Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Psycho Bitch Moves In


Milkshake our Rottweiler foster began to bully the golden Shaker. The fear in his eyes made me afraid that this was a bad idea.



Shaker would try to come to us for petting; she would warn him off. Shaker vacated his favorite spot on the end of the sofa, when she gave an almost inaudible growl. My baby looked unhappy.


When the dogs at the kennel came out, the bitch hit the sliding glass door so hard I thought it would break. She jumped on the table to get a better look. She stared and growled at the casa blanca fans like they were going to attack her. She jumped on my table! That will never do.


Wild out of control barking ruled the yard when the boarders were out, so I began to stagger her trips outside. We work hard to make our guests fell welcome. Milkshake’s fierce barking was not compatible with the energy dynamic we strive to create.


Sensitive to movement, yep that’s a way to label some of her weird behavior.


Running into people, jumping on them, no control; those are other labels that could go on her behavior.


We examined her neck and face to find multiple scars, so she was no stranger to dog fights.


Well, we understood why Patty did not have her on the adoption list.


The first thing we did was to change her name to Mikki.


Shaker lives to be in the good dog zone. Each time he heard the correction sound the poor boy shriveled up looking miserable.


Mikki knew no rules, so she heard the stop what you are doing sound frequently.


Should I remove Shaker from the house, while Mikki learned the rules? How long would it take to teach a 4 yr old the rules?


The fun had just begun.


Monday, December 27, 2010

Dog Center For Rent

Hi,
Since a kid, I’ve always wanted to be around dogs.




Since 1983 people have brought their dogs to Carrvilla for help with behavior problems. I did it for free in the beginning, for the pleasure of having the opportunity to learn more about dogs.


That’s been my life.



www.carrvillak9.com is the web address. We are on a major highway in Kendall County, Illinois. It doesn’t get better than next door to the forest preserve.


The place was built by a dog lover- in floor heat, well fenced. This is a great place for dogs.


What the place needs is an enterprising dog loving entrepreneur to rent it.


This is my home, but my heart and passion have moved in with the feral dogs of Puerto Rico.


I’ve lost my passion for running this place and it breaks my heart.


A very reasonable price to take over an existing business and rent a beautiful property that was set up for dogs.


PLEASE, pass this on to the dog lovers in your life.


Thanks & God Bless!


Oh, check it out (online) don’t contact my staff and then expect to get along with me.


I welcome serious enquiries carrvilla@msn.com











Friday, December 24, 2010

Do Veterinarians of Puerto Rico Know?

As long as people send me heartfelt emails like this, I will publish them. The veterinarians of Puerto Rico should know what people are thinking.


Carmen said:

The colegio de medicos veterinarios charges $2 for a stamp for Rabies shots. They should have some type of program of public health and they don’t. i would like to know what those funds are used for. It is not fair that rescuers have all the responsibility of attending this problem and many times use their own money it is everybody’s responsibility. I think we should somehow make the colegio to do some kind of public health service and to lower their fees it is much more expensive to take your dog to the vet than to take your kid to the pediatrician. I think it’s terrible that they refuse outside help if they are not willing to help with the problem their main concern is to be able to live to a high standard of life and to be able to pay for their yachts, jaguars, mansions etc.



This is not my opinion. Some of the people I admire most in the world are veterinarians. I love dogs, veterinarians save my “babies.”


I can’t believe that these guys know what I’m hearing the dog loving public say.

Let's Talk With the Vetrinarians of Puerto Rico

Cheryl said:
A professional organization is in charge of writing their act. Legislators just pass it as they feel this is that organization’s guidelines for that profession. The state’s Department of Professional Review is in charge of interpreting that act and issuing warnings, fines, etc. to wayward practitioners. When changes are proposed, that organization’s highly paid lobbyist is behind the scenes rubbing the legislators backs.


Let’s say to work in IL, a licensed vet from IA has to be sponsored by an Illinois vet. Just not sure who carries the liability insurance for the IA vet. From what you’re saying, that’s true in PR. In a number of states now, it is illegal for that out-of-state vet to give you his opinion/advice via any form of telecommunications.
Now, if your volunteer vets want to contact www.ij.org and lodge a complaint, that’s a horse of another color. The Institute of Justice is free. They’re dying to come into Illinois and rip into the vet act, but it takes someone to lodge a complaint with the IJ.
You can’t as a group go in and mess with an organizations “act.” If it is in the pipeline with changes, with lots of money; lobbyist and grass roots support you might get an amendment added. You can get legislation introduced under a separate act to cover the street dogs. Back to lots of money, lobbyist and grass roots support.
Now it would be nice if they could work out a deal with vet schools and save face. Have you contacted http://www.avma.org/issues/animal_welfare/default.asp?

Thanks, Cheryl, you are a good friend and mentor. When I get back to Puerto Rico, I will approach the Vet Asn. Perhaps the timing will be right to open a dialogue. If not, I'll give this a shot.
We need the vets input on this problem. There has to be a way to take care of the strays. The vets are the top animal proffessional. Their silence on this issue angers many activists. The rhetoric gets hot.
Some how I think their silence says that they think the problem is unsolvable. Of course until we talk, that's only a guess.  











Thursday, December 23, 2010

Enter Psycho Bitch



Our first foster experience with Cassie was sweet, so I petitioned Patty to foster another Recycled Rott. She had a girl named Milkshake with some problems; mostly she had never been required to follow rules. Okay, behavior problems, that’s what I do for a living. I embraced the challenge.


Francine, one of the dedicated Recycled Rott volunteers, dropped Milkshake off at the kennel. A migraine prevented me from meeting Milkshake until the next morning.


The pudgy rottie did the front end bounce while barking like a maniac. Every dog passing her door caused the barking to intensify. She looked at the door to her kennel. She looked at the door to the yard. She ran into me without looking at me. Hmm.


My husband, Kirt, walks with Canadian crutches, canes that wrap around the wrist for stability. They were introduced in the yard, so she had the option to be farther away from him. Woo-woo-woo with a low crouch was her first response. The old pro (my husband) had her butt wagging in no time. She liked us, but never looked directly at us.


Introduction to the blonde boy came next. We took her to the three acre dog park where she began exploring. With this kind of space two dogs came go to neutral corners until they are ready to deal with each other. Milkshake sounded like the hound from hell. Her body slams sent him sailing. He gave her a demonstration of golden speed. Milkshake went into prey drive, but couldn’t catch him. Both dogs stopped near us, so we redirected her attention.


Milkshake wanted to play, but the line was thin between friendly contact and I’ll kick your ass mode. Shaker would race away looking over his shoulder to see if she’d follow. The four year old fat bitch did until exhausted, perfect.


We sat in front of the house petting the dogs. Milkshake fell in love with us quite easily, but still did not look directly at us. I am NOT talking about eye contact. Her low body posture around us quickly changed to jumping up. Milkshake came with two gears: hypercontrolled submissive and out of control happy.


Patty was right; no one had worked with her. When she crossed the annoyance line, corrections were harsh. If you’ve worked with dogs, you’ve seen this behavior.


At this point I had no idea what fun this was going to change. I’ve worked with people, who go home to do the work. I’ve taken in dogs for specific training, but never lived with a bad dog, a four year old crazy bitch to boot.


I want to thank Patty from Recylced Rotts for seeing the good in this girl. Your judgment with her was right on target.


Shaker and Milkshake, what are the chances of that?






Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Colegio de Médicos Veterinarios de Puerto Rico


Tourists shocked at the sight of starving street dogs contact shelters or rescuers. These tourists share their stories on travel blogs. The world is aware of the


chronic problem which plagues and humiliates Puerto Rico. How can the department of tourism combat such bad press?


Animal Activists cry for sterilization programs. The leading animal professionals are silent on the issue; why?


A wise woman I spoke with said, “How can the vets be for outsiders coming in to neuter animals when their biggest clients are breeders or rescuers?”


It’s easy to be altruistic when your ability to earn a living isn’t affected. It is not unreasonable to be worried and want to protect what they have worked hard to achieve.


The veterinarians of Puerto Rico must have legitimate concerns which should be addressed. I’m guessing that they are concerned about more than just their living.


Is it possible to work out a solution? It’s amazing what we can do when we just talk with each other.










Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Animal Control in Puerto Rico


Dedicated rescuers in Puerto Rico beg for people to adopt dogs and puppies. Their hearts ache because of the conditions in which the dogs live.


Truck loads of dogs are put to sleep daily. Put to sleep, doesn’t that sound peaceful? Some people actually believe ending their lives is better for them. How pathetic to think that killing a young healthy being is good. Let’s hope the folks who think that way are never put in charge of programs for homeless people.


This does not sit well with me or many others. What to do? Some groups have organized spay clinics with volunteer veterinarians from the states and elsewhere. For the past year I’ve been doing research into conducting spay clinics on the island. This is a grand undertaking. Dog loving activists have gone through the effort and expense of putting all of this together to be refused.


The help of dog lovers of the world has been turned down. People ready and able to ameliorate a chronic problem have been casually waived off because they are not licensed in Puerto Rico. Are Puerto Rican vets not given reciprocity in any states? Why do no state side vets have reciprocity in Puerto Rico?


Is there no way for the legislators of Puerto Rico to give authorization to volunteer veterinarians to come in short term to alleviate a problem which plagues and humiliates the island?


Can we get enough Puerto Rican vets to volunteer to supervise the projects? Respected island rescue groups plead for animal control through sterilization. Why is it that when groups contact the professional organization of veterinarians in Puerto Rico they receive no response?


If the veterinarian’s organization will not address this issue with the rescuers, what can we do? Should we begin an organized effort to sit in the meetings of the legislature until the issue is addressed?


Do the Puerto Rican vets belong to a larger organization? Will the larger community of veterinarians require them to address the problem?


I imagine that the veterinarians of Puerto Rico have legitimate concerns which should be addressed on this topic. I imagine because there is no discussion. The rescue groups have been begging for this discussion.


As the Chairman of the Sterilization Committee of FOICCA, the certified Animal Control Officers of the island, I will be sending a letter to the Colegio de Veterinarios to open a dialogue. It is my fondest hope that the rescue groups have somehow been remiss in their approach; that our veterinarians will discuss animal control with another duly authorized group of professionals.


We prefer not to explore other options.


Monday, December 20, 2010

Foster Rott Finds a Forever Home


Cassie, the sassy, glanced over her shoulder to see if Shaker was watching as she lapped the three acre dog park. The blonde boy picked up the gauntlet and took the lead. He slowed to let her catch him, then shifted into a faster gear. They were a joy to watch. She liked him. She let him pin her on her back. She let him win at mouth dueling. Talk about building the boy’s confidence.



Her moments of pushy behavior came at feeding time. Every opportunity her head went in his dish. Because of this I felt his assault of her dish more outstanding. Subtle signals completely reversed their usual roles.


Shaker taught Cassie to love a good car ride. The girl who refused to get in the car wanted to go everywhere. Her leash walking became polite. Cassie stayed with us for two weeks before Patty from Recycled Rotts sent her to her forever home.


Shaker experienced quality give and take with Cassie. She was sweet and not bossy. His confidence with a stronger animal has increased.


This went so well, I’ve asked Patty to let me foster another female. Shaker is ready for his next rehab experience.


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Part of Decreasing Dog To Dog Aggression

Cassie taught Shaker to share his house. She became daddy’s girl instantly. Shaker wasn’t sure how to handle that, so he got closer to me.



Cassie and Shaker played well, but he soon learn that she was stronger so he had better play nice, just the lesson he needed.


Meal time became difficult for the blonde boy. Cassie invariably ran over to Shaker’s dish grabbing a mouthful before she was corrected. Shaker grumbled, but she didn’t care. This was the time she pressed her advantage with him. Until I got it across to her that raiding his dish was not allowed, he harrumphed in vain.


Before Shaker can learn to allow dogs to appease him, he has to learn to appease other dogs again plus to say when he’s had enough. It’s learning how to negotiate.


Shaker looked relieved when Cassie went to her dish after I’d correct her.


This sets the stage for what I learned next about how dogs communicate. Occasionally Cassie would leave some food in her bowl. If Shaker came near, she would growl; he’d retreat. Sometimes she’d get up and finish her meal; mostly she’d just warn him away.


On this particular day Shaker must have still been hungry. Cassie lay in the narrow spot between the kitchen and the living room separating Shaker from her dish in the hall near the kitchen.


A frustrated blonde boy paced, and then laid down for a bit staring at her or the food. Soon he let out a sigh, It sounded like a sigh of resignation, so I went back to my book. Cassie turned her head away from him.


The sigh meant he decided to risk life and limb to get that food. He was up on his toes in the stiff legged posture that says, “Watch out, my legs are stiff. You never know what can happen, when I have stiff legs.” Whoa, this display shows how serious a dog is about something.


Cassie turned her head toward the boy. It looked like he swallowed hard, but I won’t swear to it. His posture became just a little less stiff and more like a stiff legged tippy toe. She closed her eyes; walked past her and ate her food.


Shaker successfully negotiated with a stronger animal for her food. I believe that he needs to be able to do that with a stronger dog before a weaker dog will be able to negotiate with him again.


That’s what I mean when I say that he needs to regain confidence in his own language. This needs to be the purpose of reintroducing a traumatized dog to others.


Many otherwise good treatment plans fall short, if we are not clear on what we want the dog to learn by contact with this animal.


Does this make more sense or I am being as clear as mud. What do you say?


Saturday, December 18, 2010

Animal Control in Kendall County, Illinois

Kendall County, Illinois, where I’ve lived for 30 years, could be the poster child for animal control doing well. Just recently the shelter had too many dogs. The warden was worried that dogs were going to have to be euthanized. The local newspaper put out the word; dogs need to be adopted. Crisis was avoided.



My dear friend Christine Weis was the Premier Animal Control Warden in Kendall County for 32 years.


We met in a snow storm on December 23rd at 10:30 pm. Two hounds were huddled against my fence along the road. No way was I going to handle potentially diseased animals. My beautiful Belle Star had 15 puppies in our first litter ever.


The sheriff’s department gave me the home number of the warden, who was out on a call.


Her then 86 year old husband gave me a hard time about taking the dogs in myself. It was almost Christmas Eve, she’d been on calls all day. Christine was 72. I was new in the community with my husband and my dogs. My attitude was it’s your job, do it. I had babies to worry about.


I fretted until the lights of her el camino turned into my drive. My puppies suckled making greedy slurps as their mother panted. The flames darted in the woodstove, as the wind whipped the snow outside.


Bent bracing the bitter hawk the smallish figure was swift. The dogs were loaded by the time I got to my gate. “Thank you” was all I could say. “Couldn’t leave them out here, Good night.” She replied and was gone.


Christine Weis was collecting stray animals when Kendall County, Illinois Board of Directors decided the county needed an animal control warden. She got the job because she was already doing it.


By the time Christine retired the current facility was built; previously animal control was in the lady’s barn. Thank you, Christine, you were a pioneer. Your love of animals is why Kendall County is where it is in animal control today. You are my hero.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Little Explanation

Hi,



Just as we were about to get into some really interesting body language photos of the Puerto Rican dogs, I switched gears to tell you Shaker, my dog in Illinois.


As interesting as the blonde boy is the way in which the street dogs get along fascinate me. Their social structure is so much more complicated than I ever imagined.


For this almost year that I’ve been writing this blog, the words have been easy. In love with dogs describes how I’ve felt since childhood. At my age it’s almost forever. There is so much we learn by observation over time. That’s the stuff I want to share with you.


After enjoying thirty years in dogs, the specialness of street dog society makes me feel like a kid opening a great gift.


The point is I’m being emotional mush right now and can’t write about the satos.


More will follow on the recovery of the blonde boy, who by the way is doing well.


As you may know I am dedicated to getting the Puerto Rican island dogs spayed. Spay is the way Puerto Rico is a project I have been developing to humanely control the dog population.


Thanks for reading. I really love the comments.






Sunday, December 12, 2010

Apology

To Melissa,
When I first read your comment, I thought you were saying that he could have done something differently. When I re- read it I see that you didn't. I am being defensive of the boy, sorry.



Don't Hurt Me, I'm Just a Kid

Melissa said...

Honestly before this post I was pondering the effects of male male vs. male female or female female confrontations. Made me chuckle when your thoughts went a little the same direction.

My question, do you think Shaker's original incident would have been different if a female would have been the attacker? Before the incident he treated the females much differently than the male here. He already had it worked out how far he could go with them and had a very great respect. On the other hand, with the male, because interactions were closely monitored he never was able to safely work that out. I know he had experiences with other males before wintering here. Just wonder if more of his dog education was with girls? Also in my opinion a lot of males neutered young tend to act more like bitches than dogs. Did he have much education with intact males?

I think you've mentioned his bullying is of males or females. What about his fear? Dogs he shows discomfort with? Ever female?


Unless the history of the dog indicates otherwise; I’ll always start transgender.
Shaker had been well socialized with intact males as well as those recently fixed. It wasn’t Shaker’s lack of social skills that caused the attack by the other male. If the other male had backed off when Shaker went submissive to him, we wouldn’t be discussing this. From what you told me there was nothing Shaker could have done to appease this guy.


For all of his social experience, Shaker was only a baby of ten months when he was attacked. He was a soft puppy. It takes a good two years for a dog to reach adult maturity. This includes mental maturity.


I honestly believe that if this had happened to Shaker at 2 years, he would have handled it much like Stormy has handled his attack.


In the acute phase post attack a scared and angry Shaker lashed out without thinking. Male or female did not really matter which pushed his buttons. Good management was why he didn’t injure more dogs or get hurt himself.


Some dogs get stuck in that scared reactive post trauma acute phase.

With Shaker I could sense his fear when he started back to day care.
My hope was that getting him back with his buds would trigger his old, familiar behaviors. I put him with Klondyke, a ten year old sibe. Klondyke rules the yard as my boss dog. He is everything we wanted Shaker to be. To this day Shaker has never had a problem with Klon. They ride in the car together. Isn’t that interesting?


The last dog Shaker went for in the reactive phase was Roxie, a leggy lab x great dane. She flipped him. Baby boy was on his back so fast. Each encounter teaches a dog something. He learned who not to mess with. That’s when he made the leap to chronic or bully.


In bully stage any sensed weak or vulnerable are subject to reprimand or attack. With Shaker gender didn’t seem to matter, if I’d let him he’d be one bullying little asshole. Some of the looks he’s given me, when I correct his behavior have been withering. He softens immediately, so it’s a non issue.


Since Shaker’s first day with me I have taught him but two things.


1) I like this. 2) I don’t like that.


One thing for sure is he knows I don’t like him attacking other dogs.


His fear is another long topic; let’s save that for another post.


Guess Who's Coming To Dinner



What is the first thing I wanted Shaker to learn from another dog?



In her book Animals In Translation Dr. Temple Grandin impressed upon us how strong an emotion fear is.


Shaker is comfortable enough in his dysfunction that he could identify the weak to terrorize. It stands to reason that the bigger stronger dogs still scare him even if he hasn’t been attacked again.


1st Rehab step was to teach Shaker he can be safe with a big tough dog.


We needed: a female (transgender is always the better starting point) a good solid girl who likes to play hard, one who can always win but won’t.


Our last Rottweiler died of old age in 1999. I am a big fan of rotts, so I called my friend Patty at Recycled Rotts. After toying with the idea of fostering rotts for ages, this seemed like the perfect time.


A lovely girl named Cassie, who hated car rides, needed a foster home. We introduced them in the dog park. They ran and played. We all came into our yard where they played some more.


Everything went great until we walked into the house. No other dog had been in his house since his return in spring. Shaker’s signals were clear; he didn’t like her in the house.


Cassie didn’t care what Shaker thought, she was in the house. Shaker circled her on stiff legs as she investigated her new home. Suddenly she turned to face Shaker. Her hackles went up. This meant enough of your shit buddy.


I put both dogs outside to work it out. Let the whizzing begin. Cassie urinated, Shaker covered it. This went on for a bit and then they were playing again.


Time to feed the doggies, now, you know that had to be fun. Both dogs held their sits while I scooped out the food. I knew I could get Shaker to wait, so I fed Cassie first introducing her to her spot to be fed.


What the hell did she care; Cassie ran over to Shaker’s dish. Shaker’s reaction was shock and growl. Quickly I had the girl back where she belonged. The remainder of our first night went without incident.


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Can Aggressive an Dog Rehabbed in Dog Language?

 


A scared traumatized dog watches other dogs for signs of threat. He analyzes every move. Soon the scared dog figures out which dogs he should be cautious with or respectful of.


Along with this observation comes the realization that other dogs are scared. Recognizing the vulnerability of others gives the scared dog an opportunity to be the strong by becoming the bully. It’s classic.


Current thought on rehabbing this problem consists of building the dog’s confidence that it is safe when with their person and to look to the person when stressed. With our repeated re-direction the dog figures out we don’t want him to do that.


Yes, that is all good. I am not going to turn this dog out with others hoping that he will look at me or I’m going to have time to redirect.


The dog may live in high stress mode waiting for the next attacker. That has nothing to do with why he’ll attack. The other dog’s vulnerability becomes the trigger.


I’ve done growl classes in which we controlled the dogs’ interactions while they were muzzled. That worked out well enough that at the end of the course the dogs were together without muzzles. This was a huge improvement, but these dogs were always going to be watched cautiously.


My experience with Stormy, a street dog in Puerto Rico has taught me that even after a life threatening attack a dog can get along with all other dogs.


It’s a matter of putting Shaker in a position where he must become better in dog language. If he is the top dog, he’ll abuse. My handsome baby boy is going to be good with other dogs again.


Shaker is being rehabbed by the dogs I am selecting to teach him what he needs to learn in the canine language.


I love this guy. I’m putting everything I know on the table to so he can get back to his life.


Thursday, December 9, 2010

Understanding Dog Aggression Comments

In a previous post I said:
Watching Shaker go from happy well met to hyper-reactive was painful. Soon I noticed him having bad dreams. His eyeballs popped and darted during REM sleep. Low whimpering became pathetic sobs. His feet paddled the air.

It’s interesting to note that the first forty-five minutes of day care Shaker is joyously running with his buds like old times. When the edge of needing the exercise is softened, he begins to look around to as if to see who could do him harm.


Cheryl said: I did find a number of things on canine PTSD, but we’re talking about war, abused or Katrina victims, not a well adjusted puppy who was attacked. Now most of the dogs are spooky, but some articles talked about the aggressive aspect.

http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/9_5/features/Canine_Aggression_Socialization_15805-1.html?zkPrintable=true

http://canineaggression.blogspot.com/2008/01/canine-ptsd-in-disaster-and-war.html (Katrina and war dogs PTSD)

In a book Tao of Equus, the author talks about PTSD as a result of how our neurological system protects us from right before that moment of sudden death. She believes what happens in a near death or we think we are situation, but live, that device doesn’t reset to “normal” and the switch is always on. Unconsciously the brain is on guard for the final blow and we’re ready to react. Epona Equestrian Services, founded by author Linda Kohanov, has become an internationally-recognized innovator in the field of Equine Experiential Learning www.taoofequus.com. She uses abused horses in her work with dysfunctional non-horse clients.


I was confused going from PTSD to bullying. You are saying it’s part of the PTSD issue, right? (see the whole-dog journal). Is he really doubting his language skills or is the switch “on?” Is this learned response that feels comfortable and he’s afraid to loose? Normal to him could be scary?


“Language skills” was throwing me for a loop. I think it goes deeper. From the above Tao reference, I think he saw death.


Regarding issues of not socializing animals:

Blazing Prairie Stars, provider of equine assisted therapy, newsletter.
Snickers is a new herd member at BPS. She is trying very hard to make new horse friends as she assimilates into the herd, but she has some social skills challenges. Because Snickers did not have much opportunity to play with other horses in a herd, she has very little experience. This is upsetting to Snickers. She has been learning how to read nonverbal cues from her herd mates. She has been learning how to fit in the social order and how to respond to the leader. She has been learning how to approach the other horses appropriately. She has been learning about horse personal space.

Cheryl


I think your treatment plan is brilliant. I think the problem lies in his own insecurity. If he can gain enough confidence back in his own language he should overcome the fear that drives his bullying. I do also think the bullying behavior must be stopped or better yet prevented from happening as described in the first article. Once a behavior gets patterned it is definitely harder to change. You are in a very unique position with your access to other dogs for play groups and your extensive knowledge of their personalities. Definitely not something you could work through at the neighborhood dog park. I am putting a lot more focus on my baby's (Pystol) canine education. I am lucky to have 3 puppies about her age that she plays with frequently, my own girls, and a group of older dogs that are safe for her to interact with (two male huskies, a lab, and a gaggle of border collies) My girls are pretty good at "dog" but Pystol is becoming even better. Although she really knows how to be a pest and seems to know which dogs she can get away with her favorite pesky behavior and which she better just not try it with. She thoroughly enjoys attaching herself to the big dogs chest hair and just holding on. Anyway, I was inspired to invest more effort into this part of her education and am looking forward to seeing how it influences her throughout our journey.


Melissa


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Understanding Dog Aggression

Not every dog who gets attacked by another will end up being an abuser. Why do some dogs get past the incident and others become abusers?



Last year Stormy, one of the street dogs living in my neighborhood in Puerto Rico, was attacked and almost killed. The most obvious change in his behavior is a perpetually low tail carriage. His relationship with other dogs in the neighborhood is pretty much the same as before.


Last year Shaker, the shining star of my day care, was attacked. He became an abuser; why?


Shaker was less than a year old at the time of the attack. He gave his attacker signals that he didn’t want a fight, he was sorry. The attack continued. In the aftermath the young dog doubted his language skills. If I go belly up licking my lips to say I’m sorry, the other dog is supposed to forgive me and not hurt me.


When we are young and naïve, we think that everybody plays by the rules. Youngsters are just learning the rules. Shaker’s attacker violated the rules as Shaker thought he knew them. Think that our behavior controls the behavior of others more than it does is like little kids thinking.


This causes the reactive or acute phase of dysfunction. The dog is scared, doesn’t know what the rules are any more. This is when the dog will lash out unpredictably.


If this makes sense so far, we’ll discuss the chronic phase in which the abused becomes the abuser. Thanks, Cheryl, for telling me you didn’t understand. Any questions?


Monday, December 6, 2010

How Does A Dog Become a Bully?


The worse thing about what happened to Shaker wasn’t that he got beat up, but that it happened before he was old enough to be certain about what he knew. It caused him to doubt what he knew about his language.



Let’s say you get mad at me, I say that I’m sorry. If I am just learning the language, I think that I have not said the right thing to appease you. I doubt my language skills.


This is different from I know what I said; you were a jerk and didn’t accept my apology.


Shaker was scared and angry. We never knew what was going to set him off in the early reactive phase.


Because Shaker did have a lot of experience with other dogs it didn’t take he long to progress beyond the reactive phase to becoming comfortable in his dysfunction.


A dog is comfortable in his dysfunction when he knows which dogs are not to be messed with. He no longer gets ticked at dogs which can and will kick his rear, only a dog in the reactive phase does that.


In true bully fashion the weak, insecure or inexperienced are sniffed out. Zeroing in to terrorize is just a matter of personal style.


So Shaker is now confident in his dysfunction and his language. He is no longer my innocent pet; he knows the law of the wild. Okay, so life is hard time to get over it.


The two distinct post incident phases require different treatment plans. Does this make sense? Any questions?


Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Human Experts

If aliens were to come to earth and want to know about humans, they would ask our companion animals. They know our body language. The dog knows your mood usually better than your spouse. Turns out they know when we have a seizure or our blood sugar drops. They are the experts on humans.

If aliens were to come to earth and want to know about humans, they would ask our companion animals. They know our body language. The dog knows your mood usually better than your spouse. Turns out they know when we have a seizure or our blood sugar drops. They are experts on all things human.



This year with Shaker has not been all bad by any means. I watched him get his PHD in humanity.




Since puppyhood, Shaker has gone everywhere with us. He carries a little sign that says, “Will sit for strangers.” Very few people can resist him. He wants to be acknowledged by all who pass. He would prefer petting, but an “Oh, what a beautiful dog” seems to suffice.


Kids sometimes pat dogs on the head too hard. Shaker has learned how to lean into them just enough that they rest their hands on him instead of the head hit.


Some kids want to pet him, but they are afraid of dogs. Shaker ends up by them with his muzzle pointing away from them. Next thing you know that golden is being pet.


When we’re on the veranda at Starved Rock, he is like a hooker at a hotel bar. He sends out the vibe, soon somebody standing there can’t keep their hands off him.


What would a doctorate in humans be without the time honored skill of knowing which humans you really don’t have to obey? Yes, he’s learned the dark skills.


No dog’s humanity education is complete until they have stepped into the aura of a dark or sinister human being. Shaker has always believed that all humans are good. He adores humans.


Recently he stepped up to a man seated nearby. The man was talking sweet nothings to him. The happy blonde boy got close for some petting. Suddenly Shaker crouched and took a quick step backwards. His ears went back. This was a first. The man became more solicitous of Shaker. The good boys became sweeter. Shaker allowed himself to be seduced, but I saw the reluctance.


I watched this play out there was no dominant posturing on the part of the man. He was sitting on the floor. His head was lower than the dog’s. Vibe, aura I don’t know what, but that boy sensed something.


One thing I learned from my dogs long ago is if the dog likes everybody and suddenly there is one person the dog is leery about, you should pay attention. Well, that’s another story.





This year I watched Shaker get his PHD in humanity.


Since puppyhood, Shaker has gone everywhere with us. He carries a little sign that says, “Will sit for strangers.” Very few people can resist him. He wants to be acknowledged by all who pass. He would prefer petting, but an “Oh, what a beautiful dog” seems to suffice.


Kids sometimes pat dogs on the head too hard. Shaker has learned how to lean into them just enough that they rest their hands on him instead of the head hit.


Some kids want to pet him, but they are afraid of dogs. Shaker ends up by them with his muzzle pointing away from them. Next thing you know that golden is being pet.


When we’re on the veranda at Starved Rock, he is like a hooker at a hotel bar. He sends out the vibe, soon somebody standing there can’t keep their hands off him.


What would a doctorate in humans be without the time honored skill of knowing which humans you really don’t have to obey? Yes, he’s learned the dark skills.


No dog’s humanity education is complete until they have stepped into the aura of a dark or sinister human being. Shaker has always believed that all humans are good. He adores humans.


Recently he stepped up to a man seated nearby. The man was talking sweet nothings to him. The happy blonde boy got close for some petting. Suddenly Shaker crouched and took a quick step backwards. His ears went back. This was a first. The man became more solicitous of Shaker. The good boys became sweeter. Shaker allowed himself to be seduced, but I saw the reluctance.


I watched this play out there was no dominant posturing on the part of the man. He was sitting on the floor. His head was lower than the dog’s. Vibe, aura I don’t know what, but that boy sensed something.


One thing I learned from my dogs long ago is if the dog likes everybody and suddenly there is one person the dog is leery about, you should pay attention. Well, that’s another story.


Saturday, December 4, 2010

Canine Post Traumatic Stress


Watching Shaker go from happy well met to hyper-reactive was painful. Soon I noticed him having bad dreams. His eyeballs popped and darted during REM sleep. Low whimpering became pathetic sobs. His feet paddled the air.



I couldn’t take it. I’d wake him, then thump him and play with him. We’d end up snuggling on the sofa together.


My way of seeing this is that a dog who is attacked by another has had his innocence taken. It comes as a big shock when some surly presence crosses the line beating the snot out of you. Could it be possible to hurt more than this? In that moment the world becomes a monstrously scary place.


Shaker has been well socialized from birth on, when he started acting out, I hoped that his social experience would out weight the effects of the trauma. We put him with select dogs he knew since he first began day care. I worked with my staff to get better at recognizing body language and redirecting. Paula is getting exceptionally good.


My staff is good, but they are not behaviorists, so Shaker was removed from day care, except for certain groups and only with Paula.


It’s interesting to note that the first forty-five minutes Shaker is joyously running with his buds like old times. When the edge of needing the exercise is softened, he begins to look around to as if to see who could do him harm. It is at that point that we are bringing him back in.


The safety of the day care dogs trumps Shaker’s rehab so we’re pursuing other options.


Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Blonde Boy Comes Home

Shaker’s physical wounds were mostly healed, when he came back home with us. He raced around the yard at top speed doing his dare devil routine. The long graceful strides, the happy faces; it was worth the trip to Michigan on our second day back from Puerto Rico.




The first week home Shaker went everywhere with us. It was good to have the sweet boy back. Each morning the day care dogs get loud before the first run in our three acre dog park. Shaker wanted to run with the day care dogs. He did some meet & greets with old friends from here. All seemed normal. His first few days back at day care were like old tmes or so it seemed.


Shaker was in the office with Lily, a five month old sassy aussie. It was early in the day. She was full of in your face energy.  Shaker corrected her lack of manners swiftly with a fierce growl. He pinned her. It scared Lily.


When an older dog corrects a youngster by pinning and growling without biting; it’s a good thing. Lily had been a little wild, so she had been told. I didn’t like the ferocity of the growl.


A couple of weeks later Shaker got into it with a recently neutered Portuguese Water Dog. The other boy ended up with a puncture wound. The attendant didn’t see it start. Neither dog had a history of fighting in day care.


Shaker got into a couple of spats with dogs, the canine equivalent of bad words spoken. It was like he was angry. Staff began to watch him carefully.

I worked with my staff to teach them to read the body language signals better and to redirect faster. Shaker was such a good dog. I couldn’t believe that the one bad incident could re-write his behavior.


Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Saga of Blonde Boy


Blonde Boy is the Golden Retriever’s answer to a young Robert Redford. When we take him out people can’t keep their eyes off him. The beautiful boy knows it. He sits. He gives a canine happy face and wags his tail as people approach. He gives a “Waah” look of surprise when someone walks past without a hello or a pet.



Too cute to ignore sweetly demanding attention from all, he is well reinforced for this behavior.





The little darling grew up going almost everywhere with us. He is welcome at alfresco dining establishments. His manners are impeccable.



I’ve worked with a wide variety of breeds, but this is the first golden to live with me. He has a much softer temperament than the rotts and bullies. Soft and compliant, but I won’t say he lived to please.


He grew up in day care. His canine language skills were a sight to behold. He could bring out even the shyest of dogs. If ever a dog had a good life, this guy was in competition.


And then he was attacked. The wounds have healed, but he is not the same dog. His name is Shaker. I am going to tell you the story of this golden’s road to recovery.










Body Language Tells The Tail Discussion

Notice how her head position minimizes neck exposure.
Cheryl said: No. From the camera angle, it's hard to tell, but her neck is not held high or low. The front of her body is all about how she feels about Snow White. Could you explain more fully? I find it interesting how close her front paws are together. I've seen that in horses when they're not quite sure; may have been corrected about something, etc. It's not a balanced position.


Good observation. What you say about the narrow stance makes perfect sense. I wasn't sure what to make about it. Thanks.


Other photos I have of Bonita in stalk mode she has a wide front stance, so that probably is about Blondie. The head position shows intent. A post I'm working on has Bonita and Stormy warning off Toby with a similiar head position. They look like football players lining up to kick butt. God, I miss these guys.

Remember that Blondie had Bonita so terrorized that she wouldn’t move towards food when she was starving.
 I'm assuming that Blondie might not have had a nurturing mother or is her relationship with her daughter based more on "the strong will survive?" The female will survive and raise more puppies insuring that the animals will not die out.


My Jan/Feb posts talk about Blondie's mothering style. I think breeding and nurturing style of parent are the key players in how a mom treats her kids. For a while I thought scarcity of resources was the key, then I met a couple of moms who could rival any pampered pet as far as being sweet and concerned. So I don't know is my best answer. I do agree that Blondie and Stormy were not allowing Bonita to eat to insure their own survival.


By the way, when Blondie looked at me before she invited Snow to eat; I said, "Good girl". It was an extraordinary moment for us. I didn't think I needed to share that.

I differ. I realize animal body language is a whole new subject for some as well as your reporting the interactions, the life they live, etc. The photos are a moment in time. The body is, let's say, the last word on the subject or situation. It's the end result of a thought process, EMOTION (feelings), whatever that comes through the neurological system. Previous to what we're seeing, change could have been a little as a whisker twitch-- tighter lips. What we couldn't see, hear or visualize(?) is the nonverbal aspect at the beginning.

Now getting back to your sentence, you experienced or felt that non-verbal conversation. You were one with the dog - LOL. Now maybe this isn't what your blog is about, but as an animal owner it's a cool feeling to experience. One one hand it's like saying "let's go for some ice cream" and Kurt, say "you took the words right out of my mouth." Blondie made a decision and looked for guidance from the leader of the dance.


There are people who can't read or see human body language; there are people who only hear words in black and white; they don't pick up on intonation, etc. all parts of a spoken language. The other part that I've heard is, the telepathy part - words, emotions, pictures are sent before the words get out of our mouths. That's the deeper part we'd like to have to become a better partner with our pets.


At the first clinic I did with Steve, he had us start out with a partner, hands on the hips sort of thing with the person behind guiding the other. It was mass confusion. Besides trying to to not run into or bump into someone, you had a herky-jerky issue between partners. We did little floor stuff and who knows what. At the end, we did the same thing. Everyone was in sync - partners and the group as large. Neurologically, partners were connected and so was the group. You and I had the same thing with Sarge.

 
I remember my first Feldenkrais workshop with Steve, what brilliant work. I always wanted to study Feldenkrais movement more, but had all I could handle with the modalities of soft tissue I was studying.


Those moments of “being one with the dog” are so amazing. Being in communication with the satos is addicting for me because they are not trained or conditioned the way our dogs are. When we raise a dog it is with the dog fitting into our house, our lives. These dogs have independent lives. Their primary relationships are with each other. I’m fitting into their lives.
It's studying the essential dog. Our dogs soak up our energy, they become so similiar to their people in the same way people who have been married a long time become similiar. Knowing a dog tells you so much about their human. 
A dog without a human tells his own story. I hope that's not too far out.






Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Art of Reading Canine Body Language



Melissa said...


I am thinking Bonita is going to make a move towards Snow. Probably while keeping her eyes on her mother. I am also thinking Blonde is not going to allow it.


jen said...


I think that Bonita is going to try and maybe push her luck with getting some kibble. To me she's thinking that "if Snow can have some, then I should too."






The little red girl is in stalk position. Her ears are forward in concentration. Notice how her head position minimizes neck exposure. The front of her body is all about how she feels about Snow White. Wouldn’t she just like to like to kick Snow’s butt. Snow White has not only been invited to eat, but has received kindness from Blondie that Bonita has not. Don’t tell me that dogs don’t notice unfair treatment.


Her tail position tells us that Bonita will not risk the wrath of mommy. She is a picture of conflict. That tail tells us quite a bit. If she were solidly into retaliation or taking kibble, the tail would be straight or up. Her tail or good sense holds her back from what she would clearly like to do. Remember that Blondie had Bonita so terrorized that she wouldn’t move towards food when she was starving. Blondie’s authority is almost absolute. I’ve had to work hard to install the almost in the absolute.


Your reading of Bonita’s posture is great. We will get into reading conflicting signals. Good work, Melissa and Jen!


Snow White has been invited to dinner; what else matters?


Blondie is watching Snow’s latest leading man amble up the driveway.






Now that you know what Blondie is looking at, does Blondie’s body language give a clue what she’s thinking about Toby, the big rugged looking male heading her way?














Sunday, November 21, 2010

Body Language Tells The Tail



Snow White may have won over Blondie with her sweet ways, but what does Bonita’s body language say to you?


Bonita has just finished the scattered kibble away from Blondie’s kibble pile behind her. Faithful, obedient Bonita has never been invited to dine like this interloping bitch. Do you see a not happy camper here?


What do you make of Blondie’s tail position relative to the way she holds it in other photos?


Doesn’t sweet Snow White look like she is enjoying her meal?


Let’s have some fun; anybody care to guess what happens next?


Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Gentle Spirit Wins One



Amazing, Blondie is watching Snow White eat HER food. The I, me, mine girl is sharing, yahoo.


Even in humans sharing is exceptional. This dog grew up with hunger and scarcity of resources and she invites another female to share her food. This hasn’t been easy for Blondie. Can you imagine a bully getting tired of kicking someone’s butt?


With a high pitched squeaky sound from Blondie, Snow White takes the two steps to the food and begins to eat.



I don’t think Blondie can believe she is sharing her food. You can see how Blondie is ready to stop the young female.


The gentle spirit of Snow White wins over the selfish brute Blondie. The only thing I did to intervene is to place the food so that it was difficult to run around defending. Snow didn’t sneak in to snatch a few mouthfuls like Lance or some of the other boys roaming the neighborhood.


Dogs in day care develop a give and take that isn’t always based on dominance. Good day care attendants redirecting dogs before conflict teaches them that other behavior options are available.


Multi dog homes are often lovely behavior models of give and take; sometimes not.


I am sure that if Snow were to hurry gobbling Blondie would end her meal.

Blondie turns to warn her daughter Bonita away from the next pile of kibble, as Snow munches contentedly. Mom’s generosity does not extend to far in Bonita’s direction. Bonita makes do with the scattered pieces a little further away. Blondie looks as if she were looking for an excuse to go ballistic.


In general some pet dogs share easily, some do not. Frequently we see the larger or tougher dog stand over a dog until food is relinquished. Most dogs wait for an opportunity to grab what they can.


Snow White staged a successful sit-in. She got her butt beat repeatedly, but came back. Her demeanor was always sweet and hopeful. That's pretty unusual no matter what group.






Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Who is in Charge?

Melissa said...


"Blondie seems to need frequent reassurance that she is in charge.
Why do you think this is?

Good question, Mel. Answer: She’s not in charge. Your first impulse was right.



Blondie does not want to share her home, her spot with Snow White. She knows hard times, so she doesn’t want to share her food. Bonita, her daughter was starving to death in January.


Blondie chased her off. She came back over and over again. Most dogs get beat up and move along until they find a place they fit in or they die.


Blondie has become more tolerant of Snow. I think it’s unusual for Blondie to allow another bitch in her spot. Since the three dogs Blondie, Stormy and Bonita have enough food the omega doesn’t get chased away from the food.


It seems to me that Blondie is worried about giving up control of the chow. Snow tolerates Blondie’s abuse without attempting to defend herself. It’s working. Blondie doesn’t know what to do. Her instincts tell her to protect her food, her resources, but dag Snow White is so sweet. She sends respectful signals. She doesn’t bite back. But then she thinks about her food. That’s when she pins her. Blondie is conflicted.


Blondie has always been about what she wants. I haven’t corrected her or forced her to allow Snow White to eat. I’ve just made it impossible for her to defend all her resources.


Snow makes no moves toward the food. She just comes closer. If she were to dart in grabbing a bite, Blondie would chase her off with painful bites.


Blondie does not know what to do with this pacifist behavior. Look at the stupid look on her face. Lord, she looked me right in the face. I felt like she was asking me what to do. It made me laugh.