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sweep the leg
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Discussion Starter #1
Hello friends, I have an issue brewing.

Bulleit has been with us for 9 months now. He's an intact 2 year old from a reputable breeder that came to us as a rehome. He is 99.99% of the time the world's most perfect boy, lover of all things and everybody.

There is one exception that has slowly been developing and I need guidance on how to correct. My brother. I have a 43 year old brother who is mentally disabled. His disabilities are manifested in his coordination (he walks but can be clumsy), his speech (he cannot speak to communicate but does have a voice, his default is sign language and audible noises to communicate), and his cognitive understanding. He is essentially a very tall (6' 3") child-like man. And he lives next door to us with my parents. We share acreage and are a regular part of each other's lives.

Bulleit has been good with him, although there were some signs of him being a little unsure and nervous early on. It has escalated recently. Now he is completely distrustful of my bother and will bark and keep a distance from him. My brother is tall and awkward and makes strange sounds, so I get it. My brother wants to engage with Bulleit because he loves dogs, but Bulleit isn't having it.

What can I do to facilitate trust here? My brother will be a constant in our lives and I certainly don't want poor reactions to him to escalate. I can't change my brother, but is there something I can do to change Bulleit's feelings towards him?
 

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Dobes Dobles +1
Eva 10 y/o Dobe HADR, Lanah Chi-Cairn X 6 y/o, RIP Sunking's Spock, Lillah Chi-Terrier X
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Hey Hillary, good to see you back on the forum!
(some Bulleit pics, please...) :2smile:

My first thought was maybe Bulleit had a bad experience with your brother that has caused a dislike or mistrust? Have you or your parents always been present when Bulleit and your brother have interacted?

Does this happen on your part of property or your parents? I know our two Dobes act more protective when in house/on our lot than when out in public places.

As a remedy, maybe your brother could accompany you, at a distance with others at first, on a walk around neighborhood or a park, if that's possible? This would be like acclimating two new canines to each other to become familiar on a common activity, such as a group walk, in lieu of one to one interaction.
 

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sweep the leg
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Discussion Starter #3
Hey Hillary, good to see you back on the forum!
(some Bulleit pics, please...) :2smile:

My first thought was maybe Bulleit had a bad experience with your brother that has caused a dislike or mistrust? Have you or your parents always been present when Bulleit and your brother have interacted?

Does this happen on your part of property or your parents? I know our two Dobes act more protective when in house/on our lot than when out in public places.

As a remedy, maybe your brother could accompany you, at a distance with others at first, on a walk around neighborhood or a park, if that's possible? This would be like acclimating two new canines to each other to become familiar on a common activity, such as a group walk, in lieu of one to one interaction.


I shall reward your good questions with a series of Bulleit selfies and one cuddle pic.












The nervous weirdness happens at both my house and my parent’s house, but I’ve only seen the escalated barking and defensiveness at my house. The one thing I know my brother does is he’ll come over to our house and laugh and point at Bulleit. It’s his way of engaging with him - he does it out of a desire to interact with Bulleit. I’ve tried to correct my brother and tell him that Bulleit doesn’t like to be pointed at, but it still happens. So Bulleit probably perceives his energy and pointing poorly, which is understandable.

I do think there is merit to having appropriate engagement between the two of them via a walk or something. Just have to figure out how we can do that.
 

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Super Moderator
Hairy Dog, RIP Caesar, Katana, Kip, Capri
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Maybe shower treats on him randomly whenever your brother is around?? Not necessarily hand them to Bulleit directly, and I wouldn't have your brother try to feed him directly, but just have treats sorta magically appear whenever your brother is in the area.
 

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Hi Hillary ! Where in the world have you been ??? Glad to see you back on here .

I like SD's idea , Maybe put Bulleit on a lead and take a walk with all 3 of you , You in between Bulleit and your brother , short ones at first then longer ones , at the end of the walk , have your brother give the treat to Bulleit , if you trust this . Bulleit just needs to gain trust and to be more at ease with the whole deal , its just different than he's use too .

BTW , That Bulleit can take good selfies !

Don't be a stranger on here :grin2:

Doc
 

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Premium Member
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Humm......appears you have picked out the one situation of which this typically happens...."Brother points finger" OK...dog may see that action as being targeted ....of course we do not want any dober teeth near brothers finger.... but maybe you could work with this finger pointing if that's when this problem typically happens.

Lets see ....brother points his finger...........hmmmmmm.......wonder if we could change brothers habit to something different to create a win win situation for both of them ..........

maybe brother replacing "pointing his finger".....with a tossing a several treats on the ground........ .......dog heads towards the treat thus looking down .....yum yum...........meanwhile brother points toward the dog/treats on the ground.

If this actually worked for you .....maybe in time dog would see brother as a welcomed visitor........Brother=treats on the ground! Oh heck yeah!

Just a thought.........
 

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sweep the leg
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Discussion Starter #7
Humm......appears you have picked out the one situation of which this typically happens...."Brother points finger" OK...dog may see that action as being targeted ....of course we do not want any dober teeth near brothers finger.... but maybe you could work with this finger pointing if that's when this problem typically happens.

Lets see ....brother points his finger...........hmmmmmm.......wonder if we could change brothers habit to something different to create a win win situation for both of them ..........

maybe brother replacing "pointing his finger".....with a tossing a several treats on the ground........ .......dog heads towards the treat thus looking down .....yum yum...........meanwhile brother points toward the dog/treats on the ground.

If this actually worked for you .....maybe in time dog would see brother as a welcomed visitor........Brother=treats on the ground! Oh heck yeah!

Just a thought.........
I like this! My brother is obviously wanting to engage with Bulleit, but is using awkward and misinterpreted ways to do it. I can get him a big box of treats and tell him that if he wants to visit Bulleit, come by and throw a treat on the ground to him instead. That would give my brother a "job" to do every day, and perhaps rewire Bulleit's perception of him if he gets something especially delicious and different than any other treats he gets normally.

We can do our walks together too. My brother isn't super coordinated, but we can keep them short and easy going.

Thanks y'all! I never really leave, just descend into lurking for a while before rearing my head again. All is well - glad to see everyone still so active!! :x
 

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I like the idea of throwing treats.

My male is very much uneasy and unsure around handicapped people that walk or move weird. I think they see that's something's off and to be guarded by that "one off". You have much more experience with the mentally disabled than I do but I would think it might be easier to train Bulleit to be used to your brother's movement than to try to ask your brother not to do things. I say this thinking back from when I worked with the mentally disabled, when they got excited about something, everything they were supposed to do went out the window. I think your boy just needs to be around your brother a lot so what would be a "one off" becomes more of the normal and those treats will help him realize it's a good thing to be around your brother. I would make them super high value treats that he NEVER gets any other time, like steak.

On top of all this your boy is in a bit of a macho/fear stage. My boy didn't start coming out of that and feeling comfortable in his own skin until he was around 3 years old. Your boy might be the same. He probably needs to be told everything's ok, and comforted more so than any type of correction.

Good luck, keep us updated.
 

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My guess is that your boy is uncomfortable with the "weirdness" of the actions/noises your brother makes. When I went through therapy dog training, we did a lot of training and activities that would mimic these kinds of situations; weird movements from people, weird noises, staring, pointing, just really odd behaviors that you might see from kids, from people in nursing homes, people with dementia, etc. Dogs can have really odd reactions to those sorts of behaviors, because it's really STRANGE to them. Some dogs just let it roll off them, but some really dislike it, because it's very, very abnormal. All of that to say, there's nothing WRONG with your boy, but of course it's something you want to address.

If possible, I'd hook up with a good trainer for a training plan, and also just because it's so helpful to have a "boots on the ground" situation with someone skilled who can see exactly what you're doing, what your dog is doing, and who can sort of refine your techniques. What I would do is start with simple classical conditioning. Get Bulleit at a distance where he feels comfortable and isn't showing any behavior change, and have your brother be there. It's less likely you can change your brother's behavior (although anything you can do to reduce the pointing, etc - great!), but what you want to do is try to change Bulleit's emotional response to that behavior. I'd simply be feeding him really high value treats as soon as he is aware of your brother's presence, keep the session short, and as soon as your brother is gone, the treats stop. Slowly make the distance between them less, but what you want is for Bulleit to remain non-reactive - if he starts seeming stressed, showing any signals of that, you're moving too fast. Again, keep the sessions short, use high value food. When he sees his "trigger" (your brother), you simply feed, when the trigger disappears the food stops. Over time, his emotional response starts to change and you should be able to work closer and closer.

A really good trainer can help you with this. Time will tell whether he improves to a degree where he enjoys your brother, or simply can co-exist in the same room. It might be a situation where you train him to go to a mat and lie down so he has a safe space that's undisturbed (and hopefully your brother can understand to leave him alone if he's there?), or maybe he's okay with being loose in the area but just chooses not to interact, or maybe he'll warm up over time...hard to say at this point. But that would be my starting point, at the very least. And you really don't want him continuing to "practice" being agitated, because the more they use those brain pathways, the more hardwired they become. So while you aren't working on training, I'd prevent interaction and prevent him from getting worked up - if that means crating him in another room, or whatever it takes, you don't want him to continue building up that feeling of agitation - it'll just make it all that much harder to break.
 

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MC's post was very , very good ! I have had a bad case of CRS lately :frown3: She nailed it with using a trainer on this , Back many years ago , the trainer we used with Kasia taught lots of distraction type training , Here at the house , I had some friends stop by and we used my office chair on rollers as a wheel chair , one would sit in it and another would push it , I had Kasia on a lead and they would go pass us , sometimes , one would reach out and with a loud voice would grab at her and say " I want to pet the doggie " We were working with Kaisa hard as I wanted her to become a therapy dog , But that ended as she started to have seizures every once in a while . But this type of in house training really worked with her .

Thanks Meadowcat , you were on it with that post

Doc
 

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