Friday, November 6, 2015

Roxie's Issues and Needing Advice

Hey, guys!

As of tomorrow afternoon, Roxie will have been here for three weeks. Now that she's getting better and feeling better, her personality is coming out more and more. That's great news! However, along with her blossoming character a few issues are rearing there head, most minor, but one is giving me pause. I'd love any advice you guys have to offer!

Okay, so I've never dealt with any real behavioral issues. Nola had some obnoxious, teenaged dog related reactivity issues between 9 and 18 months, and I managed that until she grew out of it. Pike is a weird dog in general, but has no glaring issues. Olivia came to me at 5mo, hand shy and nervous around men, but again, no real problems. I'm a training nerd, but I've only focused and absorbed information that pertains to my "normal" dogs.
I'm not sure how to handle a real problem. Fuck, I don't even know if I'm blowing this out of proportion as I am prone to do, so give me your thoughts below.

These are Roxie's more minor issues. I have a decent grasp on how to handle them, and they're not something that worries me. We'll be working on these, slowly, as her recovery progresses. I just want you to get the full picture.

- Spooks around moving cars; flight risk in that regard (so she's on a martingale collar)

- Very "submissive" in her behavior (calm down, I'm not going all Cesar on you.). What I mean is she cowers, belly crawls towards you, lots of appeasement calming signals. No peeing when you greet her (or at all, unless she's outside to potty), but that general body language.

- Scared of certain noises, like clapping hands, dropped items, and sometimes (but not always!) loud voices. Oddly enough, she's fine with loud music, the vacuum, doors slamming, ect.

- Likes cats. Like, likes cats. Not a huge concern, since I don't have them, but we'll be working on that.

- Very eager to meet people, but seems unsure if she'll be safe.

There are a few tiny nuances about her, but none that play a role in this.

And now my biggest issue. When Roxie's in her crate with the door shut, she will snarl and snap against the bars if Nola walks by. Not a warning growl, or a grumble, but a loud, sharp snarl before snapping. There's almost no space between the snarl and the snap, so it doesn't look like a warning. They happen literally in the blink of an eye. She does not do this with people. I don't know if she's like that with other dogs, as only she and Nola are in my bedroom where the crate is.

Nola does not instigate anything. She doesn't try to sniff, touch, open, or really even look at Roxie's crate. There seems to be about a 1ft radius of Roxie ignoring Nola by her crate, and her snapping at her. As soon as Nola gets in that zone, Roxie snaps.

There are no toys or chews in Roxie's crate, just blankets and towels. She's no longer fed in the crate. I haven't seen her snap at Nola if the crate door is open, but I don't let Nola go near it when Roxie's in there and the door is open. Not willing to risk testing the theory, either.

My mom suggested Roxie could be resource guarding when I mentioned it to her, and it seems to fit with what she's doing. I just find it a bit odd she doesn't guard food, toys, or chews. I've never dealt with any kind of resource guarding in my other dogs, so I have no experience with it.

Is it something you just manage? It'd worry me far less if there wasn't such a size difference between Nola and Roxie. Any positive advice, links, books, ect are greatly appreciated!

"I thought I was the family bitch!"

- Dachshund Mommy


  1. I am no expert and have never had any real issues either. But I would say the top list of things she will get over with love and time. Not knowing what she went through in her short life before finding you is a challenge for sure. Since she doesn't snap if the crate is open I wonder if she is scared when she is locked in and feels like she can't protect herself. I understand not wanting to test this. Like leash aggression only in her crate??

  2. You've only had her for 3 weeks - which probably seems like a long time to you - but for her, the first week, week and a half she was pretty sick and weak and now feeling better, she's just trying to get the lay of the land.

    I did foster a 6 month old puppy several years ago and she was hand shy, fearful of certain noises and cowered around me. At the time, I read somewhere that training increases confidence - so I went to work on her. It did help and when she was adopted about a month or so later, not all her issues were resolved - but she had at that point learned that I and certain other humans could be trusted and she loved learning new things.

    About the crate thing - to me, that sounds like a reaction an offleash dog and onleash dog may have. Roxie may just feel really vulnerable in there (especially with the "Boss" walking by) and even the slightest eye contact from Nola could be making her feel like she has to defend herself. When I was helping out another foster for the weekend, the foster dog was in the crate and Blueberry would walk by closer to his crate than necessary and make very brief eye contact with him and that would set him off. They were fine with each other out of the crate. It was a looong weekend because he had to stay in his crate most of the time because he was recovering from surgery. I simply had to be more vigilant and when I saw B was getting too close to his crate, I'd call her to me. The fact that she would pause before veering away told me all I needed to know - she was definitely goading him although some people wouldn't see it that way.

    I wish I had some books/links for you but I do not. Hopefully others will. I am not sure how helpful I was other than at least you know others have dealt with this stuff too and I'm sure there are a lot of good blogs out there on the subject!

  3. My friend is dealing with the exact same thing with her Potcake foster right now. Boca actually exhibited a little of this behavior when I first had her as a foster, and she had a reprise of that behavior with my foster Keemo, even if she didn't have food or a treat in with her. I think it's a feeling of vulnerability - even if they love their crate, with the door closed they may still feel trapped. If they've spent time on the street they can be pretty intense about their space and feel it has to be defended.I agree with Julie that it's a version of leash aggression. I think it probably can be managed, but like you, I would be worried about escalation and the size difference. I wonder if you can CC/DS by feeding treats in to Roxie when Nola is around her crate? I realize that could also backfire into resource guarding behavior, too, but I think it's worth a try.

  4. I've been working with noise reactions with one of my dogs along with her resource guarding issues. I highly recommend checking out online training - I've done several classes with Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. One that is really great is the 'Bogeyman' class - the instructor is an animal behaviorist and was able to identify the issues I was dealing with and help me work on them.

  5. From a pro behaviorist my friend used and it worked- loud noises-treats in hand, play a loud movie with motorcycles, loud noises etc. A friends therapy dog trains the same way in order to get use to the noise.
    Cowering- walk where you know there will be traffic, trucks etc. walk up and down the street a million times if you have to. Treats in hand. You don't want it to turn into fear aggression. Walk with the pack on leash
    We know you know what you are doing, just a few suggestions
    Lily & Edward

  6. Nala's a fairly normal dog, but she's also a bit of a weirdo. She used to be very scared of cars, too. We used a straightforward classical conditioning approach. In our quiet neighborhood, every time a car went by, regardless of what Nala was doing, I said, "Oh wooooow, a caaaar!" in my happiest voice, and fed her a steady stream of her favorite food until it passed. She's much better now, although I need to repeat this work with heavier traffic.

    So, I also think that what Roxie's doing in the crate sounds equally likely to be barrier frustration (close kin to leash reactivity) as resource guarding. It's hard to say. Fortunately, a desensitization/classical conditioning approach will work for either of these things.

    Jean Donaldson's book Mine! addresses resource guarding in detail--motivations, and a systematic ds/cc protocol. I highly recommend it! Nala was a mild resource guarder when I brought her home, and now she looks up in anticipation when I approach her bowl. Donaldson also has a book about inter-dog aggression called Fight! which I haven't read, but Donaldson is a terrific R+ based trainer, as I'm sure you know.

    For barrier frustration, a ds/cc approach is also the thing. The website has a detailed protocol. The thing, I think, is to adapt it to come up with less extreme versions of "barriers." Another thing to keep in mind is that classical conditioning works best well under the "threshold of stimulus aversiveness." So your DS progression might look like this:
    1) Nola approaches Roxie tethered to a mat--start several feet away, work up to Roxie beaming and wagging when she gets within less than a foot
    2) Nola approaches Roxie behind a baby gate--distance works the same way
    3) Nola approaches Roxie tethered in her crate with the door open
    4) Nola approaches Roxie in her crate with the door shut.
    That's just an idea, but you get the point, I'm sure.

    If you can swing it, a treat and train or similar remote treat device would be ideal for this kind of work. Otherwise, you'll probably need a helper to manage Nola while you feed Roxie.
    Here's an article about that:

    Sorry for writing you a novel. I hope that some of this helps!

    1. I totally second all of this! :D This is amazing advice! The book Mine is very helpful as is the remote treat dispenser!

  7. Koira used to do some barrier frustration stuff when the neighbors walked by my front door, barking like crazy and sometimes slamming into the door. I set up my Manners Minder (also sold as a Treat and Train, depending on the year it was produced), which is a remote control treat dispenser. I put the MM inside, and put the remote outside next to my door and asked the neighbors to hit the button every time they walked by. It didn't take long before there was a significant improvement in behavior.

  8. Bridge used to be scared of almost everything when we went outside. She spent half the walk looking over her shoulder to go back home and the other half dragging me off my feet. I found distraction worked best but even then as each new person, dog, paper bag, child, came along it would start again.
    As for the snapping in the crate, I would put it down to what her life was like before you found her. Her life must have been pretty horrific overall and god alone knows what other horrors she suffered. Maybe the vet or a dog behaviourist might be able to give you a clue why a dog might do that. Hope time resolves the issue.
    Lynne x

  9. I'm afraid I'm of no help here, sorry. Ask me a question about sheep! It does sound, though, that Roxie is guarding her den as her personal space. As with cars, repeated exposure under calm conditions should solve it. My dogs have to get used to cars, tractors and quads. I hope Roxie overcomes her fears, poor thing.

  10. Definitely sounds to be like barrier aggression. See it a lot with the shelter dogs. Lots and lots of classical conditioning. For the other things, try looking up BAT Training. I have fearful and reactive dogs and it has greatly helped them.

  11. She may be defending her crate. If she has already associated it with safety, then she is just saying "hey, this is mine". You will never know what she went through, but I suspect that in time in your nurturing, calm environment she will overcome the fears she has. Gentle association with the things that scare her will help to overcome her fears. I'm trying to remember where I read an excellent article on re-conditioning a fearful dog, when I remember I'll share with you.

  12. I love the name Roxie, and I'm glad to hear of all the great progress she has made! Shyla was my first dog with real "issues" that were beyond anything at all "normal". I'm afraid I don't have any great specific advice because I've never experienced what you're describing. However, I would strongly recommend getting a good positive trainer to come observe the behavior to help you identify exactly what causes it and how to "fix" it. For a motivated and smart person, you can often get away with just 1 or 2 sessions, with you doing the work on your own that's suggested by the trainer.

    I think, based on my experience with Shyla, that I'd try to totally avoid the situation that causes Roxie to behave this way. She's very very early in her rehabilitation. My trainer basically had me totally "destress" Shyla for a while so that her fearful behavior wouldn't become a habit. Based on that, you might want to completely avoid ever having Roxie in a crate with Nola nearby, at least until Roxie gets more settled in.

  13. Dear Roxie's Person,

    Guarding in the crate is very normal. Even non-reactive Dogs often do this. It is protecting space, particularly because as a Dog we feel trapped in there when another Dog comes close.

    The fix is changing the association - classical conditioning to make all of these scenarios good. My person recommends that you find a CPDT-certified dog trainer to help with this, as it can be tricky to get the little nuances correct and progress this as quickly as is possible!

    Good luck!


    Pee Ess CPDT-certified trainers are required to stick to a code of ethics, are required to stay up to date on current research and best practises, and will prioritize your dog's safety and physical and mental health. In other words, the solution might take longer than sticking a shock collar on your dog would, but your dog should be treated with respect and they should be building confidence and new skills, not being pushed or frightened into submission.

  14. Or if you cannot find a CPDT-trainer down there, look for someone associated with APDT.

    Many licks and well-wishes,

  15. It sounds like resource guarding to me.

    Guarding the closed crate? I live with a couple of professional resource guarders. I wasn't able to "fix" it, so I manage it.

    My boys' biggest issue is food. Guarding it from each other and me. Neeko will guard food from the boys, but not from me. The boys occasionally demonstrate some minor resource guarding behaviors over ME to each other. If one is guarding me, I leave.

    There's a book by Nicole Wilde, "Help For Your Fearful Dog." It helped me quite a bit with Faolan initially, and may help with her minor issues.

  16. I agree with some of the other comments. I feel that she will get over much of this behaviour with love, security and support. There is no telling what kind of trauma that this poor baby has experienced. I think that you can love and work with her and she will get through this stage.

  17. Could be jealousy? Or something along those lines. Maybe Roxie is upset with the fact that Nola is our walking around while she is in her crate? That makes sense to me simply for the fact that when the crate door is open, this doesn't happen. So that could be a thought. As for the smaller things.... considering what she has been through, it will take a significant amount of time for those things to change.... if ever. You may be able to help her calm down a little bit with them, but i'm not sure they will ever stop 100% unfortunately. I don't know if that was much help, just my views hun.
    ღ husky hugz ღ frum our pack at Love is being owned by a husky!

  18. Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. I don't have any great advice or anything, but sending positive energy your way for a solution.

  19. So for the spooky behavior, counter conditioning and time. The biggest thing for those kinds of things is time and confidence. You want to slowly introduce her to her triggers and counter condition them.

    For the crate guarding, I definitely think that probably has something to do with her finally feeling like she's safe and needing her own space. I personally wouldn't allow the other dogs to go near her crate, maybe even move it into a location that isn't heavily trafficked for right now. Covering the crate might help, too. Then when she's feeling better, I'd probably look into a remote feeder and then you can have the thing drop treats into the crate every time one of your other dogs appear.

    We've had a huge success with using a remote feeder and I highly recommend them.


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