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 Post subject: Lunging
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:11 am 
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Anyone have any experience with a lunging cocker?

Mostly it causes no injury, but last summer our Jake split a friend's lip by lunging at her face when she bent down toward him. Friday last week, he injured a second friend. She also was leaning down into his space. He lunged and split her facial skin from cheek bone across her nose to the other side of her face. Seven stitches. Fortunately for us and Jake, she is a dog-lover too and insisted at the Emergency Room that Jake did NOT bite - rather, broke her skin by force of impact when he lunged. She is right about that, and we are glad ER did not call Animal Control.

This must not happen again. I am worried about the very real possibility my friend's face may be scarred for life, and am trying this week-end to get her a Monday or Tuesday appt with a mutual friend who happens to be a top plastic surgeon. And, mixing scar-prevention oils.

We think Jake was traumatized by a burglary last May, when he was home alone. He is a (mostly) very well behaved dog, and not crated when we are gone - partly for his comfort, and partly for security. He barks and growls aggressively if anyone approaches our home. One May afternoon last year, after our housekeeper departed and before I arrived home from work, a burglar entered through the bottom pane of glass in our back door - Jake's nose level - knocking glass shards into his food and water bowls. I wasn't there, and he's not talking (not that I haven't tried). I'm guessing the burglar brought quick-action poison-on-food and that was that. No injuries evident when we got home a few hours later, but we all started throwing up just after midnight.

Anyway, regardless the cause, we must find a way to stop this behavior. We don't want anyone else injured, we don't want Jake destroyed, we don't want to stop inviting friends into our home, we don't want to crate Jake. We want to change his behavior. Anyone have any experience with anything like this? Defensive/aggressive lunging at faces? Trauma recovery? He's already scheduled for a follow-up vet visit tomorrow - he has been having GI tract troubles, and wasn't feeling good even before this happened on Friday. But, that doesn't explain last summer's split lip.

Any suggestions? Ideas?

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Ann MacN


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 Post subject: Re: Lunging
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 8:47 am 
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I can read how upset you are. The only thing I can think of is to have him stay in his sits. Practice like crazy and make sure your guests don't crowd into his space.

I hope you find a good resolution to this.

:hp

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MJ

Sadie, CGC, TDI, our darling li'l black girl who adopted us 9/5/09, honorary BD 6/9/08
Rusty, we'll love you forever, 9/22/95 - 4/2/09
Mopsie, you're always in our hearts, 1978 - 1994


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 Post subject: Re: Lunging
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 10:41 am 
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I understand why you would be upset! My personal feeling is there are things you can do such as MJ suggested but I would also do two things - one, make sure your vet hears the whole story and checks him out to make sure he's physically fine and two, call a behaviorist. That is really unwanted behavior and since you do not really no why it's happening (although you have your suspicions) I'd really want an evaluation by a professional.

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Cody - 9/2/08
Monkey Cat - 1993 - 2013
Cori - My First - 1/2/91 - 12/15/03
Maxine - My Angel - Gotcha - 9/5/09 - 7/28/11
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 Post subject: Re: Lunging
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 12:22 pm 
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Gee, I'm so sorry you're having problems with Jake and understand your frustration. I second the vet and behaviorist suggestion. It may be as easy as not getting into Jake's personal space, but I would be afraid children might not understand that. Barring any medical issues, may I also ask why you don't want to crate him - especially when you have visitors? Would you be willing to just give him his own space (a spare bedroom, etc.) when you have visitors?

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 Post subject: Re: Lunging
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 2:09 pm 
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Thanks, everyone, for your replies.

Yes, more 'go to your place, Jake' training is in order for sure. Though this has happened only twice, and too quick for any command. But, he could learn to go to his place as soon as we walk in the door.

Maybe that could also protect children. There are none in his life presently - we are both in our 60s - but, we are hosting an April 1 baby shower for a nephew's upcoming little girl, and are about to become grandpareno ts for the first time in July.

AND I could learn never to forget to remind guests NOT to lean down into his space. But the poor woman who got head-butted on Friday was here mainly because she wanted some Jake TLC. She has known him since we've had him.

We don't want to crate him for the reasons I mentioned. But training to remain planted in his place is a must, and quickly. Also the vet and behaviorist. He already has a vet appt tomorrow AM, due to his GI woes.

Is a 'behaviorist' the same as a 'doggie psychologist'? Or, do they just overlap? That is, are all 'behaviorists' Ph.D. psychologists who specialize in animal (mis)behavior? Or also others, trained in training animal behavior?

Jake eats all paper - and cardboard - within his reach, except for what he shreds. Books, correspondence, toilet paper, shoe boxes. This behavior became much worse after our burglary.

Our vet suggested giving him more structure for anxiety management, recommending in particular that he respond appropriately to sit/stay command before meals, and before outdoor walks. This we are doin, and maybe he has calmed a little.

She also suggested that we make an appt with a doggie psychologist if that did not resolve the issue. It hasn't, and we haven't. My hubby loves the movie 'Best in Show'. If you have seen this 'mockumentary', you know it includes a doggie psychologist.

He has a hard time taking this recommendation seriously, but he does anticipate it will be expensive. Any suggestions on helping him overcome his own apprehension? Any resources I might be able to put in front of him, showing the value?

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Ann MacN


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 Post subject: Re: Lunging
PostPosted: Sun Mar 11, 2012 3:45 pm 
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Ann wrote:
Thanks, everyone, for your replies.

Yes, more 'go to your place, Jake' training is in order for sure. Though this has happened only twice, and too quick for any command. But, he could learn to go to his place as soon as we walk in the door.

Maybe that could also protect children. There are none in his life presently - we are both in our 60s - but, we are hosting an April 1 baby shower for a nephew's upcoming little girl, and are about to become grandpareno ts for the first time in July.

AND I could learn never to forget to remind guests NOT to lean down into his space. But the poor woman who got head-butted on Friday was here mainly because she wanted some Jake TLC. She has known him since we've had him.



I'm not sure about the behaviorist being the same as or different from an animal psychologist - I think your vet can - and should - advise you about that although I am sure someone here can also provide that information. I also think the extra training will pay off. However it really can't be a "maybe this will work and maybe that will do it" which is why I am urging the behaviorist. You would never forgive yourself if anything happened to anyone else - especially a child or a grandchild because you forgot a command, or Jake didn't hear it, or any of a number of senarios occurred. You have the time now to really work with Jake and get the situation taken care of before there are more pieces introduced into it. I know some people think behaviorists and such are high-priced fakes but I have seen them work wonders and - frankly - if it's someone else's safety, I'd rather pay for a behaviorist than someone's medical bills or a possible lawsuit. Not to mention that if you consider Jake's actions as a cry for help, that's sort of what was signed on for when you took him in. I'm glad the vet will check him out and I hope you can follow up with what he needs. You sound like a concerned doggy mom and I'm sure Jake appreciates your care.

_________________
Teddy - 11/11/03
Annie - 2/13/05
Jennie - Gotcha 9/14/11
Cody - 9/2/08
Monkey Cat - 1993 - 2013
Cori - My First - 1/2/91 - 12/15/03
Maxine - My Angel - Gotcha - 9/5/09 - 7/28/11
Maddie - Good Boy - Gotcha 6/17/12 - 7/25/13


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 Post subject: Re: Lunging
PostPosted: Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:50 am 
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Vickie, yes exactly. And, both of our vets referred us to the same veterinary behaviorist.

Seems that is now a graduate specialty. She has a graduate degree in the specialty, and is a diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Behaviorists (ACVB) - "a professional organization of veterinarians who have achieved board-certification in the specialty. According to http://www.petfinder.com/how-to-help-pe ... orist.html:
"There are three groups of people that help people who are having behavior problems with their animals: veterinary behaviorists, applied animal behavior consultants and animal trainers. Veterinary behaviorists are veterinarians with a special interest in animal behavior. . . . A veterinary behaviorist is licensed to prescribe drugs and is familiar with the psychotropic medications, their uses and side effects. Applied animal behaviorists have post-graduate degrees (either Masters or PhD) in zoology, animal behavior or animal psychology. Certification is by the Animal Behavior Society and is based on education and experience. Animal trainers are usually self-trained. At this time there is no licensing or educational requirements to become an animal trainer. Many however have taken courses in animal behavior and have extensive experience dealing with behavior problems."

We have read some of Dr. Haug's publications, which emphasize positive reinforcement as a key training technique, and are satisfied with her competencies. This little fellow definitely does not deserve to be destroyed - he is a plucky sweet and joyful animal - with an occasional odd self-defense mechanism. We are resolved to do whatever it may take to help him swiftly develop the 100% habit of leaping into his space when a guest enters our home, and staying rooted to that spot until released.

But, the earliest appt we could get is March 23. He may get to go to Doggie Day Care for our April 1 baby shower. Or, we'll keep him in the TV room upstairs on that Sunday.

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Ann MacN


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