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?