Monday, August 22, 2005

Okay I'll admit it...I'm furious! I will also admit to being a bit "green" in the dog training biz. Some things I can't handle. I have had two cases that I took on that I shouldn't have...a Blue Heeler who bit me the moment he met me and I little Shih Tzu who was a example of terrible breeding.

The Shih Tzu was an adorable six pound ball of black fur. So completely cute! Then as you looked a little closer things started to look a little like the "Island of Dr. Moreau"..creepy. The dog was the only surviving pup of her litter, her mother rejected her, she had a herniated umbilical cord, she had an extra row of teeth, extra toes and was reactive to everything...Everything!! These things showed up slowly but surely over the course of our six weeks together. It got to the point where I was afraid to part her fur for fear of finding an extra eye looking out at me.

We worked hard to get her over her reactivity. Well... I worked hard. I explained that the way to help the dog to not flip her little furry cookie was to expose her to the things that frightened her slowly and at level she could tolerate. So if small children were a source of anxiety, present the child at a 100 feet, then 75 and so on...rewarding for any and all good normal behavior. Eventually the dog should enjoy having these things around her because she knows good things happen when they there. I'll admit not a low effort process, but once done it is high pay-off. Initially the owner would put the dog down in a huge group of dogs and be confused why the little thing went bananas but as we talked I thought the owner was with me...

I got an email last week saying she sent the dog off to "camp" and they had cured her! Wow I said, how? Well now the dog has a pinch collar and a shock collar so when she reacts to something the owner just yanks or shocks the bejeezus out of this six pound dog. I wanted to weep for this dog.

I guess the moral to the story has three parts.
1. Do NOT take on the poor sickly puppy because you want to save it. I feel maybe the pup's mother knew something we didn't. Unless you are a very experienced dog owner you have no idea what you're getting into.
2.People want a quick fix most times and I need to be clearer from the beginning that some problems aren't going to have a fast solution and sometimes there may not be a solution. You may spend the rest of the dog's life loving it in your home away from outside influences.
3.There are actual human beings out there who think a shock/pinch collar is appropriate for a six pound scared dog. Bull Shih!

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