Sitting in my xterra with my two poodles in the back; we were waiting for my son to come out of the CVS. As usual I was having a discussion with my dogs about the weather, Luke's bath and ticks (blog on ticks later this week.) As I sat waiting I noticed a man speaking to I'm assuming his wife in a van parked behind me. I had noticed her as soon as I came out of the store; of course because there was a dog in the van with her. The two kept looking at my car; were they simply admiring Luke and Elsa in the back? I mean, after all look how cute they are? (just kidding) Then the man took his hat off and headed our way. As he got closer I figured he had a question about my guys.
He came up to my window and said "Excuse me Miss; I see that you work with dogs. You don't happen to be a trainer are you?" "Uhhh; yes in fact I am," I said. Then he got right into it; he had a question and asked away. He had a dog, the one in the car that I had seen. It was apparently a yorkie, it was a whopper of a yorkie. The man continued with his story telling me that the dog was a rescue and had become very dog aggressive. He had taken him to doggie daycare when he first got him and that is where things had changed. He explained that he now goes ballistic at the mere thought of another dog walking by and had on several occasions lunged and latched onto other dogs. "How do correct this behavior," he asked. Wow.
Thinking I had about 2 min. to talk to this gentleman I tried to come up with the most important facts about dogs and aggression. While I was doing my best to help the man I was also thinking that many people think that there are quick fixes for behaviors. Of course depending on a behavior, how ingrained a behavior is and the owner of the dog will factor in on how long it will take to get rid of a behavior. The slower you go the better your prognosis of success as far as I'm concerned. Never taking the next step to a more difficult level before 100% completion with the task at hand.
Breaking behaviors down into baby sized steps is the way to go; both as far as your starting point and your work table. You don't try to stop a full on aggressive display 5 min. into it, you work with it before it actually comes into view. That first glimpse, before the dog tenses up; you get in there are get started before they get started. No matter what behavior you are trying to teach; it is all about patience, positive reinforcement and goal. You must have an idea of what you are working towards; if you have no idea then how the heck can you effectively teach your dog how to get there?
So with my son back in the xterra I tried to sum up the best "quick" advice I could give him; told him to be patient as it could be months of work to get where he wanted to be. I wished him good luck and we head off. When I had been giving the man some pointers I mentioned positive reinforcement; this obviously hit a cord with him as he smiled. I knew then that he had been researching the cure for a while and had discovered that there were other ways other than just yanking on the collar; which in fact does absolutely nothing but damage a dogs neck. "Ah yes positive reinforcement" he said, shadowing my statement. This made me smile.