Monday, December 7, 2009

A Very Bad Ike

Sunday Ike stayed at my in-laws while I had a herding lesson and John was at a friend’s for a gathering. The reason, we had an electrician coming in to wire something for the new addition that the landlord is STILL having work done on. Even leaving Ike home crated would be a disaster – he would bark the whole time and work himself into a tizzy.

When I got home John said he had some bad news. Ike had nipped at my nephew (who is 16 yo). I am heartsick. He really tried to get him – he got his pant cuff. I am not sure John really referred to it like that (“bad news”). I am not sure how he referred to it. All I know is that it is never acceptable and I KNOW my nephew doesn’t do anything that warrants that kind of reaction. Ike has been increasingly reactive to T – barking at him when he enters a room, but this level of escalation is unexpected and horrifying.

So, what to do?

Step one: I have asked T if he would be willing to help me do some counter-conditioning with Ike. My nephew is staying at my in-law’s for the next few weeks while my SIL travels for work. Very convenient.

Step two: Ike is now on-leash at the in-law’s if my niece and nephew are there.

Step three: I am considering seeing if I can join Emma Parson’s Reactive Dog class at Masterpeace. The only reason I hesitate is because Ike is not overly dog-reactive (although he can be slightly) – it is people that get his goat. Also he frequently does not display reactivity in a class setting. In addition I have done privates with Emma years ago and attended her Click to Calm workshop, so I feel like I know the drill. I have also done a lot of the Control Unleashed stuff with him. However, a class might be a good refresher. Not sure.

I am really down about this.


Diana said...

Im so sorry that happened. I know the feeling. When I took Guiness to the control unleash class, he was a perfect angle. No one could understand why that dog was in the class.
But if you came to my door and into my house, he cant be trusted. I have to keep him on leash or crated when people visit. He hasnt bitten anyone but I really feel the potenial is there. Funny thou, only at my house. When we are at my parents house, he is perfectly normal. I think the counter conditioning with T is a good idea. Diana

Jules said...

Thanks, Diana. I am hopeful the CC will help.

This is the closest Ike has gotten to biting someone and it is too close for comfort.

Joanna said...

Dogs don't miss. If he got his pants leg, he was aiming for the pants leg. Sounds like a "I view you as a threat; stay away" punishment or deterrent bite, which would be the logical - and in my experience not very large - escalation from barking at him when he walks in the room. He obviously thinks your nephew is bad news. I think a lot of dogs don't like or trust teenagers; they smell all hot and bothered all the time and walk oddly and are gangly. I agree with the counterconditioning and seeding your nephew with treats and so on, but I would consider this less of a horrifying event and more in terms of the fact that Ikey has been trying to tell you that your nephew is dangerous and figured that he had to take matters into his own hands.

I used to be completely freaked about biting until I rehabbed four biting rescues in a row. Now I have enough of a system - of lowering the stress level, raising the bite threshold, and probably most of all just knowing when a dog is getting tense enough that he's going to do something and telling whoever it is to back off - it's just one more thing I have to fix on the dogs. Our JRT x is ALWAYS going to bite. That's just the way he is; his threshold is extraordinarily low and he will use his mouth where another dog would barely react. So with him the success is a level of bite inhibition that means that nobody gets hurt when he bites, and he's not a dog who I put in testing situations.

Jules said...

Interesting "Dogs don't miss." If that is the case, then you are correct Ike has been saying T is creepy and no one paid enough attention. When I am there (which is usually the case) I get out the clicker and treats and have T feed him. However, I wasn't there. So Ike cannot be unsupervised with T. I think I need to be much more active in trying to CC him to T.

It feels like a big leap – even though I see the reasoning that it isn’t really.

Sam said...

I'm sorry about what happened with Ike. This reminds me of what happened with Marge a few months back - long story short - she found herself in a situation where she was not comfortable and lunged at someone. Though *I* don't think she had intent to bite, some others did, but either way, it was the most forward display of reactivity that I've ever seen from her and I was very, very upset.

I've gotten over it, and have been more conscious about the situations Marge is in (though this doesn't sound like anything you could have prevented with Ike - you did nothing wrong!). Either way, just take it for what it is, a learning experience. You sound like you're prepared to take the necessary precautions and training steps to keep everyone safe.

Sara said...

I think counter conditioning is the best way to go. Then, take precautions for T's safety, and Ike's comfort level when you're not there.

You know your dog best.

Katrin said...

Julie there is an article in the latest WDJ about the CAT protocol for agression cases. There was a HUGE discussion about it on the CPDT list that I'm on if you want to try that. It sounds like it might work since you have done so much CC and it isn't giving you the full effect you want and because T will only be at your in-laws for a finite amount of time that you can work on it in a recouring environment. Take a look at that article, it sounds really interesting.

Jenn said...

I know how stressful this is ... But I have also been told that "dogs don't miss" but several trainers I respect. Not that I would take this lightly because clearly Ike is bothered by T. CC/D wouldn't hurt, and Emma's class wouldn't hurt either but it sounds like that might not be quite the right setting. I don't know what your parents house set up is like - but the Suzanne Clothier game I described previously might be helpful as well. And FWIW - I attended a CATS seminar with Jesus and Kellie a couple of years ago. So you might read what Katrin recommended and see how you feel about that process.

And definitely management when you are not present is wise. CyberHugs!

Blue said...

It is so devastating when they take a step backwards like that especially when you've put so much effort into working with them. :(

I took Emma's "Reactive Dogs I" class, and I think that class might be too basic for you and Ike. It's not that it's a bad class - it was great for Iris. It was very slow to get started (it wasn't until the third week that all of the dogs were in the same room, with barriers) and very focused on dog reactivity. Emma teaches a "Reactive Dogs II" class which might be better for you and Ike? I haven't taken that class so I don't really know what it covers.

I don't know if Emma is offering a CU class at Masterpeace any time soon? I got a lot out of just the one class I made it to. During the first class, Emma asked if there was anything specific we wanted to work on and said she'd try to tailor the last couple of classes for specific issues we wanted to work on.

Don't be too down on yourself. I think Joanne is right, if Ike wanted to make contact he would have. And it sounds like you have a good plan to start with the CC and management.

Elf said...

My dog Jake, shortly after I brought him home (rehomed rescue), started nipping people's ankles. As in, broke the skin on my mom's ankle, nipped my cousin's. In all cases, their feet were very close to him but they weren't actually paying any attention to him. I was told that a prior owner has most likely kicked him, but obviously that wasn't an acceptable behavior. I worked with a couple of people who knew a lot about dog behavior, one-on-one, to let him know that wasn't acceptable. He chilled out a bit, as in worked on getting out of the way before going for the ankles, but I also always had to watch him in close quarters around anyone his whole life. That doesn't mean we didn't have a life--had parties at my house and he was usually loose (except around small children), we competed in agility & he earned multiple championships, etc. Consider calling your local humane society to ask about behaviorists who can work with you specifically on your issue. Usually they have a vested interest in making your relationship with your dog work (because otherwise they get the problem children).

101mutts said...

That's so awful that it happened. I certainly know what it's like to go through.

Emma Parsons said that we couldn't take her Reactive Dog II class without taking Reactive Dog I but she might make an acception because you've taken private lessons with her. Pretty sure she is teaching Control Unleashed on Sundays.

Good luck with it all!