Aggressive /Sweet/Autism Behaviour

Discussion in 'German Shorthaired Pointer' started by Albania, Jan 28, 2024.

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Agresdion/seewt/autism

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  1. Albania

    Albania New Member

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    Aggressive /Sweet/Autism

    I need your help urgently. We have a GSP (German Shorthaired Pointer) that's almost 4 years old. When we adopted him, he was 6 months old and very sweet. As the years went by, he started developing a different personality. We had to move to a smaller house and couldn't let him out as he used to. Over the months, he became increasingly aggressive to the point where we couldn't even be around him unless he was in a good mood. He became obsessed with lights and shadows, constantly running around. We couldn't invite anyone over or watch TV because he was so stressed. Unable to handle it anymore, we hired a trainer and paid $3500. It took her 8 weeks to train him, and she told us the obsession wouldn't go away but could be controlled. She said he could have a type of autism. She managed to eliminate his aggression, but he still showed some contained aggression. We started to think the trainer's methods were too harsh. After a year, he returned to the same aggression, and the only thing that remained somewhat under control was his obsession with lights. My husband can't even pet him anymore, and we can't be around him for too long because he gets upset. If I try to put him to sleep when he doesn't want to, he growls to the point where it seems like he wants to harm me. When he's in a good mood, he can be sweet, but that can change in an instant if I pet him too much. Another thing is that we can't speak to him in a puppy-like manner; it makes him aggressive. We don't know what to do anymore. We've kept him all these years because we know that if we give him away, he'll be euthanized because people won't have the patience for him. But we don't know what to do; we can't have a dog we can't trust. Please, someone help us.
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  3. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    First and foremost, get him fully checked out by a vet. Humans see growling as aggression - but it is a form of communication to dogs. To them, it says "I don't like this" or "I'm afraid" or "I hurt". They are trying to tell us something - and when we try to "train it out of them", we make things worse.

    It is possible that there was a medical reason for his behavior at the beginning. Maybe he injured himself, etc. His initial behavior was his way of trying to say " something is wrong".

    When the trainer's response was to use harsh methods to force him to stop trying to communicate that message, he decided that people cannot be trusted. And now he reacts to everything that is even a little bit scary.

    Many trainers, and it sounds like the one you used is of this ilk, believe the goal is to force obedience by punishment, pain, and fear. They not only ignore the dog's warnings of fear, anxiety, stress, etc, they punish the dog for those warnings. So the dog does one of three things: he shuts down emotionally and obeys out of fear; he shuts down emotionally and just attacks in defiance; or he goes "batty". It sounds like yours has taken the batty route. He can't trust anyone or anything because he has been punished for every reaction he has - so he just goes nuts about everything.

    So, with the medical out of the way, you need to rebuild the trust with him. You need to be on his side 500%. This means no punishments, no yelling, no forcing. Give him as much control over his life as you can safely.

    You need to listen to his warnings. If you know you can only pet him a short time before he goes off, then simply pet him once and back off. It is likely that the trainer used a shock collar on him - and that can make an already sensitive dog even more sensitive to any touch.

    Don't puppy/baby talk him (he likely was talked to like that by the trainer who then punished him) - just speak in a soft gentle calm voice all the time, every time.

    Give him his own space - not a crate. Use a baby gate to confine him to a room where he can watch you do your daily activities without being subjected to it. Give him quiet times by simply turning off the light in his room. At set times each day, open the baby gate and let him choose whether to join you or not.

    Give him interactive toys. Kong, etc, where he has to work to get his treats. This will help him utilize his brain in a positive manner. Build those toys up into games with you. Start slow and start with games that encourage his "normal" behaviors.

    Think outside the box at positive ways to teach him that he is allowed to voice his fears, etc without being attacked for it. And that you understand those fears and will do your best to alleviate the fears and not punish him.

    One example: I took in a corgi mix who had been severely abused. If you tried to put a leash on her, she would lunge and snap at you in fear. Once you got the leash on her, if you tightened or pulled on the leash to redirect her, she would go crazy again. She had been dragged around by the leash - and very likely then punished for whatever ticked off her owners. Simply forcing her to behave made her worse and unpredictable. I had to think out of the box. The first thing I did was to give her fear a focus - the leash itself. When I approached her with the leash and she lunged, I just held out the leash so she could attack it. I held it loosely so when she did attack it, it fell to the ground "dead". Each time that happened, she then allowed me to attach the leash to her collar. In her head, she had beaten the evil leash and it lay dead and harmless. After a few days of this, she stopped needing to attack the leash. Then, I switched out her collar for a halti. Because she connected the pressure of the leash pulling at her collar with bad things, I eliminated that. With the halti, if I wanted her to go my way, the leash pulled her nose slightly and she had no bad associations to that. So she started letting me lead our direction on walks. After a while, I was able to reintroduce walking with a leash and collar and she was fine with it.

    Talk to your vet about medication. Prozac can help reduce some of his anxieties as you work to rebuild the trust. It won't eliminate any deep seated fears, but it will ease some of the lesser anxieties so that he isn't always in hyper-stress mode.

    Contact a force free trainer. https://www.ccpdt.org/ is a good place to start. They can help you work through the above trust building exercises and much more.

    And remember, you say "we can't have a dog we can't trust" - he says the same about you. You both need to put in the work to rebuild that trust. It will take time, but the end result is worth it.

    You can watch kikopup videos on youtube for general positive-based training techniques. You can also read the blogs on www.dogdecoder.com - the author is a believer is giving dogs more control of their own lives to build trust with their people. The app is also a great way to learn how to recognize your dog's body language. Being able to read his fear, anxiety, etc, in minor body tells, before he goes to the overt signs (growling, snapping, etc), will you avoid pushing him too far. And that will help him learn he can trust you - because you are listening to him.

    Good luck and please keep us posted as to your progress.
  4. Albania

    Albania New Member

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    We have been doing exactly like you said….in fact…bc we understand and we trying to give him his space and respect what he likes and what he doesn’t, he has become the boss of the house. Is like even when we try love and patience, he is getting over control of the house. If I take him outside to play he is awesome but when I let him and I say good boy bc he can catch a frisbee…he gets mad. And he is not simply communicating...he gets so mad that some times I'm afraid he can has a heart attack.... On the other hand he is so smart he can do things I didn't even trained him to do....
    I have cried and cried...and cried...I have giving him so much love...that I do t want to get at a point I can not even pet him anymore. A vet prescribed him 3 types of medicine and all of them put him more hyper.... Believe me...this is not an easy one...
  5. Toedtoes

    Toedtoes Member

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    What meds did they try? Sedatives will often make a dog (or person) more hyper. And sedating him won't do anything to reduce his anxieties, it just makes him too tired to react to those anxieties. Fluoxetine (prozac) works differently - it works on the brain chemicals to change how he sees things and how he reacts.

    Read what you've written:

    We can't trust him
    He gets mad
    He's in control

    All those things are about YOUR feelings not his. You are interpreting his actions based on your frustration not on his emotional state.

    If he doesn't like hearing "good boy", then try something else - give him a treat or come up with a random phrase to use when he does good. Right now, everything you do has connections to negative things. When you take him out to play try saying "Way to go" instead of "good boy" - see how he reacts differently.

    This is actually an easy process - but it takes time and requires you to put HIS needs above your wants. It can take years to decondition his reactive behaviors.

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