UPDATE on Bitten & Constant Growling

Hey everyone,

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.

I would really recommend investing in the video The Language of Dogs. It gives so much insight into the really subtle cues that dogs give us that we miss because we don't "speak" their language. http://www.bluedogtraining.com/videos-dvds.html

I would also recommend reading this article about dominance theory and current thoughts on it, http://www.jheffernan.com/Debunking.pdf

Ivoss, the article you sent leads me to believe you think we have been physical or have been taught to be. That never even crossed my mind. In fact 90% of what we're doing is non verbal.
It was either euthanize him or bring him back home and we're doing the best we can. The behaviorist was highly recommended by several rescue groups that have used her in the past and because we chose to bring him back to our home we needed some serious help.
A lot of what was in my post was meant to be light hearted, like me puffing up when I saw him. That wasn't literal. Geez. And if I made him stay at his pad for 30 minutes, so be it. We're not hanging him upside down by a choke collar or drowning him so he becomes submissive. But yes, we will bump him with our knees a little bit if he leans on us. That's terribly cruel I know (that's a joke too). I feel like I've had to defend every stinkin' decision I've made since this happened. If we would've euthanized him, I would've gotten slammed, because I say he's dominant or aggressive, I get an article sent to me about violent corrective tactics and that dominance doesn't really exist. I don't care what you call it, it is what it is and we got the best help we could find and that's what we're following because it's the only thing that's seemed to have any impact. And if a little bump in his side with our knee is violent then I guess it is.

Actually, the reason I sent you the article was not because I thought you were being physical but because in your writing you had said that your dog jumping up on you was because he was being "dominant". I thought that it might be useful for you to read the article to see that the term "dominant" may not be the most helpful in trying to help you deal with agression. Instead classifying behavior as aggressive, inappropriate, rude, or other descriptives may be better.

I would be concerned about some of the body language that you describe of your dog. The tail between the legs and the ears down are not body language that a dog displays when it is happy and relaxed.

This is a tough one.
On one hand, you love the dog and had to do something.
On the other, and you know I am on your side honey, the body langage of the dog described is a bit disturbing…
But lets see how it goes.
YOU love this dog, that is very plain.
You want it to work.
So, maybe you do tough love now, and once this dog "gets" it, the body
laungage will be different.
Again, I am not being critical.
You are there and doing what you need to do.
I am very interested to see how it goes in the future.
Are there some happy play days yet? Or is that not to be until he comes around more?? rereading this question, it sounds sooooooo insulting again, I don't me it to be.
Just asking how the "play times" are.

Excuse me, but instead of beating around the bush here, why not just come out and ask Direy01 directly what techniques the behaviorist used to change the dogs behavior? Also, what techniques did the behaviorist suggest you continue to use once Direy01 picked up the dog and took it home?

Direy01, I certainly hope you understand that we want the best for you and your dog.

Speaking only for Miranda and myself, the only time we have ever seen behavior from a dog where there tail is down between their legs like you describe is when they are frightened. In fact the only time we have seen our Basenji Roo relax his tail where it uncurled is when he was frightened or fearful of something, or extremely tired. So please understand our concerns. While we certainly cannot speak for others, I suspect, some of them also have the same concerns.

Jason

This is such a hard one for folks who are not involved to give opinions on.
This woman loves this dog.
She could not live with the dog the way it was behaving.
So, she found a trainer to help.
Maybe we would have done something differently, but right now, I think she needs to be confident that what she posts will be taken in a kind manner.
easy to arm chair quarterback and not be in the game…
The reason I know this is we spend an hr on the phone discussing this issue before she had this dog into the trainer.
Hopefully, it will turn out well.
I pray it does.

I really do think that every dog owner should see the Language of Dogs DVD. It is packed full of dog footage with really good information about what different body language signals mean. So many situations with dogs escalate way further than they need to because people do not know what their dog is trying to say that the dog has to resort to what is the equivalent of shouting profanity to get its point across.

As for the article on dominance, I should have prefaced it by saying that it was not the sections on force that I was recommending but instead the information about how the term dominance is applied to many situations where it actually becomes a hurdle to actually dealing with the behavior. Also, the part about how most of dominance theory was based on some flawed research and taken way out of context. The author's biggest point is that rather than trying to worry about who is dominating who an owner needs to work on their relationship with their dog. The best way to gain a dog's respect is to make it work for its life rewards, such as food, toys, walks, etc.

I have gone to some dog classes and watches some of the footage of these difficult dogs.
They really do give signals, but they can be so very slight, and quick, you have to have your eyes or vidio on them to see it.
I think the 2 sites you recommended are wonderful.
I am going to order some of the tapes to watch and try to learn more.
Thanks LVoss.

@lvoss:

I would really recommend investing in the video The Language of Dogs. It gives so much insight into the really subtle cues that dogs give us that we miss because we don't "speak" their language. http://www.bluedogtraining.com/videos-dvds.html

I would also recommend reading this article about dominance theory and current thoughts on it, http://www.jheffernan.com/Debunking.pdf

This is a good post, but I think that people, even the experts, sometimes confuse the words Dominance and Domineering. I also believe that many confuse Domineering Behaviors and call it Dominant Behavior. Personally I like Cesar Millan's approach. At least this behaviorist has had the courage to admit that his approach while working with most dogs he has encountered, has met with a few exceptions. Cesar's advice, comes from daily actual experience in the field, and I certainly have a lot of respect for a person's advice who is involved in this way.

I know I will probably never be an expert like Cesar, or the people mentioned in the article. What I do know, is that no matter if its human or animal, if either one does not trust you, then there are going to be issues.

Let me end this post with these few sentences:

You can trust Someone, but not Love or Respect them

You can respect Someone and their accomplishments, but not Love or Trust them

You can Love someone, but not Trust or Respect them

You can Love and Trust someone, but not Respect them

You can Love and Respect someone, but not Trust them

and last but least,

You can Respect and Trust Someone, and not Love them

I think you need all three of these, Love, Respect, and Trust to have a rewarding relationship with your Spouse, Children, Significant other, or Basenji. It has to be a two way street.

In my opinion, you do not learn to be Dominant or Submissive. It is who and what you are, not what you do or say. It is at the core of your being.

For some, Dominance like Submission is the way they show their love to another.

Jason

Hi Direy … I admire the way you have handled everything and think you've done a remarkable job with your Joey. That all took a lot of faith and courage! FYI about the slinking bit, we've had 3 basenjis so far. A) Thru a window, we saw Basenji #1 actually "slinking & sneaking" out to our bbq pit. She got low to the ground, ears back, tail down, then snatched a steak & ran. Our jaws dropped. 😎 Basenji #2 used to chase big squirrels who teased her. One day, 4 baby squirrels came down to our bird bath. We held our breaths as she charged outside. But . . . she then put on her brakes, got low to the ground, ears back, tail down, and slinked over to them. She then proceeded to lick & clean their butts, each squirrel, one at a time. It was the sweetest thing ever. C) Basenji #3 slinks around the corners of our house, trying to sneak up on ducks that land inside our fenced front yard. These are 3 of our happy slinking stories. Slinking can also be a sad thing, but not always. Please keep me posted as to your progress with your Joey, and again, you've done a wonderful thing.

Slinking during hunting is one thing (my Sugar does it and has caught a few birds this way, while I've had to run outside, chase her down and pull the mangled mess out of her mouth, I might add) and cowering in fear is another. I cannot comment on what methods the behaviourist used, or what 'slinking' may mean to you. I would caution, however, that the methods used MAY have an impact later on. Basenji's are quirky, have a looooong memory, and use it. Once your dog has gotten used to the way things are supposed to be, he may revert every once in a while, this time, with no obvious warning to you. My advice is just to be careful. While this is submissive behaviour now, you don't know what the future holds. And the Cesar Milano thing-you see what it is put on TV for your viewing pleasure. You don't see what is behind the scenes, as I have said before, Cesar works primarily with domesticated dogs. Basenji's are not domesticated. And anyone who trusts their dogs 100%, IMO, should be very careful. While I love my dogs, there is always a chance for something to go wrong.

@nomrbddgs:

Slinking during hunting is one thing (my Sugar does it and has caught a few birds this way, while I've had to run outside, chase her down and pull the mangled mess out of her mouth, I might add) and cowering in fear is another. I cannot comment on what methods the behaviourist used, or what 'slinking' may mean to you. I would caution, however, that the methods used MAY have an impact later on. Basenji's are quirky, have a looooong memory, and use it. Once your dog has gotten used to the way things are supposed to be, he may revert every once in a while, this time, with no obvious warning to you. My advice is just to be careful. While this is submissive behaviour now, you don't know what the future holds. And the Cesar Milano thing-you see what it is put on TV for your viewing pleasure. You don't see what is behind the scenes, as I have said before, Cesar works primarily with domesticated dogs. Basenji's are not domesticated. And anyone who trusts their dogs 100%, IMO, should be very careful. While I love my dogs, there is always a chance for something to go wrong.

Well, that's certainly so. Basenjis can be great con artists, actors & plotters, IE., pretending to be angels, & then Bam . . . jump your neighbor's cat or pounce on & gulp down a whole pile of chicken bones they secretly spied hiding in some grass at the park. Then scream like they're being murdered while you're yanking the bones out of their mouths. Thanks for the reminder that other dogs are domesticated, but basenjis are not. I should plaster that on my walls, because when they're being their sweet selves, that is so easy to forget.

Unfortunately, I did not read the original post about Joey, but I've had to work very hard with my Willie who developed dominance aggression, food aggression and deferred aggression at least partly in reaction to my female who was picking on him, kicking him out of all his sleeping spots, and then finally attacking him to the point where I thought she'd kill him if she could (she's very sweet with us). But maybe it was always partly there and her behavior just brought it out.

I worked with a behaviorist and he's about 95% perfect now - my daughters and I do great with him, but I still have to be alert (one daughter is sleeping with him on the couch right now, but if my husband went up there, he'd growl at him). I've never seen any of my basenjis slink, but I have had dogs that "sneaked" and would adopt that sort of posture.

I give Direy a lot of credit. It's scary having an aggressive dog. I have 2 girls in the house and my son visits (he still gives him a hard time too). The girls really pitched in and did their work with him and he adores them. They know how to handle him if he gets snarky about something and they know how to anticipate him and with good behavior modification techniques and lots of hard work we have a dog we can really enjoy again. But yes, they are not domesticated like other dogs, and since we've had this issue with him, I never assume that I can just think he's totally over it.

Good luck Direy, and don't give up. It takes time, but it's worth it. Behavior modification works well and all my work with Willie has been hands off, treat rewards and claiming my space. If he snarks I step towards him (as Cesar says, calm assertive).

We had a dog that became agressive, because we gave her too much space. We let her on the couch.. took her upstairs in our beds.. etc. When we would walk towards the couch, she would growl, like it was hers.

We decides to become the 'leader' again. She wasn't allowed to sleep on the couch/in our beds. We never went to her, she always had to come to us. On walks, we would decide were to stop for a sniff etc. She definatly changed. And her bodylanguage changed with it. It became very 'low/submissive' at first. She had a litter scratch on her ego I think. I believe maybe Joey has a scratch on his ego as well. You don't have to be physical to make a dog more submissive in his bodylanguage. And I don't think a dog is only happy when his tail and ears are up. A dog is happy when he knows his place in the family. Joey will relax more when he knows his new place. And you will have to try to strictly follow the new rules, so Joey knows the situation has changed for good. This gives him some peace as well.
I think it's great that you made clear he was allowed to get up from his place, when you would tell him so.

When there is no problem to start with, I think the best way to get respect from your dog is by letting him work for his walks/food etc. But I also think you can make sure no real dominance issues come up. Mirtillo isn't allowed on the couch/in bed just to avoid problems. A dog is a dog and needs to know that he hasn't got all the privileges a human has. He will be ignored if he is begging for attantion and we don't allow him to follow us every where he wants.

I do not agree with the statement that basenjis are not domesticated. They are maybe a 'bit' diffirent than a retriever.. But other than that..
I think that being domesticated just doesn't mean that they understand people. We still have to try and learn their language. (by watching a DVD for example). But that also goes for the retriever.

Here's what I mean by domesticated. If you take one of the dogs like a retreiver, lab, jack russells, border collie's of the world, these dogs are totally trainable and want to please you as their owner. They were made by man for a distinctive purpose. However, there are dogs, like the Basenji's, African Wild Dog, Jindo, and any Pariah dog, that was not bred by humans for a purpose but came down through the lines in a more natural setting. A lot of these dogs live near humans and are used by humans, but were never bred by humans (until recently) for a direct purpose. And until the last 20 years or so, Basenji's were not bred for strictly temperment. Even today, we still have pockets of very, VERY nasty dogs. And saying that, you can't breed 3000 years worth of temperment out in a short amount of time. It doesn't matter whether they understand people or not, they are independant. If something is more interesting than you, they are not going to stay no matter what. A retriever would. And as I did say, all of this is IMO.

I am pleased that she was shown non aggressive tactics for being in control, such as just placing him back in his spot repeatedly. This does show great promise.

Arlene, I have to disaggree with you when it comes to a Jack Russell.

I hear from so many people who are placing Russells with us for rescue the statment "Oh I figgured I would get a Jack because they are SOO trainable, you know like the dog on TV".
Then the reality sinks in and they realize that a jack could care less what you have to say or what you want from them.
IMO, owning many Russell terriers over the years, and on my 3rd B now. I find very little difference in their temperment. I do aggree with you when it comes to labs and retrievers, however I can tell you that all the Russells I have owned know all their commands VERY well, but just like a B will ONLY follow them on their own terms, or for a treat. 🙂

I think, at least for me, that saying a basenji is not "domesticated" only means that they are more in touch with the instincts that they developed naturally than those they were bred by humans for. It's the same way I feel about cats - I've always thought, when watching them, that they were closer to what they would be in nature, without us, than most dogs I knew were. I feel the same way about basenjis - simply that they are closer to what they would be in nature without us. Which is why I think they have problems as pets sometimes, because petdom requires things of them that are really unnatural for them. As Daniel McCaig (sp?) said of a border collie he was training (one who had been kept as a pet that I think was released to him) - her heart was too great for petdom. Some of our basenjis are in the same place - their hearts may be too great for petdom unless we really figure out how to respect them, lead them, and work with their instincts.

A lot of dogs, including jacks, borders, etc are high energy dogs. This would include the Basenji. But my point is you can train high energy dogs. But very, very rarely can you rely on Basenji's to the point you can rely on a 'domesticated' dog. You can even rely on a jack more than you can a B. Jack's were bred for a purpose and they achieve that purpose very well. If you work with them they will focus on the task. I know of a person who has gone international in agility and obedience with her Jack's-how many B owners can lay claim to that? A very limited few-and even then, again they are not reliable. I just find B's are more unreliable than Jack's. Jack's are not totally trainable-I will agree with you and I should have not included them, they are different than domesticated, but they are still domesticated. But again they have been created by human's, for a purpose, and if you train them for what they are supposed to be used for, they will do their job. I just can't see my B not being a predator. My b's are hunters-on their own terms and I can't trust them with any other animal. Heck, I can't even get them to sit with any reliablility! My B boy waited two weeks, thinking about how to get to my chickens, then sliced one open. That was three years ago. He will still, if I take him out the back door, try to run to the chicken pen! So he's reliable in that sense!

@nomrbddgs:

A lot of dogs, including jacks, borders, etc are high energy dogs. This would include the Basenji. But my point is you can train high energy dogs. But very, very rarely can you rely on Basenji's to the point you can rely on a 'domesticated' dog. You can even rely on a jack more than you can a B. Jack's were bred for a purpose and they achieve that purpose very well. If you work with them they will focus on the task. I know of a person who has gone international in agility and obedience with her Jack's-how many B owners can lay claim to that? A very limited few-and even then, again they are not reliable. I just find B's are more unreliable than Jack's. Jack's are not totally trainable-I will agree with you and I should have not included them, they are different than domesticated, but they are still domesticated. But again they have been created by human's, for a purpose, and if you train them for what they are supposed to be used for, they will do their job. I just can't see my B not being a predator. My b's are hunters-on their own terms and I can't trust them with any other animal. Heck, I can't even get them to sit with any reliablility! My B boy waited two weeks, thinking about how to get to my chickens, then sliced one open. That was three years ago. He will still, if I take him out the back door, try to run to the chicken pen! So he's reliable in that sense!

I understand…I just see so many Jacks needing rescue because people think they will listen, and be good and not run away for no reason, or refuse to listen to commands.
And all three of my Bs have been easier to train than any of my Jacks have ( I must just be super lucky with the Bs). 😃 I can see how Bs are closer to their natural evolutionary selves than the russells who, lord knows have had their bloodlines manipulated more than I care to think about. Sorry to get on my soapbox.
But that's just me championing my other mutt's causes. I hope I didn't offend you at all Arlene. :rolleyes:

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