I had some wonderful news this past weekend. I saw a client whose dog had previously bitten someone. I worked with the dog and the client for a month, and we certainly saw changes, but sometimes it is hard to measure the degree of success. Well, the man whom the dog had previously been very upset about (barking, lunging, lots of display) and bitten came to the house again. One of the clients was out back working with the dog, and then let the dog in. There was no barking, the man stood still, the dog approached and sniffed, and all was well! Here is what he said in a later email to the client: “By the way, I am very impressed with your dogs – Roscoe seems to have found a calmer, gentler, Zen side to him. I’m glad he and I are on good terms.”
Such are the things that make me happy, fuel my fire, and keep me doing what I am doing!
I am pleased to say that we did not need to “correct” Roscoe for any of his doggie behavior – his actions were telling us that he was uncomfortable and afraid, and that if pushed, might take matters into his own paws (or teeth, as it were). I used classical counter-conditioning methods with his stressors (some men, some children, other dogs), as well as working on some basic operant behaviors (sit, stay) and impulse control. I also spent time showing the clients how to read Roscoe’s body language to find out when he needs space and/or feels stressed.
Thanks to the clients who wanted to fix what ailed him rather than return him to the shelter from whence he came….