An Aggressive Bulldog, a Trash Can-Fearing Beagle/Terrier Mix, and an Outdoor-Avoiding Lab Mix
Season 4 | Episode 18 | Buster, Lacey, and Sadie
Dan and Mary's bulldog Buster is so aggressive they can't bathe her, administer eye drops, or clean her face without fear of attack. Then a one year-old Beagle/Terrier mix has a fear of trash cans, and a Lab mix Lacey is afraid of the outdoors.
I sometimes come across people who seem to overlook the simplest solutions to overcoming their dog's issues. Now when you're watching the show, its easy to judge someone else, but when I arrive at a client's home, I never judge them or make them feel wrong. I simply believe these people are lacking information.
Most people aren't used to seeing the subtle behaviors that can easily escalate into major behavioral problems. But everything in the animal world counts: the way they move, the way they breathe, the energy they project and their body language.
Trash Can Dog
There are several ways to help a dog who is fearful of an object or place. You can use positive reinforcement, exposure-some people call it "flooding" -or a combination of the two. But any strategy should be based on professional advice, what you know about your own dog, and your intuition.
This is how I rehabilitate dogs, but I'm also open to new ideas. If one way isnt working, I dont grit my teeth and say, "You're gonna do it, dang it!", I am open to adapting or changing strategies. With Sadie, I was able to use a combination of exposure and positive reinforcement, because she seemed to be telling me two things: "My fear is not that intense," and "I expect to be rewarded for my courage."
We should always be open to different ideas when helping dogs, but it's most important to remember to always be in a calm assertive state. If your energy is negative, angry, frustrated, fearful, desperate, pitying, you can have the best intentions, but you will be doing more harm than good.
Often, there are warning signs that a dog gives before her behavior escalates into full-blown aggression. But if an owner fails to calmly and assertively stop the escalation at the early warning stage, it's often too late because the dog now sees the owner coming at her with a weaker state of mind, becoming more powerful at each encounter. This results in a cycle of aggression.
If you are uncomfortable or unsure about how to correct during the early warning signals your dog gives you, or if you are already in such a cycle, contact a professional for help.