Why a Dog would kill its owner by Melvyn Greenberg

 

Title: Why a Dog would kill its owner
Author: Melvyn Greenberg
Date: 2008/11/22

It is regarded as bizarre that man’s best friend for at least the last 12,000 years should turn on its owner and kill that person.
A dog does not suddenly develop this intention but rather the early warning signals given out by the dog are either ignored or not recognized by the family. Failure to detect warning signs of aggression is most likely to occur when people have never developed a rapport of communication with this type of pack animal.
For any dog to kill its owner or any other person there could never have been a meaningful and respectful bond.

The fault lies entirely with the dog owners!
There are almost 200 hundred breeds of dogs to choose from in this country, why choose, for example, a pit-bull terrier? There are many reasons for this irresponsible selection:

  1. The reputation of aggression appeals to men harbouring aggression – the dog reflects the owner’s personality. Certain characters experience frisson when their dog kills other dogs or attack people; unfortunately society has people of this ilk.
  2. Some men who feel inadequate enjoy the image created by owner a dog of strength and tenacity
  3. There is an urban legend that aggressive dogs are suitable for protection. They are not a deterrent for determined intruders
  4. Ignorance of the breed’s genetic potential. The pit-bull terrier has been specifically selected genetically for hundreds of years for dog fighting and coursing. This instinct does not dissipate when the dog is offered a home, food and the occasional pat on the head.
  5. Possibly owned a pit-bull terrier in the past where no incident occurred.
  6. Ill-advice from friends or relatives who have no sound knowledge of dogs and their traits
  7. Certain minority clans in some culture groups choose aggression in their dogs and will opt for pit-bulls and boerboels.

Why do dogs bite? Because they can! The determining factor surrounding canine aggression is based on the severity of the bite. Any dog that has bitten many times and never bruised or punctured human skin is easily rehabilitated by professional dog trainers or animal behaviourists. Once a person is badly injured either the person or the dog may die. A dog that can be deterred or fought off will most likely be euthanased.

What is the background to an “evil” dog that kills its owner?

  1. Bad genetic material. Puppies bred from aggressive parents have a high tendency for viciousness due to the strong hereditability of aggressive behaviour.
  2. The breeder of the puppies failing to socialize the pups from 3 weeks of age. It is expected that pups of certain breeds should be exposed to over 100 different people from 3 – 12 weeks of age. The contact has to be positive, gentle with good impressions. Aggression starts in puppyhood with the failure to develop tolerance towards children, adults, elderly people, both sexes, various races, able-bodied or disabled, calm or raucous etc. If pups do not obtain good imprinting during their impressionable period from 3-20 weeks of age then all may be lost!
  3. Failure to subscribe to puppy socialization classes with reputable dog trainers and/or members of the Animal Behaviour Consultants group. This is the opportunity to educate pet owners about canine behaviour, positive reinforcement and develop an intimate bond with the animal.
  4. Failure to continue with basic and advance obedience training so that the dog becomes a socially acceptable pet; trust between human and dog
  5. Many people do not spend enough quality time with their dogs to instill reliability and the “canine companions” are often ostracized to a fenced off area on the property. This detaches the pet from the family “pack”.
  6. Dogs, isolated from the family and visitors, lose coping skills, trust and tolerance towards people. Children running past fenced-off dogs “tease” them on a regular basis to the point of them being a tragedy waiting to escape.
  7. Barriers cause chronic frustration; dogs locked up in a courtyard; fenced off in the swimming pool area – away from visitors; dogs fenced off on the property left to their own devices. Dogs that are never part of the family, and the social scene, will express one of their instinctive strategies when given freedom, which is freeze, flee or attack. The fact that some dogs attack their owners proves beyond any doubt that the “pets” never developed a bond with them and regard their “family” rather as strangers by showing complete intolerance to the “intruders” on their territory. These people are always at fault, not the dogs!
  8. The vast majority of dog owners punish their dogs inappropriately. Too often people hit their dogs for reasons the animals cannot understand. How does one expect a dog to trust being patted and hit by the same person? This causes serious confusion and conflict within the dog’s mind. The human aggression often causes canine aggression.
  9. Many men enjoy badgering and teasing their pups deliberately trying to get a growling response. This is not a game. Dogs do not play games. What is construed as play is nothing more than puppies exercising survival skills for adult life.
  10. Confinement situations e.g. closed off courtyard, fenced off area in garden or a totally walled-in property, particularly where there is no visual, physical and tactile stimulation dogs acquire a seriously low threshold for human behaviour. They lose the experience gained from mixing with the family or going for walks.

A dog that kills a person is a build up over a lengthy period of time and finally triggered by human postures or sounds which simulates negative reinforcements of the past; the last straw that broke the camel’s back. There is no such thing as “the dog attacked for no reason”; there is always a reason, or reasons.

Any dog without appropriate socialization with ignorant owners in an unstimulating environment is the breeding ground for canine “criminals”. However, in any given year, anywhere in the world, markedly more parents kill their children than dogs kill people. Why, then, does the media draw so much attention to a canine-human attack? Is it betrayal?

 

Myths about dominance/wolf behaviour

 

Myths about dominance/wolf behaviour

And how it relates to dogs.                                                                                                                     

Taken from a statement by the American Society for Veterinary Behaviour

 

 

My dogs greets me by jumping up, steals food behind by back, tries to climb onto my lap to be petted and often ignores me when I call him to come to me. Are these signs of dominance?

 

NO THEY ARE NOT!

In animal social systems, dominance is defined as a relationship between two or more individuals that is established by force, aggression, and submission in order to gain priority access to resources (Bernstein 1981; Drews 1993).

 

Most unruly behaviours in dogs occur not out of the desire to gain higher rank, but simply because the undesirable behaviours have been rewarded. For instance, dogs jump on people and climb into their laps because when they do so, they get attention. Similarly, dogs fail to come when called if they are being rewarded by the objects or activities that are distracting them.

 

Even stealing food when humans are not watching is not a play for higher rank. In the wild, lower-ranking animals steal resources when higher-ranking animals are not around to guard the resources. This is an alternate strategy for obtaining the resources they want. Those who are rewarded by success are more likely to continue stealing in this manner.

 

Because dogs are related to wolves, we should use wolves as a model for understanding dogs.

While we can get ideas of the types of behaviours to study in dogs based on what we know about wolves, the best model for understanding domestic dogs is domestic dogs. Dogs have diverged significantly from wolves in the last 15,000 years. Ancestral wolves evolved as hunters and now generally live in packs consisting most often of family members (Mech 2000).

 

Pack members cooperate to hunt and to take care of offspring. In a given year, generally only the alpha male and alpha female mate, so that the resources of the entire pack can be focused on their one litter. Dogs, on the other hand, evolved as scavengers rather than hunters (Coppinger and Coppinger 2002). Those who were the least fearful, compared to their human-shy counterparts, were best able to survive off the trash and waste of humans and reproduce in this environment.

 

Currently, free-roaming dogs live in small groups rather than cohesive packs, and in some cases spend much of their time alone (MacDonald and Carr 1995). They do not generally cooperate to hunt or to raise their offspring, and virtually all males and females have the opportunity to mate (Boitani et al. 1995). Marked differences in social systems, such as those just described, inevitably lead to notable differences in social behaviour.

 

 

 

I hear that if you think a dog is dominant, you should roll him on his back in an “alpha roll” and growl in his face because that’s what an alpha wolf would do………..

In a pack of wolves, higher-ranking wolves do not roll lower-ranking wolves on their backs. Rather,

lower-ranking wolves show their subordinate status by offering to roll on their backs.

This submissive roll is a sign of deference, similar to when someone greets the queen or the pope by kneeling.

Consequently, a more appropriate term for the posture would be a submissive roll or greeting. (Yin 2009).

 

Even if wolves don’t roll subordinates on their back, it seems to work in some cases……….

Should I try it any- way if my dog is aggressive?

The most common cause of aggression in dogs is fear. Pinning a dog down when he is scared will not address the root of his fear. Furthermore it can heighten the aggression (AVSAB 2007). In fact, a recent study of dogs (Herron et al. 2008) found that confrontational techniques such as hitting or kicking the dog for undesirable behaviour, growling at the dog, performing an “alpha roll,” staring the dog down, and enforcing a “dominance down” frequently elicited an aggressive response from the dog. The aggression may also be redirected toward inanimate objects, or other animals or people besides the owner. Even non-physical punishment, such as a harsh verbal reprimand or shaking a finger at a dog, can elicit defensive aggression if the dog feels threatened by it.

 

I have heard that to be the leader, you have to go though doors first & always walk in front.

In a wolf pack, the highest-ranking wolves only lead the hunt a fraction of the time (Peterson et al. 2002). Furthermore, when they are hunting, they do not keep a tight linear formation based on their rank.

 

Since the alpha goes first, should you eat before your dog?

Higher- ranking wolves don’t necessarily have priority access to food. Once a wolf has possession of food, he may not give it up to another wolf regardless of his rank. When food is not yet in possession of either wolf, ritualized aggression (snarling, lunging) may still occur, with the higher-ranking wolves usually winning.

 

Feeding dogs random treats, or treating whilst training will cause them to become dominant.                                                                                                Even among wild animals, sharing of food does not relate to dominance. Adult wolves frequently regurgitate food for puppies. Males of other species frequently court females by bringing food to them.

 

Giving a dog a treat when he jumps up or barks at you can result in unruly behaviour. However this does not teach him that he is higher ranked or has priority access to re- sources. If you would like to teach him to wait politely for a treat you can wait until he sits or lies down patiently and then give him a treat.

 

Will growling or trying to bite a dog or making a claw with your fingers mimic what a wolf does when he growls at or bites a subordinate?

There are no studies on this. However, as an experiment, you might ask a friend who has been bitten by a dog whether poking him with your fingers bent in claw formation has an effect that’s similar to when he was bitten, or whether your growling or biting seems similarly ferocious.

 

In general, we shouldn’t assume that our actions mimic those of a dog or a wolf. Rather, we should evaluate each of our interactions with our pets and observe their response to determine how the pet perceived it.

 

Ref: Bernstein, I.S. 1981. Dominance: The baby and the bathwater. J Behav Brain Sci 4:419-57.

Boitani, L., F. Francisci, P. Ciucci, and G. Andreoli. 1995. Population biology and ecology of feral dogs in central Italy. In The domestic dog: Its evolution, behaviour and interactions with people, ed. J. Serpell. 217-244. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Coppinger, R., and L. Coppinger. 2002. Dogs: A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behaviour, and Evolution. New York: Scribner.

Drews, C. 1993. The concept and definition of dominance behaviour. Behaviour 125: 284-313.

Herron, M., F.S. Shofer, and I.R. Reisner. 2008. Safety and efficacy of behaviour modification techniques used by dog owners. In 2008 ACVB/AVSAB Scientific Paper and Poster Session. New Orleans, La., July 18, 2008.

MacDonald, D.W., and G.M. Carr. 1995. Variation in dog society: Between resource dispersion and social flux. In The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behaviour and Interactions with People, ed. J. Serpell. 199-216. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Mech, David 1999. Alpha Status, Dominance and Division of Labour in Wolf Packs. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 77:1196-1203. http://www.mnforsustain.org/wolf_mech_dominance_al- pha_status.htm (accessed November 11, 2008)

Mech, L.D. 2008. What every happened to the term alpha wolf? International Wolf. (http://www.wolf.org/wolves/news/iwmag/2008/winter/winter2008.asp)

Peterson, R.O., A.K. Jacobs, T.D. Drummer, L.D. Mech, and D.W. Smith. 2002. Leadership behaviour in relation to dominance and reproductive status in gray wolves, Canis lupus. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 80:1405-12.

Yin, S. 2009. Dominance vs. Unruly Behaviour. In Low Stress Handling, Restraint and Behaviour Modification of Dogs and Cats. 52-73. Davis, Calif.: Cattle Dog Publishing. © 2008 AVSAB American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour

 

 

 

 

 

How dogs end up in shelters by no fault of their own.

 

Christmas is coming and Maggie, my 16 year old daughter always wanted a dog. She really likes Border Collies as she has seen them doing all sorts of tricks. They are also so cute when they are puppies. I will spoil my daughter and get her a purebred Border Collie puppy from a breeder I heard of on a farm. His Collies should be so clever as he uses his dogs for working his sheep and he is not charging a fortune. I will phone him and order her the puppy.

Christmas day arrives and I cannot wait to see my little girl’s face when I give her the puppy. She is going to be so happy. The breeder did say the puppy is a little young to take away from the mother but I begged him and he eventually gave in. He is such a great guy.  And sure enough on the day she started crying when I gave her the six weeks old puppy. She is just so cute and cuddly. She immediately picks her up and off she goes to show all her friends her new gift. She names the puppy Amy and from that day Amy is everywhere that Maggie goes and actually most of the times in her arms. Amy is still very small and tends to have little accidents in the house but I am sure it will come right by itself. She will eventually learn to do her business outside I am sure. For now Maggie must just clean up after Amie so it’s all good right?

Today is now five weeks later and Maggie must go back to school. But she is not really worried, her friends dogs stays alone at home all the time, so Amy would be ok. She is still a puppy now 11 weeks old. She will be locked inside the house so she will be safe from everything. What could possibly go wrong?

That day when Maggie returned she got a big surprise. The puppy started chewing on the furniture and left a mess on the carpet. Why the carpet for heaven’s sake? She did put potty training pads out in the corner. Why did she not use that? Then later that day the neighbour knocked on the door. He is quite upset as he is working night duty and could not sleep because the puppy made too much noise and was yelping and barking all the time while Maggie was away. No this behaviour is unacceptable. BAD DOG!!!!  I am really angry with you. You were not supposed to do any of this. That is it, no more, tomorrow you are staying outside!

The next day Amy was left outside. We all left, Maggie off to school and I off to work. An hour later I receive a phone call from my neighbour. Amy is barking non-stop. I need to do something or else he is going to report me. So back home I go and the only solution I can think of, I am going to lock Amy up in the garage. Surely she cannot do too much damage there. Boy was I wrong.  When I got back Amy had chewed all my electric wiring of my power tools. And she has made a mess all over the place. No it cannot go on like this; we need to do something to sort this dog out. I will ask on facebook for advice on how I am going to get this dog to behave. Somebody will give me advice.

The next day sure enough I got a reply from my facebook post. A guy suggested I use a bark collar on my puppy. It will stop him from barking so he can stay outside from now on. Maggie also doesn’t seem to be that interested in Amy anymore and just take her for walks now and again. I will go and buy that bark collar now, I will show Amy who is the boss around here. I watched a tv program on dogs and that very well trainer said that I need to dominate my dog.  Amy is a Bad dog!!!

It is now two weeks later. Amy stopped barking sure enough but somehow she seems a bit different. The happy puppy is now looking a bit scared of me. I wonder why?  I did not do anything to her. Oh well it must just be a phase she is going through. It will come right I am sure. I will just leave her alone. She is behaving now by not barking so I am happy. Good dog!

Another two weeks has gone. I am on my way home from work and just happy the day is over. It has been a horrible day at work. All I want to do is sit down and relax with a beer in my hand. I park my car and walk through the front gate and what do I see. OH NO!! My garden has been destroyed. All my flowers are all over the lawn and my whole lawn is full of holes. AMY COME HERE!! WHAT IS THIS!!! YOU HORRIBLE HORRIBLE BAD DOG!!!!  I put her nose into a few holes and smack her bum. That will teach her to dig in my garden. I will ask for further advice on facebook. This digging is not acceptable. The next day I got brilliant advice from another owner. He suggests an electric invisible fence. WOW, that is brilliant… if Amy gets near my flowers now she will get a shock. That will teach her a lesson. Horrible bad dog!!!  The next day however when I got home she dug new holes all over my lawn. Now what must I do. Wait, I will ask on facebook again.

The next day, wow I received a message from a trainer. He suggested the dog must get lots of exercise. Wow I am going to try that. I wanted to start walking anyway so I will take Amy for a walk from tomorrow. Maggie is too busy these days and really do not have time for Amy. I fetch the leash and Amy at first does not want to come to me. I really had to shout at her to get her to come to me. After what felt like half an hour Amy slowly starts crawling to me, tail tugged in and as soon as she reaches me she rolls over on her back. BAD BAD DOG!!! You should come if I call you. We are going for a walk now. Out the gate I experience the worst walk of my life. Amy pulls me around on that leash it is not funny. As another dog approached Amy just wanted to go for the approaching dog. I cannot allow Amy to bite that dog, AMY COME HERE!!! BAD DOG!!!  All I can do is jerk her on leash to pull her back to me. No, Amy does not have any manners. I will rather take her to a fenced off field nearby. I will let her off leash there so she can do whatever she wants. Arriving at the field Amy pulls me inside the gate and I cannot wait to loosen her leash, this pulling is really making me tired. Off you go Amy, go play.

Twenty minutes later it is time to go home. Come Amy, we must go now. AMY!!! COME!!!!! AMY COME BEFORE I SMACK YOU *&**%% DOG!!!! Eventually Amy come close enough so I can grab her collar and OUCH!!! You Stupid Dog, you just bit me. I will show you!!!!!  I grab her collar and put the leash back on. Now I will show you!!!! Now I jerk her around on her leash… I will show you who the boss is!!!!

Walking back home is pretty much the same with Amy pulling on the leash and barking at everything. No, this walking her is not going to work out. Amy must stay at home. She is really a BAD DOG!!!!.

Another week has passed and I am at work. My cell phone rings.  I must come home immediately; Amy has just bitten the neighbour. What on earth? She has never bitten anybody.  At hospital my neighbour must get stitches. It is a bad bite on his arm. He said that he just saw Amy near my plants again and thought it good to just take her away from it and back onto the lawn. He grabbed Amy by the Collar and all of a sudden Amy just lost it and bit him. Out of the blue? I am shocked. No, Amy is now becoming a nuisance. I must get rid of that dog. I will take her to the pound tomorrow. That dog is impossible to control. That bloody breeder!!!!!

Does this sound familiar?  Or some of it at least? This is how many dogs’ lands up in shelters. So what went wrong? Well pretty much everything from the owners side. Let me explain where it all started.

Mistakes made:

  1. Taking a puppy away from the mother and siblings at a very young age will cause problems later in life. The mother teaches the puppy how to be a dog and how to behave. She will reprimand the puppy for misbehaving in a language that the puppy will understand without hurting it. Also things like bite inhibition are taught at that stage. Puppies have very sharp teeth and it really hurts when they bite. The reason for this is that when a puppy bites and hurts a sibling, it will yelp and the puppy will realise that he bit too hard. Next time at play he will bite a bit softer and that is how bite inhibition is taught between dogs. Puppies should not be taken away from the Mother before 8 weeks of age.
  2. People must realise that training dogs takes hard work and lots of time and patience. To take on a Border Collie puppy for instance without researching the breed and talking to other owners is a really bad idea. This breed needs lots of mental and physical stimulation and that is why they excel in dog sports like Agility. To train a Border Collie to a competitive Agility dog can take as long as two years. That is what people do not realise. You need to be dedicated and if you are, you will have the most fun possible with your dog. Other breeds were bred for different purposes so it is just so necessary to do proper research before getting a dog.
  3. Dogs as gifts.  Maggie was 16 when she got the puppy. In two years’ time Maggie is off to University or on a gap year overseas. A dog is a 10 to 16 year commitment. Take that into consideration before getting a puppy as a gift.
  4. When you get a puppy, it must spend time alone. Crate training a puppy is very important. It must be taught that it is ok and good to be alone at times. Leave it alone for maybe half an hour to an hour with a stuffed chew toy like a kong. This will prevent conditions like separation anxiety as well. A dog that is busy with a chew toy it loves will not bark or yelp. Make every crate encounter a pleasant experience for your puppy.
  5. Toilets train your puppy. Once a dog has eliminated indoors, chances are very high that it will happen again.  Once the urine smell is in a carpet or on furniture the dog will most probably urinate in that spot again. Punishing a dog for urinating indoors is not a remedy either. All you might teach the dog is that he must only urinate in his favourite spot indoors when you are not there. Take your puppy out after meals and stick around until he urinates of defecates. Reward him for doing it outdoors. You can even start putting a cue to it, go wee and good girl if she obliges. Take your dog out after each meal. Also every two hours after that. It will only take a few days and your dog will stop messing in the house and will actually let you know when she wants to go outside and do her business. Two weeks of doing this and you will have a dog that is potty trained for life. We tend to take behaviours we like for granted and make a big fuss over what we don’t want. It should actually be exactly the opposite. We need to reward the dog for what she is doing right, and although we are unhappy about a puddle in the kitchen, we should just clean it up. Pushing her nose into a puddle will not help and might even damage the bond you have with your dog.
  6. Asking for advice on social media. If you are sick you go and see a doctor. If your daughter goes into a rebellious phase you go and see a psychiatrist. What makes people believe that the best advice they possibly can get for problem behaviours would be from a stranger you do not know on social media? If you need advice go and speak to an experienced dog trainer or a dog behaviourist.
  7. Electric collars and E-fencing. Why do you think the dog bit my neighbour in the story? Did you notice that I installed an e-fence around my garden? Remember dogs learn by making associations also called classical conditioning. That is how dogs are trained. By rewarding a dog for a specific behaviour it will increase the probability that the behaviour will be repeated. Like us, dogs will repeat activities they like. By rewarding a dog with a nice treat, we make certain experiences we want the dog to do fun in order for him to repeat it. Taking that in mind do you think a dog likes to be shocked? Of course not. My neighbour took my dog back to the grass area and past the e-fencing border. There my neighbour had his hands on my dog and my dog got a shock. Immediately the dog reacted. I would have done exactly the same. In this process it is very likely that my dog made a new association with my neighbour as well. This time a negative association. When this guy touches me I get a shock. I don’t like this guy anymore and I must keep him away from me. I will show him teeth and growl at him next time he comes close and if he does not back up I will have to bite him again. Is this really the dog’s fault?
  8. Pulling on leash. Why do dogs pull on leash do you think? A simple reason is that there are many distractions out there. Dogs want to go and sniff a tree or smell the grass. They might see a bird or a cat in the distance and wants to go chase it. If you think about it, we on the other side of a leash are really boring. All the action is away from us. Why on earth would he choose to be next to me rather than chasing the cat across the street? We must teach a dog to want to be near us. To the dog we must be more interesting than anything he possibly can see or hear around us. That we do by rewarding the dog with food for being near us. Dogs really loves a liver treat, so we teach him to be near us by constantly rewarding him for not running off or pulling on leash. That should have been done in the puppy phase but it can be done at any age. Old dogs can be taught anything you teach a puppy, it will just take a little longer. Another big mistake I made in the story was to let her pull me into the park and releasing her. I gave her the biggest reward I possibly could for pulling me and acting like a jerk, I gave her freedom. Next time she will pull a little harder. What should I have done? I should have made her sit in front of me, loose leash and rewarded her before letting her go and run around.
  9. When people start getting things wrong they really messes up. In this story I let the dog off leash in the park. I called it back and although after a few times of calling it eventually did come back. What did I do? I gave it a BAD DOG!!! What exactly did I really do?  I punished the dog for coming back to me. Do you think next time the dog will come running back? Next time it will take probably a bit longer until one day he would not want to come back to me at all. What should I have done? I should have rewarded the dog for coming back to me. He must want to come running when I call so rewarding him would have been the right thing to do.
  10. The dog just bit me out of the blue. Really? Why what happened?  I just took the dog by the collar away from the plants. Will that cause a bite or a reaction? In most likelihood not a chance.  But pair that scenario with and electric shock it probably will bite. Dogs communicate by body language. They cannot speak English or Afrikaans but they do speak to us IF we know how to listen. A dog normally will give clear signals if he is not happy. Dogs can only do two things in situations you put them in, they can flee or fight. They do not have any other options.  If you constrain a dog he cannot flee, what do you expect him to do next? Yes he will fight in the only way he can, with his teeth.  Make a point of learning about your dog’s language. Respect him and if you see he is uncomfortable in a situation give him space. It is for your safety as well as his.
  11. Some people still believes the old story that you must be your dog’s pack leader and you must dominate your dog.  The alpha myth is everywhere. While not all the sites are about dominating your dog, there are literally millions of resources out there – websites, books, blogs, television shows, veterinarians, trainers and behavior professionals – instructing you to use force and intimidation to overpower your dog into submission. They say that you, the human, must be the alpha. They’re all wrong. Every single one of them.  The erroneous approach to canine social behavior known as dominance theory (two million-plus Google hits) is based on a study of captive zoo wolves conducted in the 1930s and 1940s by Swiss animal behaviorist Rudolph Schenkel, in which the scientist concluded that wolves in a pack fight to gain dominance, and the winner is the alpha wolf. What we know now, thanks to Mech and others, is that in the wild, a wolf pack is a family, consisting of a mated pair and their offspring of the past one to three years. Occasionally two or three families may group together. As the offspring mature they disperse from the pack; the only long-term members of the group are the breeding pair. By contrast, in captivity unrelated wolves are forced to live together for many years, creating tension between mature adults that doesn’t happen in a natural, wild pack. Inter species domination also does not even exist. Unfortunately for dogs, a misdiagnosis of their behavior problems as dominance-related usually leads to the worst-case scenario. The traditionally-prescribed behavior modification techniques designed to prevent dogs from ‘raising status’ over their owners usually include punishment, intimidation, and fear—precisely the opposite of what dogs really need in order to overcome most behavioral issues.

 

My point is, although this is a very short story you can see how many mistakes I made. Whose fault is it that all this happened? I just got myself to blame for all that went wrong. As you can see a little thing can escalate and this dog by one year of age landed up in a shelter. The probability of it getting re homed is very remote as well.  Why?  She was never house trained. She was never trained to work with sheep.  She was never trained for anything.  She was not socialised with cats or other animals so she would be a problem on a farm.  She was never house trained so she would be a problem in town. Where will this young dog end up?  Euthanized!    Killed because of me!

 

If you have a problem with any dog or animal for that matter, don’t wait until it gets out of hand. For heaven’s sake don’t take advice from people on social media. Go and speak to a professional and do some research on how to care for the animal. If you do that then you are a responsible owner.

 

For advice feel free to visit our facebook page rehabdogworks or visit our website  rehabdogworks.com

 

 

References:

The Dominance Theory   Dr Sophia Yin

The Truth about Doninance  Victoria Stilwell

Toilet training your dog By Louise Thompson

Toilet training

Toilet Training

Toilet training is all about creating good habits.   Young pups have very small bladders and very little bladder control so they need to be in the right place when nature calls.

To toilet train successfully in as short a time as possible you must take your puppy to the garden:

  • When they wake
  • After eating
  • After taking a drink
  • Before, during and after a period of activity
  • When you come in
  • Before you go out
  • Before bedtime
  • During the adverts
  • And every twenty to thirty minutes in between unless they are asleep.  During periods of activity change that to every ten to twenty minutes.

Stay outside with your pup.  Do not nag or distract him just mooch about and he will do the same and eventually eliminate.  Quiet praise is sufficient.  Once pup has eliminated you can either stay out and play or go back indoors.  If you stay out for a game then he will often need to go again before you go back indoors so stop the game and stay out for a while longer to give him a chance to go again.

If  you have to take him back in and he hasn’t eliminated outside then either confine him to his crate, sit him on your lap or tuck him under your arm (small breeds only) as you go about your chores and try again in five minutes.

It is imperative that you do this, especially if you have started off with newspaper down or puppy pads because your puppy may prefer to pee indoors and he could simply be waiting to be taken back in.  Give him zero opportunity to go wrong.

If your puppy toilets in the house it is because you haven’t toilet trained him yet and didn’t take him outside when he needed to go.  When this happens take a rolled up newspaper and hit yourself over the head whilst repeating the words “I forgot to watch my puppy.  I forgot to watch my puppy”  If your puppy laughs at you when you do this – praise him.

Common mistakes during toilet training.

  • Using newspaper or puppy training pads.  Whilst it may aid the clearing up process it can be very confusing for the pup that is taught or permitted to toilet in the house to make the transition to going outside and will often result in a pup that when playing in the garden will simply hold on until they are back indoors because that is where the toilet is.
  • Leaving the door open. This does nothing to teach the pup to toilet outside only.
  • Reprimands for toileting in the house will result in a dog that believes you disapprove of what he did not where he did it and is damaging to your relationship with your pup.
  • Giving treats for toileting in the garden, again the dog is being rewarded for what he did not where he did it.  Whilst this is not going to be as big a problem as the reprimand, the clever dog will learn to do lots of little wees and never fully empty their bladder.  The insecure dog may wee indoors to appease you if you get cross about something else because they know that this is something that pleases you and gets rewarded.  NB using both reprimands and rewards is very confusing for your pup.
  • Expecting your pup to tell you when he needs to go out.  Once a pup understands that outside is where the toilet is then he may start to let you know he needs out.  However if you are not there to ask or you fail to notice him asking then the housetraining will break down.  Far better to have a dog go out to the toilet on your schedule once they are house trained.
  • Giving your pup an ensuite in his crate.  Do not encourage your pup to toilet in his crate by putting puppy pads in there.  If you have to leave puppy for a while and he is going to need to go then best to have the crate inside a larger pen or blocked off area and leave the crate door open so that he can get away from his bed to toilet.

N.B. Areas indoors where pup has had an accident are best cleaned with a dilute of biological washing powder.  Avoid using disinfectant as this contains ammonia and can encourage pup to pee there again.

Overnight.

Young pups will need to go to the toilet once or twice in the night for anything from a few days to a few weeks.

If your pup is sleeping in a crate in the bedroom with you then they will wake and should let you know they need to go out.  Carry pup to the garden to eliminate and then straight back to bed again.  A few nights of this and it will take you longer to find your slippers because of sleep deprivation and consequently pup is learning to hold on and will soon be sleeping all night.

If you choose to leave puppy in the kitchen or utility room to sleep then do not shut them in a crate and simply clean up in the morning without comment.

Why punishment does not work for house training.

A typical morning in the life of an 8 week old pup.

7:00am  Puppy pees in the garden – Owner present.   Gets praised

7.30am  Puppy pees in the kitchen – Owner present.  Gets a reprimand

8:15am  Puppy pees in the lounge – Owner not present.  Nothing happens except relief

9:00am  Puppy pees in the lounge – Owner present. Gets a reprimand

9:30 am Puppy pees in the kitchen – Owner not present. Nothing, just relief

11:00am Puppy pees in the garden – Owner doesn’t notice Just relief again

11:30am Puppy pees under the dining room table – Owner not present. Nothing happens

12:15pm Puppy pees in the garden – Owner present – gets praise

What we think we are teaching puppy is that it is good to pee in the garden and wrong to pee in the house but what the pup is actually learning is that sometimes it is rewarding to pee when the owner is present and sometimes it is dangerous.  However it is always safe to go when the owner is not present and that so far the safest place is under the dining room table.

ADMIN NOTE. – Never deny your dog water in the mistaken belief that this will aid toilet training.  It won’t.  It will make the urine stronger, it may impact on your dog’s health, i.e. cause kidney problems or urinary tract infections.if the dog drinks greedily and excessively when it is available knowing it will be taken away. Dogs must have clean fresh water available all of the time.

I got a shelter/ rescue dog, now what?

I GOT A SHELTER/RESCUE DOG – NOW WHAT?

What to do when you get him/her home?

Coping with the first few weeks!

How to move forward from there!

Realistic expectations!

INTRODUCTION

Many of us involved with animal rescue tend to push adoptions as a good choice for owners wanting a new dog!  We cajole, we beg, and are very quick to point out the advantages, the moral reasons, and the humanity of saving a life! However, we are NOT so quick to point out the potential downside!  Therefore, it’s not surprising that new owners often have totally unrealistic expectations of their new rescue dog!  This can often result in a dog becoming “re-cycled” which is something all rescuers and shelters want to avoid at all costs!

An adopted dog CAN fulfill many expectations, & some rescue animals quickly fit into a new home, new routine, new dogs, new people etc.  However, without some time, energy, and effort on a new owner’s part – things can go horribly wrong.  It is unrealistic to expect a newly adopted dog to adapt and fit into a family effortlessly or overnight!

Now we all know that some rescue dogs come with excess baggage – this is a given.

 So what now?  Where to from here?

 I am going to make the generous assumption that the shelter is a reputable one, and has “matched” the dog with the “right” family – viz. breed characteristics’, energy levels, life style, environment etc. & that the mandatory sterilisation, micro chipping, health checks, internal & external parasite control has been achieved & any other medical issues have been attended to.

 I am also going to make the assumption, that any dog on dog introductions to an existing dog or pack, will have already been made on neutral ground, & that any existing dogs will have met the new rescue dog at least more than once to ensure that there will not be any potential aggression when you get the rescue dog home.

 If this is not the case then the prospective owner should insist that this is an absolute necessity before taking home a dog that is expected to fit into an existing pack. 

This should be done under strict supervision in a totally controlled environment, with responsible experienced handlers who have extensive knowledge of dog behaviour, body language & communications, & have the skills to intervene if/where necessary with the least amount of stress.

 MR / MRS “FIX IT”!

Most people adopt a shelter dog because they are kind, generous people with a genuinely love for dogs.  Because they are caring individuals they tend to want to see fast results. In many cases this is not possible.  Expectations need to be realistic – regardless of the dog’s history.  Generally speaking, there are no quick fixes.  In most cases it takes, time, patience & understanding to see improvements – & the first things the new dog in a household needs is ……….. TIME, & SPACE!

 DEALING WITH THE HUMAN ADOPTEES!

There is definitely a “personality type” of human who will be drawn to taking on a shelter dog, and many of these kind people do find it extremely difficult to put rules into place – to instil boundaries and not to totally indulge a traumatised animal from day one!  Of course this is not easy. Human maternal and paternal instincts want to shower the dog with affection and most people instinctively want to try and “make up” for the animals early bad experiences.

Dogs need boundaries!  Boundaries make them feel safe!  Rules provide them with structure.  If the human takes on the decision-making/parenting role – it takes“whole load” of responsibility off the dog’s shoulders!  Less responsibility equals less stress!

When presented with a behavior modification program, with dozens of steps to undertake, many owners see this as daunting, and find it extremely difficult to grasp the emotional differences between dogs and people.  Being a good role model/substitute parent is very difficult for these kinds of personalities.  Many misguidedly thinking that if they give the dog its own way, in everything it will become a happy, contented dog.

A good tip to help adoptees to comply with an integration program is to provide them with short-term goals, emphasizing that they only have to achieve one goal at a time.

  • A “settling in” program could be divided into individual goals and on completion of each goal the next one supplied.
  • Often supplying adoptees with too much information too soon can cause them to feel overwhelmed.
  • With problem dogs this is often intensified as to the new owner, the problems sometimes appear to be insurmountable.
  • By dividing a program up into manageable steps it simplifies the process and makes each and every step more attainable!

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU GET HIM/HER HOME?

 The first thing that you do when you get your rescue dog home is

  ABSOLUTELY NOTHINGNOTHING AT ALL!

  • Don’t force any kind of interaction / social or other!!!!
  • Don’t fuss
  • Don’t attempt to play “fetch” or solicit play behaviour!
  • Don’t introduce her to your family and friends
  • Don’t crowd her with your kids
  • Don’t introduce her to your family cat, chickens, parrot etc.
  • Don’t stress for the first day or so about food – and meals – even if the dog is malnourished. Stress often inhibits appetite!
  • However after a day or so – however, if in any doubt or if the dog displays lethargy or the lack of appetite continues DO consult with your veterinarian to rule out any possible physiological cause.

 GIVE THE DOG A CHANCE TO BECOME AWARE OF HER SURROUNDINGS

TO RELAX AND SETTLE IN!

 DO:

  • Make sure before you release him into your garden he is wearing a collar, in case of emergencies. Do this at the shelter/foster home if he is not already wearing one. Also ensure that he is either micro-chipped on has a tag with all your current contact details on in case of an emergency!
  • Be as calm & as matter of fact around the dog as you possibly can & try to ensure that the environment is as stress free as possible! You should be in control of the environment & management thereof!
  • Provide the dog with easy access to clean water
  • Provide the dog with a “safe” place where he/she does not feel forced to interact with anyone or anything unless he wants to. (Can be a crate or corner of a room or if outside a kennel etc).  Make sure the dog has a place where his space is not invaded; where he can withdraw to if he does not want to interact.  Initially, his rights in this regard should be respected. Many dogs that have been kept in kennel environments are very happy to be “crated” and this provides them with an artificial “den” or “safe place.”
  • LET THE DOG DECIDE where he/she feels safe.
  • After a couple of hours you can offer a small meal – DON’T MAKE ANY DRAMATIC CHANGES TO DIET AS THIS COULD CAUSE SERIOUS DIGESTIVE ISSUES
  • Any change should be extremely gradual. Don’t panic if the dog doesn’t seem interested in a meal – no matter how high value it is!  Stress often surpasses appetite
  • Offer small amounts of more frequent meals – you can also make the food a bit more high value. Some insecure dogs battle to eat when humans are present. However – there is always the other end of the scale.  The half starved dog who just can’t get enough in his gut!  This can also be a sign of anxiety.  Therefore, even with the over greedy dog – smaller regular-spaced meals would be advised.  This is also to ensure a healthy gut & avoid digestive problems developing.

 ARRIVING HOME – CONCLUSION:

However, as much as I have said not to fuss too much and to try and be a little aloof with the dog.  If it appears to gain comfort from your presence, then of course give it some company and affection.  Just don’t fuss, crowd, or go “over the top.”

If the dog approaches you – certainly give a kind word & a smile & physical contact if the dog is actively seeking this out. 

Some more naturally social types really need this – it gives them great comfort – & it is easy to see a dog that is inviting contact.  Some nervous individuals with a high food drive can also benefit from you dropping a high value treat each time you walk pass them.

However, more often than not most dogs need some time to make the initial adjustment without too much interference.

 Please Note:

Most species of animals take approximately 14 to 21 days to habituate to a new environment, and that is often only the beginning!

 DOGS ARE HIGHLY ADAPTABLE ANIMALS – AND ARE GREAT OPPORTUNISTS!

Their incredible ability to adapt is probably one of the most important facts to take into account when discussing the adoption issue.  Virtually ALL dogs from all kinds of backgrounds, will be able to adapt & habituate to a new environment – if the environment is an appropriate one, and the dog is given time, and his needs are satisfied (that is physical, emotional & intellectual needs)!  Therefore the way the dog is initially handled is vital to a successful rehabilitation and success!

 Most dogs when they arrive at a new location are extremely stressed.

Even if they were friendly, bouncy, playful dogs at the shelter / foster home, perhaps happily interacting with people / playing ball / running around etc, the transition to a new environment can be a very frightening time for a dog and he may behave in a very different manner than when you first met him! Try not to take it personally!  It has nothing to do with you at all – Stress can almost paralyse some individuals – so back off and give him some time!

It must be pointed out that many dogs spend a fair bit of time at a shelter before being adopted.  Therefore, the shelter becomes their “home” – their territory, & the place they would perceive to be a “safe” location.  This is even more relevant if the shelter environment has been a “kennel” type “pound” facility.

Not all dogs adopted are fortunate enough to have been in a family foster home environment, or for that matter from a good, well run shelter where dogs are socialised, walked and have human contact whilst in shelter care.  There are many shelters that are terrible places of disease and squalor.

Lots of dogs, who come out of the old fashioned concrete kennel “pound” type environments that are lucky enough to find a home, could already be suffering from various behavioural conditions synonymous with confinement – such as kennel dog syndrome, (severe stress behaviours caused by confinement and lack of mental and physical stimulation).

These dogs can be overwhelmed by a large garden and may suffer from agoraphobia (a condition characterized by an irrational fear of public or open spaces)!  Crowds of people too can be overwhelming!

A large noisy family can be overwhelming to a dog that has spent time in a concrete wire kennel enclosure!

It is a known fact that dogs that come out of pound type environment have far less chance of being re-homed than dogs in good family foster homes!  Many dogs kept in these kinds of shelters stand little chance of being re-homed – many as a direct result of kennel dog syndrome.

Dogs confined for long periods of time in “pound” type facilities often become withdrawn, loose condition and interest in their surroundings & can display stereotypical behaviours (repeated patterns of behaviours for no specific purpose or reason).  In severe cases even self mutilate – (acral lick granulomas) – itself a form of stereotypical behaviour whereupon the dog chews itself excessively until lesions are formed & often-permanent tissue damage can occur.

The self-licking and chewing acts as a release of tension for dogs, which are bored, socially isolated, confined for long periods of time.  Pacing can also be evident, as can spinning or tail chasing – all three of these problems can sometimes be linked to confinement stress related behaviours – where animals are kept in an area with little or no mental stimulation – common in a “pound” type environment.  All these behaviours can also become habituated – even after re-homing!

Loose stools can also be a problem in these kinds of environments and whilst can often be connected to internal parasites can also be a symptom of stress and severe anxiety.

Dogs arriving at a new location or environment, can be extremely vulnerable, & need space and time to start the adjustment period.

 ABUSED DOG?  / NOT NECESSARILY!

Many people automatically assume that every nervous, shy, timid and neurotic rescue dog has been physically abused and/or beaten.  There are of course many forms of abuse, however, if your rescue dog is avoiding people or exhibiting fear aggression it does not necessarily mean that he has been beaten. In my experience many of these dogs have not necessarily been physically abused.

Of course some certainly bear the scars of physical abuse that is a given…..  However, there are many individuals who have simply been kept in total isolation – resulting in poor social skills, severe anxiety/stress & often fear related behaviours. However, dogs who have experienced a total absence of socialisation – both inter and intra species, (“people / dog” and/or “dog/dog”) for example – dogs that have been kept as “yard dogs” who have been kept isolated behind four walls, with nothing to occupy themselves with, and little or no mental/physical stimulation, will often present with stress/anxiety, lack of confidence and poor people skills, it is often mistaken as signs of physical abuse.

THE FIRST NIGHT:

Many people feel that they have to give these shelter dogs extra love and double attention – in  order to make up for what the dog has lost out on – just give and give and give and then give even more…………. with little thought to the behavioural patterns they are setting.  Dogs habituate behaviour very very quickly, & from the beginning, the rules you set could quite likely be the ones that you are stuck with, & in some cases you could live to regret!

If a dog is successful in its aim – it will certainly repeat the behaviour that caused the success!  Each and every time!  So think very carefully about some of the more basic things like for example where is the dog going to sleep?

It would be very unfair to start him off in the main bedroom (no matter how sorry you feel for him) if your end aim is to have him sleep in the kitchen.  So decide from the beginning where the dog is going to sleep.

Prepare an area where you have decided the dog can sleep.

Make sure he is provided with his “safe” place / crate / bed / quiet undisturbed corner etc.

Try to get him outside last thing before you go to bed if possible to encourage him to toilet – if he doesn’t comply – don’t worry.  It is possible that he is going to have a few “accidents” for which you should be prepared.

Don’t put newspaper down for him to toilet on at night (or any other time) as this would be sending him the message that toileting indoor is ok!  If you are able to – it is often suggested that you set your alarm clock and get up a couple of times a night for the first few days & go outside with him to see if he is willing to toilet. If we limit his choices – there is less chance of an “accident” however – there are no guarantees!

Anxious dogs often present with loose stools!  Getting up a couple of times through the night to give him an opportunity to toilet outside for a few days is well worth the effort!

Whilst I would not feed him or offer food late the first night (feed mid afternoon for the second meal of the day for several days before you change meal times).  To help make him feel safe it might be a good idea, when you retire for the night, to leave him with something high value to chew.  Preferably something non-synthetic a suitable bone, or hide chew or some cow hooves with some yummy filling – peanut butter or beef stock smeared inside.  This will help him to vent any frustration on (chewing is good for “venting”) and keep him occupied whilst all on his own.  This could also save your kitchen cupboards – dogs often chew to relive stress!  Providing him with something to chew when you are not able to supervise him often reduces house damage!

Dogs who have come from “kennel / pound” environments are rarely taken out to toilet so often have little choice but to toilet on the concrete floor. How is a dog from such a background supposed to differentiate between tiles and concrete?  A good many of these dogs will need to be taught toilet habits from scratch.

SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS:

If you have other dogs & they are socially compatible, you could simply put him in the same area where the other dog/s sleep – their company would make him feel safe & he is then less likely to panic.  The existing dogs could most likely also “role model” many behaviours to him so this would also help him to feel secure and begin the journey of habituating to his new home.  Just ensure that he has his own space/bed etc in case he needs an “out.” An indoor dog crate or kennel is ideal for this purpose and is mobile and can be moved wherever you are. Double bonus, the dog is provided with a safe haven but is not excluded!

Each individual person has a different point of view as to where a dog should sleep at night.  There are no right or wrong rules (as long as you are not dealing with an aggression problem or a dog who has personal space issues or one who likes to defend his sleeping area).  You are the one who decides where the dog sleeps.  It is your dog and that is your right!

Everyone has a different point of view.  As long as you know any rules or indeed privileges that you set now are most likely going to be lasting ones!

If you decide you don’t want him on your bed etc then confine him to a designated sleeping area or crate train him so he can sleep next to your bed so he doesn’t feel alone, (thus safe and not abandoned!)

THE NEXT FEW DAYS:

If he decides to approach you – great!  You should show pleasure and verbally praise with positive non-invasive body language.  Don’t lean over the dog or be invasive in your demeanour – as dogs perceive this at threatening. A good idea is to only approach him with your shoulder leading as this is perceived as non-threatening, or you could make yourself smaller if you are able to do this without leaning forward. If he is an only dog you can pop him a soft, high value treat each time he approaches you on his own bat – However be careful if one of your existing dogs has resource guarding issues or is defensive over high value treats or objects.

If he keeps his distance don’t force the issue, and don’t ever in the early stages force him to interact with you if he is unwilling.  In addition if he shows fear of anything NEVER force him to confront his fears. Once he as settled in you can start to put together a programme to work on fear using counter conditioning and positive reinforcement and other +R desensitisation methods.

Let him be rewarded for approaching you – let him find the interactions valuable and rewarding.  This will eventually equate to him wanting to please you because there is a pay off! This is a good foundation for future canine/human interactions.  The only exception would be if a dog was ill or needed veterinary attention – then the rule of course does not apply.

INTRODUCING THE FAMILY:

For the first 24 hours I would keep the kids & everyone else in the family really low key.

Over the next couple of days – depending on the dog’s individual tolerance levels, you can start introducing the family one at a time.

Don’t introduce them all at once – especially if you have a large rowdy family.

One at a time is enough for him to cope with at this stage.

Keep visitors at a minimum, and let the dog decide if he wants to interact or not. Initially instruct your visitors to be as non-influential as possible! If he shows interest – get the visitor to drop a soft, high value treat on the floor and if the dog approaches looking for more, they can repeat and build up to letting him take the treat from their hand.

Make sure that if treats are being given that you flatten your hand (like feeding a horse) as many rescue dogs have no tit bit manners & may snatch, which could give the visitors / kids a fright and also panic the dog… …………. so set him up for success – not failure!

 This should be your attitude in all interactions and with all his experiences!

Don’t force him to interact if he is not ready!

It is early days yet and you have lots of time!

THE “HABITUATION” / ADJUSTMENT PERIOD:

Expect an adjustment period.  You might be pleasantly surprised – some rescue dogs come into a new home & within a few hours it is as if they have always been there.  However, the vast majority need time to get to know you & your family & lean each other’s personalities & quirks.  Remember he doesn’t know your routines.  He doesn’t know your rules. He doesn’t know your friends.  He doesn’t know lots of stuff.  So give him time to adjust!

After going through such a trauma as being re-homed at least twice in a reasonable period of time – he is going to make mistakes!  Both of you are going to have to work hard together for you both to feel at home and content. As mentioned previously the average dog needs approximately two weeks to habituate to the new environment!

AFTER TWO WEEKS MY RESCUE DOG IS SUDDENLY BEING VERY “NAUGHTY”

I often get calls from clients who have adopted a rescue dog and they tell me that for the first couple of weeks he has been an “absolute angel!” then suddenly he has “changed” & become the dog from hell!  Hmnnnn ………… the dog has now habituated to his new environment is now starting to feel safe and have trust in you – and sometimes this is when it becomes evident why he was surrendered in the first place.

Fortunately for the dog – by that time, the new owners have fallen in love with him – so are usually more than willing to work through any issues that start appearing at this stage. So be aware that this could be on the cards, and have some plans in action to deal with some of the more common problems.

He Won’t Know The Rules
This is a big one.  Every home has different rules.  This dog might have gone from comfy living (or not, depending on his origin), to a place with very few comforts (the shelter), to your home, which probably seems like paradise after the shelter. He’s not going to know what to do, or what not do.  You will need to start to gently guide him into your routines & gently introduce any house rules.

Dogs are also great opportunists. Even if he’s never sat on a sofa before coming to live with you, he’ll probably try anyway, just to see if you’ll let him. The same goes for begging for food, or sleeping on the bed.  Don’t punish him for trying, but try to limit his choices and not put him in the position where he is able to make the “wrong” choice.

 Good Rules To Establish:

  • Give him his own area to eat in. Don’t expect him to eat close to other dogs – nor should you let children pester him whilst he is eating – he might have had to fight to get a meal at some stage! An indoor dog crate is a wonderful thing to use as a “safe “place. However, he might need to be gradually accustomised to the crate & this could take a bit of time – especially if he has not had previous positive crate experiences.
  • He should not be disturbed when in his “safe” place – his “safe place” “rights” in this regard should be respected – especially by the children. He deserves a place where he can escape to if he feels the need. This includes his own space to sleep in – again respect his rights – and he should not be pestered by the kids when he is in his bed
  • To help bonding with the dog – the entire family should take turns providing meals & the good things in life.
  • The same goes with calm play – (unless he is fearful) try to get the whole family involved as play is a wonderful way to bond!
  • The family can also take turns with the scoop the poop duties – this is also a good idea to help teach everyone what a responsibility it is to own a dog.
  • Encourage the whole family to take part in some basic training such as teaching the dog to “come” when called. All learning should be reward based & using basic positive reinforcement methods & each and every interaction should be rewarding in some way for the dog.

Be careful which rules you establish / reinforce!

Beware of giving a dog attention whilst exhibiting behaviours you dislike –the attention could be perceived as a reward and the behaviour will escalate!

Rather concentrate on rewarding and giving the dog attention when he is displaying behaviour that you approve of.

Ignore or redirect the negative and reward and praise the positive!

Remember not to concentrate on what you DON’T want the dog to do – instead, try and think out of the box for something that the dog can do INSTEAD!

 IN CONCLUSION

Taking on a shelter dog is one of the most rewarding things in the world. It is so gratifying to see an individual animal come out of its shell and flourish emotionally and often physically.

In my opinion, often a shelter dog can be more willing to please – more willing to want to work and more willing to give you their “ALL” (especially the working breeds) than many other dogs acquired through reputable breeders and or other “normal” avenues.

I freely admit I am prejudiced, and having had a house full of rescues and shelter dogs for decades, can honestly say it is the only way I would ever acquire a dog!  Sure they come with excess baggage – but in my opinion, each and every hang-up and issue is well worth working through!

Louise Thompson

Paws Abilities Behaviour & Learning Centre.

*Senior Accredited Animal Behaviour Consultant & Professional Trainer                                  

Accredited as a *Senior Consultant with the Animal Behaviour Consultants of Southern Africa©®™.    

Registration No *SAABC/1996/004/Canine/Feline/Equine/Avian

Certified Companion Animal Behaviourist.

Certified with the SA Board of Companion Animal Professionals.

Registration No AB/63

Member of the Pet Professional Guild – The International Association for Force Free Pet Professionals.

Honorary Life Member of TOP DOGS (Touch Our Pets) Therapy assistance dogs.

Vice-Chairman & Accreditation Secretary of the ABC of SA ©®™

 

See our Paws Abilities website: http://www.paws-abilities.wix.com/pawsabilities

 

 

 

Myths about dominance/wolf behaviour And how it relates to dogs.

Myths about dominance/wolf behaviour
And how it relates to dogs.
Taken from a statement by the American Society for Veterinary Behaviour
My dogs greets me by jumping up, steals food behind by back, tries to climb onto my lap to be petted and often ignores me when I call him to come to me. Are these signs of dominance?

NO THEY ARE NOT!
In animal social systems, dominance is defined as a relationship between two or more individuals that is established by force, aggression, and submission in order to gain priority access to resources (Bernstein 1981; Drews 1993).

Most unruly behaviours in dogs occur not out of the desire to gain higher rank, but simply because the undesirable behaviours have been rewarded. For instance, dogs jump on people and climb into their laps because when they do so, they get attention. Similarly, dogs fail to come when called if they are being rewarded by the objects or activities that are distracting them.

Even stealing food when humans are not watching is not a play for higher rank. In the wild, lower-ranking animals steal resources when higher-ranking animals are not around to guard the resources. This is an alternate strategy for obtaining the resources they want. Those who are rewarded by success are more likely to continue stealing in this manner.

Because dogs are related to wolves, we should use wolves as a model for understanding dogs.
While we can get ideas of the types of behaviours to study in dogs based on what we know about wolves, the best model for understanding domestic dogs is domestic dogs. Dogs have diverged significantly from wolves in the last 15,000 years. Ancestral wolves evolved as hunters and now generally live in packs consisting most often of family members (Mech 2000).

Pack members cooperate to hunt and to take care of offspring. In a given year, generally only the alpha male and alpha female mate, so that the resources of the entire pack can be focused on their one litter. Dogs, on the other hand, evolved as scavengers rather than hunters (Coppinger and Coppinger 2002). Those who were the least fearful, compared to their human-shy counterparts, were best able to survive off the trash and waste of humans and reproduce in this environment.

Currently, free-roaming dogs live in small groups rather than cohesive packs, and in some cases spend much of their time alone (MacDonald and Carr 1995). They do not generally cooperate to hunt or to raise their offspring, and virtually all males and females have the opportunity to mate (Boitani et al. 1995). Marked differences in social systems, such as those just described, inevitably lead to notable differences in social behaviour.

I hear that if you think a dog is dominant, you should roll him on his back in an “alpha roll” and growl in his face because that’s what an alpha wolf would do………..
In a pack of wolves, higher-ranking wolves do not roll lower-ranking wolves on their backs. Rather,
lower-ranking wolves show their subordinate status by offering to roll on their backs.
This submissive roll is a sign of deference, similar to when someone greets the queen or the pope by kneeling.
Consequently, a more appropriate term for the posture would be a submissive roll or greeting. (Yin 2009).

Even if wolves don’t roll subordinates on their back, it seems to work in some cases……….
Should I try it any- way if my dog is aggressive?
The most common cause of aggression in dogs is fear. Pinning a dog down when he is scared will not address the root of his fear. Furthermore it can heighten the aggression (AVSAB 2007). In fact, a recent study of dogs (Herron et al. 2008) found that confrontational techniques such as hitting or kicking the dog for undesirable behaviour, growling at the dog, performing an “alpha roll,” staring the dog down, and enforcing a “dominance down” frequently elicited an aggressive response from the dog. The aggression may also be redirected toward inanimate objects, or other animals or people besides the owner. Even non-physical punishment, such as a harsh verbal reprimand or shaking a finger at a dog, can elicit defensive aggression if the dog feels threatened by it.

I have heard that to be the leader, you have to go though doors first & always walk in front.
In a wolf pack, the highest-ranking wolves only lead the hunt a fraction of the time (Peterson et al. 2002). Furthermore, when they are hunting, they do not keep a tight linear formation based on their rank.

Since the alpha goes first, should you eat before your dog?
Higher- ranking wolves don’t necessarily have priority access to food. Once a wolf has possession of food, he may not give it up to another wolf regardless of his rank. When food is not yet in possession of either wolf, ritualized aggression (snarling, lunging) may still occur, with the higher-ranking wolves usually winning.

Feeding dogs random treats, or treating whilst training will cause them to become dominant. Even among wild animals, sharing of food does not relate to dominance. Adult wolves frequently regurgitate food for puppies. Males of other species frequently court females by bringing food to them.

Giving a dog a treat when he jumps up or barks at you can result in unruly behaviour. However this does not teach him that he is higher ranked or has priority access to re- sources. If you would like to teach him to wait politely for a treat you can wait until he sits or lies down patiently and then give him a treat.

Will growling or trying to bite a dog or making a claw with your fingers mimic what a wolf does when he growls at or bites a subordinate?
There are no studies on this. However, as an experiment, you might ask a friend who has been bitten by a dog whether poking him with your fingers bent in claw formation has an effect that’s similar to when he was bitten, or whether your growling or biting seems similarly ferocious.

In general, we shouldn’t assume that our actions mimic those of a dog or a wolf. Rather, we should evaluate each of our interactions with our pets and observe their response to determine how the pet perceived it.

Ref: Bernstein, I.S. 1981. Dominance: The baby and the bathwater. J Behav Brain Sci 4:419-57.
Boitani, L., F. Francisci, P. Ciucci, and G. Andreoli. 1995. Population biology and ecology of feral dogs in central Italy. In The domestic dog: Its evolution, behaviour and interactions with people, ed. J. Serpell. 217-244. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Coppinger, R., and L. Coppinger. 2002. Dogs: A New Understanding of Canine Origin, Behaviour, and Evolution. New York: Scribner.
Drews, C. 1993. The concept and definition of dominance behaviour. Behaviour 125: 284-313.
Herron, M., F.S. Shofer, and I.R. Reisner. 2008. Safety and efficacy of behaviour modification techniques used by dog owners. In 2008 ACVB/AVSAB Scientific Paper and Poster Session. New Orleans, La., July 18, 2008.
MacDonald, D.W., and G.M. Carr. 1995. Variation in dog society: Between resource dispersion and social flux. In The Domestic Dog: Its Evolution, Behaviour and Interactions with People, ed. J. Serpell. 199-216. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mech, David 1999. Alpha Status, Dominance and Division of Labour in Wolf Packs. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 77:1196-1203. http://www.mnforsustain.org/wolf_mech_dominance_al- pha_status.htm (accessed November 11, 2008)
Mech, L.D. 2008. What every happened to the term alpha wolf? International Wolf. (http://www.wolf.org/wolves/news/iwmag/2008/winter/winter2008.asp)
Peterson, R.O., A.K. Jacobs, T.D. Drummer, L.D. Mech, and D.W. Smith. 2002. Leadership behaviour in relation to dominance and reproductive status in gray wolves, Canis lupus. Canadian Journal of Zoology. 80:1405-12.
Yin, S. 2009. Dominance vs. Unruly Behaviour. In Low Stress Handling, Restraint and Behaviour Modification of Dogs and Cats. 52-73. Davis, Calif.: Cattle Dog Publishing. © 2008 AVSAB American Veterinary Society of Animal Behaviour

Introducing a New Dog to your Dog at Home

Animals that live in groups, like dogs, establish relationships, through which the individuals involved interact and live together. The roles that the individuals play within the relationship can change with each new day or situation. These relationships also take time to build, so proper introductions are important to help the dogs adjust to one another and start to build on their relationship.
-Introduce one dog at a time
If you have more than one resident dog in your household, it may be best to introduce the resident dogs to the new dog one at a time. Two or more resident dogs may have a tendency to “gang up”; on the newcomer.
-Choose a Neutral Location
Introduce the dogs in a neutral location so that your resident dog is less likely to view the newcomer as an intruder. Each dog should be handled by a separate person. With both dogs on a leash, take them to an area with which neither is familiar, such as a park, where you can go for a walk together. If adopting a new dog from a shelter, we recommend bringing your resident dog with you to the shelter and introducing the dogs before adopting. Take the dogs for a walk starting out approximately 10 meters apart, slowly allow the dogs to get closer together but do not allow them to meet while the handlers are holding the leashes. Give simple commands and offer food rewards often throughout the walk.
-Be Aware of Body Postures
One body posture that indicates things are going well is a “play-bow.” One dog will crouch with her front legs on the ground and her hind end in the air. This is an invitation to play that usually elicits friendly behavior from the other dog. Other appropriate investigative behaviors might include sniffing the air in the direction of the other dog, looking at or walking toward the other dog with a tail that is low and loose and wagging in a large arch. Watch carefully for body postures that indicate an escalation in response, teeth-baring, deep growls, a stiff legged gait, or a prolonged stare. If you see such postures, interrupt the interaction immediately by calmly and positively getting each dog interested in something else. For example, both handlers can walk backwards while calling their dogs to them, have them sit or lie down, and reward each with a treat, then resume your walk. Raised hackles, or hair standing up on the dog’s back, may indicate that the dog is concerned and needs more space from the other dog and time to acclimate. It is not necessarily a concern but is something to notice in conjunction with possible other body language. It is best to walk with the dogs on a loose or soft leash so that there is no pressure of tension on the leash from the handler. Pressure or tension on the leash can lead to a change in the dog’s body language that can be misinterpreted by the other dog.
-Taking the Dogs Home
When the dogs seem to be tolerating each other without fearful or aggressive responses and the investigative greeting behaviors have tapered off, you can take them home to your backyard. Bring both dogs into the yard and, when they are ignoring each other and perhaps sniffing around the yard, drop the leashes. Allow the dogs to investigate the yard and each other without interference from the handlers on the ends of the leashes. Don’t force any interaction between the dogs. If the dogs ignore each other at first, or if one dog seems reluctant to interact with the other, that’s okay. It is appropriate for one dog to tell the other that they are moving too quickly or coming on too strong; this can be done with a growl, a bark, a lip curl, or even an air snap. Consider allowing them to communicate with each other. It becomes inappropriate or problematic if it is a prolonged correction from the dog after the corrected dog moved away or if the corrected dog doesn’t back off. Give both dogs time to get comfortable. They’ll interact when they’re ready.
Carefully watch the body language as described above. Hackles, or the raised hair along a dog’s back, are an involuntary response to excitement, arousal, fear, anxiety, or any other number of emotions. Hackles alone can’t tell you whether or not a dog is concerned about the other and they may calm over time. Keep an eye out for other concerning body postures coupled with hackles before intervening. If you are concerned about the body language, the handlers can pick up the ends of the leashes and move in opposite directions to move the dogs away from one another
Once you are comfortable that the dogs are doing well together outside the home, pick up the leashes and take the new dog into the house while the second person remains outside with the resident dog. Giving the new dog an opportunity to explore the home on her own can allow the dogs time to relax from the initial meeting as well as give the new dog a chance to get to know her new surroundings without the established dog interfering. You can also take this opportunity to remove any food, toys, bones, bedding, or other items that might trigger conflict between the dogs. Peek under the furniture and in between couch cushions for bones and toys hidden away. Giving the new dog the chance to enter the home first can often diffuse territorial issues. After the new dog has explored the home, bring the new dog into a large room, on leash, to prevent the dogs from having an initial meeting in the home in a narrow hallway or entryway and then bring the resident dog into the same room, on leash. When the dogs are not focused on each other, drop the leashes and allow both dogs to further investigate the room and each other.
Be patient. Bringing a new dog home requires that everyone make some adjustments, especially your current pets. And it will take time for your dogs to build a comfortable relationship
-Do not leave the dogs alone, until you are confident they are getting along.
This means observing their behavior toward each other when the door bell rings, when a cat is seen outside the window and other such exciting circumstances. It is okay to crate your new dog when you cannot supervise, even if the resident dog is allowed free roam. It is best to place the crated dog in a room behind a closed door away from the other dog so they cannot “talk” to each other through the crate door. Take your time to observe their interactions before choosing to leave them alone unsupervised. Consider getting breakaway collars for safety for crated dogs and when two dogs are playing to avoid any accidents.-
-Introducing Puppies to Adult Dogs
Puppies usually pester adult dogs unmercifully. Before approximately the age of four months, or sometimes older,, puppies may not recognize subtle body postures from adult dogs signaling that they’ve had enough. Well-socialized adult dogs with good temperaments may set limits with puppies with a growl or snarl, never hurting the puppy although the puppy may yelp out of surprise. This communication is healthy and should be allowed. Adult dogs that aren’t well socialized, or that have a history of fighting with other dogs, may attempt to set limits with more aggressive behaviors, such as biting, which could harm the puppy. For this reason, a puppy shouldn’t be left alone with an adult dog. Crating the puppy when alone will keep everyone safe and benefit house-training. Be sure to give the adult dog some quiet time away from the puppy, and perhaps some individual attention. When you help the adult dog have some space away from the puppy, the adult dog will likely be happier when it is time to be with the puppy.
When to Get Help
If the introduction of a new dog to a household doesn’t go smoothly; contact a Professional Trainer immediately, for help. Dogs can be severely injured in fights, and the longer the problem continues, the harder it can be to resolve. Conflicts between dogs in the same family can often be resolved with professional help.
Additional Tips for a successful introduction:
Pick up all toys, chews, food bowls and your current dog’s favorite items. When dogs are first forming a relationship, these things can cause rivalry. These items can be reintroduced after a couple of weeks, once the dogs have started to develop a good relationship.
Give each dog his own water and food bowls, bed and toys. For the first few weeks, only give the dogs toys or chews when they’re separated in their crates or confinement areas.
Separate the dogs while playing fetch until you determine the level of focus that your dogs have toward the ball. The excitement caused by running and chasing a ball can cause conflict, especially with very ball-focused dogs.
Feed the dogs in completely separate areas.
Pick up bowls when feeding time is over. (Some dogs will compete over bowls that recently contained food.)
Confine the dogs in separate areas of your home whenever you’re away or can’t supervise their interactions.
If your dogs are very different in age or energy level, be sure to give the older or less energetic one his own private space where he can enjoy rest and down time. \

If all really goes wrong please contact your behaviorist of trainer to explain and help you with crate feeding your two dogs. That will take time but in almost all cases solves aggression problems between you resident dog and new dog.
Adapted from material originally developed by applied animal behaviorists at the Dumb Friends League, Denver, Colorado and ASPCA Virtual Pet Behaviorist. All rights reserved. Longmont Humane Society, 9595 Nelson Road, Longmont, CO 80501 303-772- 1232 www.longmonthumane.org

The importance of puppy socialization

Puppy Socialization:
What is the most important thing to teach a new puppy?
When people bring a new puppy home many people immediately starts focusing on obedience training. While obedience training is great and starting at a young age will set the puppy up for success, it is NOT the most important part of raising a puppy. There is no time limit for obedience training. You can teach a dog obedience at 8 weeks or 8 years. Contrary to popular belief an old dog can learn new tricks. With a little bit of effort you can teach your older dog to do the same behaviors as your puppy.
Your first priority as a new puppy owner should be socialization. Socialization is creating purposeful and positive experiences for your puppy so he can live with confidence in a human world. What many people do not know is that puppies have a critical socialization period. This is a brief window of time when your puppy must be introduced to anything you would like him to cope with as an adult dog. Depending on the puppy this window closes around 12 to 18 weeks of age. What happens during this time period will have a long lasting impact on their behavioral wellness as an adult. Under-socialized puppies may have behavioral problems later in life. The severity of the problem will depend on the individual dog. Due to this, socialization must always take priority over obedience training.
How do I socialize my puppy?
Socialization is not the same as exposure. The puppy must have a positive experience with whatever you want him to cope with as an adult dog. Do not force your puppy into anything. Forcing a puppy to do something will have a negative impact. Let him take his time exploring. You can encourage a puppy to do something and reward him for doing it, but do not force him.

To avoid your puppy becoming dog or even human reactive, socialize him with as many people and dogs as possible. He should meet people of all sexes and races as well as anything you want him to cope well with as an adult. Well socialized puppies will grow up to be well balanced dogs. Many dog attacks and bites could be prevented if the dog was correctly socialized as a puppy.

Why I will never free feed my dogs

Free feeding a dog means that a dog has access to food all day long. Now how can I say that I don’t like free feeding? The dog is eating so that must be a good thing right? That makes me a good dog owner right?

Wrong!  There is a lot of controversy around the feeding of dogs, when to feed them, how much to feed them etc. Now let me explain some of the negatives of free feeding.

  1. By nature dogs are opportunistic animals. Whenever food is readily available, dogs will nibble on it all day long. So what is bad about that? In studies conducted by the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention, they found that 52.6% of domestic dogs are obese. They also found that most owners were not aware that dogs can become obese. As many as 93% of owners did not know how to look for obesity in dogs. So why is obesity so bad for my dog? Obesity can lead to many illnesses to start with. The dog might get early arthritis and joint problems because of the extra weight they must carry. Obese dogs are known to get diabetes type 2. They can also develop heart disease, kidney disease and a variety of cancers. Bloat is another medical issue that kills thousands of dogs each year. Chances of developing these illnesses are just so much higher in cases of free feeding dogs.
  2. You lose one of the best training tools you possibly can have. In modern dog training, trainers use food as a training tool. Food gets used as a reward for a wanted behaviour. If the dog comes when he is called and the behaviour is reinforced by a tasty treat – the likelyhood of the dog coming to you the next time he is called is far greater, as there is something in it for him! Win win situation! If the dog had just eaten, he would not be enthusiastic about a treat and will most probably give you a slow response if any at all. It is much the same as it is in humans. After a Sunday lunch you feel lazy and not in the mood for any physical activities. That is exactly what a free feeding dog feels like, in its case it feels like that all the time. Food can also be used to correct unwanted behaviours. In cases where dogs bark when you leave, you can use food as a tool to quite them down. You can for instance put some food in a hollow toy and give it to the dog when you leave. If he knows the toy he will spend a lot of time trying to get the food out. In some instances hollow toys with food are used to correct certain behavioural issues like dogs jumping up on visitors, dogs barking etc. Food is also used to correct behaviours like pulling on leash when walking; running away in a dog park and the list goes on. This kind of training is not possible with a dog that has access to food all day long. Pet-parents who complain that their dog doesn’t listen and or labels them hard to train wilful, stubborn, defiant, not food motivated, have unwittingly devalued the dog’s food because he has access to it whenever he wants it. However, by controlling access to what the dog wants, it’s so much easier to ask for a behaviour in exchange for his kibble or other reinforcers.
  3. Fixed mealtimes are great opportunities to train you dog. Instead of putting a full bowl of food in front of his face, you can use the food to teach your dog all kind of behaviours and hand feeding his food to him as reward. For instance your dog has to sit before he gets anything. Then you can food reward him for sitting, lying down, standing up, spinning around and the list goes on and on. Dogs actually enjoy this interaction with owners and owners will find that as this continues training the dog will become easier with time.
  4. Preventing food aggression. Many dogs that gets free fed develop food aggression. This means as soon as somebody gets near his food bowl, he will start growling, showing teeth and even bite. Schedule feeding the dog will let you handle his bowl on a regular basis and it will in most cases prohibit food aggression from starting.
  5. Picking up on medical issues. If you feed your dog twice a day, you will immediately notice when your dog is not eating well, or not eating at all. That might be signs of your pet not feeling well and you can keep an eye on him and maybe not eating two or three meals in a row contact a vet. Dogs with illnesses like biliary will lose their appetite very quickly and with fixed meal times you will pick up quickly that something is wrong with your dog.  With free feeding you will not notice a change in eating habits that quickly, especially if you have more than one dog.

In Conclusion.

Once your dog is used to schedule eating, you can observe how much he is eating. If there is some food left over in his bowl after eating you are probably feeding him too much. If you see he is eating slowly and still hungry you can add some more food. You can adjust your food until the portions for your dog is just right.  On most packaging of good quality dog food you will also find feeding information and recommended feeding quantity depending on your size of dog. The only disadvantage of scheduled eating is that it takes time to prepare meals. But the advantages are so much more and so much more rewarding. If you want to train your dog, take away that permanently filled up food bowl and start interacting with your dog at feeding time. The human dog bond will improve as well.  So, now that you know why many dog people and veterinarians prefer regular mealtimes, make the choice that is right for you and your dog.

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