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  #31  
Old July 16th, 2007, 01:42 PM
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bendyfoot bendyfoot is offline
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Hey gtexan,
I just read through this whole post, and while I agree that it's admirable and wonderful and IDEAL to try to work with whatever behaviours you may get with a shelter dog, I also agree with LavenderRott...some behaviours (like lunging at someone's throat) are not to be taken lightly, should be evaluated/treated by a professional, and if YOU are not comfortable with the behaviours, then it is best for you and the dog to part ways, letting someone more qualified do the work. You had to make a hard decision, based on nasty behavioural issues...you did not tell us that you were having trouble potty training, or issues with mouthing or chewing or barking...it sounds to me like this dog poses a serious threat and has the potential to do great harm to someone (small or not-personally I have only ever been bitten by small dogs, and I don't think any aggressive behaviour directed at people should be taken lightly). Honestly, I think I would have done the same thing, including warning the humane society about the problem and your concerns about it going to another family. I've dealt with (and still have) a dog with garding issues, posessiveness, dog-aggression...and we have worked on it. But what you experienced is a whole other thing. I don't think that EVERY dog can be safely rehomed. Sometimes it is best to PTS (not that this is necessarily the case for this spaniel, but I think that it needs to be an option for agressive dogs). I think you did the right thing.
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  #32  
Old July 16th, 2007, 01:52 PM
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luckypenny luckypenny is offline
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Originally Posted by gtexan View Post
-Both times that he attacked, the toy was taken after he had settled onto the ground to chew on it. Once the toy was taken from the side, and other was when a hand reached in from behind him. When the toy was taken while he was looking, it didn't appear to bother him. Similarly, however, other times when the toy was taken from behind while he was sitting it also didn't seem to bother him. So the behavior isnt completely "random" but it certainly didn't seem completely regular either.
Welcome to the forum, gtexan.

Am I correct if I understand you to say that he reacted negatively to when he didn't see a hand reach out from behind/from the side? This makes me wonder if either his peripheral vision and/or hearing is impaired. This could possibly be another explanation to the "aggressive/defensive" behavior the second trainer mentioned to you. Perhaps it would be a good idea if the shelter vet could examine this further, even if he doesn't return to your home. Often times, aggressive type behavior can be a result of medical problems.
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  #33  
Old July 16th, 2007, 02:28 PM
gtexan gtexan is offline
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Thank you all very much for your continued help. I really appreciate the sharp contrast of advice I've been receiving of late! As I said before, all advice is appreciated, but those that say it tastefully are doubly so!

Anyway, let me address a few things:

#1) This cocker spaniel is not, in my untrained opinion, suffering from any sort of "cocker rage" syndrome. I read a LOT about this before bringing the puppy back, and I am quite confident that what we saw was instigated behavior, rather than random rage attacks. The dog only displayed the behavior when removing toys was involved.

#2) I would be extremely upset if this dog was being considered for anything other than rehoming with someone with more knowledge an I. Heres why (this will address your point too, luckypenny)

1. The aggressive behavior never exhibited itself except when pulling away toys/chew bones.
2. The aggressive behavior only exhibited itself when toys/chew bones were pulled away after he had decided to lay down and chew on it
3. The aggressive behavior only exhibited itself when the toys/chew bones were pulled away from the side or behind the dog

I don't think he has a vision problem, as he played fetch extremely well for a number of hours. If he lost the ball, he was able to find it. Peripheral vision hasn't been looked into yet. I also dont think he has a hearing problem, as he would always come when called.

I spoke to another person for a while about this, and we came up with a potential theory. Obviously it will be impossible to prove, but please tell me what you think:

First the facts: The dog was surrendered by its owner, and the life it had prior to the surrender is unknown. The dog now is healthy, playful, and sweet 99% of the time. When a toy or chew toy is pulled away from him behind/from the side after he has laid down, he becomes very upset and "lunges" at your face. This is not playful fighting or snapping at your hand, but seems like something more.

We thought what might be happening is defensive rather than aggressive. Lets say as puppy this guy used to be something of a chewer, as all puppies are. lets say he didn't have many toys, and would thus get his parents shoes or furniture or anything not allowed, lay down, and start chewing. Now lets say his parents found out, and being bad owners, decided to punnish him too severely. Maybe even really hurting him. As a result, the dog now gets scared when something is pulled away unexpectedly. He reacts in a very negative, very "cornered animal" type way.

Ive seen abused animals react 2 ways in response to incidents that remind it of abuse:
1. Shy away with tail between legs
2. Become aggressive and defensive

What if this little dog is reacting in way #2, to what he perceives to be a conditioned stimulus of "you are going to be punished"?

Does any of this make sense?
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  #34  
Old July 16th, 2007, 02:41 PM
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ancientgirl ancientgirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gtexan View Post

First the facts: The dog was surrendered by its owner, and the life it had prior to the surrender is unknown. The dog now is healthy, playful, and sweet 99% of the time. When a toy or chew toy is pulled away from him behind/from the side after he has laid down, he becomes very upset and "lunges" at your face. This is not playful fighting or snapping at your hand, but seems like something more.

We thought what might be happening is defensive rather than aggressive. Lets say as puppy this guy used to be something of a chewer, as all puppies are. lets say he didn't have many toys, and would thus get his parents shoes or furniture or anything not allowed, lay down, and start chewing. Now lets say his parents found out, and being bad owners, decided to punnish him too severely. Maybe even really hurting him. As a result, the dog now gets scared when something is pulled away unexpectedly. He reacts in a very negative, very "cornered animal" type way.

Ive seen abused animals react 2 ways in response to incidents that remind it of abuse:
1. Shy away with tail between legs
2. Become aggressive and defensive

What if this little dog is reacting in way #2, to what he perceives to be a conditioned stimulus of "you are going to be punished"?

Does any of this make sense?
Again, I don't own a dog, but this seems to make perfect sense to me. I've been watching quite a bit of these dog training shows, and many people on these shows have these same problems, and most are due to the homes their pets were previously in.

This can happen to people who have been abused as well.

You may be on to something here. I suspect you may have been a victim of being made to pay for the proverbial broken dishes.

The dog may have experienced abuse in the past and thinks all people are the same. If this is the case, I suspect it may take some time for him to truly trust any new owner and know that he will not be treated in the same way he was before.
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  #35  
Old July 16th, 2007, 03:20 PM
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luckypenny luckypenny is offline
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Originally Posted by gtexan View Post
I also dont think he has a hearing problem, as he would always come when called.
Hearing impairment doesn't necessarily mean unable to hear anything. Calling his name out loud, he may be able to hear. Coming up behind him, he may not. I once had a foster pup (who we later found out was hearing impaired) who would growl if I picked it up from the back or the side as it didn't hear me coming. , your story just sounded too familiar.

As for defensive aggression...I don't know. Do you think that maybe he was just a little over-stimulated for his first day at your home? You mentioned playing with him for 2+ hours outdoors, then continued play indoors. I have an extremely active Lab who loves to play fetch but 20-30 minutes tops is enough for her. Add the summer heat to that and I'd be a little crabby too. Consider he has no idea where he is (he doesn't know he's home), doesn't know where he fits in the pack order (as far as he's concerned, you're not yet his pack), over-stimulation, the fact that you and your wife repeatedly took his toys away from him when he wanted to settle down with them, etc., etc., may have aggravated the situation. I'm not saying this is the case, it just sounds like it to me.

As for past abuse...when you bring a new dog into your home who has a past your not familiar with, you have to be prepared for anything, it doesn't matter what's written in his file or told to you. A dog can not always be properly temperament tested in a shelter environment, nor upon the first few days in his new home. It cans take several weeks before you see his true character. I believe this goes for most dogs; there is never any guarantee, regardless of the breed. We have a dog who we know was abused, under-socialized, and neglected. It's been almost a year and with lots of time, work, patience, and guidance from professionals, we are able to help him overcome his fears. I personally don't feel that 24 hours was giving him enough of a chance, but that was your decision to make based on what you are or are not capable of dealing with. I think it's a good idea that you're looking into the possible reasons for his behavior and that it was wise that you returned him if you and your wife feared him. that someone may be able to help him with his issues, whether it be medical and/or behavioral.

Last edited by luckypenny; July 16th, 2007 at 03:23 PM.
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  #36  
Old July 16th, 2007, 03:24 PM
gtexan gtexan is offline
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Good point about the hearing issue. We always used high pitch, loud voices to call him to us.
The only thing is that he was sitting in my lap both times he attacked. I dont think he could have been too isolated, but then again, I didn't witness it enough

As for the tiredness, thats a good point too. There were breaks in between the playing (2 hours of straight running would wear any person/dog/animal out!). It may have been a combination of a lot of things - new house, tired, poor hearing, poor peripheral vision, bad experience, etc.
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  #37  
Old August 31st, 2007, 07:21 AM
lanwhite lanwhite is offline
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It's kind of hard to work with a dog you are afraid of or can't trust. It was right to give him back to the shelter just because of this. You shouldn't feel guilty for doing that, because it was best for both you and the dog. The dog is old enough to sense fear, and the response of a dog to someone who is afraid of him is likely to be even more aggressiveness. Certainly it would be difficult to establish Alpha status if you are afraid of him. Like what was said earlier, there are many, many dogs that have no problems at all except that they need a good home.
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