Ummm … can I help you with something?


Why’d you bring me home all these pesty little brothers?

Sorry Piper, it can’t be helped.  But maybe our readers can help us with the pestiest of pesty little brothers.

(insert JAWS theme).

The TWoo.

Yes yes, he looks sweet, but TWooie is now settling in at Casa de Food Lady and, as with so many rescue dogs, we’re starting to see a glimpse of TWooie’s real personality.  He was surrendered to the shelter with one of our favourite excuses: “We just don’t have time for him.”  It’s obvious from looking at him that TWooie does little more than eat, sleep and run a personal lard farm which he keeps on his person.  So what they really meant was “we don’t have time to put up with his wicked ways.”

Wicked ways – yes, he haz some.

He’s trying very very hard to be a normal dog, but TWooie doesn’t *really* understand how to be a normal dog.  I guess, given he’s Woo’s brother, this should be obvious (as I am typing this, Woo is asleep on my sofa, on his back, with his front legs sticking straight up in the air.  I mean STRAIGHT up in the air, like he’s praising the sun gods.  And he’s snoring).

Look ma!  I’m trying to be a normal dog!  Aren’t I good?

Mr. CHOMPy, in random, frenetic bursts of enthusiasm, tries to play with my dogs, but his version of play consists of running straight at a dog growling and then CHOMPing them rather hard.  His Flambe™ goes like mad and then he comes running back to me full of wiggles for his happy good deed.

It looks an awful lot like his reaction to dogs he DOESN’T like (which is all of them) who are trying to have a good time (this includes barking, running, blinking, breathing or existing) which is to run straight at them growling and CHOMPing them rather hard.

It’s somewhat similar to his predilection for resource guarding me, which he achieves by running straight at other dogs, growling, and CHOMPing them rather hard.

For TWooie, all roads lead to Rome.  Rome is found in the country of CHOMP.

You cannot scold TWooie for CHOMPING because it turns him into a quivering mess of terrified goo.  It looks something like this.

Please don’t kill me.

I would guess TWooie didn’t get a lot of face time with other canines, and when he did, and reacted poorly, he got either yelled at or whalloped.  I’m not one of those people who believes that every rescue dog in the world has been beaten/abused/insert sob story of choice here because frankly, most of them have not – a lot of the time, the worst they’ve experienced is a kind of benign neglect (lack of training, attention, exercise).  And most of the dogs who are a little hand-shy haven’t been whapped around either.  But the ones who cringe and turn into a statue as soon as they misbehave and sense your displeasure, and then try not to make a sound or a movement that will catch your eye – those are the ones who make me sad.  Those dogs are the ones who are trying very hard not to incite further anger and since they don’t know what to do, they just freeze and hope the sky doesn’t fall on them.

And while I’m pontificating (me? whuuut?) – for the love of all things that are holy, do NOT list your fresh-out-of-the-shelter foster dog as available.  Sure, there are some dogs you can list right away because you can tell everything you need to know about them pretty much right away.  Like Kya:

This sweetie will be available through our rescue very soon.  Even though we just got her in, she’s an open book and there’s nothing lurking in the shadows at all.  She is friendly, enthusiastic, well socialized, well trained, healthy and incredibly adaptable.  Some dogs, you can just tell they are the essence of well-adjusted … but as soon as you see shy, fearful, nervous, over-arousal or anything at ALL that looks even a little off – WAIT.  Evaluate.  Let the dog show you who he is before you start trying to give him to someone else!  You’ll save yourself and the dog a lot of bouncing-around heartache.

Anyhoo … back to the TWoo.  At first, trips to the dog park consisted of him hiding behind my legs as we walked and the other dogs played, with the occasional skittering after a critter with his brother.  After a couple of days, he got rather assertive with dogs he felt were too forward and I saw Mad Teeth™ and sometimes a follow-up CHOMP.  Now here we are a week later and I don’t even want to take him to the park because he’ll go out of his way to snarl and snap at other dogs.  Nobody takes him very seriously (it’s hard to take a meatball-with-legs as a threat) but given how quickly he’s escalated, I don’t want him to get a chance to make his threats more serious.

He’s even gone so far as to CHOMP some of the household, but he gets a time-out in the Naughty Dog Box for that so he’s given that up pretty quick.

Woofs United Against TWooie

Outdoors, he gets leashed when we see other dogs and rewarded for paying attention to me rather than them.  He doesn’t run after other dogs to cause trouble mind, unless they are off leash and running around and playing – then he WILL run after them and CHOMP them in the butt.  TWooie doesn’t want to fight, he just wants everyone else to go away.

Go away.  Don’t come again.  Thank you.

With some dogs, scolding DOES work – if Dexter is looking like he’s going to raise some hackles I can tell him to “knock it off” and he will.  But all it does is make TWooie cringe and then show more teeth at the other dog, or get in a quick CHOMP and then collapse to the ground cringing.  So no scolding for the TWoo.  I’m trying to set him up for success, but if you have other ideas, I’d be happy to hear them.

I guess if I get really annoyed, I could just impale him on a nearby pole in a state of suspended animation, like I do to Dexter.

That’s not funny.

Hah!  I thought it was pretty funny.

Despite his wicked ways, I do so love TWooie.  Every so often I catch this glimpse of a care-free dog under all that hair and fat, and I’m looking forward to seeing him blossom!  On Thursday I taught him to jump in agility class and he was just so pleased with himself.

I’m a beautiful flower.  Wheee!


  1. Is that Dexter with two ears doing the same thing? Say it isn’t so!! Sorry to hear about chompy TWooie. Poor guy. Perhaps your gentle discipline will reassure him that there will be no more beatings and morale will improve. *sigh* I would like to have 10 minutes alone in a room with a dog abuser and a big stick.

  2. No suggestions, but just wanted to comment that the “Dexter on a pole” shot makes me think of a carousel……….Can’t you just imagine a whole series of them, going up and down and round and round??? LOL

    A great post , by the way – from the story line to the photos to the captions to the advice re letting a dog’s true colours show before adopting them out. :)

  3. Okay, I am throwing this out as a suggestion for Twooie: what if you put a muzzle on him for a while?

    In my immediate family, in years past, there was an Old English Sheepdog — Farley — who was a real schmuck with most other dogs. He was perfectly fine with the other OES who shared his home, but he was a bully to dogs he didn’t know and to some that he did know, too. His owner used a muzzle for a while when taking Farley to the park and to other places where he would meet other dogs. It worked very well, I have to say. The instant Farley realized that his teeth were not available to him, the bullying behavior also vanished. This gave his owner many opportunities to work on focus with him and to reward him for good behavior. Eventually the muzzle was consigned to a drawer and Farley was able to appear in public without it. By that time he’d been thoroughly obedience trained, and had been to a number of obedience classes where he had to work around other dogs. So some of the socialization he had missed out on in puppyhood was later made up, I guess. Farley was never a big fan of other dogs, but owners of other dogs no longer left the park hurriedly when they saw him arrive.

    Anyway, only because the CHOMP behavior sounds so thoroughly unpleasant and unwelcome do I make this suggestion. The CHOMP behavior is pretty stressful for Twooie, too, judging by his reaction to being scolded. If he has a muzzle for a while and during that time he comes to trust that you are not going to put him in harm’s way — which his former owner probably did all the time — it seems likely to me that he will develop better coping behavior than chomping. Oh, and he would have to be on a leash when muzzled, not fair to him otherwise.

  4. Kya is absolutely beautiful. You can see her soul in her eyes.

    Poor TWoo. Reminds me of a child raised with shame instead of encouragement. Good luck with his rehab…

    Might Dex’s right ear stay up? It does detract from his rakish charm when it is erect!

  5. ooo. I would have Kya in a heartbeat. Must. get. real. job. so . can. have. another. dog.

    How is Twoo on food rewards? Verbal praise for doing the right thing is usually enough for Buzz, but popcorn has really helped him to calm the eff down when people are on bikes. Bikes have now been downgraded from THE DEVIL!!! to minor demons.

    If Twoo was food motivated, you could wait for any step in the right direction and then reward.

    Also, I wonder if you could make it explicit which dog’s job it is to say hi to other dogs (ie, not Two, and that would take pressure off, too?) I mention this because Buzz doesn’t worry about people coming in and out of my house if my brother’s big-boss-dog is here to sort them out. It is of course, my job to decide, but dog brains…what can you do…

  6. riosmom says:

    Love the photo of Dexter impaled on the pole and his subsequent expression. Sad to see both ears up but his head has filled out enough that the ears don’t look too humongous.

    Have you read “Control Unleashed”? It is about getting control when a dog is off leash and deals with all the typical off leash problems. I learned the “Look at that” game from the book and use it for Gracie who is leash reactive. Instead of rewarding her for looking at me when another dog is present I reward her for looking at the dog and staying calm. I trained it by clicking her when she looked at a dog and when she whipped around to see why she was being clicked I rewarded her. Sounds strange to click her for doing nothing but she wasn’t doing nothing, she was looking at a dog and it took her no time at all to learn that looking at a dog CALMLY got her a treat. It is not a fix all but it is a great management tool. The treats could be a problem for Twooie since he needs to lose weight but I am sure you know to adjust his food accordingly.

    BTW, Kya is beautiful and just looking at her happy face made me smile.

  7. he sounds like a hall moniter to me….you know the type..the kids who wanted to have fun and friends but did not really understand how to do it and never fit in. so..they want everyone else to stop having fun because they don’t understand it and in not understanding it, it makes them feel anxious and left out. they become hall moniters (or fun cops) to keep order in their world that they can understand.

    i bet he cringes because he knows you don’t like it but right now he just can’t help himself.

    (remember kodi our crazy cattle dog cross? he is a hall moniter extraordinarie.)

  8. Woofs United Against TWooie the best caption ever – laughed through tears…thank you…I know TWooie will succeed in your household…Dexter is magnificent btw…

  9. nickelsmum says:

    Are you gonna make me send you my spare copy of Control Unleashed? TWOoie needs the Look At That game. And Give Me A Break might help both of the Phooie brothers come back to you when the huntable world beckons, as well.

    Personally, I would be keeping TWOoie pretty separate from the other dogs and really dial down the stress, including the stress of being with the other dogs.

    The particular CHOMPing pattern you describe sounds very undersocialized, indeed. It’s a “get the bite in first before my human nails me” pattern. Setting up situations where there is another dog, he does not GET to CHOMP, and the human never nails him, but instead gives him cookies over and over and over, is the remedy for this. Additionally, you will eventually need to teach him a correct greeting. He has NO IDEA, so you will have to choreograph one. It might involve teaching him to walk over, sniff another dog’s butt, and then turn away and come back to you after one second. Once he has some successful greetings under his belt, he can be allowed to extemporize a bit.

    Carol, I do not think this is hall monitor behavior at all, though it looks similar. I think it is “best defense is a good offense when trapped” learned behavior.

    I adore the United picture — Dexter really is magnificent; that is the only word. The Impaled picture is fantastic, and Kya is awesome, making me wish along with everyone else that I had room for another dog right now. Me, I’m sticking to girls for the foreseeable future! Girl dogs, that is.

  10. Shannon says:

    Oh Twooie, you rotten little pest. The honeymoon is indeed over!
    Suggestions: work on teaching him the self control exercises, no mugging, crate games, leave the cookies on the floor etc. Work up to having him stay with cookies in front of his feet while you throw a ball for one of your guys. At the same time work retrieve with him alone and then work up to having him stay while you throw a ball for one of yours and then vice versa (I know you do that already, but adding the cookies in gives his fat butt something else to concentrate on in the beginning).
    Also, reward him for looking at other dogs (and not reacting) rather than looking at you and ignoring them. Look at dog, look at you, reward. If the dogs are causing the stress associating looking at them with cookies will alleviate the stress better than teaching him to ignore (while all the while worrying about which monster back there is going to get him while he’s not looking).
    In the meantime sounds like you have a lot of controlling your environement to do. Hopefully he gets over it soon!
    And very good advice BTW about not putting dogs up for adoption until they show you who they really are for better or for worse!

  11. I was going to suggest Control Unleashed as well. Look at That game is great! Also Jean Donaldson’s book FIGHT! may be helpful! Good luck!

  12. I was thinking of the ‘look at that’ game from Control Unleashed also, and I see quicker fingers have mentioned it already:) Also agree with carousel Dexter, and I like the two ears up look. That is a gorgeous last picture of Twooie, although he looks like a tripod. He doesn’t even look fat, just a lot of flowing hair, and I love his colouring.

  13. The Food Lady says:

    Sorry folks – I should have been clearer … I am not asking TWooie to look at me, not at the dogs, I am asking him to not react to the dogs and then look at me for a reward. IOW, if he sees other dogs playing and doesn’t get off his butt to go chomp them, he can do that and then get a cookie when he hears me say “good boy.” I am definitely not asking him to stare at me and pretend he doesn’t see the dogs … I just want him to look at me and choosing to engage with me for rewards rather than going into charge mode.

    He CAN greet other dogs politely and does – he can exchange bum sniffs and even face sniffs, but it’s when the dogs start really moving around that he gets all wired. Sometimes what starts off as him getting excited turns into him getting mad. So I just want him to learn to not get involved rather than try to bite them. He’s not like Briggs, who just wanted to attack other dogs – TWooie wants to drive them out of his space, as well as not let them near me so we have a twofold problem there.

    However, he LOVED Dextersister Ginny. *loved* her. Followed her everywhere and gave her flirty ears. Very funny stuff :)

    Tonight he let me wrestle with Tweed without getting up from a sit, which was a big step for him, and he watched a three-way tug of war without interfering – another big step.

    Shannon – TWooie does not mug or touch anything without permission … he’s terrified to do that. Even though he really likes food, he is scared to come get a cookie out of my hand half the time. Retrieving – out of the question ;-) But I am seeing progress.

    Thanks for the advice all!

  14. nickelsmum says:

    Not to be a broken record, but Control Unleashed is really all about teaching self control around exciting stimuli including movement, just like this. You will recognize a lot of it, but I think it will fill out your toolbox nicely. Probably Tweed will be superbly helpful here since you can practically tell him to go move six feet and then stop, so you can dial up the level of movement verrrrrry slowly and accurately as TWOoie learns to relax around that.

    I am in Cloverdale for a tournament next weekend. If you want a free consult…

    Is Ginny spayed?

  15. The Food Lady says:

    Ginny is indeed spayed. TWooie just loves her :)

  16. nickelsmum says:

    Now that’s weird. I mean, if she smelled all sexy, that would explain it.

  17. Sounds like Twooie is fearful and sure does lack confidence. No doubt, you are doing all the right things…I am looking forward to seeing him lose the lard farm and blossom into an amazing dog. I just want to suggest setting him up for success so that you can build his confidence……I think he’s a beauty, btw!

  18. oslosmum says:

    I can only loudly second what nickelsmum has to say re control unleashed; it is an EXCELLENT re-framing of a lot of principles you’ll find familiar, and in general, just really sound behavior modification. Some relaxation protocol a la Karen Overall might be a super place to start building some trust in TWoo with his person.

    Poor little man. I feel like he is trying to do good, just has zero idea how.

  19. I second (fourth? fifth?) control unleashed type exercises and upping the treat ante – it might be worthwhile to try a squeeze tube delivery system with liverwurst or something disgustingly fishy. I like a recycled plastic toothpaste tube because it delivers a little bit less than the camping squeeze tubes. For some dogs it’s not quite as scary as directly taking a cookie out of a hand. And it only takes a tiny squeeze of goop to get their attention, since you might be watching his calories. It gets through Misha’s little doggy brain when nothing else will.

  20. Another vote here for Control Unleashed. I can’t type more because I can’t stop laughing at the “eat, sleep, and run a personal lard farm” line.

  21. Aww, poor Twoo, sounds like life has been pretty worrying and confusing up ’till now.
    I wonder, is the reaction to other dogs a sort of fear/guarding/You’re worrying so I’m gonna make you GO AWAY *chomp* reaction, or is it more a ‘fast moving thing’ herding instinct? Maybe a combination of the two?

    I hope you made photos of him with Ginny, sounds adorable :-)

    And Dex! Betrayer! Your ear! What of our arrangement to stay with one-up-one-down?

  22. No time to read all the reactions, so maybe someone mentioned it; and you probably know it, but the “bar is open, bar is closed” ( sounds like the perfect solution for Twooie and his chomping!
    I would also muzzle him when you know you won’t get the chance of controlling the environment (distance of other dogs etc.).
    And I totally agree with riosmom (and others) – I’m not in favour to teach any to look at you when meeting other dogs (or cats, rabbits, horses, whatever) but to look at the dog (or other object) instead! Paying attention to you sure is a nice thing while training obedience or agility or other sports, but I’d rather have my dogs (or any dog for that matter) see what’s coming and learn to cope with it.
    ‘Control unleashed’ is indeed a good book for this kind of problem!

  23. I only have one 9 1/2 year old border collie/golden retriever and none of the training experience you all have, but I just have one question. Isn’t Twooie’s behavior exactly what herding dogs do in a big excited crowd like that? Isn’t that inbred behavior to use nips to control the flock?

  24. A free consult from Greta?! TAKE IT, TAKE IT!

  25. Oh, if Twooie is not just chomping other dogs an account of their existence, then give me back my muzzle. :) Is it a sort of stimulation/excitement/arousal/drive/CHOMP thing? Like, he has no idea what to do with all the built-up emotion/drive and so he tries to discharge it through chomping? If that’s it, then I really like the philosophy and techniques of Kevin Behan: Will Twooie play with any toys? Will he tug with you? Re-directing to CHOMPING a toy would be my choice.

  26. Belated thought to add – it’s a shame he’s not interesting in fetching or tugging (you don’t mention tugging but I assume not?) because that might be a good way to redirect him and give him a way to express the chasing/chompiness on an object instead of a dog… It almost sounds like once he’s got the GOTTAGOCHOMP in his head it won’t go away until he’s done it, even if you’ve already called it and he’s reacted to the correction, he has to do it anyway… If you could get him into tugging that might help to redirect that impulse? I don’t know, it sounds like it’s a pretty conflicted emotion. Good luck with it. And I too am looking forward to following his progress.

  27. If it were me, I would put a calming collar on Twoo. Farnum makes one in the Comfort Zone line – do a search for DAP collar. There is also this version: Enter ‘The Pet Teacher’ at checkout and get an additional 10% off. I’d also add a DAP diffuser (or two) in my home, even use a spray on a blanket for Twoo. I’d also try a flower essence or two. I’ve had good success with this one: Lots of people seem to like to use these:

    Given that you’ve talked about his weight problem, I’d also have him vet-checked for thyroid problems. I’ve seen many dog/dog aggression issues become resolved by treating thyroid issues. This is a good website:

    I wouldn’t use a muzzle on him because I’d be concerned that it would actually stress him more. If his biting is that serious and he’s drawing blood and leaving puncture wounds, then it might be necessary. I think it’s early enough in his unfolding of the true Twoo to get in with exercises and modify his behavior before resulting to a muzzle. In fact, have you tried taking him out alone and exercising him to tire him before letting him interact with the other pups? He needs one-on-one time every day in addition to pack training.

    I like the book, Click To Calm, by Emma Parsons. Her exercises are great to teach a dog correct deferential behavior and calming signals around other dogs. Here’s her website: If you don’t have this book, I’ll be happy to send you one from my library. My present to Twoo and You!

    I’d also use TTouch on Twoo. Using the most simple touches help, and adding a body wrap with a couple of ace bandages did wonders for my pup.

    Twoo sounds that he not only doesn’t know proper dog behavior from undersocialization, but that he doesn’t understand how to use his herding skills. His reaction to movement, the chomping – those may be his clumsy attempts at herding. He’s got a lot of fear issues going on and doesn’t know how and hasn’t been taught good social skills. Humans around him have let him down until The Food Lady came into his life. :)

    Please let me know if you’d like me to send you Click To Calm. Drop me an email at

    Hugs to all-

  28. Say it ain’t sooo! Did I see Dexter’s ears…standing…up…at the same time??? I want Dexter Wonky Ears back!

  29. The Food Lady says:

    “Isn’t Twooie’s behavior exactly what herding dogs do in a big excited crowd like that? Isn’t that inbred behavior to use nips to control the flock?”

    NO! It’s not, and excusing it as “herding behaviour” is one of my biggest pet peeves. Dogs do NOT herd other dogs. TWooie’s behaviour is born out of a lot of fear and a little bossiness which is why to be a well mannered canine we need to teach him an alternate behaviour.

  30. Shannon says:

    Sounds like you’ve got it there food lady. If he can sit while you play and wrestle and get rewarded for it then he is well on his way. Ramp up your play sessions a little more each time indoors then take it outside, lower stimuli at first then back up again, then take it on the road! Maybe teaching fat boy tug/retrieve could be your summer project ;). Hearing his unwillingness to take cookies would make me want to teach him how to do no mugging more I think, sounds like he needs a clear and consistent picture of what expectations are around food. And you always want what you can’t have!

  31. Twooie sounds like a classic “cheerleader” play style. They try to be the fun-police to the other dogs, generally run around the other playing dogs and try to correct things they don’t like. I’ve read Karen London’s “Play With Your Dog”, some Pat McConnell books and attended conferences where I have learned some things about using play for rehabbing dogs who lack social skills or get into trouble by the way they play. What a fascinating subject. Anyway, being in groups of dogs that play in a nice way can help “cheerleader” dogs learn a better style of playing so he isn’t annoying dogs that will take exception to his ways. TFL sounds like she is experienced and knows what she is doing.

    What great photos and all. This blog just keeps my attention like no other.

  32. You know a lot more about training than I do, so I have no 2 cents to throw in. I just wanted to say that I lovelovelove the picture of Dexter and the pole! And your description of TWooie’s eating/sleeping/running a personal lard farm which he keeps on his person? That’s some good stuff. :)

    What is up with Dexter in the Woofs United shot? Does he actually TOWER over Piper nowadays, or is he sitting on a little hillock or something?

  33. Just had to comment on Twooie’s pantaloons – they are impressive enough to deserve a TM of their own.

  34. Just keep doing exactly what you’re doing and I think you’ll get through to him. Lots of rewards for good behaviour and not-punishing-“punishments” (time-outs etc.) for bad behaviour and I think you might just crack it. If he does greet a strange dog nicely I’d go super all-out on the praise and liver brownies, make a complete and utter fool of yourself telling him what a good boy he is.

    OT question: I was thinking about it being Easter which reminded me of the box-fuls of Peeps you got from a certain Mr. Pickles which got me thinking about that certain Mr. Pickles and his Sofa. How are the two of them? Do you stay in contact with them? I’d love to see more pictures of the Sofa if you do!

  35. The Food Lady says:

    “What is up with Dexter in the Woofs United shot? Does he actually TOWER over Piper nowadays, or is he sitting on a little hillock or something?”

    Nope – he’s huge. And both his ears don’t normally stand up, it was just windy that day. But he’s still huge.

  36. This is a great example of why when friends who aren’t really doggie-oriented ask about adopting a dog I steer them to rescues. Folks who are tempted to run down to the pound and pick up the first cute face they see might be in for more than they can handle, while rescues not only offer insight on a dog’s true personality, but will often work with people to make sure they settle in successfully.

    Good luck with TWootie, he’s lucky to have landed in your pack, be it temporarily or permanently.

  37. Claudia says:

    Mr Twooie. The cute face with the CHOMP! *sigh* I reckon the good thing is he doesn’t seem out for full on Attack Mode (at least not yet) so hopefully you can nip all these in the bud real quick. That will make management of him easier and really, for Mr cute-face Twooie, it will probably be a more comfortable existence.

    I live with a dog who can’t/don’t play with/around random dogs . Sometimes I feel really sorry for him. Maybe I’m being anthropologic, but isn’t that lonely?

    Totally agree with you in the not “judging-a-dog-by-the-cover-in-rescue” theory. If anybody sees a dog like mine in rescue, easily aroused, nervous, etc, I’m sure there will be aplenty sob stories about his past going around the rumour mill. Truth be told, he is a well loved, well-socialized, well-exercised bossy little tyrant. And I’ve tried every means to make him feel secure in the company of his fellow kind, but I am inclined at this moment to conclude that genetics DOES play a big part in how they eventually turn out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to push the “responsibility” of “nurture” here. It is an owner’s responsibility (esp if we own a easily bored breed) to exercise, socialize and do all we can to make sure the little guy does not bore his brain out of his skull and become an anti-social prick, but that said, end of day, sometimes they are who they are because they are just born that way.

  38. Claudia says:

    Oh, and I HEART HEART Kya. ;)

  39. I would like to echo Jenny: “A free consult from Greta?! TAKE IT, TAKE IT!” Let her show you how Look At That works before you dismiss it.

    What a lot of great shots in this post! I predict that Kya will be spoken for before she ever makes it to the TDBCR page. Good thing I’m over-dogged already….

  40. Melinda says:

    No other suggestions for working with Twooie cuz I think you’re completely on the right path with him. Being able to wrestle with Tweed without Twooie intervening is a big step forward…especially with a dog that wants to guard you (his most valuable resource) coupled with a bossy nature (CHOMP).

    From what I’ve read and seen, Twooie sure has a lot of English Shepherd traits. The tail, the pantaloons, the head shape, the coat color, the bossiness, the sensitivity, the internal struggle between wanting to please his person and wanting to be the enforcer, the couch-potato attitude during the downtime between “jobs” to be done, the lack of interest in playing with other dogs. I know that fits a lot of other herding breed mixes, but there’s something about him that says ES to me. Only thing that would make me second guess that is that he appears to be smaller than your average male ES (which usually top out around 65lbs). And the blue eye is rare in ES, but not unheard of .

    Whatever his breed mix, he really is a handsome dog.

  41. Echo's Mom says:

    I have a male American Eskimo named Echo who is affectionately knowned in our house as “Mr. No-Fun”. He cannot tolerate the fast running and playing of a group of dogs without going up to them and bark screaming and at times nipping any member of the group having fun. What is interesting about this is that it ONLY happens when I am present. If I take him to the dog park, it will happen. If I take him to the park and stay in the car and my daughter takes him in, all is well.. he hardly pays attention to the dogs. When I leave him at our boarding place, he plays just fine with all sizes dogs with no issues. Therefore it seems to be an act of protection of myself, and or his sister Bella who is also an eskie. With Woo’s flamboyance, shape of ears and body, I have often wondered if he had some Spitz in him. Nonetheless.. I adore them all… especially Mr. Tweed.

  42. Shellie says:

    Hi Food Lady,
    First, my heart goes out to you with Twooie. He is beautiful, and I can see by the sparkle in his eye what a sweetie he can be. Speaking from personal experience, rehabbing a “socially delayed” dog is a lot of work, and heartbreaking and overwhelming at times. And IMHO, he was brought to you for that very reason — because the universe knew you are the best chance he has for a happy life. You are wonderful with dogs, and can do this!! :D I applaud you for staying focused on the vision for him as nothing less than well socialized. Personally, my lil aussie-shark and I worked with Miles Bensky/Companion Animal Solutions (W00t!!) and have made amazing progress over the last 9 months. What works for us is “Look At That”, and SuperJackpot!! cookies for all nice polite hellos. We also work on “WHATS THAT/WATCH” so he gets to practice looking at the things that make him nervous and staying calm. Relaxation Protocol was also very helpful with his general anxiousness. In the book “Bringing Light to Shadow”, the author practices socialization with stranger dogs with a fence in-between. We’ve also used this with great success, if that’s something you’re able to orchestrate? Being in training mode 100% of the time can be exhausting – sometimes it’s nice for you both to be able to just relax and have fun. Thank goodness you have all that acreage so you can have a controlled environment for playtime. Also, have you checked his thyroid? His weight alone would make me curious about his thyroid levels. Hemopet(dotcom) is the industry leader in canine thyroid assessment, and I highly recommend them for diagnosis, as they consider the whole dog, not just the test scores. You are a smart cookie with a heart of gold, you’ll find a way to make it all work for you all!! Best wishes!!

  43. nickelsmum says:

    I agree about the pantaloons needing their own page; to me they say “Aussie.” (Also much more common than English, and the blue eye gene, in solid dogs, is pretty well established in the breed.)

    About “herding,” well, herding dogs were bred to exhibit certain motor patterns and they tend to resort to those motor patterns under stress. Circling is an example as is cutting off a moving object or specifically nipping heels. But as TFL says, herding motor patterns do not equal herding. When a stressed out Lab carries around a dog bed or sofa cushion, we don’t “excuse” it as “duck retrieving,” either. (Of course, it’s not usually as painful, either, so it’s easier to think, “how cute.”)

    But even so, what TWOoie is doing is not a normal herding motor pattern. There are two breeds I can think of that do what he is doing as part of their original work — Catahoulas and Rhodesian Ridgebacks. (They dart in and threaten, then turn and run so that prey will follow them to the hunter. Since the prey in those dogs’ cases are incredibly, extremely dangerous animals, respectively wild boar and lions, actually engaging with them would be counterproductive.) It’s extremely unlikely TWOoie has any of either breed in him, or enough to show such a distinct pattern. OTOH, the behavior is very consistent with an extremely broken dog social greeting. It’s a very fast-forwarded, compressed “get opening hostilities out of the way, and then I am dragged away so might as well leave” routine (IMO) and it springs directly out of anxiety. I can pretty much guess that he was nervous with dogs as a puppy, was required to greet them onleash a lot, starting pre-emptively tensing up and then snapping and snarking, and would be dragged off once this happened. Pretty soon, the snark-and-leave pattern became a strong pattern and also an anxiety-relieving one. Where I start with dogs like this is teaching them they just do not have to greet, and since they can be compulsive about looping through the pattern, this means no free access to strange dogs for quite a while.

    Just my .02

  44. The Food Lady says:

    “Twoo sounds that he not only doesn’t know proper dog behavior from undersocialization, but that he doesn’t understand how to use his herding skills. His reaction to movement, the chomping – those may be his clumsy attempts at herding. He’s got a lot of fear issues going on and doesn’t know how and hasn’t been taught good social skills. ”

    While I agree that TWooie has lousy social skills, he’s not using ANY “herding” skills. Again, folks – dogs do NOT “herd” other dogs. “Herding” is the act of pressuring herd animals to move where you want them to through a combination of eye, body placement and motion. Dogs don’t respond to “herding” (and neither do kids, so no, your sheltie is never “herding” your children) so therefore, “herding” is not happening when dogs work other dogs. And driving at animals growling and using teeth is never herding no matter what animal is the recipient of the growling/teeth.

    TWooie is not trying to “herd” anything – he’s a shitty combination of bossy and fearful and can’t find a happy place between the two because he didn’t get the socialization or guidance he needed at crucial times in his social development. He doesn’t put holes in anyone but he’s very successful at creating a big bubble around himself where other dogs fear to tread. After working out a few kinks, he is completely fine with my dogs and once he works out those same kinks with other dogs, he is completely fine with them too, which suggests he’s afraid and has a wicked offense.

    As for his weight – it’s clear to me from his lack of stamina and over excitement at being allowed to run that he didn’t get exercise of any kind in his previous life. I’m not putting any carts before horses, and first we will try an appropriate caloric-intake versus energy-output before we start assuming he has medical issues.

    I appreciate all of the advice and suggestions. The biggest problem we have here is that I have FOUR other dogs who need exercise and socializing and it’s difficult for me to provide TWooie what he needs in the way of rehab while still providing my other 4 sociable and active dogs with what THEY need and are accustomed to. If I can find a household with a lower overall dog number that is skilled enough to provide TWooie with the training and work he needs, I will (sadly) hand him over for that to be accomplished. He has the potential to be an awesome little dog, and unfortunately for him and for me I have the skill but not the time to help him become that :(

  45. Our most recent addition, a white shepherd named Grace, sounds very much like Twooie — lack of socialization, combined with some abuse. Instead of chomping, though, she herds — unless the dog stands up for itself, in which case she freaks out and runs away. But if you yell at her — for anything — she sits, hangs her head, and flinches away from you like she is expecting a beating. And if you so much as speak in a loud voice — even if it’s excitement, not anger — she immediately relocates to one of her favorite hiding places, where she huddles until well after the danger of getting yelled to death has passed. I’m pretty sure she has been used as a punching bag by someone with a bad temper.

Speak Your Mind