Christopher Aust, Master Trainer
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Have you ever found yourself just slightly ahead of the pack? Well, I just found out that May is Bite Prevention Month so I guess the last several weeks of talking about aggression have been well-timed.
I'm sure many of you are tired of the long series on this subject but I really feel as though it has been absolutely necessary to fully cover. This one issue alone has put the ownership/guardianship (which ever term you prefer) of some breeds at risk. I hear from people every week who have, or are having to get rid of their beloved pet because their breed alone has been made illegal where they live.
There are also the people who suffered injuries as the result of dog bites every year that could have been prevented. There just isn't any excuse for it because there are almost always indicators that should tell the dog's owner it could bite, whether they are long term, or just prior to the incident. Please feel free to share these articles with everyone you know who has a dog. They could very well save a life.
I am going to give you a little heads up on an event coming up I think you all will be interested in. I'll give you a little background first. I am helping a company that is putting together what I consider to be the finest dog community on the internet. It is far more than a network of bulletin boards. It is a completely interactive world that is like nothing else I have seen.
They will be hosting a major on-line Dog Exposition on June 10-12 as their kick-off celebration and opening of the community. There will be lots of fun competitions, presentations from leaders from every part of the animal community and vendors with the latest gear and trends in the dog world.
What is so cool about this is, first, it is online so you can visit at your leisure. Second, you will be able to talk directly to the presenters and company reps in most cases just as you would if you flew to a normal convention. It also appears there are going to be a number of freebies available for attendees offered by the organizers and some of the vendors.
Best of all, it's free! Now if you have ever attended a convention or exposition before, you know that this event being free is a huge deal. You could easily spend a couple of thousand dollars attending an event like this.
If you are in the pet care/training/supply industry, and are interested in being a vendor, please let me know and I will put you in contact with the appropriate people. They have several ways you can become a vendor regardless of your budget. Just shoot me an email.
Now I want to make something clear. I'm not making any money for telling you about this just like I take no payment when I recommend a product to you. I am letting you know because I think it's something you will all benefit from.
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.
Aggression generally starts for a couple of different reasons. It could be fear, inappropriate pack order/positioning or medical in origin. Some will say the reason for aggression should determine the method used to address it, but, I have found that in my experience, to be untrue. Aggression is learned behavior regardless of the cause and needs to be dealt with swiftly. CT is designed to address all the issues in an all-encompassing program that addresses the mind and body with a tough love approach.
In week one, we basically took the dog's world and disrupted it in every way. We have changed all aspects of life like sleep location, interaction with other pack members and taken a hard-core position on obedience. We have severely limited praise and basically taken the dog down to the lowest of pack positions.
As the week progresses, we let up a little and are allowing a little more free interaction, providing the dog responds in an appropriate manner. However, any inappropriate behavior is swiftly dealt with in a firm manner. One hundred percent compliance is the standard.
At the end of week one, the dog is wondering just what the heck happened to cause the changes in the house. Their old way of life has changed, and mom and dad seem to be less tolerant of their behavior. Their toys are gone, their bed keeps being moved and they have to start thinking about their day-to-day actions and movements. I can assure they are conscious of their pack position being taken to the lowest level.
In week two, we are going to start to return to a certain level of normalcy. It is going to be gradual, and we have to remember to continue to enforce the zero tolerance attitude we had in the previous week. If, for any reason, you allow zero tolerance to slip, you may as well just start the whole darn thing over again.
Day one will begin very much like the previous week. The dog should be exercised and their obedience commands reinforced. However, it is time to start to expose the dog to the environment/stimulus that triggered your dog's aggression previously.
For instance, if your dog's aggression was focused on other dogs or people, you will want to take them to a location where there is a likelihood that other dogs or people will be present. This location should be neutral territory like a park and not at the family home. Positioning here is going to be key. Let me give you an example ...
In the park I go to, most people go to walk the park with their dogs or just to jog themselves, or do laps around the lake in the center. They follow an asphalt path, which is about seven feet wide. It would not be advisable to take your dog on the path where he could very well come nose to nose with another dog or person. You should have already exercised the dog in another location. Simply sit about ten to fifteen feet off the path with your dog. You should change the location where you sit each day. It can be in the same park, just not the same spot.
There are two critical things here you must keep in mind: mental preparation on your part and timing.
You must remain calm while sitting here with your dog. You may be a little nervous about the way your dog is going to react but you must not, for any reason, convey that to your dog. In the previous week, you reinforced your status as the one in control and you can't screw that up now by allowing them to smell your fear or anxiety.
You also want to watch your dog's reactions and body language to get your timing. As you see a person, dog, bike or whatever sets your dog off approach, sweetly call the dog over to you the second you see the dog focus on the object or person. Calmly and softly stroke the dog and give him lots of gentle physical praise.
Rub his ears, belly whatever. It doesn't matter, just show him there is something better than worrying about John Q. Public walking by with Fluffy or little Johnny Snotnose zipping by on his Big Wheel. Continue to stroke the dog until the person/thing has gone by and then stop. No more physical or verbal interaction until the next person approaches.
If for any reason the dog doesn't come over to you, shows aggression, or simply won't change their focus off the passerby, immediately and firmly give them a firm “No,” stand up, step away from the area and immediately do an on leash obedience series just as you did the first day of week one. Don't give him any praise even if they complete all commands perfectly. Return to where you were, tell the dog to sit and start again.
Repeat this process until you have at least three successful trials in a row. You can certainly do more, but no less. If the dog seems incapable of even completing one trial you may need to go back and repeat a couple of days of week one. You can also (and I recommend it anyway) use some of “Chill” spray from Spot Organics. www.spotorganics.com
Now I know what some of you are saying. “That's a pain in the butt! I could have to get up and down dozens of times.” My answer to that is quite simple. Get over it. I have a knee that has been reconstructed, and arthritis has set in. I know it's a pain, but let me explain why it is so important.
During the first week, we took all the “pleasures” away from the dog. We took their toys, treats, strong physical love and attention and even the location they sleep. Now, the toys and treats are things a dog can live without as they aren't instinctual. What is instinctual is the dog's desire to be recognized for appropriate behavior by pack leaders and admonishment for inappropriate behaviors.
During the first week, we lowered their status; in week two we are now starting to acknowledge them for appropriate behavior in a manner they know to be instinctually correct. However, if they are allowed to lapse into old behaviors, even once, without you correcting them, you are taking five giant steps backwards. By following through, you are making it clear to the dog exactly what their pack position is and what your expectations are.
Finally, we can start having a little more fun. At this point, the dog should be spending more of his time focused on you than anything else when they are out. It's time to start to let them roam a little more freely.
You are now going to start to walk them in and around higher traffic areas and allow them to start making the decision as to how to respond to an extent. Instead of bringing them to you when someone or something comes around, you are merely going to use a soft loving voice as whatever it is approaches.
Timing is incredibly important here as well. The second the dog starts to pull at something/someone or barks, etc., you need to be ready to stop and give them an immediate correction before they get too wrapped up in whatever is causing the behavior. You will again do the obedience series as before and then continue on.
You will also want to stop periodically and just stand there while traffic goes by. Not for long periods of time, but just a few minutes or so. If these exercises are too much for the dog, then go back to the beginning of the week and start over. Repetition and consistency are the keys to success here, so be patient.
An important thing to remember here is that during week two, the only time the dog is to receive large amounts of physical praise is when the dog is out in public and doing what he should. At home, it will still be rather subdued.
Also, keep in mind that some dogs may take longer to catch on than others. If you have to stretch week one into two weeks then so be it. The important thing is to not waiver and stick to the program. Remember what is at stake.
One last thing: if you are doing it all correctly and not seeing results, never hesitate to contact a behaviorist who has experience modifying aggressive behavior. We all have a responsibility to make sure our dogs are not only happy and healthy, but also good citizens in our communities.
Dogs are our link to paradise. They don't know evil or jealousy or discontent. To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring -- it was peace.
~ Milan Kundera ~
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Just wanted to drop you a quick note and tell you what happened to me today. I was out walking my dog and a stray I have never seen came running down the street directly at me and our new puppy. I had bought a whistle and started walking with a stick like you mentioned in your article a few weeks ago. Anyway, when I realized the dog was coming for us, I blew that whistle as loud as I could, and you should have seen that dog throw on the brakes! I was really amazed at how well it worked. We really appreciate all your advice. Keep up the great work!
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8:00 am - Oh Boy! Dog food! My favorite!
Day 183 of My Captivity
My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while I am forced to eat dry cereal. The only thing that keeps me going is the hope of escape and the mild satisfaction I get from ruining the occasional piece of furniture. Tomorrow I may eat another houseplant.
Today my attempt to kill my captors by weaving around their feet while they were walking almost succeeded, must try this at the top of the stairs. In an attempt to disgust and repulse these vile oppressors, I once again induced myself to vomit on their favorite chair, must try this on their bed.
Decapitated a mouse and brought them the headless body, in attempt to make them aware of what I am capable of, and to try to strike fear into their hearts. They only cooed and condescended about what a good little cat I was. Hmmm, not working according to plan.
There was some sort of gathering of their accomplices. I was placed in solitary throughout the event. However, I could hear the noise and smell the food. More importantly I overheard that my confinement was due to MY power of "allergies." Must learn what this is and how to use it to my advantage.
I am convinced the other captives are flunkies and maybe
snitches. The dog is routinely released and seems more than
happy to return. He is obviously a half-wit. The bird on the
other hand has got to be an informant, and speaks with them
regularly. I am certain he reports my every move. Due to his
current placement in the metal room, his safety is assured.
But, I can wait, it's only a matter of time ...
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Thank You For Reading! Have a Terrific Week!
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Thank You For Reading! Have a Terrific Week!
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