Mishka was a really intelligent, strong willed dog. She was aggressive. She wanted to chase and grab most other animals”, but it had not been determined that she wanted to kill/eat others, thanks to the dedicated vigilance of her owner, Barb Tyndall.
Problem: This dog, and the diligent, but 95 pound owner, had already been through about six well known trainers. The owner was told repeatedly that she had ‘too much dog’. This dog was smart and wily. Example: once she lay, in apparent complete relaxation, flat on the floor – with other trainers assisting. It all looked good. Another trainer with a little lab cross was doing progressive approaches to allow the first dog to rehearse self control. After minutes of apparent relaxation and seamless self control, I watched the client dog suddenly erupt when the lab retreated from a close approach. The client dog had quickly sussed the game, but did not truly relax. However, she was excellent at LOOKING like she was relaxed.
Solution: Our solution was one week of systematic work with the owner and dog. The goal was to solve the problems and find the dog a job that would give her an alternate channel for her need for challenge. First we fixed the problem with dogs. Then with puppies. Then cats. Then squirrels. Then visitors to the home. Visitors to the home was the only problem that was not completely resolved in the first week.
Meanwhile, we determined that she could try a career in search and recovery, which her owner was quite game to do. We started introducing her to the concept of finding things. Since this was an actual task, not a sport, we worried just about her getting the job done, not about how she looked as she did it. In the first week, she showed a willingness to pursue her task, regardless of onlookers and location. By the end of the week, she was at the beach, locating scent buried underground, under a foot of water. Once she was on task, she totally disregarded other beach visitors, with and without dogs.
Tools: Tools used for this case included the Perception Modification protocols and a head halter. Mishka hated the head halter, and when given the choice to self manage around squirrels, or wear a head halter, she corrected within three trials. The first two times, when she goofed up, she had to wear the halter a total of thirty seconds before being able to earn her way off it by showing restraint in the presence of (the plentiful) squirrels. There was no use of e-collars or leash corrections, although the leash could be used to interrupt her behavior if she lunged toward something.
Surprisingly, there can be one solution for most of the problems we see in dog behavior, and that solution is Perception Modification. Whether a dog is fearful, aggressive, phobic, hyperactive, hypersensitive or obsessive compulsive, Conditioned Relaxation and Cycles can empower him to choose the appropriate mental state successfully. The solution can take as little as five days, and it can be permanent, with all handlers thereafter. This process puts the awareness, and the tools, in the possession of the dog. The dog tends to continue to use these tools, on his own, as he sees he needs to manage himself. Yay dog! This process puts the dog in command of his own success, rather than leaving him dependent on humans who love him, but are not behavior management professionals. Dogs are amazing, and so are owners like Barb Tyndall, who partnered with Mishka to bring out her world class abilities to help, rather than harm!
Note from Kayce: Thanks to Collin Richards of Manorly Mutt (http://manorlymutt.com/) for help in editing this post! It still amazes me. Dogs are amazing. And, so are owners like Barb Tyndall, who successfully brought out Mishka’s world class abilities.