July 5th, 2012 | Uncategorized | 1 Comment
I’m always getting surrender requests, and as you know by now we can’t accept every single dog that is in need of a temporary home. As much as possible I try to persuade the owners to look look at alternative solutions, particularly when the reason is only that of relocation. A dog is part of the family and should be treated as such, and that means taking it with you wherever you go and dealing with the issues and problems that might be involved. “We’re leaving the country” is not an acceptable reason to abandon a dog that would never abandon you.
We’re also full to capacity and it’s very hard for a dog to go from being a family pet in a home to being one of many and living outside. The dogs are terrified, and it’s also extremely upsetting for our staff and volunteers to have to deal with, but the ex-owners never seem to take that aspect into consideration when they pitch up at Tai Po to hand over their faithful companion.
There are times, however, when we have to find that extra inch of space and here’s why:
It’s always nice to get feedback from my blog (and to know that it’s being read), and yesterday’s entry about training and difficult dogs got a good response. The following email thread is worth reading as a perfect example of what I’m talking about, and it also answers the question asked in the comment to yesterday’s post (you can read this by going back to that entry). Eddie and Foster are our two HKDR volunteer trainers (both of them also have full time jobs) and they are really good. Long-term results are what counts, so while dominance and the old pack leader stuff works initially, it’s based on the fact that the dog is afraid so will do as it’s told – for a while. Positive reinforcement means you’re working together with the dog, not against it, and using food and praise as reward. Look at it this way, in the old days (and actually not that long ago) children were beaten and punished to make them behave. Who would do that to their child now? (OK, I know this is a cultural thing and I’m aware that some Chinese parents are still often quite strict). Times change and so does our understanding of the damage that is done by physically threatening children, and dogs are no different. If you employ a trainer for your dog and there is any talk of “pack leader” or Alpha Dog stuff, please don’t do it. It’s old-fashioned and cruel, and totally unnecessary. Now read on:
Sally, Eddie, Foster,
I just wanted to give you an update on Teddy. He has now been with us for 15 months. We have had 2 sessions with Eddie and we have seen some serious changes (all for the better) in Teddy’s behaviour. It has taken some time but Teddy now trusts my husband and I almost fully. There are still a few doggie neighbors that will cause aggression if run into, but it has gotten much much easier to calm him and make him feel safe. He is actually starting to enjoy the nightly neighborhood doggie hang out time, and eagerly greets some of his friends.
Teddy can now be handled everywhere by me, and toy guards less than before. Food guarding has also gotten a little better but we are still working on that. I can now safely put my hand in Teddy’s bowl (if it only has dried kibble in it). Grooming aggression is still apparent, but we have found a wonderful place where the girls take extra time and care with him, in hopes of making it easier for future grooming sessions, and now they know Teddy well enough to know which parts of his body are more sensitive to touch and know to be careful.
Other than that, Teddy is very smart and aims to please! Please accept my sincere thank you for not allowing me to give up on him only after 3-1/2 short months. I can’t imagine life without Teddy anymore and would never think of giving him up again. I would probably have very much regretted the decision if you had actually taken him in, so I thank you again for not taking him!
Appreciate all HKDR is doing for our furry friends, and hope to get involved more as a volunteer.
Thank you & Regards,
P.S. Enjoyed your blog posted yesterday. I wish there was a way to share my story to those that return dogs to you only a few days into adoption. Now, even a month seems not enough.
On Thu, Aug 18, 2011 at 7:53 PM, x wrote:
Dear Sally, Eddie, and Foster,
Thank you, I am very hopeful that we can still be Teddy’s model humans and give him a sense of stability and trust. Eddie has contacted me and we are arranging an assessment session before training begins.
I hope to bring you more good news soon.
2011/8/18 Sally <firstname.lastname@example.org>
2011/8/17 Winny wrote:
Thank you so much in taking time to reply.
I did not mention training to the person who answered the phone, so I’m unsure how she knows that the trainer is not certified for clicker training. I actually tried to train him myself, and yes, I am not certified in clicker training. Prior to finding a trainer, I read multiple books and watched multiple DVD’s on clicker training. Teddy chewed up 2 clickers within 3 weeks. He does not have a chewing problem but seems to hate the clicker itself. And yes, of course the clicker was charged prior to use.
I have had 3 dogs in my life prior to Teddy, and they were all trained using the positive reinforcement methods (not implying that I am any expert). I have also read books and articles throughout their lives for my own interest and for enhancing their training. It does nothing with aggression in dogs as any aggression or unwanted behaviour is simply ignored – while even before you have a chance to ignore it, the behavior is already reinforced as any human’s natural reaction is to retreat and be startled/nervous or scared.
I understand there are many systems of dog training. I understand they are conflicting and controversial. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs. I know you are against any form of harsher training (as was I, prior to Teddy), but with Teddy’s personality, I finally choose to bring him to xxxxx Dog Training. He cares and has a love for dogs as any pet owner would. And I firmly believe he would never hurt dogs in any way. xxxxx taught us the correct use of choke chains. I do know that Teddy would never bite xxxxx, he shows a kind of respect for him, but also because he would never try to touch or take away anything that Teddy thinks as his food/object.
I am sorry if I came across as surrendering Teddy to HKDR like it is a shelter for biting dogs. My only intention was to try and find him a more suitable home where a more experienced owners may be able to keep him in better environment (less dogs in the area, no kids). Even with his sporadic aggressiveness, he is a very smart dog. I cannot think of him dying because he had no proper socialization as a puppy. That is not his fault.
In any case, we would be eternally grateful for more help in training. Please advise next steps to start the process.
Sally, do you think with his temperament (mainly dominance), that Teddy could ever change? I am still quite worried – when kids will be involved, it would all end the same way.
Thank you & regards,
2011/8/17 Sally <email@example.com>
On Tue, Aug 16, 2011 at 2:41 PM, Winny wrote:
You got a surrender request from Winny.
Here is the form data:
|Name of Dog||Teddy|
|Breed of Dog||Schnauzer 史納莎犬|
|Details of Behaviour problem (if any)||Dominance Aggression (towards dogs taller than himself)
Territorial Aggression-food and property, but food is what he actually bites for (towards humans)
|Reason for Surrender||We adopted Teddy from xxxxx in end April 2011. He was playful and full of energy every time we visited. We found out that he was aggressive as soon as we took him home and we contacted xxxx for training tips and suggestions. We tried clicker training and other types of positive reinforcement training, but none seemed to work with regard to his aggression. We found a professional dog trainer and Teddy stayed with the trainer for 6 weeks, during which time we went for training sessions together every week. When Teddy came home he was good for maybe 3 weeks or so before his aggression (towards humans) resurfaced. His aggression towards our neighbors’ dogs never subsided. Within the last 2 weeks, Teddy his bitten both my husband and I. Punctured both of our skin with multiple wounds, both of us were bitten in the hands.
I have grown to love Teddy despite his behavioral problems, but it has come to a point where I am literally afraid in my own home and I cannot make Teddy do anything that he does not want (e.g. get out of the garbage, get off the sofa, etc).
For the time being, it is just my husband and I at home. We can very well let Teddy do whatever he wants to do when we know what he wants and do not want to do, but in the future when we have children, I will be left without choice to give Teddy up. I currently do not have a plan if Teddy decides to do something dangerous to himself and I cannot stop him (e.g. chew through the cabinet door to medicine or cleaning agents [he does not currently have a chewing problem]). I have already dog proofed my home to the best I can.
I love dogs and actively attend HKDR events.
I would love to “trade” and adopt another dog after getting to know a suitable one at HKDR. Or I can be a foster until the one comes along.
I have contacted xxxxx and they welcomed that I bring Teddy back, but when I pressed further they advised that he may be euthanized if he does not pass their behavioral assessment.
I am sorry to create this problem for HKDR; but I cannot allow Teddy to die. I am hoping you can help us, and Teddy.
Thank you for your consideration.