Remember Boots the Frenchton? Well, life happened for his owners and they were unable to go through my Basics program. His owner has tried to work with him when she’s been able to, but over the past 7 months, he’s developed some very serious behavior problems. Last night, she called me to ask if I could take care of him today. I said yes… and when I went to pick him up, I was taken completely by surprise.
Boots was in his kennel. I had just reached the top of the stairs, he saw me, and he immediately began growling at me. I stayed where I was so that he could catch my scent [Boots knows me quite well]. That took a couple of minutes. When he stopped growling, I turned sideways and turned my head away from him [calming signal] and slowly took a few steps towards him. He immediately began growling, so I stopped moving and waited him out again. It took almost ten minutes for me to cross roughly 10 feet of distance.
Once I was close to his kennel without him reacting, I attempted to get the leash, which was sitting on top of it. Boots immediately growled and then lunged at the kennel door. A quick glance at him showed me his hackles were up and he was giving me major whale-eye. He was also holding up one of his front paws. The message was clear: Back off, or get bitten.
I retreated to the sofa in the living area and sat sideways to him. Then, I called his owner to inform her about what was going on. She told me he’s been growling at people coming in the house, lately – even though he knows them…
All in all, it took approximately half an hour to reach a point where I could finally – and safely – connect with Boots and let him out. The second I had him out of the kennel, he began jumping at and biting at me; I had to take hold of his collar to prevent him from doing serious damage to me while I attempted to leash him. Waiting him out before attempting to leash him was not an option. I had to take control of him immediately.
The video below was done after I’d already spent nearly 15 minutes trying to gain control of Boots and help him settle down. NOTE: I am not pulling on the leash at all; I am using it to create distance between me and him so that he can’t bite me.
Boots needs a lot of help. I will be picking him up again tomorrow. Because of the way he reacted to me today, I will be treating him as a human-reactive dog and responding accordingly. If possible, I will video the pickup from the moment I arrive in the house, to the moment we’re ready to leave. I was not prepared for today’s behavior – I was wearing sandals and I didn’t have protective gloves on – but I will be prepared tomorrow. Stay tuned…