So I heard a very disturbing piece of information last night. Apparently there is a new technique to “fix” dog aggression/reactiveness that is floating around out there. I am sickened by it and I wonder if anyone is thinking about the risks here.
Let me give a bit of background here, the dog is a confident male staffie that has reactiveness towards other dogs. His original fosters had started a program with us to reintroduce dogs in a controlled, non-threatening and calm way and had come very far with his progress. He went from lunging at other dogs to showing avoidance on walks, he went from not allowing a dog near his back end to ignoring a greet from other dogs, and he had been showing such a relaxed state that he would lie down during our reactive class. Sounds awesome right? A dog that was finally realizing he did not have to protect himself, protect his handler and that other dogs were ok to be around.
That is where it stopped. Why? During this process, he had been invited to do a free training session with another trainer. Apparently the new fad out there is to muzzle the reactive dog and put them in a pen with a couple of others. Now not only does this make me sick for all the dogs, but it makes me sick to think the “let the dogs to work it out” state of mind is still out there. I mean, really?
First of all when you muzzle a dog, you immediately put them into a defense state of mind, then to put that defenseless dog into an open pen with free roaming dogs-off leash? What are you thinking? This dog that they attempted this with is very confident that he can protect himself and that he has to handle situations himself; which is why he has such an issue. He lacks the confidence in humans to be able to control and protect him in these situations. So by doing this method, my dear fur friend was once again shown that humans will not protect him, will not control the dogs around him, and those humans will put him in a situation that may harm him.
The end result of this session- he attacked the other dogs. They removed him, allowed him to calm down, and did it again. End result- he attacked the other dogs again. Now this dog that has a natural confidence that he can and must defend himself, has gained even more confidence in his own attacks. I wonder if the trainer took a history on the dog, did they know or understand how this dog was driven? I wonder if they have done research on real life cases or if they simply believe every dog will react the same. Just because you saw it on TV, or it worked for one dog does NOT mean this method is effective or appropriate to use; especially if you do not understand aggression or drives.