Lots of you wanted a follow up on Joey so here it is. It'll probably read a little disjointed because I'm just going to put my thoughts down as they come. For those of you who don't know the background about Joey you can read the thread at Bitten & Constant Growling - Please Help!
So after I picked Joey up from his stay at the vet, I picked my husband up from work and we drove him directly to the behaviorist, Angie Woods. She already knew the bulk of the story and due to the severity of his behavior, believed he needed to stay with her for 2 weeks. She gave us a lot of information about how to be alpha on the first visit and I felt empowered right off the bat and was ready to get this show on the road. Well, turns out it was kind of like going to a personal trainer who pumps you up to believe you're a bodybuilder but next time you go to the gym you quickly realize you're still a wimp. This is kind of what happened the first time we went to see him a week later. I was so impressed by how submissive he was around us. He was like a different dog. Ears back, tail down. I'd never seen this except on the very first day we rescued him on the side of the road. This was good. I puffed up a little and thought "I'll show you buddy." Until they let him approach me. The behaviorist wanted to see how he'd react to me and how I'd respond to him if he tried getting in my space. So while she was holding the leash, she gave it a little slack and what'd he do? He jumped on me. What'd I do? I stepped back and almost pooed my pants. Dang it! It wasn't even anything aggressive (dominant yes but not aggressive), I think he was just happy to see me. So much for being empowered. I cried half the way home and wondered if we had rocks for brains thinking about bringing him back into our home.
Well all of us got more coaching and a few days later we went to see him again. I was still a little uncomfortable but it was better. I walked him which was a huge thing. He wasn't pulling, leaning on me or stopping to roll over in front of me to get me to pet him. So far so good. We got more coaching and more homework.
So…...yesterday was the day we got to pick him up. He's a different dog. The energy around him is so much calmer and respectful. My husband and I just look at each other like 'what the heck's going on?' It's really the most bizarre thing I've seen. Angie said he's got a 'lot of spice in him' (I love that) so we'll have to be diligent and consistent with the behavior which we knew but that's okay. We're committed to seeing this through. Oh and I have to tell you the thing I was most impressed with! When we were walking him, he looked happy for the first time on a walk. He didn't have that manic look about him, just happy and content. That did my heart good.
Okay, so he's home now and he's tried a few times to get by with stuff he shouldn't but after correcting him and showing him we're not joking, he goes into being that submissive guy he was with Angie.
Oh and get this!! (Sorry I know this is long but I'm just so excited about everything that's happened and hearing this might help someone going through something similar so please bear with me.) So this morning while I was at the computer, he tried getting up from his spot to go in the front room. Nothing good happens in that front room with Joey so I got up and sternly took him back to his little pad on the floor - about 10' from me so he's not too close to me. He stayed there about 5 minutes then tried getting up again. Nope, not happening buddy. I took him back to the pad. About 10 minutes later he tried going up the stairs (these are all his comfort zones that he likes to control) so I took him back to the pad and showed him I meant business. Then about 15 minutes later he slowly got up from the pad again and was literally creeping by me with his ears back and his tail between his legs, actually LOOKING at me, like "can I do this?" Of course I took him back to his pad again, where he stayed until I let him outside. Woohoo!!!!!!! He SLINKED!!!! Just like my dog that got attacked by him does when he walks by Joey. That was huge, huge, huge.
I'll leave it on that good note. The behaviorist thinks he'll probably be good for a week or two before he really tries to test us. Oh joy. But I know we're a lot more prepared to deal with it when that happens.
I've probably gotten on some of your nerves by thanking you for your support so much but really, you guys were my life line when I didn't know what in the world I was going to do. Hopefully I can reciprocate a little by sharing the rest of Joey's story and let others know that there is light at the end of the tunnel when dealing with an aggressive dog.