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Wild Dogs; Uncontrollable pets
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Frances    Posted 03-04-2004 at 21:17:50       [Reply]  [Send Email]

Don't give up on your dogs! I have a 11 year old Chow-Chow who was given to me when she was 2 yo because she was covered with sores. She had been chained in a backyard south of Albuquerque. People do that as a cheap sort of burglar alarm. Anyway, chained as she was, the neighborhood boys came and beat her with sticks. My sister gave these folks dog houses, waterbowls, etc. These things kept disappearing. Finally Animal Control took her away because they hadn't been feeding and watering her, and she was covered with sores.

My sister asked my help since I am the only person she knew with any sort of health care training. This dog would not let you get near it. It wouldn't eat. 30% of its body was covered in open, weeping sores.

The dog was hiding under a shed. I sat out there for several hours on 3 successive days, just talking to the dog. The dog just growled at me. It never barked. I also offered it chicken--tossing very small pieces under the shed. It wouldn't eat that at first, either. On the second day, Missy (the chow) ate the chicken. On the third day, Missy let me coax her out to eat the chicken. After a couple of days, she let me touch her.

She was tense, but I kept my voice soft, and always approached her slowly and at her level. I would sit on the ground or the floor 3 or 4 feet from her and not look at her directly. Then she would approach me for food. It took about a week, and she would let me put a leash on her. She was too sick to act up.

We went to the vet. I won't go into all the medical care, but it took 3 months to clear up her skin with about 1-1/2 hours of work every other day. It was a month before she took interest in being petted. Then she liked me and my husband but no one else.

Got some dog books from the library:

"Don't shoot the dog" by Karen Pryor.

Started positive reinforcement training. When she did something I didn't like, I just ignored it. You train one thing at a time, rewarding the dog when they do even a small part of what you want. It's great! I have rehabilitated 24 dogs in the last 10 years and found homes for them.

Missy, was the hardest, however, due to the abuse and her breed.

For dominant dogs, it really helps to hand feed them until they are accepting you as the leader. I did this with Missy. Let her eat her food one handful at a time out of my open palm. Once she did that easily, training was much easier.

Shooting your gun or yelling at your dogs will just get their nervous systems wound up to such a high pitch that they don't hear a thing you say. They think there's some big danger around because you are "barking" so loudly! So they bark and growl more--trying to scare off the danger, which is the normal thing for dogs to do.

I would really try hand feeding them. You need to do at least 5 minutes of training every day with each dog. MOre if you can.

After I got 4 dogs, I couldn't build a fence that keeps them in. I read in a Cornell Veterinary College bulletin to keep the dogs in the house when I was gone. The dogs stay cleaner, so the house stays cleaner. They are in their "den" so they are calm. IF they do bark, it doesn't bother the neighbors of people walking by.

I set aside one room, dog-proofed it, and put their beds and water bowl there. I also left lots of toys--Kong toys are great--you fill them with peanut butter and kibble, and it takes dogs hours to get everything out of the inside.

On work days, a neighbor comes over and lets them out in the yard for half and hour. I dog sit for her when she goes on vacation.

Another good book is

Positive Perspectives: Love Your Dog, Train Your Dog by Pat B. Miller Pat writes the dog training column for Whole Dog Journal. Her advice is practical, easy and works. Her book only costs about $14 on

The Karen Pryor book only costs about $9.00. If you can just get one, get Pat Miller's book. Karen Pryor's book give the background of positive training and how you can use it in your human relations.

It took about 3 years, but Missy the Chow dog began to love people. She lets strangers pet her. She almost never barks.

It took another 3 years to be able to cut her nails. Pat Miller's book will tell you how to do that. I started by leaving the nail clippers by her bowl. Then, gradually, I touched her on the back, rewarding her each time with a treat. For a couple of years, I only cut one nail at a time. Dogs that did not have their paws handled as puppies take a long time to get used to nail grooming. Now, I could cut all 4 paws at once, but that's pretty stressful, so I just do one paw at a time, with her dinner bowl in sight. As soon as nail clipping is done, she gets dinner.

Your dogs already like you, but you and they do not know how to communicate with each other. Positive training is based on what really works. Shock collars will make your dogs more wound up.

You see those killer whales that do all those tricks? That is done with positive training. You can't yell at, hit, or put a shock collar on a killer whale. But people manage to get them to do incredible things by using positive training.

Good luck. A dog trainer or a dog training class with a positive reinforcement trainer would really help.

The positive training class I took is one of the best investments of time and money I ever made. Suddenly, I started noticing positive things my family, friends and coworkers were doing, rather than the negative. Paying attention to the positive things caused people to do more of them. It really helped me in all areas of my life. I grew up in a family that only noticed the negative. My parents would say, "You'll know you're doing the right thing because we won't say anything." It took me quite a while to start noticing the positive in my dogs and rewarding it, and ignoring what I didn't like, but once I did, it was easy.

I hope this helps.


Red Dave    Posted 03-05-2004 at 09:18:18       [Reply]  [No Email]
That's nice, and I'm glad for both you and the dog that it worked out, but not many people have the 3 years time to spend at it or the spare room to dedicate to it.

Paula    Posted 03-05-2004 at 05:51:39       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hear hear!

I'm all for operant conditioning for which Karen Pryor is
a real pioneer.

Thought I'd add my two cents in support of your post.

Cindi    Posted 03-05-2004 at 04:13:21       [Reply]  [No Email]
I went through this once with a wild chihuahua. That was an ordeal. I wish I'd known then about making them eat from your hand. Good information.
As far as 'loud barking', my husband's dog is terrified of the sound of a gun. It will send him out to the back of the pasture for hours. Now I understand why. Any way to fix that?

Jessie    Posted 03-05-2004 at 01:51:18       [Reply]  [Send Email]
That's a nice story but when you have 4,5 6 dogs at any given time and they seem to never quit coming that's hard to do. Now if you have a county which has no dog ordinance and you wake up to find you've lost 3 or 4 calves which are a full blood line and the dogs are responsible you will have a different opinion. Especially when the dogs have gotten into an enclosed shed you've built and your lose in in the hundreds of dollars.Good neighbors keep their dogs at home or they don't have dogs.

Donna from Mo    Posted 03-05-2004 at 02:20:16       [Reply]  [No Email]
Now you are preaching MY sermon! My yard is full of dogs half the time, and we only have one old Chow. Last night a blue heeler somebody dumped was barking at our cows. It didn't seem to bother the cows, but it makes me angry anyhow. And of course the neighbor kids have adopted this dog, so it's going to break someone's heart if the dog is shot. Cliff has no compunctions about shooting pesky dogs, but he does have feelings for the children who love these dogs. It's a hard situation for us.

Michael M    Posted 03-05-2004 at 03:27:44       [Reply]  [No Email]
I am typing this with three dogs watching me. They were all strays that I took in, worked with and trained. However, that is in ten years of living back here in the hollow. In the same ten years, I have also had to drive off, shoot or report probably 20 dogs that have shown up. They are usually dogs that folks from the nearest town bring out and dump in the woods. I can't take care of all of them, and don't want to.
I have one neighbor who lets his dogs run loose, as I do. The difference is mine stay here, and his come down to visit. I like his dogs, but, he has them as allleged guard dogs, and will shoot them himself if they don't stay home.I drive them off.
I have encountered several dogs back here over the years who had been on their own in the woods long enough for hunger and the elements to drive them back to wild. I shoot them when necessary, as opposed to risking injury to myself or my animals. I have been in places where this problem got so bad that the local rural folks organized a hunt to eliminate them. It really is self defense when they start coming into human territory again and becoming aggressive and dangerous.
A few years ago here in Brown County, we had a dog incident that made national news. A pack of dogs, all belonging to the neighbors in one area, killed an elderly census taker when they startled her, and she fell among them. It is called the predatory response. Like it or not, all dogs are pack animals, and have pack instincts. Left on their own to associate with other dogs, they form a pack, complete with a hierarchy, and do what canines do, they hunt. That pack was put down.Their owners were charged with involuntary manslaughter.

Sue    Posted 03-09-2004 at 21:26:45       [Reply]  [Send Email]
Hey I'm a groomer and for the record Chows do have sensitive skin. I am quite sure that the abuse did not help. When you are finished with the veet treatments (or only if the vet oks) there are 2 great sensitive skin shampoos that really help. Pearl Au lait by Tomlyn, and Tar and Sulfer from natures specialties. I use both products and love them both. As for training I also let the new dogs come to me, then talk in a very soft voice. If the dog is small enough, E.G poodle, maltese etc I also hold tehm against my chest and rock them. This helps when they are shaking. Good luck, and remember abused dogs will always have some quirks.

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