I started working with a new ‘client’ today. Her name is Andrea and she is the owner of a Pet Hotel here in the town where we’re living, Playa Hermosa, Costa Rica.
Andrea has been a dog lover her whole life. For a long time she’d been helping out friends with their dogs when they went on vacation. She told me that she finally got so tired of helping for free that she opened up her Pet Hotel.
I met her at the library recently and found out she is living right down the street from me.
Andrea has two dogs that have to stay next door at her mother’s house because these two dogs are aggressive towards other dogs. She’s also got a few rescue dogs that she’s essentially adopted that live at the pet hotel and interact with the dogs who come to stay with her.
She’s frustrated because she can’t have her two pit bull mixes around the other dogs and she’s even had situations where these two dogs have attacked other dogs. We sat down today and I outlined for her the prescription that I want to apply to her and her dogs over the next couple months so we can see some progress.
Here is the plan I laid out for her:
- We first need to establish some great obedience. Obedience comes from a calm state of mind and aggression comes from the opposite. The more we get solid obedience the more we kick out the aggressive state of mind. Also, obedience leads to solid leadership and a dog that sees it’s owner as a leader is much less likely to be aggressive.
- Once we’ve established great obedience we need to start applying that obedience to moments where the dogs are likely to be aggressive.
- I need to show Andrea how to properly correct the dogs when they are acting aggressively.
This is the plan that I set out for her, it’s the same plan I outline in detail in my dog aggression course, and I’ve got years of experience showing that this is going to help her start to see progress with her dog aggression issues very quickly if she does what I lay out for her.
Today we started working on some obedience exercises like proper leash walking and how to stay.
I foresee a few challenges that we’ll have to get over if we’re going to see the progress she wants:
- These dogs are mostly loose in the yard at her mom’s house. They don’t get a lot of structure and giving them structure is going to be a challenge. There is no fence and the dogs are sometimes tied out but sometimes just end up wandering in the jungle and the surrounding neighborhood for hours.
- The female is the worse of the two dogs and she is very lazy. What that means is that she doesn’t pull on the leash, doesn’t jump on people, and doesn’t cause too many problems outside of the moments when she’s around other dogs. It’s my experience that a lot of dogs like her can ‘float under the radar’ a bit. Because they aren’t causing a hassle, except in specific moments, a lot of owners find themselves less motivated to get out there and work on leash walking and other behaviors. What is important is that she gets a lot of training, even though it may not feel like she needs it as much.
- The male is not fixed. He ends up wandering off their large property and finds himself in trouble. He’s still young, about a year or so, so I think that getting him fixed could help a bit with fixing his aggression issue.
- Andrea spends all of her time at the Pet Hotel so leaving the property to go to her mom’s to work with the dogs will be difficult. I’ve run into this situation many times where the owner isn’t living with the dogs and it can make things very hard. Luckily, the dogs are only 50 yards away but it still will be a challenge.
- The female is incredibly dominant. I pushed on her rear end just a bit to get her to sit when I came to a stop with some leash walking and she was so upset that someone was trying to tell her what to do that she tried to bite me.
Overall, we’ve got some big challenges but I’m hoping for the best. I’ll keep you posted as the weeks go on.