Wednesday, January 30, 2008

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Fear Aggressive Dogs

Fear aggressive dogs are probably the biggest challenge for trainers and behaviorists because they are much more unpredictable than a dominant dog. The main factors that cause fear aggressive are shyness, sharpness (reactivity to new things), less than sound nerves and bad environmental upbringing (abusive and/or puppymill).

A dog can be quite well obedience trained, but if she was abused by a man, she may not do well with children, and "turns into Cujo" when she's brought anywhere or any stranger (especially men) are on her property or in the house.

Since you want to have her be less reactive with the man in the home, he needs to act like an aloof, benevolent dictator, but he also needs to be the one who feeds her (by hand for the first few weeks), walks her, plays with her, everything. So combining a NILIF (Nothing in Life is Free) program with one where he is the focal point for all good things will likely start to get you headway within a week or two.

So from now on, no free feeding (only scheduled meals once or twice a day and the bowl goes up after 10-15 minutes), she has to do some obedience like sit stay or down stay for her food, she has to sit before a walk and stay before she's allowed to go through the door, etc. Basically, you want the man to be the head dog and her to be a subordinate. When he says jump, she says "how high?" She will also need a TON of exercise with him almost exclusively. A tired dog (both mentally and physically) is a well-behaved dog that is less inclined to exhibit obsessive behaviors.

Private obedience lessons with an experienced terrier-savvy trainer will also be helpful (at this stage group lessons do not focus on working on trust). For the nipping and barking, Fold your arms across your chest and turn away and always always always have your dog on a drag line (a nylon leash with the handle cut off) in the house. If she starts barking obsessively, she goes in a crate or other area for a time out and is ignored.

Don't Let Your Cairn Bolt out the Door!

A woman called in to Trisha McConnell's radio show (Calling All Pets) to
ask for advice on dealing with her parents' West Highland White -- it
bolts out the front door.

The woman could not understand why the dog did that. She had not been able
to get the dog to stay if the front door was open or to come when called if
it escaped (sound familiar?). The caller owns a Lab and she's never had
that problem with her dog :-)

Trisha did a great job explaining how and why terriers are different and
gave the caller a 3-pronged approach to the problems:

-- The woman's father has become "forgetful" and opens the front door and
lets the dog out. Trish recommended a double door system (install a
lockable screen door), use a baby gate to block the front door area, or put
a cover or something over the knob on the front door to hopefully remind the
father that he shouldn't open the front door for the dog.

-- Teach the dog to not go out the front door. Trish recommends using a
20-30 foot long line (a very long nylon braid or webbing leash) that you
either have someone else hold or tie to a very heavy object to prevent the
dog from escaping. The dog wears this as you gradually (over many sessions
and repeat many dozens of times) open the front door and immediately throw a
fantastic treat (tiny pieces of chicken or steak) behind the dog - in the
opposite direction of the front door. Gradually increase the door opening
and using treats to teach the dog to go to another spot when you are
answering/opening the door. Practice, practice, practice ... it will take a
long time but is worth it.

-- Teach come-when-called. Don't chase your dog. Practice this in a fenced
area or with the dog on a long line. Use a really delicious (to the dog)
and smelly treat. Stop and stand sideways to the dog. Wave the extra-good
treat in the air so the dog is sure to smell it. Give a stay command. Move
away from the dog and use the food to lure the dog to come. (The challenge
is to have a ready supply of delicious, stinky dog treats on hand at all
times -- I can guarantee you that a warm, just poached chicken breast was
not enough to get Merlin to come away from a rattlesnake, but maybe
Limberger would have had more appeal to him?)

If you haven't ever listened to the show, give it a try (you may need to
install a free player, it's pretty easy to do).
The segment is titled "Can Elephants Recognize Themselves in a Mirror?" If
it doesn't appear on this page, click on the Browse Show Archives link.
It's a great show (1 hour), good questions, great help/suggestions and lots
of humor.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Update on Maisie (fka Rusty/Flopsy)

From Foster Mom Karen O on now adopted Maisie (a puppymill survivor). I can't believe how quickly Maisie is coming along. I am just thrilled to death!!!
Some of her big accomplishments are
instead of running away when it's treat time and making me put the treat down and step away, she actually comes right up to me to get itshe is providing endless entertainment for the kitty as I keep a very lightweight leash on her in the house and the kitty chases it and carries it in his mouth as she moves aboutthis morning when it was time to go out she came to the back door and waited while I put Murry's coat on and then I put hers on - usually I have to track her down for thisgoing in and out the door is now is relatively easy - she probably does it own her own about 8 out of 10 timesshe is staying in whatever room we're in without me having to attach the leash to somethingand, I think this is a big one, last evening my friends Bob and Laurel came over and Maisie was on her big cushion in the living room (the one she's on in Susan's pictures) when they knocked. I answered the door, we said hello's they came in, etc and she did not leave the cushion or the room - we went upstairs to look at some furniture and then back down to sit in the living room and she still did not leave the room! I had asked them not to look at her or pay her any attention and it seemed to be OK with her to have these strangers here.She is very funny when poor Murry is outside trying to poop, she puts her nose right up under him - today he lost his balance - he doesn't seem to mind whatever she doesOn a less bright note, her paw situation has deteriorated in spite of Clavamox, vinegar soaks and blow drying. So we are moving to the next level of treatment which is Tetracycline 3 x day with Niacinamide and Omega 3 and 6 supplements and probiotics and epsom salts soaks. I also realized that she chews on her paws when I crate her at night so she is now sleeping in the bed next to me (under the covers) so that I can monitor this - she has not chewed on her paws for 2 nights and that has to be a big help in the healing process. (With Murry and Micha on the bed too, we're all very cozy.) It's snowing here today and she does love it - runs around and looks very happy - I see her and Murry showing a bit more interest in each other - very small signs, but all in the right direction. When they are in the yard alone, they tend to interact more than when I'm out there with them - I can see this when I let them out in the back yard and watch through the window. She's a great little princess - she has such a girly walk - really just prances about and I think she likes all of us and is content here - I think at the end of the year we'll have a sociable gal who'll be comfortable with strangers. Susan gave me a book about helping shy dogs and it has some great suggestions.

Congratulations on Adopting Your Col. Potter Kid!

Congratulations on your adoption of your CP Kid! Your Matchmaker has found the perfect cairn for you; the Foster Mom has prepared him – freshly bathed, clipped nails, spiffy Col. Potter bandana, farewell kisses and whispers. And now he’s safely in his furever home, snuggled in his fleece from the Blankie Aunties. Col. Potter volunteers have guided you on this journey – do you solo from here on? Maybe yes with any other rescue group; but with Col. Potter – not a chance!

Meet me, your PAC, or PostAdoption Coordinator. I’ll guide you as you and your new cairn adjust to one another. I’ll explain how to gradually introduce the new furkid to your resident four-footers; suggest potty- and crate-training methods; discuss good nutrition; welcome updates and new photos.

So what basic advice do I have to offer you as a new adoptive family? First and foremost, read and follow the Foster Mom’s advice. She’s our “Mother knows best” as she has observed your cairn for at least a few weeks. Follow her feeding and potty schedules, or slowly adjust them to meet your own needs. Oh, and never, never, never ever allow your cairn off-leash in an unsecure area.

I also strongly encourage you to:

1. Introduce your new cairn VERY slowly. Your resident pet remains the “top dog” – they don’t lose or sacrifice privileges – the new furkid earns them. The new cairn should not be allowed on furniture or to sleep with you until he and the resident have accepted their pack order. And remember, YOU are always the benevolent Alpha!Limit the space your new cairn has access to. Allow your cairn time to get familiar with his new immediate space. Let him 1. him observe the household happenings; don’t block him from seeing where he now belongs. Show the appropriate elimination area and provide frequent access to it.

2. Wait a few weeks before inviting all your friends and family to meet your new cairn in your home. Change is good but too much can be overwhelming to a little four-footer. Allow your cairn to take it one day at a time and get comfortable with your immediate (as in resident) family. When the time comes, instruct your guests to come into the house and not give the animal any attention until the cairn has calmed down. Guests help train your new cairn as much as you do, it is important that they follow the same rules as the people who live with the cairn.

3. Always supervise your pets to make sure they are getting along. Just like humans, pets need to get use to each other and learn the different ins and outs of their new home. Let your kids show the newbie the house rules. This lesson may manifest in the form of aggression, and could, if not properly addressed, turn into a dangerous situation. It is important to not confuse the natural hierarchy in animal relationships for that of aggression. Though you should be the ‘top dog’ with your pets, they themselves will develop their own ranking amongst each other. You will observe this behavior as body language, territory, showing of the teeth or a quick snap. These indicators will help to establish boundaries of respect and order. If these exchanges escalate or turn into aggression, then you should intervene with an appropriate “knock it off!” or picking up the cairn by the harness and crating for a time out.

4. Do exercise activities daily! Though this is not an action you only do at the beginning of your relationship with your new cairn, it is a great time to start a routine that will last for life. Cairns, just like us, need daily activities to keep them healthy and well balanced. This also benefits you as you train and discipline your cairn. When you exercise your new cairn before you do training, you increase your furkid’s ability to absorb what you’re teaching because you have helped him burn some of that excess energy.

5. Start obedience training. Teach respect and your cairn will be well-behaved at least most of the time. Reward with praise and a small treat (like tiny pieces of dehydrated chicken hotdogs)- something they only get when training. Praise using the name of the action, like “good sit”, “good potty” – be gushy, excited and happy. Call your dog’s name only when rewarding – never to punish. Cairns are smart and will learn to push your buttons, so maintain the upper hand – benevolently and consistently.

6. Remember the Col. Potter TAG PROGRAM. If you wish to upgrade your foster tag and enroll in the TAG PROGRAM, go to and fill out the form. Provide as much information as possible so we can locate you should your pet be found. Call 1-866-506-7461 if you travel with your cairn, or change contact information. You may choose to continue to use the foster tag; however, only a single contact with a phone number and email address is listed; there are no emergency contacts, veterinary care information, medical information on file, away from home coverage, etc.

7. Call or email your PAC if you need to talk. She is ready to help and to celebrate your cairn being the “loved dog” in your home.