An Agressive Australian Shepherd, a Terrified Coonhound, and an Overexcited Maltese
Season 3 | Episode 1 | Kobe, Banjo, and Kisses
An aggressive one-eyed Australian shepherd needs special treatment. Banjo, a traumatized black and tan coonhound is terrified of people, and Kisses, a not-so-pretty-in-pink Maltese gets a little too excited when guests drop by.
Not So Pretty in Pink
Little dogs like “Little Miss Kisses” can sometimes get hyperactive if they don’t get enough exercise, especially when they spend a lot of time indoors. But because they are so small, many owners don’t think they need as much exercise as bigger dogs. The metabolism of small dogs is often faster, so they actually need more physical activity during their day to keep them calm and balanced!
Of course, I recommend multiple daily walk with the pack leader–every single day. Because small dogs have tinier legs, you don’t have to go as far to wear them out, although I recommend at least 45 minutes in the morning and at least a half-hour at night.
Many owners do not realize they can use their own homes to help their small dogs work out their energy. Have them follow you up and down the stairs a few times during the day or try strapping on a small dog backpack for a trip around the block. You can also try putting them on a treadmill for a short but effective, energy-draining workout.
Running Scared: Banjo’s Story
Banjo, a coon hound from Omaha, Nebraska, spent his whole life in an animal testing lab, treated only as an object: No warmth, no bonding, no dignity. He was also terrified of people and scheduled to be put to sleep. Luckily, he was rescued in time by Beverly and Bruce, who tried for four years to rid him of this fear. A vet eventually told them there was no hope. He’d been too traumatized. But since I believe that there is a 99% chance that any dog can be rehabilitated, I was hoping I could help.
Beverly and Bruce had been making the well-intentioned mistake of giving him affection while he was exhibiting unstable and fearful behavior. It is the worst thing you can do for a scared dog because affection can actually reinforce the behavior.
If you are trying to approach a fearful dog, remember, no touching, no talking, no eye contact. Resist the urge to pet him, no matter how much you want to comfort him. Try facing sideways and not directly at him. If necessary, turn your back to the dog. And then let him come to you, not the other way around. Let him smell you and become familiar with your scent. This way, he gains trust.
With Banjo, I actually walked backwards toward him. Later in the session, I instructed his owners to drop the leash and walk away from him. Eventually, he got the message: I must follow.
Kobe Out of Bounds
After losing an eye in an accident as a puppy, Kobe’s behavior became aggressive; his owners consumed with guilt. While it’s only human to feel badly when a pet becomes injured in our care, it’s even more important to stay calm and assertive around the dog. Remember, dogs can assess our emotions through the energy we project. We can actually add to the trauma by showing affection while they’re in this unbalanced state.
Look at it this way, when a paramedic arrives at an accident and tends to an injured person, you don’t see him or her crying out, “Oh my gosh, you’re bleeding all over the place! I feel so bad I didn’t get here sooner!” Animals are willing to move forward from trauma, but they can’t if we don’t give them healthy leadership to depend upon.
If you’re having trouble coping with a pet’s injury, try talking to a friend or even a therapist. You can also use your faith to get through tough situations, meditate, practice martial arts, go to a movie, or do any number things to help us deal with pet stress. As a pack leader, you need to be in control in order to help your dog recover.