Saturday, June 26, 2010

Serious Warning Signs from a Dog

Watch this video that shows some serious warning signs from a dog. Note the "freeze and stare" and the "half-moon eye". This video is from our online course Basic Dog Body Language. See a previous blog post for more information and a demo. Click here to enroll.

This is a six month old puppy who is having his first attempt at guarding something. It is very important to address this type of behavior right away and not to let it escalate. The more the dog gets to rehearse this behavior the worse it will become. A dog who feels that his possessions are threatened is likely to bite. If he bites once he is likely to bite again and the situation will get worse and worse and the dog more and more dangerous. Never punish a dog for showing his feelings by growling. The punishment may cause him to suppress the growl, but he won't feel any better about the situation. In fact he may become even more defensive and likely to bite the next time. He may go straight to a bite without a warning growl the next time, especially if the ruling adult is not around to threaten him into "behaving". It is so much better and safer to have a dog that welcomes people (including children) approaching him when he is eating or chewing on something.

Read our previous blog post that explains how to prevent guarding in a puppy.

Read our previous blog post about how to stop guarding in a puppy once it has started.

If you have a puppy or adult dog that exhibits guarding behavior and you have young children in your home, you may want to consider finding another home for the dog. If the children are too young to follow instructions or do not obey the rules with respect to the dog, then a guarding puppy is a serious threat, and will become even more dangerous as he gets older. If the dog is in the habit of stealing the children's toys and then guarding them, this is a very difficult situation to manage. You will find it difficult to follow our instructions for curing guarding with small children in the house since they may still take things from the dog, making the dog more suspicious of them. It is much better for the children and the dog to find him another home without small children before he bites and ends up being put down or sent to the shelter. We recommend that you hire a professional to help you with this decision. If you are able to cure the guarding behavior, you can't assume that it will not resurface. You must continue with the prevention exercises for the life of the dog and ensure that the children never try to take anything from the dog. Put your dog away when other people's children come to visit so that there is no danger to them and so that they do not undo the training that you have done.

Here is another video that was being passed around the internet a few years ago. People thought it was funny, but it is actually desperately sad. This poor dog is so conflicted about the person with the camera coming near his bone that he actually attacks himself. A situation like this with an adult dog is much too serious for a dog owner to handle on their own. If you have an adult dog that exhibits threatening behavior to protect his possessions, resting place or anything else, then you need to hire an animal behavior consultant right away before someone gets hurt. It is not fair to allow a dog to continue to go on in such a state of high anxiety and it is very dangerous for anyone who might accidentally (or intentionally) set off the guarding behavior.

Click here to find help if you have a guarding dog.

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