Oh Jake.

Jake is showing some signs of aggression towards other dogs. This is not necessarily new news. In the past, when I say he could be a jerk, it was more that from time to time, he gets cranky and is a little impossible for a short period of time. That always equated to him tormenting Melvin. They’d be laying peacefully, Jake would get up, walk over and try to bite Melvin’s face. Good times!  But lately, it’s different.  Lately, if he sees another dog he gets riled up and he can’t come back down.

I am not a professional, but as someone who spends a lot of time with Jake, I’m leaning towards this being one or two things.  The first is the obvious, a post-Melvin world.  I don’t know if that means that Jake has a more difficult time in situations because Melvin is not there to help or that Jake can be more difficult, because Melvin is not there. The other issue working against Jake now is his legs.  In these moments when his intensity increases, he can’t always remain upright.  And each time he falls over, he gets more frustrated and it feeds the situation.

To be clear, this is Jake with other animals.  Dogs that he encounters as well as any animal that dares to land or saunter into our yard.  With humans, Jake has become quite the opposite.  He is calm, attention loving and has been extra wonderful with the kids in our family.  Four legs, intensity.  Two legs, love bug.

We have been working with our trainer.  Jake has a prey drive that is unlike anything I have seen.  I call him Jason Bourne.  When his legs were better, and a bunny family lived in our yard, he would hunt them 24/7.  When outside, When inside.  Those bunnies haunted him.  Those bunnies made the mistake of being in our backyard when Jake was off-leash and sadly two of them didn’t make it back out of the yard.  Same goes for a bird that never saw Jake coming.  And the frogs. Those poor baby frogs. So the trainer has been helping me help him learn to refocus when he goes into hunt mode. And she is the first person I reached out to when I realized that he is now ‘other dog angry’.

Getting another dog is sort of a big deal for me.  So in addition to the trainer, we are going to see a behaviorist.  Someone who can help us understand the what and why so we can execute on the when and how. I’m super interested in hearing any and all stories of dogs whose personalities changed (for the worse) when they lost a sibling or when a disability started hindering them. You can share in the comments below or email us at ohmelvinyojake@gmail.com .

For now, the wild beast has taken to his teepee (in his camouflage diapers)  to rest up for the next hunt.


14 thoughts on “Oh Jake.

  1. I had adopted a rescue bulldog (Bubba) that came from a two dog home. Shortly after he came into my home a bulldog (Baby) who I had admired for a couple of years was offered to me. Baby moved in with Bubba and they were the perfect match never any issues. Baby passed away after a year and Bubba started his mourning process he actually was detaching from me. I tried bringing in a foster dog for him (thinking he missed his companion) and it was then that he decided he wanted to be an only dog. Bubba was fine to play and be around other dogs (play had to be on his terms) and then they go home. Although, he loved puppies and he tolerated anything from a puppy.

    I love your teepee Jake!

    • Thank you!!! Sounds so similar. The trainer has even mentioned that Jake may need to be an only dog now (and of course I can’t accept that without trying everything). Outside Jake is moderately ok, a dog coming into the house is when he escalates. Of course we are learning this through meet and greets so he does not know any of these dogs very well, but the mode that he goes into is alarming. OHHHHHHHHHH, Jake!

  2. Julius is Ray’s only friend in the whole world and only because Ray got “used to” Julius before they met. By the time they actually got to go nose to nose, they had seen each other on walks, through gates and from opposite sides of doors.
    Right now, Ray sees the Sugar family and seems ok with seeing the babies being carried through the room but sometimes when he sees Sugar he does his “I want that toy WOO WOO” and other times he does that “She’s a scary girl in my house” panic bark. I’ve been mixing up how and where he gets to see her.
    We also are beginning to let him be around Juli’s friend, Clyde. All while on leash and on opposite sides of the patio.
    I don’t know if that is “advice” at all or just a mealy pep talk, but so far I feel hopeful that we can continue to foster.

    • I love hearing about similar situations and solutions/ideas! I know Melvin was Jake’s ‘person’ but I have to believe that we can get to a better place and open our home up again. Thank you Puppy Momma!

  3. It’s not much of a share but I’ve noticed as Dottie is getting older she’s getting more prey driven and at times really cranky. We know she’s not in pain, she’s just gotten really cranky and at times bossy in her older age. She doesn’t take crap from anyone!

  4. My son and I were discussing Jake’s temperament and he thinks you should add another dog into your family sooner rather than later. If Jake gets totally used to having you to himself it might be even harder to share. We have four pugs and we always hoped they would be best buds and snuggle and play, but that was not to be. We have to keep them in different rooms with gates on the doors as they attack each other and when one attacks the others join in and one always gets hurt. My oldest little pug is 10 and uses a wheelie cart from K-9 Carts. She doesn’t fare very well if they attack her. That’s only happened once. If I talk sweet to one of them the other three jump on that one. So unfair.

    • I feel that he is becoming too comfy in only dog status also. And Jake’s safety will always be the issue at hand. He can antagonize but he could never defend himself. I love that you have a little pug gang over there!

  5. I’m glad you’re teaming up with a behaviorist. The external, knowledgeable, objective perspective is invaluable if you have a good one. We needed one for a different situation, but it was a huge enlightenment – understanding Habi’s perspective totally changed my perspective on her behavior – and enabled us to move forward through a lot of reactive issues. We did use medications (fluoxetine), and it helped Habi a lot (but not all situations need meds). Seven years later, we’re over 90% of her issues; her last one is dog reactivity, and even that’s improved a lot.

    When we chose to add a new ‘second dog’ to our pack (after our first ‘second dog’ passed away) last summer, we worked with an excellent foster group who “got” Habi’s issues and needs, chose a great companion, and then worked with us to slowly integrate the two – starting with parallel walking on neutral ground for a few days, then in our yard, then finally in the house on leash, then (on our own) off-leash plus gates, then off-leash monitored, etc, plus lots of advice on how to handle the expected tiffs as Obi settled in, 24/7 available for panic calls, plus a no-guilt guarantee that they’d take him back if it didn’t work out. We were SO fortunate! And it worked – though not cuddlebugs, Habi and Obi actually play several times a day, which I NEVER expected. She still tells him off a couple of times a week; sometimes he’s asked for it, sometimes she’s just crabby, but they get over it immediately. He’s been wonderful for her.

    Good luck! Maybe Jake is destined to be an only dog despite your hopes, but maybe not. I can think of no one better to work through this than you, judging by how you’ve handled all the other issues Melvin and Jake have brought into your life. Drop me an email if you want to chat.

    • Ahhhhhmazing!!! Your determination and the rescue groups commitment to making it work! This is such an inspiring story! And I love that she still tells him off from time to time, don’t we all?! Jake went on Prozac to help with the grief and it helped him a lot. I’m excited to see the behaviorist.

      • Looking forward to hearing What Happens Next. Thank you for sharing this journey with us – the joys, the tears, the frustrations, the laughs, and your inimitable attitude about it all.

  6. (I’m so, so, so sorry I’m going through these binge-reading periods and leaving comments well over a week after the post is new! Gah!) Anyway, this is my fear with Cooper. It keeps me up at night. He is SUPER reactive to just about everything because he’s so high-strung. Having Emmett with him calms him, so we take Em on Coop’s vet visits, for instance. I honestly have no idea what’s going to happen, but I’m really interested to see how everything unfolds with Jake, and I’m going to be taking copious notes. This isn’t a situation that I’d like either of us to be facing. Sheesh. But I sure am glad to have “met” you!!!!! Times a million!!!

    • I feel the same way about you!!! Soul sisters! We had a great, GREAT session with the behaviorist today. I’m going to post about it this week. But similar to you guys, I learned today that Melvin was Jake’s Prozac. That makes me love and miss Melvin even more. And it makes so much sense!! We will persevere. You and me. I promise!

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