When the dog trainer needs a dog trainer.

Dog running

I’ve been really busy working on my KPA certification and have been training all 3 dogs quite a bit. I played with treat values (hot dogs rule!) and training 3 very different dogs the same behaviors using the same methods. It’s been fun, but it appears I over-stimulated Paisley.

Last week, after the introduction of hot dogs and a very good training session, I opened my bedroom door (we’re working on scooting backward, so the bed is helpful,) and Paisley flat out attacked Shira. The thought went through my head that maybe it was a food guarding issue since the hot dogs were new. I separated them, got everyone settled down and everything was fine until the next training session.

This time I downgraded treats to our normal Zuke’s and made sure I hadn’t dropped any on the ground that could instigate food guarding. After Paisley’s session I opened the front door and BAM! Paisley again attacked Shira. This time it took Paisley a lot longer to calm down. Time to call for help.

There are times when you just need an extra set of eyes, the benefit of someone with more experience, different experience or just someone to say, “I had a client that….” I could have spent the time trying to figure out what the trigger actually was (it evidently wasn’t food,) through trial and error, but in this case, since dog to dog aggression isn’t my specialty, I called for help.

What a wonderful experience! Sarah Owings at Bridges Dog Training asked a ton of questions and a few days later came by the house to meet the girls. We talked about the specific attack instances (since there were only 2 and under very specific circumstances,) and determined that Paisley probably needed a little more time between training stopping and reintegration with the other dogs. She’s a border collie, she loves work, and she was getting pretty upset about training stopping and taking it out on Shira. The conditions of reintegration weren’t ideal either. The doorways are rather narrow for 2 dogs on one side and 1 dog on the other and the dogs couldn’t see each other before the door opened. Deciphering the problem allowed us to find the solutions.

1. Give Paisley more time to calm down after training. 2. Reintegrate at the side gate where the dogs could see each other and there is a larger area on both sides. 3. Give Paisley some more work to do while we’re integrating. 4. Give the other dogs something to do while integrating and giving Paisley treats for their work.

There hasn’t been another attack.

A few things I want to reiterate about what went right.

  • I called for professional help when a new and drastic behavior was repeated just once.
    You don’t want the pattern to continue and become a learned behavior.
  • Answering a ton of questions honestly and openly.
    Behavior is behavior and you’re not a bad dog parent for having a dog problem. Don’t hide the snarls or “it was just that one time” events from your trainer or behaviorist. It gives them the bigger picture about the experiences of your dog. Your dog’s memory about their life events is important and they can’t speak for themselves. You have to speak for them.
  • We tried a few things and being careful with conditions, we tweaked them into a doable management system.
    This part is important. If you don’t think you can do the series of steps to fix the problem, you need to say so. We came up with the 4 step process above, but the initial process was 6 or 7 steps. We were able to pare it down to something that worked, but also wasn’t a great deviation from what I was doing before.

Sometimes you just need a little help.
Don’t wait for the problem to fix itself, because more than likely it won’t.

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