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Leerburg's Weekly Newsletter
December 9, 2010

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Ed's Dog, Bart, Working with Forrest Micke in Leerburg's New Training Center

Ed's Dog, Bart, Working on Forrest Micke
in Leerburg's New Training Center

This is video of Ed's 15 month old puppy, Bart, working on protection work with Forrest Micke. Bart is working on a bungee and the work is focused on getting him to relax in front of the decoy while at the same time, keeping correct biting skills. The end of the video is of Bart's first session on upper body bites. Bart is being trained for the Mondioring Sport.


Training the Jumps with Michael Ellis

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Have a Question on Dog Training?

Have you checked the Leerburg Discussion Board? It is one of the most active dog web boards on the internet. The Leerburg Web Board has over 16,500 Members with over 165 forums and 269,000 posts in its archives. The web board also has an excellent search engine that only searches the web board's 293,000 posts.

 

Featured Question & Answers

Question: My dog is afraid of the noise of snow falling off the roof. He breaks out of his crate and becomes destructive. What would you suggest we do?

Hi There,

I have a wonderful 3 year old dog who we adopted from a friend because he was fighting with his sister so much. (They were both adopted from a shelter). When he first came to our home, he responded with growling and barking at anyone who approached us or came to the house. Within a week we had him in training and things improved dramatically. He still gets "cranky" when a loose dog approaches me on a walk but I am able to deal with it and he always remains in his space. I have started with a new trainer to improve my confidence with loose dogs and he is really doing quite nicely. We've even had a puppy jump on him with no negative response. Our big issue is that he is afraid of the sudden noise of snow falling off our roof and will tear off door casings, eat cat doors and other things. Initially he was afraid of being crated but over the summer we have worked diligently to make the crate a fun, safe place.

He readily goes in it when the children are making too much noise and spends a lot of time of his own free will in it. We have worked to get him in the crate for safety while we are work. We were quite successful until the snow began falling. With the first stressful day, he broke out of the crate. Our new trainer has given us some nice suggestions for improving safety and right now there is plywood on the metal door to prevent breaking free & injury. Unfortunately, he is chewing away at it. My greatest concern is that even if we find a way for him to remain in the crate safely....all of that stress and frenzy of trying to get out, can not be good for him. In my mind, the only real long term solution is for him to learn to deal with the stress of the snow falling from the roof (which can be a slow 2 day process). Is there a way to do that? I know there are tapes for thunderstorms but I don't know how we would ever assimilate the noise coming from the snow falling from the roof... not to mention that sometimes there is a vibration that accompanies the noise. This is a wonderful family dog who is responding wonderfully to training but the winters are becoming difficult. He's chewing to get out even when the snow isn't falling... it seems that the benefits of our hard work is slipping. Any suggestions you may have would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks

Answer:

What your dog is displaying is a form of separation anxiety. Ed has written an article on Dogs that Break Out of Crates. There is a link at the end of that article to more information on separation anxiety.

I know it is possible to desensitize dogs to sound that are under our control, but I can’t honestly think of any way to desensitize your dog to snow falling off the roof. Dogs that have had separation anxiety or sound sensitivity can improve but in many cases it’s a lifelong training program. These 2 issues (the sound and separation anxiety) typically go hand in had. I own a dog that has a form of this, and she can now safely be crated without issue but we buckle a bark collar on her every day. She lies down and relaxes now, because through several years of being consistently handled she has learned what to expect. I would say it took a solid year of working on this issue before I felt that she was really feeling better in all situations while crated. I will also add that I have owned this dog since she was 8 weeks old and she arrived here via airplane with an extreme reaction to being crated. She was hysterical in the crate if she couldn’t see us in the same room. Maybe something happened to her on the trip or maybe it’s just her temperament, we’ll never know. We handled it with an aluminum crate and a bark collar. I would have used a muzzle for her if needed but she didn’t try to chew when she was crated. Here is the collar we use here, Tri-tronics Bark Limiter.

I hope this helps.

Cindy Rhodes

For more questions on this topic, see our Q&A on Separation Anxiety.

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Question: Our dog bit a friend's child. What are your thoughts on our situation?

Dear Mr. Frawley,

I am writing to you while still shaking. Our German Shep, 4.5 years old, (unneutered male) just did what to me was unthinkable - he bit a friend's child.

We have experience with obedience training with a previous (wonderful) dog we had. We did not, however, have it professionally done with this dog (one of two dogs we have actually). My husband and I thought understanding the "principles" of Alpha etc. and raising the dog with love and limits was enough.

In short, in our 4+ years of having this dog (since he was a puppy) we have never, not once, had reason to have concern over this dog. Like many owners, I would have sworn this dog was safe around children (both ours and those of friends and visitors). No aggression (he would bark at strangers but that's rather the point of having a dog isn't it? Once assured a visitor was "okay" he was fine). If anything, he's always been rather "timid" and will cower if you so much as raise your voice at him.
We generally refer to him as a baby more than anything.

Today, while I was upstairs, my daughter (9) and the three visiting children (they come here daily btw) were sitting downstairs. The little boy who was bit (age 9) says he was sitting on an ottoman just petting the dog when, without provocation the dog turned and bit his face. Our daughter, horrified, ran to get me and I came in to find the dog cowering on the floor and the child with two small cuts on his face and one on his ear. I really thought at first the dog may have scratched him (not that this would be ACCEPTABLE in any way) but now believe this was the dog's TEETH. I am beyond horrified. Truly.

I have repeatedly asked the children (my child and the victim, both age 9) if the dog growled or in any way indicated displeasure before turning on the child. The children all say no.

We have checked the dog thoroughly for any injury, sore ears, etc. that could have somehow contributed to this incident (NOT that we are in ANY way implying that this would be acceptable - just looking for what we may have previously missed?) Although the children had earlier casually mentioned that their older brother had "run over his foot" when dropping them off (children are prone to dramatics a bit and I initially thought this report flawed when the dog himself seemed fine and wasn't limping or in any way appearing to be injured), my husband ran his hands all over the dog, felt his ears, paws, neck in the collar area, etc. with no apparently tenderness on the dog's part.

I am just heartsick over this and we will be getting rid of the dog. No question. I cannot keep a dog that is unsafe with children. Period. Even though he has never shown an ounce of aggression toward any of us prior to this, the risk is simply too great. If I had any doubts, the photos on your website convinced me.

Let me say that we consider ourselves responsible dog owners. We trained him as a puppy, were careful to never allow him to be dominant in our household (we thought), we thought we could trust this dog to sit in a room with school-age children. We were wrong.

I understand from your site that working with the dog may be advisable, but as much as I love the memory of what I thought was my wonderful family dog - I simply cannot take the risk of having this dog around the many family and friends we hope to have at our home. It breaks me heart to let him go (as he runs around the yard with his ball in his mouth) but I cannot imagine even entertaining the thought of keeping him. He is truly NOT the same dog to me that he was four hours ago.

Answer:

This is why we absolutely never EVER advise leaving dogs unattended with kids, especially someone else’s children. Kids (and most adults for that matter) don’t understand and recognize the signals dogs give, and I guarantee you there was warning and when the child didn’t back off the dog did what dogs are genetically programmed to do and bit. I’m not excusing the dog, but if he would have been supervised this would not have happened. It has nothing to do with being professionally trained.

If you get another dog, I hope you will take some time and learn more about how to be a good pack leader for the dog (this includes keeping him/her out of situations where s/he feels the need to make a decision like your dog did earlier).

If you want to work with the dog, let me know and I’ll make some suggestions on educational materials.

Cindy Rhodes

For more information on this topic, see our Q&A on Kids and Dog Bites.

 

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!!!


Leerburg Testimonials
See Previous Testimonials

Hi,

I just wanted to say that finding the leerburg site at 2am on my last night shift at work has changed my life. No really. I have two 22 month old female litter sister miniature bullterriers and then (ignorantly) added a third, now 9 months. The litter sisters fought as early as four months old. Not long ago they fought again and I was alone and had no idea how to break it up. In the end there was blood and pieces of flesh and I was just so traumatized. In reality it took the girls to fight and hurt themselves so badly for me to finally search for a qualified answer. Nearly every single thing that Ed wrote about has happened to me - the fighting, the ranking issues and about the power of the a pack of three dogs. 

The best article, on dog parks (where my girls were attacked at a young age) made me feel so relieved. I will never go back. I had no idea I was supposed to protect them. I ordered the dominant and aggressive dog dvd straight away. I watched it and slipped from the couch to the floor. Finally I wiped away all the tears and got up. I re-erected their crates and separated the girls. I watched more videos. I walked them separately and took one day at a time. They are not allowed in my bedroom at all and I am trying to establish myself as the leader in their lives. I am a psychotherapist and have learned to understand why and how people act and react the way they do and it never once occurred to me to investigate the language of dogs. I felt so ashamed.

The girls are doing well and the most most amazing thing is that now that they are crated and I don't have potential chaos on my hands at any one moment. Life has become so much more manageable. They love their crates and I am hoping that one day they might be able to supervised together for short periods of time again. I don't know yet if that day will come. I am learning as much as I can all the time and hopefully they will respect me one day soon.

Thank you for your clear articulated truthful answers and qualified experienced based knowledge that has helped my girls and myself come to terms with reality and hopefully a more structured and safer future.


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