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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
We got Mac as a rescue at somewhere between 4 and 5 months. She was found in a ditch. Her early puppyhood is a mystery, but I'm guessing not exactly stellar. She had resource guarding issues, which we have made significant profess on by following the "Mine!" outlines. She was clearly not socialized in that initial, critical window and we knew that going in. We had been working on it, and she was doing MUCH better. She is/was great in crowds and particuarly when people don't approach her and she can meet them on her own terms. Shes actually come to a few rescue events, shes a doll. Then she had surgery and all attempts at socialization have halted. Shes on full crate rest for 6 weeks.

Today was her first time out in 2 weeks, to go to PT. She has regressed a great deal. She's back to full on "stranger danger" fearful. She was ok until one of the techs insisted on sitting on the ground and trying to play. After that, she was completely stressed out.

SOOO... Long story short, first how much is this inability to work with her going to set us back? Second, ANY advice?
 

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I'm no expert, but I think you'll be fine. Tell the techs to back off for a while.
Mac is young enough to learn and it will come back to her. Pain changes things and I wouldn't expect her to be friendly right now.
 

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I just read the blog. I think sometimes they regress but it doesn't show up until they are stronger and have made some recovery. I think right after surgery, the dogs feel more vulnerable but because they also know they are 'too weak' to defend themselves, they show less behavioral problems at the beginning. Also, of course, as time goes on, it is simply a longer period of time that the dog has been isolated...and thus more reaction.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 · (Edited)
Macs "stranger danger" fear is easy to read. Lots of body language (which is SO NICE) Starts in her pupils (they get huge and she has light eyes). Then she gets tense forehead wrinkles and ear creases. Then the low growl, then barking. Once we reach vocalizing it's too late to talk her off the edge, and she will stay worked up until shes back in a safe place (car or crate or house). Not barking the whole time, but panicked and generally frightened.

BEFORE surgery, we could reassure her when we noticed she was stressed and spent time working on her confidence. She did well in puppy school, was going to events and going places with us. She also spent more time with Leo, and when he's around she feels more relaxed. It's the isolation and inability to exercise or play to build her confidence Im worried about. I don't want to undo all the good work she has done.

I'm also a bit confused as to why a vet tech couldn't read her very clear signals and kept trying to force her to play. I get that she is irresistibly cute, but damn.
 

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Are you using the Control Unleashed methods for her fears? If not, definitely check out that book. It's amazing.

As far as the tech goes, one of the hardest things I had to learn with Shanoa was how to speak up and protect her. It's super hard to tell people to back off or not do what they are doing (and probably even harder if it's a vet tech), but for Mac's well-being you should really speak up when someone is doing something that's making Mac uncomfortable. My trainer taught me how to say no. It's tough. But once you start, it gets easier. I've said no to trainers who want to do things a certain way, no to people who want to interact with Shanoa, no in a lot of different situations. It's really my job to keep Shanoa below threshold if I possibly can, and that means it's my job to keep people from doing stuff that stress her out if I can. Next time, if the vet tech isn't seeing signals, step in and say something. Mac may backslide some during this time, but you can also help minimize it.
 

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I think maybe Mac feels stronger now than right after surgery but she also knows she isn't that strong...so her confidence is low. She is able to gauge that she can't protect herself. You will need to really show her that she is safe with you and she has nothing to worry about when with you, while she is recovering from her surgery.

I notice with Audrey that on the days that her Wobbler's is bothering her more, that she is less confident outside and looks more to me to protect her.

Re the vet tech - maybe her sitting on the ground produced this reaction. I recall once Audrey really barked at someone when they sat on the ground, at her level. Somehow she was uncomfortable with it. After that, I made a point of doing that at home a lot so that she would consider it normal behavior.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks. I let the tech thing happen cuz I figured it was a part of getting her ok before the first treadmill, and they had done this before. I was wrong and should have stepped in. I have zero problems advocating for her, and have done so before. I generally preface it with "she's a rescue who has problems trusting people" cuz it's embarrassing, but I do it.

Haven't read control unleashed, but I will now
 

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I think you will love Control Unleashed. It was literally a godsend for Shanoa. It took her from highly reactive, occasionally fear aggressive to registered Delta therapy dog. Don't get me wrong, we still have occasional issues, but it is truly an amazing book. I was also lucky enough to find a CU trainer locally and take CU classes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks. Highly reactive is and has always been SO Macondo. Prior to the injury I would have not considered her truly "fear aggressive", meaning that given the choice between fight or flight she would look for the easiest way AWAY from the situation. Now, I'm not so sure. Today was a demeanor that was different from her other episodes. I do think the pain and vulnerability play a big role in this. What I don't want to do is make things worse, especially considering how well she had been doing. Almost friendly and normal.

I really wish I knew where all this came from. I'm not going to lie, it's embarrassing. She's a puppy (8 months or so) and small (50 lbs) so everyone assumes she's not "lick your face happy" cuz we must beat her or something.
 

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Thanks. Highly reactive is and has always been SO Macondo. Prior to the injury I would have not considered her truly "fear aggressive", meaning that given the choice between fight or flight she would look for the easiest way AWAY from the situation. Now, I'm not so sure. Today was a demeanor that was different from her other episodes. I do think the pain and vulnerability play a big role in this. What I don't want to do is make things worse, especially considering how well she had been doing. Almost friendly and normal.

I really wish I knew where all this came from. I'm not going to lie, it's embarrassing. She's a puppy (8 months or so) and small (50 lbs) so everyone assumes she's not "lick your face happy" cuz we must beat her or something.
Shanoa didn't show fear aggression until she started to hit maturity. As a pup she always chose the retreat option. As an adult, she occasionally didn't.

I absolutely understand the embarrassment and frustration. And honestly, it's exhausting a lot of the time. But we've made lots of progress, as I'm sure you have and will. Thankfully, I have great trainers and a class of other reactive dog owners for support. It helps to be able to talk honestly with the other owners and know you won't be judged. It's especially nice to have a reactive dog class, not only because it's helpful, but also because you know no one will be upset if your dog has an outburst :)

There are a few of us here on DT that do CU, if you need any help, advice, support, or whatever.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Things I wish we had locally... A decent trainer. Not even close.

I know what you mean about exhausting. Mac in the few months we have had her has been more work than Julian, Roman and Leo combined. I adore her, and she is worth every minute. We were getting somewhere, I was so happy.

Did your Shanoa have resource guarding issues too?

Where does this come from??? I really wish I understood better.
 

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Yes, Shanoa is a resource guarder (not all things, just high value stuff). Honestly, I don't work on that as much, because it's easier to just manage it. If she and Simon get bones, they get them in their crates. Otherwise, she doesn't guard too much from him. She doesn't guard at ALL from people. She will actually spit delicious stuff out if you ask her to.

Shanoa's issues are probably partly genetic (backyard breeder) and partly learned. We didn't get her until she was 17 weeks old, and she hadn't been socialized at all. She'd never met any people besides the breeder's family, never met strange dogs, never gone anywhere. She was very isolated. That whole critical socialization period was missed completely.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Hmm, Mac was a little younger when we got her, but she was abandoned in a ditch on the side of the road for who knows how long. I figured thats where the resource guarding came from, a learned survival behavior. We have pretty much fixed that I wonder about the genetic component also. I know nothing about her genetics/lineage/breeder, but her size alone baffles me. Shes REALLY small. Along with the structural hip issues contributing to the injury. I doubt the "breeder" considered temperament.

That being said, shes actually a sweet wonderful smart beautiful dobergirl. And totally worth helping her through her issues. Shes just fearful.
 

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CU will be awesome for her. It's strategies that actually change the dog's emotional reaction to the source of the fear, rather than masking the problem. She sounds like a great little girl and I commend you for all you are doing for her.
 
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