Thursday, September 23, 2010

So your dog was attacked

Ok, I have to get this said! So many times I get calls about dogs who are "dog aggressive" because when they were young they were attacked by another dog. Let's take closer look at this, ok?

First, if your dog was actually living in a dog pack and this happened, he would have to get over being fearful of his own species in order to survive. That said, of course now you are the pack to your dog. So, here's how to handled your pup if he's been hurt by another dog.

First, of course, take care of him medically. Once he's back to good health, it's time to "get him back in the saddle" per se. Most people spend alot of time "protecting" their dog from other dogs once this has happened. Small dogs will get scooped up when another dog comes along, or larger dogs will be taken to the other side of the street. We influence greatly how our dogs will heal from being attacked. Because we most likely saw the attack, we ourselves get nervous when a loose dog is out, or you're passing an excited dog. Your dog will read this, and assume (and rightly so) that it's the other dog causing this. This re-affirms to your dog that other dogs are scary! So, our first peice of work is to calm ourselves when we walk by other dogs. I would be giving my worried pup pieces of turkey (high value treat) as we see and pass another dog. Once you're past the dog, the turkey goes away. This will help reassociate what a passing dog means, making the dog comes a I get turkey?!! it also gives you something else to focus on rather than your worries.

Second you want to find a dog that is low keyed and trained to walk nice with which you can go on walks with. Hopefully you have a friend or neighbor that would love to join you on a walk. At this stage there is no interaction between the two dogs, just nice walking with each in heel position next to their person.

Third step, you will want to let your dog interact with the friend he's been walking with for a couple weeks. It's important that your dog find a dog friend (outside of his home pack) to play or spend time with. Even if their interaction is simply walking around the yard sniffing, the fact your dog is there with another dog and is not being attacked builds confidence for both of you!

Ideally you want to add to his "friend" list, having play dates with dogs that are not over the top scary in their play at first, and then finding dogs that fit your dog's play style as he starts to come out of his shell and get back to what he was before.

So often when I ask the question "does your dog aggressive pet have dog friends outside of home" the answer is no. Because the people were afraid and kept that fear instilled in their dogs.

So, don't let your pup stew in his worries - help him through it. Otherwise, trust me, they'll carry this fear with them the rest of their lives and it's not fun for you or him! My feeling is every dog should have a dog friend, even if it's just one. And please note this does not mean you should force your dog to meet strange dogs on a could be set back months or years if your dog had a bad interaction with a strange dog, ok?!!!

Hope this helps!
Deb Schneider
Corky, Everee & Eli

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