Category: Dog Tips

Urine Marking in Dogs

Urine Marking in Dogs

A dog urinating on objects, usually vertical, is a normal, instinctive social behaviour. Dogs mark their territory by urinating on certain objects within their territory. The dog returns to these spots on occasion to renew this olfactory mark. Usually the amount of urine produced is a smaller amount than when the dog relieves himself. Marking often occurs in areas where other dogs have urine marked or left their odour. Although more commonly seen in intact males, neutered males and females also mark.

What is inappropriate marking? Inappropriate marking is when an otherwise healthy, housetrained dog marks objects in an area that is not acceptable to the owner, such as inside a home.

Why is my dog inappropriately marking?
Causes of inappropriate urine marking can be hormonal or social. Social factors include situations that cause anxiety or territorial stimuli, such as other animals entering their “territory,” or the introduction of something new, such as grocery bags, people, or furniture. Dogs with other anxieties, such as generalised anxiety, separation anxiety or noise phobia, can also mark.

What can I do to prevent inappropriate marking?
• If your dog is intact, neuter your dog. One study found that 40% of male dogs castrated
for marking drastically decreased their marking, regardless of age of castration.
• Neuter all animals in household. Hormonal changes in other animals, like female dogs in
heat, may trigger marking.
• It is important to rule out underlying medical problems that may cause inappropriate
urine marking. The stress of medical problems can be a contributing factor to marking.
• Clean up residual odours of the urine with enzymatic cleaners.
• Block or eliminate provoking stimuli, such as cover windows where your dog can see
other dogs walking by, block access to room where dog may hear other dogs walking by.
• Have a conversation with your behaviour consultant or therapist about separation
anxiety or other anxieties to determine if this is the cause of inappropriate urine marking.

Treat these underlying causes.
• Do not place new objects on floor until your dog has gotten used to having them in the
house.
• During training, when your dog cannot be supervised, he should be confined to a smaller
area so that he does not practice inappropriate urine marking when the owner is not
home. He may subsequently learn that it is only safe to mark when the owner is away.
• Establish conspicuous objects outside the house where marking is acceptable, and
reward for acceptable marking.
• Change the emotional state of your dog around target areas to pleasurable areas of play
or eating
• In dogs with extreme anxiety, anti-anxiety medications may be beneficial. These are
available on prescription only from your veterinarian.

Things not to do!

• When you witness your dog marking, do not yell at him or use other types of
punishment, or this may lead to your dog marking when you are not present, or sneaking
off to mark as he has learnt it is not safe to mark in your presence. Do not punish your
dog after the fact by rubbing their nose in it, etc as your dog will not associate it with the
marking that happened awhile ago and it could negatively affect your dogs trust in you
and the relationship and bond you are developing with your dog.

Summary
Though your dog may drive you crazy marking around the house, it is not a hopeless situation!

There are many steps you can take to eliminate or minimize the behaviour, beginning with neutering. Start by analysing why your dog is marking to determine if there is an underlying problem. Animals also depend on their owners to teach them appropriate behaviours, so you must be consistent with your rules. By starting with a few of these simple changes, you may be able to change your dog’s inappropriate marking habit. If you should need further assistance be sure to contact your veterinarian, who may send you to a board certified veterinary behaviourist, or an accredited/certified animal behaviour consultant or therapist.

Hand-out created as part of a class exercise by veterinary students:
Omar Cabrera, Sara Leisgang, and Jennine Ochoa
Clinical Animal Behavior Service
www.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/vmth/small_animal/behavior

How Not to greet a Dog.

Teaching Your Dog To Walk Politely on Leash.

Luna-May

Raising a Puppy by Sally Bradbury

Raising a Puppy – The force free way to a happy, confident pup and a great relationship.My philosophy for raising a puppy. – Sally Bradbury

  1. PREVENT & MANAGE
  2. REINFORCE
  3. TEACH
  4. INTERRUPT

Prevent what you can wherever possible and manage the pup’s environment so that he has little or no opportunity to go wrong. This means puppy proof the house, move books from the lower shelves on the bookshelves – (I had to relocate the bottles in the wine rack in the kitchen when my pup was younger!!), put bins behind cupboard doors, use stair gates and close doors to prevent access to areas where the pup may chew precious furnishings, pick up all Persian rugs temporarily and more importantly put things away such as shoes, children’s toys etc. Any time your dog engages in an unwanted behaviour, take a step back and ask yourself how you could have prevented it. Reinforce your pup for offering behaviours that are agreeable. This can be anything or can even be the absence of an unwanted behaviour. The best way to do this is to have a pot of small yummy treats, such as hot dog sausage, liver, cheese etc, say 30 in number and set yourself a challenge to catch your dog doing something that you like and would like him to do again, 30 times during the day. It could be lying in his bed, choosing to keep front feet on the floor when a visitor comes in, coming in from the garden, chewing his chew toy, the possibilities are endless (think I nicked that from an advert). To start with you may struggle to find 30 opportunities but because dogs do what works for them you will soon need more treats in that pot because your dog is going to be throwing these behaviours at you left, right and center. These are behaviours that you haven’t asked for by the way and this is by far the easiest way for a dog to learn. Teach your dog what you would like him to do. The obvious ones are to walk nicely on a lead, come when called, sit, lie down, stay…. There are lots of ways to teach your dog but it is important that whatever method you choose it is easy to understand and fair to the dog. Think back to how you learned in school. I bet your favourite subject was the one where the teacher made it fun and enjoyable to learn and motivated you with praise and rewards for good work. I tend to do pretty much all of my dogs’ training during play so lots of fetch and tug games used as rewards and the dog is having a ton of fun whilst learning. Interrupt unwanted behaviour. I know from experience that it is not always possible to prevent all unwanted behaviours when you have a puppy. It is very difficult not to get cross when your pup chews your favorite CD or expensive shoes, it is human nature. However in terms of your relationship with your dog and insuring that it doesn’t continue into adulthood you really do have to take a deep breath and try not to scowl, the damage is done nothing will undo it now. So you teach your dog a positive interrupter. This can be a word or a noise, anything you like, as long as it doesn’t frighten or startle your pup. My pup’s positive interrupter is “Moss” said in a happy voice. I can use his name because I have never said it crossly or to tell him off. You could use a “Yay!!” or a kissy noise for example. All you do is use food treats, you can move to a toy later, and say the word as you give him a treat. Repeat a few hundred times. Yes really! Now watch his response to that word next time you say it when he is doing something you would like to interrupt. Once interrupted redirect him onto something more productive.If you interrupt unwanted behaviours in a way that frightens your dog he will simply learn that these behaviours are dangerous to do when you are present and will seek opportunities to engage in them when your back is turned. And yes the dog could learn to engage in the behaviours in order to be positively interrupted BUT he will only do it when you are watching, no point when you are not, so now you can interrupt before the damage is done and meanwhile teach the dog a more rewarding behaviour instead. Think of your relationship with you puppy as a bank account, every positive interaction is a deposit, every time you punish you make a withdrawal. As soon as your account goes overdrawn then things will just go from bad to worse but keep a nice healthy bank balance and you and you pup will soon end up as millionaires in the relationship stakes.

WHY WE CAN’T GIVE GUARANTEES TO “FIX” YOUR DOG. By Taryn Blyth

I had a rather unpleasant experience recently with a person who wanted help with a reactive dog, but wanted me to guarantee that I could “fix” the problem, before agreeing to book a consultation. When I tried to explain that I could not make such guarantees and sent the person details on how we would approach this type of problem, as well as factors that might influence the outcome, to help her make an informed decision as to whether she wanted to proceed,she refused to read the information (because, in her own words, it was too much effort) and insisted again that I guarantee a result. At that point I responded that I was obviously not what she was looking for.

The problem is that there are “behaviourists” and trainers that do guarantee results. One popular local expert states on their website that they will fix any problem in one session. So, what is wrong with this? Should we not be confident in what we do? Surely, if we know what we are doing, we can solve whatever problem the person is experiencing with their dog?

Well, actually no. Dogs are not appliances that can be fixed, oiled or rewired when a part is broken. Dogs are living beings and behaviour is a complex function of genetics, developmental experience and reinforcement history. Physiology, health, past learning, general mood and current environment all play a role in how a dog will respond to a situation and how far they will progress with a certain behaviour modification plan. Furthermore, some owners’ expectations for their dogs’ behaviour in general is completely unrealistic and may have to be carefully “negotiated” during a consultation.

For example, there are some dogs that exhibit dog-dog reactivity that may very quickly change their behaviour to become quite sociable, with the right training and opportunities, there are others that may make slow progress, but learn to accept other dogs within certain limitations over a much longer period of time and there are others still that will never be comfortable in close proximity to other dogs, no matter how long you work with them. Why are there these differences in outcome? Well, there could be many factors. Some dogs may have had a really traumatic experience that they struggle to overcome. Some may have had virtually no social experience at all and really have no idea how to interact with other dogs. On the other hand, you may have a dog that has become a bit rusty socially or had some poor social experiences, but has an excellent early socialisation history to fall back on and so “recovers” fairly quickly. You may have a dog that physiologically reacts more mildly to stress or who does not disinhibit as quickly into a fight or flight response, which means that they are generally easier to work with. However, you might also have a dog that has done serious damage to another dog and who it is too risky to work with safely around other dogs, meaning that management may be a better option.

During a consultation, we would obviously try to find out as much as we can about a dog, so that we have a better idea of what they can cope with and how they might respond to certain scenarios. If it turned out that the dog was really well-socialised, with a fantastic early history, a generally confident and easy-going disposition and a good track record of positive and appropriate interactions with other dogs and developed some reactivity due to just a couple of recent bad experiences, I would be fairly optimistic about making progress and possibly getting the dog back to where he was before this happened. If, on the other hand, I found the dog in question was hand-raised, had no exposure to other dogs at all before the age of 6 months, is generally anxious around anything new and has been rehearsing reactive behaviour for 4 years, I would be far less optimistic. It doesn’t mean that we would not be able to help that dog, but the outcome may not be what the owner is hoping for. In some cases we may not be able to find out much about a dog at all (with most rescued dogs their history is full of holes) and may have to try and guess at how and why the reactivity developed, making predictions about likely outcomes even harder.

Then there is the human factor. While we may have the greatest training or behaviour modification plan, we have to rely on owners to implement it. Handing someone a plan and showing them how to apply it is similar to giving someone a lovely recipe and explaining how to cook the dish. Unless the person actually goes into the kitchen and assembles all the ingredients according to the instructions, the delicious meal will never appear.

So, what does it mean if someone guarantees results? Usually, it means one or more of the following:
1. They are lying to you
2. They are self-deluded
3. They are using positive punishment techniques resulting in emotional shut-down, which inhibits ALL behaviour temporarily and may look like a quick fix
4. They don’t understand anything about animal behaviour at all

As I said to the person who wanted a guarantee: The only guarantee I can give, is if you find a “behaviourist” or trainer who gives guarantees, they have no idea what they are doing!

Luna-May

 WHAT IS PUPPY SCHOOL?

” WHAT IS PUPPY SCHOOL?

Puppy school is a time and place where puppies and owners are educated. The aim is to produce a well-adjusted, socially acceptable, adult companion animal. All exercises are taught as fun games and learning methods are reward-based, using the concept of positive reinforcement!

 

      What we cover in class:

  • The principles of positive reinforcement learning.
  • Natural bite inhibition.
  • Leash skills – how to get your pup to walk on a loose leash.
  • Confidence-building exercises (including tactile desensitisation) to produce a well-adjusted pup.
  • Inter-canine social skills.
  • Teaching your pup to reliably “come” when she is called.
  • Handling and examination skills.
  • Basic canine communication and behaviour.
  • Puppy stages of behavioural development.
  • Basic obedience exercises (sit, down, stand, recall, fetch, leave, wait, etc.).
  • Teaching your pup to concentrate.
  • Teaching the pup not to run away with your valuable possessions.
  • Basic puppy behaviour problem solving.
  • Basic puppy and dog care.
  • An accompanying in-depth homework CD is provided for all new students.

 

Classes are held each Saturday morning at 10:00 at our SPCA educational center in George. Handlers are expected to be prompt and to be at the grounds 10 minutes before class. They are also expected to clean up after their pups, i.e. to “scoop the poop”.

 

Do not feed your pup a full meal prior to class, as food is used as a motivator/training tool.  Pups with a full tummy tend to sleep through the entire class – This not conducive to learning! This is why class is held early in the morning. The missed meal is be made up when you get home.

 

WHAT TO BRING TO CLASS (Please wear old clothes!)

  • A hungry pup restrained on a light, flat collar (or harness) and soft leash.
  • Soft yummy dog treats.
  • A shallow water dish.
  • Dog brush and vitamin tablets – for pill taking & grooming practice.
  • Toys for playtime.
  • A large sense of humor, and a willingness to learn new things.

 

Classes are held under the direct supervision of one of our animal behaviour consultants, and our experienced, understanding instructors.  All exercises are performed individually and gentle methods are found to suit each individual puppy and handler.”

For more information send us a message:  george@edenk9abilities.com

Why does my dog get over aroused?

Allowing dogs to continuously rehearse aroused behaviors can cause many problems. To get a better understanding of arousal in our dogs, we need to look at the definition of arousal.

 

“Arousal is a physiological and psychological state of being awake or reactive to stimuli. It involves the activation of the reticular activating system in the brain stem, the autonomic nervous system and the endocrine system, leading to increased heart rate and blood pressure and a condition of sensory alertness, mobility and readiness to respond.” According to Wikipedia.

 

Although this definition were written for describing arousal in humans, exactly the same count for your dog. When aroused you might notice that your dog is quite tense and ready to go, ready for action in a flash. Different things or events might trigger your dog to get aroused. Triggers might include other dogs on a walk, people walking past your property, you playing fetch with your dog or your child interacting with your dog. Whatever the reason for your dog getting aroused, in some cases this arousal level gets so high that he cannot contain himself, and this causes him not to think clearly. When this happens, the high energy interferes with his judgement and the result is poor behavior.  During this period of high arousal, your dog might be barking at the man walking in the street the one moment and the next he will re-direct his energy to another possible dog or even another child or person. In another instance you might be playing tug of war with your dog, and the next moment he might nip your arm or hand. As he is over aroused at this point, he bites down harder as normal and might even puncture the skin.

 

The thing is, over arousal is a build-up of unused energy that needs to go somewhere. If you leave it and accept it as normal behaviour it is likely to evolve into something more serious. In some cases it can lead to trigger frustration and that in turn might lead to unwanted destructive behaviors. This might for instance cause a dog to get aroused at the sight of any other dogs, and he might start chewing his lead because of this. In more severe cases, arousal can change into aggression. Because your dog now gets over aroused at the sight of another dog, and he is restrained on his leash, he might redirect his aggression to you and he might end up biting you or whoever is walking him. It is important to take steps to lower this arousal threshold if you should own a dog who gets quickly aroused. As the dog don’t know of any other way to behave when aroused, it is our duty to teach them how to have better control over their emotions.

 

So how do I know if and when my dog is over aroused?

 

Many dog owners don’t even know that they actually have a problem as they are used to their dogs acting in a certain way. Breed types often gets blamed for this, saying as this is a working breed or power breed, they are supposed to act this way. What owners don’t realize, is that with a little bit of training and guidance, your dog can be taught how to be calmer and to have better control over his impulses.  So what does and aroused dog look like? The following are tell tail indicators that your dog might be over aroused.

 

  1. He might have a very fast heart rate.
  2. He might be panting very rapidly
  3. His pupils might be dilated
  4. He might have a stiff body posture, ready to run
  5. His teeth might be chattering
  6. He might be jumping around with lots of barking
  7. He might get mouthy, taking your hand in his mouth
  8. He might be pacing up and down
  9. Some dogs spins in circles
  10. His impulse control will almost be non-existing.

How do I lower my dog’s arousal?

 

In many cases, we as owners are the main cause of arousal. The first step is to change our own behaviors in order to help our dogs not to get aroused. Here are a few things you might give a try.

 

  1. Make an appointment to have your dog checked out by a veterinarian. There are medical conditions that might be responsible for anxiety and stress that might lead to over arousal. You might also want to visit a nutritionist to work out a new diet for your dog as some food additives have been associated with over arousal in dogs.
  2. Provide Physical and Mental stimulation. Many of us have dogs that were originally selectively bred for their useful functions. As we have them now as pets, we expect these dogs to cope by not doing anything. Well this is a recipe for behavioral problems. If we don’t give our dogs the mental and physical exercise they NEED in order to cope, they will find something to do by themselves in order to make themselves feel better, and it might be something that we might not approve of. An increase in the stress hormone cortisol is also linked to under stimulated dogs. The bottom line is, the lack of stimulation both physically and mentally is a recipe for disaster in dogs.
  3. Avoid your dog from getting over aroused. If you know that your dog gets over aroused at certain places, rather look for alternative places to walk the dog, maybe where there are no other dogs for instance. If your dog gets over aroused by playing ball, lessen the times you play ball and give him some alternative things to do. The times he gets over excited should be lessened.
  4. Identify the things that gets your dog over excited. Watch your dog and try to figure out what is causing the over arousal. Maybe it’s you coming home, the sight of his favorite toy, maybe when he sees another dog, maybe if you visit the agility field. Write all these possible triggers down so you can start working on encouraging better self-control.
  5. Desensitizing to triggers. Desensitization is a behavior modification technique that works very well in the sense that it will teach your dog to lower his arousal levels and to keep under his threshold. This means you start working at a distance where the triggers are less intense. If your dog barks and gets over aroused at the fence, control the area so there is enough space between the possible dog walking next to the fence and your dog. With enough distance between them, your dog will get less aroused.  In many cases dogs gets over excited when the owner pics up the lead as he associates the lead with his walks. In cases like that you might start picking up the lead and just putting it somewhere else repeatedly during the day. In time he will get less excited when you pick up the lead. The same goes when you gets home. If he goes crazy every time you arrives home, try to keep yourself at a lower key until he has calmed down. When you are less excited your dog will become less excited too in time.
  6. Teach your dog to be calm. Once you have successfully desensitized you dog to the stimuli that caused the over excitement, you can actually start teaching your dogs that calmer behaviors gets rewards. When he gets aroused, the rewards simply goes away. Feeding time is a good example here. When your dog gets too excited when you are busy with his food by jumping up, just stop working on it until he is calmer. When it is feeding time ask for a sit before presenting his food. If he jumps up before you put his food down, pick it up again and only gives the food when he offers a calmer sit. In this case being calm = food. Calmer behaviors gets reinforced in this way.
  7. Increase the criteria. This must be done with great care. If you see your dog gets aroused by some trigger with moving him closer to it, take a step back and increase the distance. It is a good idea to start the behavior modification in an area where there are no or very few distractions. Slowly add distractions as you go along. If you see the dog gets aroused by the identified trigger, add distance again.
  8. Be careful of repetitive behaviors. Dogs do what works for them, and behaviors that gets reinforced (rewarded) will be repeated. If you practice a sit for example, the more you reward your dog for the sit the more he will repeat the behavior. In the case of your dog barking at people it gets a bit more complicated. As people walk past your house, your dog might bark at them. While he is doing this, the people disappears as they continue their walk. In the dog’s mind, him barking at them, made them go away. The strategy worked for him therefore next time somebody walks by he will probably barks at him again, making him go away. If you allow these behaviors to continue the desensitization will not work. Keep him away from situations that might cause arousal until desensitization has been successfully completed.
  9. In extreme cases, calming medication might be needed together with a desensitization program. This is mostly done in cases where a dog’s arousal gets triggered by conditions like underlying anxiety and stress. In these cases the dog will not be able to learn as unless he can be calmed down. A veterinarian will prescribe the best drug to help in specific situations. Once the dog is calmer, a behavior modification program can begin. Drugs alone in such cases will not solve the problem and must be done in conjunction with a behavior modification program.

To lower arousal in a dog is not that easy. It takes quite a lot of effort but even more important it takes consistency. You need to be able to “read” your dog and know the most subtle signs of him getting aroused. Intervention is needed before he gets aroused. The best thing to do would be to get the help of a force-free qualified behaviorist to help. The end goal would be to raise your dog’s response threshold and to change his emotional state when in close approximation of the trigger causing the arousal. Alternative more appropriate behaviors should be taught as well. Many trainer uses a method called flooding where they force the dog to be “calm” by punishing them for those unwanted behaviors. These averse methods however only suppresses these unwanted behaviors but don’t change the dog’s emotional responses towards the triggers. These methods also causes stress and anxiety and although it would seems like it worked, the dogs might quickly revert to those unwanted behaviors triggered by anxiety and stress.

Beware of the Trainer! By Taryn Blyth

BEWARE of the “trainer” who says they will train your dog without food or toys. There is no MAGIC WAND in dog training. Dogs work either to GAIN PLEASURE or AVOID FEAR/PAIN. There are a limited number of controllable resources that dogs will be reliably motivated by in order to work with us and learn behaviours which do not come naturally to them. Food and toys are the most practical, easily accessible and controllable of these motivators. A trainer who thinks they are not necessary is either stubborn or uneducated. If they refuse to use food or toys, they are without any doubt using force and intimidation. If you want happy, well-adjusted dogs, choose to train in a way that makes them feel good.

Here are a few RED FLAGS to watch out for when looking for a trainer:

1. GUARANTEED OR IMMEDIATE RESULTS: No qualified trainer with an ounce of common sense would guarantee such a thing. Most behaviour problems develop over weeks, months or years and take time to resolve. While highly aversive training methods might appear to bring about quick fixes they either NEVER last or they create MORE unwanted behaviour problems. A person who guarantees immediate results is either delusional, lying or intending to do something VERY NASTY to your dog.

2. NO QUALIFICATIONS OR MENTION OF THEIR EXPERTISE: Dog training is a science. The science has to be learned. Unless someone spends time formally studying how dogs learn and what influences behaviour, they will never have the full knowledge necessary to be able to help you and your dog properly. Qualified trainers are proud of their qualifications and will want their clients to know what these are. When there is no mention of any qualifications in the trainer’s bio, then they likely don’t exist.

3. NO MENTION OF TRAINING METHODS: A trainer with nothing to hide will be open and up front about HOW they train, WHAT methods they use and WHY. Trainers who never mention their training philosophy either don’t have one (so anything goes) or they don’t understand what they are doing and can’t explain it clearly to clients. They may also be HIDING what they intend doing to your dog, because they know it may be controversial.

When looking for a trainer, find someone who’s website or Facebook page tells you very clearly WHO they are, what QUALIFICATIONS they have and HOW they train. Read articles by the person and if possible watch videos of them training their own dogs or working with clients. Look to see that the dogs working with them are enjoying themselves. Check that they are in fact using positive reinforcement and not physical manipulation or intimidation. Check that their blogs or articles reflect a thorough knowledge of the science behind training.

AVOID trainers who do nothing but advertise their services without telling you exactly what those services are or revealing anything about what they actually do!

Why We Can’t Give Guarantees to “FIX” Your Dog by Taryn Blyth.

WHY WE CAN’T GIVE GUARANTEES TO “FIX” YOUR DOG

I had a rather unpleasant experience recently with a person who wanted help with a reactive dog, but wanted me to guarantee that I could “fix” the problem, before agreeing to book a consultation. When I tried to explain that I could not make such guarantees and sent the person details on how we would approach this type of problem, as well as factors that might influence the outcome, to help her make an informed decision as to whether she wanted to proceed,she refused to read the information (because, in her own words, it was too much effort) and insisted again that I guarantee a result. At that point I responded that I was obviously not what she was looking for.

The problem is that there are “behaviourists” and trainers that do guarantee results. One popular local expert states on their website that they will fix any problem in one session. So, what is wrong with this? Should we not be confident in what we do? Surely, if we know what we are doing, we can solve whatever problem the person is experiencing with their dog?

Well, actually no. Dogs are not appliances that can be fixed, oiled or rewired when a part is broken. Dogs are living beings and behaviour is a complex function of genetics, developmental experience and reinforcement history. Physiology, health, past learning, general mood and current environment all play a role in how a dog will respond to a situation and how far they will progress with a certain behaviour modification plan. Furthermore, some owners’ expectations for their dogs’ behaviour in general is completely unrealistic and may have to be carefully “negotiated” during a consultation.

For example, there are some dogs that exhibit dog-dog reactivity that may very quickly change their behaviour to become quite sociable, with the right training and opportunities, there are others that may make slow progress, but learn to accept other dogs within certain limitations over a much longer period of time and there are others still that will never be comfortable in close proximity to other dogs, no matter how long you work with them. Why are there these differences in outcome? Well, there could be many factors. Some dogs may have had a really traumatic experience that they struggle to overcome. Some may have had virtually no social experience at all and really have no idea how to interact with other dogs. On the other hand, you may have a dog that has become a bit rusty socially or had some poor social experiences, but has an excellent early socialisation history to fall back on and so “recovers” fairly quickly. You may have a dog that physiologically reacts more mildly to stress or who does not disinhibit as quickly into a fight or flight response, which means that they are generally easier to work with. However, you might also have a dog that has done serious damage to another dog and who it is too risky to work with safely around other dogs, meaning that management may be a better option.

During a consultation, we would obviously try to find out as much as we can about a dog, so that we have a better idea of what they can cope with and how they might respond to certain scenarios. If it turned out that the dog was really well-socialised, with a fantastic early history, a generally confident and easy-going disposition and a good track record of positive and appropriate interactions with other dogs and developed some reactivity due to just a couple of recent bad experiences, I would be fairly optimistic about making progress and possibly getting the dog back to where he was before this happened. If, on the other hand, I found the dog in question was hand-raised, had no exposure to other dogs at all before the age of 6 months, is generally anxious around anything new and has been rehearsing reactive behaviour for 4 years, I would be far less optimistic. It doesn’t mean that we would not be able to help that dog, but the outcome may not be what the owner is hoping for. In some cases we may not be able to find out much about a dog at all (with most rescued dogs their history is full of holes) and may have to try and guess at how and why the reactivity developed, making predictions about likely outcomes even harder.

Then there is the human factor. While we may have the greatest training or behaviour modification plan, we have to rely on owners to implement it. Handing someone a plan and showing them how to apply it is similar to giving someone a lovely recipe and explaining how to cook the dish. Unless the person actually goes into the kitchen and assembles all the ingredients according to the instructions, the delicious meal will never appear.

So, what does it mean if someone guarantees results? Usually, it means one or more of the following:
1. They are lying to you
2. They are self-deluded
3. They are using positive punishment techniques resulting in emotional shut-down, which inhibits ALL behaviour temporarily and may look like a quick fix
4. They don’t understand anything about animal behaviour at all

As I said to the person who wanted a guarantee: The only guarantee I can give, is if you find a “behaviourist” or trainer who gives guarantees, they have no idea what they are doing!

Dog Fighting and how you can Help by the NSPCA.

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Force free science based behaviour modification and training

Eden K9 Abilties

George van Huyssteen (DipCABT)
Affiliate Member CAPBT SA
Garden Route, South Africa
0604602643

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