Problems With Dan

Discussion in 'Dog Behavior Problems' started by Amanda.G, Apr 23, 2012.

  1. Amanda.G Member

    I don't really know how to start this thread but I'll tell the story of Dan. When we bought Dan at 2 1/2 months old we thought it was suspicious when we first time took him out to pee and his was so afraid. The first 5-6 times he refused to pee or poo outside and had clearly never been outside. We called to the breeder and it came out he never been outside before we bought him. I don't know if this is a cultural thing but in Sweden the breeders let the puppies get used to the outside and to a normal home environment and also in many cases to car trips etc. They socialize the puppies well. It also turned out that the breeder didn't keep him with his mum as she said when we meet first time and showed us Dan and talked about us buying him. He was the only one in the litter and he was kept alone what seems to be such baby enclosure (don't know the English name not a cage (haha) but bigger). He was kept with his father but bitted him (we don't know details of this story) when he was 2 months old and was then alone. He also didn't get to meet much people because he was always afraid when people came to our apartment. He was a normal happy active boxer puppy, maybe not so happy, I mean the boxers I've had and have met are overly excited and always wag their tails. Dan rarely wag his tail. He showed some possession aggression towards my boyfriend and once towards me. Once we was sitting in the kitchen cutting chicken. Dan came to my boyfriend, froze and stared at him and suddenly jumped up and bite him between the eyes. He didn't bite hard, it just became a small wound. Right after that happened he was very afraid for my boyfriend and showed his teeth and crawled and put the tail between his legs when he tried to enter our bedroom/living-room. A few days after we moved to Sweden, during the trip we stopped at several hotels, at the last hotel my boyfriend went to toilet in the middle of the night. When he tries to leave the toilet Dan frooze, looked very afraid and just stared at my boyfriend. He threw a towel and Dan went to the towel and then lost interest with my boyfriend. Then we came to my parents house and my boyfriends relationship with Dan went better. Dan isn't so afraid of him and is more relaxed with him. One problem is that my boyfriend is from Russia, his family once had a dog in childhood but it was constant beaten by his father and he wasn't allowed to interact with it. Then the dog got so aggressive they sold it and said they would never get a dog again. My boyfriend don't know much about how dogs works and that "if the dog stare at you, you can't stare back even if you want it"......... Once my father wanted to pet Dan, he had a few glasses of wine before so he smelled alcohol. Dan went very afraid and screamed and growled and tried to bite him (but never succeed). My father then sat down on the floor and waited for Dan to approach him and then pet him and give him a treat. The day after I was laying in the sofa and my father came to return the remote-control this time he also drank some wine before and Dan growled at him when he came and tried to jump and bite him. My father ignored it and asked Dan to lay, Dan layed and after a few minutes he relaxed.

    When he bit my boyfriend we called to the breeder and it was then she told us that all her dogs do like that. Boxer are fighting dogs etc..... We need to choke and beat him hard and it's a pity she, her husband and her Russian friend can't come and visit us and beat him. It was my fault, I was too kind with Dan etc....... I think something happen when he was at the breeder place and her husband beat him when he was drunk. It seemed like he never liked the husband. Dan is basically too anxious and stressed in some situations. I wanted to invite a trainer who works with problem dogs to get advices etc. But, then I looked about all such trainers and saw what they cost. All of them take around 300 dollar for evaluation and two meetings. Then it's around 80 dollar for one hour..... We are both unemployed and don't have that type of money now. I asked at a Swedish dog forum if someone knew some good but cheaper trainer and they just asked why I had a dog if I can't afford it. We spend much of our money on Dan's food, toys, insurance etc so I don't really like to get told that we can't have a dog.

    I just feel so lonely with this problem, my boyfriend don't understand that much, at least he don't want to give away Dan now and likes him more and they work better together. But I want a stable, happy and relaxed dog...

  2. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    AWwwww, that is so sad.
    Yeah, it'd be fine thing to get a trainer in, but, bottom line, no one but no one can know your dog as well as YOU do, anyway. And, finding a trainer who can work with dogs with issues, might be harder than you'd think.

    A trainer might be an award winning trainer!!! and be tops at helping your dog learn tricks or agility, etc etc.
    but this same trainer might not have the 1st clue on how to help Dan become his best possible self and reduce his fear aggression.<----this tends to be a bit of "specialty", and not everyone fully understand what to do, at all.

    like your breeder, do NOT listen to that, intimidating Dan, using pain on Dan, would probably make Dan worse, not better.

    It is great that you both identify/recognize Dan needs help, and that you are interested in learning what to do to help Dan.

    My guess is, like most dogs with issues, it is a process, an ongoing thing where you learn how to manage and reduce and prevent reactions, and help Dan lower his threshold where Dan feels the need to react.
    you CAN help Dan get better, you can!! It is not an instant fix. It may not "cure" Dan completely, but, you can learn how bring out the best in Dan, and reduce his fears, you can.

    Hang in there, you are NOT alone, at all. There are others here whose dogs sound a lot like Dan. There are many many ways to approach this issue,
    many ideas on it,
    but i will give you some of my ideas, but, i'm just a dog owner, so feel free to keep searching, too, and read what others offer, as well.
    Dogster and Dlilly like this.
  3. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    NO one can really evaluate a dog's behaviour via online,
    so take whatever my guess is,
    with a grain of salt.:rolleyes:

    To me, it sounds like your Dan *might* be what is called a "shy" dog. These dogs are born that way. YOU did not "cause this" in Dan, at all. People who live with shy dogs, can make the dog better:D
    or worse,:(
    but you did not "cause" this. It is genetic neurobiological disorder. No wonder that breeder says "all her dogs" do this. Usually, it's only one or two shy dogs per litter, though.

    Not all dog owners agree it is genetic, but, "shyness" can be spotted in the litter box. There are many other names for this, like "fear aggressive", "timid", "nervous", "anxious" etc etc.
    The hallmark of the shy dog, is, they prefer NOT to be touched by unknown humans. some shy dogs even react to being stared at, or sudden movements.
    Many shy dogs prefer women to men, and some shy dogs tend to be MORE reactive inside their own homes, vs out on a walk.

    There is a spectrum of shyness, from mild/barely noticeable, to severe.
    Even a severaly shy dog can be helped to become better. Many of the ppl here on DTA are smitten, crazy-gagga nutz about the much-loved shy dogs,
    and have helped their shy dogs become their best possible selves!!! :D
    Dlilly likes this.
  4. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    To help Dan stop reacting,
    you will have to educate those around Dan.

    Never ever force Dan to accept unwanted contact, not ever. Doing so could make Dan less trusting of you, and less trusting in general.
    Allow Dan to choose who gets to touch him, if at all.
    Allow Dan to choose how close he gets to a person. If Dan does NOT want to be close to a person, fine, so be it. Dan might not ever be a social butterfly,
    but you CAN help reduce his biting/lunging, etc.

    On walks, and in your home, do not allow strangers to touch Dan, or lean over Dan, or even stare at Dan.
    For now, until you have reduced Dan's threshold a bit, this is safest way to manage it for now.

    Never allow anyone, not even your boyfriend, to corner Dan, lean over Dan, or stare at Dan, for now.

    For BF, have him ignore Dan for now.
    Have BF do this:

    BF gets handful of small, yummy treats, like bits of real meat,
    and BF sits down. BF ignores Dan.

    After a few moments, BF can glance at Dan---blink slowly at Dan, and then look away. No staring.
    That "slow blink" means "calm down". That is Dan's language,
    Dan will know what BF said.

    Have BF do a yawn, (also means "calm down" in dog language)
    and toss a treat towards Dan. Not like a sudden arm movement, just calm tossing treat.
    Overtime, if Dan is okay with it, BF can hand the treat to Dan, without staring.

    Have BF do a deep slow breath out of his nostrils. this is also telling Dan, to relax. someday, Dan may do this back to BF, and that is cute as heck when it happens. Give Dan a treat if he does a slow exhalation out of his nose.

    Have BF keep gently tossing, or handing treats to Dan. BF can occasionally use a slow voice, to praise Dan.

    no touching yet, just do that.

    Overtime, over time, if Dan is indicating that Dan wants a pet from BF, then, after BF has done some calming signals---------like a
    then BF can pet side of Dan's chest and praise him, no staring.
    Have BF keep the petting brief for now, like a few seconds, BF give Dan a treat, then stop petting Dan. Dan may have to develop the ability to be petted for more than a few seconds at a time, do not rush this at all.

    this is good exercise to start to help Dan trust your BF.

    For now, if you can, i'd keep your dad away from Dan for now. Your dad sounds like he *might* be harder to get to co-operate with Dan's rehab, but, i could be wrong. But, for now, just focus on getting Dan to accept your BF, and then, when YOU have gained confidence, and skills,:D at helping Dan be calm,
    then maybe someday, advance along to your getting your dad to understand what to do to help Dan.

    Dan can probably be brought to accept ppl, one at a time. YOU CAN DO THIS!!!! KEEP US POSTED.
    Dlilly likes this.
  5. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    NEVER 'correct' a growl, never do it.
    Teaching your dog to skip his warning growl
    does NOT make your dog "nice",
    it only makes him “silent”.

    Then you are left with a dog who is harder to read, and has learned to skip that VIP warning growl, and goes straight for a bite....which is last thing you want.

    if your dog growls, calmly remove him away from whatever it is he is growling about, but do NOT scold a growl. Most dogs would prefer to growl than bite. I’m very grateful that Buddy growls, it helps alert me to the fact Buddy is losing it, if I wasn’t even paying att’n, well, I am NOW!:ROFLMAO:

    Ppl who scold growls are the ones who post stuff like, “You can never tell when Fido is going to go off….one minute, Fido is fine, next minute, BAM! He’s biting and attacking.” Somewhere along the line, Fido was taught to skip his warning growl…so he does.

    so do respect that growl,

    and do listen to that growl,
    and be secretly happy that Dan will offer you a growl!!! it's better than a bite!!

    but never ever ever scold Dan for growling.
    Just calmly remove Dan away from whatever is "too much" for Dan at that moment.
    MaryK and Dlilly like this.
  6. tigerlily46514 Honored Member


    IF YOUR DOG NO LONGER OFFERS GROWLS, cuz he has already been corrected too often for growling, then this exercise might be wayyyy too dangerous for a dog who no longers offers a growl. You could try observing dog for lip licks or hard glares at stranger, and just calmly remove Dan when he does that, (?) but, i'm not sure how safe this would be for a dog who does NOT growl may need a muzzle for such a dog, not sure, sorry.

    If Dan is NOT growling at them, try the steps above(reply #4) that you used for you BF, -----------------the ignoring Dan/slow blinks/ no staring/ no touching/one yawn/ one deep slow exhalation out of their noses. Never ever force Dan to be next to someone that Dan does NOT want to be close to. If your visitors are very loud or very boisterous types, or children, it might be best to just let Dan be outside, or in another room, etc.

    If your shydog begins to growl if another human approaches you, you can try the “Bathroom Trick”. The shy dog does not really get to decide who hugs you, :rolleyes: or who gets next to you. Sorry, shy dog, but you don't get to decide that.:ROFLMAO:

    Never ever force a shy dog to even be in same room with ppl they do not want to be in room with. If shy dog wants to go off into other room for that visitor, fine.:) Overtime, you can try the steps above to desensitize your shy dog (IF your dog is even shy, who knows, right) to the visitor, by luring Dan to door of the room, but no closer,
    and have the seated guest do the steps your BF did (above, in reply #4).

    I never ever “correct” nor scold a growl (see above). My dog has a right to growl, but I also have a right to growl-free kitchen.:ROFLMAO:

    I have a dog aggressive dog, which is different than a "shy" dog,
    but the Bathroom Trick can be used for any growling dogs. (usually).
    IT IS DONE CALMLY, no words are spoken. It's a peaceful thing.:)
    again------------instruct guest to stay seated, and ignore the dog.
    NO STARING AT THE DOG!!!:cool:

    If the shy dog growls at a visitor, calmly remove shy dog to bathroom, close door for about 10 seconds. (Again, allow the shy dog the option to be in another room. this is only for IF shy dog does enter room where visitor is)

    But if shy dog does come into room,
    and growl at your visitor,
    or growl at someone hugging you,
    you can try this:

    Have dog wearing his leash, but don’t hold the leash.Offer shy dog some calming signals,

    HAVE VISITOR DO THE SAME "CALMING SIGNALS" slowly and naturally.

    If shy dog growls, do this-------you, as owner, silently, calmly take dog's leash, and calmly silently lead Dan away, and put him into the bathroom, (or any room with a door) and close door for 10 seconds. 10 seconds is a long time to a dog.

    Then, calmly, silently let Dan out of bathroom, and you go back into kitchen. If Dan follows you and growls at visitor again, repeat the whole process, calmly, silently. Make sure visitor is not looking at Dan, have visitor just ignore Dan.
    Giving Dan a kong to chew on might help Dan, too. worth a try!!!!:)

    Your dog might very well keep coming into kitchen, (or wherever visitor is) and keep growling at your visitor, but each time, calmly, silently remove the lil gangsta dog:ROFLMAO: out of the room, calmly silently, putting him into the bathroom for 10 seconds, and then let Dan out again. Calmly silently.

    Yes, yes, it might take many times, :ROFLMAO: but finally, the lil gangsta *might* realize, “Ohhhh, mom doesn’t seem to appreciate my lil gangsta routine here….and mom is not my possession, and I guess, if I want to be in here with everyone else, I have to be a gentleman.”
    And so he will be.:)

    Could happen.

    Each time I’ve used it,(for my dog being around other dogs approaching me, which tends to honk off my dog-aggressive dog:rolleyes: )
    it takes less trips to the bathroom for Buddy. By evening time, I was fawning all over Fluffy, while Buddy calmly watched; he was now fine with it, NO problem, Buddy was fine and happy. He was not in charge of who gets near me after all.

    (Buddy is still is appropriately protective, though, even on his own, he once snarled and growled at a stranger in our window.) But now Buddy knows, he does not have to “claim” me as "a possession" to other dogs.
    MaryK likes this.
  7. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

  8. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Here is a great dog trainer who specializes in behavioral issues, named Kikopup. (Emily)

    She lives in Sweden, right now, i think. (?)

    Dogster likes this.
  9. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    it might a good investment,
    to teach Dan to go to his mat. When visitors arrive, have Dan go to his mat, and give him a yummy kong toy or a bone to chew.:) Teach ALLL humans, all visitors, that if Dan is on his mat, ignore Dan, do not even look at him.

    Have Dan's mat (or crate) be a happy safe place no one but no one ever approaches him, talks to him, stares at him, like a "safety zone" where Dan can go when he wants to be left alone.

    Here is video on how to teach "Go To Your Mat" (in happy voice). Praise Dan when he goes to his mat when asked to.

    Keep lessons short for beginner dogs---5 or 10 minutes is plenty long for beginner dogs.
    Keep treats small, like size of a raisn, so Dan won't get pudgy!!:LOL:

    Praise correct moves, and just ignore wrong moves. NO scolding if Dan messes up.
    :) Dan wants to please you, if only he knows what to do.

    only first few minutes of the video are for Dan, the rest of it is advanced.

  10. Anneke Honored Member

    Tigerlily gave great advice!!
    Only thing I see different from your story, is that this "might" just be a socialisation thing. You say he was the only one in the litter and kept away from his mother. Put in with his father, who bit him.
    And the only people he ever knew, beat him.
    I think your dog just has no clue on how to behave like a normal dog. The most important time in his life, the imprinting fase, where good breeders and the mother teach a pup how to behave and react, he missed and had only bad experiences.
    Now IF your dog is also a "shy" dog, like Tigerlily says, there might be the possibility to end up with a fear-biter. And it sounds like he is on his way in becoming this.
    BUT I think you are already doing a great job in teaching him, how to behave.

    I think your father did the right thing, by sitting down. Lowering yourself to the dogs level, makes you less threatening.
    Some tips on how NOT to be scary to the dog:
    Don't bend over the dog.
    Don't pet him on the head, but on his sides or on his chest or under his chin.
    Don't look him in the eyes, meaning not to stare at him. Dogs who stare at each other are challenging each other. Who is the first to back away, if no one does, they usually start fighting. So you don't want to challenge your dog. If you do look in his eyes, make sure your face is friendly, so smile.
    Lower yourself, so kneel down.
    Move towards the dog sideways. Don't approach him in a straight line, but turn your body sideways and move towards him in a curve. This is polite bodylaguage, dogs do this with each other too.
    Don't put too much pressure on the dog, to do something he does not like. So for your boyfriend, maybe he could try ignoring Dan for a while and just wait for Dan to come to him.
    When you need to punish your dog, don't hit him. Just take him out of the room. Time out. Leave him on his own a few seconds, then bring him back in.
    And also give LOTS OF PRAISE when he does the right thing!!!

    I guess I am reapeating what Tigerlily says:rolleyes::D
    And she is right.
    You need to make Dan feel safe and that is a matter of time. No instant cure for that. Over time and with a lot of effort, I am sure he will be a fantastic companion. Please do look at the vids by Kikopup. She is THE best positive reïnforcement trainer I know off!!

    One thing I did learn from my dogs, is to accept their shortcomings. If you wanted a dog who is peoplefriendly, happy go lucky and it turns out Dan is not willing to trust strangers(those who are not part of your household) then try to accept this. Deal with it in a way that will make him feel good and that will make you feel good.
    For years I have tried to get my dog to do things he just didnot want to do. And it was very, very frustrating for me AND him! No I have accepted the fact, that he is not the dog I thought I was getting, it makes life soooo much easier for us. I don't put pressure on him anymore and move on. And now he is much happier and actually moving forward in his behaviour;)
  11. southerngirl Honored Member

    Like Anneke said your dad did the right thing by sitting down. I had a dog who took a while to warm up to people so my friends mom would sit in the floor and wait till my dog came to him she didn't make him she just patiently waited till he came to her and when he started nudging her hand she pet him. Make sure no one pets Dan unless he clearly is wanting to be pet. After my friend's mom did this my dog loved her, it may be different with yours. My current dog used to pee whenever a guy pet her this was because they were standing above her which was scary so I had them sit in the floor and make sure they didn't lean over her. My point is sitting down may help Dan feel safer than someone standing up. Just remember it will take time to get Dan comfortable around people, and he never may be an outgoing dog when it comes to meeting new people. Good luck.
    MaryK, tigerlily46514 and Anneke like this.
  12. Amanda.G Member

    Dan have become somewhat better in his general mood. He seems more relax and calm and seems more happy in general. But he've gotten really bad when he get food in his bowl. As soon as you walk around with his food bowl he gets anxious, he put ears back, big eyes etc. He also use to try to bite my father if he passes him etc. He stares at all people and if you stare back he might jump up at you, the jump is not friendly but a clear warning jump. Unfortunate it's mostly me in the family that is concerned about his behavior. My boyfriend is very concerned but don't seems to want to put in an effort to built a good relationship with Dan. He was close to get bitten today again when Dan was laying and he petted him... I don't know how to do really. Maybe it would be better for Dan to come to a family where all are relaxed about him and can help him. But on the same time it feels a little bit like a lost then, that I didn't try hard enough... I think the main problem is that my boyfriend just can't trust him, also he knows too little about dogs and just thinks that dogs is supposed to behave well and always obey commands. He thinks it's like in prison with rules everywhere how to behave and not behave... Sigh.... I really don't know how to do....
  13. tigerlily46514 Honored Member

    Ohhh, so sorry to hear it's either not going well, or, that you have had a bad day.
    do scroll up, and re-read some of the posts above. Is no point to re-post it all i guess. Let us know if you have any questions about any of those exercises, any question at all.

    I really think you can help Dan become his best possible self, but, you might have to accept, Dan is never going to be Mr. Snuggles, especially not with strangers, and maybe Dan is not going to love men much, either. Snuggling and close-contact playtime, leaning over Dan, staring at Dan, etc, might be more than Dan can do.

    I suspect Dan would still be Dan, even if he lived with another family. I doubt Dan would much like being hugged or snuggled by another family, either. I think this might be just who Dan is.
    I don't think Dan's being shy is your fault, i don't. You can help Dan become better,(scroll up)
    or worse,
    but, i don't think Dan is shy because of you. (scroll up for more on that)

    but, i do think probably one of the main things a dog like Dan needs, is education of the humans around him to understand Dan's limits, and protection from humans who are not going to respect Dan's current limits. Feel free to have your BF post his questions, maybe we can help him get a better understanding of how to make friends with Dan, how to help Dan trust him more, etc.

    Dan is doing the best he can, and he needs you to understand his need for space, and needs you to protect him from unwanted contact which is more than maybe Dan can handle. Next time your BF is playing with Dan, do intervene and remove Dan away, if you think your BF is leaning over Dan, staring at Dan, getting Dan overly-excited, having too much close contact, or whatever. It's okay and necessary for YOU to be Dan's advocate, whether or not your BF understands why you are removing Dan back away.
    ^that might be easier option, than trying to get your BF to understand Dan's limits and Dan's need for some space.

    but, you can still love, enjoy and appreciate Dan's qualities. He might make a most excellent trick dog!! There are many others here on DTA, with shy dogs like Dan, and turns out, not being a snuggle-bug kind of dog, does NOT mean Dan can't learn some tricks.

    besides the exercises above in earlier posts,
    Teaching Dan some tricks is fun,and it is very bonding for you towards Dan, and for Dan towards you, too. It's also great step to help learn how to motivate Dan, how to get Dan to follow cues, develop trust, etc, and it brings out the fun side of Dan!!:D
    AND YOU ARE SOOOOOOOOO NOT ALONE. There are lots of dogs like Dan out there.
    southerngirl likes this.
  14. Adrianna & Calvin Experienced Member

    Hi Amanda

    Kikopup lives in Sweden now --

    She often responds to posts to youtube, so PLEASE contact her to see if she will help you or if she can refer you to a good trainer, one who won't hurt your dog and can help him have a better (less fearful) quality of life. I'm sure she can help you in one way or another.

    Please keep us posted!
    Dogster likes this.

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