Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ashamed!

Hurley has been doing fantastic in the shop lately.  So long as I keep bully sticks, rawhides and treat dispensing toys at home, he rarely has any reaction to the dogs who come visit us in the store.  With one giant, devastating exception.  Hurley does not like pitties.  Specifically of the pocket-sized variety. 

What?!? He LIVES with a pit-mix.  He's been exposed to most every size, shape, age, temperament and color of dog possible.  He is super socialized and overall an incredibly friendly pup to both human & canine visitors.  His mom also happens to love pitties most of all doggies.

Yet without fail, if a compact (30-40lb) pittie waltzes in the door, they are greeted with a bit of a growl and maybe a bark.  He settles down quickly, especially after I scold him, and is calm the rest of the visit. He has even enjoyed some good ol' butt sniffing with one of our pittie visitors after having a not so great initial reaction. 

The path forward is fairly obvious - counter conditioning via praise, slow intro's and treats whenever he meets any more pitties.  I'm not concerned with our ability to overcome this.  It's just another behavioral issue we will conquer, like every other one we've tackled with him so far.

But WHERE does it come from?  The only theory I've been able to come up with is that, for whatever reason, pint-sized pitbulls intimidate him.  I know he gets vocal when intimidated by other dogs, which used to be the giant breeds only.  This behavior is him figuratively beating his chest to show the other dog that he's a big, tough dog (he's not a big, tough dog by the way - wimp comes running and hides between our legs any time there is a hint of an altercation at the dog park).  I vaguely remember a small pitbull type dog who wasn't friendly towards other dogs visiting the store months and months ago.  There was no altercation; her owner just told us that she didn't like other dogs so we gave them tons of space.  He didn't even get a sniff.  Every other pittie has been wonderfully behaved and social since then.  Could he really be harboring a reaction from that one non-encounter???

I'm so ashamed.  Please don't judge me by my dog's behavior!

9 comments:

  1. Oh Hurley. Honestly, it may just be that a pocket pit came in all confidence and shook him up. I know Skye walks into stores like she owns them and will make solid eye contact with other dogs (she isn't too bright). That's enough for some dogs to be put off, and Hurley seems to remember these things more than a lot of dogs. I'm guessing he'll change his mind with a little CC in the store- he's done well with every other challenge!

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    1. I think you're on to something! 'Cause other reactive dogs have come in and not affected Hurley's behavior towards similar dogs so I was at a loss for why he was having a reaction to a very specific type of dog but I can totally see how a very confident pocket pit would shake his confidence a bit. And while Hurley likes to share his store, he does like other dogs to know it's his store. Thanks so much for the theory - it'll help me identify situations where I need to boost his confidence - not just with the pocket pits but with any uber confident dog.

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  2. Don't be ashamed! You recognize that there is an issue and you are dealing with it...that's the best possible thing you can do. I agree with Of Pit Bulls and Patience, maybe those dogs just give off an air of confidence that makes Hurley nervous/scared/frustrated/whatever. He'll figure it out with your help! :)

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    1. Thanks, Emily! I know Hurley will overcome this - especially once I make the Hubster cover the store one Sunday a month so I can take him to the Pittie walk we have here in Portland. That'll help him get over this real quick!

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    2. You have no reason to be ashamed! I think it is awesome that you have isolated what type of dog can get his dander up and now you can work on it. I agree with both of the commenters above, maybe it is the air of confidence, even with no interaction he is intuitive.

      Keep up the good work!

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  3. I've come to the conclusion that some dogs are more sensitive or cautious than others. Sage has certainly been dealing with similar issues, except with her, it's the dog park that's at fault in her mind. It sounds like you have a good plan for helping him with his anxiety.

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    1. Hurley's definitely got a memory, for sure. The great news is that the same pocket pittie came in yesterday and he was fine. He definitely remembered her and was perfectly appropriate in greeting and interacting with her. So while first greetings may still be an issue, he certainly remembers the dogs that come in and is more comfortable the second time around. Sometimes blogging about issues makes them instantly better - not sure why but I'll take it!

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  4. Glad to hear that second meetings are going well. Maybe Hurley is just trying to shake things up so your relationship always has a bit of mystery.

    After all, if you understood everything about each other, life would get pretty dull.

    Sounds like you have a plan and are working well together.

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  5. I just tagged you. Check my blog for questions--if you've already been tagged, just post a link to your previous post. Have fun!

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