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Archive for July 2009

Case Study 3 – One Tough Dog Part 2

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We went out to see Tuffy again three weeks later.   The mange had cleared up, and he was starting to look a lot better as a result.  His behavior had improved substantially, and he was especially good around the girls, but his relationship with Joe was still a problem.  Joe would go away on business for several days at a time, and Tuffy still felt that he was a potential threat.  Joe would walk him in the mornings, and Tuffy was happy with that.  However, there had been an incident – Joe had taken Tuffy by car to a park.  The drive there had gone well, as Tuffy seemed to love the car, and the two of them had had a good walk.  Tuffy did not pull on the leash, and although he was still shy when they passed other people, he was well-behaved.  As they returned to the car, another car pulled into the parking lot with a large white labrador in the back seat.  The next paragraph is Joe’s description of what happened.

The dog spotted Joe and Tuffy and leapt from the backseat windows out of the car (leash attached) and sprinted at Joe and Tuffy “ears back and snarling”.  Joe had only a split-second to decide what was best for him and Tuffy.  Joe decided Tuffy’s health more important than his own and quickly reached under Tuffy’s belly and “jerked” him up and out of reach of the attacking White Lab, who arrived at the moment Tuffy went off the round, owner shrieking its name while still getting out of the car.  Tuffy did not like Joe’s decision at all.  Tuffy began squirming from side to side, attempting to break Joe’s grip, as Joe headed toward his car.  Joe realized (too late) Tuffy should have been picked up with two arms (front and back) as Tuffy nipped Joe on the right forearm.  Joe didn’t let go until they had arrived at Joe’s car and the White Lab had been “retrieved” by the dog’s owner, who by now, had grabbed the leash and was loudly chastising her dog while intermittently apologizing.  Joe assured the lady he was OK, promptly got Tuffy and himself into his car and drove home. 

Luckily, the wound was superficial, a clean puncture with no tearing.  Joe was adamant about keeping Tuffy and that Joe was at fault for potentially overreacting.  We discussed what had happened with the Gilbert family.   It was unfortunate, and had set back the development of trust between Tuffy and Joe.  In fact, Tuffy was probably better equipped to deal with the situation with the lab than Joe was.  It is always dangerous to pick up a dog to prevent a fight – in fact it can make the fight worse, as well as putting the person in a dangerous position in the middle of it.  In this case, Tuffy was more alarmed by Joe’s actions than by the lab’s.  His nipping at Joe was a desperate attempt to get free, not an attack.

Tuffy continued to try to avoid Joe around the house, and to stay in the backyard rather than come in if he knew Joe was in the house.  He was responding very well to Millie, and was happy to play with the girls although he was still occasionally frightened when they made sudden movements or noises.  When he was scared, he would bark at the person who had scared him, and sometimes advance towards them.  Millie would stop him when he advanced, and her presence would normally calm him.  (Having a dog give warning signals is very good – we never discourage dogs from giving them, because when they give us the warning, the humans can change their behavior to avoid a confrontation.  Dogs who have been taught never to bark or growl are the ones who are most likely to bite “without warning”.)  He managed to adjust to our presence in the house fairly easily, and eventually came to us for treats.

As Tuffy was gaining confidence, we decided that it was time to push him a little to get him more confidence.  We went through the exercise of putting him on leash in the house, and having him come to people when they called his name, and offered him treats.  He had developed a few preferences about where he was comfortable eating, and the Gilberts were putting his food bowl in a less convenient place for them to make sure he would eat.  Now that he was clearly more comfortable in the home, it was time to reassert the family as being in charge.  The food bowl needed to go where they wanted it, and he needed to adjust.

The family were about to go on a short break, so we made plans to have Tuffy stay at our facility, with our dogs, while they were away.  Tuffy was already known to be comfortable around other dogs – it was humans, and especially human males, that scared him.  But this would still be a significant change in the routine he was becoming accustomed to.

Tuffy settling in

A week later, we brought Tuffy to the facility, and let him greet the resident dogs.  As expected, he was very much a gentleman in his manners greeting the other dogs, and he was happy to play outside with them.  In particular, he made friends with a dog called Coffee, another dog with a fear of people, and men in particular.  Since Coffee also has limited dog social skills, it was great to see Tuffy helping Coffee to relax.

Tuffy and Coffee - The first meeting

Tuffy and Coffee - The first meeting

We were initially concerned about how we would bring Tuffy in for meals and at bedtime – his history at home was that he would go to the end of the yard and hide there when he was not comfortable.  However, he relaxed a great deal in the company of other dogs, and he just naturally followed them at mealtimes and at bedtime.  During the entire stay, he did not bark at us to indicate fear.
When the Gilberts returned home, Joe collected Tuffy from us and brought him into the house.  We felt it was important to establish Joe as the person brought him home, as his friend and protector.
Although he continued to bark at Joe from time to time, he settled back happily into the household routine, and handled a party of 8 houseguests (2 adults and 6 children) without difficulty.  It was time to start him on a proper training program.
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Written by eurekapaws

July 26, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Posted in Case Studies, New Adoptions, Training

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Farewell to a Friend

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Dazy was a great dog.  She was a catahoula / pit bull mix, and she was full of life and energy.  Unfortunately, she was also a challenging dog to control, and had a history of reactiveness/aggression towards other dogs.  Our friend David loved Dazy, but he also has multiple children.  The other day, Dazy snapped in the face of one of his children to tell him to back off.  The shelters are full because of the economic conditions, and Dazy was a pit mix, and would have to be labeled unsuitable for homes with children.  David knew that if he gave her to a shelter, she would spend a period of time confused and unhappy living in a cell, and then probably be euthanized.  He made the best decision for her by taking her to be euthanized rather than handing her over to strangers.  A very hard decision to make, but fairer to Dazy.  Here is the poem he wrote afterwards.

Run, Dazy, Run

Run, Dazy, run.
Pant in the heat of the Texas sun.
Stretch your legs of sinew and follow your heart,
Do not stop!
Run until the chase is done.
Then run, again, once more.

Run, Dazy, run.
Even though you sleep, your mind cast adrift,
I know of what you dream.
Smooth strides, a thunderous locomotive at full steam,
No hurdle too large;
No creek too wide;
No grass too long; as you move swiftly through the fields,
Magnificent, like a Cardinal’s song.

Run, Dazy, run.
Alas, you will run no more.
Your heart has stopped,
Your handsome head, dropped.
Hypnotic eyes of green, blue and brown, no longer shine,
For you now sleep and are no longer mine.
Legs, once taut as steel rope, now rest with your last breath,
And you will run, no more.

Run, Dazy, run.
As you stride, magnificently, towards the last horizon,
You will not escape me; my mind is already burned with your memory.
A permanent fixture in my heart,
A heart that is sore and hollow with you gone,
For you, were the only one.

Written by eurekapaws

July 16, 2009 at 10:54 am

Posted in General

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