Christopher Aust, Master Trainer
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I was a little overwhelmed at the number of readers who have written to me with stories of their own dogs' aggression or someone they know whose dog has bitten someone. While I knew we were experiencing a dog bite epidemic all over the world, I guess it was worse than I thought.
As a result, I have decided to make the article from last week a three part series. I am doing this as I want to make sure I give people enough information to get them started in avoiding a tragic situation.
There is also the whole Breed Specific Legislation issue, which started as a direct result of the dog bite epidemic, but is also the most ignorant flagrant waste of taxpayer money. Since it continues to pass in so many municipalities, I figure the more everyone knows about modifying their dog's aggressive behavior, the better off we will all be.
For some time I have been saying how important nutrition is too the physical and emotional well-being of our animals. This class will allow you to learn more than I could ever teach you from an expert in the field.
Additionally, all Bark 'n' Scratch subscribers will be able to attend these classes for free so there are really very few excuses for not going in and checking them out. They last an hour and you will get imperative information from one of the best in the biz that could very well extend the life of your dog by years. To register, go to:
Okay, that's it for now. I'm outta here!
Dog Chewing the Sofa? Puppy Eating Your Shoes? Or WORSE?
(Original question repeated)
In today's article, (Where'd He Come From ?!) it sounded like the dog you would be walking with would be a sweet calm dog for the most part.
Ex: Yesterday I was at my parent's house and we went for a walk. Well, this dog (on a leash) is walking with his owners. My dear boy decides to bark at the Scottie. Some days he's calm and other times Gus is just full of himself. Well, Gus gets away from my dad and runs up to the dog and seems a bit confused as to what to do when he gets there.
My dad gets his leash and Gus snaps at the dog. The other dog didn't seem to care all that much and we scolded Gus. If you say "bad dog", he feels horrible most of the time and is eager to please. So what can you do in a situation where your dog is pretty much the initiator?
The one or two times he's sniffed a dog, he'd back down whining. Any period of time after the initial sniff and he'd start to act "tough". Gus was attacked last year (thankfully unhurt) so we don't walk as often as we used to. Frankly, the only time I'm confident walking now is when I'm with someone.
Also, Gus' personality changed after that and he's still loveable to those he even met once as a puppy but now he's timid around new people (and has snapped twice). He seems to want to meet people though. I'm not nervous when he meets new people because it seems sometimes he likes them (even petted), but then a minute later, they'll look at him wrong and he's snippy.
I have a Bible study group that comes over on Tuesdays and he'd cry the whole time outside that he couldn't be in with the group. Now, he goes to Grandma's for a visit at that time. I'm not even sure if my questions are making sense ... but thank you so much for the article. It helped. I just have to work on not letting my emotions get the best of me.
First, CT is designed for dogs that are exhibiting aggressive or extreme destructive behavior. It can also be used on a dog that is completely out of control for one reason or another. It is not designed to introduce basic obedience or because a dog decides he don't want to do the agility course. It shouldn't be used on a dog under six months old without the supervision of a behaviorist familiar with the process.
As mentioned last week, CT is a complete social and environmental change for the dog that is closely monitored and adhered too. It is designed to get the dog to think about the cause and effect of their actions and reestablish their pack role and position. Remember, aggression is a learned behavior so we have to take the dog to a point where he can relearn appropriate behaviors.
The best and easiest way for me to describe the process is to simply provide a two week scenario using what I consider to be the “average” dog who is showing aggression. While the timing or order of the steps can be changed based on your own family pack dynamics, all the steps need to be accomplished.
Now before I get into this, I want to make clear that all dogs showing aggression may act or live a little differently than the example. This doesn't matter for the process because we will be taking the dog to the “basement” and rebuilding. If your dog lives differently than described below, don't sweat it. This is to give you an idea of what to do and based on what I have observed in my years dealing with aggressive dogs.
Usually, an aggressive dog has the run of the house, knows obedience commands but responds to them at his own convenience. Many will spend a lot of time alone in the yard and are often chained. They are usually not spayed or neutered. They also often sleep with their owner.
Usually, they are socialized with people and animals outside the pack very little and receive inconsistent structured exercise. The diet is often not meeting the nutritional needs of the dog.
As mentioned last week, you will be turning the dog's entire world upside down. This is going to be stressful on the dog but not as stressful as being put down by the authorities should the dog bite another animal or person. It is a tough love concept that should be viewed as a lifesaver. You must have that mindset if CT is going to work.
Physical preparation comes on two fronts: the physical/medical preparation of the dog, and the physical layout of the house. Let's start with the dog …
The dog should have a complete physical prior to beginning to rule out any medical condition which could be exasperating the aggressive behavior. If the dog has not been spay or neutered, this should be done as well. Please don't come to me with all the reasons not to spay or neuter because most of them are myths, and I can provide medical proof that altering the dog will only extend its life.
Ensure the dog is given a clear bill of health and make sure that any conditions that are discovered are resolved prior to beginning CT. You also want to make sure the dog is receiving a diet that meets their nutritional needs. If necessary, ad supplements like Tahitian Noni juice and digestive enzymes as necessary.
1. The house also needs to be prepared before you begin and is relatively easy to do. The dog's bed needs to be moved to a remote area of the house like the kitchen or laundry room, particularly if the dog is sleeping in a bedroom with a human at night. Additionally, all bedroom doors will need to remain shut at all times during CT.
2. Put away all dog toys. The dog will need to earn the right to play with their toys.
3. No doggie treats for a while. These too they will need to earn.
4. No excessive physical praise. (This will be explained later)
Okay, the dog is ready. The house is ready. Lets get down to it. We are going to take this on a day-by-day basis as I think that makes it the easiest to follow. Again, this is a tough love approach and its success or failure is solely based on following the program.
Day one actually starts the night before when the family goes to bed. The dog is sent to bed in their new location. If the dog cries or whines, you have to ignore them. It can be frustrating, but you just have to live with it.
In the morning, the dog should be placed on leash and taken for a brisk walk or given some sort of strenuous exercise for at least thirty minutes. Upon completing the walk, you need to work on the dog's basic obedience, on leash, for about five minutes. Stick to commands the dog knows. Do not accept failure from your dog. Basic Obedience is a key element of the process. Commands should be firm and given in the following manner.
If the dog fails to respond the first time it is told to sit, you should respond in the following manner.
It is important to give a correction to the dog whenever he doesn't respond to a command the FIRST time. If you sit there and tell the dog to sit three times before the dog gives the appropriate response, all you are teaching him is that he doesn't have to listen to you until you say something three times.
It is also important that you never praise the dog if you have had to give them a correction. Additionally, praise needs to be more subdued than usual. Normally, I say praise needs to be given excitedly and with a baby voice. During CT, it should be given in a soft/normal tone of voice. No physical praise should be given at this point. Just verbal.
Take the dog inside and allow to him to rest. Periodically, you will call the dog over to you and tell him to sit, down or whatever command you want to give. Follow the steps as described above and remember not to give any physical praise.
You should also direct the dog's movements throughout the day. For instance, if you are going into the laundry room to put something in the washer, then make the dog come with you and sit and stay while you do your business.
I don't care if the dog is sleeping when you get up. Wake him up and make him come with you anyway. If you have to put him on leash to make him comply, so be it, but you must make him comply. No exceptions. Remember, CT is not designed to be convenient for the dog. It is designed to make them understand their pack position.
In the early evening the dog should again be extensively exercised for about thirty minutes and the obedience cycle repeated.
During these first three days, you need to remain fairly aloof from the dog. Don't speak to them unless giving commands. Don't allow them to sucker you into a little petting. You and the other human members of the family are Alpha, therefore you decide what contact you have with the dog and not Fido.
Days four through seven will go on the same as the first three days, although we are going add some extra elements and ease up on the aloofness a little.
On day four you will start to have physical contact with the dog when you praise him during his obedience series after his walks. This should be the only time you give him the physical praise. It should be subdued like the verbal praise and shouldn't be any more than a little gentle ear scratching for a couple of seconds.
You will also move his bed, water bowl and feeding location. This needs to be done daily. This instills in the dog that you are in control of the environmental factors in their life and shows him you are the leader.
At the end of the day, you can call the dog over and give him a little lovin. Now, I said a little so don't over do it. Just a simply rub over the body for twenty or thirty seconds or so just before bed. Do not talk to the dog while doing this. A little rub and off to bed.
If the dog simply refuses to mind or acts out severely, banish them immediately. Don't put up with any inappropriate behavior for any reason. It is very possible the dog will rebel over the changes and you need to squash the revolt immediately.
In the next issue, we will work through week two of CT. It is more involved but a lot more fun. This is where we really get to rebuild the dog's behavior in a fun way for all. Remember to be patient and stick to the program. Your family, neighbors, their pets and your own dog will thank you for the effort.
The disposition of noble dogs is to be gentle with people they know and the opposite with those they don't know ... How, then, can the dog be anything other than a lover of learning since it defines what's its own and what's alien.
~ Plato ~
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And, DOG TRAINING!
Thanks for starting your recent series on aggression. We had a dog a few years ago that started to snap at other people and dogs, and we tried everything. (at least we thought). We took him to two different trainers and both recommended we put him down which we did. I wish I had known about you then. All the other trainers did was a 15 minute evaluation and said there was nothing they could do.
We have a new dog now that is a joy. If she should ever start to get like our last dog, you will certainly be the person I come to. Thanks for all the great information you share each week. You're the best.
Have you discontinued the Breed of the Week feature? I really enjoyed it and hope you will consider starting it up again. Thanks.
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Thank You For Reading! Have a Terrific Week!
Don't forget to send your comments, questions and suggestions on the BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter to:
Newsletter Archive: Master-Dog-Training.com/archive/
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