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jmw
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PostPosted: 08/17/03, 5:59 pm    Post subject: Sad day for the family Reply with quote

Crying or Very sad It was a sad day for our family as we returned our 2 y.o. girl to the breeder today. We had her evaluated by Brenda Scidmore (Canine Behavior Consulting in Madison, WI) last week who evaulated her for 3 hours and diagnosed fear aggression. She did a very in-depth study of our dog's behavior including looking at videos that we had taken of her aggressive behavior towars strangers. The choices boiled down to isolating her completely from strangers, trying to desentisize her to strangers one at a time, a return to the breeder with a possible re-home in a hunting kennel situation or euthanasia. With her history of one bite, we just couldn't trust her enough in a neighborhood full of kids.

As she loves hunting and being around other dogs, it seems that placement in a hunting kennel may be the best thing for her. She has never demonstrated any aggressive tendencies in this setting toward people or other dogs, and has freely let others handle her (even to the point of picking her up off a point).

I would like to take a chance on another GWP, but my wife is afraid the same thing might happen again and doesn't want to take a chance on another heartbreak. We wonder if those who have had similar problems with fear aggression in a GWP lived in the city or the country with or without other dogs as companions. What do you think?
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Illona
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PostPosted: 08/18/03, 9:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JMW, I'm so sorry to hear the ending to this story, however, I'm sure your girl will be far happier hunting as she was born to do.

It's hard to know what went wrong, especially when you say that there were no problems with her littermates, and especially since my own experience with the breed has been so positive. The few GWPs I've known (especially my girl) are confident and out-going, and adore people.

I was all set to put in my vote on you trying out another GWP until I went over past posts in this thread. For some reason I thought you'd adopted this girl out of rescue and she'd had a past, but I see that you had her from 7 weeks. Now please do NOT take this wrong, JMW, but given the factors, I have to wonder if there's something on your end that has caused or at least exacerbated this girl's fear-based aggression. It could be something in the neighborhood, someone taunting her, it could be that she encounters too much stimulation or the wrong stimulation, too much restraint, not enough space, it could be that she wasn't afforded enough socialization during those critical times in her youth, it could be that she's not getting the exercise and stimulation she needs based on her lineage and breeding. You say you didn't hunt with her, correct? Did you do other stimulating activities? I know with my girl (out of rescue) I had to revamp my schedule and life quite a bit. Her activity level is higher than any dog I've previously owned, and I needed to do 10-times the training with her so that I could exercise her off-leash (the only way a GWP can get exercise). I've had her through several obedience classes for the distraction of other dogs and people, and do a lot of work with her daily. She's also into agility, and we do a lot of off-leash distance training as well to prepare us for our 1-2 hour hikes two or three times a week. If your girl wasn't getting the proper stimulation and guidance, this can only exacerbate a problem.

I've heard of other pointers going through several fear stages during their first couple of years. Although this girl hasn't (luckily), I could see where one of these brief fear stages could blossom into something major if undetected in its early stages, and not handled properly.

The reason I'm writing all of this, is to give you an impression of what I (just one person) has had to do to accommodate this hunting machine in the middle of a city. In fact, I have to drive at least a half-hour one way each time to get this beast out into the country to let her hunt and run; I have to arrange hiking/play dates with other pointer owners to get her the exercise and socialization she requires. Like I said only my experience.

If you can give a new GWP this kind of attention, if you can be aware of it's physical as well as it's psychological state throughout it's youth, then I'd say you should give GWPs another try. On the other hand, if your situation remains the same, and since you had this last girl at such a young age (therefore, none of the typical former abuse that often goes hand-in-hand with fear-based aggression...at least, in the rescue cases I've dealt with), then I'd suggest researching a different breed. GWPs are large, strong dogs, that I consider the best dog in the world, however, they are high-maintenance in those early years. Without the proper attention, stimulation, socialization, and awareness, I can see how they could go very wrong, very fast in the wrong setting. Perhaps your situation isn't ideal for the breed, and another might be happier in your busy setting with your kids and close neighbors, space and time limitations, etc.

Just my opinion.

Illona
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Anne
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PostPosted: 08/18/03, 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm so sorry to hear that. It is always sad to lose a member of the family. Fear aggression is an absolutely heartbreaking situation. I know Riley has regressed lately so I can truly identify with your pain.

Nixie sounds like a very lucky pet to have a family that put all the money, time, work, and love you devoted her.

I'm sure she knows how loved she is and always will be, even though your home is not the best place for her to live. As much as she loves you, she probably lived in a state of stress due to her fears. Hopefully, her new home will be much less stressful for her so she can enjoy hunting and the outdoors and lots of doggie friends.

In dealing with my own emotions about my fear aggression dog I found Jean Donaldson's book The Culture Clash very helpful. I thought the tone was a little emotional and reactive but she had some very good stuff in there.

As far as your wife's feelings about risking heartbreak that is sure understandable!! I think the bigger consideration than the breed is having a really hard-core socialization plan. Dogs are pretty cautious by nature. As dogs evolved in the wild, the curious ones did not survive to produce offspring so caution and wariness is pretty hard wired.

Even so, a lot can be done to guard against fighters and biters by using the time when the pups are 3-12 weeks old to socialize them. This is the time they are primed to accept their pack mates and their surroundings. During this time the pups should have very positive experiences (i.e., be hand fed) with literally hundreds of people. The breeder should start this work and when the pup is adopted the family needs to continue in earnest.

Best of luck to your family and Nixie in this time of difficult change.

Anne
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cmmilach
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PostPosted: 08/18/03, 1:38 pm    Post subject: Companion Training Reply with quote

Hi,

So sorry to hear of your lost. I have a 1 yr old female GWP that was raised in a loving family enviroment with children & other dogs. I got her at 9 wks of age & have been taking her everywhere with my other wire. She has been to the Nationals, agility trials, dog shows, hunt test & field trials. Recently, she started acting strange around strangers, charging them & barking. She was going through another fear stage for some reason. Come to find out, I live in town on a corner lot & the neighborhood children where throwing rocks & banging on the fence to aggravate my male, who charges the fence when he hears anyone coming down the street. The dogs are not outside when no one is home, so I immediately go out & bring them in. Sky, the puppy, is shown & is fine when not home. It is a terriortial problem.

I guess what I am getting out, is try another one & try to figure out what went wrong.

Good Luck.
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Anne
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PostPosted: 08/19/03, 11:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just to add another perspective I did speak to Karen London an applied animal behaviorist specializing in aggression. She wrote her PhD dissertation on interspecies aggression and has had a private practice working with aggressive dogs for the last 5 years. She works for Patricia McConnell, author of The Other End of the Leash.

She said about 80% of the aggression cases she sees are fear aggression. She went on to say that in her experience it is very rare that the dog has had some abusive or other traumatic experience that is at the root of the problem. Usually it is just the dog’s nature to be cautious or fearful.

My only point is that if you are wracking your brain to figure out what "caused" Nixie's fear aggression and are coming up with nothing, she may just be a cautious canine.

The breeder may have done some temperament testing and found her to be "submissive" and thought that temperament would be a good fit for a home in a family with children. Her behavior in the temperament tests may have been a combination of caution and submission. Of course I'm just speculating now.
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jmw
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PostPosted: 08/24/03, 10:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Confused Anybody hear of Fred Hassen's "No Limitations" training technique using e-collars? A very reputable trainer mentioned this as a possible option for us. Unfortunately, we did not get this information until we had already taken the dog back.

This training seems to run counter to everything we have read so far regarding fear aggression, but they claim to have success with this technique. What do you think? Our dog has always been very responsive to the e-collar in hunting training situations.

Website: http://www.nolimitations.biz/main.htm
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Anne
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PostPosted: 08/25/03, 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have not heard of it. I see your point that using something aversive does seem to contradict the principal of creating a positive association with whatever scares the dog to reprogram them but maybe I just don't understand since I haven't read it.

I will say though that I have never met a trainer that did not swear by their own methods and tell you about all the success they've had with them, so I would be skeptical. I would ask for stats on what % of dogs using the program are successful and how they define success. If they do not track their results I would be even more skeptical.

One other thing, I recommended the Culture Clash in my last post. I had not actually finished the book when I did that. I still think she has incredible insights into animal behavior, but she is very opinionated and emotional as she writes so it may not be the best book after all.
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Illona
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PostPosted: 08/25/03, 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JMW,

I HAVE been to a seminar of Hassen's with my rescue GWP (she was 14-mo-old at the time) back in early April, and you couldn't pay me all the money in the world to relinquish my girl's leash into his hands.

Yes, I've heard of many e-collar trainers who claim to 'fix' aggressive dogs, no matter what the basis of their aggression, and yes, there were a couple moronic dogs at the seminar that seemed to come around (however, due to a brutal ice storm, I missed the first day of the 3-day seminar and therefore wasn't witness to the intial behavior of these dogs). I will say that when the supposedly aggressive animals were pointed out to me -- in their crates or by their owners -- they looked mean, mistrustful, and beaten. However, I will admit that often this kind of approach may be what is initialy required to bring the animal around, and the weekend is pretty intensive, resulting in the dog having to digest a lot. It can be a confusing time, with clarity coming hours or days after the seminar.

I witnessed first-hand numerous instances of what I would classify as borderline abuse because the handler wasnt' being properly instructed or the trainers were too busy to notice that a dog wasn't recieving proper signals and guidance.

And my own girl had a melt-down in the hands of three of the trainers there. I learned a TON from the seminar, but not from the people giving it. I learned from my own girl, and she learned from me. The environment and experience was a true bonding experience for the both of us, but not at all in the way the seminar-hosts intended.

If you're truly interested in my personal experience with Hassen and his gang, I will e-mail you personally, as it is NOT my intention to publicly (or privately) slander. I'm only sharing my own experience so that others can hear as many sides as possible. But I will say this: I've heard from more than a half-dozen sources (and tend to agree myself based on what I saw there that wknd), that Hassen is successful with many, MANY dogs and I do applaud him for opening up the public's eyes to e-collar training and the phenomenal opportunites e-collar training offers for a dog and it's owner. I've had people in the business tell me (and I did tend to see this first-hand) that Hassen has very little knowledge as to dog behavior and how his training actually works on a dog. He's been known to say himself that he doesn't know HOW something he does works, he just knows that it DOES work. Frankly, if you're dealing with the intracacies of dog behavior like you would have needed to with your girl, I would not have entrusted her to someone who doesn't understand dog behavior.

Also, although Hassen does work with 'pet' dogs, his work is predominantly with police canine units, protection dogs, SAR, etc. These are drives which are completely different than our sensitive, hard-wired hunting machines. I've spoken with other e-trainers, and find that those who work more with GSDs, Pits and Rotties, etc. are lacking in knowledge of the hunting-dog's drive and emotional make-up. As a result, their techniques do not always work very well on our GWPs; sure as hell didn't with my girl! No one at that seminar had a clue.

For the top e-collar training advice as far as hunting dogs go -- Alice Woodyard is your gal. She writes a lot of articles for dobbsdogs.com. Awesome woman, extremely generous, and amazingly precise in her language. You can find her on the Ecollar_Dog_Training_Plus Yahoo group.

Like I said, if anyone's interested in a more detailed breakdown of my experience at the seminar, I can send privately. I have saved e-mails to other owners that I'd written after the experience.

Honestly JMW, there might have been a very VERY slim chance that your girl would have benefitted from any kind of e-collar training. My own opinion, it could have been train-wreck in the hands of someone who isn't deep into the understanding of the dog mind.

Illona
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