View Full Version : Rusty has alot of 'Negative Energy' and what I believe is 'Fear Aggression'

2nd June 2009, 02:17 PM
Pretty much as the title says, Rusty seems to me to have 'Fear Aggression' and I remember Cesar on 'Dog Whisperer' saying that if a tail is being carried high it shows a dog has 'Negative Energy'. Anyway well start from the beginning, when we first had Rusty we knew he had a heart murmur but knew we wanted him to look after and give a good life too. The first few months were great he and our eldest dog 'Fido' got on great and 'Fido' acted like his big brother. Then one day Rusty seemed to change his behaviour and I believe it was after a brown Labrador whilst on a walk trod on him while sniffing him because ever since then any other dog apart from our little clan he goes mad at, and strangers too he goes mad at with barking, also when Fido and Rusty get on our armchair by the window they bark at anyone who walks past but Rusty goes absolutely barmy. Its something we have kind of learnt to put up with but the only thing that worries us is other people thinking he is vicious which he isnt. For instance we had our house painted lately and Rusty was in the back garden with the painters barking his head off at them, then the one guy started to stroke him but he was still barking but his tail was going ten to the dozen, so it just shows he is an affectionate dog, but he seems to get nervous me and my wife think. Does anyone have any tips. Like I say it doesnt really bother us as friends of ours now that when he starts barking at them he isnt going to hurt them but after a while you just cant chat to them or anything as he just barks like mad. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

3rd June 2009, 12:59 AM
This isn't aggression nor is it fear aggression. You just have an overexcited barker. :)

Have you ever done a good rewards-based obedience class? This should really be your starting point. NOT a class that uses 'corrections' or requires that you use a choke chain or jerking on a collar but uses rewards and praise. :thmbsup:

I'd also recommend having a good look around at www.dogstardaily.com for training advice. But you need a class so that your barkers get exposure to other people and dogs in a structured way.

Dogs carrying their tails high do not have 'negative energy' -- it simply means they are attentive and interested in something. :) In some cases it can mean aggressiveness but there are a lot more signals to be looking for -- a lot more than just an attentive tail. Body language is generally subtle and the whole picture needs to be understood or it can be easy to misinterpret.

3rd June 2009, 08:21 AM
Thanks for that advice. Its just so hard to tell what is up with them sometimes and how to read the signs. Like I say its not something that really bothers us its only when we have friends come over and we cant enjoy their company as he just barks constantly. Could he also suffer with nervousness if that makes sense for a dog because the way he behaves at times he gets very anxious and on edge whereas the other 2 dont get bothered in the same situation. But thanks for the advice again.

Cathy Moon
4th June 2009, 12:55 AM
I have the same situation with Geordie. My other two dogs are calm and friendly, but Geordie has always been nervous and excitable.

A few years ago, Geordie had a head x-ray and a CT scan for a PSOM study. The neurologist found that Geordie has mild hydrocephalous, PSOM, and SM. Geordie immediately had surgery for the PSOM, which relieved some symptoms such as frequent yawning/mouth opening (to correct his ear pressure) and scratching his ears. He immediately seemed a bit calmer in every day life with us at home.

He is being treated for SM with gabapentin and omeprazole. The omeprazole is likely to help his hydrocephalus by decreasing the production of CSF fluid, which would lower the pressure.

But he is still overly excitable when someone comes to our house, or when he sees people and dogs out the window or through the fence. I had him in many, many training classes when he was younger - he was very well trained in agility and clicker obedience. He was excellent, very focused on me and could be off-leash around other dogs when we were working in the ring, but still was reactive other people and dogs (anyone who doesn't live in our house!) on walks or at home. :confused: But he was fine when we adopted Chocolate and Charlie, and he was fine with another cavalier we fostered for a week! And he is a good, if shy, little gentleman at the vets (he knows many vets and specialists) and he was good staying at the kennel when we went on vacations a few years ago.

Now Geordie's cardiologist (Geordie has grade 4 MVD) has told us to keep his stress levels down, so we have been managing his exposure to things that upset him.

One of the symptoms of hydrocephalus is hyper-excitability (see 'what to watch for') in the link: http://www.lowchensaustralia.com/health/hydrocephalus.htm

I am the first to admit that my little boy has us stumped, and our trainer (certified pet dog trainer CPDT with APDT) could not get to the bottom of it either. Geordie came to us as a puppy, one month younger than India, and they were raised the same. We started training early (using only positive methods), we had a veterinary behaviorist look at him, we did everything we were supposed to do. India was a registered therapy dog (her certificate has lapsed), while Geordie seems to have temperament limitations. We love him just as much (if not more) than our other two cavaliers and we accept him as he is - we have adjusted our lifestyle to meet his needs. Colin is looking over my shoulder agreeing with everything I'm writing about our little Geord-meister.

When family or friends come to visit, we put Geordie in the bedroom with a bully stick to chew on and the TV on. He seems perfectly happy and calm in there, and I check on him frequently and sometimes put one of our other cavaliers in with him. That's just how I manage him now because of his health.

4th June 2009, 02:57 AM
Just a thought but, sometimes it's easy to reward this behaviour by petting. I'm assuming, as you thought he was anxious, you may be comforting him. This is only natural but will only make things worse. Anxious or over excited, I'd say the best way to treat it is to ignore the dog while it goes on, no eye contact or talking.

I have a barker myself, not as bad as yours admittedly and not due to being over excitement. It had got to the point where he was barking every 5 minutes, all day! :eek: For the past 2 weeks, I have been ignoring Dylan's barks (even if he barked at me for 5 minutes solid). By the end of the first week, the problem is 90% fixed. He only barks about once or twice a day now and not for long.

Worth a try anyway.

Also, dog training classes are great for getting a dog used to other dogs while you are in control.