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  1. #11
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    I don't think that Chester drew blood, but I can't say for sure. The Golden never yelped, and there were no obvious signs of blood. I was able to pull him off of the Golden by his leash using one hand, so I'm certain that Chester wasn't out to kill. I probably could have gotten Chester off of the Golden sooner, but keeping Sebastian under control was my main focus.

    Honestly, I don't remember if Sebastian barked or not, but he didn't lunge, and he didn't bite. He didn't even try. Chester's leash had some slack in it, making it harder to pull him off of the other dog. The woman stayed about 15-20 feet away the entire [insert bad word here] time.

    The behaviorist's office has already been in touch, and it looks like Chester will be able to get in to see her at the end of October. I am going to try to get Chester a Freedom Harness (like Sebastian's) today after work. I think I know of a store that carries them, but need to check and see how late they are open. I am also going to try the Adaptil Collar with him, and see if that helps. He hasn't responded to DAP in the past, but it could be that he was overwhelmed the last time I tried it with him (about a year ago).

    I think we are also going to avoid that area of the building, including the dog park, for a while. I will drain their energy through walks and training. I may even see how Chester responds to puzzle toys.

    Normally, Chester is slow to become reactive. His body will tense, his hackles will raise, he will give a low, throaty growl, and then he will resort to biting. I usually have ample time to distract him with treats, and get him away from the other dog before he gets all the way through the process. This time, there was no time. She opened the park gate, and he was right up to us before I could do anything but repeat no no no no no no noooooo! Embarrassingly, the last noooooo came out more in the form of a shriek. I wish I had remained more calm, but I did not. I was expecting my two to kill that poor Golden.

    The weird thing is that I was just venting to Tsunibear about this lady yesterday in a FB private message. This lady is a big part of why I want the boys to get their CGC in the first place. My two have reacted to her dog through the park fence, when I couldn't get to them in time to distract them (she brings her dog right up to the fence, knowing that my two are going to react).
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  2. #12
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Tsunibear's Avatar

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    Okay this is going to be a long one. Sorry ahead of time for it.

    Now like we were talking about on Facebook about my Aunt's Golden her body language upon charging up to Missy is always friendly and then it changes after she is up on us and the chaos has already started. In Missy's case she will drop to ground and cower usually. Though there have been times where she puffs up and looks scary and tries to defend herself a little. Let me tell you from experience Goldens are hard to read. I have only been scared twice in my life and one time it was a Golden who was showing friendly body language while we were grooming him and in a split second it changed. Now I'm not a dog but, I am going to tell you right now when they are changing from friendly to not friendly their scents change or so the animal control officer I talked to when Missy got attacked said.

    Next thing is when Missy was attacked earlier this year by the Pit bull. I am going to say right now we didn't see him coming but, she knew he was there. When that happened Missy was out for blood but, not because, he was loose but, because her flock was endanger. This Pit was friendly and letting people touch him before we got there and he changed in a split second. Literally the police officers who were in the restaurant even noted he was super friendly until he wasn't. Some dogs can change that fast. When Missy was fighting with him there was no easy way to get them apart. It took three adults to get them loose, two to drag Missy back because my Mom was with the Pit and Missy wasn't having it and my Mom and two huge police officers to drag that Pit back. When they are attacking for blood you will know it. You won't be able to pull them apart with a leash trust me on that one. I had never seen Missy attack before and I know she was only doing it because, he attacked first but, still it's something you will never forget.

    My personal opinion is that dog not only invaded their personal space but, it's possible Chester felt that his body language was threatening and to Chester you and Sebastian are his world and he will protect it. He clearly wasn't out for blood or there would have been blood and you wouldn't have been able to pull them apart that easily.

    While yes I think going through training will help because, it's going to show that you are taking the issues seriously. I also believe that no amount of training is going to stop things like this from happening if this lady refuses to leash her dog. Missy is CGC certified and has went through four or five training classes just because, I like to keep her fresh on it and she still defended herself and her family when a dog invaded her space. When animal control came out I was too shaken up to even tell them that she was CGC certified. They didn't care either because, all they saw was a dog who was just in a fight and now all she wanted to do was be close her owner. Missy let the animal control lady check her over from top to bottom without an issue and I kept saying sorry and that she had never done this before. When she walked me out to the van to get my statement I asked if Missy would have to be quarantined over this and she told me no it was a loose dog charging at her and she was just defending herself and her family. She told me 98% of dogs will defend themselves or their loved ones if a loose dog is charging or attacking them. She also told me that while yes we struggled to separate them she did hold back because, she could have easily killed that loose dog but, instead she bit his nose, his ear and his eye and that was only because, he bit her first and then when we were trying to separate them went for my Mom and that wasn't okay. Between Missy trying to make him let go of her throat and trying to protect us only three bites isn't bad and that's what that animal control officer told me. Now in my eyes it was awful...it was my sweet loving goofball turning into Cujo and drawing blood. It took me awhile to get over it and trust her again even though I know she was only doing her job.

    So go through the training so you feel more confident in your boys but, know it's not going to stop it completely because, this women doesn't give a crap about proper etiquette. You are going to have to keep records of every time her dog is off leash just so you are completely covered.

  3. #13
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by SebastiansMom View Post
    I was able to pull him off of the Golden by his leash using one hand, so I'm certain that Chester wasn't out to kill.
    Good. In this situation Chester didn't start the scuffle, he reacted from being charged at. What you want to see is that even in his reaction he didn't go out of control. Yes, he did take a bite, but he didn't pursue bite with more violence. Otherwise there was no way you could have pulled him off simply by the leash with one arm. Those are all positive signs under the circumstances.

    Quote Originally Posted by SebastiansMom View Post
    Honestly, I don't remember if Sebastian barked or not, but he didn't lunge, and he didn't bite. He didn't even try.
    Even better. I think he read the situation better.

    Quote Originally Posted by SebastiansMom View Post
    Normally, Chester is slow to become reactive. His body will tense, his hackles will raise, he will give a low, throaty growl, and then he will resort to biting. I usually have ample time to distract him with treats, and get him away from the other dog before he gets all the way through the process.
    Clearly he gives a lot of warning before resorting to biting. That is good. By working with him in time even in a similar situation, he can learn to make a big scene with hideous growls and even bite like he did but the initial bite would serve as a warning rather than to harm, so there would be no injuries.

    Quote Originally Posted by SebastiansMom View Post
    I wish I had remained more calm, but I did not.
    You will gain more confidence as you work with the behaviorist. As your confidence grow, your boys will reflect that accordingly.

    With everything you described you could easily have been talking about Bro. Bro probably have gotten into half a dozen scuffles in his life. You saw Bro last year at the pyr picnic and saw how he behaved around all the pyrs. That was from me working with him for years. Bro picked a fight with a full grown male pyr at that picnic event when he was 7 months old (Bro was at best 60 lb. at that age). Like Chester, Bro was not reactive to every dog, but with those he reacted to, he put up quite a display.

    So the golden's owner simply stood aside out of the way and watched? That's good really... At least that's way better than that time when Bro jumped out of my SUV to get at a terrier that was in my front yard. My house sits 6 foot above street level so my front yard slopes up from the street. This terrier was on a long flex lead and had gotten up far into our front yard. I had just loaded my dogs into my car to go somewhere and when Bro saw that terrier way into his territory, he pushed past me out of the car again. Bro ran up to the little terrier and stood over him to intimidate but did not growl and did not bite. The terrier, being a terrier, went for the kill bite right away to Bro's throat. Once attacked, Bro responded and had that terrier pinned down by the back of the neck within a couple of seconds. But the problem was by then all hell had broken loose with the terrier's lady owner and and a passerby. The owner was screaming and yanking uselessly at the flex lead, the passerby was hurling an endless stream of 4 letter words at me and my husband. With all that commotion, I couldn't get a firm grip on Bro before the terrier wiggled loose and the dogs started to chase each other in circles with flex lead getting more and more tangled up every which way and of course that lady continuing to pull on it was making things even worse. Then my husband started yelling at Bro and Bro ran off because Daddy was yelling at him. After Bro ran off, I helped the lady untangle the mess of flex lead and she admitted that her dog had a history of attacking bigger dogs. Indeed, her dog went for the kill bite first, not mine. Bro had that terrier pinned down but wasn't going for the kill. I've seen Bro going for the kill with cats, and so I knew he had no intentions of killing the terrier. But because my dog was bigger, the bigger dog always got the blame - hence the passerby screaming at us regardless of what actually happened. There were actually 3 small dogs there that day, the terrier lady and 2 dogs, the nasty snappy one and a nonaggressive female terrier, and the passerby had a small spaniel. Bro only got into a fight with the nasty snappy one after the terrier attacked first and he totally ignored the other two little dogs. That was one of Bro's more dramatic scuffles...

    I do not disagree with Tsuni in terms of situations where a dog is actually attacked that the dog will defend itself no matter how much desensitization training. Those situations, thankfully, do not occur that often. The training for dogs like Bro and Chester is geared towards situations like the one that SM just went through where that golden charged but wasn't meaning to attack. The goal of the training is so that Chester would learn to not simply react with aggression but give time for the humans to take control of the situation. That can be done by patience and consistency in training. It seems to me it is very encouraging at this point that Sebastian did not get involved so clearly he's responding quite well to the exercises the behaviorist assigned.

    As for goldens and labs and why some dogs just don't like them (Bro has always had an issue with those two breeds), Temple Grandin in her book Animals in Translations talks about body language that have evolved in different breeds of dogs. Some of you may find that discussion quite interesting.

  4. #14
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Tsunibear and Jewel, thank you so much for your responses! It really is a relief to know that Chester really was just defending himself, and not deliberately trying to hurt anyone. Part of me knew that from the beginning, but then the other part of me knew that I was biased toward Chester, being that he is my dog, so, of course, I'm going to take "his side". I really don't think that the Golden meant any harm, but he still scared Chester.

    I have to say that Chester broke my heart tonight. I was walking them after getting home from work, and we were just past the entrance to the parking garage. Suddenly, Chester's entire demeanor changed. His tail tucked, his ears went back, and his eyes grew about as wide as I have ever seen them. He didn't want to walk with Sebastian and me, but he didn't want to stay where we were, either. I looked around, trying to find the source of Chester's sudden terror, and all I saw was a lady putting a comforter in the back seat of her car. I thought that maybe he was scared of the comforter (even though that is more something that Sebastian would have noticed during his fear periods), but Chester didn't settle even after the lady closed up her car and went back inside. I kept looking around, and then I saw the lady from yesterday driving into the garage, with her Golden in the back seat, sticking his head out the window. Chester must have smelled him from three blocks away.

    On a happier note, though, he loves his new harness (unlike his big brother). With the exception of the few minutes described above, he has been strutting around like a show horse. He knows it looks good on him! I also got him an Adaptil (DAP) collar, but it's really too soon to see if it has had an effect.

    A little later this evening, I took them down to the park, since there was no one in there, and worked on recall exercises with both boys, as well as the training exercises that the behaviorist gave us. I'm hoping that working on basic obedience stuff as well as the stuff that the behaviorist gave us will give him the confidence boost that he desperately needs right now (and did before yesterday's mayhem).

    I am definitely going to find the Temple Grandin book that you mentioned, Jewel. The boys don't have problems with either Labs or Goldens per se, they have seen both one of their Golden friends and one of their Lab friends since yesterday morning, and were as happy to see them as ever - despite having not seen their Lab friend in a very long time. However, the boys do have a mortal enemy of each breed, who both happen to be intact males.

    Again, thank you so much for your insight and wisdom. I am so grateful to have found this forum. We are seeing the behaviorist on October 27, and I hope that she will be able to help Chester as much as she has helped Sebastian!
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  5. #15
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Chester went to the behaviorist today, and I think it was a very productive visit. She confirmed that he has a generalized anxiety disorder, and has put him on medication to help. It should be about 4-6 weeks before we know if it is the right medication for him. She also wants me to try switching the boys to a lower protein food, as that sometimes helps dogs with fear aggression.

    As for his training, she wants him to be a bit less anxious before I try to get him into a group training situation. Her trainer is going to have some group classes starting next month, which may be a good option if I can get him used to their training space first. We went over there for a few minutes today, and it was more than he could handle. We are going to try to stop by in a few weeks when the space is empty to "make it rain (treats)", and keep trying until he is comfortable enough there that he doesn't shut down.

    Fingers crossed that this medication will work for him. She said that very rarely, the wrong meds will actually make them worse, but she does not think that even the worst case scenario would cause him to lash out at Sebastian (my biggest concern).

    I am so grateful to live in an area where we have these types of resources available to us.
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  6. #16
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) nick's spirit's Avatar

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    Chester sure knew a good "Mom" when he chose you!!

    The meds sound like a good idea, hopefully it will help him focus on you & learned the redirection he needs.

    Your trainer sounds great, calm, patient and knowledgeable!! and getting Chester into the class room & letting him get comfortable...wonderful!!

    This sounds like a win-win situation for all...thanks for keeping us up to date on Chester's progress.

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  7. #17
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Tsunibear's Avatar

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    Sounds like you and Chester have a good plan worked out. I can't wait to hear about updates.

  8. #18
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    So, just out of curiosity, does anyone have any experience with a male dog who does not like having his boy bit sniffed? Chester really seems to take offense to it, and it seems to be getting worse. I had noticed him react negatively before to dogs that he didn't know well sniffing him there. Last night, he snapped at one of his friends who sniffed him there (in fairness, everyone was leashed, and the friend was at one time more of a frenemy with whom Chester learned to get along). In the last few days, I have noticed Chester's body language stiffen if Sebastian tries to sniff him there.

    Is it rude for a dog to sniff another dog there, or is Chester entering a new phase of his insecurity? He has been on the Sertraline (Zoloft) for just over a week, so it's hard to tell if this is a natural progression, or if the medication is making him more anxious/less inhibited to act on anxiety-based impulses.

    The behaviorist's office was closed today, so I plan on calling her tomorrow to get her take on it.
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  9. #19
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Tsunibear's Avatar

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    After Monty had been on his steroids for awhile he got like that. He was never too keen on having dogs up in his junk in the first place but, it got worse after the steroid usage. Thankfully for me I could tell Missy to leave it and she would and my Mom's smaller dogs never cared to smell it.

  10. #20
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    Tsunibear, thank you. It makes sense that corticosteroids could be playing a role in this. I know that I react badly even to prednisone eye drops. I just hope that I can get him feeling better soon.
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