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  1. #1
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    Default Velcro LGD. Obsessed with stalking me everywhere- help!

    I got Questa back in July, she's about 1 year old and 3/4 Anatolian and 1/4 Great Pyr. We already have an almost 10 year old Great Pyr/Lab so are familiar with LGD's and knew we wanted a dog that was already a (relatively) proven LGD, had very little prey drive, and of course was used to living outside. Questa fit the bill well, she had been living out with a herd of goats and guarding them the first year of her life, she had exposure to poultry and little prey drive as well. Unfortunately when I got her home, she hyperfocused on me and has been religiously stalking me since.

    She does occasionally wander off and do her own thing, more often than not though she want to be within 10 feet of me, preferably only a couple feet away. When I am working on things outside and she lays down but I then need to move a few more feet away, she will get up each and every time to follow me, despite the fact that if she waited a couple more seconds she wouldn't have needed to get up at all. It's very much a compulsion and she will often plop herself down directly behind a horse (despite the fact she had been lightly kicked by one for being rude) or otherwise lay down/stand very close to them (she's been bitten by one as well) and I'm genuinely baffled as to why she doesn't seem to learn from her experiences.

    If she were following me around in the house I would understand that (boredom), but she loves scents and I know she would enjoy exploring the property, she just has to follow me around instead. I don't give her treats when I'm working and she's not terribly food motivated anyways, I don't pet her or pay her attention, there's no obvious reinforcement for her following me around. For the first week she actually walked so close my heels would often hit the bottom of her chin, especially when going up stairs. I realize she is still a young puppy, and she was removed from her litter at 5 weeks (lord knows why), so her socialization is a bit weird. She 'spooks' at things, she was terrified the first time she saw a candle and dropped her body half way to the ground with tail tucked when she first encountered a watermelon, so obviously she's a bit weird and inexperienced.

    She's definitely become more confident, but she still stalks me everywhere if I don't have her tied and she'll follow me from door to door to window so she can catch a glance of me sometimes. I'm not so sure this is only separation anxiety really, I think she more so has her wires crossed when it comes to her guarding instinct? I'm not entirely sure, I do know she has a nice little tantrum when I 'dare' leave her tied alone so I can go do things without feeling claustrophobic or worrying about her getting in the way and getting hurt (almost dropped a kennel panel on her when I was unloading them because she was standing so close).

    Any advice/input would be appreciated! The only idea I have is to mat train her, however her instinct to crawl up my butt is so strong I'm not sure how far that'll get me. She's driving me nuts obviously, in all honestly I kind of don't even like her anymore, I'm hoping there is some kind of solution to this.

  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    We are currently raising our 4th pyr. Well, actually, of the 4 we've had, 3 have been purebred pyrs, and 1 was 1/2 pyr 1/2 retriever.

    My current pup, a purebred pyr, is the most velcro of them all. We've had him since he was 8.5 weeks old. He's always followed me around the house. He's pretty much underfoot all the time. And yes, there have been plenty of times where I almost tripped over him. He's just about to turn a year old and he's still in the habit of following me around the house wherever I am. Just to put things in perspective, our house is only 1000 sq. ft. and open concept, so it's not like I'm ever far away from him no matter where I am in the house. Still he feels the need to follow me, doesn't matter if he's napping, he'll get up and follow. My pup did indeed develpo separation anxiety. I spent 6 months working with him and now he's a lot better and we can leave him at home by himself.

    You said that Questa was a working dog guarding goats? So basically you plucked her from the herd of goats that she grew up guarding? This is what I heard once in conversation with someone whose family runs a 2000 head sheep ranch in Texas and they have a dozen or so LGDs working in different areas of their property. She said that whenever they move a particular herd to market, they usually have to leave a few behind because otherwise the LGDs guarding that herd would get very upset because suddenly they lost all of their charges. Leaving a few behind helps the LGDs not to feel lost at what to do.

    I wonder if that's what is happening to Quest. She was suddenly removed from the job she's had since she was a baby and then if she wasn't given another herd to guard, she may be lost as to what she's supped to be doing and has no choice but to fixate on you. What you've described as her being skiddish over things sound like things that a dog raised in the pasture likely wouldn't have been exposed to. I mean, how often do you think a rancher would put a candle in the middle of a pasture with a herd of goats? My pup is very widely socialized, but if he encounters something he's not familiar with, he will bark at it. So, I am not at all surprised that Quests may be skiddish over things she's never experienced with.

    Instead of thinking she's useless and irritating, think of why she's acting that way and how and what YOU can to do to fulfill HER needs. Take the time to praise if you she leaves your side and encourage her to explore. If you work with horses, you know your attitude greatly affects how an animal responds. If you are irritated with Questa a lot, all that does is make her think that she needs to stick closer because you are apparently upset at whatever is surrounding you. She doesn't know you are upset with HER. A positive attitude might move things along the way you envisioned in the first place. Questa is still a puppy, so her potential for learning is huge. What is "mat training"? Is that where you teach a dog to go to a mat and lay down? If so, definitely start with that. Once she's learned that it makes you happy that she does what she is told, it will give her confidence and things can progress from there.

    But you do have to decide whether you are willing to put in the time and energy to focus on working with Questa. If not, perhaps she's better off being someone else's velcro dog. If you do not have the time to work with her, it's ok. Sometimes there is mismatch of dog and family and in those situations, rehoming is the right decision, best thing for both sides. So, just be honest with yourself and for Questa's sake as well.

  3. #3
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    I definitely think sheís irritating, donít think sheís useless or worthless or anything like that. She just made me want to jump off a cliff for a solid month before I actually did anything about it because I was hoping she would work herself out of it pretty quickly (sheís a young dog, she needs to time to adjust yada yada). Which is my fault and those are my feelings, it just makes me feel so crowded and paranoid (I canít even go pee without her following me to the window and staring) and they are very strong feelings.

    Her previous owner had to sell off her herd of goats for financial reasons and I was told Questa became depressed and lost a lot of weight. My original intention was for her to be my dog, she would come inside to sleep at night, just be my buddy. I started out having her sleep inside at night in my room, she would always lay by my bed, but towards the end of that time itís like she couldnít press herself close enough to the bed frame. Her previous owner said she really wanted her to Ďbondí with someone and looking back at that comment Iím just thinking- lady you have got to be out of your mind. She probably would have been fine if she was just put out with another herd of goats, bonding only caused her to lose her entire sense of self and a lot of her confidence.

    I tried to contain her a ways away from me and give her a really nice juicy bone to chew on, unless Iím in her field of vision and within 20 feet though she wonít even acknowledge it. And of course if thatís within our other dogs area, heíll just steal it while sheís obsessing on being able to see me. I do have fencing set up to keep her in a designated area, but she wouldnít be able to follow me back up to the house and at this point Iím afraid she would go right through it in order to follow me so thatís shelved for now.

    Iíve thought through how to clicker train her to move away from me and marking and rewarding every time she steps away to go do something else, I keep getting stuck on concerns that sheíll become even more fond and focused on me though. She only finds food so enticing, she finds following me around more reinforcing than anything and thatís why Iím kinda terrified of shooting myself in the foot and having her go íKate AND food?! Iím never moving more than x number of feet away from you ever againí.

    I thought I had made it plenty clear to her it was her following me that was the issue, Iíve stopped her numerous times right before sheís able to hop up and follow me and had her stay put. Although considering she doesnít seem to learn from her horse experiences and it took 2 months to get a solid sit and stay (with clear cues and a high value food reward), I suppose I shouldnít expect her to catch on that quickly. Sheís not an idiot, and itís not like sheís so excited she canít contain herself, sheís very casual about doing most anything, itís more like sheís out there in lala land somewhere just generally comes across as a bit dim sometimes. Iím used to dogs tuning me out, she just doesnít seem to Get It sometimes, at least with the working with humans part though I think a lot of that is just her being completely oblivious as to how these things work in the first place and how she she should think things through.

    Yes, mat training is you train them to station themselves on something. Still the same concerns in terms of food though, and I genuinely want her to roam the property, not be stuck in one place. Maybe I could only put her back on the mat when she gets closer to me rather than moving away and doing something else? So she has to lay there essentially doing nothing (except occasional reinforcement when I happen to spot her looking away) unless she wants to go and wander. That would take a heck of a lot of time to even get a solid stationing behavior from her though considering how driven she is to follow. And again, why would she go to a mat for a treat when she can be beside me. I have had some progress lengthening the distance she allows, itís only been about 6 feet or so in two months, so Iím not sure I would get any results that would be useful day to day for some time. I dunno, hoping Iíll be able to find some clicker people who have dealt with this kind of situation and LGDís and had success managing it.

    I know why sheís performing the behavior, the logical side of me is just astounded that a dog bred to be independent and that has been so independent before, can turn into such a leech when there are so many other opportunities for her to do other things she loves to do.

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

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    I think it might be helpful for you both if instead of being irritated with her, you tried to empathize with her. At roughly a year old, from a developmental standpoint, her closest human equivalent would be a middle schooler. In the very short time that she had been alive, she has been through quite a bit. She was taken away from her Mom and siblings WAY too soon, and put in with a herd of goats to whom she was obviously closely bonded. Then, she had that metaphorical rug ripped out from under her. She's still a social creature and needs that bonding - whether it be with a new herd of goats or a human family.

    That emotional bond is what drives the LGD to do its job. They don't care about your material possessions. They don't care about whether or not their humans are happy. They care about keeping their charges safe, and will do so wherever they are.

    Questa isn't clinging to you to annoy you, she's clinging to you because she's afraid. She missed her key socialization period where she was supposed to learn from her Mom and siblings how to be a dog. Instead, she learned how the goat world works, and then had that taken away. Now, you're all she knows, and she is afraid she's going to lose you, too. Shunning her only reinforces that fear.

    She has Separation Anxiety. It's not a personality flaw, it's a debilitating illness. It's also treatable if you take the time and have the patience to do it right. By time, I mean months and months and months. How many months? It's different for every dog. Some need four, some need six, some need nine, some need twelve, some need even more than that. Some require medication. Some require behavior modification. Some, like my Chester, require both. He had been on medication for about a year before suffering a major setback. We started seeing a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (the PhD kind) last November. We are just now to the point where I can leave the house twice in one day without him losing his mind.

    If you are willing and able to work with her, I would suggest contacting either a board-Certified veterinary Behaviorist, or a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist to help.

    http://www.dacvb.org/about/member-directory/

    http://www.animalbehaviorsociety.org...-directory.php

    If Separation Anxiety is more that you are willing and/or able to handle right now, then I would strongly urge you to rehome her - either to someone with goats, or someone who is okay with doing the work it is going to take to rebuild her confidence. The National Anatolian Shepherd Rescue Network is a good place to start.

    http://www.nasrn.com/info/contact
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  5. #5
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Quote Originally Posted by katefollot View Post
    In all honesty I think I'll look into getting her medicated, that would at least help us get over the hump.
    um, ...

  6. #6
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    Sorry, I thought I had made it pretty clear that I do empathize with her, she just drives me nuts too. You can still love the crying baby while wanting them to be quiet.

    Do you think it would be possible to transfer that drive/anxiety towards the poultry? Maybe I should just give in and get another Nigerian Dwarf and stick them all in with the poultry, a by proxy transfer. I'm joking.

    She's everything we want in terms of a LGD, she just got royally screwed over by life circumstances so here she is, her screwy self. Might not have driven all the way the Charlston knowing her full history, but she's here now and she likes it here, I want to try to make things work. I'm aware of animal behaviorist, I'm working to get certified in horses with the IAABC. Would be interested in a higher level perhaps, but I'm autistic and college does not suite me. I'm great with horses (kickers, biters, food aggression, bring it on I've got a clicker and lots of treats), dogs are... a different ball game that I would not be able to do full time.

    In all honesty I think I'll look into getting her medicated, that would at least help us get over the hump. I see her potential, I just see both of us having a mild mental break down before that at the rate things are going.

  7. #7
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    I should clarify, when she's in the house, she doesn't care where I am, she'll just hang out on the floor by my bed and wait for me. When I'm in the house and she's outside, she likes to keep an eye on me, but does not cry or exhibit any signs of stress other than following me from door to door to window sometimes, and we have a wrap around deck which makes it pretty easy for her to do that (her favorite corner is by my room and bathroom). When outside, she wants to be able to see me at all times unless she's the one who wanders away. I'm used to the 'falling all over themselves' type of SA, not her conditional kind. And she's very happy, she's not pleased when I have to go do things and the deck blocks her view, but other than that she's not tense or shut down or sad or any kind of bothered the rest of the time. She's a pretty calm dog for a puppy, but she bounces around, has yet to figure out toys god bless her, does have fun playing with our other dog at least. I genuinely think a lot of it is her legitimately thinking that I am her job now, which is why I wanted to ask LGD people. She's not stressed so much as very confused when I tell her to stay put and go to do something nearby, she's gotten good at staying outside of the hay shed and laying down somewhere in the paddock while waiting for me to stuff hay bags, she gets it, she at least in part thinks it's her job though and I move around so much there just are not clear enough boundaries for it to click it seems?

  8. #8
    Young Dawg (Member)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jewel View Post
    um, ...
    Y'all are saying she has SA, medication is often used in the short term in those cases in particular times of stress such as being in a new environment with new people, in order to ease them into things and teach new behavior patterns. Not really sure why that would be objectionable when it can make it easier on the dog.

  9. #9
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) SebastiansMom's Avatar

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    The thing with medication is that it's not a magic cure-all, and it's not right for every dog. The wrong medication can make the behavioral symptoms worse, and it takes weeks to find out whether or not a particular med is going to be right for the particular dog. I would also think twice about medicating a dog just for the short term. These are powerful drugs we're talking about, and the withdrawal can be pretty brutal. I knew when I made the decision to medicate Chester that he was most likely going to need to be medicated for life. His anxiety is generalized, and it's more than just an irritant - it's debilitating for him.

    Chester is currently taking four daily meds - Paroxetine, Trazodone, Gabapentin, and Clonidine. The meds alone were not enough to calm his anxiety. We have to work on behavior modification every day, and I have to do my very best to stick to a pretty predictable routine. Chester can be very inflexible, and the slightest variance can send him into a tailspin.

    I'm not trying to say that you absolutely shouldn't medicate Questa, but instead that the decision of whether or not to medicate is not one to be made lightly - especially considering that we are talking about a puppy whose brain is still developing. This is also a decision that I believe should be made under the supervision of a veterinary behaviorist.

    I won't lie, when Chester was at his worst, it was heartbreaking and immensely frustrating all at the same time. My frustration fed into his anxiety and made things far worse than they needed to be. One of the things that really helped us both was when I made the decision to shift my thinking in a way that focused on the good things he had done that day. For example, if he screamed bloody murder for 30 minutes after I left the house, instead of being upset that he screamed for 30 minutes, I was proud of the fact that it took him 30 minutes to settle down, instead of the 45 it had taken him the day before. My change in attitude helped him change his attitude, as well. I also feel like it helped us to strengthen our bond.
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    Old Dawg (Senior Member) snow0160's Avatar

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    I can't believe I missed this thread. I didn't think there were dogs that can be more of a velcro dog than my Kit. Hurricane Irma just rolled over my home but I am one of the few lucky souls in this state that still have power. I've also found the only thing Kit is afraid of: Hurricanes! This dog has never showed fear of anything and her recovery period is only a few seconds. She had a full on tantrum before the storm arrived and I'm guessing the pressure change really freaked her out. We gave her some rescue remedy but it didn't work because her anxiety was so strong.
    Kit is exceedingly clingy but she might be so for a different reason than your dog. She follows me everywhere out of boredom. It is clear that she just wants someone to play with her. She just turned 9 months a few days ago so much of it is still puppy behavior. She is actually clingy with my other dogs as well. She follows them around and the others would try to walk far away from her when she sleeps to not have her annoy them. When she wakes up she enjoys batting at anyone who gives her attention and will bring a tuggy to our doodle to initiate play. What helps Kit is engaging in brain games or training. It wears her out.

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