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I've been reading this board for a while and gotten a lot of good information. I'm the one with the dog who barks at the moon and has been afraid to leave the yard. It seems that after about two and a half months with us that his behavior has gotten worse, not better. For example, when we first got him, we had a problem with him jumping at other dogs on our walks. We trained him to "sit" and "stay" when we saw other dogs and that was working pretty well. But in the past few days, he's just gone berserk around other dogs. He's not dog aggressive--when he is allowed to get close to other dogs, he just wants to play with them. But leaping at other dogs when he's on his leash is clearly not acceptable.

Is this kind of backsliding unusual for rescue dogs? At our trainer's suggestion, I'm working on the Protocols of Relaxation (day 7) and while our dog behaves well during the exercises, so far it doesn't seem to be affecting his behavior. I desperately want to keep this dog, please help.

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Just a question - has he had his thyroid checked? I watched the moon video (cute!) and he is a little on the chunky side and sometimes random fears can be caused by a low thyroid level. Doesn't have to be really low, just borderline can cause some fearful/aggressive behaviors.

http://www.thyroid-info.com/articles/dog-hypo.htm

 

Kathy

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Just a question - has he had his thyroid checked? I watched the moon video (cute!) and he is a little on the chunky side and sometimes random fears can be caused by a low thyroid level. Doesn't have to be really low, just borderline can cause some fearful/aggressive behaviors.

http://www.thyroid-info.com/articles/dog-hypo.htm

 

Kathy

Thanks--I'll check that out. But he's really not chunky at all--in fact, he's a bit on the thin side (the video adds pounds!)

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^^Really? How much does he weigh? Not to be offensive, but he really *does* look chubby in the video. BTW, as for the video, I would be re-directing him every time he started that behavior. Obviously you were letting him do it for the video's sake, but I wouldn't let him do it, ever. The more a behavior is repeated, the more it becomes a habit.

 

As for the adjustment period, yeah, two months isn't really all that long of a time. I would continue to work on your trainer's advice and building a bond with Zorro. Oh, and thank you for giving a rescue dog a chance! Dogs who are "challenges" can be the most rewarding dogs to ever work and live with.

 

What does your trainer think about a Gentle Leader or a halti on walks? It's easier to control him and his head, to re-direct him when he starts going off at other dogs. Unfortunately, that problem is something else that just make take quite a while to work through, and you will have periods of "backsliding". He sounds like he has little self control, and I have one of those myself.

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I can't view the video so I can't comment on if he looks chunky or not but I agree with the others, have his thyroid checked. We had an adopted rescue dog that was training in SAR and for a couple of years. The adopter had issues with his dog aggression and she was doing everything right. Got the thyroid checked (at the suggestion of one of our volunteers) and low and behold, it was off. The meds helped but the behavior was now ingrained so unlearning it has taken some time. Last I heard though, he was doing a lot better and with all the work and training they're doing, I've no doubt he'll eventually be fine.

 

So just keep in mind if it is his thyroid, doesn't mean the behavior will go away instantly once he's on meds, just means you know what helped it develop and retraining will be much easier.

 

Jen

www.dreamcatchersheep.com

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He weighs about 56 pounds and is a large BC. We definitely are trying to redirect the moon behavior, which usually requires closing the curtains so he can't see the moon. Had a somewhat harrowing car ride earlier this week when he could see the moon through the car window and we had no way to redirect.

We used the Gentle Leader when we first got him and recently moved to the chest halter. But because of the recent problems, I've switched back to the head halter for walks. He doesn't like it but it does work! This morning we encountered a spaniel on our walk and I was able to get him to sit and stay until the dog passed.

Thanks again for your support-I guess I'm mainly looking for reassurance that some backsliding is normal after a couple of months. He really is a good dog and we're crazy about him but he does try us sometimes.

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Is this kind of backsliding unusual for rescue dogs?

 

Backsliding can happen with any dog, regardless of where it came from.

 

I didn't see the barking at the moon video, but it sounds like it's an obsessive or self-rewarding behavior and Paula is right. You should not allow your dog to practice the behavior at all. The more times the dog practices the behavior, the more ingrained it will become.

 

The leash issue is not uncommon. I have a leash aggressive dog. He also loves to play with other dogs and is perfectly fine meeting other dogs, when he's not on a leash. What is happening is your dog is getting frustrated by the leash and that frustration quickly manifests as agitation and then aggression. This is one area where clicker training can be very useful. I would suggest getting a copy of Click to Calm, which will teach you the techniques you can use to help desensitize and retrain your dog to have a more appropriate response to an approaching dog.

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I think you have been given good advice so far and definitely agree that 2 months is a very short time to be expecting large improvement. With rescues especially it really seems like 1 step forward = 2 steps back, at least for a while. My first 6 months or so w/ Boots was horrible, not only were we not on the same page, we were in completely different books. But he is now my heart dog and I couldn't imagine the last 6 years w/out him and the thought of life w/out him brings tears to my eyes.

 

While closing the blinds works for blocking the moon behavior, that is not the same as redirecting. The moon behavior will most likely never get better if you don't address it, how you want to deal w/ addressing it is up to you and your trainer, but I would recommend that you need to spend some time every night dealing w/the issue. Then as he improves your schooling time can become longer. I realize for some peace at home in the evenings you need to close the blinds, but to really overcome the issue you need to confront it. Also you might try crating him in the car w/a blanket over the crate so you can drive safely at night.

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I think you have been given good advice so far and definitely agree that 2 months is a very short time to be expecting large improvement. With rescues especially it really seems like 1 step forward = 2 steps back, at least for a while. My first 6 months or so w/ Boots was horrible, not only were we not on the same page, we were in completely different books. But he is now my heart dog and I couldn't imagine the last 6 years w/out him and the thought of life w/out him brings tears to my eyes.

 

While closing the blinds works for blocking the moon behavior, that is not the same as redirecting. The moon behavior will most likely never get better if you don't address it, how you want to deal w/ addressing it is up to you and your trainer, but I would recommend that you need to spend some time every night dealing w/the issue. Then as he improves your schooling time can become longer. I realize for some peace at home in the evenings you need to close the blinds, but to really overcome the issue you need to confront it. Also you might try crating him in the car w/a blanket over the crate so you can drive safely at night.

 

Thank you--I appreciate this advice. This week, the moon is up in the morning, which is creating new challenges for us. My husband had to bring him back early from his walk this morning because he saw the moon and started barking. I am working on directing him to lie down when he starts barking and giving him praise/treats when he does. The trainer also believes the Protocols of Relaxation will help.

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I'm not dog expert, but FWIW, I dealt with a similarly weird obsessive behavior with my dog.

 

I'd had Buddy about five weeks, when suddenly he noticed my ceiling light fixture, and started stalking, starting, growling, and barking at it. The first day, it was for something like five hours. It was horrible - wicked hot, wicked humid, and I had this insane dog fixated on the ceiling lamp. I put him in the next room, but he wouldn't stay - he always wants to be in the room where I am.

 

The next morning, when we woke up, it started again. I actually called my trainer for advice; he had no idea what to do. After another sticky, loud couple of hours, I just got really frustrated, and yelled, "NO!" at the dog really loud.

 

Buddy stopped barking and went to lie down. When he got back up, he barked a bit again, and I did the loud "NO" again. This literally happened only two or three more times, and he never barked at the light again. For a day or two he was skittish and would look at the light, but a gentle "no" redirected him. After that, he decided to call a truce; he has been happily coexisting with all the electrical devices in my house for four years now.

 

Don't know if that's any help, and don't know if it was even the appropriate solution. I certainly didn't "plan" it; it came from sheer frustration. (Luckily, I did it early, before this developed into a real obsession!) Something to think about, anyway.

 

Good luck!

Mary

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