Dog Behaviorist

Since we have been married we have had a total of 5 dogs.  We started with 3, he came with 2 and I came with 1 and none of them were tiny puppies.  Eventually we lost all 3 and the house felt very lonely and empty (just last summer).  So we headed out and adopted our sweet but rambunctious lab.  After a while it felt weird only having one dog and we really wanted her to have a playmate.  We ended up with little Skippy Jon Jones.  He is our first small dog and in the beginning he was awesome.

 

He’s funny, sweet and LOVES Reina!  But then he decided he didn’t like our neighbor.  Granted our neighbor comes in our yard a lot and likes to play with the dogs and has a tendency to antagonize, but still he was being pretty aggressive.  Then he didn’t like another neighbor.  Then he would get upset when anyone runs in the house, or gets in his space, or a car turns around in our cul-de-sac.  He became aggressive towards anyone entering (or getting close to) our yard.

This quickly became a big problem.  We have small children who want to have friends over.  We have friends we would like to have over, but we are simply too nervous about it.  I was told he needs to be socialized and to go to obedience class.  So I stated taking them on walks to the park and I signed up for class.  Class was with a very intimidating instructor and I was scared to death but Skippy caught on quickly.  The instructor insisted we use prong collars and they seemed to help while we were going for walks.  However, the behavior at home did not change at all.

Michael went to the store to look at shock collars with a remote.  That was our next step.  But while he was there an employee asked what the problem was and then told him that the shock collar will not help.  He said we needed a ‘dog behaviorist.’  Michael calls me and we discuss while I google the term to see if there really are any in our area.  I immediately come across a guy who says this is what he does and how great it is.  I call and get the cost, which turns out to be the same as a shock collar so we agree to give it a try.

Yesterday was the big day.  Mostly he sat and talked, while watching our dog and us of course.  After an hour and a half of explaining dog behavior, why Skippy is so aggressive (personality-alpha dog, territorial) and the fact that eventually we were bound to have a dog with this personality he gave us the following suggestions:

  • Follow the nothing in life is free plan.  They only get fed twice a day and only have access to the food 20 minutes each time.  They must sit in order to get fed.  He must sit in order to get petted, or go out the door or go for a walk or get anything whatsoever.
  • Daily walks.  They both need to be walked as much as possible.  A tired dog is a good dog (I read that somewhere before).
  • Off the furniture.  He is no longer allowed on the sofa or any other furniture.  This makes me happy and sad.  I will be glad to have the furniture fur-free (that was my original intent this time around and I did great with the lab but failed with Skippy) but also a little sad to lose my cuddle buddy.  He really can be super sweet.
  • Sit and stay.  We need to work on sit and stay until he can do it at least 3 minutes and down and stay until he can do it 8-10.
  • Gentle leaders.  We bought a gentle leader for both dogs to help with the walks.  The behaviorist was strongly opposed to the pinch collar, talking about how old they were and advancements since that time.  Ultimately he compared the gentle leader to a horse bridle which did make a lot of sense.

We are supposed to seriously focus on  those 5 things for the next 10 weeks.  We are supposed to start seeing a change in 2-3. I am hopeful this will work.  Quite honestly we are not sure what we will do if it doesn’t.  In the meantime we are also supposed to change our electric fence so he can only go in the backyard (something we were already discussing) and he gave us a bottle of citronella spray which Skippy REALLY did not like to use if someone comes over and he gets aggressive.  We can also always put him in his crate upstairs when people come over if needed…

 

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