Canine Corner: Even more unusual dog training cases we’ve dealt with

This Canine Corner describes two more unusual cases we have come across, training dogs here in Naples. In this final part of this particular mini-series, I will share with you not only the unusual symptoms presented, but how we went about rectifying the unusual behaviors presented.

The first dog to feature today was a pit bull – a breed with an absolutely fearsome reputation.

Before I describe the issues pertaining to this particular pet, indulge me, please, for a moment while I nail our colors firmly to the mast with regard to pit bulls.

Without exception, every pit bull we have trained has been a delight to train, and actually often easier to train than some of the smaller, more cuddly dogs. The reason we have found them easier to train is that they are usually desperate to please their owner(s) while some of the dachshunds, etc., of this world want their owners to please them!

The problem, of course, with a pit bull is that if it does bite, the victim will suffer a far worse injury than from most other dogs, simply because of the structure of a pit bull’s jaw. So, the moral here is don’t put yourself at risk with any dog, but especially a pit bull, by offering your hand, unless you know the dog and its owner.

Returning to this particular pit bull, while not aggressive, he was starting to cause problems with his owner at night ... basically just seeking attention. When he was a puppy, he was crated, so we just got the owner to reinstate a (bigger) crate, and pooch was quite happy.

It is an urban myth that dogs don’t like crates. A few dogs dislike them, because they have distant memories of being abused while in there, but most dogs do like them, as they become the dog’s own den. They have walls and a roof for security, and providing the crate is not used as a place of punishment, and the dog can still see you, they are often the answer to an owner’s prayers.

Often a toy and/or a worn garment of the owner make the dog feel more comfortable, and if it is accessible to the dog when the owner is at home too, then so much the better.

The last dog to feature in this mini-series is a 6-month-old Shih Tzu puppy, which despite his size and youth, absolutely ruled his home. In technical terms, this dog exerted extreme passive influence in his house — in other words, he got his own way by being cute!

Something we need to understand about dogs – all dogs, not just little ones like this – is that, in the eyes of the dog, height equals dominance.

The lady owner of this dog needed to make two changes in order for progress to be made, and these were firstly, to stop carrying him around all over the place – in her case, at shoulder height – as this was giving him an elevated view of both the world, and his status within it, and secondly, stop him sitting on the tops of the cushions.

When seated there (as opposed to the floor, or even on the seat of the sofa beside her) he could survey his kingdom, and actually enjoyed a height advantage over his lady owner – so no wonder he thought he was king!

In reality, he doesn’t need to be king, nor gatekeeper, nor bodyguard – he just needs to be a dog ... and then everyone’s happy!

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Colin Glass is the dog behavioral therapist and trainer in Collier County for Bark Busters, the world’s largest dog training company. Bark Busters trainers, who have trained more than 500,000 dogs worldwide, are renowned authorities in correcting dog behavior with all-natural, dog-friendly methods. Bark Busters training is the only service of its kind that offers a written lifetime guarantee. For more information, call 1-877-500-BARK (2275) or visit www.BarkBusters.com.

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