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Please tell me this is normal, and I'm not creating a monster, antisocial pooch!

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  • Please tell me this is normal, and I'm not creating a monster, antisocial pooch!

    Loki the rescue cattle dog puppy is now six months old. The last week, he's going through what I HOPE is just a stage. In the last week, he's forgotten his house training, had a huge increase in his resource guarding behaviors, and decided he's afraid of everyone, and therefore his reaction to that is to run at them barking.

    I got him at 8 weeks, out of the worlds busiest road, in traffic. He had an ingrown flea collar on. He was friendly, if a bit shy. I know cattle dogs well enough to understand he'd need massive amounts of socialization, and therefore that's what he's had. In the four months I've had him, he's been to VERY good puppy socialization classes, he goes to work with me and meets everyone, he goes to petsmart, petco, and anywhere else I can take a dog in.

    He is smart as heck. We do massive amounts of positive training (Level 2 Sue Ailsby trianing levels right now, with some level 3 behaviors). We are working with a search and rescue group, and learning to do human remains detection. He is picking it up extremely fast. This isn't the first dog I've trained (competitive obedience, agility, etc), so I have experience.

    I really just want reassurance that with continued work and socialization that my friendly dog is coming back??? He's currently working on NILIF, mainly because the main thing he resource guards at this point is ME. From my husband. Not good. So, he's banished from furniture, freedom, and good times at the moment. He is attached to me or in his crate depending on if I have time to deal with him. He works for every thing he wants and every bite of food he gets. We don't have meals, we have day long training. He is happy to work, alert, attentive, and WAY too smart. He does also guard food bowls and high value items (chewies, stolen paper towels, etc). That is getting better, he fully understands drop it, leave it, and redirection isn't an issue.

    He's shows such promise as a cadavar dog. After 3 total weeks of training, he's searching in the woods like the big dogs, and easily finding his items. The other trainers keep telling me how great he's doing. But he can't be a SAR dog unless he is, at the very least, tolerant of people. He doesn't have to love them all, but he does have to not run at them barking and growling.

    To counteract, we have started "look at that", while respecting his wish not to interact with some people. On top of obedience, levels work, and SAR training.

    After typing all this, it's a great thing that he has an amazing work drive, cause he's been busy...

  • #2
    It sounds like you're doing everything right. Keep exposing him to as many things as you can and anticipate unwanted behaviours so you don't get a blow up. When things go south, redirect. Another thing to keep in mind is that about this age, dogs go through their last fear imprint stage. It's not unusual to get some odd behaviours at this time. Play it cool and rude out the storm. You'll be fine.

    One thing that stood out to me is that it sounds like he's always "on." Does he like other dogs or can you think of anything not work related that he can do to blow off steam? If he likes dogs, I'd take him to a good dog park or hook up with other people who have laid back dogs and just let him run and wrestle and be a dog.


    • #3
      mainly because the main thing he resource guards at this point is ME. From my husband
      hand the lead to your husband and have him do the training for the next week. Have him feed Loki for the next week.

      Let the socialization rest a bit. One week will not undo all you've done and at 6 months, Loki is beginning to experiment with his world a little.

      (Level 2 Sue Ailsby trianing levels right now, with some level 3 behaviors)
      if you are not part of the Yahoo group for TL, get thee there. Sue checks in on a regular basis and there is a huge pool of very experienced trainers who have tons of experience. Link below.



      • Original Poster

        I am a member of the yahoo TL group! If I could get my husband to train the dog, I would, but he's not likely too. He has his cats and he barely tolerates my dogs.

        Loki likes dogs, and we do go play with others. He also gets to go to the barn and run around and play. He by no means trains non stop, but we have done a fair amount. And yard time. I spend a lot of time outside with everyone. I do yard work, they run around doing dog things.

        It is good to hear that this might be a normal thing. I've always had either extremely social dogs who never lost that during their puppyhood, or extremely fearful dogs from the beginning who progressively got better with proper training and socialization. I haven't had one go from friendly to barking and growling at everyone over the course of a week before. Little bugger, he's going to be a challenge...


        • #5
          Originally posted by Arrows Endure View Post
          I am a member of the yahoo TL group! If I could get my husband to train the dog, I would, but he's not likely too. He has his cats and he barely tolerates my dogs.
          the reason I suggested that is because by bonding the dog to you by doing all the training/socializing, you increase his resource guarding of you. You need to find a way to transfer the attachment (partially) to someone else.


          • #6
            oh, don't worry. Dogs go through temporary fear periods during adolescence, and you're probably in one of them. They come out of them. Dogs also go through other irritating periods in adolescence- some seem to temporarily forget everything you've ever taught them; some go through "I can't hear you" fits; some start to test and challenge you to make sure that yes, these are the rules; doggy adolescence is a trying time. It's not a coincidence that most dogs that end up dumped at shelters are dumped at ages 6 months to 2 years- that's the most difficult period for dog owners to deal with.
            If the dog is in a fear period, try hard to not "Flood" the dog by forcing the dog to "face his fears", that may create a permanent fear issue. Let him proceed at his own pace when he has a fearful fit and you try to be very calm and matter of fact to support him as he works through it.
            NILIF is a good idea, because having very clear, consistent rules will help the dog make it through this trying time.


            • #7
              There is another possibility, and that is inherent fearfulness (in my ACD's case it manifested itself through aggression toward strangers) which can't be worked out through socialization or training.

              Blue was surrendered at 2 after having lived with the same family since he was a puppy. He was not abused in any way, and had a good start on obedience training when I took him. He just wasn't a good match for their living situation. I took him everywhere to socialize him, upped his obedience and agility training, and let him work sheep and geese on a daily basis, but he is still a fearful dog (but definitely bonded to me and the dog of my heart!).

              The one thing I haven't tried is drugs, because he's 10 and I'm now able to control his environment 90% of the time and not put him into scary situations. I hope, hope, hope, this is not the case for your fellow, but did want to point out that fear is not always a temporary state. Best wishes from Blue and I!
              "Dogs give and give and give. Cats are the gift that keeps on grifting." –Bradley Trevor Greive


              • #8
                I don't know about ACDs specifically, but it's a fact that adolescence can bring on a temporary shy phase. Don't force the issue at this stage, don't push him, but don't coddle him, either, and he will most likely grow out of it nicely. Do your utmost though to make certain that nothing truly frightens him at this time, which doesn't mean hiding him from the world, but means don't push him into situations that you think he should be fine with. He will be, just not right now.


                • #9
                  Teaching a down-stay or sit-stay is useful for dogs that run forward barking.

                  Guarding behavior tends to escalate if the handler doesn't step in and present the dog with a correct response option.

                  You say the dog has broken housetraining?

                  Marking/possessive behavior, or fear/confidence issue, or health issue?


                  • #10
                    Google "Doggie Zen. It helps with impulse control.
                    As mentioned, I'd guess it's a fear stage. Make sure he is getting enough exercise. This time of yr, people often cut back due to weather. That can also cause anxiety to increase, and bad behavior to be exagerated.