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Leerburg.com July 5, 2011
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Q&A with Michael Ellis on Playing Tug

Q&A with Michael Ellis on Playing Tug

If you get to the point where you say 'yes' and your dog isn't that interested, does that mean you have "out played" your dog? Should you stop the game much sooner?

July 5, 2011 | 4 Minutes, 12 Seconds


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Leerburg's Video on Demand
Rental Period Now 12 Months!

The Foundation of Puppy Bite Work with Michael Ellis
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Teaching Protection Skills
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The Power of Training Dogs with Food with Michael Ellis
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The Power of Playing Tug with Your Dog with Michael Ellis
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Dog Bite

To view these dog bite photos, click here.
Warning: these photos are very graphic!

We are always looking for photos of people who have been bitten by their dogs while trying to break up a dog fight. If you send us photos and the story on how the accident happened we will put them on our website with the hope that your mistakes will help other people realize how dangerous it is to try and break up a dog fight the wrong way.

Dog Bite:

I got a female dalmatian at 12 weeks old and she was 19 months old when we got a 7 month old female dalmatian, they are cousins. They had a bit of a fight after 2 weeks, the older one putting the younger one in her place after constantly pushing her away from me, the oldest one having stitches in her back leg. The second time was a year later when the older one hadn’t finished her biscuits and the younger one was staring at her. Before I could reach them, the younger one pounced on her resulting in stitches on her leg. They have been together for 3 and a half years and for the past 6 months the younger one, whilst walking, will very often turn her head and stare at the other dog. If both on the sofa, one either side of me, the younger will stare at the other, sometimes beginning to tremble and then growling and staring.

Yesterday, the youngest dog (now 4), was sitting in the older dog's box (now 5) and she walked past, looked at the youngest and suddenly bolted for the door with the younger in pursuit who grabbed the back of her neck and started to shake her. I jumped in and was obviously bitten on the hand, puncture wounds on my arm and thumb. The older dog has a rip on the back of her neck and the younger is ok. 5 minutes later I took them for their usual walk and let them off lead and they played as usual, jumping over each other and knocking each other over. When we got home they had breakfast and played happily in the garden.

I am at a loss at what to do and I am thinking that re-homing of one is going to have to happen, as heartbreaking as it is.

See the photos.

Cindy's Response:

Re-homing is an option if you can’t do the training necessary. When you have 2 dogs and you haven’t established leadership with them both, they are going to do what comes naturally to all social animals. They are going to try to establish rank with each other. If they both think they are in charge, a fight is typically the result.

You need to take the leadership role, and show them that as the leader, you do not tolerate fighting.

Start with our groundwork program and Pack Structure for the Family Pet. I’d also recommend Dealing with Dominant & Aggressive Dogs.

You will need to separate the dogs and train each one individually at first.

We also have a number of eBooks, which include topics that may help you. 

If you spend some time reading this section on dog fights, you’ll see that your problems are very common. I’ve received 6 or 7 emails just today from dog owners with very similar problems. If you don’t teach the dogs your rules, they can’t possibly behave how you want them to.

You may need muzzles for them during the training process. We also have directions on how to measure the dog for a muzzle.
I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes


This Week's Featured
Question & Answers

Question: My 7 year old dog has never shown aggression to anyone before and up until now has been great with my 16 month old son. Yesterday he approached her while she was eating and she bit him in the face.  I feel I can’t trust her anymore and should find her a new home.  Am I overreacting?

I've had my 7 year old pitt mix since she was 4 weeks old. I took her through obedience classes and she follows commands nicely unless she is excited about visitors.

She's never been aggressive towards anyone. The only aggression I've seen is towards other dogs who approach us while walking and towards a friends toy poodle who constantly harassed her.

Up until now she's been great with my son who is 16 months. He loves petting and hugging her and I truly thought she liked it as she's always craved any attention.

Yesterday my son approached her while she was eating (my fault- I was 2 feet away). She's never been food aggressive at all but bit my son in the face. We were very lucky that it wasn't more serious. I feel deep down that I need to find her a new home. I feel guilty crating her all day but I don't trust her anymore. I'm scared that since she's done it once now she will think she can bite him again.

Do you think I'm overreacting?

Cindy's Response:

I’d watch the video on this page, Pack Structure for the Family Pet. Your dog may like your son, but she sees herself above him in the social hierarchy.  She looks at him like someone she is dominant over and when he approached her while she was eating, she corrected him like she would another dog.

While I don’t advocate any dog biting any child, it’s not surprising in this scenario. Here is  a section on preventing dog bites in kids.

I think you need to take what happened seriously and if you keep the dog, directly supervise ALL contact between the dog and child. 

Cindy Rhodes

For more questions on this topic, see our Q&A on Kids and Dogs.

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Question: My 4 ½ year old dog goes nuts over the vacuum cleaner. Is there any way to train her that the vacuum isn’t for lunch?

Hi Cindy,

I have a 4 1/2 year old GSD that I got as a 2 1/2 year old. She absolutely goes nuts over the vacuum cleaner.  I thought she was afraid of it until I read on the site that her behavior is likely due to prey drive. That makes sense because she has a very strong prey drive as evidenced in play and her interest in chasing squirrels (which she doesn't get to do because she isn't off leash anyplace we might encounter them). Do you have any suggestions on how to train her to know the vacuum isn't for lunch?

Bonnie

Cindy's Response:

There are a few of approaches to this. You could desensitize her to it gradually, first with the vacuum far away and not switched on… using food and obedience to get her to ignore it. This is the approach I would take with a young dog that didn’t have a lifetime of rehearsals with attacking the vacuum. Since she’s had at least 2 years of practice with the unwanted behavior, it’s a longer road to go.

You could teach her to avoid the vacuum through correction. The type of correction you would use would depend on your dog and the methods you were most comfortable with. 

You could put her in a safe location away from the vacuum when you are using it. Simply control her access to it.  put her in a crate or another part of the house where she can’t be stimulated by the vacuum.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes

For more questions on this topic, see our Q&A on Behavior Problems.

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Comment on Thursday's Q&A:

Dear Cindy,

I was shocked and really disappointed by the response of the Rottie adopter to your advice in the recent Leerburg newsletter. He was the one who chose to use the word "obsessive" when he wrote you originally about his concerns. A dog that is obsessive about children and nips at them is a danger. Whether it is exhibiting herding behavior or aggressive behavior, it is inappropriate and can easily cause injury to a child or adult. The fact that the dog is exhibiting any behavior that the owner doesn't want is a clear sign that training and management are warranted. A dog park is not conducive to the kind of management this dogs needs, either. It's unfortunate that this dog owner refuses to learn from your experience and success with dog training. It's also unfortunate that the person who suffers from his denial will most likely be an unsuspecting child. Thanks for offering your advice and
maybe he'll have an awakening before someone gets hurt.

Mary

For more questions on this topic, see our Q&A on Kids & Dogs.

 

Have a question for Ed & Cindy? Try the Leerburg Search Engine. This search engine was written specifically for Leerburg by our in house IT manager. Our search engine is specific to Leerburg and only searches leerburg.com and the Leerburg web forum. If you can't find the answer to your question by using our search engine, you can email Cindy here at Leerburg at cindyr@leerburg.com. If you have your spam filter on, make sure you set it to receive our replies!!!


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