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Trying to prevent rehoming-Advice on dog board and train program?

Our 9 month old pit mix has been a handful since we adopted him. He had a ton of health issues when we first brought him home and spent about a month hospitalized which racked up several thousand dollars. He is a very hyper dog who loves to chew and destroys just about everything he can. We spend about $40.00 a week on bones to keep him content.

Well lately he has been showing some aggression. He has been challenging our 4 year old Rottie mix, who being docile has given up alpha. Last week when I was at work, he lunged for my son because he was walking around with food. I think he was just going for the food but he bit my 2 year old in the process.

I was so frustrated I jumped straight to rehoming. We have been keeping him separated from the kids at all times (unless we can be sitting on the floor with them guiding their interactions) and it has definitely been stressful. After a week of cooling off, I know I am not ready to give up on him yet (despite being the most high maintenance dog I have ever had) and I am looking into a board&train program.

 So on the board&train program. It is expensive (obviously, but I am willing to pay it to keep him), and it involves boarding him there for 5 weeks. They do intensive training that involves us also receiving private lessons to learn the commands they will be teaching him. They are accredited and train all the k9 dogs in the area.This is truly our last resort with him.

So does any one have any advice for me? Anything I haven't thought of to do. Is the board and train a good idea? Sorry that got so long, but I wanted to :try: to give an accurate background.

[IMG]http://i47.tinypic.com/35d9s3p.jpg[/IMG]
<p>Lucas 10/30/08

Sawyer 05/29/10

Re: Trying to prevent rehoming-Advice on dog board and train program?

  • How much exercise is he getting daily?
    [IMG]http://i50.tinypic.com/344qmir.jpg[/IMG]
  • image corgilove22:
    How much exercise is he getting daily?

    As much as possible. We take him for walks, throw the ball in the yard, play with the rope toy. On his own he has his kong and his bones that we try to keep him busy with when we are occupied.  

     He seems to have some anxiety issues that we need to address with the vet. Like his need to destruct everything in sight when we leave him alone for a minute. 

    [IMG]http://i47.tinypic.com/35d9s3p.jpg[/IMG]
    <p>Lucas 10/30/08

    Sawyer 05/29/10
  • A friend of mine sent her pit mix to one of those training programs and she has had great success with her dog and was very happy she did it.  She has 4 small children.  Might be worth a try.  Good luck.
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  • My grandparents always had GSDs, and had one that they had to send through a board/train program.  It worked very well for them and the GSD.  I think between them being older and her being a real challange, it was necessary in order for them to keep her.  I know it may be a last resort, but thanks for not giving up just yet.  I can only imagine what you must be feeling.
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  • Hey there, I remember your post on TB the other day, and I'm so happy to hear you've decided to re-consider keeping your dog. Like I said before, I am so sorry you are going through this and so sorry that your son was bit, but it is wonderful that you're considering all your options.

    I still feel like your best first step would be to consult with a veterinary behaviorist. (You can find one here.) Anxiety is often a factor in resource guarding, and a behaviorist can look at the whole picture to recommend a program that addresses your dog's needs including both a training regime as well as (if necessary) anti-anxiety medication.

    I totally understand why a board and train program would be desirable to you, but I still think your dog might benefit the most from if you see a behaviorist first and start treating his anxiety. The analogy I've heard is that it's like trying to learn algebra while running from a bear... a dog that's suffering from anxiety can't focus and can't learn as fast from the training process as he can when he's gotten some relief from his anxiety.

    Without knowing the specifics of the training program you're looking at, it's hard to say if it will be helpful or not. I would ask a lot of questions about their training techniques to make sure they are based on sound science and not outdated dominance-model techniques and to make sure that you are comfortable with their philosophy. For an anxious dog, I'd personally be looking for a 100% force-free trainer, as aversive, punishment-based techniques are more likely to exacerbate the underlying anxiety issues.

    I'm hoping that working with your vet, a behaviorist and/or a qualified trainer you'll be able to help your dog with his issues and make everything work out. I am sure it will be a challenging road, but I commend you for being willing to work it out. Wishing you the best of luck!

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  • image GrayGhost13:

    Hey there, I remember your post on TB the other day, and I'm so happy to hear you've decided to re-consider keeping your dog. Like I said before, I am so sorry you are going through this and so sorry that your son was bit, but it is wonderful that you're considering all your options.

    I still feel like your best first step would be to consult with a veterinary behaviorist. (You can find one here.) Anxiety is often a factor in resource guarding, and a behaviorist can look at the whole picture to recommend a program that addresses your dog's needs including both a training regime as well as (if necessary) anti-anxiety medication.

    I totally understand why a board and train program would be desirable to you, but I still think your dog might benefit the most from if you see a behaviorist first and start treating his anxiety. The analogy I've heard is that it's like trying to learn algebra while running from a bear... a dog that's suffering from anxiety can't focus and can't learn as fast from the training process as he can when he's gotten some relief from his anxiety.

    Without knowing the specifics of the training program you're looking at, it's hard to say if it will be helpful or not. I would ask a lot of questions about their training techniques to make sure they are based on sound science and not outdated dominance-model techniques and to make sure that you are comfortable with their philosophy. For an anxious dog, I'd personally be looking for a 100% force-free trainer, as aversive, punishment-based techniques are more likely to exacerbate the underlying anxiety issues.

    I'm hoping that working with your vet, a behaviorist and/or a qualified trainer you'll be able to help your dog with his issues and make everything work out. I am sure it will be a challenging road, but I commend you for being willing to work it out. Wishing you the best of luck!

     

    Hey there! Your post was actually very helpful the other day, so thank you so much! The place that does the board and train actually has certified behavior therapists so we will be working with them as well. They use only positive reinforcement and include private lessons to help teach us as well. After he leaves the board and train we go through their zone classes that help reinforce the good behavior. Also, they have a behavior therapist come to the house to help with the resource guarding. 

     So I am starting to feel hopeful that we have found an option that will lead to a safe,happy outcome. I want him to be a member of the family, and be able to be around our kids. 

    [IMG]http://i47.tinypic.com/35d9s3p.jpg[/IMG]
    <p>Lucas 10/30/08

    Sawyer 05/29/10
  • I'm glad you've decided not to rehome your pup and that you're looking in to the best way to address the behavior problems. Really, it takes a great doggy parent to care enough to get help for their dog.

    However,I'm very wary of training places that require you to send your dog to them. I've seen how horrible some "good" places can be. Including physical trauma to a dog that required hospitalization and mental trauma that the owners may not be able to fix, even working with a veterinary behaviorist. And that was at a highly recommended local facility. It was really heartbreaking. Not all places are like that, thank goodness, but it really makes me very hesitant to see any one leave their dog at a training facility.

    Training is more than just teaching a dog commands, it builds a relationship between the trainer and dog. And since dogs aren't the best at generalizing your dog may not react the same to you and your family as he does with the trainers. So your dog may behave wonderfully for them, but may not respond as well for you. It doesn't happen with all dogs, but it does for some. Another issue with dog's not being generalizers is that he may respond differently at the training facility and in your home. This is especially true for behaviors that have a fear/anxiety component. Fearful based aggression is actually worse when the dog is in a "safe" place and/or with "safe" people because the dog feels braver. So again, your dog may be perfect there but return to his old behaviors at home.

    You said that the training facility only uses positive reinforcement, which is awesome! But you also say they have "certified behavior therapists" that will be working with your dog. Honestly I've never heard of that and I'm in the field of animal behavior. I've heard of certified applied animal behaviorists, but not therapists. If I were you, I would ask what they mean by "certified" and what organization they're certified through then do some research. See if it's a legitimate certification and what kind of training is involved.

    Personally, I would recommended seeing a veterinary behaviorist like GrayGhost mentioned. They can determine if there might be some underlying medical condition, which should definitely be looked into since you said he's been showing aggression "lately." If there's not a medical problem they will help you address the behavior problems. And in my experience, the vet behaviorist will have recommendations for trainers you can work with between visits.

    If you don't want to see a veterinary behaviorist, I'd personally at least look into finding an trainer that uses only positive reinforcement, like you already mentioned. I'd choose a trainer from greatdogtrainers.com . They are all Karen Pryor Academy certified trainers. Which means they've graduated from intense classes on how to handle all kinds of behavior problems using positive reinforcement.

    If you do decide not to see a vet behaviorist and to send your dog to the board and training facility. Please do your homework on the place and if at any point it seems weird (they won't let you see your dog, etc.) get your dog out of there! I wish you the best of luck that your pup and your family can learn to live together as a big happy family again.

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