Raising A Creative Canine

The introduction of a new puppy into a reactive multi-dog household

Kayden and Austyn (Final)

A Chronological Summary No Comments »

For those of you who are currently working on integrating a new puppy into a reactive dog household or for those of you who will be in the future, I wanted to write up a chronological summary so that you can see the steps I took and in what order. Some of this information was discussed in more detail in the previous two posts.  (Please review Kayden’s history. This description is in the entry called “Austyn-Roque Comes Home!”) Kayden is highly reactive to dogs and also exhibits possession aggression tendencies. If he gets frightened and panics, he will attack whatever or whoever is in front of him. He has never attacked a person but he certainly will go after any dog.

When Austyn came home, I was very adamant that both dogs be separated. No surprise meetings! I set Austyn up in the kitchen with his bed and all of his toys. For a couple of months, this was his central residence. I set up three crates: one in the living room, one in the bedroom, and one in the car. (The one in the bedroom and in the car were purposely set up next to Kayden’s crate. I wanted to see what Kayden’s reaction to this would be knowing that I could make whatever changes if necessary.)

I used the crates with the hopes that I could transfer Austyn from one to the other so that he could always still partake in whatever activity we were doing. Though I needed him safe, I never wanted him to feel separated from us.

Because of this situation at home, it was even more important that Austyn was physically and mentally stimulated. Please note that Austyn would not stay in the kitchen all of the time. I would take him out on a leash in our big yard while the rest of the dogs were playing and he would run around the rest of the house when Kayden was downstairs.

At feeding time, Austyn would stay in the kitchen while the rest of the dogs went downstairs and stationed in front of their crates awaiting their meals. For security, we would be sure that Kayden was put in his crate first with his meal, and then lastly, Austyn would be invited to come downstairs and “jump in” his crate to get his meal.

Austyn was also taught to station on his bed as Kayden was coming back into the house. No crowded doorways. See the final behavior at: Kayden and Austyn (Part 2)

BEGINNING INTERACTIONS

In the beginning, Kayden was afraid of Austyn when we brought him home. He would look at him but then keep as far away from him as possible. What was difficult is that though Austyn appeared to love Kayden all of his happy wiggling would send Kayden running into another room. Gradually Kayden’s curiosity won him over.

As Austyn’s body movements became more familiar through the baby gate, Kayden became more comfortable. He started to stay closer and closer to the baby gate.

The first baby gate had really small holes so that if Kayden would erupt, the puppy would not get hurt. This is the way that we left it for a while. As Kayden would hang out closer and closer to the gate, he seemed to get calmer and calmer. I liked this because Kayden could make his own decisions as to how close he wanted to come to the puppy. A couple of weeks later, I started training them together as a group. They would all sit and I would click and feed each one of them over the baby gate. (I knew that team training had to be implemented if they all were to become comrades. I remembered this from Ben’s training plan when attempting to incorporate him with the rest of the pack.) This is a video of Greg reinforcing them for sitting:

The next step was to put up a baby gate that had bigger holes so that the puppy would become more and more obvious but yet would still be protected. It was around this time that I would have Greg hold Austyn in his lap and I would put Kayden on a leash and would click and feed him for watching the puppy at a distance. Slowly we moved closer and closer. It wasn’t too long before Kayden was actually targeting Austyn but in a very structured manner. A video is posted in: Kayden and Austyn (Part 3).  Kayden was taught at a very early age to “Go Touch” those things that scared him for whatever reason. This is the same technique that we used here. If Kayden appeared to get over-excited, I would end the session while it was still successful. (Or Kayden would have already removed himself from the situation.)

Over time, I noticed that Kayden would try to play with Austyn underneath the baby gate. I would watch this closely. Austyn looked like he was trying to push the toys underneath the gate while Kayden would be reaching for them with his paws. I was cautious with this! Although I loved that they were actually interacting in a positive way with each other, I wanted to be sure that Kayden would not obsess about “winning” the toy. Around this time, I also noticed that Kayden started sleeping close to the gate. Austyn would be lying on one side with Kayden on the other.

Here is a video of Kayden and Austyn during one of their interactive sessions:

Slowly Kayden got more and more accustomed to having Austyn around in a controlled manner.

The next step was to see how Kayden would adjust to Austyn in the big yard. Greg and I went out and let all of the dogs run off leash in the yard. Austyn would run after Kayden but thankfully Kayden could always outrun the little guy. Kayden’s confidence started to grow! Little by little, they started playing more and more, as Kayden started to become more and more comfortable.

After many of these successful interactions, Greg and I put them both in the small yard. Yes! Both dogs continued to play as they had in the bigger yard. No breakdown of behavior seen! Here is a video taken from the first couple of sessions:

The hardest, and most trying test was to allow them to interact in the house. Our house is a decent size but none of the rooms are very large. Each room is small, and with the furniture in it, can become very confining. So Greg and I picked up all of the toys, put the other two dogs downstairs, took a deep breath and let both of the dogs roam around the main floor. Both dogs started playing immediately however we did not allow it to continue for a long period. After about 1-2 minutes, we called both of the dogs to us, had them sit, and gave each a training treat. Then we separated them for the rest of the night. We started doing this sporadically at first, and then as both dogs continued to enjoy each other’s company, I lengthened the duration of the play sessions.

Currently both dogs are continuing to get along very well, however I still have to monitor them. For example, Austyn can sometimes get overbearing. He will jump on the couch and then, as Kayden walks by, he will throw himself into a spin and land on Kayden’s back! “Too much” is the cue I use to tell Austyn (and Kayden) that they need to slow down. I have to be the one to monitor them both. I don’t want Kayden to think that he has to make these decisions. I will keep them both safe.

I am now working on allowing the dogs to have toys in the room. They will share bones and balls well however the stuffed toys are a different story. They will start to play tug, and then if Kayden wins the toy, he will take it and hide behind a piece of furniture, ready to go after any dog (or person) that will attempt to take it away. Because of Kayden’s intense weekly training schedule, so far I have been able to take the toy away from him without incident.  (Please see my next blog post about Kayden’s regression after my recent surgery.)

My next question is whether or not I should allow the dogs to have the toys in the room, and if so, how to prevent the above scenario from happening.  Stay tuned…!

Kayden and Austyn (Part 3)

The Preliminary Clicker Trained Behaviors No Comments »

In order to retain control of the household while this process was (and is) in progress, Kayden had to know the following foundation behaviors reliably: Back Up, Go Touch, Stay, and a solid recall cue. I will explain below how I integrated them.

The “Back Up” was taught originally as a Doggy Zen behavior taken to the extreme. I would hold food in my hand, and when he would turn away, then I would click and feed him. With each repetition, he would move farther and farther away from my hand, backing up to do so. From there, I put it on the verbal cue of “Back Up.” I would have him back up away from many different obstacles. The most noted here was backing away from the baby gate as well as backing away from Austyn’s crate.

Kayden always loves to be in the middle of things and this is where things can get out of hand. If Kayden gets over-stimulated, he will easily launch himself into a reactive episode! And please note: although Kayden has never actually bitten another dog, he flies into these rampages where he will attack the other dog instantly, with absolutely no regard as to whether or not the other dog is surrendering. Once he starts, he physically cannot stop! Like Ben, Kayden is blind to the other dog’s body language. I only mention it here because, in the beginning, if there was any kind of commotion that the puppy created, whether on the other side of the baby gate or going in and out of his crate, Kayden was always at risk for flying into one of these episodes. Being able to control Kayden’s distance to these things helped immensely. (I could not control the puppy’s exuberance but I could control Kayden’s proximity to it, and hence, his reactivity level.)

‘Go Touch” was a simple behavior to teach. I started out with holding up an object of some kind and clicked and fed Kayden for touching this object with his nose. When this behavior became more reliable, I started moving the object farther and farther away.

Kayden is a dog that is reactive to many different kinds of triggers. One day it could be a lone person walking in the field and the next it could be a trash bag blowing in the wind. What I like about this cue is that it teaches Kayden to move toward the scary stimulus himself. He can determine how close he wants to go instead of me trying to coax him (or lure him) to it. Over the years, he has learned that these situations are always safe.

This was one of the most important behaviors in Kayden’s repertoire. In this way I was able to have Greg hold Austyn in his lap and then I could cue Kayden to “Go Touch” the puppy. We started with Austyn’s feet and then slowly made our way up. Kayden had so much trust in this cue that he very slowly started to touch Austyn gently without any anxiety. If Austyn moved, Kayden would quickly back away but in a few seconds, he would venture out again. Sometimes Kayden would do a “fly-by” touch which I would click as well as the actual touches themselves.

Below is a video of one of our sessions. This session was taken about a month ago where Kayden is touching Austyn’s body parts. Please note that Kayden has an extremely high energy level so he tends to move really fast. Because of his nature, all training sessions carry a certain amount of tension in them. Scattered amid the “Touch the Puppy” behavior are other movements like backing up and downs. These were default behaviors that were captured at an earlier date. (If Kayden was in a situation that I felt was dangerous, I would cue him to back up away from the excitement and/or tell him to lie down and stay.)

Stay behavior is any behavior where the dog’s body is motionless and it stays that way until the handler releases the dog from whatever body position the dog was in. I cannot overemphasize how important this behavior is especially if you have a reactive dog of any kind. Sometimes the only way that you can protect yourself, and your dog, is to put your dog in a stay behind you, or in a safe space, while you deal with the challenging situation before you. You cannot run the risk of the dog jumping up or moving forward! Patty Ruzzo, my former competition obedience instructor, used to say to me, “When I ask my dogs to stay, they stay like a rock! They do not move unless I release them.” I have always taken this advice to heart and it has saved me from countless potentially damaging situations throughout the years.

The importance of the recall behavior is the same. The benefits of teaching a really reliable recall are many. Leslie Nelson has a wonderful dvd out called “The Really Reliable Recall” (DVD/ BOOKLET)and it can be purchased at Dogwise.com. It explains in depth how to build a recall that is super reliable even in the most challenging of circumstances.

If you have any questions regarding how to build either a solid sit or down stay and/or a really reliable recall, I would be happy to answer them. There are so many excellent resources to reference that I felt that I did not have to explain it here.

Kayden and Austyn (Part 2)

Reactive Dog Home Management No Comments »

In the beginning, Kayden and Austyn were not allowed to be together unless the activity was thoroughly planned. We kept Austyn in our baby-gated kitchen with all of his toys while the other dogs rested in the remaining parts of the house.

I purposely changed the positions of the crates in our bedroom as well as the positions of the crates in the car. I thought I would try to put Austyn and Kayden side-by-side in the bedroom as long as it was pleasing to both dogs. Luckily, it was! In the car, Austyn was kitty corner to Kayden and right next to Lizzie-Taylor. This also worked out well.

At night, when we would feed the dogs, each dog would station in front of his or her crate. Greg and I would carry Austyn down and put him in with his meal after all of the other dogs were put in their crates first. Kayden especially. When Austyn started “doing” stairs, we would again put Kayden in his crate first and then we would let Austyn slowly join the rest of the pack via the stationing behavior. Then he would wait his turn as the rest of the dogs were fed.

One particular challenge was moving the dogs past each other when they had to go out to potty. I knew that having Austyn and Kayden crunched in a doorway was going to be a potential disaster!

We have a very narrow kitchen that opens onto a narrow porch. From there, they go outside. In the beginning, Greg and I would just pick up Austyn as all of the dogs passed through the kitchen. Kayden would sometimes stop to sniff the puppy’s toes and I would click and feed him. (Here, I made a mental note that I would do more of these sessions.) As Austyn grew, holding him was no longer an option. Instead, as the dogs came in, Greg or I would hold Austyn in his bed as the pups passed. Kayden, at this time, was not allowed to sniff the puppy, and all would get treats, after they had passed through the baby gate and joined Austyn and us on the other side.

Below is a video showing what this behavior eventually looked like. As Kayden would come through the door, Austyn knew to go to his bed to wait patiently while Kayden walked through. A beautiful way to manage the situation:

Kayden and Austyn (Part 1)

The Plan No Comments »

Kayden and Austyn are doing remarkably well! If you would have told me that in six short months, they would become the best of buddies, I would have been completely surprised. Not because I didn’t think that it would happen but because I thought it would take a lot longer. A lot longer!

Austyn and Kayden are not only going out in the yard together but they are also roaming in all portions of the house (we have small rooms) and are currently sharing bones and balls!

I want to share with you the pieces that I have worked on, with both dogs, to make this success a reality. I will try to keep the training plan as simple as possible, and if any of you have questions, please ask.

Stay in School!

How to Choose a Great Puppy Class! No Comments »

Stay In Class - Training Class Waltham HS - Charles River Dog Training ClubIf you have a puppy, you definitely want to consider educating your dog long term. Dogs are like us in the sense that they need to continue learning. Us, humans, do not only attend kindergarten or elementary school and then stop there. Many of us continue onto to high school, and then possibly onto college, to prepare us for whatever job we long to have. Only attending one set of puppy classes and/or one set of obedience classes are rarely enough. Dogs need to learn, not only how to do the various behaviors that will benefit them, but they also need to learn how to perform those behaviors in heavily distracting environments. A sit is not the same sit at home is not the same sit that happens at the veterinary clinic. The more the distractions go up, the harder it is for the puppy to perform those behaviors.

Puppies not only need to go to puppy class but they also need to continue their education by taking several obedience-type classes as they continue to mature. I use the term “obedience-type” because there are many different types of classes that can benefit the growing canine. Basic manners is a wonderful place to start but then you might want to take a specialty class of some sort like a beginning agility or tricks class.

Locate the training facilities in your area and be sure that they do use positive reinforcement training of some kind. These are classes where you are allowed to use food and toys to teach the puppy many different kinds of behavior. I highly recommend a clicker training class.

For those of you that do not want to use food to train, because you do not want to “bribe” your dog, please keep this learning theory formula in mind. There is a difference between bribing and reinforcing appropriate behavior with food as a reinforcer. The true learning theory equation is: I cue the behavior, I get the behavior, I mark that correct behavior (with an acoustic marker like a click or a verbal marker like “Yes!”) and then I give my dog a reward for that behavior. Here food and/or toys are generally used. As opposed to: I cue the behavior, the dog does not do the behavior, I get out a reinforcement (in this case, the treat) to help my dog do the behavior, and then the dog may or may not perform the behavior based on whether or not the dog wants the reinforcer that I am offering. Training in this way does not fit the true learning theory model. This will not build solid, reliable behavior.

Be sure to visit the classes in your area and do not be afraid to ask friends and family for referrals. Go and sit in on the class that you are thinking of taking, and if a facility will not allow you to do this, run in the opposite direction! Every training facility should encourage you to come in, watch the class in progress, and explain what training method they are using and why.

Look at the students taking the class: do they seem happy and content or do they seem frustrated and confused? Look at the dogs: are they happily working on certain behaviors or are they stressed, worriedly looking around at the distractions in the environment? Though these things can happen in any class, the goal is to achieve a certain amount of focus in a very distracting environment. Classes that are effectively taught can accomplish this, with students steadily improving, week after week.

Austyn started taking puppy classes at the MSPCA in Methuen, MA. They have classes on Saturday mornings and have a rolling admission which means that any puppy can start at any time. This is a clicker training class, and the fact that any puppy can come, means that your pup is introduced to a number of new dogs each week, which is very beneficial from the socialization aspect.

Because Austyn is going to be competing in obedience and agility, his private lessons have already started. (More on this later!)

In my next post, I will be giving you the Austyn/Kayden reactive dog update.

All Dogs Need Jobs!

Education for a Lifetime No Comments »

It is my view that dogs need two things to live an enriching and successful life: structure and education. They need to know each day when they will be able to eliminate, eat, and drink. But they also need to be able to participate in challenging activities of some kind. Training your dog is a way for you to be able to communicate effectively with your dog.

Think of what it would like to be a dog: you have to wait until someone takes you out to relieve yourself and you can only eat when your “person” decides that it is time. You cannot watch television. You cannot use a computer. You cannot read. You are also unable to communicate with the people that you live with. Life could be extremely boring without adequate mental and physical stimulation. Dogs rely on us humans to give them these things, and if we don’t, dogs can become extremely stressed, even depressed maybe! These are the dogs that bark all day, that amuse themselves with obsessive-compulsive behaviors like biting incessantly at a front or a back leg, and/or eat all kinds of inappropriate objects like rugs, couches, pillows and anything else that might be readily available.

As you know I have four dogs, and each will tell me which sport that they would like to participate, and hopefully compete in. I let my dogs “decide” based on who they are and how they like to move. Are they quick? Do they like to jump? Or are they quiet and thoughtful?

Lizzie-Taylor, for example, is a serious dog. She excels at minute precise behavior. I can ask her to “Get It In” and she knows that she needs to tuck in her left foot (which had been previously hanging out) to fold herself into a perfectly straight sit. Obedience training was the perfect fit for her. As Lizzie matured, I realized that she also likes to run and jump so we do agility as well.

This video is of Lizzie-Taylor performing in a Show and Go at Masterpeace Dog Training in Franklin, MA. This is the second level of obedience competition. This sport is known for its precision work. The sound is a bit off but you get the idea.

Kayden-Blue, on the other hand, is my crazy man! He is a super high energy, zany character! Because he has the reactivity issues, he will participate only in a sport where we can perform in a ring by ourselves. Originally I was thinking Rally or CDSP Obedience, but recently I am leaning toward Freestyle. Freestyle is a sport where the dog and handler dance to music. In this venue, I can showcase all of his gorgeous movements and let him experiment with creative behaviors that I can string into a routine.

Austyn-Roque is still developing into the dog that he will eventually be. As a puppy, I will be watching to see what activities make him the happiest. Presently he loves all of the behaviors that I am teaching him. He is thrilled with his agility class just as much as he enjoys practicing his obedience work: hind end movement, fold back downs, and pop up sits.

Below is a video of Austyn doing his first “bent” tunnel with his dad! This beautifully run puppy agility class is at Riverside Canine Center in Nashua, NH.

Dogs can do all kinds of jobs. I am a dog trainer so I like to compete with my dogs. But dogs can do other things like retrieve a ball for a child or a senior citizen, or maybe they can help with the arrival of a new baby by lying quietly while the baby is being fed. They can also be taught a multitude of tricks to share with the neighborhood children.

Whatever job you decide to give your dog, think of dog training as the language that you will use to communicate with him. For your dog to fit well into your family, he needs to be adequately educated. And that education needs to start young and continue well into his senior years. In my next blog post, I will share how to pick a really great class.

Puppy Piranha Fish!

Preventing/Curing Puppy Biting and Mouthing 2 Comments »

So when Greg picked me up from the Boston Hilton, I couldn’t help noticing the scratches on his arms. Yup! The puppy piranha fish was at it again!

So below is a video of what you do NOT want to do. This is my husband Greg with Austyn and watching it makes me laugh! He is doing everything wrong! Compare it with the notes that I’ve written below. What changes would you make?

Puppy biting/mouthing is perfectly normal. The difficulty is that those baby teeth (milk teeth) are sharp and needle-like! They need to be, so that as the pup grows, the Momma dog will no longer allow her puppies to suck, and hence, will need to be weaned. Pups lose these teeth between the ages of four to five months. This time can be very painful. Gums are sore and might bleed. You may see them come out or you may not. It is a good idea to give the pup something cold and hard to bite on. One treatment I use is to take a washcloth or towel and tie it into a knot. I then wet it and put it into the freezer. Once frozen, this can provide comforting relief. Some owners will make different kinds of ice cubes for their pups. Chicken soup broth a favorite! What I don’t like about this is that the salt content can be too high and the pup could damage the adult teeth as they come in. Stick with something safe!

Although puppy biting is going to happen, there are a number of things that you can do to help deal with this situation:

Only sit and pet the puppy when the puppy is exhausted. Otherwise interact with the puppy in a fun and constructive way. Play “teaching” games with the puppy, like “Hide and Seek” or “Fetch”, rather than games where human hands are darting back and forth around the puppy’s face. Avoid rough games like wrestling and tug-of-war. Never let the puppy bite and mouthe your hands, no matter what the reason.

Always have a toy for the puppy to chew on as you are interacting with him. A nice exercise is to give the pup a chew toy, (I like either bully sticks, tracheas or antlers) and as he is chewing it, pet his head and tell him in a soft calm voice how wonderful he is. Keep assorted toys up on counters and furniture so that one is always available within reach, no matter where you are in the house. Always supervise your pup or adult dog when giving chew toys. My rule of thumb is to give the chew toys sparingly and I will take them away when they are about 3/4’s of the way finished. Depending on what kind of chewer your dog is, I would not recommend giving these toys to a dog that would bite a huge piece off in one sitting. This could be especially dangerous!

If you are interacting with the puppy and the biting is unusually intense, get up and walk away. Ignore the puppy. Go into another room, if able, and close the door behind you. If this is impossible, silently escort the puppy to his Safe Space (crate or baby-gated area), give him a mentally stimulating toy (stuffed Kong or ” title=”Twist n Treat” target=”_blank”>Flying Saucer), and leave him there until he calms down. Most puppies will play with their toy and then fall fast asleep. Now you might wonder why I didn’t give the “age old” advice to say “Ouch” loudly and walk away. I don’t because I have found that many puppies find this reinforcing and only start to bite harder and more frequently.

Your puppy should be adequately physically and mentally exercised each day. A tired puppy is always a good puppy! How about doggy day care three times a week or a pet sitter that visits mid-day? And do remember to rotate the puppy’s toys each day so that he will not grow tired of them as quickly.

Anticipate the time of day (dawn and dusk, for many puppies, are the evil hours!) that your puppy gets over-stimulated easily. Plan ahead and put your dog in his Safe Space, with a wonderful mentally stimulating toy, at this time of the morning or evening. Be proactive instead of reactive!

Physically harsh methods, like slapping the puppy under the chin, scruff shaking, or forcefully holding the mouth closed are absolutely unacceptable ways to curb this behavior. The potential side effects of physical punishment can lead to even greater behavioral problems in the future like timidity, hyper-vigilance, and aggression. Please note: this is not merely my opinion but has been scientifically proven!

Gone For a Few Days…

Take It Slow! No Comments »

I have been away for a couple of days to attend the KPA Faculty meeting in Boston, MA. This left Greg alone with all four dogs for three days, one of which is reactive. I got the impression that everything went smoothly however I will be finding out soon what the actual experience has been. (He will be picking me up shortly.)

Greg did take Austyn to his second agility class. I will be interested to see how this went. My hope is that he took some video, so that those of you who are contemplating taking an agility class, whether with a puppy or an adult dog, can see how a really good class is conducted.

It is very important that future agility dogs are introduced to each obstacle slowly and at a rate, and at a level that they can succeed at. For example, when teaching the pup to go through a tunnel for the first time: the tunnel is shortened considerably so that the pup goes in and comes right out. We will do this a number of times, and as the pup gains more confidence, then the tunnel is lengthened.

All of the obstacles should be taught in this methodical fashion. If you are taking an agility class and the teacher wants to just put the dogs on the equipment to “see how it goes” run for the hills! This is NOT a class that you want to take!

Oops!

A Big Mistake! No Comments »

This Easter morning, I was up, rushing to get the dogs out before Greg and I went to church. Instead of carefully choosing who would go out with who, I let them all out together. (I had five minutes!) I figured I had put them out briefly before so surely nothing would happen in the small amount of time that they were out now.

Usually Austyn will stay close by but this morning he playfully romped around the yard trying to find a place to do his “business”. All was well up until this point.

Kayden and Austyn finished eliminating almost at the same time. Both dogs ran to me in triumph to receive Mom’s accolades. Mistake! I could feel Kayden stiffen, and in a moment’s flash, Kayden growled and charged at Austyn! Austyn, stunned by the suddenly violent behavior, screamed loudly as he clumsily ran back up onto the step. It broke my heart to see him so upset. Luckily Kayden had not done any damage but the point had been made.

As much as I didn’t want something like this to happen, I’m glad it did. It was a wake-up call. This was a situation that if one of my students told me they did, I would read them the riot act!!!

Just because a reactive dog hasn’t had a problem in awhile, it doesn’t mean that all situations will be safe. I foolishly was lax. Dope!!!!

I have to always remember that I need to not only protect Austyn from Kayden but that I also have to protect Kayden from himself and his own tendencies.

Beginning to Work!

Puppy Agility Class No Comments »

Tonight was Austyn’s first puppy agility class! Greg, my husband, is taking him since I still cannot train my dogs because of my surgery last week.

We had a ball! Shannon, the puppy’s wonderful breeder, is taking the class with Khouri, Austyn’s sister. Both puppies learned how to run on each side (left and right) with their handler as well as confidently going through the tire and tunnel. They are also learning to ignore the other puppies in the room, even in the case of highly distracting puppy siblings! Both Goldens were focused intently on their person even at the age of 13 weeks! (Love the work ethic!)

The one thing here that I wanted to mention is that one must always be aware of one’s surroundings, no matter where you are, even in a well-run classroom setting.
Agility work begins
There was a young girl there with a dog that was reactive. Now, please know that my heart has a place for reactive dogs (heck I own yet another one!) however it made me cringe watching the two interact. He would growl as dogs came close to him and she would grab him by the muzzle and hold on tightly. Now I know what the intent was, but I wanted to take her aside and explain that what she was doing was only making the behavior worse. This is where I have to watch my step. My “behavior hat” cannot always be on, especially when someone else is teaching the class. This girl wasn’t even in our class. She had taken the class before ours.

A couple of times that Greg was going to send Austyn through the tunnel, I told him to wait because the girl (and her dog) had migrated from one end of the room to the other. They were standing very close to where the opening of the tunnel was. All I could picture is Austyn seeing the dog, and innocently running over to him to be corrected, or worse, bitten! People would think that I am being paranoid however I have counseled many families whose puppies have been through such a scenario only to be aggressive with dogs in the future.

We must always protect our dogs no matter where we are. When Austyn is older, I will teach him a handful of Emergency Foundation behaviors that I can use to diffuse, and protect him, from a potentially dangerous situation.