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We adopted an adorable 9 week old BC puppy in February. He is a little over 3 months now. After the first couple days of adjustment we realized that we had an extremely fearful puppy. We would growl at my 9 year old daughter and try to bite her, he would growl and try to bite anyone other than me, my husband, and my boys. At first he would hide from people, now he lunges, barking and growling. He also tries to bite other dogs. We took him to the vet, he hid by my legs and wouldn't take a treat from the vet and growled at her - this was at 11 weeks. At 12 weeks, he bit the next vet (she handled him poorly, in my opinion.) She told us we needed to get him help right away! We went into high gear with socializing and hired a dog behaviorist (very $$) to come evaluate. I have worked with dogs and have a PH.D. in education so I can usually learn something on my own and work with it.

 

First, I read everything I could. Next, we went to Pet Smart and practiced walking him around the store. We worked with him seeing other people and dogs. We had strangers give him treats. At first he would not take treats from stranger but gradually he would if they were slow and careful. We associated my daughter with high value rewards and gently corrected him for negative behavior regarding her. She would also feed him and try to teach him commands with me. I worked on obedience a lot with him. We also took him to the dog park and he improved his behavior around other dogs although he still will come back and hide by us often or romp with our other dog, where he feels safe. He follows our other dog a lot who is a Golden Retriever and loves people. We take him on walks and correct his lunging and growling at people. We continue to have people feed him treats.

 

The behaviorist came and told me most everything I already knew and talked about how she could "train" him - which I didn't need since I was doing a fine job with obedience on my own and she couldn't even get him to walk with her her because he was so frightened. She was able to show she knew what to do with a regular dog (she corrected my Golden on some things we are lax about) but really didn't approach Whiskey in a positive way and all her information was something anyone educated in dogs and dog psychology would already know. It did confirm that we were doing all the right things and more though.

 

Whiskey has made progress since he was 9 weeks - he is not as fearful about "things." He loves my daughter now. We use "go to place," when people come in so he isn't in "attack" mode when people come over. He will take treats from strangers and will go up to people now to smell them but will run when they try to pet him. He is okay at the dog park but will still try to "nip" dogs at their face. Most don't care and see it as play but I wonder if it will get worse as he gets older. He will usually lunge at people the first 3 we see and then after corrections will stop. Walking at heel is a work in process. He knows his other commands although sometimes just chooses to ignore me unless I have a treat in hand.

 

I am disappointed that he still can't let anyone pet him and still won't just run and play at places because he is fearful so we don't always get to exercise him fully because of his fears. We continue his rehabilitation each week with meeting new people, new dogs, obedience, and corrections but I am not sure we will ever help him become a dog that is not extremely fearful and skittish. My first goal is to make sure he doesn't bite from fear aggression, however, as that is where we started. I still think if someone forced themselves on him for a pet, he would bite.

 

I would appreciate any ideas, strategies, or stories of people who have overcome anything like we are going through. I have never seen a puppy start out his life this way. Most people would jump to the conclusion that he was abused but he came straight from the breeder this way.

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If he is truly fearful, the worst thing you can do is "correct" him if he barks and lunges at people/dogs. This associates bad things with something he already finds scary. It also teaches him to not trust you. (Would you spank your child for being afraid of thunderstorms and crying or running away out of fear?) Barking/lunging means you are too close to whatever his is afraid of. Back off until he is relaxes enough to follow commands and take treats. Praise and reward for looking calmly at the scary people/dogs and obeying commands. Soon he will learn that stranger = yummy treats and a happy owner.

 

Do not let people pet him. If someone tries to pet him without permission, physically block that person if you have to. If your pup trusts you 100% (that you will always protect him), he will not feel the need to bite in order to protect himself. You must be your dog's champion! What is more important to you, having a dog that loves and trusts you or making total strangers happy by letting them pet your cute puppy?

 

Do you like total strangers to come up to you and pet your hair, give you a hug or a kiss? Not many people do. Don't force your dog to engage in social interactions he finds scary. Having people toss treats to him is fine, but don't let them touch him unless HE initiates contact first. Read the article "He Just Wants to Say Hi" for a clear explanation.

 

Stop taking him to the dog park. That is the worst place to take a fearful pup. He will only learn bad habits (and already is learning them if he is snapping at dogs' faces). That environment is too chaotic and difficult to control. (Remember, with dog training you are trying to set them up for success!) Instead, find friends who have neutral dogs that will ignore the pup. Once he is ok around them, find friendly but polite dogs that won't get in his face. They need to gently and politely invite him to play while giving him the space to decide to engage or retreat. Bouncy, in your face, overly outgoing dogs are a very bad idea for him.

 

There are some excellent training articles out there on the DogStarDaily.com web page. Another good source is Dr. Patricia McConnell. Read her books.

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Great advice from Liz. ^^^ --- particularly the part about keeping him under threshold.

 

IMHO, because of his cautious personality, you may be taking things too fast, too soon and overdoing some of the socialization and exposure to different situations for this particular puppy. It is possible that a slower pace may be what this puppy needs.

 

Jovi

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I agree with everything that Liz posted.

But remember he is a Border Collie not a Golden!

IMO dog parks are the last place I would take any pup. Not only are they full of "rude" dogs, but also clueless owners.

The reading material that Liz recommended is right on.

If you expect your pup to act like your golden you are setting yourself up to be disappointed.

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Thanks for your feedback - we are doing most of what you suggest as I agree building trust is huge and I believe we have that. We also try to associate his fear situations with yummy treats - this is how he stopped growling at my daughter. We also get strangers to feed him treats as his biggest fear is people. Our corrections aren't hard but mild attempts to shift his brain from negative to relaxed and this has been working. Obviously, if the dog is lunging at someone, you don't treat for that behavior and reward it, nor let him go after the person, so a correction is needed. We usually try to prevent the behavior, however, if we see the person coming and can sit down and distract him with treats so he doesn't react, we do this instead but it isn't always possible.

 

The dog parks have been very helpful. It has been like what Ceaser Millan does when he brings a dog into a pack of balanced dogs. We always make sure the pack is balanced first or we don't go in. We have a nice small park with great people and dogs. Bringing Whiskey there has increased his self confidence greatly. He went from wanting to attacking dogs to being able to leave us and go run with other dogs to some extent. He doesn't nip constantly but will at times and we help shape his behavior or mostly let the dogs shape because they have been very balanced, if we see a dog with bad energy we totally avoid it or leave if needed but that only happened once. Whiskey LOVES the dog park and we have been so happy with all the progress he has made because of being around not only the other dogs but the people who understand dogs and respect him. They are willing to let him approach in his own time, etc. Many understand the temperaments of BC's can be skittish in general. Although I understand dog park experience can vary and that I have to be vigilant to make sure his experiences are always positive, the growth we have had there has been so worth it.

 

I try never to take anything as absolutes in life as nothing is ever black and white and each situation will vary based on that day, who is involved, etc. I do learn a great deal, however, from others who have had similar experiences and seeing what they did to overcome the situation so keep offering stories of things that you might have gone through and what has worked for your dog and I will see if those approaches will help Whiskey as we are always a work in progress.

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I also would agree with the above posts and add an additional warning about taking a 12-week-old pup to the dog park--at this age, your pup is still potentially susceptible to parvo. I have a pup the same age, and while I have been taking him many places to socialize him, I avoid high-strange-dog-traffic places like the dog park and Petsmart. I just wanted to throw that out there just in case you were not aware of that particular risk.

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Interesting... as for "going too fast," we put things in high gear at the advice of the vet and dog trainer because of his age they said he had a window to become socialized and if we don't work on overcoming/reducing his fears during this window, we will lose that time and won't ever be able to get it back. They said it was important to maximize every opportunity in socialization especially over this next month with him. I would say their advice has been good since we went from fears at a level of 10 to fears at a level of 7 in just a couple weeks with all our socializing, he has made HUGE progress! We don't expect him to be like our Golden, we understand the difference in breed characteristics - however, we also wish to do what is best for the puppy and that is to decrease his fears, increase his tolerance of people, and if possible (in an ideal world) get him to even like people! We started with a puppy that even the vet thought was severely paralyzed with fear (more than they had ever seen) - and we have been putting a huge effort into helping him - and thankfully, we have been rewarded as we have seen good progress. I was hoping that we weren't alone and maybe someone else has gone down this path and could offer us their story and maybe even share a positive ending so we know where we might end up in the long run. He is a great pup, many owners would just have given up on him due to the severity of his fears.

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I have worked with a severely fearful dog before. Except I got her at 3 y/o instead of 9 weeks. After a couple years of work, she appeared normal to most people. But she still had some limitations that I knew and respected - and because I did that she was able to pass for normal.

 

I took things at her pace, highly rewarded what I wanted and avoided things that would stress her out.

 

If you pup is barking and lunging, just remove him from the area. Obviously you shouldn't have had him that close ;) Correct yourself so you remember to set your baby puppy up for success the next time ;) Start rewarding heavily when people start to move toward you. Like cooked chicken given one piece after another after another. Be on the lookout - anytime someone starts coming in your direction, reward, reward, reward. Set up scenarios where people are 25 feet away, move 5 ft closer (while you reward, reward, reward) then they turn and walk away. When they walk away, just happily walk on with him. Repeat often. They can incrementally work closer. In a month or two they should be able to walk near you. Then they can give the pup a treat.

 

Teach default behaviors that he can fall back on. Heavily reward calm sit/down/heel position behavior.

 

Be very, very cautious when emulating CM. His shows have been heavily edited. I think the man himself has a presence about him that dogs respect and that's why it works.

 

Remember, if things go wrong at a dog park, they go wrong very. quickly. and it will set your pup back to the beginning again. maybe worse.

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It can be very stressful for dogs to interact with people. He needs to interact with your daughter, so the route you went was definitely best with that. But he doesn't need to interact with random people on the street. He just needs to be calm and comfortable around them. That's why I would probably chose to heavily reward him myself in the vicinity of others right now. You're sending a message to him - "we're around people and great things happen between me and you - you don't have to worry about them"

 

This approach should help change his perception of people. He'll start to look eagerly/happily to you when others approach because good things will happen to him. He doesn't need to worry about how he's going to interact with the person approaching.

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I applaud you for working with your dog and not 'throwing him out', as many do. Here are some things to look for in your work with him:

 

*Subtle signs he is stressed, ears flattened, panting, eyes darting around, licking lips. If he is doing any of those, he is stressed and you need to slow down. Take whatever action you are working with, and 'slice' it into smaller steps. If you have something you're working on and he's not progressing, post it in a reply and I'll use that as an example. There's a book called Calming Signals, about doggy body language, that you may find helpful. My local library has it, you could check with yours.

 

*'Trigger stacking'. Say you got a ticket on your way to work, your boss was unhappy with you, you spilled something on your favorite blouse, and when you came home, you found an audit letter from the IRS. Then your spouse asks why you didn't pick up the dry cleaning. Explosions result! The same type of thing happens to dogs, particularly anxious dogs. One or two things that they can sort of deal with are okay, but if a bunch of them happen in close sequence - another dog snapping at him, a sudden loud noise, someone stepping on his toes, etc - then he's going to regress a bit. Give him a little space, keep stressors down where you can, reduce your expectations for a few days.

 

*Go slower than you think you need to. His adolescence will probably set you all back a bit, go back to basics with behaviors you think are already set in stone. His brains will have flown out his ears, and he needs to go back to baby steps for a few months.

 

*Where you can, work on one behavioral issue at a time. Use what he likes to reward him for success in any area. Does he like to sniff? See if you can find a nose work class for puppies. Does he like to tug, or dig, or have his tummy rubbed? Does he like to learn tricks? Teach him a few of those while working on the one behavior thing.

 

*Don't be surprised if he regresses for no reason that you can determine. Keep going with where he is in the moment, not where he was yesterday. With his level of anxiety/fear, I'd be surprised if this didn't happen a few times.

 

I've not dealt with a puppy with these issues, as all of my dogs have been adults when we got them. Two of my border collies have had fear/timidity stuff. My current guy does have great bounce back, in that he will try again and again and get more assured each time. But it's incremental, not leaps and bounds.

 

Shoshone, my fearful and quirky girl who is gone now, never ever liked people. Once she learned that she would be well-treated she relaxed with us, but she didn't care to be petted or played with. She was stand-offish, and quite content with it. Your boy may never be eager to greet/frolic with people that he doesn't know well. If that's part of who he is, no training will change that.

 

Good luck! Please let us know how you get on.

 

Ruth and Agent Gibbs

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I have a similar pup, a Mini Aussie, Ezra. I also got him from a breeder, at 10 weeks old. I had had a shy pup before, a feral pup I rescued off a levee, but I learned the hard way that there is a big difference between a dog who is fearful from lack of experience and a dog who is genetically fearful. I was somewhat desperate to get Ezra socialized during "the socialization period" and, in retrospect, pushed him too fast. He started barking and lunging at about 3 and a half months old, although, fortunately, he has never shown any tendency to bite.

 

If I had it to do over again, I would go much, much slower, and not worry about the socialization period with such a fearful pup. I would really let him go at his own pace. I wouldn't try to get him to take treats from folks. Instead, when he approached folks, I would have them throw the treat in back of the pup, so he got to retreat, then come forward on his own, not lured by the treat. Suzanne Clothier has a video on this -- I think it's on her Relationship Centered Training Sampler DVD, but maybe it's up on her website too. I think she calls it "Treat Retreat." This, combined with giving Ezra a "safe zone" (his crate, in his case)(I think I remember reading that you are already doing this?) has made a huge difference in him feeling more confident when we have folks over.

 

You might check out Grisha Stewart's BAT training. She has a book, and several DVDs, one of them is even a puppy socialization DVD. I think it's called "Give Your Puppy a Choice." I haven't watched this particular video, but I've watched several others. Her method really focuses on honoring the dog, and, to me, it really makes sense and seems to work. Her dog Peanut was apparently very fearful, but you wouldn't know it now. Some of her DVDs have photos of her working with Peanut, so you can see the success story in action. You can buy or rent them from Tawzer.

 

Ezra is 15 months old now and working with him got put on the back burner, because we got a second pup (so Ezra would have a friend...), who turned out to have even bigger issues. OY. But as soon as it warms up, I'm going to start in with the BAT training. What little we did, seemed to work really well for Ezra. Having him trust me to keep him safe, rather than him feeling like I'm going to try to get him to take treats from scary people, has been a HUGE step in his progress.

 

So, speaking as someone in the trenches, I would agree with the advice to go slowly, slowly. I feel like I didn't go slowly enough, and ended up making things worse.

 

Good luck and I would love to hear how he does. I have great hope for Ezra coming out of his shell!

Leslie

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Totally agree with Leslie above.

 

Socialization means exposing your dog to new thing sin a controlled manner and ensuring he has a great experience. If he has a negative experience that will have as lasting of an effect as a good experience.

 

If my puppy was lunging at people then I would not chalk that up as a good experience on his part, especially if it results in a correction. From his POV he found that person scary, and so he reacted. You punished him for reacting so now that thing is even scarier! It would be better to control his exposure a little bit more so that he felt secure enough to not lunge and snap at him.

 

Its also why I would be leery of a dog park during the socialization window. If he has a bad experience with other dogs it will have a potential lasting effect. It sounds like you have a great park with good people, but keep in mind it is hard for you to control other people or their dogs and there is big potential there for bad outcomes.

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I repeat, do NOT correct your puppy for barking out of fear! You are only teaching him that he is not allowed to communicate to you that he is scared in the first place. Ever hear people talk about a dog that "bit with no warning"? Guess what, most of those dogs had been repeatedly corrected for giving clear warnings that people not only ignored but corrected. Again, would you spank your child for crying because she is afraid of a thunderstorm? Same idea!

 

Stuffing yummy treats into his mouth when he looks at scary things is not rewarding aggression, it is changing his emotional response to the stimulus. (strangers = yummy food instead of strangers = correction)

 

A dog park is NOT a stable pack of dogs. Find friends with well behaved, socially competent adult dogs and socialize your pup with them.

 

I strongly recommend you forget about the so called dog whisperer and read those other resources I posted.

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Ditto on the advice above; I'll be more blunt and would add that you might want to consider unlearning most of what comes from Caesar Milan (think of it this way, it would be like learning to be a surgeon from a daytime hospital soap).

 

I just finished reading through "fired up, frantic and freaked out" (easy read, applies to fearful or over the top dogs), she has this statement on 'socialization' which is exactly what posters above said:

 

"too often, though, people think only of showing the puppy new things. If the puppy does not leave the challenge feeling more confident and happy than when he met it, he did not have a good socialization experience. Thus, sometimes what they intend as socialization in fact creates far more problems than it prevents"

 

or from Sophia Yin's "low stress handling, restraint and behavior modification of dogs & cats" (first 6 chapters great so far!)

"while the general population tends to jump right to flooding (in this case aggressive socialization), the most effective behavior modification method is actually a combination of desensitization and counter conditioning" i.e. classical counter-conditioning (give treat) to reward emotional state while stimulus is below threshold, then increase the stimulus.

Or using operant conditioning + classical counter-conditioning as in BAT (Grisha Stewart) and/or LAT (McDevitt, Control Unleashed Puppy program) as suggested by posters above. The OP should be able to pick up all that pretty quickly (or already knows it!) given his/her PhD in education.

 

Curious about one thing, you say adopted in the text but purchased in the title. Where is the puppy from? Can't help but think 'puppy mill' from the fearful description. Although really doesn't matter, in any case the road to bringing him back to happy and confident may require quite a bit of effort and time but he's young so there is hope!

 

One last thing, I've found training to be easy since one is working with a dog that is thinking (and usually motivated by food/toy/praise/sheep although I don't have any experience with the latter!). I've found behaviour modification to be much harder when it comes from an emotional state, one has to find ways to get through to the dog despite his excited/fearful/aroused/aggressive state where he is NOT thinking!

 

And as advised by several posters above, 'punishing' signs of fear can be one of the worst things to do.

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Interesting... as for "going too fast," we put things in high gear at the advice of the vet and dog trainer because of his age they said he had a window to become socialized and if we don't work on overcoming/reducing his fears during this window, we will lose that time and won't ever be able to get it back. They said it was important to maximize every opportunity in socialization especially over this next month with him.

 

It sounds like you have made great strides with your pup in a very short time. Congratulations. Having said that, I will say that I do not usually find that a vet (and I have used several over the years because of relocations) is a good resource for behavior suggestions. It obviously depends on the vet. My last vet (very experienced) first gave me the "OMG, be careful, BCs can be nippy, too energetic for the average household, etc. etc." lecture (to paraphrase). He then went on to recommend "The Monks of New Skete" as a good reference for training my pup, and in addition, warned me to never, never tug with my dog. Needless to say, I didn't take his advice as I found much better, breed-specific and common sense advice on these Boards.

 

Also, the proficiency of dog behaviorists vary widely.

 

As far as Cesar Millan, Sigh. The post below is an interesting read. (sorry for the length, but I couldn't figure out a way to link) -

 

Jovi

 

*************************************************

Book Review: Cesar’s Way, by Cesar Millan.

 

Cesar’s Way: Definitely NOT a Whisper

 

By Kathy Meyer, VMD

 

Although the jacket claims that the book offers a “natural, everyday guide to understanding & correcting common dog problems,” Cesar’s Way, by Cesar Millan (aka the Dog Whisperer) delivers very little usable information for dog owners. The book is aptly named, as its main focus is Cesar, not the dogs. Instead of providing revolutionary insight into dog psyche, Cesar’s Way largely describes Cesar’s own interpretation of various problem dog behaviors and his methods of treating. The typical dog owner can’t use these methods, as they involve 4 or 5 hours of vigorous exercise a day, time with a pack of 40 to 50 dogs, and physical corrections and intimidation to achieve submission. Cesar’s various and sometimes peculiar philosophies and beliefs are woven throughout the book, making it more a treatise on his views of how dogs and owners (and even men and women) should construct their relationships rather than a useful guidebook to promote a harmonious life for dog and owner.

 

The most glaring faults of the book are not so much what is included, but what is not. First, there is no acknowledgement of the dog’s ability to quickly and easily learn dozens of words to create a common vocabulary between dog and owner. This is otherwise known as training…something that has been very helpful over the thousands of years of human/dog interactions. Communication in this way has allowed dogs to be trained for very complex, useful behaviors in their complex lives as 21st century pets in a developed country. Cesar, however, strives for a “primal” relationship between dogs and their owners, epitomized in his view by homeless people and their dogs. In this primitive construct, Cesar uses no words to communicate with his dogs. Instead, the only sound he will issue is a harsh hiss, which will generally cause dogs to display submission when he is displeased. So, instead of teaching a dog to sit or down/stay and then asking the dog to remain calm so it can “earn” its dinner, Cesar expects the dog to just “figure it out,” regardless of how confused, hungry, and frustrated the dog becomes. Likewise, the poor fearful dogs Cesar “rehabilitates” could be easily taught to sit and stay while desensitized to his approach rather than being subjected to forceful, terrifying intimidation tactics described in the book. Cesar states that he will repeat these techniques “a thousand times” if necessary with fearful dogs.

 

Also related to training, or lack thereof, is Cesar’s method of “discipline.” The book doesn’t specifically advise owners on how to stop their dogs from doing what Cesar feels should be forbidden. Other than taking the dog on long marches on the end of a short lead with a noose around the most sensitive area of the neck and projecting calm, assertive energy, the reader is at a loss as to how he or she is to change her dog’s behavior. Based on his “Dog Whisperer Show,” the method of discipline appears to involve punishment delivered verbally (his “hiss”) or through tightening of the choke collar to the point of shutting off the airway. Cesar does discuss the “alpha roll,” in his book, but wisely cautions owners from doing it on their own dogs except under the guidance of a trained professional. I suspect the advantage to this is that the trainer will end up in the emergency room rather than the owner. The purpose of discipline is to educate the dog, and the approaches alluded to in this book do not instruct the owner to show the dog what the owner would like him or her to do instead of the undesirable behavior.

 

In addition to the above-mentioned omissions, there are no recommendations made for simple environmental manipulations that could minimize or even solve many problems. For example, Cesar mentioned a dog that bit mail carriers to the point that the USPS would not deliver mail for the entire neighborhood. This case was featured on a Dog Whisperer episode, which I did review. Not once did Cesar advise the owner to keep her dog under control by not allowing it to run at large, unsupervised, in the neighborhood. Although Cesar’s appearance dressed up in a postal uniform was perfect TV schmaltz, it’s unlikely this one-time encounter will affect that dog’s future behavior toward the real mail carriers. Another case described in the book involved a dog that walked in perfect submission, unleashed down a city street to its owner’s photography studio. However, at the studio, the dog began to display aggression toward clients. Cesar dramatically described the horrible outcomes, including euthanasia, if this behavior could not be stopped! However, he did not mention simply leaving the dog at home or using a leash, gate, or crate at the studio until adequate training could be achieved. More to the point, he didn’t even describe how the owner was to stop behavior. Cesar simply advised him to act like a leader. Sadly, Cesar not only missed opportunities to easily direct the reader to successful strategies, but glamorized the walking of a dog off-lead in a busy city, which is unlawful in many jurisdictions and could prove fatal for a dog.

 

While Cesar’s opening autobiography in the book provides a touching “rags to riches” story, it is of no particular help to the dog owner. However, it does provide great insight into Cesar’s perception of the perfect life for a dog. His ideas were clearly formed during his childhood, where he observed the behavior his grandfather’s nearly feral farm dogs. The dogs lived outdoors, were not regularly fed, and received no health care, save hosing for severe infestation of external parasites. The dogs were not trained, but just “naturally” knew what to do. This construct of the perfect life for a dog reappears later in the book, when Cesar declares that the happiest dogs in America are those owned by homeless people, as they engage in the proper following behavior required of all dogs if they view their owners as “dominant”.

 

As Cesar goes on to describe various types of aggression he treats, he uses terms such as “unbalanced” and “negative energy.” These vague terms do little to help advance our understanding or aid owners in preventing or treating problems. His rehabilitation techniques, while interesting, are simply descriptions of what he, himself, does at his facility. In general, it involves heavy exercise to induce a “calm, submissive state,” exposure to the pack of dogs, and a feeding process where only the calmest dogs are given their food. As previously noted, these techniques do not easily transfer to the typical dog owner.

 

Throughout the book, much is made of popular “dominance theory” and its application to dog training. Cesar maintains that a dog that jumps up during greeting, pulls on a leash, or walks through the door first is dominating the owner. These assertions are patently false. Many dogs jump during greeting while displaying obvious submissive behaviors. They are whining and licking! The reason they jump is to sniff the owner’s face, which is simply vertically oriented rather than horizontally oriented, like other dogs. Likewise, pulling on the lead or going through the door first usually relates to a simple lack of training and the dog’s ability to move much faster than its human companion. Cesar’s description of wolf pack behavior is not supported by the latest research. There is no constant scrabbling to be top wolf. The pack structure is simply a family, with mother and father at the top and several years’ worth of maturing offspring. Placement in the hierarchy is based on sex and age.

 

In the final section of the book, Cesar offers up the closest thing to advice for owners in the book. I do agree with many of his questions prospective owners should ask themselves prior to taking on a puppy. However, while I agree exercise is important, his recommendations for exercise in excess of 1.5 hours of walking per day, are not practical for most people. I am particularly concerned about the potential for injuries to dogs worked out on the treadmill, and joint damage to dogs under the age of two who may be asked to wear a backpack full of filled water bottles, as he suggests. Under the discipline section, Cesar repeatedly will advise owners what not to let their dogs do, such as wake them up in the morning or greet them too enthusiastically upon their return. As noted above, he doesn’t tell owners how to stop the behavior or what alternate behavior the dog should be taught! The most concrete advice I could find was for owners to always behave in a calm assertive way. I do endorse this concept but it would be much more helpful for Cesar to instruct readers on exactly what they should do with the dog while being calm and assertive.

 

“Cesar’s Way” will make a fine read for you if you want to learn about Cesar and how he claims to dramatically rehabilitates dogs to live in his pack. His is an impressive story of human ambition and resolve, which makes a nice marketing package for simplistic, outdated, and sometimes downright dangerous techniques. However, if you are a dog owner looking to deepen your relationship with your dog and/or improve your dog’s behavior, I would direct you to authors such as Patricia McConnell, Jean Donaldson, Ian Dunbar, and Sophia Yin. By using more advanced, humane techniques of true dog training, you will surely improve the quality of life for both you and your dog. And the book won’t be centered on the messenger; it will be centered on the message.

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What kind of certification and experience did the behaviorist have? Certainly not saying this is the case but lots of people call themselves 'whisperers' and 'behaviorists' nowadays.

 

Depending on Whiskey's progress and how you feel about it, might be worth researching a different behaviorist.

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I agree with most of what's been said here. I don't know if my dog is genetically fearful, or made fearful by his early environment (unknown, until age 2).

 

Maybe the single biggest thing that helped me early on was knowing my dog's body language, and knowing when he was feeling over threshold. When I began recognizing that and backing off, my dog began to trust me a little more every day. At this point, he's almost nine, and when I ran into my nieces and their 3 (unruly) dogs the other day, he happily did a lie/stay about 15 feet away while I did the "meet and greet" with the yappy little terriers. He looks like the Best Dog in the World* when he does that - but really, he's just trusting me to not make him deal with the frustrating, rude little things. He's quite happy to stay just over there, knowing I'm protecting him from a situation in which he would (in his mind) have to snarl and flip one of the dogs over to teach her a lesson in manners.

 

I started with books by the Monks of New Skete, and it only took me a couple weeks to realize that I (with my chain-jerking) was becoming just one more thing in the world my dog was scared of. Praise to instinct there, for so clearly telling me that THAT was the wrong way to go.

 

My dog is a lovely pet for me - he'll never be a dog park dog or a social butterfly, but he's great at being who he is, safely and with cheerfulness.

 

Mary

 

*Well, he IS the Best Dog in the World... but I've learned that it's impolite to brag on it...

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I appreciate the advice. We are doing many of things mentioned although it may not always sound that way since I listed all the bad rather than the good. My philosophy has been to associate people / strangers with a positive reinforcement. However, when on a walk and he sees a person at some random distance and has a reaction, I cannot avoid that (those suggesting to avoid situations that he finds fearful) - we live in a world with people, he will see them and should see them or we won't make any progress. We also need to exercise him so we have to go to parks and go on walks so we see other people walking their dogs right next to us. We try to just walk by but sometimes he will react. We have started stopping whenever we see a person heading towards us and feed him treats until they pass if we see them before he sees them.

 

We are going at a pace that seems to be working, he is making progress, and I am incorporating many things (advice from people, reading, etc.) that makes sense to me. I do believe dog psychology is different from people psychology so I do not try to impose what I would do in a situation with a person as what I would do with Whiskey. I know many people are anti-Ceasar Millan but I am not. I have read the criticisms of his work but feel he has a lot to offer on his ideas of dog psychology - I do believe there are some things that I would probably not do because they seem too extreme like the overstimulation of fearful items to a fearful dog like he did with Gavin and another dog but I have learned a lot from his shows that I have applied in a positive way with my dogs. My dogs are loved dearly, they trust me, they know their basic commands, and are very happy. Whiskey has been a challenge and this is why I read, watch, learn, and reach out to people who might share ideas that work (even if I don't agree with everything I read or watch all the time.) Since I see how Whiskey responds to each situation, I can make the best judgement call about what is too much and what approaches work best for him.

 

Someone asked about the trainer I hired, she had a degree / certification from some place - she used a lot of CM's approaches and again, this is where I respect to disagree at times solely based on THIS dog even though I agree with a lot of CM, I didn't find this approach good. She took him away from us immediately on a leash and he FREAKED out (like you see the dogs do on CM's show) - yelping and crying, she tried to walk him and he wouldn't do it. She implied that she would have him walking with her in a short period of time and I chose to trust her since she was the "expert" with training - well, she never made any progress with him. He wouldn't even take treats from her when we had gotten him taking treats from strangers (guessing because she did not build any trust with him at all). She went on to "talk" to us about all the "things" we could do - which we were already doing - and more - so the entire experience left me with somewhat of a bad taste in my mouth that even these "experts" with training didn't know how to approach my dog in a good way. She wanted me to leave him with her for 2 weeks for training with her pack - that would not be the way to teach Whiskey - besides, learning commands is not my problem - he is GREAT at learning obedience, he loves to do it, we do it everyday and he looks forward to it and knows so much - her list of things that she would do during training are things he already can do - sit, down, stay, place - he also speaks, rolls over, and covers his eyes with his paw! Our only real problem is leash walking and automatic sit but she doesn't promise that at 100% after the 2 weeks anyway.

 

I guess the moral to this long post is that we are doing our best by Whiskey, doing what HE needs, and we appreciate the advice (especially from people who have very fearful dogs because it can be hard to really understand the challenges if you haven't walked in the same shoes), and would love to continue to share our ups and downs although I may have differing points of views about some things and of course, whatever I do - it has to match Whiskey's specific situation and needs.

 

As for where we got Whiskey, we bought him from a small breeder (not a breeder of working dogs) - he has 2 dogs and this is his second litter. In hindsight, maybe I should have gone with a bigger breeder - but at the time I thought using a breeder of dogs that were not being used as herding dogs (that were pets) seemed like a better idea since he would not be herding within our family. We bought our 3 Goldens from small breeders and they were all great! I don't call that a puppy mill as their dogs were their pets and they didn't breed other dogs but they also were breeding dogs for a living.

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I know many people are anti-Ceasar Millan but I am not.

 

Neither am I, and I've learned a lot from his books/shows. I agree with your approach and appreciate what you have posted. No trainer has all of the answers and we must remember that what has worked for others may or may not work in our case. Seek knowledge from many sources, but only use what makes sense and works for you and your dog.

 

I'm glad your BC is responding to your efforts.

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I am very glad that you are asking for help. it can be very hard having a fearful/reactive dog. but it does get better. Everyone has given you really great advice.

 

I am sure that your vet and behaviorist are well meaning, but so much of the traditional advice is not grounded in science and for a fearful dog is actually detrimental.

 

As mentioned above, trust is so important - trust means that your dog knows that you are going to keep him safe and not put him in situations he can't handle. Anytime he is lungeing, biting, growling, etc, he is in a situation he can't handle.

 

When he gets tense or stressed, it is best to do is stand inbetween your dog and what is stressing him and move him farther away from what is stressing him out.

 

Distance is your friend. let your dog determine how close is close enough for people and other dogs and don't overwhelm him with too many people or dogs - one is enough. Giving treats is great - you want to counter condition and show that when he sees a dog or person, good things happen, but it is important to make sure the experience is positive while Counter condition. That means don't put him in a situation that you know he may react or you may have to correct. keep exposure to stressors short - very short.

 

please don't take him to the dog park as you are putting him and other dogs in danger. Snapping and nipping at faces is his way of telling you that it is not a comfortable environment for him. It will escalate, if you continue to take him there.

 

Don't let people pet him. one of the most threatening things for a dog is to have a human standing over him. For a fearful dog, this just compounds his fear/suspicion of people.

 

There are some really great resources, such as Girsha Stewart's BAT method, the book Click to Calm, the book Control Unleashed, plus ones mentioned above. Good luck!and keep us posted on progress.

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I know many people are anti-Ceasar Millan but I am not. I have read the criticisms of his work but feel he has a lot to offer on his ideas of dog psychology - I do believe there are some things that I would probably not do because they seem too extreme like the overstimulation of fearful items to a fearful dog like he did with Gavin and another dog but I have learned a lot from his shows that I have applied in a positive way with my dogs. My dogs are loved dearly, they trust me, they know their basic commands, and are very happy. Whiskey has been a challenge and this is why I read, watch, learn, and reach out to people who might share ideas that work (even if I don't agree with everything I read or watch all the time.) Since I see how Whiskey responds to each situation, I can make the best judgement call about what is too much and what approaches work best for him.

 

Someone asked about the trainer I hired, she had a degree / certification from some place - she used a lot of CM's approaches and again, this is where I respect to disagree at times solely based on THIS dog even though I agree with a lot of CM, I didn't find this approach good. She took him away from us immediately on a leash and he FREAKED out (like you see the dogs do on CM's show) - yelping and crying, she tried to walk him and he wouldn't do it. She implied that she would have him walking with her in a short period of time and I chose to trust her since she was the "expert" with training - well, she never made any progress with him. He wouldn't even take treats from her when we had gotten him taking treats from strangers (guessing because she did not build any trust with him at all). She went on to "talk" to us about all the "things" we could do - which we were already doing - and more - so the entire experience left me with somewhat of a bad taste in my mouth that even these "experts" with training didn't know how to approach my dog in a good way.

 

As long as you remember that above all CM is a showman and not a dog behaviourist or trainer and remain selective about what you take from what he says you'll be OK.

 

Noone is wrong 100% of the time and that applies to CM too - but he does seem to get bitten rather a lot, and that is because all too often he doesn't read dogs well. That's a huge disadvantage for anyone working with dogs and unfortunately he passes on his ignorance to people like the person you hired.

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As long as you remember that above all CM is a showman and not a dog behaviourist or trainer and remain selective about what you take from what he says you'll be OK.

<--- This. Please get your advice from reputable sources, not TV personalities.
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