View Full Version : Dog/Puppy Advice

05-10-2012, 11:16 PM
As many of you may remember, my dog Cooper (a Cavalier Spaniel) was attacked by a yellow lab, about 3.5 years ago. Cooper was 1.5 at the time. He was bitten around the throat and shaken, the lab tried to kill him. Thank goodness the owner was able to get it off my baby. Since then he likes to approach other dogs and sniff. But, if a dog approaches him, he panics. And I mean a friendly dog, who just wants to play. Well, my daughter just adopted (last Sunday) an 8 week old black Cocker Spaniel. Very sweet and so cute. She brought him over today to spend about a little time introducing him to Cooper. After she brought him to our vet and got the okay.

Well, Cooper went up to the puppy and sniffed. But, as soon as the puppy approached Cooper, Cooper panicked. I mean backing away, in terror. The puppy is only 5 - 6 lbs (tiny) Cooper is 17 lbs. Cooper was a nervous wreck for 20 minutes. So bad that my daughter had to leave. Cooper never pees in the house, he did twice while the puppy was here.

Have any of you ever dealt with anything like this before? There is no aggression, just total fear. Were you able to get your dog to calm down? Or did you just have to keep other dogs way from yours? I don't want Cooper to be afraid of this puppy, it will make it difficult if we need to watch the puppy for my daughter. Especially since it will, eventually, be bigger than him.

05-11-2012, 12:15 AM
Aw, that is too bad about Cooper. I am not a dog trainer, but I've seen similar situations to this on that tv show, Me or the Dog. The trainer would work with the person and the dog to reward the dog for being calm near whatever the source of the panic is. So, if you bring the puppy over, I think the idea would be to not let the puppy approach Cooper, but just let them be in the same room, and give Cooper treats and attention for not reacting in fear. Eventually if that worked you would let them come closer and continue rewarding Cooper for not being afraid. I think it is quite a long process, and of course I don't know if it would work for him. Poor Cooper. I hope you can help him overcome his fear.

05-11-2012, 08:28 AM
I would try what sk8pics suggested, it's probably what any any dog trainer would recommend. Also, take the two dogs together for walks, it will reinforce that they are part of the same pack.

But be patient, Cooper is over three years old. In my experience (and I'm no expert) some behaviours are just really hard to train out of an older dog. Particularly because of the time and discipline the trainer has to pub in. I did heeling routines with my dog hundreds of times when I started training her on advanced commands at age 3. It never worked - so I eventually just gave up.

05-11-2012, 02:08 PM
When the puppy was here we tried having me hold Cooper and my daughter hold Wilson (the puppy). We sat on the couch, but did not let the puppy get too close. Cooper just shook. Then we switched. I was torn between worrying that Cooper would feel jealous or betrayed and thinking that he might feel safer if he knew I liked the puppy. When we put them down, the puppy just followed cooper around. Wilson didn't jump at him or nip at him, he just sniffed and wanted to be close to him. I really think being attacked did something to him. I like the reward idea, but we do not give Cooper treats. Cavs tend to gain weight easily and they have a high risk of mitral valve disease, so I am diligent with keeping him at the proper weight. Maybe I'll give him kibble as treats.

I like the walking them together idea. But, we can't do that for a little while. Wilson is too young to really go for a walk. But in a few months, hopefully that will work.

I just feel so bad for Cooper, it is so evident that he is so scared :(

05-11-2012, 02:25 PM
Cruisin, there is the possibility your dog is picking up on your anxiety as well. The more you sooth Cooper, the more you actually reinforce his fears. Sometimes that's difficult for people to not do. You want to tell them everything is OK in that soothing voice rather than do nothing. Several training books I've read discuss this. Rather than hold the dogs, I'd suggest your daughter bring the puppy over and let him play. He'll want to go to the older dog, but if you distract the puppy with a toy, he'll play with it. Just let your dog watch and interact as he wants. Don't encourage or discourage him or acknowledge his fear. Just let him make the decision. If he backs away, let him. I'd keep the session with the puppy fairly short--maybe 10 minutes--then remove the puppy from the area. Maybe bring him back for another short time. If your dog backs away, distract the puppy so he doesn't try to follow the older dog, but I think the key is your behavior while this is happening. Don't make a big deal if your dog seems afraid because you're just letting him know there's something to fear.

05-11-2012, 02:30 PM
My Dobie was attacked by a Golden when she was around a year old. She went from a lively, playful, fun-loving dog to a fearful, aggressive one. I called it PTSD. She never got over it.

I worked with her over and over again over the years, by rewarding her when she didnt snarl at another dog. She got somewhat better, but she could never walk in public places where other dogs were around, she lunged for other dogs sometimes with no provocation, she would hyperventilate and be totally uncomfortable.

The only time she was at peace was when she was by herself roaming the woods behind us. She had a few dog friends, but usually they were docile, submissive males.

So I tried to avoid other dogs as much as possible because I knew she'd never get over it and it just made her upset.

05-11-2012, 02:52 PM
rfisher, you make a good point, re: me transferring anxiety to Cooper. I'll have to work on that.

Cupid, I am fortunate that the attack did not make Cooper aggressive. He does pant when he is afraid. But, he cowers rather than attacks. Of course, he is a Cavalier, I don't think I've ever seen an aggressive one. But, he went from a very dog social, playful young dog to one who is now afraid of other dogs.

05-11-2012, 02:57 PM
Yeah, if you're worried about weight gain, you can give him a little less at meal time and then give him the kibble as treats. And if the first time you tried to have them in the same room he was still anxious, I think then you need to give him even more distance. If you find some sort of level of exposure he can tolerate, you can start from there. Poor Cooper. I really hope you can help him with this, even just so he can be near the other dog, if not be friendly.

05-11-2012, 02:57 PM
Cruisin, I second what rfisher said about the dog sensing your anxiety. Dogs are very sensitive to what we feel, and they react accordingly. Has Cooper ever just sat with you when you are sad? He's reacting then and he's probably reacting some now as well.

Once the puppy is old enough for walks, try having your daughter walk the puppy and have Cooper join in the walk (he's doing the approaching) for a bit. Usually a walk has so much going on it's easier to distract them from anxiety. Also, it reinforces the "we're part of a pack" mentality. Maybe let Cooper be slightly ahead of the puppy as well - that means he's the dominant dog of the two. Remember what the Dog Whisperer says - be calm and assertive on your part.

Until then, have you thought about having the puppy in a puppy playpen area so that Cooper can check him out safely? (I'm not saying this clearly, can someone help out?) Like you do when introducing a new kitty to the house....

05-11-2012, 03:06 PM
I always use a puppy play pen when introducing a new puppy. It gives the puppy a refuge from being mauled and hauled around the house by the collar by the older dog and the older dog a refuge from being chewed on by a puppy. :lol: It also makes the transition easier for both. I never leave a new puppy alone with an older dog. I had an 8 yr o Dobie when we got a Dachshund puppy. Ralph (the pup) wanted nothing more than to touch Cody (the Dobie). Cody wanted no part of the pup. He'd growl showing every tooth (he wouldn't snap because I was sitting there telling him not to). You'd have thought it would have frightened or intimidated the pup who was about as big as the Dobie's nose, but he wriggle close and reach out with one paw and touch the older, much bigger dog. Just like your annoying little brother. The Dobie tolerated him because he knew I demanded that he did, but they were never buds. Even though I was confident Cody wouldn't snap as long as I was there, I didn't trust him one iota if I wasn't and kept the puppy apart until he was big enough to understand he needed to leave Mr. Grumpypants alone.

purple skates
05-11-2012, 04:39 PM
I have no suggestions, but (((cruisin))) (((Cooper)))

05-11-2012, 07:23 PM
In my experience it's best for puppies to start leash training right away, at 8-9 weeks. I see no reason why they shouldn't go for short walks when they are so young.

The sooner you get them learning and socializing, the better. And walks are a great way to do that.

05-12-2012, 12:47 AM
The puppy is pretty good on a leash. I just don't know if he'll actually go for a real walk. But, we can try.

05-12-2012, 12:48 AM
I have no suggestions, but (((cruisin))) (((Cooper)))

Thank you. That attack was horrifying for Cooper and for me. I still have nightmares from it. And it was 3.5 years ago! So, I can well understand why my poor baby is fraud.