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Canine Behavior/Relocation Anxiety


QUESTION: We have two dogs. Tyson is a 1 year old bull mastiff, and Barkley is a 2 year old English bulldog with some pug. A couple weeks ago we bought a new house and began to move. Barkley(the bulldog) started exhibiting signs of anxiety as he watched furniture being taken out of the house. Barkley is normal a very energetic dog and doesn't listen very well. Neither dog is allowed on any furniture with one exception. Barkley sleeps in bed with my 12 year old daughter. Since we started staying at the new house Barkley has spent most of his time in my daughters room with her and has kept up the anxiety attacks. He is restless and follows her everywhere and will bark at her non stop. When she does come out of her bedroom and sit in the living room, Barkley is constantly jumping up on her and barking. We have a big fenced back yard but he goes out long enough to use the bathroom then immediately wants in to find my daughter. Also if my daughter shuts him out of her room because he is out of control, he obsessively barks and scratches at the door. Our mastiff seems to have adjusted fine except for a few dominance issues which I assume is normal having moved to a new home. Barkley has no problem with not being top dog.
 Please tell me what I should do to help with the anxiety. I should also mention that my father is a veterinarian and prescribed some Valium which doesn't seem to do much. I would like to avoid medication and dtry to ride it out naturally.

ANSWER: Valium is a Benzodiazepine.  Anxiolytics such as benzodiazepines are used to provide short term relief from anxiety. Benzodiazepines such as diazepam provide short term CNS sedation. For treatment of severe anxiety and phobias, long term use of benzodiazepines may be prescribed by a veterinarian; however, this can lead to dependence and the development of withdrawal symptoms.

A popular benzodiazepine used in the treatment of canine anxiety is alprazolam (Xanax). Alprazolam is an anxiolytic which yields short term CNS sedation as well as anterograde amnesic effects. Anterograde amnesia is also known as short term memory loss i.e. an inability to recall the recent past. The benefit of being able to induce anterograde amnesia alongside general anxiolytic effects is that you are able to administer the drug either before or after a stressful event. The anterograde effect of drugs such as alprazolam make it difficult for the dog recall the event, reducing anxiety and helping to prevent the development of phobias.

Alprazolam and similar drugs cause anxiolysis by acting as an agonist of the GABA receptor i.e. the drug mimics the structure of the GABA neurotransmitter and binds with efficacy to increase the action of inhibitory synapses. The short term memory loss induced by amnesic drugs is due to antagonism of NDMA receptors i.e. the drug binds without efficacy but with great affinity, essentially blocking the receptor.

Adverse effects of amnesic and anxiolytic drugs include; ataxia, paradoxical hyperexcitability, and disinhibition. Disinhibition is of concern as it increases the likelihood of aggression.

I suggest you ask your Dad to convert to Xanax (Alprazolam) since it is a drug that acts within fifteen minutes of ingestion.  It may require two to three doses a day (based upon body weight of your dog) and side effects must be monitored (disinhibition).  The short term memory loss is real: it occurs in Humans but is not in any way a negative; in fact, even though it can pose a minor problem in people taking a low dosage consistently every day (where did I put those keys.....what movie did I watch last night....) this is actually conducive to COUNTER CONDITIONING.  Ask your Dad if he thinks your dog's "barking" and extreme anxiety might be a sign of ataxia (quite different in dogs than in Humans in its presentation), if perhaps the dog is sensitive and becoming hyper-excitable, and especially if there are any signs of aggression (growling would be the first symptom).

Hybridization is a contributory factor to behavior: a Pug and English Bulldog might be a problematic hybrid since the fundamental genetic drive for each breed is so divergent from the other.  This may cause an approach/avoidance conflict or make it more difficult for this first generation hybrid to adjust.

For future reference: take your dog(s) with you as often as possible BEFORE you move to your new place of residence (if possible).  Clean with them present; hang out; tour the grounds with dogs on leash; have a "party" when you enter for one minute (yay, look where we are, yay).  Too late for that now.

You have barely lived in this place.  It may take Barkley weeks to begin to adjust.  Tyson, on the other hand, because of his breed type, is more stable and is making the adjustment adequately.  He is no doubt in "charge" (in social hierarchy) and Barkley WILL BEGIN TO TAKE CUES FROM HIM that this is all okay.  WHAT YOU DO will make the difference.

Allow Barkley to use the backyard as he sees fit: the fact that he is maintaining his house training is excellent.  What do you mean by "out of control" when you say:  "Also if my daughter shuts him out of her room because he is out of control, he obsessively barks and scratches at the door."

The "few dominance issues" you mention for Tyson I very much hope are addressed to Barkley whose behavior is distressing to Tyson.  I don't have to tell you that your 12 year old daughter should not have to deal with this anxiety alone, I'm absolutely certain you are excellent parents and well aware of this.  However: she must be responding to Barkley's anxiety as any fine young girl would: petting him, trying to calm him, perhaps offering him treats, then getting exasperated and frustrated, perhaps angry, locking him out of the room: all perfectly normal Human responses.  BUT very confusing to Barkley: any attempt to sooth is construed as reward; any angry rejection is immediately punishment and isolation.  He is over attached to your daughter.  Now, there's nothing wrong with a dog sleeping with a child your daughter's age (given that the dog is known to be trustworthy), but this situation calls for your intervention.

Now, I can't see anything from here but I can tell you this:  dozens of times I have taken children out of the earshot of their parents and heard things the children do not want to share with the parents out of fear for the welfare of the dog or out of embarrassment.  You must now take charge of both dogs.

For the next two weeks, I would like you to put both dogs on Nothing In Life Is Free.  Your daughter must follow suit.  The psychology behind this behavior modification is explained here:

::::::::::::::::::::::::: source Debra Horwitz DVM :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::

Changing the Owner-Pet Relationship
Debra Horwitz, DVM, Diplomate ACVB
Veterinary Behavior Consultations
St. Louis, Missouri
When an owner is having problems with their pet, there are both owner driven factors and pet driven factors that are contributory. Some animals with problem behaviors are normal but have learned that certain behaviors are tolerated and beneficial for them. Other animals may be abnormal and respond to owner interaction in a different manner than expected1. In some situations the owner is interacting with the pet in an inappropriate manner that although unintended may prolong, worsen, or facilitate the problem behavior. The pet on the other hand, is often unaware of what the owner considers proper behavior and therefore is choosing behaviors that it feels are the most appropriate responses. What commonly occurs is miscommunication between the owner and their pet. The owner is using a human form of communication, reasoning and language, something most pets do not understand in the same manner as intended by their owners. The pet however, is communicating in the manner most appropriate for its species, and therefore often misunderstood by the human. The first step in behavior therapy is changing the pet-owner relationship and creating clear rules and expectations. This must be done in a manner that is understood by the pet. The goal of changing how owners and their pets communicate is to create an environment where it is easier for the owner to control the pet and thus elicit good behavior. This step is most useful in treating behavior problems in companion dogs.
The Theory
The theory involved in changing the pet owner relationship is that cross species communication often results in misunderstandings and thus problem behaviors. Therefore, clearer communication is needed. Owners frequently misunderstand a dog's expectations in social communication and group living. Communication is a behavior that has a goal and a function. Communication is an action that takes place between a sender and a receiver. 2 For communication to be functional, the receiver must understand the message. The information that is transferred between sender and receiver can have 4 possible outcomes: 1.) benefit the sender and receiver, 2.) benefit the sender and manipulate the receiver, 3.) disadvantage the sender and benefit the receiver (eavesdropping), 4.) disadvantage the sender and the receiver (spite).2 Although owners often feel that the fourth option spite is taking place, most likely what is occurring is a miscommunication between species. Without clear communication problems can arise. The goal is to give the pet clear signals of what is expected so that behavior can begin to change and conform to owner's expectations. By bundling a series of learning and control tasks together, the owner can create an environment for clearer communication.
When owners seek help with their problem dog, the problem may be labeled a "dominance" or leadership problem, which can be a simplification of the issue. Practitioners of applied animal behavior interpret dominance hierarchies, ranking and how they interact in the human-dog relationship many different ways and may use varying criteria to define dominance 3, 4, 5. The concept of dominant and subordinate relationships between animals was developed from observation of animals (wolves, baboons, chickens) living in social groups. 6 Social hierarchies arranged around dominant and subordinate relationships decrease the conflict associated with the allocation of critical resources, i.e. food, shelter, mates and territory7. When living in social groups, canids will establish dominance hierarchies that may dictate access to certain resources such as food, resting places, favored possessions, territory and mates but may or may not involve aggression 8. These social relationships can be extended to the human members of the household9. However, a case could be made that dominance behavior may occur without aggression and instead be about control of the outcome. In domestic canid groupings, overt aggression is rare and deference common8. Owners often inadvertently reinforce a dominant outcome for the dog by deferring to the dog's demands. This sets the dog up as the one in charge, and each interaction that ends with deference to the dog reinforces that assumption. So perhaps the issue is not always one of "dominance" as much as one of control. The animal has learned that certain behaviors result in certain outcomes, which are favorable to the dog. In addition, often a behavior occurs because it can, in other words, the owners do not prevent the dog from engaging in a certain behavior and that in and of itself can be reinforcing. Some dogs that control their environment may do so because it is important to them to be in control. Others may control because they can but yet are anxious about the outcome. Changing the pet-owner relationship focuses on "control" of the dog, which often prohibits the dog from engaging in behaviors that "control" the environment and thus the owner. This alone can have an effect on the expression of problem behaviors.
The Program
None of the elements in this program are new. They have been used before and discussed many places in the applied animal behavior literature. The goal of this program is to place them together and counsel the owner on how and why changing the pet-owner relationship is beneficial to them and their pet. Initially, the owner is educated about canid social structure. Second, the owner is told how dogs communicate and what dominance and subordinance mean to dogs. Third, how animals learn is briefly explained to the owner. Finally, owners are told of how increasing their control over their dog is a positive action that can make their dog more relaxed and compliant in the long term.
The first step is a program that requires the dog to comply with an owner command to obtain anything the dog wants. This has been called numerous things since its inception. ("Nothing in life is free" by Dr. Victoria Voith10 and "No such thing as a free lunch" and "Learn to earn" by William E. Campbell11) In essence, the dog is required to follow an owner command, such as "sit" to obtain anything that the dog wants. This could be access to the outdoors to eliminate, food, petting, a ball the list is endless. The goal is for the dog to "earn" everything they desire by deferring to the owner. Deference is accomplished when the dog follows the command to sit or down. If the dog performs the command prior to being asked, it must do something else. This is critical. Unless the owner gives a command and then the dog complies, the dog is still controlling the situation and deference has not occurred. The goal is for the owner to have control. Although many owners have been told that they should control their dog, usually they are counseled to use physical control methods. While an owner can have control by trying to physically control a dog this can be difficult and potentially dangerous. Instead, in this program the owner uses their ability to physically control the environment and the resources to control the dog. By using benign control of resources and deference for access, the owners place themselves in a "dominant" position. It is not necessary for the owner to physically control the dog, merely to control access to things the dog wants. If the dog will not obey the command, the resource is withheld. In essence the dog is offered a choice-do you want the resource enough to comply or not. For some dogs the answer is yes, for others the answer may be no. Once the dog has learned to comply, if they defer by waiting quietly, the resource may be given.
The second step is control of attention. Many dogs with problem behaviors engage in numerous attention seeking behaviors. These include nudging the owner, pushing, leaning, barking, whining, pacing, scratching the owner, bringing toys and climbing on the owners lap to get attention. The attention can even be "negative" attention such as pushing the dog away or yelling at it; the desired response is an interaction. Some dogs use attention seeking behavior to control the owner, while other may have underlying anxieties which stimulate them to constantly seek information about their environment and social status12. In either case, the owners are told that they must ignore all attention seeking behaviors. If the dog approaches them for attention, they must ignore the dog. If the dog persists, then they must leave the room. Again, their response is to be benign. They are not to allow the dog to engage them in any interaction. However, this is not a prescription for ignoring the dog. They can give the dog attention, but with certain rules.
 They are only to give attention to the dog on their initiative.
 The attention should be given when the dog is calm and quiet.
 The goal is to reward calm, quiet, good behavior with positive owner-pet interaction.
They can call the dog over, request that the dog sit or lie down and then pet the dog. However, it is also critical that they end the interaction and send the dog away. If the problem is aggression, the type and amount of interaction are structured and detailed for the owner. This program of controlling attention has been used in other treatment plans for various behavior problems. 13, 14, 15 These rules also extend to how they are to play with their pet. The owner is instructed to only play with the pet when they initiate the playtime and end the game when they are done. The owner is encouraged to play games such as fetch, or engage in a walk with the dog if they can control the pace of the walk.
Finally, the dog is taught to sit/stay or down/stay on a verbal command. Eventually the dog should be able to sit while the owner leaves the room, returns and releases the dog. Once the dog can do this well, the owner is to introduce a verbal phrase to signal relaxation such as "chill", "relax" or "easy". Again the goal is to teach the dog to take contextual cues from the owner. When given the "chill" command, the dog is to be watching the owner with a calm, relaxed facial expression and body posture. If the owner tells the dog to "chill" the dog learns that this means to focus on my owner and wait for the next command. To facilitate learning this task, food rewards are used. This task is useful as a basis for counterconditioning, which is often used in behavior modification programs for other problem behaviors.7, 16, 17, 18 This program has also been called "Protocol for relaxation: behavior modification tier 1" by Karen Overall. 19
The techniques described have been combined various ways in treatment protocols for separation anxiety, dominance aggression, fear aggression and compulsive behaviors7, 12,13,14.
Potential problems and pitfalls
This plan is not without its problems. Many owners have difficulty ignoring the attention seeking behaviors. What they like about their pet is the persistence and the perceived "need" the pet has for them. These owners are unaware of how their actions are reinforcing behaviors that they do not like or may be contributing to the problem behavior. It is imperative that the concept of control be explained to the owner and how their behavior can change the problem behavior exhibited by their pet. In addition, it is important that the owner not feel as though they are neglecting their pet. Therefore, they must be given guidelines for appropriate interactions. This can include a list of appropriate games, walks, and number of times that they can call the dog and pet it. Each case will be different and have different needs to encourage compliance. If aggression is the major problem then the owners must also be given instructions for safety around their pet and avoidance of further injury.
Another problem area can occur 10-14 days into the program. Many animals will initially respond well to the new rules for interaction. However, once they realize that the rules have changed, some dogs will increase their efforts to get the owner to interact in the old manner. This usually results in the dog engaging in attention seeking behaviors at even a higher level than previously exhibited. This is an extinction burst. If owners are warned about this phenomenon, they are prepared and ready to continue the program and wait out the pet. Many dogs will then return to compliant behavior if the owner persists with the plan.
This is not meant to be a stand alone treatment plan for any and all behavior problems. Neither does it replace the need for complete behavioral histories and diagnosis of behavior problems. Nearly all dog owners are given this plan as an adjunct to a more complete behavior modification program designed to treat their specific problem(s). In each case this plan can act as a framework for beginning to change problem behaviors. Each environment and problem will be different and require modifications to this plan as well as a more in-depth behavioral treatment plan. However, what often is surprising is that many dogs improve greatly as judged by owner reports with only these three steps. What this plan seems to accomplish is to allow owners to change the way they interact with their pet with easy to follow and understand steps. Once owners see that they have the ability to control their pet, and in many cases still have a satisfying relationship, they are often empowered to continue to shape behaviors in more positive directions.
Changing the pet-owner interaction is the first step in behavior therapy. It allows owners to be in control of their pet and its behavior in a benign way. When done correctly it empowers the owner to change their pet's behavior. This will often encourage them to go further and work on specific problems. When explained correctly owners gain a better understanding of canine communication and learning and can use this information in all their interactions with their pet.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::: end source :::::::::::::::::::::::::

Nothing In Life Is Free (NILIF) simply means the dog is asked to sit (of its own free will meaning trained with positive reinforcement as seen here:

If you have already used the word "sit" and Barkley has shown random response, you must re-teach BOTH DOGS using any word you can all remember but you rarely use (like "Presto").  It will take approximately 30 repetitions with high value food reward for the dogs to acquire a conditioned response: this can be done in the course of a few days and you most likely will see results even sooner.  The high value food reward (string cheese bits) must CONSISTENTLY be given after each dog "sits" on the new cue.

Use NILIF for everything: going out, coming in, being fed, being petted, being allowed in any bedroom, being given affection or attention of any kind.  Consider Tyson to be higher in social order and treat him as such: Barkley will then observe and will begin to also observe Tyson's reactions to this new environment.

Find a new sleeping place for both dogs: You can choose your own bedroom should you wish to (I actually would do this myself for the first few weeks even though sleep may be disrupted) or a very comfortable contained area (like the kitchen) with very soft beds, water, and interesting (safe) toys.  If you choose neutral territory, introduce both dogs randomly throughout each day: confine with happy attitude, sing a little song, pass out treats; walk away.  Ignore protests from either dog.  Ten minutes later, release dogs ONLY if protests have stopped.  To stop protests,  clap hands, bang on wall, interrupt to the count of ten, let dogs out.

NILIF will help Barkley to begin to calm; it may take a week, a month, can't predict, until both dogs are firmly placed in social hierarchy psychologically with you parents first, daughter second, then dogs.  Meanwhile:  put a house tab on Barkley.  If he jumps up on your daughter, have her stand on the house tab so he cannot jump; have her avert her gaze and "yawn" (this is a calming signal); when dog has stopped, she should ask for "sit" (new word) and release tab, pat him on the head, go about as normal.  If Barkley BARKS consistently at her, she should stand and turn her back every single time; if he persists, she should remove herself behind a closed door for ten seconds; it may take a frustrating few days for this to work but Barkley WILL "get the message" that his vocalization (which is essentially hysteria) results in her removal, not her loving hugs and kisses, nor will it make her angry and frustrated.

I am going out of the country in September.  I will be unavailable from September 4 through September 25.  I would like you to discuss with your Dad my concerns regarding the medication for his professional opinion and I would like you to immediately begin to put NILIF in place.  Before I leave, I would like a progress report.  PLEASE USE FOLLOWUP FEATURE so I can see original question/answer.

Hopefully it will not be necessary to bring in a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (NOT A DOG TRAINER).

[an error occurred while processing this directive]---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Ok. So the whole family has read and reread your answer and tried to implement the techniques suggested. I'm not sure if we are doing it correctly. When Barkley barks at Riley(our daughter) she turns her back. Barkley quiets for a few seconds then starts barking again. She then went into a room and shut the door for ten seconds. While she is in there, Barkley jumps on the door, barks and sniffs under the door. When she comes out, the whole thing starts over. My question is; Should she wait longer than ten seconds if he isn't calm? Also what do I do when Tyson gets involved and tries to control the situation but biting Barkley on the neck.

Riley didn't let Barkley sleep with her last night and we ended up putting him in a crate. He didn't whine. This morning Riley is still asleep with her door shut and Barkley is laying outside her door quietly. Every little while he will come find me and lay next to me. He was able to go outside and spent a few minutes out there walking around calmly and using the bathroom a few times. I'm afraid once Riley gets up, it will begin again.

I am well aware of how this is affecting Riley. I am always with her trying to remind her what to do. This is not fair to her. I am committed to helping Barkley adjust, however there may be a point when I feel like my children are affected too greatly. I also cannot allow the "balanced" dog in the house to be stressed and start to behave accordingly. I get very attached to my dogs and tear up at the thought of him not being here.

Lastly, I talked to my dad about him prescribing Zanax. My father is 77 and mostly retired. He still has his vet license but has no DEA# to prescribe controlled substance. Is there another drug that you would suggest that doesn't require him to have a DEA#?

Thank you for all if your time.

ANSWER: IT HAS BEEN LESS THAN ONE DAY.  You already reported that Barkley CALMED when Riley went into the bathroom.  The MOMENT he is NOT vocalizing, she should come out.  If he begins again, she should go back in.  Within a few days Barkley will connect his barking (persistent) to her withdrawal and unavailability and then this will "chain" (connect to) her turning her back.  Your other dog is trying to take control of the situation because you are not; this is ok, and it is normal for his breed.

Find a veterinary behaviorist.  Valium is not my first drug of choice here, Xanax is.  You can find one from one of the following sites or by calling the veterinary teaching college in your geographical area:

I'm uncertain exactly what medication Barkley is now taking as Valium is also a controlled substance.

It appears to me the situation is resolving but ONE DAY????  This dog has nowhere to go my dear friend.  He cannot be re-homed and he must not lose his life because it is inconvenient and time consuming to do some basic behavior modification FOR WHAT WILL MOST LIKELY BE a short interval.  Your daughter is now old enough to know that life is valuable, life must be protected, and even if it's inconvenient this dog loves her and is overly attached to her and she has a responsibility to cooperate WITH YOU.  YOU are in control as the parent, it is not her responsibility to do other than cooperate with you.

TIME IS ON YOUR SIDE.  I already see significant behavioral changes in just 24 hours.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Well, today didn't go so well. We used the technique all day. This evening Riley was in her room when Barkley went in and started the barking. I immediately went to coach her on what to do. Then Tyson came into her room and intervened. From there it was a blur. As I am trying to pull Tyson off of Barkley, Barkley goes back to Riley and starts jumping on her, which in turn, keeps Tyson going after him. I yelled to Riley to try to get out of the room and go to another and shit the door. However this was nearly impossible because Barkley follows her, Tyson keeps attacking him, and I keep pulling Tyson off(which is not easy seeing how I weigh 115 lbs. and Tyson is 130 lbs.) As Riley was trying to push Barkley off of her, he ran around behind her and bit her ankle then her hand. I then let Tyson pin Barkley down so Riley could get away. With Riley out of sight, the situation calmed a tad. I tried to grab Barkley to get him out of her room and he tried to bite me. I left the room and got a piece of cheese and just said "cage". He ran and got into it. And that was that.
I should also add that prior to this incident, while my daughter was still in bed, Barkley peed on the kitchen floor. When I saw it, I looked at him and said "what did you do". He growled and showed his teeth. I walked towards him slowly and stood over him as he growled and he finally walked away. The aggression is new. I WILL NOT allow him to bite my children. I completely understand life is precious and his isn't any different. I love him as much as I always have. But things are getting dangerous. Its my job as a parent to provide a safe environment for my children and that's what I intend to do. I have a cousin in Arizona who works at a behavioral center for bulldogs and other hard to train breeds. He will be going there on Monday riding with my uncle. She wants him as her own pet and is confident he can be helped.

I feel like I must defend my position as a responsible dog own and more important a responsible parent. I've. Been around dogs my whole life and have trained many with great results. This however is beyond me. Barkley needs someone more equipted to handle these issues. I was willing to put in time, energy and anything else required to keep him. Biting my kids is a deal breaker. I would never send Jim away to somewhere I didn't feel good about. Thank you for your advice. I should have done something sooner and I take full responsibility for my part in unknowingly letting this escalate. Again, this is exteremly hard for my family and I DO NOT take this lightly. I am optimistic though that he will have a loving and stable home.

YOU CANNOT RE-HOME THIS DOG without being evaluated by a CERTIFIED APPLIED ANIMAL BEHAVIORIST.  I asked you: how can your dog be on Valium if your Dad is not able to write scripts for controlled substances (Valium is a controlled substance)?   STOP THE DRUG IMMEDIATELY.

Your daughter was bitten "by accident", redirected aggression.  This is why I tell people NEVER to directly intervene when two dogs "get into it".  NILIF requires time to put into place, at least days; if NILIF is being done correctly, Tyson would be psychologically more at ease and so would Barkley and this pseudo attack (it may look really, really bad but the hallmark of the seriousness of dog to dog attack is injury: Tyson could have severely injured Barkley, were there tooth punctures, was there a lot of blood, did Barkley require immediate veterinary intervention?)

Tyson is as out of control as is Barkley; he should not feel himself in any position to "correct" Barkley's behavior.  The Bull Mastiff is NOT a casual companion dog; at age one, this dog is exhibiting behaviors that cause me a great deal of concern.  Mismanagement, inappropriate training, inadequate socialization, etc., and perhaps compromised breeding, all are at fault here.  One year is a mere adolescent; Tyson is exhibiting a proprietary behavior toward Barkley that he should not at his age and, further, dog to dog aggression is a predictor of dog to human aggression.

When Barkley urinated and was reprimanded, he was most likely terrified (urination is a communication of absolute submission/fear); you yelled at him, he reacted.  This is escalating to a proportion it should not, and fast.

Barkley will need a "foster" situation wherein he can be observed by an experienced foster caregiver.  He CANNOT GO INTO A NEW HOME.  How would you feel if you "adopted" a dog not knowing the problem you have reported to me?  Oh yes, I've seen it happen multiple times.

YOU'RE DOING SOMETHING WRONG, YOU ARE NOT FOLLOWING THE BEHAVIOR MODIFICATION PROTOCOL, it takes DAYS, even WEEKS, for dogs to respond to NILIF (let alone be trained appropriately to a new signal for "sit").  Dog to dog communication is not being observed; both dogs are out of control.  Withdrawing Barkley will not extinguish the fact that an adolescent Bull Mastiff has now exhibited aggression in your home, even if it was toward another dog with whom HE HAS LIVED PEACEFULLY.

I strongly urge you:  Find a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist (CAAB) TODAY.  Look at the following sites or call the veterinary teaching college in your area and ask for referral.  Meanwhile: these two dogs cannot be left alone together.  They both need to be on house tabs (you pick up the house tab, you do not put hands on the dog(s), and remove the dog(s) from the situation.  Neither dog should be allowed in any bed room for any reason.  GO BACK AND READ ABOUT NOTHING IN LIFE IS FREE AND FOLLOWING THE INSTRUCTIONS.  DO NOT yell at, punish or isolate Barkley if he urinates in the house: he is extremely stressed, to the breaking point, confused and MOST LIKELY that medication is CONTRIBUTING.  There are humans who can't tolerate certain psychotropic medications and some of THEM are unable to tell anyone, which results in all sorts of serious aberrant behaviors (including aggression).  Find a CAAB.  Instruct your daughter to ignore both dogs as if they are not present.  Do not pet, do not make eye contact, do not use their names, do not allow them in her room, do not allow any initiation of close association (being leaned on, being sat on, being sat close to/next to, etc.)

To find a CAAB:

You were making some real headway in a short time but obviously something has gone quite wrong.  Once aggression begins, I cannot ethically address a situation because I can't see anything from here!  You need an expert (NOT a dog trainer) AND a veterinary behaviorist (or a general veterinarian with exceptional knowledge regarding the use of medication).  Barkley is a victim of circumstance; on the other hand, you will have your hands full with your Mastiff without some serious positive reinforcement training and psychological restructuring of his social hierarchy.  

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Jill Connor, Ph.D.


I have spent my entire professional life rehabilitating the behavior of the domestic dog and I can answer any question regarding any behavior problem in any breed dog. I have answered more than 5,000 QUESTIONS on this site in the past (almost) eight years. If you are a caring, committed owner and need advice, I'm here for you. I am personally acquainted with my colleagues (Turid Rugaas, Ian Dunbar, etc.) who were members of an elite group in EGroups that I founded: K9Shrinks. THERE ARE NO QUICK FIXES for serious behavioral issues; not only is it unprofessional to offer same, it is also unethical. IF I ASK YOU SUBSEQUENT QUESTIONS, I NEED YOU TO INTERACT WITH ME. More information equals more credible answers and a more successful outcome. If you want ANSWERS THAT WORK, participate in any way I request. I'm quite committed to working on this site for YOUR benefit and the benefit of YOUR DOG. Help me in any way you can.


30 years of solving serious behavior problems in domestic dogs; expert in dog to human aggression; Internet columnist for for 5 years; former radio talk show host, WHPC.FM, Garden City, NY "Bite Back" (1995 through 2000). List owner, international animal behavior experts, Seminar leader: "Operant Conditioning and Learning"; "Aggression in The Domestic Dog"; "Solving Problem Behaviors" -- conducted for various training facilities on Long Island from 1993 through 2000. Former clinical director of "Behavioral Abnormalities" in conjunction with Mark Beckerman, DVM, Hempstead, New York.

Member, APDT (UK); Psychologists in Ethical Treatment with Animals

Harcourt Brace Learning Direct: "The Business of Dog Training" "The Fail Safe Dog: Brain Training, not Pain Training"

Ph.D., UC Berkeley

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Board of Directors: Northeast Dog Rescue Connection; The Dog Project; Sav-A-Dog Foundation; etc. Pro Bono counselor: Little Shelter Humane Society My practice is presently limited to forensics. I diagnose cause of dog bite, based upon testimony before the Court, for attorneys and insurance companies litigating dog bites, including fatal injuries. I also do pro bono work for bona fide rescue organizations, humane societies, et al, regarding such analysis in an effort to obtain release for dogs being held for death in municipal shelters in the US.

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