Acquired: Worked with pet (didn’t own)
Training: Attended conferences / shows
Posted February 19, 2014
Received a call from a local shelter that they had a dog in peril, she had been relinquished and within days gave birth to three pups two weeks prior and had become very agitated, aggressive and was in danger of euthanasia. I visited her at the shelter where she lunged at the kennel gate snapping and snarling confirming she wasn’t a happy girl. By her body posture and language of lunging then returning to stand over a blanket full of her pups, it only took moments to properly read that she was merely being a protective mother. I quickly told the officers that I would indeed take her and the pups to our rescue.
I distracted her while the kennel manager retrieved her pups from the other gate as she snapped at my boot under the fencing. Though her language was that of complete guarding, teeth bared and a low growl, she allowed me to place a lead on her and guide her out to follow her puppies and into a prepared crate.
I spoke to her in a calm, quiet voice during the entire drive to the rescue and felt a turn in her overall demeanor. When we arrived at the rescue, she readily followed me and the smaller crate of her pups into a suite we had prepared for her. Quiet, secluded, gates covered with dark blankets. She was actually docile during this. As soon as I set down the pup carrier and opened the door to it, she returned to mom mode and turned, hackles raised, front teeth bared. I knew she was serious and slowly backed away. She followed and bit my boots and pant leg as I exited then returned to her brood.
This told me that the whole of her aggression was motherly protection and that I should offer her slow, steady, consistent caring every time I was near her to reboot her overwhelming fear and to show her no harm. I knew that she was a softer soul than the surface revealed and that I must wait for her to come to me, never force anything on her.
Over the course of the next days and into the following week I backed into her suite to show I was no threat. For a few days she still lunged and bit my boots and pant leg but I continued to bring her food, water and crouched with my back turned. Consistency and repetition. Within a couple days, she stopped growling, another and she dropped her tension and actually remained lying as I entered. That day I was allowed to pick up her pups. And when one of them passed away from unknown causes, I held it and her as she cried, allowing her to grieve. Within a day the picture I added to this review is of her, on her own volition, slowly crawling to me and curling up in my lap.
With consistent love, the showing of trust and reading her temperament properly, she became a loving, playful dog and was adopted. Tear inducing success.