A Pig-Obsessed Pug, a Fearful Shepherd, and Devious Dachshunds
Season 2 | Episode 2 | Sonny, Chocolate & Cinnamon and Boo
A human psychologist calls in the big guns when her pet pug and pet pig get a little rowdy. Cesar coaxes an emotionally scarred Shepherd from under a desk. Plus, find out why two Dachshunds named Chocolate and Cinnamon make quite an unsavory mix.
I just returned Pinky, one of the dogs visiting my center, to her owner. She had some “fear of people” issues prior to being adopted by her new owner, a fireman. This guy was a strong pack leader on the job; used to making people feel safe in the most extreme, dangerous situations. However, he couldn’t get Pinky to relax. When she came to me, this pretty female pit bull-mix was so fearful of humans, she would curl into a comma-shape and tremble so hard she could hardly hold up her own weight. Her tail seemed to be permanently stuck between her legs.
As humans, we tend to feel sorry for animals that seem scared. It’s our natural inclination to try and make a frightened dog feel safe. Unfortunately, that sometimes results in the dog lashing out and causing serious injury. Our coddling can nurture unwanted behavior. The “energy” of pity and guilt can be perceived by the dog as weak. In this episode, you’ll meet Sonny the Scared Shepherd, an example of a dog like Pinky. He’s still got a ways to go in his rehabilitation.
Pinky, on the other hand, has thrived at the Dog Psychology Center. She designated herself an official “greeter,” welcoming and licking the faces of all human visitors to the compound. She’s proof that the only way to relieve an animal of its timidity is for a strong pack leader to calmly and assertively move it through its fears.
Introducing a New Dog Into Your Home
I just returned from another case where a new dog was brought into a home with an existing dog. The initial introduction of the two was disasterous. Too many well-intentioned people bring a new dog into their homes expecting that the dog will figure it all out on its own. My number one rule when introducing a new dog into a household is the humans have to know more than the dogs. We have to have basic common sense and be informed about dog behavior before we bring them home. Dogs are able to sense our state-of-mind and confidence levels, and if they sense that we aren’t in control, they will perceive us as weak.
Scarlett, my French bulldog, was once also dog-aggressive. Before she became a member of my family, she was adopted into a home with animals that had no rules, boundaries, or limitations. Because there was no balance in the pack, Scarlett ended up acting out and got blamed for her “bad” behavior. Really, the problems existed before she even arrived.
Owners need to develop a healthy, connected relationship with all their dogs, especially if a new dog is introduced into a home with existing dogs. They don’t need a pal; they need a leader, someone who can act as an authority figure and the dominant source of alpha energy. If you are a strong pack leader, a happy home will come naturally.
The Runaway Dog
There are dogs who could give Houdini or David Blaine a run for their money. You know what I’m talking about — those dogs who are unbelievable escape artists. They’ll run away at the drop of a hat! Some of them are truly Vegas-quality magicians. I’ve known dogs to unlock doors, open gates, unbolt locked doggie doorways, and even leap out of moving cars! Most owners of “escape artist” dogs admit their secret fear is that their dog doesn’t like them.
But their actions have nothing to do with dogs’ feelings for its owners. It may just mean that the dog is bored and frustrated. Most of the “escape artist” dogs that I have dealt with are active breeds that don’t have enough to do. Dogs like this need day-to-day activity, and I try to remind owners who have these problems that no matter how beautiful or luxurious their homes and backyards, it’s still just a big kennel to a dog – a fancier jail. All dogs, particularly active ones, need to be mentally and physically exercised every day. If they’re not given healthy outlets for their energy, they will find unhealthy ones.