There is an exception to every rule

Caleb, german sheperd dogMy dog Caleb is dog aggressive. He hates other dogs. Actually he is scared of them and over the years that fear has turned to aggression. He thinks if he can attack first, that they can’t hurt him. Walking him is an exercise in avoiding other dogs and praying that every dog we encounter is on a lead or we can get far enough away without incident. I must note here that Caleb has never injured another dog and I intend to keep it that way.

We got Caleb from a rescue organisation when he was 5 months old. He was rescued from the pound at 7 weeks, but wasn’t socialised with other dogs until he came to live with us. He was a very scared little boy, who suffered from severe separation anxiety and was afraid of other people and dogs. Rory had to teach him how to play and that the world wasn’t going to end if the humans left. Caleb was progressing okay until our local off-lead dog park closed down and Caleb was threatened by several off lead dogs. We then did a stupid thing and stopped walking him.

We have gotten Caleb to the point now where he can see a dog in the distance and not raise his hackles, but we will need professional help to get him actually socialising with other dogs.

However, as the title of this post suggests, there is an exception to every rule. Caleb hates all dogs (Rory not included) except for our friend Ford’s dog B. Caleb loves B. B is the only dog who Caleb will not do dominate posturing over or display any aggressive behaviour towards. It helps that B is a submissive female and that Caleb has known B since he came to live with us. But B is not a dog that Caleb sees regularly. It may only be a couple of times a year, yet Caleb’s behaviour with her remains unchanged.

B and Ford came over yesterday and it was so lovely seeing all three dogs race up and down the hallway playing happily. There wasn’t the slightest bit of aggression or anxiety from Caleb even B when growled at him for getting in her face too much. Maybe there is hope for my boy yet. I just have to find a decent dog trainer with experience in dealing with aggressive dogs whose methods I approve of. This is harder than it should be. I think I will call the puppy preschool trainers I worked with at my old job and get a recommendation from them as I hold them and their ability as trainers in high esteem. Alas, they are not professional dog trainers, but I am sure they have friends who are.

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7 responses to “There is an exception to every rule

  1. Awww such a lovely looking puppy!!! I just wanna give him a big cuddle!

    Hope things work out and you can find someone to help train him to not be so scared.

  2. Caleb would love it if you gave him a big cuddle. He is an absolute sook around people and loves getting attention.
    I am sure that with a lot of hard work we will get him on the road to recovery. He may never be good with other dogs, but if he can tolerate them long enough to walk away from them without incident, I will be happy.

  3. First of all, Caleb is gorgeous. Secondly, I have a dog, Little Guy, with a similar personality. He was a street dog that was picked up by the city shelter–where I adopted him–at about the age of 4. He had a ratty collar on, so someone had owned him. I’m pretty sure he was abused and/or kept in a yard. He gets along great with Rusty, but just co-exists with Cosette. He’s come a long way in past 7 years, but still has his “issues.” But hey, don’t we all? Adn for the most part, he loves people.

  4. I think the majority of rescue dogs come with issues. How could they not with the life some of them have lead before finding a loving forever home. Little Guy sounds like quite a character.

  5. our poor rescue dog wombat has similar issues with other dogs. unfortunately i don’t think we’ll ever be able to allow her near other dogs. there was one dog (a very passive old dog) that we ran into on a walk when we first got her that she did very well with and showed no signs of aggression but now that we’ve seen her be fearful/aggressive so many times with others we won’t risk putting her near other dogs (she wears a muzzle when she’s in public). she’s AMAZING with people though so its sad that she was never socialized (or worse– she may have possible been trained to fight other dogs before she was rescued).

  6. I am a firm believer in everything the Dog Whisperer says to do. If you watch the show enough times you will be able to work with Caleb to get him to cooperate. His rules are simple, but must be performed in this order: Exercise, Discipline (training), Affection. Most of us dog lovers do it backwards, but that’s not the way dogs do it so we must learn to think like dogs.

  7. Shawna: I am sorry to hear about Wombat. Most rescue dogs come with problems, but some of our fur-kids comes with more severe ones like dog aggression. I hope you are able to work through it with Wombat with the aid of a credible dog trainer.

    Amy: I have read Cesar Milan’s book and watched quite a few episodes of his show. I agree with his core philosophy of Exercise, Discipline and Affection which is why we walk our dogs every morning for 50 minutes and why both dogs received years of obedience training as youngsters. However, I am not completely sure I agree with how he “floods” the dogs with negative stimuli until they “get over it”. With dog aggression, the help of a professional trainer is most definitely required to rehabilitate the dogs. It is not something you can do yourself no matter how many dog training books you have read. It is also nowhere near as easy as The Dog Whisperer show makes out to rehabilitate these guys.