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Agrgession upon being awakened

This is a place to gain some understanding of dog behavior and to assist people in training their dogs and dealing with common behavior problems, regardless of the method(s) used. This can cover the spectrum from non-aversive to traditional methods of dog training. There are many ways to train a dog. Please avoid aggressive responses, and counter ideas and opinions with which you don't agree with friendly and helpful advice. Please refrain from submitting posts that promote off-topic discussions. Keep in mind that you may be receiving advice from other dog owners and lovers... not professionals. If you have a major problem, always seek the advice of a trainer or behaviorist!

  
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Member Since
05/20/2012
 
 
Barked: Sun May 20, '12 4:50pm PST 
I am new to this site but have been looking for an answer to these questions for quite some time. I adopted my rat terrier, Daisy, when she was approximately 2 years old from some people who had had her for about 4 months. They did not know her history. She has been with me for two years now. In general, she is a wonderful, charming, sweet and adorable dog, but she has one really serious issue, and a couple kind of annoying ones. So here are my questions.

1.) When Daisy is very soundly asleep and she gets woken up, she can become very dangerous. She growls and snaps, and last night she actually bit my boyfriend's face. It wasn't serious, but it really concerns us. She will lunge and snarl and in general be a little poophead. I don't have as much of a problem as the BF does because I know how to wake her gently, but she can get growly with me. I am wondering if this is something I can train her out of, or if this either instinctual behaviour or just some weird brain short that she has? I am pretty sure that she was abused at some point in her life. She is literally afraid of flies. When they are buzzing, she hides.

2.) She does not really like going for walks. I can make her go a short distance, but then she will stop and stand there, paralyzed, and not move. She won't go on a leash at all. She stiffens up then falls over and rolls onto her back. She seems to prefer sitting on my lap to just about anything else except bacon.

3.) She hates riding in the car. It doesn't seem to make her car sick, but she gets very anxious and if I don't restrain her in her harness, she is in my face.

4.) She barks at thunder, not in a fearful way, but like she wants to go out and attack it.

5) I can't get her house trained. She's better than she was at first, but still has too many accidents. She doesn't mind being in a crate, but it's not my favourite place to put her when I'm gone. She's okay when I'm home and can let her out several times a day.

I would appreciate anyone's thoughts on any or all of these issues. Daisy is my girl forever, but I'd like to get some of these things ironed out. Thanks!!
Erindog walk
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Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
 
 
Barked: Sun May 20, '12 5:11pm PST 
I am new to this site but have been looking for an answer to these questions for quite some time. I adopted my rat terrier, Daisy, when she was approximately 2 years old from some people who had had her for about 4 months. They did not know her history. She has been with me for two years now. In general, she is a wonderful, charming, sweet and adorable dog, but she has one really serious issue, and a couple kind of annoying ones. So here are my questions.

1.) When Daisy is very soundly asleep and she gets woken up, she can become very dangerous. She growls and snaps, and last night she actually bit my boyfriend's face. It wasn't serious, but it really concerns us. She will lunge and snarl and in general be a little poophead. I don't have as much of a problem as the BF does because I know how to wake her gently, but she can get growly with me. I am wondering if this is something I can train her out of, or if this either instinctual behaviour or just some weird brain short that she has? I am pretty sure that she was abused at some point in her life. She is literally afraid of flies. When they are buzzing, she hides.


Do you like being awakened out of a sound sleep?

Is she sleeping on your bed? It sounds like she is, and she may not be able to handle that. You don't know her background, and while I think you should let go of the idea that she may have been abused, she may really have little or no experience with sharing sleeping space and being jostled in her sleep.

If she's not sleeping on your bed, and the BF is insisting on waking her in ways that are known to cause a problem, he's the one with the behavior problem, and he needs to be trained out of it.

Some dogs do fine sharing our beds. Some are better off sleeping on their own dog beds. Some really need the security of their crates, so that they can't be startled out of sleep and do something they wouldn't do when fully awake.

2.) She does not really like going for walks. I can make her go a short distance, but then she will stop and stand there, paralyzed, and not move. She won't go on a leash at all. She stiffens up then falls over and rolls onto her back. She seems to prefer sitting on my lap to just about anything else except bacon.

She may never have been leash trained. Dogs aren't born knowing how to walk on a leash. Try letting her drag it around inside, so that she can get used to it.

3.) She hates riding in the car. It doesn't seem to make her car sick, but she gets very anxious and if I don't restrain her in her harness, she is in my face.

In a harness or crate is the only safe way for a dog to ride in a car. Aside from "getting in your face" and potentially causing an accident, if you do have an accident, she will be come a projectile, which could be fatal for both of you.

Use the harness.

Also, spend some time desensitizing her to the car. First just take her to the car, and don't get in. When she's comfortable with that, have the car door open, but still don't get in. Then get her in and right back out again. Etc. Use lots of treats. This will take time; you won't get it done in one day.

4.) She barks at thunder, not in a fearful way, but like she wants to go out and attack it.

Many dogs are sound-sensitive or have problems with thunder.

5) I can't get her house trained. She's better than she was at first, but still has too many accidents. She doesn't mind being in a crate, but it's not my favourite place to put her when I'm gone. She's okay when I'm home and can let her out several times a day.

You're being unreasonable. You're expecting a dog whose first two years of life are completely unknown, to share the weird human belief that the entire huge territory that is the inside of the house is "the den" and not to be soiled.

You know she doesn't mind being in her crate. That's because, to her, that's her den. It's a safe comfortable place that she knows not to soil.

Give her a freakin' break. Crate her when you have to go out and leave her. It will be easier and less stressful for both of you, and better for your relationship.

I would appreciate anyone's thoughts on any or all of these issues. Daisy is my girl forever, but I'd like to get some of these things ironed out. Thanks!!

Overall, she sounds a bit nervous and insecure. I would strongly recommend, at a minimum, a basic obedience class with an experienced, positive-reinforcement trainer. Even better would be a consult with a qualified, experienced behaviorist. A behaviorist, able to actually see your dog, you, your boyfriend, and your home, will be much better able to assess what's going on, whereas I and anyone else who answers you here is going only by what you tell us, and how we interpret it.
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Member Since
05/20/2012
 
 
Barked: Sun May 20, '12 5:54pm PST 
Addy, thank you for your response. I may be new to this forum, but I didn't just fall off the turnip truck. Daisy and I have been together for two years, and I have been observing and learning about her for that entire time, so please don't be condescending. My father is a veterinarian and I have had dogs, cats, cattle, horses, birds, and goats in my life, my whole life. I have NEVER had these issues with a dog. Give me some credit. I am asking because every other dog I have ever been lucky enough to live with has been with me since they were puppies, and I was able to train them correctly. They all loved going in the car (and yes, I use Daisy's harness, religiously, I'm not dumb), they were all house trained, with no need to use a crate, the walked, on or off the leash. I have been around dogs that have been abused. Daisy acts like she may have been abused. Daisy is Daisy, and I love her for who she is, but if I can alleviate some of her stress, while also alleviating some of mine, it would be great. That's why I posted my questions on this forum. I did not post to receive snarky answers to my very sincere questions. I care about my girl very much and I want us both to be happy.

I agree, the BF may be part of the problem, but once again Daisy has no problem sleeping. Anywhere. No, I don't like being awakened out of a sound sleep, but I don't bite the face off of the person who wakes me, nor has any other dog I have ever known.

If I could afford an animal behaviourist, I'd hire one, but some of us don't have that kind of money.
My sincere thanks for your suggestions,
Erin
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Twister

Love me.
 
 
Barked: Sun May 20, '12 6:26pm PST 
Addy was not being snarky, imo, but was telling it how they saw it. When you ask for help on online forums, you may want to prepare yourself for answers you do not want to hear. Owning dogs from pups and adopting an adult dog with an unknown past are two completely different things. Your dog may have been abused, but dogs do not live in the past, so try not to worry about that any longer. How she behaves are simply ingrained behaviors she has learned, or was born with. Addy gave very good advice, especially how to deal with the car. With the aggression issue, I would say she DOES have a problem with where she sleeps, because she obviously immediately feels a need to defend herself whenever she is awakened. I would agree her own bed or her crate would be a very good idea. It would give her peace of mind. If you think there may be something seriously wrong with her, I would recommend a vet visit to make sure she is not in any pain. With the potty incidents, she has an unknown past, so again-may never have been potty trained. Since you have raised pups before, I would recommend just going back to square one (same goes for the leash-training) and crating her really is not a bad idea. I am sure there are others who can give you more (and probably better) advice. Good luck with your girl. hug

Eta: Thunderstorms, again, they drive many a dog crazy. They do make Thunder-Shirts that help to calm dogs down if you are interested in that. Perhaps when there is a storm, just keep her in a dark room, even in her crate just to try to calm her down. I never had a dog that hated storms, so I don't know much on that. I had a friend with a Retriever that went so wild he went through a door and wall-I don't think your dog will be able to do that(!), but that just speaks for their state of mind, so I am glad you are trying to find solutions to all of this.way to go

Edited by author Sun May 20, '12 6:31pm PST

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Addy, CGC

Let's go for a- walk!
 
 
Barked: Sun May 20, '12 7:14pm PST 
What Twister said; I was not being snarky. One thing you need to remember is what I said at the end: We here can only judge by what you tell us and how we interpret it.

All those dogs you raised from puppies, they grew up learning what you wanted from the beginning, when they were mist receptive to learning, and without any prior bad habits to unlearn. An adult dog is different. She had already learned quite a lot of behavior patterns, and learning new behavior patterns will not happen as easily and automatically.

No, you don't bite people who wake you out if a sound sleep, but you have a lot more ways to communicate. And people who swing a fist with a lot of force when startled awake are not uncommon. Daisy may sleep just fine wherever she is, as long as she's sleeping.g, but she is clearly not comfortable being awakened unexpectedly, and feels unsafe when that happens. In those two years you know nothing about, the experiences you know nothing about likely include experiences that explain that. She may never have shared sleeping space--or she might have shared space with a human or animal who was in the habit if awakening her with an attack.

She will be more comfortable if you have her sleep on a dog bed or in her crate.

Most vets are not behaviorists or trainers. They have a vast body of medical knowledge, but that doesn't make them behaviorists. I really think you, Daisy, and the ND would benefit from finding, at the least, an experienced positive-reinforcement trainer who could assess Daisy's behavior more objectively. That's not a knock on you; it's simply a fact that a third party with knowledge and experience, but outside the "family circle, can often see things that we're too close to to see for ourselves.
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Member Since
05/20/2012
 
 
Barked: Sun May 20, '12 7:48pm PST 
Thank you Addy and Twister. I think I'm just going to let this go for now because it seems like I am not communicating very well. My fault. I do appreciate the time you took to answer me and I will keep your advice in mind.
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Lisa

Always my angel.
 
 
Barked: Mon May 21, '12 12:38am PST 
I'm not sure if you meant that you aren't going to be reading this forum anymore for some reason, but just in case you are (or someone else has a similar problem), I'll go ahead and respond. I apologize in advance for not responding to them in order.

I can't get her house trained. She's better than she was at first, but still has too many accidents. She doesn't mind being in a crate, but it's not my favourite place to put her when I'm gone. She's okay when I'm home and can let her out several times a day.

Out of curiosity, why don't you like to keep Daisy in the crate if it doesn't bother her? That seems like your best bet to prevent any accidents.

If you're uncomfortable with the crate, then you could try using an X-pen (or something else that confines her to a smallish space, but still gives her room to play) and just put a small area in there where she is allowed to potty during the day. Lots of people newspaper or even litter-box train puppies and small dogs in this way. There are a couple different types of dog litter boxes available online if you google around a bit (don't use kitty litter! Wee pads are better for dogs, or there are some places that sell a type of artificial grass).

I know you want her to just hold it all day, but it sounds like right now she either can't or doesn't know that she's supposed to. I'm sure that seems strange to you since your past dogs never had a problem, but it really isn't an unusual problem for a small dog to have. Just be grateful that you lucked out in the past and start adjusting to Daisy's different needs, I say.

Another thing I thought of - do you feed Daisy on a set schedule, or is she allowed to eat throughout the day? If you feed her at set times, then you can get her body on a similar schedule and you should be able to better predict when she'll need to go out to potty.

When Daisy is very soundly asleep and she gets woken up, she can become very dangerous.

As for the startle-awake response, I don't think there's much you can do other than wake her gently, especially for now. It could be that over time she'll get used to being woken up; she might not. If there's nothing medically wrong, I can't think of much that you can do other than work around it. This is another one of those areas where some dogs are just different. (And on a sort of related note, I do have a brother who most of us could not safely awaken from a nap growing up...not sure what that was but I did NOT ever wake him up for fear of getting smacked! I'm sure this is an area where dogs and humans differ, but the similarity did make me smile.)

How did you respond when Daisy lunged/snapped/bit? Remember that punishment in that situation can actually make her more likely to snap again, since it reinforces the idea that being woken up is unpleasant and bad. Stick with waking her gently and giving her lots of treats and gentle reinforcement for staying calm. Work your way up from there. And if either of you slip up and she goes all Cujo at you, just get yourselves to a safe distance and otherwise ignore, ignore, ignore.

She does not really like going for walks. I can make her go a short distance, but then she will stop and stand there, paralyzed, and not move. She won't go on a leash at all. She stiffens up then falls over and rolls onto her back. She seems to prefer sitting on my lap to just about anything else except bacon.

With this and the car ride, I think baby steps and loads of reinforcement are in order. Bust out that bacon and start working with her in very short sessions throughout each day. Start with something you think she can handle. For example, bring the leash near her, then reward her with bacon. When she seems comfortable with that (she may be already), take the leash to where you would normally attach it to her collar (but don't do it yet) and then give her bacon. Repeat this several times until she sees it as a good thing. Then move to attaching the leash to her collar. Give her the bacon at the exact moment you attach the leash - then remove the leash, take it away, and repeat the whole motion again (including the most important part - the bacon!). From there, move up to leaving the leash on for longer and longer periods of time, always rewarding with the bacon. If you think she can handle it, let her drag the leash around for a while. Then work on picking it up. I think you get the idea.

Again, to you this is pretty basic stuff. Dogs wear leashes, right? No big deal. But for some reason it isn't basic stuff to Daisy. So you need to break the whole thing down into TINY pieces and reward her for each step along the way. Be patient and stay positive. If she seems overstressed at any point (or if you do!), do something you know she's OK with and give her a treat, then put the leash away. You always want to end on a good note - for both of you.

You can use a very similar method for getting her used to the car. Start small.

In fact, as a general note for all of these issues, your mantra should be: Start Small and Go Slow. You will need lots of patience to overcome these things, especially with a small, fearful dog. Don't expect too much from her. She may never be like the dogs you grew up with, but I'm confident she can become a fantastic companion for you.

She barks at thunder, not in a fearful way, but like she wants to go out and attack it.

I'm guessing she wants to go out and attack the thunder because it scares her (remember, most dogs don't attack things for fun...some do, I'm sure, but most do it because they think the target is a threat). Here are some tips I've used with various sound-sensitive dogs we had growing up:

1) Take the dog to the quietest room in the house. For us, this was the downstairs bathroom. Some dogs are calmer in the dark, as well.

2) Associate the sound with good things. To accomplish this, you will do very similar things to what you did with the leash and the car. Every time you hear the thunder - regardless of how she's reacting to it - give her a reward. Every. Time. Contrary to what some people say, you actually cannot reward her for being scared. Do try to get her the reward before she has a chance to bark, though.

3) Act like there's nothing wrong. You can comfort her, but do it calmly. There's no danger of rewarding her state of mind, but if you're worried about how she's acting or stressed because she's barking a lot, then that can convey to her that there's something to be afraid of. Instead just act like you don't have a single care in the world. You don't need to ignore her, but you shouldn't act like there's anything special going on either. To accomplish this state of mind in myself, I used to watch TV or read books during thunder storms. My dog would whine or circle or get scared, and I would just glance up at her every now and then, say something casual, and pet her on her back briefly. After a while, she started to settle down.


Anyway, I know I wrote a lot there...I hope it helps!
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Member Since
05/20/2012
 
 
Barked: Mon May 21, '12 6:50am PST 
Lisa's Mom, I was just very frustrated last night and I felt that if I said what I was thinking, it would not be appropriate.

Daisy's previous mom said that her daughter took Daisy for walks. She didn't indicate whether or not Daisy liked the walks or not. Daisy isn't afraid of the leash, and I have walked her with the leash. I just think she is stubborn (I don't mean that as an insult)and doesn't want to be on it. I've tried the treat thing. We go out and pick asparagus together, or hike on my parents' ranch, off leash, and Daisy will go a certain distance and appear to be having lots of doggy fun, checking out the scents and everything, then she'll just stop and decide she's going no further. Most of the time we haven't even been gone for more than 10 minutes.

She has been riding in the car with me for two years. She very definitely wants to be with me, but she starts shivering the minute I put her harness on and looks at me like I just beat her. If I stop somewhere, and leave her in the car, she gets very relaxed and is more relaxed for the rest of the trip. She won't eat treats in the car. The ladies at the bank love her to death and give her cookies, but she saves them until bed time. I know treats work for her in other training scenarios; I just taught her to sit, which she never did before, and it took like two treats for her to get it.

I don't like putting her in a crate. I recognize that as my problem. I do put pads down in the areas where she generally piddles or poops, and she very carefully does her business right off the edges of the pads. She has been house trained, she knows she is to go outside, and when I am home, we go out several times a day. I have started from scratch with her, and she is tons better than she was two years ago.

When I'm home, Daisy is on my lap (makes it hard to play Mario Kart, or knit, but we work around it) and she is generally very relaxed and asleep. If I get up I either gently roll her to the side and tell her it's time to get up, and she usually moves, but gives me the stink-eye, or I will pick her up, and if she growls I quickly set her to the side or put her on the floor and get up and walk away. My BF has a tendency to want to play right away, and he gets in her face first thing. She will appear to be awake but there is a glaze in her eye and I can read it that she is still not all there. BF has never hurt her, but if I go to bed before he does and Daisy is in bed with me, she will go for him. I can't decide if she is protecting her space, or me. I have tried to tell the BF that he needs to change his behaviour too, but sometimes he's a little self-centered and he takes offense at what he perceives as me telling him what to do.

She and I bonded right away and she is definitely my dog and I am her mom. I do agree that she may be a little insecure and anxious. Whether this is a personality trait or from her experiences with her previous owners, I can't say. I don't mind her being a lap dog or wanting to be in my arms a lot, I want that too, I am more than willing to work around personality traits and do what I need to do to make her feel secure and happy. But I don't want her to feel like she is the boss of my lap or the bed.

She used to not play at all, nor did she feel comfortable having her tummy rubbed, but over the last two years, she has started to play and while she doesn't let just anybody rub her tummy, she will let BF and I do it for as long as we have time to do it. If you had seen her when I first got her, you would be amazed at her progress. She was shuttled from owner to owner over the course of her first two years, but she is home now. smile

dog walk
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Sanka- I'll Miss- You

The ground is my- newspaper.
 
 
Barked: Mon May 21, '12 7:06am PST 
As for waking up, some dogs are just like that. I know many humans who will freak out if you wake them from a sound sleep. It's just how they are. I believe the best thing to do is to just find a softer way to wake the dog. Maybe using sound or smell rather than touch.

Have you tried the thundershirt? That might help with the car rides.

As for house breaking, the potty pads aren't helping one bit. All they are doing is letting her know that she can potty in the house, which is exactly the opposite of what house breaking means. You need to have a routine and find some way of containing the dog when you aren't able to supervise. The more she goes in the house, the more she is used to going in the house, and the harder it is to break. So, I'd just stop the pads and put her on puppy protocol. Start all over. Go out at set times so she learns to predict when she'll have a chance to potty.
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Member Since
05/20/2012
 
 
Barked: Mon May 21, '12 9:21am PST 
Sanka, I have tried the thundershirt for the thunder issue (no luck there) but not for the car. I'll give it a try. smile
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