Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
When Tender loving care is not enough The Cure Part 4
Continuing with the case of the badly abused dog from Canada you will have noticed that though there were obvious improvements the lady says she needs to be very careful of raising her voice. We all know the world is a very noisy place. Often in many homes, there are times of raised voices during family arguments. Dogs do not like atmospheres of this type and the normal practice for them is to skulk off and hide.
Occasionally you do find some dogs that will remain trying to protect their owner from the other person. Usually you will only find this in dominant dogs that are overly attached to one member of the family. This can sometimes create a problem and dangerous if the argument is between parent and a child.
We do not actually know Captains early history only that his previous owner badly abused him. As he hates raised voices means, the retraining has not yet finished. I was just about to send her an email on how to correct this problem we she sent me one instead.
Captain is coming along nicely now with the separation anxiety seemingly under control and he no longer sleeps in my bedroom so know he can be left without any of the previous problems. As for the baseball caps, this is no longer a problem any more.
I said that she still needed to solve this problem of her having to tone down the loudness of her voice just because Captain had an aversion to it. Allowing it to continue could possibly become a danger. The email continued.
Two more problems have appeared that were unexpected. The first was two weeks ago, I had a puppy in the house and I was letting Captain meet it gradually whilst I held it in my arms. It was going along smoothly with each of them sniffing each other and everything seemed fine. All of a sudden, the puppy started to scream as if it was hurting. Captain became very upset and I commanded him to move away but instead he lunged at the puppy and we need to physically drag him away.
The following day I introduced Captain to the puppy whilst it was safely in a cage so he could only smell him through the bars. They got along fine and now they are the best of friends and play together as if nothing had happened. In fact they were such good friends that when the puppy left Captain pined for three days.
This incident made me realise I was not as in complete control as I thought I was and the compressed air was at the other side of the room. I wondered if Captain on hearing the puppy screaming was thinking this was an injured animal and the one to kill or was he trying to stop the noise.
The next problem is when he sees children playing and with all their shouting, Captain moves away as far as he can and growls at them from a distance.
For the incident with the puppy, it is a normal decision to make when seeing such a lung to automatically assume Captain was indeed going to physically attack the puppy. In such situations we cannot take that chance rather than adopting a wait and see policy.
I expressed doubt that Captain was going to harm the puppy but was in fact concerned for it. He could possibly have been trying to protect it from what ever you were doing to it to make it scream. We have to remember Captain lived with abuse by owners so he may well have thought you were doing the same to the puppy.
As for the children this is indeed worrying because at some time he could find himself corned and the warning growl could then escalate into protective biting in order for him to survive.
It is necessary for you not to pander to the dog’s fear of noise. Just as you knew there was nothing wrong with going down the stairs you decide to make him follow you because you had now become his accepted leader. Where you go he must go. Now you must start a program to desensitise Captain towards noise.
You can start by using partly blown up balloons and play with him until it bursts. Then as if by magic it just disappears and then again by magic, another one appears and the game continues with a happy posture from you.
Later the balloons can be blown up fully and you play the same game again. Once Captain is happy with balloons you can move on to party poppers, toy cap guns, paper bags burst in front of him so he learns that bangs are all part of play and nothing to fear. Both my dog Winston and Kathryn Hollings puppy Osito are now socialised to Spanish firework displays. Kathryn taught Osito when he was only four months old that there was nothing to fear. Winston on the other hand did not like fireworks and because he was four years old, he needed lots of careful retraining.
For our Working Trials training, we needed to progress onto handguns starting with .22 followed by .38 and finally .45 calibre as well as shotguns and explosives. As far as our dogs were concerned, we incorporated all sorts of bangs as part of the fun training. Dogs love criminal work and to see a criminal getting ready for a competition had all the dogs barking in excitement. Noisy sounds of gun fire only heightened the fun for them.
The problem for Captain is noise and many caring owners would naturally assume that for such problems it is better to keep the dog away from such situations that cause the dog anxiety. The only problem is like in this case there are children involved and we can never hope to achieve 100% protection so accidents are a great possibility.
Most children love to play noisy games and it would be impossible to train all the children to be quiet for just one dog no matter how much the danger. It is therefore necessary for the owner to retrain the dog. Owners need to meet such problems head on by creating noise in a controlled way. In this way, the dog is practising at accepting noise whilst the owner as leader shows an air of happiness and playing with their dog to show that noise is nothing to fear. We are teaching our dogs noise only indicates fun time.
Such desensitisation is normal, necessary, and humans as leaders of such human/canine hybrid packs need to appear fearless in any situations that cause anxiety in our dogs. For humans to caringly fuss their dogs when it is in a stressful situation is actually supporting the dogs fear as well as increasing it by proving to the dog that there is indeed something to be frightened of. The more our human caring attitude is piled onto our dogs the worse they become until they become so terrified to the point that they may well bite someone thinking its survival is at stake when in fact it is not.
Most owners cannot understand how showing a normal human caring attitude is in fact the worst thing they can do for their dog. As their dog becomes worse they incorrectly assume it must be a problem with the dog when it is not. It seems incredulous to us that ignoring a dog’s fear rather than comforting it is the right thing to do but it is and it works to produce a calm sociable dog.