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Doggy Hugo update


Mini crazy cat lady
As many of you know, I took on a rescue collie several months ago, called Hugo, who had fear aggression.

Unfortunately, today he has taken a turn for the worse. When out walking, he ran after another dog unprovoked, growling at it. No harm came to the other dog, but he was swiftly leaded up and taken home. He has been wound up ever since, and every time I tell him to get down from the table at the window, he is baring his teeth at me and growling. I've been on the phone to Border Collie rescue, and all they can do is point me towards a behaviourist. I'm currently on the sofa, shaking, really quite scared of my dog. Already rang mum, who is going to come round later. The problem is, my parents don't see him as being a problem, and nobody seems to believe me. I know that if he goes back to the home they will put him down, which I don't want, but mum REALLY doesn't want, so she is taking of us sharing him - they have him for a few days, we have him for a few. That just isn't practical or fair on the dog. He's unhappy, I'm unhappy. I really wish I had the time to try and help him, but nothing I am doing so far is helping him. He had been fine for months, but this mornings issue means I am leading him up again permanently. I wish I wasn't scared of him, but when he curls back his lips and snarls at me, I genuinely go cold. Mum just doesn't seem to understand. At the moment, he is getting worse, and will continue to get worse. She doesn't see a major problem, and thinks I am being a drama queen. I'm with this dog from 6:30am-7pm on my own pretty much every day, of course I see all of his sides.
The main problem right this second is that I am frightened of him. I daren't tell him off incase he bites me, but if I don't tell him, then he gets his own way, which is a viscous circle. I've told OH that he is growling at me, his reply? Slap him or kick him to snap him out of it. Don't forget you are bigger than him. Smashing help that. OH play fights with him which involves playing with his face (gently, of course) and he often gums OH's hand, but I'm worried he doesn't see me as being playful, and will bite.
Mums currently on the phone looking for this magical place for Hugo. I feel sick, as I've failed him.
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Mini crazy cat lady
I know, I should have got the behaviourist in months ago, but my parents saw no point, and neither did OH as (at the time) none of them had seen him being nasty. Since then OH has seen it for himself, and my parents have seen him be nasty, but can't see the bigger picture. I foolishly listened to everyone else and didn't get her in, and went to obedience classes instead. The issue is mum wants him cured. I explained he will never be cured, but could be managed. Therefore, she thinks the behaviourist is a waste of time. I would go ahead with it, but she already said that OH and my parents have to be there as we all have a part in looking after him, as my parents walk him a couple of times a week, and have him overnight if I go away. Dad has already said he won't do it, OH has said he sees no point in us all being there, and mum thinks its a waste of money, money which sadly at the minute I don't have due to other circumstances. He is on calming tablets (which I fail to see them working), and I was above him in the pecking order (going upstairs before him, able to take his food from him, going through doors first, not allowing him on the sofa unless invited) but something has caused me to go down. I wonder if its because I am his main walker, he resents the fact that I put him on the halti and lead more than my parents, who rarely use the halti at all, and often let him run free more than I dare. Or perhaps it's because its me who tells him to get off the sofa and the table.

Mums spoken to Border Collie Rescue, who say, from whats she said, Hugo sounds like a happy dog. They can't help us just now as they have kennel cough, but they are prepared to assess him, and help me decide what to do. I think mum is also going to take him for a couple of days, as me being upset is only going to inflame the situation. I'm trying not to be scared of him, but lack of sleep is making me highly strung and emotional.

Parents have just been round. They are like "basically, you want rid", and I simply don't know. Dad still doesn't see a problem, and lets the dog jump all over him, even though I'm telling him to get down. Guess I'll hang tight till I can get him assessed, then take it from there. They don't think it is fear aggression, but the obedience man and the vet do, so lordy knows who to believe. Must hang tight and try and take better control of the situation.
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Hugs xx

Don't really know what to say/advise.

Do you have a dogs trust near? They often take dogs in that are difficult and specifically promise to rehome them and not have them put to sleep?

Sounds to me like Hugo needs an expert.

From what I can read into your posts you are not one. Nor do you have the time to currently become one.

I know how frustrating dogs can be. Our puppy is currently going through a 'chewing the house up and everything in it' phase and it makes me cry some days. Luckily she doesn't have any aggression so I really do feel for you.

Do whatever feels best for you.

But most of all put yourself and your safety and sanity first xxx


Mini crazy cat lady
From what I can read into your posts you are not one. Nor do you have the time to currently become one.
Nope, I am no dog expert. I simply try and do what it suggested to me by other 'experts', but they are often conflicting. Collie Rescue have promised that if they have room for him, they will not put him down unless he becomes very dangerous. The home I got him from have confirmed that if I take him there, they will put him down, end of.

But I need to make the decision. He either goes, and I deal with it. Or he stays, and I deal with it. Basically, I need to man up!

Made it worse when the lady on the phone said he sounds like he is a happy doggy. Perhaps he is happy, and it's me being overly sensitive and worried. Maybe I should take the calming tablets, not the dog! :D
Tinytootz said:
Nope, I am no dog expert. I simply try and do what it suggested to me by other 'experts', but they are often conflicting. Collie Rescue have promised that if they have room for him, they will not put him down unless he becomes very dangerous. The home I got him from have confirmed that if I take him there, they will put him down, end of.

But I need to make the decision. He either goes, and I deal with it. Or he stays, and I deal with it. Basically, I need to man up!

Made it worse when the lady on the phone said he sounds like he is a happy doggy. Perhaps he is happy, and it's me being overly sensitive and worried. Maybe I should take the calming tablets :D


Not man up no! It's tough. Animals are and you do obviously care. I just know How they can effect you (good and bad!), zzgctand wouldn't want the situation to ruin any of your other relationships.

The home you got him from seems callous!! Not a great attitude for a 'rescue centre' nor very helpful for people that have adopted from there.

The collie rescue could maybe be a good option. You know he'll be safe and looked after. Well fed & exercised. Possibly rehomed of it is ever feasible.

How does Hugo sound like a happy doggy? Maybe happy isn't the right word. How do we ever know if an animal is happy anyway? But to me he sounds unsettled. Why you may never know.

Look at it this way. In the nicest possible way we have people in this world that for whatever reason(s) can't cope with everyday life. These people are all special in their own way, but possibly can't lead a fully functional and independent life like you or I, or how society depicts.

Maybe Hugo is like one of these people. Still very special. But unable to cope and live in a 'normal' fashion? xxx


Mini crazy cat lady
I like that idea. Perhaps he needs extra attention due to something which is beyond my control. I have a dreadful tendency to blame myself for everything, but maybe it isn't all my fault.

They said he sounds happy as he doesn't bark all the time, chew things, sleeps ok and stuff like that. But I agree, nobody can know for sure, unless Hugo manages to talk to me, which would be really helpful right now :)

And yes, the other rescue centre is quite callous. I see where they are coming from though, they cannot rehome an aggressive dog, and don't have the resources to work with him, which presumably the Collie Rescue do. It's a shame, but at least they don't hide it I guess!

I'm also figuring his new found snarling at me is due to me trying to be firmer with him, so of course, he is kicking off a bit. I'm trying to restore a bit more order, so it's me that runs the show, not the dog. He's currently asleep in his bed I 'made' for him, as a substitute for being on the sofa.

Patiently waiting for OH to come home, so I can get a second opinion. He's like the poem - when he's good, he's very very good, but when he is bad, he is horrid. Hugo, not OH.

A cupcake helped to calm me down. It's medicinal, ergo, no syns :D
Tinytootz said:
A cupcake helped to calm me down. It's medicinal, ergo, no syns :D

I don't know the answers. Wish I did.

Adult and children with learning difficulties and behavioural problems aren't treated and disciplined the same way you or I may be.

I guess it's the same for Hugo and he needs the extra care and attention?!

Just don't beat yourself up about it. And please keep us updated. We're all here to listen too xx
I have phoned my friend in Cheshire who has a border collie and works him with her small flock of sheep, and explained your problem with Hugo .

She was totally sympathetic. In her opinion you need help quickly with a trainer who specialises in Collies. Hugo sounds dangerous at present and will pick up on your fear immediately.

He needs something to do, he needs to work. Collies are very different to any other breed of dog. They are bred to work and not to be pets.

Failing that he needs to go back to the Rescue Centre. She realises that is harsh advice and the last thing you want to hear.

Her present young working dog, Ben,went through a similar phase to Hugo and he is working. She is fortunate enough to be able to afford experienced help and took him to a trainer who was a One Man and His Dog winner. Ben is fine now, he had gone as far as biting Katie, but no sign of the old behaviour in over a year.

I seem to remember you are in Cheshire, so is Katie . If you would like to contact her let me know.

hugs xxxxx
Sorry to hear this but I can't help but point out that unless you are 100% in control and sure of your dog they should not be off lead for their safety and that of others. We have a Fear anxiety case and for his own safety we frequestly have to keep him on lead as his is liable to bolt...

On the other hand I really commend what you are doing!


Mini crazy cat lady
Yes, I understand. Up until today, I was under the impression he had improved. However, he has proven otherwise, so he will have to go back on his lead until I can get him assessed.

Fillymum - that is so kind of you, thank you. I am in Staffordshire, which isn't too far from Cheshire. I did look into keeping him entertained with flyball and obedience classes, but due to his fear aggression, he wasn't allowed off the lead, so flyball was out, and obedience wound him up, as the other dogs were allowed to wander, and he wasn't. He gets a walk in the morning, then usually spends the morning/afternoon snoozing, then in the afternoon he gets to play in the yard or in the house, and the evening is either another longer walk, or my OH plays with him in the house for a few hours. He is showing no signs of boredom, or none that I can recognise.

I'm awaiting the potential assessment, then will take it from there. I will not be returning him to the rescue centre I got him from. He doesn't need to be put down, he just needs someone who understands him, and has the time to help him out, and possibly, I am not the best person for him :(
I agree he should not go back to the center you got him from. The Collie Rescue Center would be the only place because they would understand him 100%. he will not be the first collie they have seen with Hugo's problems

The signs of boredom are his present behaviour.

I have no room to talk about any one's dogs behaviour as my 7 are hooligans:D
Pet it's a long hard road and don't get me wrong your fantastic for doing it. I just mean that a fear case dog will never be able to be fully trusted in all the same situations- the rest of my dogs are pretty much bomb proof but our wee special dog will always need us to be extra vigilant but I wouldn't be without him...


Mini crazy cat lady
Thanks for your kind words all. I've had a decent sleep, some time apart from Hugo, and it hit me - I can't bear to give him up unless it is for his own good. Which at the moment, it is for my own benefit and stress levels, rather than his benefit. Yes he is a pain in the bum, but today I took him for his usual morning walk and didn't take the ball with me, or let him off. Yes he was a bit put out, forever sitting down, thinking I was going to release the hound, but the world didn't end. We walked round the rec twice rather than the usual once whilst throwing the ball.
He didn't get as panty as he usually does, but otherwise he seems fine. I've been bizzing round the house, trying to get it organised, and he has either sat outside the room I was in, or been in the living room. His snarling at me has semi-stopped, he still does it if I try to get him to move by waving my hand at him, in the shoo motion.

Mother helpfully informed me yesterday that Hugo has chased dogs before when out. Why on earth didn't she tell me last month when it happened?!?! I thought it was a new thing, but clearly not. *sigh*

So yes, thank you for all of your kind words during my silly moment of panic. If the situation gets much worse, then I will have to re-address it again potentially, with the help of Collie Rescue. But for the time being, Hugo is remaining as being my hairy friend, Hugo :) x


One day at a time, one step at a time

well done sweetie you know where I am if you need me :)

I so understand as you know Carla is just like Hugo.

He will improve,you will learn to 'read' him etc etc. Just let him off when nobody about sweetie, or plan walks at quiet times etc etc

Anyway won't waffle on but you know i'll do all I can to help you with Hugo as I've so been there done that got the tshirt and still dealing with it all xxxxx


Target Member
have you tried playing in a firm way
My german shepherd is not one bit aggressive, so i cannot comment or help on that side, but if yours needs some stimiulation mine loves this game, which was a part of her training.
I used cheese and she had to sit to get a slither, then practiced the stay command as i put it down away from her then let her go get it. We carried on until she would stay as i went out of the room and i 'hid' the cheese on the stairs and then she was released to go get it, so took a bit of hunting.
I know collies are very intelligent and need lots of exercise and stimulation, if yours is food orientated you might find some play/training techniques helpful for you both


Mini crazy cat lady
Hey. Yeah, he is already quite good at the 'stay' thing with regards food, and I make him do it with each meal time too. I have played 'hide the piece of steak' with him, but finding things has never been his strong point. I will be compiling a list of indoorsie activities for him that I can do that won't take an age, and which help him to use his brain for things other than barking at the postman :)


Target Member
A friend of mine had a collie which could do the most funny tricks.
Have you got an extendable lead,.
A couple of weeks ago I saw a lady with her dog on a horse training lead, her little doggie would always run off, it was great to watch as the dog was able to run, mainly in circles mind, but he didn't seem to care :)


Mini crazy cat lady
Yeah he has an extendible lead, so as I'm walking, he is busy sniffing anything and everything in his path, and picking up conker shells thinking they are tennis balls. A longer lead wouldn't be suitable for his morning walk as there are often other dogs there, and it isn't the biggest of areas, but it would be good for his afternoon/evening walks on the playing fields. I've also heard of people using washing lines. He's very obedient, but yet to teach him many tricks. He likes giving one paw, then the other paw, then both paws (if you help him balance).
We play hide and seek. I get Darwin to sit and stay while I go hide, then say "come and find me" then reward him (initally with cheese- now mostly with snuggles). He loves it, and now he goes and hides (in one of two places in the house) only you can ALWAYS find him as he's wagging his tail so fast it thumps like crazy!

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