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What a difference a year makes! (long)

Discussion in 'Stories' started by natrhymer, Jan 29, 2004.

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  1. natrhymer

    natrhymer Boxer Booster

    Apr 28, 2003
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    Update: Another tough year

    It has been another year -- a pretty rough one -- with our rescue boy, Dieter. He's now about three years old. The positive outlook I had for our boy last year fizzled out around September 2004 and only recently the light at the end of the tunnel has reappeared.

    Dieter's aggression while on leash got progressively worse, to the point where he would munch on the arm of whoever was holding the leash repeatedly. It went from him turning and snapping at the leash to him turning and snapping at our hands, and then to him out-and-out attacking, jumping at us and biting up and down our arms.

    The good news is that he continued to be a sweetheart to all other people around him, children and all. But watch out if you were the poor sap holding the leash!

    So, off to the behaviorist we went. Diagnosis: Fear aggression. Luckily, we could easily pinpoint when he was going to "snap": on leash and when another dog was present. We've been working with a new behavior mod training program that has garnered good results (no more biting!), but Dieter still gets ultra hyper when around other dogs on leash. We had a minor breakthrough last week when he walked by his nemesis (a GSD behind his fence) with little incident. Hooray for small miracles!

    He's also had escalating aggression problems at the vet. So, we've employed the same kind of desensitization techniques there. I was taking him 2-3 times a week, just getting him used to the sights, sounds and smells of the vet's office.

    The Gentle Leader has been the key for us; we can control his "fits" now and get him into a sit immediately, and then apply calming/distracting techniques. We had tried the GL more than a year ago, but never got it to fit correctly and gave up. Our behaviorist showed us how to properly fit it; if we had only had that kind of guidance when we tried it the first time!

    Dieter is still our love-bug and a sweet, goofy guy. His behavior is excellent otherwise, and all the extra training pays off in other ways; he ultra obedient in the house and yard and while visiting other people's houses.

    We hope his behavior continues to improve; but we won't ever give up on him. We've learned so much about dog behavior this last year, and we are better owners for it. Thankfully, his aggression is confined to one, very specific area (leash + other dog). We've discovered he's just a "high anxiety" boy and gets ramped up really quickly.

    Phew. We're exhausted, but we'll keep working on it. He's totally worth it. Thanks again for all the support here at BW -- without the vast knowledge and kind words stored here, we'd be lost!
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