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DarnFar Ranch LLC Professional Dog Training
Changing the actions, aptitudes and attitudes of dogs and their people

Will My Dog Revert to Bad Behavior

after Training??

QUESTION: Hi thank you for getting back to me so quickly this is a terrible situation.....everyone is telling me to euthanize Elsa. It is horrible. I have one major concern... what if she reverts back t o her old ways? what are the chances? God forbid she bites another child and it is more harmful than before... I cant live with that either. Do you have any suggestions or opinions on the situation? I need all the help and guidance i can get... ANSWER: To answer your question about whether Elsa will "revert" to her old ways, I will say that dogs are a reflection of their relationship with their people. You can take your automobile to get a tune up, but if you fail to keep the oil changed and full, or do not monitor other vital components of the engine, or worse, are inattentive while driving and crash your car, it has nothing to do with whether the vehicle was properly "tuned up" when you left the dealership. Dogs are even more complex, of course, than are cars. So, they require attention, appropriate feedback, and then need to receive information in the manner which bests serves them. People often ask if our service is guaranteed. To that I must reply that we will be able to show you evidence that your dog received proper management, exceptional socialization and impeccable training. We video tape much of what we do. So, there won't be any doubt that your dog was properly handled while here. We also spend 3-5 hours at the pick up appointment with the owners, explaining our methods, showing them, coaching the owners with their newly trained dog. We also provide a 27 page booklet of information that reiterates and supports what we explain during the pick up appointment. We also video tape the pick up sessions. So, we can guarantee that you will be educated and you will understand the information and the techniques and that your dog will work for you and respect your authority. We cannot guarantee what people do once they leave here. My very worse case of this phenomenon was when we trained a Golden Retriever named Chuck. He arrived here so afraid, so unhappy in his own skin that he didn't know whether he was coming or going. His owners had first fostered him (as part of their rescue), then chosen to adopt him. He was described as "dog aggressive", but we were able to address that issue very quickly because we use a "balanced pack" method. Chuck blossomed while here and I actually grew very fond of him. At the pick up appointment I learned of Ricky (the "top dog" Golden at their home), whose behavior suggested it was he, not Chuck, that truly required intervention. When I suggested that Ricky shouldn't be allowed to do this or that (they were bullying behaviors as well as wholly disrespectful actions towards the owners and other dogs), the owners suggested that there would be no way to change Ricky. I disagreed, of course, and told them that if they did not get a handle on Ricky's behavior all of the dogs in the home would continue to suffer. I explained that Chuck would have a challenging time respecting their authority if he watched while they allowed another dog to bully others and themselves. When I was told that the owners liked to share their bed with four or five dogs, I informed them that Chuck shouldn't be allowed on the bed for a few weeks, at least, until he learned to have more faith in his owner's leadership. I also suggested that Ricky not be allowed to have "status" by having access to the bed. I was disappointed when they asked if they could end the Pick Up session early, as they were on their way to adopt another Golden Retriever - directly from the pick up appointment. I told them that I felt Chuck deserved to have a huge chunk of their attention in the next few weeks and that it seemed a very bad time to bring yet another dog into their house, another "rescue" dog that probably had some "issues". But, they chose to maintain their plans. When they left, I felt as if they had not listened to a thing I had said. I was amazed that they would spend so much money towards rehabilitating a dog and not recognize their commitment to the process had only just begun. Chuck truly deserved to be put center stage for a few weeks so that he could learn to trust in their newly formed leadership. Four days after Chuck went home, I received an email. Apparently, the woman was lying in bed with dogs. Ricky and the "new" dog were on the bed when Chuck jumped up. Ricky "told Chuck to get off" (those were her words - not mine - I would never say that one dog gets to tell another about status in the presence of a human!). In turn, Chuck, because he was afraid of Ricky's extreme dominance, displaced his anxiety and went after the "new" dog. This is not an uncommon response in a pack that is unbalanced. Both Chuck and the new dog were injured in the fight and required emergency care at the vet. The email was to inform me that they chose to euthanize Chuck and pay for the other dog's care, since they felt that Chuck could not be trusted. The people's inability to control and manage the other dogs in their home resulted in their decision to put down a lovely, loyal, good natured dog. Of course, the whole issue revolved around Ricky's absolute lack of respect for his people and the other dogs in the house, which I picked up upon as soon as I heard of some of Ricky's behaviors. I actually cried when I read the note. We cannot guarantee that people will follow our guidelines, which we tend to think are "common sense", nothing really outrageous. So, if you fail to maintain her training and management, yes, Elsa can revert to her "old ways". The chances are directly proportional to your commitment to become a good leader for Elsa. The longer a dog has developed bad habits, the harder they fall. So, your choice to have Elsa here longer is a very wise and admirable one and suggests that you understand the situation with which you are dealing. I appreciate that. We do all that we can to provide the information that you require to become the person that your dog needs. Each dog is different, but each deserves a chance to be balanced and happy - maintaining some dogs in a contented states requires a higher level of leadership and management than does another dog. I hope that helps to explain our philosophy. Dogs are living, breathing beings that react and respond to their environment. It's our job to provide the information about the boundaries in which we expect the dog to exist. © 2008 Tammie Rogers - all rights reserved. For permission to reprint email Tammie.