I’m currently fostering a 2-year-old Phaléne named Dane for PapAdopters. I pulled the puppy from a no-kill shelter in the City of Chicago 6 days ago.
Over the past 6 days, I’ve been working with Dane on basic obedience in the comfort of my own home and building off of what he currently knows like come and sit. Dane understands the “leave it” and “off” commands and generally does what he’s told to do. He also knows that no means no. Dane is highly motivated to learn and will work for food.
One of my main concerns with Dane is what the vet put in her initial report concerning a behavior evaluation from July 30th. She wrote:
When he was first at 26th Street (intake and medical), he was reported to guard toys from other dogs and food from people. They have been managing resources to prevent triggering this. On 7/9 at the shelter, he jumped up to greet a volunteer and when the person went to pet him, he turned and snapped at the hand. He then growled and moved towards the door. The volunteer tried to move towards the door when he then lunged and grabbed their pants. Another incident occurred when a volunteer tried to remove his Weiss walkie after returning from a walk. The volunteer touched his neck, he snarled and the volunteer backed away. He jumped up and snarled. The volunteer backed away again. Only then did he stop reacting. A third incident occurred after a shelter employee had shown him to a potential adopter. Dane was friendly and appropriate with the family at that time. The shelter employee then tried to put an Elizabethan collar on him when he lunged and wouldn’t stop. Shelter volunteers were able to help muzzle him and then place the collar on him. Once the muzzle was removed, Dane lunged again.
The vet gave him a working diagnosis of possessive aggression and suspect conflict related aggression. She says he presents an interesting situation and the triggers for his aggression are very unclear and not predictable. That Dane shows an immediate extreme reaction when he shows aggression.
My mom and I have seen some of this in our home 3 or 4 times since we’ve had him.
I’m hoping that there are more experienced dog people here and more experienced rescuers here who can offer me more insight into this issue and help me fix it. He’s an otherwise great dog and I want to make sure he gets a good forever home.
Something most likely has happened to this poor guy. Aggression issues aren’t something that will go away in the near future, but lots of hard work, patience, and positive training will eventually (hopefully) lessen that problems.
First, I would always have treats available when you’re working with him. When getting ready to put a leash or collar on him, have treats, and counter condition that act to be a good thing. Make sure you approach him from the side with your body turned so you aren’t coming directly at him. Squat down, hand to the side, ive him a treat. Get another one ready for while you are leashing him up, and give another one, with praise for putting it on well. Do this slowly, and if he reacts, back away. Wait for him to calm down, and try to repeat the process. Don’t let him greet anyone on the street, if they get offended, explain he is a foster with some aggression issues you are working on. Anyone that you may have in his space, make sure they are using proper dog language to greet him, and no one is rushing the dog.
Resource guarding can be tricky- toys shouldn’t be left out for the dogs unless you are there monitoring, and if things turn from friendly rough play to aggressive guarding, the toys and treats go away. Reward good play and sharing with treats
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