Old Dawg (Senior Member)
One Incident, Two Conundrums
Sebastian tried to break the fence down, in an attempt to get to the dog on the other side, last night. Naturally, this happened roughly 24 hours after I told a dear friend how well he was behaving, and how he hadn't tried breaking the fence down in at least six months. I shouldn't have jinxed it by saying anything.
I wasn't lying to my friend. I have noticed in the last few months that Sebastian has become very cooperative and easy to live with. For the most part, he has become far less demanding when he wants something, and will usually come inside right when I open the door and ask him to. Sometimes, I have to count to three, rarely, I have to put shoes on and go out to herd him inside.
As you all know, both Sebastian and Chester have long, well-documented histories with aggression toward dogs they don't know. As you also know, Chester is currently in treatment for severe Separation Anxiety. Chester is much improved, but the slightest variation from routine can set him back quite a bit. Right now, our aggression treatment plan is on hold until Chester can cope with being left at home while I work with Sebastian one-on-one. I plan on having the CAAB come back to work with us at that point.
So, back to last night. The boys were out in the yard, which, as I have mentioned before, backs into a green belt. I was in the living room, where I could keep an eye on them through the windows. Having them go outside without me is part of Chester's treatment plan. I heard Sebastian start barking, and then saw that there was a dog walking in the greenway, right up next to the fence (it's a wood fence, but this particular dog wears a blue lighted collar at night, and I could see it blinking through the panels). In the seconds it took me to get outside, both Sebastian and the blinky blue collared dog were at the gate, fully engaged in a fence fight.
This is conundrum one. Obviously, I don't want either of my dogs engaging in fence-fighting with other dogs, but I can't help but be irritated with the person allowing blinky blue dog to walk right up next to the fence. The greenway is at least 30 feet wide, allowing plenty of room for people to walk dogs without crowding another dog's territory. Sebastian and blinky blue have gotten into it before, so it's not like the person walking him didn't know that there is a big, cranky dog at our house. Our floodlights were on, and Sebastian started barking as they rounded the corner. Common sense would have told me not to let my dog walk right up next to this particular fence, but then again, I usually try not to let my dogs crowd other people's fences in general. Am I wrong in thinking this, or were blinky blue and his human really being rude?
On my way outside, I grabbed a water bottle that I had strategically placed by the door - in case of this very type of situation, and used it to get Sebastian's attention. It worked, and as quickly as the situation had escalated, it was diffused. Sebastian ran to the closed sliding glass door, turned to me, and gave me a look that I can only describe as being one of hurt and betrayal. He almost seemed afraid of me as I pointed to the open door, and told him to go inside.
Once he and Chester were inside, I gave them each a cookie, dried Sebastian off, and then gave them each a favorite, special-time treat. Sebastian seemed to have forgiven me, but I hadn't quite forgiven myself for using the water bottle on him. That look on his face is still haunting me today.
What do you think? Is the water bottle too aversive for him to handle? I'm almost certain that in the same situation, food would not be powerful enough to lure him away from an arch enemy, such as blinky blue. Does anyone have any ideas of a less aversive method that might work?
Or, could he just have been manipulating me into feeling bad? It's not like he was physically harmed during the breaking up of the fence fight.
I'm hoping that some objective insight will help me make better sense of this, and respond better next time. I certainly don't want him fence fighting, but I don't want to lose his trust, either.