Dogs tend to protect or “guard” things they feel are most important to them, things they feel they can’t do without. Some will guard toys, some food, some will “guard” or become vicious when others approach their people. Guarding is rarely a desirable trait. Food guarding is dangerous to other dogs and to the people who care for the dog. It needs to be corrected.
Why Is the Dog Food Guarding?
Some dogs just have a greedy nature, even (perhaps especially) as a puppy. They don’t share well. Working with them as a puppy is needed to correct this early. Some dogs guard food because they came from an environment where food was scarce and they had to fight for every scrap they got. Some dogs guard because, although food is plentiful, others steal theirs.
As of January 2017 we have fostered 38 dogs in 4½ years. That’s not an astounding number: I know many people who foster several times our annual average. Sometimes they have 6 or 8 dogs at a time, we generally have two or three (plus our two). But we take in the hard cases. We get the heartworm positive dogs that need to be nursed through a long treatment and recovery period. We take in those with “behavioral issues” and turn unmanageable hooligans into adoptable companions. It is trying work. Not all have been major challenges (most are simply large dogs who were never trained to behave) but there have been a few. Continue reading Validation of Why We Do Canine Foster Care→
This update on Jasper will not be especially impressive to anyone who is not familiar with Jasper because play time with him now looks much like any other dog. But to those who know him, this example will bring a smile to your face.
Jasper was sent to us because no one could manage him. He was just over-the-top energetic. He was being playful, not mean, but when a larger dog puts a certain level of energy into play, there is little apparent difference to the recipient of his affections. He jumped on people, he pawed them, clawed them, mouthed (gentle biting) them, sometimes tearing clothing, breaking jewelry, and leaving scratches on skin. And worst of all, he could not be deterred! If you defended yourself, he thought you were playing and ramped up the play efforts. Telling him to stop or get down were totally ineffective: he paid no mind to anyone. He had no idea what those words meant. Continue reading Play Time with Jumping Jasper→
Jasper has been with us for a week now. He came to us from the local animal shelter because he had been returned to them from a rescue because his bad behavior was deemed “unmanageable”. I was told this meant that he is extremely energetic, jumps on people and cannot be dissuaded from this. This is bad behavior in a small dog, in one that is around 70 pounds, it can prove terrifying to an unsuspecting recipient of such affection. And he does mean it as affection or play.
This description immediately popped a couple of presupposition flags in my mind:
1) It seems this behavior is often the result of a family adopting a puppy but making no attempt to train it. While it’s an adorable ball of fluff, jumping up on your legs eager for attention is cute. When it becomes a 30 pound dog, it’s less endearing. When it’s 50 or more pounds, the poor dog ends up at the local shelter because it’s a major nuisance and “they can’t do anything with it”. So of course this bad behavior is the dog’s fault. The truth is that no one took the effort to teach it good behavior. Continue reading Why Good Dogs Develop Bad Behavior→
We have been contacted by several families in the past year because they adopted a dog that we fostered and trained. We gave a good report on the dog as being non-aggressive. The rescue that handled the adoption also saw no sign of aggression. So why, all of a sudden, is the dog getting aggressive with the family that just wants to give it a great home and lavish love on him? Continue reading The Importance of Pack Order→
When used properly, crate training provides you and your dog with multiple benefits. For you it provides a simple, effective means of restricting your dog when you cannot provide close supervision. If your dog is an explorer, he may get into things that will harm him. If she’s a chewer, your home may suffer from allowing her to roam unsupervised. Crating also helps with housebreaking because a dog has a natural aversion to soiling its own sleeping space.
For your dog crate training offers a safe haven, a room or space of his own. It is a familiar place. Whether you go on the road or just move around a large home, having a place of his own brings your dog a feeling of safety. If your dog is ill or just been spayed or neutered, a familiar crate is quite comforting. A crate is effective in combating separation anxiety or fear of a thunderstorm because of the snug, safe feeling an enclosed crate can provide.
Your dog adores you. She follows you around and wants to be near you all the time. And that’s wonderful – until you must go away. Then your dog howls or barks or chews on things until you return. This is called separation anxiety. Unless you can stay home 24/7 or take the dog with you everywhere you go, you must deal with this issue (or replace a lot of shoes and furniture and endure the wrath of neighbors). To make things worse, sometimes this condition is your fault. I know: I’m guilty too.
I was getting ready to go out in the yard and do some work. Marie was resting on the sofa. I informed Marie I was going outside and asked if she needed anything before I left. She said, “Just take Blondie with you: she goes spastic every time you leave the house.”
Blondie has a mild separation anxiety issue. When I leave, she paces through the house peering out all the windows to see where I’ve gone.
Blondie is needy. She spent most of her life in an extremely neglectful situation and was totally withdrawn when she was rescued. We fostered her and helped her come out of her shell. We fell in love with the affectionate, silly girl she became and adopted her. Gun fire and thunder make her very nervous and she comes to me for comforting. I stroke her head to ease her anxiety. That’s the wrong thing to do, but I’ve done it.
We spend all of almost every day together. Blondie follows me around like a golden shadow. Sometimes she comes and asks for skritchies, and I’ll give them for a short time. She is accustomed to my being here, when I leave she gets anxious. But she’s a good girl: never misbehaves, she just runs around looking for me. I’m lucky: many people have dogs that do bad things when they are left alone. If yours is one of them, here’s what this is and how to deal with it. Continue reading Separation Anxiety and Your Dog→
In part 1, we discussed how to introduce your adult dog to a new dog. This time I want to discuss the importance of socialization between your dog and other people.
Socialization of Dogs and People
Dogs are social creatures. By their nature, they usually get along well with people: unless they have reason not to. Any animal that is abused by a person can learn to mistrust, avoid, and fear people. That’s a blanket statement, so it is true only in the most general terms. If a dog knows only its abuser, then she will most likely fear all people. If a dog is abused by a man, but his wife is kind to her, she may well fear only men. An abusive teenager with kind and gentle (though not very attentive) parents may instill a socialization age bias.
Socialization of a puppy is pretty simple: once he’s had all his shots and the vet gives you the OK, simply expose the puppy to other people in a positive way. Rarely will a puppy pick up a disease from a person, but if these people also have a dog, this is a danger to your puppy. Begin this socialization as early as you can, so the pup doesn’t become fixated on you. Normally, puppies are very friendly and gregarious; socializing with people should not be an issue. Making interaction with other people a regular part of their life will keep them that way. Continue reading Dogs and Socialization: part 2→
Dogs are by nature, social creatures. Even in the wild, they exist in packs: social units that allow for sharing resources, mutual protection and companionship. For domesticated dogs there are two types of socialization: getting along with other dogs, and getting along with people.
There would be a third type if you want to include dogs getting along with other species of animals. However, taking a dog that has grown up thinking that cats, hamsters chickies, rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, birds, (whatever you have) are food and teaching it to see them as a friend is beyond my scope or ability.
The most common socialization problem we see here at Piney Mountain Foster Care is dogs who were neglected. Sometimes this is a dog that was chained in the yard, given enough food and water to survive, but that’s about it. No love, no personal care. Blondie was one such dog. When taken in by the Dr. Carol Hood Memorial Animal Shelter, she was so withdrawn and depressed she acted as though she were autistic. More often the problem is a family that decided having a puppy would be fun, but they had no idea how to train it. So the bouncy, happy-go-lucky ball of fur turns into a bouncy, happy-go-lucky dog weighing 30 to 60 pounds and hasn’t got a clue how to behave any way other than what has always done: just being its happy-go-lucky self. This proves inconvenient for the family, so they take it to the shelter to be rid or it — or abandon it somewhere to become someone else’s problem. Continue reading Dogs and Socialization: part 1→
In previous posts I have talked about Dolly and her amazing ability to nurse, mother and mentor other dogs who have come into or though our home. We lost a really good one when she passed away. But Cochise, who was a paduan learner of hers, has stepped into the void and has proved immeasurably helpful with the dozens of foster dogs that have come here for recovery, socialization and training.
Because we are not dog “trainers” we do not get into the advanced stuff: we focus first on civilized behavior and socialization, then a few basic commands like “sit”, “come” and “shake”, then we get into housebreaking.
The first lesson for any dog is that I am the head honcho, the giver of food, the dispenser of affection, the praiser of good dogs. I share that role with Marie, but since I am the one who is here full time, they see me as the primary honcho: Marie is co-honcho. Then we make sure they recognize Cochise as The Big Dog. Continue reading The Advantages of a Mentor Dog→