The e-collar is an amazing tool. It can fine-tune a dog, extend your control, and even save an animal’s life. But here’s the thing: You must understand what it is. It is not a magic bullet. I call it a polishing tool. It’s an enforcement tool and a distance minimizer.
This is a subject that frequently arises in the foster community (and one that I’ve had a ton of practice with) so I wanted to put my experience to good use. I firmly believe it’s much easier to take the time to do an introduction right than it is to go back and have to start over once things have gone badly. These simple steps may be a little time consuming, but they are important in ensuring your dogs have success in becoming friends, or at least congenial roommates, until your foster pup is adopted.
I’m not worried about Rocky. I’m not worried about him biting. My job is to teach my son how to be cool around dogs for one main reason: Someday, Brennan will meet a dog who is not as cool as Rocky and his behaviour around that dog will be dictated by his past experience around dogs such as Rocky.
Adopted dogs can make wonderful lifelong companions. But whenever you’re bringing a dog with an unknown history into your home, there’s always some risk involved. Here are some tips to help your new dog acclimate to his new—and wonderful—home!
Nearly every day, we talk to clients who have read online or been told by other dog trainers to not engage in tug-of-war with their dog. The myth is that it can cause a dog to become aggressive. But…that’s simply not true. We know first-hand that a structured game of tug can benefit dogs immensely both physically and mentally.
Dogs who do not receive direction and leadership on the walk often represent far more anxious and insecure dogs than those who learn to partner with, and default to, their handler. We like to think of the walk as a military convoy, an opportunity for you to be the lead “rig,” handling all the stressful work of scanning, processing, and executing in accordance with the world around you. Your dog, however, should be a traveling teammate in a rig *behind* you, looking to you for information, and trusting your lead so he/she can relax and enjoy the true freedom of a clarified objective.
One minute the dogs are running around, having the time of their lives. The owners are in a group talking, texting, petting other dogs, not paying much attention to their canines as they run around, play and release a little energy, so they can relax and be content back at home. Then, as if out of nowhere, there’s an aggressive bark and a fight breaks out. The other dogs run towards the commotion, the fighters are oblivious to their surroundings and it’s as though everyone has lost control at the same time. The owners then intervene and blame gets thrown around.
Canine rehabilitation works because we take a world that was extremely confusing to the dog and break it down until it’s clear. Through learning to (1) make good choices and (2) look to the handlers whenever right is hard to distinguish from wrong, dogs can live happy, mentally stable lives. We can’t expect them to figure it out by themselves any more than we humans can expect to naturally understand complicated math or science.
I recently taught a seminar where I asked a participant if I could handle her dog to demonstrate a specific technique. She said no. Nicely but…No. That handler believed that her dog would not benefit or might be distressed by going with a stranger. So what did she do? She advocated for her dog.
I hear it all the time. Whenever someone opines that a particular training method was rougher than necessary, or that it could have been done in a more fair way, someone inevitably pipes up and says “The dog is fine.” They may even point out the fact that there was no lasting damage done to the dog. I guess it all depends on what we mean by the word “fine.” But is “fine” the gold standard? Is that the life we hope our pets enjoy? A world where they are “fine.”