Sunday, June 19, 2011

Socializing Feral Dogs pt. 3

I don’t use food initially because a dog that becomes a food whore is more apt to lose it when stress/fear overcomes the desire for food. Getting accustomed to me without fear just feels like a stronger foundation. I bring food in 3rd phase because I want the food to diminish the reaction to crazy human moving.

By the time we get to phase III, the feral dog should be relatively calm in your presence and interested in what you’re doing with the friendly dog. Back pedaling should cause the feral to follow the friendly dog.

With Blondie, a semi-feral Puerto Rican street dog and Bonita, Blondie’s feral daughter, I would play the good morning game in which I bent at the waist telling Blondie, “Good morning”, while thumping her sides. She was my friendly facilitator with Bonita.

Blondie followed my back pedaling and cheery voice, Bonita followed her. They both liked the game with tails wagging. When Bonita noticed the game change, she went to her safe distance to think it over.

With the next morning came; no retreat, soon I thumped Bonita for the first time. She shot across the floor like she had been touched by a red hot poker. When she reached her safety zone, she turned and glared at me. Clearly, I had violated her trust. I will never forget the seething look into my eyes.

By violating the rules of our relationship, I established that she expected me to behave in a certain way. She didn’t fear me; she was mad at me. I always loved her spirit.

My qoal in phase II is not to touch the dog, but to get the feral comfortable with stupid human movement. Sooner or later something always happens so the hands fly up into the air or we slap our side in laughter.

Social dogs need to be child safe, so the human Bonita trusted most became a child. I threw my hands in the air, saying weeee. Startled, she retreated behind her mother. The dogs were about fifteen feet away when I did this. They both looked; I tossed them dog cookies. Soon my idiotic behavior meant treats are coming.

I chose to save the treats for this; instead of using them from the beginning. At this point, I started having friends come over to give treats to the dogs. None of my friends throw their hands in the air and act nutty like I do, so the dogs accepted them even taking treats from some hands.

Sometimes, I wonder if I should have used treats sooner. I didn’t because I thought of show dogs I’d seen turning down freeze dried liver. I mean; where do you go from there?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Socializing the Feral Dog Using A Facilitator Dog pt II

Did I tell you that in phase one; no treats?! In phase I, it’s best if you just spend a little time with the friendly dog, which gets really excited when you come into the room. Each time the dog is all about you.

Dogs know enough about each other for the feral to figure out that its buddy likes you. Most ferals will come out of the corner or comfort spot to re-gain buddy dog’s attention. Don’t panic if they do it doggy style. Obviously, you’re not using a friendly dog that is being dominated, etc.

Frequently, the first big signal we get of the feral building confidence is it trying to separate the friendly from us. It shows that they are longer so afraid that they won’t move while in your energy field.

Ferals will behavior will range from lip licking submissive to teeth snapping attempts to herd the friendly dog back with the feral. I don’t worry about the feral attacking my buddy dog. It takes just a move on our part to scare the feral back into hiding, so don’t move much. Call the buddy dog close to you, if you fear harm.

Comfortable that your feral isn’t a neurotic mess going to hurt your dog? Good. Your first real movement should be pedaling backwards away from the dogs while telling them how wonderful they are. Yes, you know the voice.

When you stop and the dogs stop, don’t move; at some point the feral will look in your eye. That sweet second when a frightened feral looks into your eyes, wow. Bonita looked like she thought she was going to be struck by lightning and then got all happy bouncing away. The blog posts about Bonita tell about our progress.

With continued practice, the feral dog will begin making eye contact with you. Somehow it’s as if by eye contact, you are less mysterious.

This is you 2nd plateau; enjoy the success of eye contact. After the first time it may not happen again for days. Don’t push it; wait for it. It’s cute when they try it again.

The trickier steps are coming; build the foundation. Once I learned the steps and began to celebrate; it seemed like Bonita did too.

In the 3rd phase we start to move more in preparation for focusing on the feral. We’re almost ready to apply some games and techniques. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Socializing the Feral or Semi-feral Dog Phase One

If the feral dog is safe with other dogs, introduce him to a socially skilled dog that is well bonded with you. Give them time to become buds. Once they bond, your k9 ally will pull the feral into your energy field.

This is a huge step; patience, please. Happy talk the friendly dog, pet and focus on the friendly dog only. There should be stillness, a quiet deliberateness in your movements. Be aware of your body postures, no stances where you are bent at the waist. Avoid facing the dog frontally, oblique is best. If the feral stands in front of you, fine, but he probably won’t.

Bonita, the feral I worked with the most, always came up behind me. When she built her confidence up, she began bumping me in the back of the calf with her nose.

Your facilitator dog will do wonders for teaching the feral that you are not a crazed monster about to attack at any moment. I don’t know where a feral dog would get that, but it will need convincing.

Taking this approach with a k9 facilitator, you’ll spend frequent, short times in the dog area; not the hanging around all afternoon, as you would without the dog.

After enough repetitions the feral knows that you are coming in the enclosure to pet and talk to the other dog. The feral lying comfortably in a corner is the end of the first phase.

Watch how the feral signals stress in the beginning. Absence of fear/stress signals demonstrate that a minimal level of trust has been created.

WARNING: At this phase, DO NOT be tempted to talk to the feral! DO NOT look at the feral trying to make eye contact. If eye contact occurs, make your eyes soft, then look back to whatever you were doing. Go back to talking to your facilitator dog, if appropriate.

Once you become predictable to ferals, they will relax. . Congratulations, and then begin phase two.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

More on Predatory Drift

My experience is that in many cases; the drifter has been trained with coercive techniques.

Okay, this isn’t exactly what I meant. What I meant to say aggression begets aggression. The dog that gets away with a behavior one time and then the next gets clocked in the head for the same behavior is more likely to be a drifter.

Dogs that don’t feel well or hypothyroid dogs may flair up. A dog with a sore back is notorious for being grouchy.

Often two dogs that aren’t getting along will take advantage of a stimulating moment to take a nip. The momentary snapping and spitting through teeth is a spat. That’s just two dogs getting their relationship worked out.

A spat is the k9 equivalent of having harsh words. It’s over in about twenty seconds or less. By the time you react to say no, stop or OMG; it’s over.

That may be what some are calling P.D. Is that what you see as predatory drift? Or does P.D. result in puncture or rip and tear?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Predatory Drift

On the subject of predatory drift; can we agree that dog drifting over the line has a hair trigger compared to the dog that can engage in stimulating or competitive play without losing it.

Some breeds come by a lower threshold of stimulation genetically. Hmm, pits come immediately to mind.

My experience is that in many cases; the drifter has been trained with coercive techniques.

The other important factor in my opinion is young dogs need to develop social skills beyond the litter box. A litter bully needs to learn consequences to uncontrolled behavior. If a puppy like this has no further contact with others from leaving the litter mates it beat up until adulthood that dog has not learned the social pressure of self control. Does that make sense?

In street dogs I’ve seen groups of males interlope another dog’s spot. I could see the rage in the face of the dog whose space was invaded. The boys swarm around and may jostle the home dog. Home dog wisely tolerates the intrusion. Watching these dogs has taught me how naïve our dogs are when it comes to social skills or dog language.

Canine social skills are impaired by isolation during maturation.

Finally, we introduce dogs one on one. Two dogs without the skills acquired in adolescence are better when they get to know each other without one of them having his buds to back him up. A month later the new dog is friends with these dogs. The first dog jostles new dog, who can now respond without the dogs backing up the other dog, so now you get the one on one. It’s fast and it can be ugly.

Predatory drift is not a mystery. I believe it follows these threads. What do you think?