Saturday, 10 January 2009

Jakey, Jakey, Jakey

I haven't posted about Jake in quite a while, but that doesn't mean nothing is happening in his world. It's just not very positive.

Jake has turned into a bit of a bully. You know he bit the vet surgeon in the crotch, my daughter in the hand, and my husband (five times now). I was afraid to tell the vet about it because I didn't want him to be labeled an aggressive dog. But I don't want him to bite any more people either. So finally I did tell the vet. The vet referred Jake to an expensive animal behaviour specialist. The appointment is next Thursday, and it's not soon enough.

Jake also has turned into a bit of bully with other dogs, but not always. Sometimes he's perfectly OK, but sometimes he will growl and go after another dog. I always shout and tell him to move along, which he always does. But the other dog and its owner are quite understandably unhappy. I could keep Jake on the lead, but I'm not sure that's a good idea either because he gets really aggressive if a dog not on a lead approaches him when he is on his lead. I could muzzle him, but I'm not sure if his behaviour is bad enough to warrant that punishment. And he isn't always aggressive. I used to be able to say with some confidence that Jake loved spaniels and all small dogs. I can't now.

Today on his walk he encountered two dogs, both also Border Collies. He showed aggression towards both. I got him to leave the first dog alone very quickly. By the time he encountered the second dog, he'd tried unsuccessfully to evacuate a bit of his blankie that he'd chewed and swallowed. It was flopping around his tail and annoying him. He growled when we tried to remove it. So along comes this other Border Collie and its owner. The Border Collie tries to sniff Jake's bum. Jake is most unhappy about this and becomes aggressive toward the other dog. I try to catch up to get him to move along, but not before the other owner decides to tell Jake off herself. She pointed her finger at his nose and told him off. I suggested she might not want to do that, fearing he might bite her in his state of mind. She said, "Excuse me?" in a rather aggressive way herself. "I don't want him biting my dog." I said I didn't want him to bite her or her dog. She said he needed to be on a lead if he was that bad. I walked away and so did Jake. I was angry about the situation, but also fear the woman may have been right. I don't think I would approach an unfamiliar dog in an obviously aggressive state the way the woman did. But as Jake's owner, it's my responsibility to make sure he doesn't hurt anyone.

Jake LOVES his walks. He NEEDS his walks. He needs a lot of exercise and room to run around. I think a lot of the reason for the aggression is fear and memory of pain. But others don't know his history. We have to get this situation under control before it controls us.


menopausaloldbag (MOB) said...

This is difficult because you love him so much. I use baby bell cheese to distract my two Jack Russells from other dogs as they go past. It works just as well with anything that the dog loves like a favourite toy or a dogie treat. It takes time but it does work. Have a try for a few weeks and see how you get on.

All the best, hope Jake stops biting as it is such a worry and dogs don't usually like to bite either so he should respond to some behavioural therapy.

Pantheist Mom said...

I hope the specialist helps.

-Ann said...

I hope the specialist helps too. We had to get one in to help with Toby and it at least helped us understand him better. He still has problems with the vet, but we haven't worked as hard as we should to fix that.

Don't think of the muzzle as a punishment, think of it as a way to keep Jake and other dogs/people safe. If you get a wire basket muzzle that allows him to breath freely and has enough space that you can even slip treats to him, it's not a bad compromise. It lets him have his off-leash freedom and limits his ability to hurt others.

And honestly, people (including me) are far too uptight about dog scuffles. That's how dogs sort things out - they can't reason with each other or talk to each other. They have a bit of a fight, someone wins, someone backs off, and it's over. And usually, once two dogs have sorted it out, they don't have to have the 'discussion' again.

-Ann said...

PS - I should say that the whole biting-people thing is way more of a concern, which is another reason why the muzzle is probably a good idea. You don't want to be responsible for a biting dog. (Peter's childhood dog had to be put down because someone accused him of biting their kid.)

wakeupandsmellthecoffee said...

MOB: That's a good idea. The problem is Jake, as a Border Collie, roams, and encounters the dogs sometimes before we have a chance to catch up. But if he thought food would be around, he might stick closer. It doesn't happen all the time, which is why I haven't taken more action. I never know when or why it is going to happen, though I think it's something to do with protecting his hips.

PM: I do too. Thanks.

-Ann: Jake so far has only bitten people when he feels vulnerable and under attack. I don't think he would have bitten that woman today but I think she was foolish to behave that way toward an unfamiliar dog. My husband learned the hard way to not come between two dogs having a tussle. You're right about the way dogs resolve things, but I can understand how the owners feel. I've felt that way myself when other dogs have come after Jake.

Kaycie said...

I'm sure the behaviorist will help you understand Jake and that is the first step in handling him. You'll get there.

I agree that woman was foolish. For all she knew, Jake might have attacked her. I wonder what she was thinking.

laurie said...

i think you need to keep him on the lead if you can't control him. he sounds a lot like my riley--very unpredictable and occasionally aggressive.

MOB's suggestion of bringing a really high-value treat like cheese on the walks is a very good one. when you see another dog coming, make jakey pay attention to you and give him cheese. that helps him learn that when other dogs are around, GOOD things happen.

a muzzle would be a very good idea for when you bring him to the vet. you have to get him used to the muzzle gradually---dont' just put it on him. but let him sniff it and drop some cheese in it so he puts his snout in it on his own. do this many times over many days until it's not a big deal anymore.

then put it on him, give him some cheese, and go for a stroll.

but i think your expensive behaviorist will have lots of good ideas.

good luck

Fire Byrd said...

Poor Jake, it must be tough having his memory bank and not knowing how to deal with situations at the moment without getting threatened.

Rather than cheese as a snack if you can bare to make it liver cake is a really good dog treat and better for him.

Hope he and the specialist find a way through this.

Expat mum said...

Definitely the lead. The UK is becoming as litigation crazy as the US so you don't want to get sued! Seriously, don't they sell those leads that get longer and longer, but you can withdraw them at any time - a bit like a tape measure. everyone has them over here, complete with plastic bag dispenser for the poop. Gives the dog freedom, but you can tether him in when needed.

DogLover said...

-Ann and Laurie have really said it all. The cheese thing will work best if you only feed Jake after his walk - he'll be hungry and more intent on the cheese!

But as for dog fights, I've had the problem in the past and usually the fight is to see who can pin the other dog down. There's a lot of snarling and fearsome displays of enormous sharp teeth, but the teeth aren't in fact used!

You are right to feel that other people are entitled not to have their dogs set upon. If you know your dog has a propensity to fight, it's your responsibility to make sure he doesn't. If only one could explain that to the canine!

lady macleod said...

I'll bet the specialist can help and how I love you for taking so much trouble to make a happy life for this animal. No matter what happens the compassion you are pouring into the universe by these acts helps us all - well done there! Good luck Jake, I've felt like biting a few people in my own time.

Exmoorjane said...

Totally relate as have similar issues with Asbo - though not quite so serious. Our chap said it was a self-esteem thing (only we could have a dog with low self-esteem!).... we had to do a ton of stuff around making him secure in his place (using a crate for eg)...he's better and has never bitten anyone but is still agressive to dogs - partic as you say if on lead (and they aren't).

Having treats in your pocket and using them as a distraction is a great idea.
Stupid woman! But then people always assume they know how to deal with other people's animals...
hope you get some answers...and solutions. would be fascinated to know...
sorry no blog - been a tricky time and a lot of stuff I can't blog about publically..... hoping that 2009 is kinder all ro und.

jenny said...

My sister's husband has a dog that has a history of biting and being agressive. If it were me in my sister's place, I would insist on getting rid of the dog-- he has bitten the husband several times, bitten other people, nearly killed the cat when they first moved in together after getting married and blended their pets into a new family, almost severed the paw of another one of their dogs and they have 2 little ones! He is far too attached to the dog and has instead banished the dog to the outdoors but now because it's cold (they live in Florida!), he brings her in at night and shut all the other animals into their bedroom.
Sorry, but the dog has got to go when it gets to that point and you have to separate the family from the dog.

As for your Jakey, I hope the specialist works. I'd keep him on one of those extension leads just to be on the safe side. Better safe than sorry.

Mean Mom said...

Poor Jakey! He obviously has some bad memories, from his past experiences. I am sure that the specialist will have come across this problem before and won't find it a particularly big deal. Best of luck with your appointment.

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, sounds like Jakey is getting tough. Collies are very protective and thrive on being a one-man-dog. Hopefully the specialist will shed some light on it and Jakey will be back to his normal self.

Good luck,
CJ xx

Trixie said...

*waves madly*

Sorry I haven't been around..being on hols and all. First of all, happy belated birthday! Don't dread turning 40 all this year like I did. I don't feel any different from 39, lol.

And 2nd, I really do hope you get things sorted with jake.