Most behavioural problems need to be dealt with at home by the parents of the dog, in the dog’s normal environment. Many establishments will tell you that they can teach the dog not to go potty indoors or whatever, but the plain fact is that most lessons need to be learned at home, with the parents of the dog administering those lessons so that the dog will learn that the parent is a teacher figure/ guide and someone who is to be respected to be trusted and who lays down the boundaries.
I have heard many funny stories about trainers offering board and train packages costing hundreds and hundreds of dollars to stop Rex from pottying in the house. And it works…….until Rex goes back home where the rules haven’t changed!!
Rex’s parents would have been far better off to employ the services of a carpet cleaning company and a private consult with a behavioural counsellor and save themselves 500 bucks!
There are certain behavioural problems that can require the use of an out of home environment, such as aggression problems, socialisation problems and certain fear and anxiety disorders. The reason it is best to do these out of the normal home environment is because your dog, like a human, can transform and reinvent himself under certain conditions and without the hindrance of how you assume he will behave. Many dogs perform differently without their owners around, just as children behave differently with certain teachers, certain family members and act completely differently to when their parents are around.
It is all down to expectation, communication and leadership.
At Desperate Dogs, we have transformed the lives of hundreds of dogs who have previously not been able to be around other dogs, children, cats, men with hats, men with glasses, bicycles etc.
How do we do this?
Firstly, we do NOT and will not EVER use harsh punitive methods. Many a trainer will tell you they work using positive ‘balanced’ methods, or that the dogs reached a calm submissive state just by being with other pack members whilst they secretly use shock collars, prong/pinch collars, or even worse, suspend the dog in mid air hanging from a choke chain to ‘teach the dog who’s boss’.
This practice is known as ‘helicoptering’, has been outlawed by every canine society from the Association of Pet dog trainers to the organisations governing behaviourists. It is dangerous, can collapse the dog’s trachea and is a bully tactic at best. If you see or hear of these practices, walk away. Your dog will thank you for it.
Pinch collars/ choke chains/ shock collars…why won’t we use them?
Plain and simple, any fool can beat the living crap, shock the living crap or jerk the living crap out of a dog and get him to be submissive eventually. That’s not dog psychology in any form.
Dogs are sensible creatures, they know when they are beat and under such horrific torture, they will just withdraw and internalise their fears, whilst on the outside, appear to be ‘broken in’ and well behaved. I have taken on many cases where another trainer has delivered this kind of torture, the dog has been well behaved for a month and then, once they realised that the torture was over, they either reverted to their old self, or worse, developed extreme symptoms of internalised fear resulting in near death from digestive disorders and worse. It is always a long slow painful rebuild for the dog and the family and certainly not worth the thousands spent on the ‘training’ in the first place..
A bullied dog is not a rehabilitated dog. Its just a bullied dog thats going to take out his frustration on weaker pack members when he returns home.
Do we use the power of the pack to rehab the dogs?
Absolutely! When you come to Desperate Dogs, you’ll be greeted by a bunch of happy go lucky dogs who are happily barking a welcome at newcomers. We do not believe that dogs should be silent and submissive when new dogs come into the pack, its un natural for dogs not to elicit either warning or welcome noises. The newcomers are sniffed and welcomed, then everyone goes off to run and play together.
For dogs with issues, we’ll build up a slow tolerance to other dogs as we believe that anything else is ‘flooding the senses’ and can be dangerous to the dog itself and ultimately the pack. This may take a few minutes,hours or even a few days. Every dog is different and must be treated according to his load bearing capabilities.
In our opinion, it is far better to integrate fearful dogs [ and please bear in mind, most aggression is rooted in fear] one by one and slowly increase their load, having already given them coping strategies, than to just shove them into a big pack of dogs where they are likely to snap or flee, warranting a ‘correction’ from a less understanding teacher.
Dogs, just like humans, learn from their successes and build on them. They also learn from their failures, but we don’t want them to be scarred by them.
Our employee dogs, Freddie, Levi and Ava are extremely adept at making nervous dogs comfortable and teaching control to out of control dogs. They do this by example…..
Dogs learn vicariously and many a dog has come here with no pack skills and left two weeks or a month later employing the same tactics/ calming signals/general body language that they’ve learned from Freddie and Levi.
No dog gets forced into submission on its side, no dog gets bullied, no dog gets ganged up on or bitten by them….Freddie and Levi do everything with calm aloofness just as any good leader/ teacher should. The humans here follow by their example…
Part 2 of “Is your dog a Desperate Dog?” will be posted tomorrow