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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Aggression Corrections?

I tend to be quite a puzzle solver when it comes to psychological behavior.  I like to figure things out for myself using the least amount of tools and basic theories.  When it comes to dealing with Brut in particular, I have found that I have a natural instinct for handling his aggressions with Zappa.  It has evolved over the course of time, as I've learned from my mistakes, going from pulling them apart in fights to prevention.  I began to learn Brut's signals until gradually over time able I was able to find his warning signs and stop anything before it started.  The results have been dramatically and didn't come easy.  Neither dog has ever been hurt except for a scratch or two and most of the time they ignore each other.

Handling Brut and Zappa has become part of my being.  The trouble is that I can't seem to explain to Daddy how to do it.  Brut has taken Daddy on as a possession, since he has started walking Brut. It has caused a slight riff again between Brut and Zappa again.  Daddy has a soft heart and I have done most of the serious discipline.  I have been watching these interactions, trying to break down to Daddy what Brut is doing and how he needs to react.  It is like trying to describe to someone how to breathe.  So I broke down, went to the library and tried to find a book that could help.

The selections were not the best, but I thought I had found one that might work.  As I read to the main sections I was interested in, aggression between dogs and corrections, to my horror I found this book also believes in negative reinforcement and punishment.

For corrections, they stated using a choke chain or pinch/prong collar.  Two things I have never used, as I do not care for either.  Another correction is the "Alpha Rollover.  I have used this method in order to gain control of a fight.  I rarely use it, but I believe it is safe only because it is language the dog understands.  Dogs do this to other dogs in establishing dominance.  For me, it is a non-violent expression that I won't tolerate this behavior.  Some don't believe in it, but it has been effective for me.

The next correction they list is called the "Shake."  To my horror I read how to grab the dog by the loose skin on both sides of the jaw, lift the dog off the ground and literally shake some sense into the dog until he gives into submission.  Shaking the dog until his neurons are rearranged and the dog is disorient.  I shook as I read this.  I can not begin to understand how or why you would do this or what the dog actually learns from this let alone how effective it's method would actual be.  It was horrifying.

If that wasn't bad enough, there a method called the "Cuff. This is suppose to effective for 'nipping' dogs or if there is no response from the "Shake."  This is knocking the bottom jaw in an upward motion with a fist.  Are you're jaws dropping yet?  And this is in print.  And what is it suppose to mean, if the "Shake" doesn't work?  If the dog is suppose to be disoriented after a shake, why the hell would you need to cuff the dog too?

There were a few other methods, squirt bottles, hanging (picking dog up by collar until front paws are off the ground),  making banging sounds, etc..  All of these methods were mentioned in the dog-dog aggression section.  I achieved the same results that they concluded without "Shaking" my dog or cuffing him or any other method that I saw as violent and disturbing.  I am still flabbergasted by this reading.
It is like giving permission to be abusive to your dogs and you can still look at this book today.  I found it in the library.  It still exist somewhere.  It was copyrighted in 1950, (first clue), but then was republished in 1995.  That I have a very difficult time with.  Haven't we come any further than these barbaric methods?

So needless to say, I didn't need to read anymore.  I didn't need to read what I had.  I ran outside with the dogs to feel the peace of the snow, the mild night, and if I didn't need a pat on the back, I got one.  The dogs ran around showing off for me, Zappa and Brut in their respective places as I witnessed the beauty of these creatures that I have had the wonder and awe in partaking of their lives.  So many times, I am unsure of what I do, uncertain of the gift I have, but a simple reminder puts everything back in perspective again.

Now, if I can just figure out how to teach my husband...BOL

  


8 comments:

Pamela said...

I have no advice for teaching your husband. I suspect that one day it will just click and he'll understand what you're saying. After all, it took you years to figure these things out yourself. But I know it's stressful to know how to avoid problems and having trouble doing so while you're husband is learning.

As for the book, for many years those were the only training methods known. Many positive trainers have written about being trained in these methods themselves.

I hope you'll consider asking your library to replace the book you brought home with one using positive methods. Here's one our library has that I found really helpful: http://www.dogwise.com/itemdetails.cfm?ID=DTB825.

lillij said...

Great posting. I wrote this great post to your posting, but somehow the computer burped and it's gone. In a nut shell, you rock and you inspire me with all those dogs and your efforts with them.

houndstooth said...

I think some people just get how to read dogs and some don't. There's also a tendency with some people to always want to be "friends" with the dogs, just like there are with some people and their kids. You do have to be the leader of your pack, but I don't think that means that you have to be dominating and domineering to them. Most of the time, I think a stern voice will work.

That being said, I can say there's a vast difference between our mild mannered Greyhounds and our strong willed German Shepherd. I do have to stand up to her a lot more and I do have to remind her often that I'm in charge. I expect her to be on her best behavior when she's out with us and if she is pestering the hounds or obsessing with the window, she goes to time out in the crate until she gets herself under control. If she comes out and starts up again, back she goes. I do reward the good behavior that I want to encourage, too.

Kirby, CGC said...

It's disturbing to find out how some people deal with aggression issues in dogs. I am a believer you don't cure aggression in dogs by being an aggressive owner. You need to find out what's causing it, then find a positive way to deal with it. I have read a lot of Patricia McConnell books, she's a pretty neat animal behaviorist that has dealt with dog aggression. Have you read any of her books?
I really enjoy your posts, thanks for sharing.

Kirby's mom

FiveSibesMom said...

The "shake" and "cuff" sound so barbaric! I'm with you...some things come natural. There are signals they give and catching them before the action occurs is best. The "alpha rollover" we've had to use a few times, and that does work well and harmlessly. I'm amazed at what some people do all in the name of "training" or "behavior control." Gives me the chills. Keep up your great work! Now, for training the hubby on what you instinctively know and how...??? Good luck! ;-)

Lavi said...

Hmm, some of those methods are really bad. However, I have also read that a mother dog will use some of them to stop the pups from biting or becoming mischievous. She would pick them up by the back of the necks and shake them a little. Or she would turn them on their backs and growl at them. Even ignoring the pups is said to work.

Many people have said that holding a dog by their nape wouldn't hurt the dog, but it will make the pup behave. I tried that, but it didn't work at all.

The best solution I found is playing with her or letting her roam around the house.

If you do find out a way to explain "how to calm your dog", please share your ideas...

sisko said...

That's crazy! It sounds like a how to get your dog to be aggressive. It certainly would make me aggressive.

The one thing you mentioned that I use on Juno (she's only 4 mo old and has a dominant streak) is to submit her in what they called the 'alpha rollover'. To me that is very effective and doesn't scar her.

The rest, forget it. How did that book even get in print?

Anonymous said...

I have always had a love for pomeranian dogs and a few years ago I found an old book about the breed. It said to correct the dog use a light strap and give them whip them with it. If that was not bad enough the solution for digging was to fill the hole with water and force the dogs face in the water till the dog is "half drowned". A pom with their short noses! I hate to think how many dogs were killed because of the idiot author.