Dog Behaviour Advice - Dog Advice Articles
Dog whispering, it can actually help a nervous aggressive dog
Last week, I said that we have the dog that, apart from his owners, is fearful of other humans, stopping with us for two weeks. In that time, I must teach him to become sociable with people. Once I know what works then I can teach those techniques to the owner. Only then, if he is willing to abide by these changes can he then continue with their dog’s rehabilitation.
In article 97, I wrote about Horse whispering, was it useful or just a conjuring trick. It is not a trick, but those that demonstrate such techniques in public, often have had some prior training with the horse. Such demonstrations are dangerous, so like me, sometimes we wonder if this time is when it all goes wrong. Having some prior knowledge does gives a little protection and then the show can go on. What is important is the demonstration, not watching the trainer attacked.
Dog whispering is similar and can use the same circular ring as used for horses.
Before I go onto describe my work with this dog, I received the question, “Is a ring really necessary in retraining dogs.” As it happened, I was considering building a ring here at the centre. It was then I thought, I have made do without one for so many years now, and as I have this dog with me for two weeks, I could probably not need one.
The advantage of a ring is that within an hour of making the dog go round and round, it will have to become submissive to me, as it wants me to stop. This means I am in control quickly, but it does not tell me how the problem developed in the first place.
In addition, to push an aggressive dog in such a manner, there is always a risk that it may retaliate. It is for this reason I place two substantial wooden stakes at the centre of the ring. Using thick rope in a figure of eight pattern, I fasten both stakes together to about half way up. This creates a slot between them so they can take the maximum weight of me and the heaviest of dogs. This allows me to run the dog round the perimeter of the ring using a lunging rope. If there is any attempted attack towards me, I can drop the rope between the two posts then run backwards pulling the dog into the centre and away from me.
Such rings do work to gain a dog’s complete submission naturally if used correctly, but it does need years of learning to read dog’s body language. It is not something to try at home by anyone who is trying to solve their own dog’s problems.
If there is a problem, the worst person to attempt to try to solve it is the owner. This is simply because most stem from the owners lack of language skills with their dogs that actually created them. This is why it is important to retrain the handler.
With Igor, I decided not to use a ring but use the house instead in an almost similar, yet slower method. It also allowed me to see what this dog would do when adjusting to me as his new, if only temporary, handler.
On Thursday night, he moved round the house keeping out of my way. If I was in the lounge, he was in the kitchen. When I went to bed, I left my door open and Winston did not sleep in his basket, as he normally would. Instead, he slept in front of my door. This was either to protect me or to show that no dogs go into my bedroom.
Friday was a day of me ignoring the dog but it was necessary to lock the main gates. This was so no one could enter without me first being able to lock the dog safely inside the house. All day it was still a matter of the dog avoiding me, but I still carried the starting pistol just in case.
Saturday was another similar day, but now Igor was uncertain what to do as he needed me to show him attention but he was still fearful. It was up to him confront his fear and then come to me. He would not even follow us into my fields, as he must still remember the sound of the gun.
By Sunday, I woke to this dog licking my hand, so that was an improvement. When I came out of my bedroom, the dog went into play bow, which was another good sign but this did not last long.
Though he was now submissive towards me, he was now trying to become my shadow. All the time he wanted to come upstairs and he would stand outside my office door looking at me. As soon as I looked at him, he would rush off downstairs again. What I was witnessing was Igor starting with the symptoms that would ultimately lead to Separation Anxiety. This for a fearful dog, being on his own would be highly stressful.
By Monday, he is attempting to be permanently at my side. This is what he has learnt from his owner and is the wrong thing for him. You might be thinking these are good signs but they are not. They are only indications of the problem of a fearful dog.
I have now started totally ignoring him for long periods as if he does not exist. This does have him whimpering at his need for attention, which I will not give him. He is constantly moving about the house, which shows he cannot relax and stressed. He wants to come to me but then he changes his mind, as I do not look at him.
Only when I am ready, do I show him attention. It is only then I will rub his ears, cheeks, neck, and chest. When I stop and he tries to push his muzzle under my hand for me to continue, I do not. When Winston comes to me for a fuss, Igor tried to attack him but stops when I use the GRRRRRUFFFFF sound into his face. This is now working well as now he backs down from me whenever I use this technique.
You might be thinking such treatment is inhumane or mentally cruel. It is necessary for this dog to learn to survive without his learnt need for constant human companionship. It is because he thinks he needs to maintain such contact that he must protect the handler from outsiders, which in doing so protects his own survival. The second and most important thing he must learn to overcome is his fear of other humans.
The owners told me that in order to bring people into their house they must first put the dog outside into the garden. When they bring him back into the house then he is fine. This meant the friends were already inside his perimeter. This though would not work outside where he would still react with aggression to anyone that catches him by surprise coming into his proximity. This is what he has learnt and what I have to change.
Once I know which methods will work with this dog, it is then up to the owners to learn to continue them. If they do not, the dog will ultimately bite someone in order to protect its survival. This will eventually result in his death and though the blame will fall him, it is not his fault.