Monday, April 30, 2007

Bad News for Bandit

Bandit came back to me last night. It seems he doesn't like men very much - a man had come to visit on Saturday and Bandit had barked a lot at him and seemed quite unfriendly to the point of making the man feel uncomfortable and worried, and Bandit's adopter didn't quite know what to make of it because everything else had been going so well - he was playing non-stop with her other shepherd husky mix and everyone seemed happy.

But last night they went out for a pee and poop walk and 2 men walked by them and without barking or any notice at all Bandit lunged out at one of the men and seemed to almost bite one of them. The man recoiled back and went "ouch!" and Bandit's adopter said - "did he get you?" and the man said - "well, almost!" - and that freaked her out enough that she called and said she couldn't keep Bandit.

So here he is this morning back at my feet, laying down as soft and quiet as pudding pie. I don't know why that dogs act differently in other people's houses than they do in mine, it's a complete mystery to me - what it is that I do differently, or what it is that I'm willing to put up with that other people aren't, or what it is about my lifestyle that doesn't expose them to what other people's normal lifestyles do that makes dogs behave badly. But regardless, Bandit is back here, and here he will be until we get this "man" thing worked out with a behavioural trainer and we feel comfortable that he's ready to go again.

I'm going to change his name from Bandit though - and I'm not going to keep Griffin. Since Buttercup and Daisy's names are both flowers I was thinking of a flower name - any ideas? I was thinking Rosie - but then I thought of Rosie O'Donnell and that quickly nixed that idea. So I need another flower.

1 comment:

  1. Marjorie11:07 AM

    I'm planting Basil today, how about that? I always plant a lot of "Coleus" and "Hosta". The Tulips ("Tulip"), Daffodils ("Daffy") and Crocuses ("Croaky") are all coming in. I'm expecting the Caladium ("Cali") to come in soon too.

    Anyway, both the aggression and "doesn't like men" thing are primarily issues of a lack of positive socialization experiences.

    One of the last 'pit bulls' I worked with was going to be euthanized due to numerous biting incidents at the shelter she was at. (Her file was filled with red flags, denoting attempted & successful bites.) She had about one day left when I was asked if I'd work with her. "Oh, by the way, she's especially fearful and aggressive towards men."

    Now normally I don't want to hear a dog's history (other than bite history) because I worry it will colour my perception. I want to treat the dog as though it is perfect, and wait for it to show me what's wrong. But, with this little nugget of information, I already planned my strategy.

    Upon arriving home, I immediately handed the leash to my husband, and announced he'd be keeping her with him for the near future. Under my supervision, he guided her. He decided where they went and for how long. She ate at the end of a leash held by him.

    Sure, she was very hesitant (bordering on aggressive) at first. But quickly she realized my husband was completely worthy of her trust. Under my guidance, he didn't frighten her or punish her or do anything to make her feel vulnerable, much less threatened. (Keep in mind he knows next to nothing about what he's picked up from me.)

    I augmented that at-home interaction with lots of exercise (always), basic obedience, and tons of socialization. She was nothing like the dog described in her file within...oh...I'd honestly have to say by the end of the first week.

    After that, I just kept exposing her to new situations and observing her behaviour, to see if she was falling back to her old ways. She didn't.

    Six weeks after bringing her home, she was adopted BY A MAN who contacted me a year later to say she is the most perfect dog. He couldn't believe she was ever aggressive. I don't think he really believes that she used to be extra aggressive towards men.

    Exercise, basic obedience training, and socialization can make a virtually perfect dog out of any specimen.