Sunday, November 29, 2009

What is "fine," really?

In my last post I mentioned that Craig was fine with other dogs after an initial growly greeting, but now I'm not so sure. He's a tough case, not unlike my previous dog-aggressive foster, Olivia, who got me in a bit of trouble by attacking another dog a few months ago.

Craig seems different, though. For one, he's not as smart as Olivia. She was extra intelligent which made her antsy and competitive with other dogs. She had to outdo the biggest dog in the park by making him submit. She'd greet dogs just fine and then randomly snap. I don't think her aggression stemmed from a bad experience with other dogs in her past, it was more likely from pent-up energy due to living in a dark apartment for the first year of her life.

Craig appears to have been attacked by other dogs. I believe this because his first reaction when a dog approaches, no matter what the dog, is to snap. It's like he need to get the first word in because he doesn't want to hear what "terrible things" the other dog has to say. When he first met Bill, the initial few seconds were kind of weird. He was growling, drooling, and whining at the same time, and his tail was going a hundred miles a minute. I chalked it up to nerves because he had just be taken from his home, and he hadn't frequently been in a car before. Within seconds he and Bill were buddies, or at least Craig busied himself trying to dominate Bill from behind...for HOURS on end.

Since being neutered, the humping has completely subsided (yay!). Back when he was a humper, Bill would snap at him, giving him the perfect opportunity to escalate a fight, but Craig never did. This is another interesting piece to the puzzle and it makes me think that Craig doesn't want to fight at all, he just doesn't know how to properly introduce himself.

So we're working on it. Yesterday he hiked with me on a heavily dog-populated trial. Each time a dog would approach, I'd squat down with Craig and tell him it's okay. If he'd start growling I'd immediately give him my "no" noise (a sharp "at ah"). We made it past most of the dogs without any issues beyond Craig's obvious discomfort, but he did snap a few times. We'll work on it some more today. I'm hoping to find a big, neutral dog at the dog park who I can introduce Craig to off leash, because the leash may be part of the problem. I firmly believe that if I can introduce Craig to a few dogs without incident we can get beyond his discomfort and he'll enjoy being able to play.

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