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  In the video below, "Jake", a German Shepherd - Border Collie mixed breed dog, is seen trained in a public, city park as well as in and around a local department store.   Although the images may seem mild and even boring, that's what we want to see in a dog during his rehabilitation.  Jake's owner was highly concerned that she would not even be able to bring Jake to training because she was certain he would bite us.  She stated that he would bite anyone who came to her home if he were given the chance.  She described that he lunged at and aggressed towards people, even when they were walking across the street when she was out exercising Jake.

Jake did arrive in a very unbalanced state of mind.  He was incredibly fearful.  He growled at us and showed his teeth.  He was disturbed when we touched him; turning to potentially snap at our hands.  Jake's aggression was fear based (as it is in most dogs).  Jake needed to experience calm, relaxed leadership.  Most of the time, dogs reflect their human's level of composure.  So, if their human becomes fearful of a situation, so does the dog.  If the dog feels that his human isn't playing the role of competent leader, he will often try to assume the role, himself.  But, the dog will fail miserably because he has been stripped of the genetic code that allows any wolf to become an Alpha if the leader dies or becomes injured. 

When dog was developed from wolf, we enhanced their subordination to leadership through heavy, artificial selection for traits that would turn them into beasts of burden; willing to do work like retrieving, hunting and herding for us.  At the same time, we attempted to reduce and finally eliminate the wolf genes that allowed dog to become a competent leader in the absence of sound and fair leadership.  We did not want them to take over our household when we showed weakness.  So, a dog like Jake was left aching for leadership when he didn't believe his human would take on the important role of assessing threats in the environment.  In response (because all dogs need, not just want leadership) Jake assumed the role, but did a very poor job.  Being ill equipped to make such decisions, he resorted to the "bite first ask questions later" strategy and warded off threats (like people walking by) by lunging, barking and snarling at them.

During his training at DarnFar, Jake learned to submit to the comfort of fair and competent leadership.  In this video you will see a very calm and relaxed and appropriately curious-about-the-world dog.  Watch his body language.  He is composed.  His tail set is appropriately relaxed and he shows submission but not fear for his handler's control.  This is an example of a dog in the middle of training, so you will see the handler assist Jake at times, with touches to the body.  The touches are also used to remind him that we are in control.  You will see demands placed on him to wait at a doorway.  This sort of high standard for behavior makes a dog like Jake feel comfortable with his leadership because dogs believe that better leaders are more exacting in their expectations of their followers.

 

 
     
     
     

 

 

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