In my previous article, Prep Your Pup Properly, I laid the groundwork for working out issues with your dog. I told you about the monster made in my home. Most certainly, this, for me, is quite a humbling affair. Here at APupStop, we go to great pains to assist others in training their own pups and dogs. Yet, here I am with a fear-reactive pup who, if left in her current state, can and will do a lot of damage. Not to mention, be useless for HRD (Human Remains Detection) work or any other work, for that matter. Good news is, even a fear-reactive pup can be turned around with lots of dedicated work. Yes, even a monster like mine 😉
Goals–Break it down, Keep it simple
In the New Year article, Dog & Business Goals 2019, I noted that Hanani needs to be ready to pass her CGC (Canine Good Citizen) certification by March. Setting goals is the best place to start when dealing with any dog, especially one with behavior issues. Although we have specific work we are shooting for here and you may not have aspirations of passing a CGC or like certifications, you need to set the goals. Your goal may be simply to have a great family dog that doesn’t need to be locked up every time the door bell rings. You may long to have your dog by your side as you venture out in your daily errands, without concern of her biting someone.
Whatever it is, keep it simple. Write it down. A goal is like a destination. Think about what it will take for you (and your dog) to get there. Write those things down also. Writing things helps keep you focused and motivated. If it is feasible, take photos and/or video. Having before, during and after shots will be thrilling in the long run!
Once you know where you’re going, break the journey down into smaller steps. Each step achieved can be built on in the next step. This helps your pup greatly, so you’re not throwing all sorts of commands (etc) on him at once. This also keeps your expectations minimal, so both you and your pup can leave a training session feeling motivated. Making this a habit in all your training will cause you to become more and more excited, ready to jump in the next session. That sort of enthusiasm is something your pup–especially a fearful pup–needs.
When my husband and I were looking for a pup, I researched several breeds. The more I learned of the Dutch Shepherd the more I fell in love. As we sought reputable breeders, we faced great difficulty in just getting a response. There were none close to where we are in Ohio and the few breeders in neighboring states that were not specifically protection breeders-trainers never responded to any of my endless emails and phone calls. Finally, we located a breeder in Florida that did answer. The only problem was, though, that this breeder specializes in breeding and training Dutch Shepherds (and others) for protection, police and military work.
This specialty, for us, was a problem because I knew that most breeders that specialize in that line of working dogs imprint very early, if they’re preparing the pups properly. Many of these, I also knew, tend to separate one or two from litters for more one-on-one training. I knew that these pups would require more work to acclimate into a well-rounded dog. We did look at the other, younger litters, and were very excited about the blue Dutches (gray).
But then I found this beautiful, little face…
She was a bit older, but ripe for any training chosen for her. Unlike very young pups that need more repetition and time to grow, this little gal was ready to work! A blue-brindle Dutchie! Oh my!
Still, I did my homework. I checked with the local Humane Society and the BBB. The owner of the kennel even offered references of folks that bought pups from him before. Everything seemed to check out. Everything, other than the fact that she did not have the full benefit of puppy play with her siblings until the moment she would be taken to her new home. I prayed about it. I reviewed our goals for getting a new pup, including what I knew, was willing and capable to do. And I kept ogling over that steel-gray face with those huge, attentive ears!
I was so in love that, I truly believe, is why Jamie caved in and we bought her 🙂
When we got her off the plane, she was obviously terrified. When she met Mia, she had little clue how to play nicely with another dog. Although it did get frustrating every so often, I still think it was hysterical how she would go after any towel on the floor! She would even jump up to grab the tree branches if they dared move! This pup had good breeding, intelligence that blows the mind, an unquenchable desire to please, and a drive that–if molded properly–would stop even a freight train at full speed. We knew it would take time–lots of consistent time–and she would be fine. Then, a few months later, I became ill.
I am restating some details to emphasize key points that we’ll build on in this series, for I believe it is crucial to get down to the nitty gritty in evaluating your dog’s issues. Especially when it comes to a fear-reactive problem, we have potential dangers to deal with. But it can be turned around, and in the next post we will see this first-hand.
Much needed statement
At this point though, I need to stop and elaborate on the fact that breeders like this one are not a whole lot different from typical or small-time breeders. *Most pups are sold from 8 weeks and up. Worse, some are sold at 6 weeks. Worse yet, far too many of those pups go to homes where they receive little to no training, or even improper handling, and develop behavior issues.
The point is, the vast majority of pups are separated from their litter at very young ages. Most breeders want to get the pups on to their new homes as quickly as possible. To look at the breeder where Hanani came from any different is, frankly, ridiculous. (I make this statement for it has come to my knowledge that there are some folks complaining about this particular breeder.)
This is one reason why I started this site, to help folks chose pups wisely and make sure they are fully prepared to bring them home and raise them into well-rounded companions. We see every day folks with dogs that have issues. Many of those folks obtained their pups around 8 weeks and up, but did not prepare or seek assistance. We see dog pounds, shelters and streets full of thrown-away dogs because idiots that purchased them did not put in the time and effort every pup needs. Some, like myself, just could not for whatever reason put in the time and work needed.
The bottom line is what we do with each pup from the moment they are in our hands is what determines their futures.
Based on my experience, had I been able to continue through as we started from that first day, Hanani would not be a fearful, dangerous dog. It’s terribly sad she is at the moment, but I have confidence that she will be encouraged out of this phase of behavior and into a well-rounded, compatible companion–ready to work, as usual!
Check back in a couple days and see how she is already doing 🙂