Risky Business

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A few weeks ago I had a call from a client who had a new baby in the home and wanted to nurture a safe, happy relationship among all family members both four leggers and human. So I sent them a Behavioral Questionnaire getting more information about their dogs and family and we set up a consultation. I specialize in setting families with small children and canines up for success so I figured this was another training session working with all family members to create confidence and comfort for everyone. However, once I received the questionnaire back I knew we were headed down a totally different path.

The clients had a very aggressive dog who had not only bitten before but had charged at the owners. Mom was terrified to have baby near the dog and rightfully so. I had a very long talk with mom and found out that she raised this dog from a puppy. Even as a puppy the dog had aggressive tendencies. She had worked with other trainers who used shock collars and other aversive methods. These methods which are the wrong methods to use with an aggressive dog, exacerbated the situation. She loved her dog very much but was fearful to have the dog around the baby and wanted me to work with the family to integrate the dog back into the household. I asked mom if there was anything that I could do that would ever make her trust this dog around her child? Mom said probably not. I told mom she had her answer.

I am a trainer, I have limitations and I will ALWAYS be honest with my clients. I am not a miracle worker, my services are not guaranteed because every animal is an individual, and I cannot fix every dog. I wish I could, but that is not reality. You should be leary of any trainer that tells you they can fix and guarantee their training. We can’t. All we can do is offer you all of our knowledge and expertise and promise the best service possible, the rest is up to you and the dog. In the above case I felt that this dog was an immediate threat to the newborn baby. I was very clear with mom that I would be unable to take this case because I would never trust this dog around the baby. I also, told mom that unfortunately this is a case where this dog needs to be euthanized. The behavior it was displaying was dangerous not only to her family but to others. It was only a matter of time before this dog attacked and you could not place a dog that was a ticking time bomb.

I cried when I got off from this call. I hate to see dogs put to sleep. But in some cases that is the answer. You have to think of the human end of things, and your children’s safety needs to come first.

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