few senior dogs were usually still training so I knew they were under control).

    Lewis was happy with the progression of all this so in January of this year me and Holly were entered in a competition the same weekend as my parents were going to be out of town, this meant that I had to leave Lewis at home in his crate or bring him (he would stay in the car in his crate but would at least get breaks and had Holly in a crate next to him). So I brought him along (parked in the least busy area that I could). He was really good, I took him inside to watch the obedience, he sat on my lap and was reasonably relaxed, we walked around a bit, ate treats etc. He was good. So he can cope with the competition atmosphere (at least for obedience).
    Then I took him to the ribbon trial the other day, I got him out a little bit and he wasn't too bad, probably needs a little more to get him comfortable and focused in thta situation though.

    Through all that I worked out exactly what makes Lewis act mean. Basically he is fine as long as no one approaches him. He is fine standing next to other dogs or other people. I can give people his leash and walk off and he is fine. He will now sniff other people and take treats from their hands (even offers a "down") BUT he will snap if they try to pat him.
    No matter how much he sniffs them, even if he puts his paws on their leg (some people take this as meaning they can pat the dog), even if he climbs on their lap (he did this to my brothers girlfriend a few weeks ago) he will still snap if anyone tries to pat him on any part of his body (yeah, he snapped at brothers girlfriend even though he was sitting on her).
    The same rules apply to other dogs, he is fine being near them and will sniff them, but they are not allowed to approach him or he will show his teeth and snap.

    Most of the people at agility/obedience are pretty good and as soon as they come near us I explain that they must not pat Lewis. Most understand as there are a few dogs with iffy temperaments at agility/obedience (especially some of the BC's and other working breeds) and I've found some obedience handlers don't like to pat any other dogs when at competitions anyway (don't want the smell on their hands putting off there own dog). There are a few people who have challenged Lewis and got him really worked up but I don't think it's good for him so that is no longer happening (I should never have let it happen actually - but we all make mistakes).

    In summary, I know exactly what will make Lewis snap and I can avoid it pretty well. He is actually very predictable, just not in the same way that Holly is predictable. He isn't friendly and I believe he never will be but it doesn't cause many issues now. It is just something I have to be aware of and means there are a few things he will never get to do. I'm thinking about making him a "no pat" coat to wear ;).


    I hope uou can apply some of that to Brody. I think you can definitely get him into sports, it might just take a lot of time and effort.
    Ripleygirl and southerngirl like this.

  2. 648117 Honored Member

  3. southerngirl Honored Member

    Great post!(y) Lewis is really lucky to have you as is owner, excepting him for who he is.
    Brodys_mom I really think you should see about doing what 648117 did with Holly, it might really help Brody.
    If I had a job I would do the same with Missy and will look into it when I do get one. I've heard nose work is great for dogs who have behavior problems, you can ask Jakienmutts about it, she does nose-work with her dog aggressive dog Mckenna and Dlilly does nose-work with her dog reactive dog Rory. From what I understand dogs are not to interact with one another and they tie a bandanna of a certain color if your dog needs to be left along(I think) that's what jakienmutts said, but not positive.
    brodys_mom likes this.
  4. brody_smom Experienced Member

    I will have to do some research on different sports in our area and their policies on behaviour issues. Brody might really enjoy nose work; he's a very "nosy" dog!
    southerngirl likes this.
  5. kassidybc Experienced Member

    Great post! Lewis definitely is very lucky, most people would not put so much effort into him!
    Ripleygirl and brodys_mom like this.
  6. Ripleygirl Experienced Member

    Lewis is incredibly lucky to have you. And you are him - he will be teaching you invaluable lessons in perception of dog language that people who have owned an 'unpredictable' just end up understanding - for all the work, it is worth it to see a happier and more content dog and pack. Well done!
    brodys_mom likes this.

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