Monday, May 23, 2011
Sasha Sasha Sasha
Well, the family drove 2 hours to come meet Sasha yesterday. Right before they got here I was holding her muzzle to clean her eyes and she bit me. No broken skin, no scratches, but we still call it a bite. She meant business. I tested her a couple more times and she went for my hand again. This happened 5 minutes before the family arrived. As soon as they pulled into my driveway I was at the car door telling them how sorry I was that they wouldn't be able to take Sasha home with them.
Of course, they were very disappointed at the news and wanted to try to make it work. Without further evaluation, there was no way I was going to let them take her even though they did come in to meet her and she was having lots of fun playing with the two girls. Two very cute, sweet, petite little girls. Nope, I wasn't going to take any chances. Sadly, feeling they've wasted their time, they started home.
I felt awful. But, it was my responsibility to do the right thing. Although it can happen, rehoming a dog that nips or bites is a difficult task. The liability, the worry. They often have to be put down. NOT something I was interested in doing. That is one of the hardest things to do when a dog is all around good, then has this issue pop up and further testing shows further aggression and the dog has to be put down.
I went back into the house and did more testing with her. I put on my thick leather wood stove gloves and held her muzzle, touched her face. She snapped. I did this on and off for awhile, giving her treats when she didn't snap. I've been testing her different ways, as I do for each new dog, since she got here and she's been fine, so I was surprised by this. She's been a bit of a bully with the dogs and she gets jealous but I've been able to do things to her. I've been able to touch her face and take away her food while she has her face in the bowl.
I had just fed the dogs and Sasha was next in line as I had her at a sit-stay. I thought maybe it was a food aggression issue even though I hadn't witnessed that before now. But, what often happens when dogs are here for awhile is that they get comfortable and start to show their true colors.
The conclusion is that she does not need to put down. That it's not uncommon for a dog to not like it's muzzle clamped or touched (ask any groomer) and she has already shown that with consistent work she can be desensitized to it. Whew.
So, she is adoptable, to a family with grown children that respect dogs, or a family without children. Although I thought she'd do better with no other dogs, now that she's settled into the pack and they all know their places, the fighting has stopped and there's lots of playing going on and I think having a canine companion would actually be good for her especially if it's an alpha and wise, she will learn good manners and will have a playmate keeping her from being bored.
See, Sasha thinks she's an alpha female. What happens when they THINK they are alpha is that it can cause anxiousness. As I've watched her and done things to test her, she has shown that she is not a true alpha and needs to be taught how to be who she really is. This will help her be more relaxed and confident, less needy and more at ease with the family coming and going.
Two books I've recommended for quite a few years to whomever will listen: The Dog Listener by Jan Fennell and The Dog Who Loved Too Much by Nicholas Dodman. They both share training tricks and explain the psychology of dogs. Another book that has come to my attention and is actually on my bedside table waiting for me to read is Wood Song by Gary Paulson. It's a book about wolves in the wild, I believe, and what it shows is the natural order and interactions of canine packs.
So, if your dog is showing signs of anxiousness, separation anxiety or other issues, read these books. They helped me tremendously with Weezie's issues. It took about 2 weeks and the change was almost miraculous to me, I didn't think she'd ever relax, but she did and she became a better dog because I implemented these training tricks. If I had the extra money, I'd buy a huge stack of these books and hand them out to people when they're telling me about their dog's issues....that's how much I believe in them.