Recently, I was contacted by one of the rescue volunteers at DINO Rescue about a dog named Buddy. Buddy is a 3-year-old, male, mixed breed (possibly, Chihuahua, French Bulldog, and Pug) who was one of several dogs rescued from a high-kill shelter in California. He was adopted by a family almost a year ago, and within a week of his adoption, he began exhibiting a number of unwanted behaviors, such as mock-charging humans, barking and not allowing people in the door, and other things. The family enrolled Buddy at a local doggy daycare and training facility, but while there was some improvement, the dog’s overall behavior continued to worsen. The recommendation was made by the facility to enroll Buddy in Reactive Dog classes, which the family did. The classes did not help. The family is now at the end of their rope with the dog’s behavior, so I was called on to help.
The assessment took approximately two hours. I spoke with the family, watched how they interacted with each other and with the dog, and gave extra attention to how the children interacted with the dog. After asking them to consider giving the dog another week – because they’ve already invested almost a year of work into him, so what’s another week – and getting their agreement to that, I gave them some things to work on with him, and made sure they can reach me if they run into trouble before the week is done. After all was said and done, my assessment is as follows.
Buddy does not need obedience training. He needs complete rehabilitation. He is excellent with children, but he is extremely fearful, mistrustful, anxious, and insecure with adults. Obedience and Reactive training address the outcome of these problems, but not the cause – which, in this case, is the family itself. Not on purpose, of course, but because they weren’t taught how to be calm but assertive leaders.
Despite the challenges and the long road of rehabilitation that lies ahead for Buddy, I believe that he is a good fit for the family. Ultimately, though, it’s up to the family to decide whether or not they want to try. If, after a week of following my recommendations, they still feel that it’s just not going to work and they want to return Buddy to the rescue for re-homing, there’s nothing I can do to change their minds. I will, however, be happy to work with him while he is being fostered, if that’s what the co-ordinator and the foster want. Buddy is a good dog; he just needs a different kind of help than what he’s been getting.
Because I don’t know, yet, whether my involvement with the dog will continue, I am not starting a category for Buddy. I will update this when I hear from the family again.