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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The story of Bo, our once fierce little biter

By Carmelita

In 2007 we adopted tough little guy from a rescue shelter who turned out to be an aggressive biter.

After each attack we halfheartedly pondered returning him, but feared lazy and uncreative types might adopt him because he is a beautiful little purebred, and then euthanize him because he was a biter. People get pets, but when things go wrong, they throw them away like old towels without bothering with an attempt to return them to the safe place from where they came, or get them to a safe place where they can be properly evaluated and trained. Not us. After a few unreturned calls from local trainers, we worked with our dog every day for six months straight and the results were astounding. We celebrated when we heard him growl for the first time. A big step from the attacks without warning. Nowadays, he rarely even growls.

Here are some of the things we did:

First off, we brought him to the Vet to make sure there wasn't something physically wrong with him. As it turned out, he did have a minor ear infection which could have had something to do with his edginess. However, our Vet also informed us that Bo's being uber alpha was also largely a part of his personality.

Secondly, we studied all the things that seemed to set him off. His major triggers were grooming scissors near his face, bed covers pulled up too fast, or feet under the covers moving and shifting him on the bed.

Each and every night for three months, I came home from work, got a pair of scissors and let him sniff them first. Then I would put a thin rawhide bone behind my ear like a pencil, where he could clearly see it and focus on it. I also placed a bag of training treats between us. I donned thick gloves and thick sleeves for bite protection. Each time he didn't attempt to bite when I put the scissors near his face, he was praised and received a treat. When he actually let me snip just one little section of his hair, he got the grand prize, the rawhide. Every night... same time... same drill.

The bed: Every time he would get aggressive, we firmly ordered him off the bed and out of the room. We never relented or displayed that we felt badly for him when he sulked with sad eyes on his way off the bed and out of the room. Night after night... same drill.

When he was good, we showed him nothing less than love and affection. When he got nasty, we stated a firm "no" and turned our backs on him. We made him sit before he went out the door, sit before he came back in the house, and sit and stay before he got his meals. We still do. He needed to know who was alpha in our pack, and it certainly wasn't going to be him.

He has transformed into one of the sweetest and calmest dogs you can imagine. Lots of work, time, firmness, reward, kindness, and consistency pays off and brings out the best in almost any dog.

Bo's favorite things to attack these days are Barbies, squeaky toys, and anything paper.

Grooming by Hilary Meyer :)

Barbie, dog butt in forefront, and vehicle provided by Marnie, Alandra, and Meesha Hall.

Photo by Carm.

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