A Small-Dog-Bully Lab/ Staffordshire, a Circle-Spinning Poodle, and Skateboard-Hungry Bulldog
Season 2 | Episode 3 | Buddy, Teddy and Matilda
Buddy is a Lab/ Staffordshire mix who is anything but friendly to smaller animals in the neighborhood. Teddy is a poodle that can't stop running in circles. And if that's not enough to make your head spin, Cesar faces off with a bulldog who's obsessed with attacking skateboard wheels.
The Difference Between Punishing and Correcting Your Dog
The family that owned Matilda the Skateboard-Obsessed Dog reminded me of so many of my clients. They felt that by correcting her, they were punishing her and didn’t want to “hurt the dog’s feelings.” This led to Matilda’s unwanted, obsessive behavior.
In my mind, there is a huge difference between correcting and punishing a dog. To me, punishing often comes from frustration and anger. In other words, there is emotion behind a punishment. Correcting the dog is just reminding him that he broke the rules, boundaries, or limitations and setting him back on the right track. It’s done simply, instantly, and without emotion.
Dogs don’t punish each other. When one dog does something out of line, the others don’t get emotional about it, they simply correct each other or snap each other out of the offending state-of-mind. Again, it’s the natural consequence of a follower that’s not respecting the rules, boundaries, or limitations.
Are Dogs Natural Predators?
Here in the United States, we often refer to our dogs as our children, our brothers, and sisters, and even our soulmates! So if they ever display severe aggression towards another animal, we’re shocked, sad, or may even feel betrayed. We think of that dog as a “bad seed.”
My French bulldog Scarlett was once very animal aggressive. She once severely injured a Chihuahua and maimed a pet rabbit. Her previous owners were aghast—if a person committed these acts, they would have been sent to prison. However, after her rehabilitation, she is now my loyal companion, and I take her everywhere. She helps me rehabilitate other dogs.
The truth is we tend to forget that dogs are natural predators; that is why so many dogs have the desire to hunt, and we need to remember that when we bring the dog into our homes and families. It’s up to us to be strong and consistent pack leaders who set very clear rules and boundaries. Good pack leaders make those rules clear from the beginning, before things get out of control. It’s fine for him to run and retrieve a tennis ball, after all, that predatory energy must be released somewhere. However, it’s not fine for him to run and retrieve the family cat.
Who’s Walking Whom?
Recently I was in New York City to appear on the Live With Regis and Kelly show. I’m not a city guy, and I was missing my wife and kids like crazy, so I took to the streets to walk off my blues. Everywhere I looked, I saw people with dogs – and nine out of ten of those dogs were walking their owners.
Walking with our dogs is the most important activity we can do with them, but if your dog is running ahead of you on the leash, then he is walking you, not the other way around. In a dog’s natural habitat, a pack leader never allows his followers to be in front of him. This is very, very important to dogs and as their owners, we always have to remind the dog who the pack leader is.
Of course, there are exceptions to this rule, such as with search and rescue dogs, some service dogs, and sled dogs. They all walk in front of their human handlers, but that is because the handler gave them the order to go out in front. If the dog just decided to go out in front on its own, the human has just become the follower, and the dog becomes unbalanced.
It was frustrating to watch the dogs in the city. It was all I could do to hold myself back from stopping these total strangers and correct their techniques. Once again, if we are not the pack leaders, we are going to create instability for our dogs.