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Chief’s Journey

Day 1

As we end our first day of foster parenting, I can’t say enough good things about Chief. He is such a great dog. He wants nothing more than to be with people. He is so affectionate and loving. He slept most of the night next to me in bed with a few trips back and forth to his dog bed on the floor. He ate well this morning and evening as long as I stood close to him. He is not showing any signs of resource guarding his food or other high value items with me. He is very willing to take his supplements without hiding them in treats. We learned today that he knows his basic commands of sit, stay, come and giving his paw. He will do most of these commands with only one prompt. His manners puts our four resident dogs to shame! Chief is experiencing a fair amount of isolation anxiety. He cannot be left alone or in a crate at this time. He has been destructive and exhibited unsafe behaviors when put in these situations. For now, we are arranging our schedules so he doesn’t have to be crated or left alone. As his primary care giver, he has become very close to me in this short amount of time. He is receptive to Bob but seems a bit uneasy (barking and whining) when I am not in his sight. He did not show an interest in playing outside but was very playful at times inside with his own toys. He is being kept separate from our resident dogs as per protocol but is showing a positive interest in them. We are hopeful they will have a positive interaction when the time comes.

Day 2

Chief slept well last night and started his day with a good breakfast and supplement. He spent a little more time walking around the yard on his own and even ran across the yard once. (This is an improvement from yesterday). I am still not able to get him to engage in ball play. I went to work today for three hours and Chief stayed with foster dad in his office during this time. Bob reported that he barked and attempted to scratch at the door for about three minutes. Bob successfully used redirection and played classical music and Chief laid in his bed until he heard me come home and began to struggle/bark to get out.
We are in a bit of a difficult situation that he needs to be with someone 24/7 and I am thinking there is great potential for him to be too dependent and protective over me so I am starting ignore intervals with him. He was in view of me petting one of our dogs and began to growl. I don’t want to shape his behavior so he becomes aggressive with our guys when he is able be with them.
He doesn’t seem to be afraid of the vacuum or loud noises but we did observe when you have something in your hand such as a broom or the wand of the vacuum he cowers down. We are being conscious of these things to help decrease his anxiety.
Also, he barked to go outside (first time). We walked around the yard for a long time. He seemed very calm and was much better when he came back in the house. When he is able to go off the property, I think he will benefit from long walks.
I saved the best news for last. I started working with him today with the crate. His baseline behaviors for the crate were immediately trying to push his face through the bars so his nose would get stuck, forcing his paws through the bar, throwing himself against the walls and constant barking and howling. Today, he made it 2 minutes with me in the room and 40 seconds with me out of the room. Doesn’t sound like much but it is a huge improvement.
I did give him a Kong today. It lasted 2 minutes. I’m going to try freezing it and use that with his crate training.
Day 3

Things are moving forward with Chief.
He continues to eat well and takes his supplement with no problem. He is drinking at appropriate times and his stool appears to be healthy. He is beginning to wonder into other rooms without me for up to 30 seconds at a time. This morning while he was in the back yard, I backed up into our screen porch and he walked around for two minutes before he began looking for me. That is great progress in 3 1/2 days. The first two days I had to walk him on the leash around the back yard.
We continue to have him spend time with Bob and he seems to have taken to him. He followed him upstairs once but then came right back down to me but again this is great progress from where we started.
His crate training is also going well. His best time yesterday was 6 minutes without me in of the room (barking but no unsafe behaviors) !!!!!! The kong is definitely making a significant difference in his crate training. One more thing, he is very good at catching treat in the air. He seems to really like cheese, who doesn’t?
July 1st – Chiefs first outing.

This morning Chief took his first trip out. He went to Tyler State Park. He was very good in the car, sitting the entire way. He waited to exit the car (unlike my dogs who rush the door when you stop). We stayed clear of other dogs and people but when a dog caught his attention, he was easily redirected with treats. We only stayed 15 minutes due to the heat and concern of overwhelming him. Even though he was excited and wanted to smell everything, he was easy to control on the leash. In addition, he is wearing two harnesses. We started walking around the front yard with the easy walker harness but I thought it was a bit lose completely adjusted so I just slipped the other one on. He did not seem to mind at all. Just me being over cautious I guess. When we got home, he did his task exercises and took a long nap with his stuffed bear.
July 9th - Chief’s visit to the vet.

Chief was very good but ended the visit under my chair out of fear. He was done for the rest of the day. Thank you Dan for arranging your schedule to be there. This morning he went in for his procedure. He was fine walking in but soon realized where he was and tried scratching at the door to get out. It was very hard to leave him 🙁
This past week went well for Chief. He had a good 4th of July. Our neighbor invited other neighbors over for the evening. I had planned to go over with Chief for 10 minutes and ended up staying 45 minutes. He greeted everyone with kisses and seemed very comfortable. At one point, he laid at our male neighbor’s feet. I had to tug his leash to get him to leave before the fireworks started.
This Saturday we took a trip to Rice’s Outdoor Market. He was good in the car, as usual. We walked around and he greeted people easily and willingly (no dogs or kids) for an hour and a half.
His crate training is going well. We are at 10 seconds with me out of sight with no signs of visible stress. The Tasks list has been a little challenging. We are on Day 5 now. It took us a few days to complete Day 4. We try to do 2 sessions of each everyday but of course on his vet visit days we did not do them.
He seems to like the Thunder Jacket and the Kong. I try to keep his Thunder Jacket on him as much as possible when it is not too hot. He really likes to be with people in general. I have not witnessed any female to male preference as reported. We introduced him to scrappy and they are getting along. We are keeping their play limited; scrappy can be a bit overwhelming. We will intro him to our males in a few days. He has begun wondering around the house a little more. Just yesterday, he was playing with his bone he picked out at Rice’s. I have not seen any interest in bones or toys until now. He continues to listen well and is well behaved. I am excited and confident that he could be ready to come to Jax’s picnic pool party! He really enjoys going out. If we do not go out in the morning, he picks up his leash and brings it to me. He is very smart and very aware of his surroundings.
Week 3 with Chief

Chief continues to be the most awesome dog ever as we end week 3 of his stay with us. This past Monday brought Chief’s nurturing, Bob away on business and me back to work almost full time. Chief’s procedure (neutering) went well. Once he was home, it became a challenge to keep him from jumping around even with his meds. He had about 3 hours when he was pretty mellow and slept well. Today was his last day for meds.
While Bob was away, my parents and their chocolate lab, Brownie came from Maryland sit with Chief so I could return to work. Things did not go entirely well. Chief did very well with my mom and his anxious behaviors decreased after I left the house as the week went on. He did growl at my father as he walked into the kitchen where Chief was standing. Chief and their dog became aggressive with each other through the gate several times even with a barricade of chairs against the gate on both sides.
This week was total survival mode for us. We did not do his Task list or any cage training. We could not do any outings or walks.
Chief and Scrappy continue to do well together. They are free to be together as much as our day allows. They are both initiating play but unfortunately, I could not let them play this week. Chief has been introduced to Fozzy a little at a time over the past three days. They are currently together about 25% of the day. Although Fozzy usually just goes off to do his own thing anyway. I had been working on getting them desensitized through the gate for about a week before their meeting due to Chief’s aggression toward Fozzy the first week he was with us. We began working to get Chief introduced with Rex. I also did some training through the gate with them. The first attempt went well. Rex was laying on the floor and I walked Chief around the room getting about a foot away. Their second meeting did not go so well. Rex was standing next to Bob. They were able to sniff each other’s hindquarters with no visible signs of aggression or stress. When Rex turned his head toward Chief, Chief lashed out. There was no contact. Both events, Chief immediately withdrew behind me with his ears back. As soon as he made eye contact with me, he switched to happy and calm. We will continue to slowly use desensitization with Chief and Rex.
Chief continues to spend a little more time on his own in the yard and around the house. His interest in bones and toys also continues to grow. He appears to be happy and is eating and drinking appropriately.
Week 3.2 with Chief

As some of you know, life with Chief was very challenging yesterday. He woke up very hyper. He was jumping on top of furniture (dressers, desks) and threw himself up against our picture window. I took him for a long walk but this did not seem to help. He began chewing up everything, blankets, his leash, pillows, etc. Redirection and access to the Kong and other bones did not work. He never chewed anything in the past.
Nicole came and Chief growled and lunged at scrappy while Nicole was petting her. He did not show any aggression toward Nicole.
Bob reported that he did calm down for an hour or so but when we returned home it started up again. We took another long walk but the behavior continued. Thankfully, we had a good night and great morning so far. I could not find any real correlation for this extreme behavior. The only change was the completion of his meds for the neutering procedure on Saturday morning. We started back with crate training late last night. He did well. At the end of his training, I gave him his Kong in the cage and I sat across the room. I fell asleep and when I woke up 38 minutes later, he was sleeping in the crate. It didn’t surprise me because he has no fear of the crate but it was nice to get some rest knowing that he was not going to open the door or jump the gate.
Week #4 with Chief

Chief continues making progress. He is spending more time wondering around the house and less time by my side. While home with Bob, he often goes down the hall and lays in his bedroom. In the evenings, I can now sit in our family room while he sits in the kitchen with the gate between us; 8:30pm seems to be the magic time he is ok with it. He will try to do things to get my attention but when ignored it quickly stops.
He continues to do well with scrappy and Fozzy. Although did not seem to want to be around Fozzy on Saturday. I am thinking there was too much going on that day. He continues to try to get in the family room with the other dogs. We did have them in the same room for 45 minutes on Saturday and walked Bean through the kitchen where Chief was sitting. Sharon came that evening and showed us a different way to intro them with counterconditioning.
Week #5 with Chief

I really cannot say it enough. Chief is such a great dog. Despite all we are working around, he is always such a loving and affectionate boy.
As usual, Chief continues to show us new things every few days. His new behaviors are getting into the trash, stealing my car keys from the counter, taking the other dogs food bowls out of the kitchen and running off with my shoes. One evening he even pulled my Sandal off my foot while I was sitting on the bar stool and then ran into the living room with it. I know he is doing it to get my attention. Sometimes it is bothersome but I am happy to see that he making attachments and becoming more comfortable. And it is really funny to watch! Chief continues to wonder away from me in the house a little more each day. When I am upstairs cleaning, he will lay in his bedroom while I walk around. As long as he knows I am upstairs and he can hear me moving around he seems to be fine.

Yesterday, our carpenter was here working all day. Chief handled it very well. He did not seem to get upset by all the noise and a stranger walking in and out of house. Today was bath day. Chief tolerated his first bath at our home rather well. After watching Fozzy wanting no parts of the bath and escaping the tub 3 times, I think Chief did great. He continues to play with his toys and bone as reported last week. And is also eating and drinking well.
Weeks #6 and #7 with Chief

Chief had a difficult week 6, with crate training, our resident dogs and some undesirable behaviors. We tried moving his crate downstairs and that failed. After a few days of training, he had regressed back to day 1. His aggression toward Rex and Bean became more frequent and intense. He actually had a fight with Fozzy. No physical contact but it looked and sounded horrible. Although, I believe that one was my fault. Fozzy got too close to Chief’s special rewards container and I did not act quick enough. Chief refused to go outside to poop. He started pooping in our guest bathroom twice a day no matter how many times we let him out. I know, at least he was going in that bathroom. He also began pulling all the sheets and blankets off the beds after I would make them in the morning. Sooo, we made some adjustments.

Week 7 was much better. I put the crate away! We started training him to stay in his bedroom with a gate in the doorway. It took a few days but we are now able to walk down the stairs, out the front door for 3 minutes and back up to his room. I’m confident we could be doing 5 minutes but we’re taking it slow. When you greet him at his door, he is calm. Chief has learned to sit while you remove that gate and only comes out when you give that command,”okay”. Also started feeding him in his room. He was getting very upset (excessive barking and scratching at the door) when he heard the other dogs go downstairs in the morning. The mornings are much calmer and he spends a lot more time in his room voluntary since he knows the food is in the closet.

We have stoped trying to introduce him to Bean and Rex. Bean and Rex were showing significant signs of distress. Chief is now on a small leash inside (which scrappy pulls him around with). We calmly walk him down the stairs and he goes directly to his bed in the kitchen before he can move around. Even though he walks past the gate blocking Bean and Rex, he is more focused on getting his reward. At times, he seems over stimulated, especially when coming downstairs. This has significantly decreased his aggressive tendencies toward Bean and Rex through the gate.
As far as his new behaviors, we are walking him on a leash in the backyard and when possible taking walks around the neighborhood. I have given up on making the beds for now. I just fold the blankets at the bottom of the bed and he seem content with that.
As stated above, he spends a lot more time in his bedroom voluntary. He is getting much better with me leaving for work and allowing me to sit with the other dogs. We have found that if he sees me drive away, he settles down much quicker. Most mornings Bob walks him out front and they watch me drive down the street. Bob reports he goes right up to his room and sleeps for an hour or two.
We are continuing to make progress and will adjust our plans with Chief as needed. Chief continues to be a wonderfully loving and affectionate boy!
Week #8 with Chief

We had a very good week! Making those little changes two weeks ago seems to have helped. I’m hoping the constant routine will help keep this moving forward.
Chief spends more time in other areas of the house while I’m home. Sometimes it is up to one hour before he does a quick “checks in” and goes back to wondering around or to his bedroom.
Chief is doing great with leaving him gated in his room. We are up to 5 minutes with me outside the house! He has let out one or two barks after I close the front door but than lays down. He seems to do better when he knows I’m gone and it’s quiet. If he sees or hears me in the house he gets upset.
Chief has trained us to let him out when he hits the bells in the front door. No more going in the house but we still have to walk him to poop.
He continues to get alone well with Fozzy and scrappy. He and scrappy play at least three times a day. Sometimes they all lay together in Chief’s room.
We took him to Rita’s Friday night. As usual, he was great in the car and waited so nicely for his turn to have some vanilla custard. We tried to take him out to dinner with us but with the heat on Saturday and rain on Sunday, outside eating spaces were all closed. Maybe this coming weekend.
Chief continues to be a happy, loving and affectionate guy. He is eating well and loves his peanut butter Kong. His usual behavior this week is sitting like a person on the dining room chairs. He is too funny sometimes.