Mad Dog

same photo as above but pulled back to show Cabana's whole bodyThis photo captures the Jekyll & Hyde that is Cabana. She looks so sweet and serene, yet laying under her chin is a destuffed, thrashed, mutilated caterpillar toy--a hint of Cabana's dark side.

close up of Cabana, half in sun, half in shadow, laying her head down on the carpet, with a chewed up stuffed toy under her chin
Within the walls of our home, Cabana is the nicest, most well-mannered dog in the world. After almost 2 weeks, Cabana still leaves all our Christmas ornaments and wrapped packages alone. She never bothers her spay surgery incision and has been perfect about only getting on the couch when the blanket is put out for her and she's invited.

But outside the house, on walks, Cabana can be a stinker. Cabana was much better before her surgery, when she could happily run alongside me, the leash between us forming a perfect J. But now, not only can she not run, but I also hurt my back a few days ago. I've been hobbling around like a little old lady for the past few days, unable to stand completely straight up. So my husband has been walking Cabana, but today, I thought I could manage it--IF we walked slowly and IF Cabana didn't pull too much.

Slow walks just don't cut the mustard for Cabana, although I tried to compensate by letting Cabana sniff the grass along the sidewalk almost the whole time. This kept her from pulling, and she was happy doing her doggy thing. But at the end of our 2-mile walk, after we passed a couple of neighbors who gave Cabana a short pat, Cabana got riled up and had one of her episodes. She leapt and flailed, trying to mouth my hands, running around me in circles.

All of this was rather painful on my back, but I managed to reach down, grabbed Cabana under her chin by her head collar, told her to sit, and held her in place for a minute until she calmed down.

Today's episode was probably a build-up of Cabana not being able to release enough energy during this past week since her surgery. And although her episodes aren't daily or even weekly, they do happen fairly regularly. I think they are always triggered by Cabana being frustrated. She often gets mad at me if we stop to talk to another person with a dog. If the other dog hangs back and doesn't want to sniff or play with Cabana while the other person and I are chatting, then Cabana takes out her frustration on me, by flailing and trying to bite my hand. (I know she isn't really trying to hurt me, as in removing a portion of my flesh; it's more like a toddler pounding on his dad's chest, like, "Ooooh, I'm so mad and I've just got to do something!")

Do your dogs ever get mad at you? Is this still a puppyish thing that Cabana will potentially outgrow? And is there something I should be doing that I'm not when Cabana has these episodes? :(

Heather and Ellie  – (December 22, 2009 at 1:40 PM)  

Well, Ellie doesn't really ever get mad at me, but sulky? Absolutely. She's a great sulker. She hangs her head, won't look at me and refuses to do any other command than sit, and she sits incredibly slowly.

She never will get actually mad though, so I can't tell you if Cabana's madness it just a puppy thing or not, I don't know. I do know that whenever they do go flailing around like that, it works really well for me to do what you do, grab them under the chin by collar or headcollar and force them to keep still. I think it's actually a little bit calming to a dog, maybe because if they are freaking out it means they just don't know what to DO, and holding them forcibly still is a way of saying "I've got you, don't worry". And possibly comforting because it's a reminder of who's boss? I don't know, but I do know that it has worked well for me.

Sorry I don't have any advice for you! Good luck with her!

Ally, Teddy and Kira  – (December 22, 2009 at 2:07 PM)  

I think her taking out her frustration on you is likely a dominance issue. I know when Teddy was dominant over me he would take out his frustration on me.

What I really wanted to say though, was I would look into getting one of these toys for Cabana. They're very thick and have multiple levels of lining so are practically indestructible from what I hear.

That way she can have her stuffy but not to de-stuff! ;-)

Anonymous –   – (December 22, 2009 at 2:22 PM)  

I can tell when Donata gets upset at me because she will sigh really heavy and go pout in the corner like this:


Mimi and CC Cabana  – (December 22, 2009 at 2:31 PM)  

Thanks for your input, Heather. I agree with you, I think it is calming to hold onto a freaked dog. Kids and dogs all need limits, and although they may balk at the limits, I do believe it makes them feel safe--and probably also loved!

Mimi and CC Cabana  – (December 22, 2009 at 2:36 PM)  

Ally, I agree it's a dominance issue. Cabana has the alpha dog thing going for sure--although she definitely knows when she needs to be submissive, too. Thanks for the Booda toy link. That's a very good idea.

Shell, that picture of Donata is hilarious. Talk about turning her back on you!

I wish Cabana would just sulk or sigh or groan when she gets mad. I could deal with that kind of mad!

Katlynn and Ryder  – (December 22, 2009 at 3:25 PM)  

I can relate to these "episodes" Focus had them but mostly while out to dinner or places where he had to me laying down. I trait I use with all my puppies is teach them to rest their head on my foot that way they don`t eat anything off the ground when I am at movies, restaurants, etc. So whenever I went to put my foot under his head when he was eating something he would turn his head and growl and try to bite my foot. Not aggressively though just like "hey leave me alone I am going to eat this"

I got approval from my CFR to start using food with him and that helped a lot!

Deborah  – (December 22, 2009 at 3:31 PM)  

As long as she doesn't tear your house to shreds, I would be happy! I don't know why she acts that way outside... My dogs do get mad at me when I travel but they get over it quickly. It is the cats who will stay mad!!
Merry Christmas!

Lauren and Don  – (December 22, 2009 at 5:20 PM)  

Don has those EXACT same episodes, usually while out on walks/ higher distraction areas and after he has been corrected a lot. I agree- It seems like some sort of temper tantrum, usually triggered by frustration. I grab his collar under his neck and force him into a sit between my legs- not an easy task though as he is so big and thrashing/ flailing about. I've talked to our leader about this before. She said to ignore the behavior and try not to engage in it. I've found that pausing occasionally on walks and doing puppy handling sits, especially in over-stimulating environments, helps prevent these episodes. Hopefully, Cabana (and Don) will outgrow this behavior as they become less distracted and realize that throwing tantrums is not the answer :)

Good luck with her!

Anna  – (December 22, 2009 at 5:59 PM)  

No worries, most dogs (labs at least) are not like this! However, I raised Cabana's cousin (their dads are brothers) and I believe this is a family trait as Avani would do the same thing when she got frustrated. It was very frustrating for me to deal with too - so I know exactly what you're having to deal with!

Anna  – (December 22, 2009 at 6:02 PM)  

And as you can see from the above comments two other Bosworth puppies have/had this issue too! (Focus/Don) Honestly, hands down, I can say that this is genetic. I heard of another Bingham (Avani's dad) pup that had the same issue too.

Poppy The Puppy  – (December 22, 2009 at 6:14 PM)  

It's so hard not to do any anthropomorphizing with these guys. We view them as our children and often put emotions we feel on them. Because I know they don't feel emotions like we do, I don't think Cabana is acting out because she is mad. She's trying to be the boss. As Miss Cabana likes to be in charge, this does not surprise me! She is calming down when you grad her under the head collar because you are taking control of the situation and not taking her BS.

My only suggestion is to grab under the head collar and talk in a low, meaner voice the instant to recognize that the behavior is coming.If I say "That is Enough" in the right tone Poppy's butt immediately drops to the ground and she doesn't move (you know the tone - its the one that makes your daughters wish they were up to their ears in calculus homework, rather than doing what they just did) I love the look "Someone save me!" on Poppy's face at that moment. I know I've got her attention at that point.

Don't wait for the jumping and biting to start. You see it in her eyes before it happens. Stop it at that point. You know the situations in which it is most likely to happen. Give her a job in that situation. Do obedience with her or something to remind her that YOU are the boss before she tries her Cabana Revolution. Rather than hoping that is doesn't happen, be proactive and put her in a situation where it doesn't have to happen. Turning the situation around can help you both avoid that behavior all together.

Hope your back is feeling better!!

Mimi and CC Cabana  – (December 22, 2009 at 7:15 PM)  

Anna, Lauren, and Katlynn, I think genetics definitely plays a part. I wonder if Sarah would say the same about Millie, another Bosworth pup.

Pop, you are right that I need to anticipate the episode and nip it in the bud. But it hadn't happened in such a long time that I thought we were done with them! OSU98 also said that I should have Cabana do puppy push-ups at random times, to reinforce my leadership.

Good advice, everyone! Thank you!

Ally, Teddy and Kira  – (December 22, 2009 at 8:36 PM)  

I was going to suggest puppy push-ups too! I would start and end every walk with them as well, just to establish that, yes, you are still in control, before and after the walk, throwing some push-ups in the middle will show her that you completely own the walk. (much like guide dog handlers do with their guides) Good luck conquering this and you'll have your perfect girl! ;-)

Poppy The Puppy  – (December 22, 2009 at 9:16 PM)  

If you really want to talk about anticipating behavior... Don't ask about my pie crust cookies! That Damn Dog (AKA The Puppy Formerly Known as Poppy) counter surfed and downed at least 9 unbaked cookies while I checked on the laundry just now.

My low, mean voice was at it's finest. We worked on refusing food - when I put a piece of cookie dough on her foot, she moved her foot out from under it and turned around. We've now done some puppy push ups and she is practicing reading my mind. If I think sit, she's sitting. She is anticipating anything I want her to do. I am pretty sure I could leave the country right now and she would not break a stay.

Note to self: Listen to your own advice about anticipating negative behavior and taking measures to prevent it.

Sarah and the Pack.  – (December 22, 2009 at 9:28 PM)  

I never had a problem with any mouthing behavior from Millie, at least during the time she was with me. However, I did puppy sit her cousin, Bracken (a Bingham puppy) who displayed that behavior as a younger dog. Once he matured it went away.

Millie would get a little dominant with other dogs though. Not all dogs, not all the time, but she would occasionally have to let them know that she had had enough. I am not sure if she never did this because she didnt have that temperment, or if it was due to the dog pack structure at my house.

We currently have a dog at work that is really bad about mouthing. Since so many people handle the dogs I think she has just learned to try to test the limits. Maybe Cabana sensed something was different with you are decided to see how far she could go?

Hope your back feels better soon!

Adrienne  – (December 22, 2009 at 9:43 PM)  

Hope your back feels completely better soon.

Becky  – (December 23, 2009 at 6:13 AM)  

That first picture description is so Pantera! She would get into something and then lay by the evidence.

Anonymous –   – (December 28, 2009 at 12:29 AM)  

Hi Mimi,

Troy sometimes gets mad at me. He gets excited around other dogs so when I make him stop acting up, he acts up in other ways e.g not concentrating on his work, being unsettled when he's usually settled etc. The way I fix it quickly is to make Troy sit, lie down, sit, lie down, sit, stand, lie down. This is done for about a minute or two, then I simply make him sit, pet him for being a good boy when finishing his obedience routine, then I wait for a few minutes to help him clear his head. Then I continue his work very well! This creates less mad eppisodes for me, because he knows that every time he tries to act up around another dog he'll have to do some obedience. I do obedience routines accordingly e.g, sometimes I just make him sit, other times I get him to lie down. It depends on the situation, but when Troy gets really excited I do a one or two minute routine of my example above. Then we clear the air and go on our way. I hope this works for Cabana! From the blog entries I've read about her, I'd give her a good while to get into this pattern but eventually after a lot of repetitions for her misbehaviour, she'll get it! I say that sometimes a bit of time-consuming at the start is worth it, because in the end she'll most likely need to go through an obedience like this once and she'll get the message!

Have a good new year!

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