Acquired: Worked with pet (didn’t own)
Posted February 24, 2014
I met Shelly the American Pit Bull Terrier/Shar Pei when she did a meet and greet visit at the daycare and boarding kennel where I was the intake analyst and pack manger. She was an outgoing, active young girl with forewarned ‘over assertive tendencies’ per her human mama. Mom was correct. During her morning with me she played hard with the gregarious dogs, becoming somewhat agitated with other dominant breeds and tried to bully the less assertive ones. This was somewhat typical behavior in both her breeds. She responded well to my firm, but consistent leadership within the pack. She would observe me ‘putting out fires’ whenever a scrum arose among pack members and would try to come and gain favor. I dealt with her as I did and do with the pack. No favoritism and expected compliance to commands and guidance of behavior issues. Knowing that socialization is paramount for dogs in a pack, especially among dominant, outgoing breeds, I would leash any dogs that took the assertion to any extreme and make them stay with me while we got close to other dogs, correcting them with a firm, “AH! Leave it.”, if they showed any aggression or overbearing attitude. An immediate reward of, “Good leave it!’ when they settled. Shelly would look up at me often, interested in performing well. She was responding well to my consistent authority figure. When she sat calmly I undid the leash and said, “Ok!” releasing her to go play. This scenario repeated with her as well as any others in need and created a well behaved, respectful pack.
The owner observed some of the action in the play yard and that led to our discussing further rehabilitation with her dog to cement the actions she saw. I offered to bring Shelly into my pack of well balanced, socialized dogs at my home to see if she would do as well there. I explained the mentality of her dog and the pack dynamic behind strong, fair leadership and how they respond to it. She was anxious to see it in action so we brought Shell to my home. I instructed ‘mom’ to allow her to run free in my dog yard for a bit so she could ‘read the pee mail’ there, I rubbed a towel all over the dog including external organs and allowed my dogs to read her ‘mail’ while still inside my home. I then told the human to simply stand back as I would handle any issues that arose and simply opened the door for my six to greet her. Shelly soon realized she was neither the biggest, toughest dog nor the leader in any form and immediately submitted to all for a thorough sniffing. She looked to me for guidance and after I felt all was calm and controlled I offered her a release, “Ok!” and the reindeer games were on! She ran, they ran and they were all just fine with the ranking among them. Her human said, “Lon’s Wolf Camp for Modern Dogs”, and uttered the phrase that is now my mantra, “Lon is the human owner’s manual on how to operate your dog.” To this day Shelly’s human can say, “Uncle Lon?” and Shell will start doing circles where she stands.