Good News About Animals
There is something about little dogs. Most people love to squeeze them, hug them, kiss them, hold them; but nobody wants to discipline them. It seems that some people (well, most people), love it when the little guy shows some big dog attitude, like growling, barking and even showing teeth. The reality is that there is not much difference between a Chihuahua and a Mastiff. Both have exercise and discipline requirements, and if both are done – they should behave properly. Of course, there is a big difference between a bite from one or the other, but a nippy little dog is the one that most people end up not liking, and who eventually ends up at the shelter. So, what was once funny and laughable in a little dog, could actually become the reason he ends his days in the saddest way.
One day, I went to The Humane Society for Hamilton County looking for trouble (literally). Since I had the room at home, I went to get the worst trouble maker they could come up with. The staff looked at each other and my good friend, Katie, said, “Well, we do have a very bad case. She failed every temperament test possible, is dog aggressive, people aggressive, a resource guarder, and has been adopted and returned 3 times.” This definitely sounded like the dog I was looking for.
So I went to meet this “monster,” and what I saw was an 8 year old, maybe 10 pound female dog. Her name? Dorothy. I was embarrassed to even be seen walking such a small dog, having worked so long with the toughest
pitts, rotties, shepherds, etc.
My approach was simple: I took all the precautions I could to avoid the use of any band-aids, and treated her like any other (big) dog I have worked with before. I didn’t hold her, or say funny and cute words to her – none of that. I walked her with my pack, 1 to 2 miles at a time. I had her eating next to them, waiting her turn to eat after everyone else ate. She received no special treatment because of her size. She was not allowed on the bed or couch, and she wasn’t allowed to beg for food from the table. It was very simple: I treated her just like a regular dog and she started behaving like one. To complete her training, I handed Dorothy’s leash over to my 3 year old, who now had her very own “appropriately sized” pitbull.
When we went back to the shelter, most of the staff couldn’t believe their eyes. The little Tasmanian Devil was behaving like a dog should, with a 3 year old holding the leash.
A dog’s behavior is a direct consequence of how we treat them. If you treat your dog like a prince, he will soon believe it and you will become his servant. I understand how cute and cuddly they are, but without the right balance - what used to look like a living stuffed animal, will soon feel like a little nightmare in your life.