Lewis Progress Report – from the Animal Behaviorist’s Blog

February 1, 2007

I checked in with my Animal Behaviorist’s blog because from what I have seen, it seems always to be good with a training tip or some insight into doggie behaviror, and lo and behold, there was a post about Lewis!

“I had two new clients this weekend, both dogs have leash aggression. The process I usually go through with these kinds of doggies is based on the fundamental principles of social attraction and social resistance. A dog with leash aggression usually wants very badly to make social contact with the other dog, but he doesn’t know how to. And he usually has a lot of pent-up play energy that needs some form of release — hence the barking and lunging.

Both dogs, Louis [sic], a beagle/bassett mix, and Hector, an Airedale/Lab/hound mix, are social butterflies at the dog run, but won’t play outdoors with their owners. So that’s the second thing I recommended for both dogs. (The first is to always stop scolding and punishing the dog–you should praise him because he’s actually trying to make social contact, he just doesn’t know how to.)

Louis has some separation issues, so we spent some time on how to deal with that. You have to start with not ever letting him out of his crate until he’s totally calm, both physically and emotionally, which I already described several times, and in more detail in my posts about Trevor. We also worked on Louis on the “Trick-or-Treat”.

Initial feedback is that he’s loving the changes in his routine.”

I have to say though, some days have been better than others. Today was particularly encouraging. We went to the dog run, where I finally convinced Lewis to play tug o’ war with me for about 10 seconds, which is better than usual. At the dog run, he played with a Boxer, despite that Boxers terrify Lewis, as a general rule (he must LOVE Boxers, deep down inside, if you believe in the approach/avoidance theory of dog-dog aggerssion). He allowed me to feed him in the dog run without becoming food-aggressive towards the other dogs. And on the way home, he passed about five other dogs with nary a scuffle. I was thrilled. I am thrilled.

Also, Lewis is able to focus and hold the “stay” command even with a piece of food on the floor next to him, as long as I keep encouraging him by saying, “Good doggie, nice doggie” and occasionally allowing him to take a treat from the palm of my hand. This is BIG BIG BIG news because up until now, it had seemed to us that Lewis had Doggie ADD. He had never learned the “down” command, let alone, “lie down” and “stay”. So this is quite encouraging.

On the other hand, he had peed and pooped on the carpet TWICE yesterday. And right now, he is crying for me to let him off his leash, which is tied to the chair I am sitting on (I have to keep him tied to me, or else keep him in his crate, or I am just asking for another pee and poop stain to clean up later). It’s a process. Like yoga. The AB told me it would take months to get things right with Lewis.

It’s only been six days….