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Polar Bear's story and questions about dog attacks
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26 December 2017 - 12:05 am
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Polar Bear is a 4 year old American Eskimo.  We met about 1.5 years ago shortly after he had his left front paw amputated.  The story I was told by the shelter is that he lived in an abusive home and got caught in an animal trap.  Someone released him from the trap but did not get him any care for his severely injured leg.  Three months later when he made it to care his leg had to be amputated.  He is the love of my life and my best friend.  He has more energy than most dogs.  He runs about 8 miles a day.  He goes back country skiing with me, hiking, ice skating (well, I skate, he runs), and just about any outdoor activity you can imagine.  He is understandably unsure of many humans but he loves me and would do anything to protect me!  Unfortunately, he seems to be the target of attack by bigger dogs.  Is it common for three legged dogs to be attacked by other dogs?  Do they sense that they are disabled?  Seems silly but he has been attacked so many times I cannot come up with any other reason.  These attacks are unprovoked.  Today he was sitting in our driveway as I worked on fixing my bike and a dog came into our yard and attacked him.  Now he is fearful of dogs too.  It makes life difficult when he can't be around people or dogs.  Any advice would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

The Rainbow Bridge

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26 December 2017 - 8:54 am
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Hi Polar Bear and family, welcome! I wanted to get your post approved so others can see it. I'm on my device now, back in a bit with some thoughts....

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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26 December 2017 - 9:37 am
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Hi there and welcome! Polar bear sounds utterly adorable, and what a fabulous life you share together. It sounds quite wonderful.

Re the attacks, I am not a behavioural expert, so just speaking from my own experience and what I have picked up from others on the site. In my view (and please take it for what it's worth...) it is most unlikely that these attacks have anything to do with Polar Bear's missing leg. I just don't think dogs think about each other in that way. I have never had the slightest indication that other dogs perceive my Meg as being in anyway different because she is missing a front leg.

What dogs certainly do pick up on though is the energy other dogs (and humans) give off and also the calming (or otherwise) signals they give off using facial expressions, ears, tail, coat, yawning, turning away and so on. It can be extremely hard for us to see it, quite simply because we are apes and they are canines and we are programmed differently. My suspicion would be that as Polar Bear spent his early life in an abusive home his needs in terms of socialisation with other dogs at a young age may not have been met. I speak from experience here, as this was certainly the case with my Meg, who was also rescued from an abusive environment. This may mean that he missed out on all the playing, play fighting etc etc which pups use to learn how to communicate with each other. If he doesn't know how to give off appropriate calming signals when meeting other dogs, they may perceive him as a threat, even though he is certainly not aggressive or intending to instigate anything, quite the reverse, in fact. If he has been attacked a few times, as you say, (let alone his experience in the trap), then he will also be showing tension and fear, which can also be a trigger for some dogs.

I think it might be really helpful if you were able to find a behaviourist to work with, if there is anyone in your area (not a dog trainer, but a certified animal behaviourist), and perhaps to introduce him to a strictly controlled and well managed group environment. There are places in the UK that run groups specifically for nervous dogs, which might be helpful in this situation, but you'd probably want to see the behaviourist on your own first. If you know dogs that he is okay with, then I would also spend as much time as you can with them to help build his confidence. Also, would it be possible to fence your yard (or a part of it) securely, so no other dog would be able to come in and Polar Bear can have a place where he knows he is safe and secure.

The great news is that (if my instincts are right) this is an eminently soluble problem. Unlike if it were on account of his leg, which there's not much we can do about, these signals can absolutely be taught to an adult dog. It may take them longer than a pup to pick them up, but certainly they can learn how to communicate with confidence. You might be interested to take a look at the work of the Norwegian behaviourist Turid Rugaas, who's done a lot of work in this area. She published a book on calming signals, which I found really helpful with Meg, though I'm sure other dog walkers though I was bonkers, as I attempted to imitate them myself in an effort to reassure her...

Good luck, and please do stay connected, and let us know how you and Polar Bear get on.

Warmest wishes,

Meg, Clare and Elsie Pie xxx

Meg, Mutt, aged around 9, adopted 31/12/2009. Sudden explosive right elbow fracture 06/12 (caused by IOHC), diagnosed with End Stage Arthritis 03/15, Total Elbow Replacement 08/15, problems with healing leading to skin graft & skin flap surgery, Chronic Infection leading to implant breakdown. Became a Tripawd 9th March 2016. 
Lives with Elsie Pie, & Mum, Clare, watched over by Angel Billie
My life as a MEG-A-STAR 


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26 December 2017 - 9:58 am
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PS Just to add, when I saw the thread title, I was worried it was about a dog being attacked by a polar bear.... Thankfully not.

Meg, Mutt, aged around 9, adopted 31/12/2009. Sudden explosive right elbow fracture 06/12 (caused by IOHC), diagnosed with End Stage Arthritis 03/15, Total Elbow Replacement 08/15, problems with healing leading to skin graft & skin flap surgery, Chronic Infection leading to implant breakdown. Became a Tripawd 9th March 2016. 
Lives with Elsie Pie, & Mum, Clare, watched over by Angel Billie
My life as a MEG-A-STAR 


Virginia
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26 December 2017 - 10:07 am
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I'm in love with Polar Bear!!   What a remarkable dog!   I am sooooo glad he has you as his human to protect him, love him a d care for him!

Clare has given you EXCELLENT insight!!!   I like the idea of finding a dog she may get along well with....a ssubmissive dog where she can meet on neutral ground.

It really concerns me that dogs have free range while Polar Bear is in her OWN yard to come and attack her!!   I'm sure poor Polar Bear is putting off fearful signs when she sees these dogs heading her way!   It may also be that other dogs aren't reading her signals correctly either...she may be showing submission and dominant aggressive dogs may be taking advantage of that as opposed to respecting it.

Who knows what Polar Bear endured before you!  She's probably felt vulnerable all her life and most likely for good reason!

For now, I woukd just say be as diligent as you can and, if you see any dogs unleashed anywhere near her, do whatever it takes ro protect her!!  Pepper spray, pick hernup....whatever it takes!    There are irresponsible owners who jave not put their dogs through proper training and it's very hard to expect Polar Bear to be safe when they are arpund.

Can't wait to hear more about Polar Bear, and WITH PICTURES!!!

Hugs

Sally and Alumni Happy Hannah and Merry Myrtle and Frankie too!

Happy Hannah had a glorious additional bonus time of over one yr & two months after amp for osteo! She made me laugh everyday! Joined April's Angels after send off meal of steak, ice cream, M&Ms & deer poop!

The Rainbow Bridge

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26 December 2017 - 12:15 pm
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No, tripawds are not more prone to attacks, but we as pet parents are often more worried than the average dog parent that they will be the victim of an attack. It's natural, our dogs are "different," so we want to protect them. But animals do reflect our emotions, and the hardest thing for us silly humans to do is remember that our signals are sometimes so obvious to our dogs, but not so much to us. There's a great book we reviewed a while back that you may want to check out: 

My Animal, My Self Explores Pet-Parent Relationships

It's entirely possible that your anxiety and concerns about Polar Bear being attacked again (and who can blame you?!) are coming through loud and clear any time a strange dog approaches. Polar Bear probably senses that and maybe has a fearful signal of some sort that more aggressive dogs pick up on, and take advantage of.

I say all this from experience, because our Wyatt Ray is quite the reactive dog and so whenever we approach a situation that we know will set him off, I'm certain that he senses it and goes on the defensive. We do our best to project calm, confident energy, but it's not always easy.

Have you considered working with a good trainer to help you and Polar Bear in these challenging situations? It doesn't sound like Polar Bear needs typical obedience lessons but finding just the right person to help you with this one issue can really make a big difference and make unexpected surprises much less emotionally stressful on both of you.

It's better to hop on three legs than to limp on four.™
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26 December 2017 - 9:51 pm
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Thank you for all of the advice and support.  Polar and I have visited an animal behaviorist for his aggression towards humans.  The behaviorist thinks he suffers from severe anxiety.  We have tried several medications including fluoxetine which paradoxically made his aggression much worse.  Currently he takes 100 mg gabapentin twice a day.  We have been working hard on positive reinforcement.  Unfortunately we live in rural Alaska and the closest town is 300 miles away and only accessible if the road is open.  I have been reading a lot of Sophia Yin's work.  It is tough because he is the most loyal, loving, sweet dog when it is just the two of us but when we are around other people he is scared and protective.  He plays a lot with several of our neighbor dogs big and small.  He usually does great with other dogs but there are three neighborhood dogs that like to jump him when we are out walking.  Currently we are unable to fence our yard due to neighborhood regulations but we hope to move somewhere where I can make him a safe place to play.  

Pictures are attached per request![Image Can Not Be Found]He's so cute it's hard to decide which ones to share 🙂

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26 December 2017 - 9:54 pm
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26 December 2017 - 10:53 pm
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Hello and welcome.

I see you are trying to post photos- here are detailed instructions.

My current Tripawd is a little pug mix named Elly who was hit by a car when she was 7 months old and lost her right rear leg as a result. I adopted her at 10 months old and she came to me pretty much afraid of anything that moved! She also has separation anxiety.  I assume that her issues are related to the car accident and the fact that I was her 4th home!

Elly would not let anyone touch her or even get close to her, she spent a lot of time hiding behind me.  She was also unpredictably reactive when other dogs approached. We have taken lots and lots of classes although that doesn't sound like an option for you.  One of the most powerful things I taught Elly was the command 'tag' which for her means to touch with her nose.  Using that command I have been able to get her to 'tag' people's open hands.  I also used it to get her over her fear of plastic bags (no idea where that came from). I will often give strangers treats so that after Elly 'tags' they feed her a treat or two.  With people we see more often this has progressed to them being able to scratch her chin or even pet her.  We have been working on these skills for a year and a half or so- with practice nearly every day.

About Tripawds being attacked- I would think that could happen if the Tripawd was perceived as being weak because of the missing limb- but I haven't seen that with my two Tripawds or any of the many Tripawds I have met.  And- I was out walking with my dad and our two dogs, Elly and a pug named Obie.  One of our neighbors dogs ran across the street and chose to attack Obie and left Elly alone. Obie was fine but that stupid dog never even looked at Elly.

Good luck with Polar Bear! As I have learned over the past couple of years behavior issues are fixable but it takes lots of time, effort and consistency.

Karen and the Spirit Pug Girls

Tri-pug Maggie survived a 4.5 year mast cell cancer battle only to be lost to oral melanoma.

1999 to 2010

 

              Maggie's Story                  Amputation and Chemo

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27 December 2017 - 6:07 pm
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Hi there!

I just finished reading your story, so glad you found each other and Polar Bear has a real home now.  It sounds like you are a wonderful match for each other.  

I have a question.  Do you know the people that own the dogs? If you are friendly with them maybe this can be an opportunity to look into proper introductions with the others separately as an opportunity to start some socialization.  If you're not friendly with the other dog owners it might not be a good idea,  it's just a thought.

I had a rescue dog that was especially fearful of young men.  Rosie was bred and dumped and had scars on her body from obvious abuse when I adopted her.  I managed to find out her needs for socialization with people,  it was a lot of work.  Unfortunately they are all different and even though I have some experience in socialization with people,  I'm not a professional in that area. Good luck in your venture, it sounds like you've already done a wonderful job with his rehabilitation!

Jackie and Huckleberry

Hugs,

Jackie, David, Mitchell, Andy Oscar, and the coolest feral tripawd kitty Huckleberry 

http://paws120......ipawds.com

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