I don't want to return him to the shelter, but...
My approx 7 month old shelter rescue, Oakley, is super sweet and loving towards people. Smart, potty trained & crate trained easily, heels, sits, stays when in the house, etc. Unfortunately, he CANNOT control himself around other animals. He was in a pen with another similar sized/aged puppy at the shelter and was calm walking down the aisles of other barking dogs when we met him, so I never dreamed this would be an issue. He is a neutered, 40lb, Catahoula mix and we've now had him for 3 months.
The moment another dog is in sight, Oakley starts barking and lunging at them, insisting on mounting, mouthing, roughly nipping and generally dominating them. His tail is usually wagging, but I'm not willing to let him potentially maul another animal to find out if it's actually malicious or just un-checked over-exhuberance. I know Catahoulas are working dogs known for being a bit rough, but he can NOT focus on anything/anyone else once he's zeroed in on another animal; his handler no longer exists. Not even full-powered spray hose will deter his concentration.
We have been working with a dog-trainer for the last 8 weeks, with the hopes that great manners in the house would encourage better listening response around other dogs. Yesterday's training appt (with our friends' super calm lab there for some supervised socialization) was a disaster. My fiance and the dog trainer had to each have a leash on him because his lunging is so determined and powerful. We added a Halti for extra control, but his adrenaline levels went through the roof and we cut the lesson off since he was shaking and panting so badly. We talked about moving to pinch collar and muzzle, as our humane ideas aren't cutting it, but I doubt that will even phase him.
Anyone BTDT? Is there any hope for a turnaround? He was supposed to be our family pet but I can't chance my 7 year old son getting hurt. Oakley's already broken a window in our home trying to get at dogs outside - what if my son happens to be in between Oakley and another dog and he get's trampled?
We're traveling for a few days this month, but no place will accept him for boarding (we took him for several "interviews" and left with the owner's mouth's gaping in awe) and he obviously can't travel with us. I've never imagined returning an animal to a shelter but we've been discussing the possibility. I don't know what else to do with our boy.
Have you talked to the shelter about this? Usually they will offer some kind of help or advise when dealing with problems.
First, this dog is a retread. Somebody ELSE failed with him, so he was in a shelter. UNfortunately we really need to stop breeding dogs in this country bc there are NOT enough owners.
You didn't say what you do when outside with him. She's not too old to fix these things, although the puppy training should have done this. What kind of training collar do you use on him? I use choke chains with my 60 lb and 70 lb dogs when I leash them. I had a 30 lb Dachshound mix many years ago, and she would pull you down the street without that collar with the blunt pegs in it, so you might need that. (My DD"s used to roller-blade and let her pull.)
Next, expect perfect behavior when you are outside of the house. When your dog tries to rush, or barks, or growls, yank the collar, say, "NO!!" and push to sit or push to down. Make her sit for a couple of minutes each time. You may not get very far on the first walk. You also need to DEMAND "heel" and teach her to sit every time you stop walking. She is big enough to swat on the back by the tail if she doesn't sit IMMEDIATELY, so do this if she doesn't obey and say "SIT" at the same time.
It will take a couple of months of hard training, but dogs are SOOO trainable and young dogs are worth it. Consider what people train their dogs to do and you'll believe it is possible with YOUR dog. Don't think that only Border Collies can learn to "dance", or that ONLY GS's can climb walls and track. Dogs want to please, and I am constantly training my 5 1/2 yo bitch and my ~ 6yo bitch to be even better than they are now. They're very good at staying within the 5 acres and I always let them out to "potty" without a leash. They sometimes sniff and track and play, but when they're done they come and sit on the steps to the kitchen and wait for me. Your dog can learn, but you have to be tough.
He is only 7 months old.
It sounds like he was taken away from mom a bit early(before he got to understand manners with his littermates)and the people,who had him did not properly teach him how to greet another animal.
Manners in the home will not help him. You should schedule a day with a friend who has a calm dog and take all day to walk back and forth with each other, correcting him when he does bad..
Anytime you near the other dog and he reacts immediately go the opposite direction away from friend dog. Eventually he will learn that he only gets to meet friend dog when he is calm. Also, you should get a muzzle and leave the leash slack.. Don't hold them with the leash short. It makes them very anxious. I see so many owners do this and it just makes things worse. But, remember the muzzle!
Tails wagging USUALLY means he just wants to play, and since he is 7 months I am sure that's what he wants.
I don't think you should give up on him. It's not that hard of a habit to break. Just has to learn how to greet new friends.
When a dog reaches this level of aggression and out of control behaviours and dog trainers are involved and its not working. I suggest get a zap collar and send him to a bird dog/hunting dog trainer. He gets to work all day, trained all day along side well mannered, happy, well trained working dogs. Your dog would likely wear a zap collar for distance control and because the level of behaviour has reached such an unmanageable level. A smart dog only needs a couple of jolts before they realize their undesirable behaviours are certainly undesirable........
There have been many zap collars that have saved many a dogs backside........
It's not cruel to use a training tool correctly to change your dog into a good citizen........also hunting dog trainers are not all fluffy and yuppie, your dog is trained and treated like a dog:wink:
Does your dog have a *job* and plenty of exercise or is he just hanging around the house?
A working dog breed will literally go crazy if all they do is lounge around and go for a short walk here and there. My neighbors just had to sell their Blue Heeler, she was wonderful dog at first but she lost her mind since she was locked in the house 10+ hours a day while they were at work, then given 20mins or so to run around outside. She found herself a *job*.... destroying things, escaping and then coming to my place and killing chickens while trying to play with them.
I agree with Muppet and Delfina.
Catahoulas are working dogs. Working dogs need a job otherwise they become neurotic and find their own job whether its a good or bad job, most likely a bad job when they are given the choice. Not saying that working dogs can't be good family dogs but they still need a job.
I remember reading that young labs need to work/run about 8 miles a day to burn off that energy. Before you introduce him to other dogs, take him for a good long hike the day before and that morning to wear him out.
Look for a dog obedience class with about 6-10 other dogs, and go the first visit to explain your issues and that other dogs should maintain their distance at least for the first few training sessions.
As for your vacation see if you can find someone to house sit for you at your house (and make sure they have references).
It sounds like he was very poorly socialized. A young dog that is kept by itself or weaned too early will have social issues.
A doggy play date with other large dogs may be a good idea as well. I would put a muzzle on him (or a leash and a muzzle on both dogs in case they decide to fight) and let them interact. He has too learn how to behave around other dogs somehow and the only way to do that is to let them interact.
I would not use a zap collar as that can lead to aggression especially if he associates strange dogs with getting zapped.
Have you tried clicker training? My dogs love meat and will do anything for it!
Thanks for the input!
Knowing he was a working dog, our plan when we chose him was that he'd get to go to the doggy daycare ranch the 1-2 days a week someone isn't home. Since that is not an option, he must spend those days crated.
He gets 1-2 walks a day plus at least 1 long game of fetch in the backyard. Walks are still so tricky - he will "heel" perfectly until we see another dog (leash or fence) and then all is lost. I've had to resort to wrapping the leash around a stop sign to get enough leverage to hold him while another dog walked past. There is no getting through to him while he's focused on that other animal.
Fiance wants to give the Halti and choke collar combo a chance for a few days. I do have a muzzle & pinch collar for our next visit with my friend's dog. There are just so many times you can ask a friend to allow their dog to be guinea pig, though, you know?
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