Attack Dog Rotties, a Biting Pooch, and a City-Scared Visla
Season 2 | Episode 6 | Buddy, Tiger & Roxy, and Booker
Cesar tries to rehabilitate two Rottie pups before they grow into dangerous attack dogs. Then, Linda and Rich call Cesar to help them with Buddy, who turns out to be quite the biter. And finally, photographer Michael Forbes' countrified Visla cowers and cringes at the sights and sounds of the city. See what happens when he calls Cesar as a last resort.
Can a Dog Have Low Self-Esteem?
Growing up in Mexico, I had never heard the term “self-esteem” until I came to the United States. I thought it was a “touchy-feely” term for people with too much time on their hands. However, once I became familiar with my clients’ problem dogs, I realized that self-esteem can be a concern for both people and dogs.
Now, a dog’s low self-esteem could be misinterpreted as calm-submissive energy, but it’s not the same thing. A dog with this problem could be naturally submissive, but may exhibit aggressive behaviors. Fearful aggression is a symptom of low self-esteem, because its objective is to be left alone.
To fix this problem, you need to teach the dog to trust himself. As the powerful, calm-assertive, and trusted pack leader, you can help your dog overcome specific fears by turn the negatives into positives. For example, if he is afraid of swimming, teach him how fun it is to play in the water. If he is afraid of yellow things, teach him to play with yellow toys. If he is afraid of bikes, teach him that when you ride the bike, he also gets to go for a satisfying run.
Every small success will start to build up his confidence. And remember, it’s not an overnight fix. Building self-esteem can take a very long time and require commitment and patience from the pack leader.
Are the Rules Different for Puppies?
As the father of two boys, many parents would agree that they can be a handful in a small house. I admit, sometimes it’s easier for me to control my pack than my kids, but my boys Andre and Calvin are growing up to be wonderful human beings and I credit that in part to teaching them rules, boundaries, and limitations from the start. Every child development book you read will tell you kids crave structure and rules, and those rules have to be applied early and consistently! You can’t just start setting rules when they are teenagers, right? So why do we let a litter of puppies do whatever they want, then expect them to obey? Pups six months and older are already in their “teens!”
The second you bring a new puppy home, start implementing rules, boundaries, and limitations so they understand what is expected of them from the beginning. Puppies are much easier to balance because, although some pups do show dominant tendencies, they don’t seek a leadership role at that age and would much rather follow. So no matter how cute they are, give your puppies proper rules from the get go. They will love you for it later.
Bringing Home a Newly Adopted Dog
In my work, I get to meet the most wonderful people and I try not to be too hard on them when they are my clients, but usually I’m telling them exactly what they don’t want to hear – that they are the reason for their dog’s problems and they need to change the way they relate to their dogs for their own good.
It is hard to resist wanting to spoil a new pet, especially if you have just adopted a homeless animal. Owners will bring their new friend home, constantly hug the dog, stroke the dog, bring the dog to bed with them, and tell it, “It’s all right. You’re safe now.”
The problem is the dog doesn’t feel safe at all. It will sense it is with a person who doesn’t have a “plan,” knowing that they are not with an assertive leader. One of two things will happen: The dog will develop an issue stemming from that insecurity – or existing issues will get worse – or the dog will immediately take the leadership position so that at least someone is in charge! Remember that the majority of shelter dogs are already stressed, nervous, and/or afraid and can become aggressive if they don’t feel they have that strong, calm-assertive leader at their sides.
In the wild, when a new dog joins an existing pack, they already have a position for it. It will either be a leader or follower. The new dog knows what’s expected of him, and what to expect. Most people don’t have such a plan, and when a dog finds himself in front of owners who do not assert themselves correctly, the dog is going to create the plan for them.
The right way to bring a rescued dog into your home involves understanding the leadership role. The first thing you must do upon leaving the kennel or shelter is to take the dog for a walk. This will rid him of some of his anxious energy. Resist the urge to coddle it. Affection must come later, when the leadership role is fully established. And don’t worry that you are hurting the dog’s feelings by withholding affection. You are not. The most important thing it needs to know is where it belongs in the new pack.