I almost titled this blog… “I know EVERYTHING there is to know about dogs”, because I talked to two people today who did…they know everything about dogs, but still are dealing with issues that are so severe, they are literally costing these dogs their homes, and potentially their lives. My 12+ years of experience rescuing, re-homing and keeping dogs in their homes was of no importance to either of these women…individually they have had 4-6 dogs and “always been able to train them”. How is that working out for you Ms. Smarty Pants? (that is me screaming in my head)
So, I had four issues on the table today that will keep me awake tonight worrying about these two dogs. One is a black shepherd who was adopted out to a fellow “rescuer” (I use the term loosely because no rescuer would return a dog. PERIOD) who has two issues. The adopter has had this dog for 9 months and this little gal has started trying to get out of the yard and running the neighborhood. From the endless chatter of Ms. Dog Owner of the Year (I couldn't bring myself to say Dog Mom as she is returning her dog), I gathered that she is outside in the yard for 8+ hours a day, and once the escapes began, she spent “thousands” of dollars reinforcing the fence by lining the perimeter with cinder block As you can imagine, she did not hear me when I told her she just added a nice step for her dog to jump… a platform really… but what do I know? I also mentioned that perhaps she is leaving because she is BORED and needs some walks and even an obedience class just for fun, it fell on deaf ears. I know, beyond a shadow of doubt that if this dog went to an obedience class and got walked daily… this behavior would stop. I know it. If you don't try a daily walk and basic obedience class at the first sign of ANY trouble… you are missing the easy fix. This is tried and true advice, over hundreds of dogs… over a decade of trying. (I am kind of screaming again in my head)
In addition Ms. Dog Owner of the Year mentions, our little gal is attacking her old dog. This is a completely new behavior and of course, it is unacceptable for one dog in a home to attack another. However, if you ever find yourself in this horrible situation, check your dogs over. Look (and smell) for ear infections, teeth, a wound somewhere, a broken toenail…consider arthritis or anything that would make you cranky. If there isn't something obvious, I would take the dogs in for blood work and a vet check. I know it is expensive, so if you have to pick one, pick the dog who is getting picked on. It is an inherent pack trait to kill off the weak or sick dogs. It is almost an act of mercy really. So listen to your dogs.
Also, please remember, every single dog is different. Even if you have always been able to train your dogs before, you may need a different approach, a different tactic… chances are, you are the one that needs to change your behavior so your dog can thrive. Can you set aside your ego and help your dog? It may not be about sit, stay, heel… it may be about helping your baby find her confidence so she can be all she is. Make the time.
Here are some MUST DO things you absolutely MUST DO when you are having behavioral issues (an unstimulated dog is a bad dog)
walk your dog, on a leash for mental and physical stimulation.
walk your dog, on a leash. Yes, it is important enough to get the top 2.
go to an obedience class.
go to an obedience class. Yes… that important.
Feed a high quality dog food.
Make sure your dog doesn't have any ailments.
If you cannot make the time to do these extremely basic things, think again, and make the time. You committed to this animal, so make the time.
GSROC is taking this dog back, and we will do better by her this next time. I personally will offer her my apologies. She deserved better. So, I will write about the other dog another day…again, some very basic issues that can so easily be addressed. Allergies and Boredom… stay tuned.