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My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

Posted by nikmik (My Page) on
Mon, Oct 15, 12 at 19:15

My 6yr springer spaniel whom we've had for 2 yrs and is a good boy but lately has begun to show his teeth and growl when he is feed. We make him sit and wait w/the bowl right next to him. We just introduced a new trick in which he has to bark for his food. He has been doing this trick for about 4 wks.But the last few times he has shown his teeth and growled when we ask him to speak. He is then sent to his bed and made to stay for an hr. Feed again w/no problem. Any idea why and how to handle this?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

Feeding time should be just that...feeding time....and not a time for tricks or asking a pet to do something to please the owner.
Nothing wrong for him to wait while you prepare the food but I wouldn't force him to sit there after you place the food on the floor.
Since there's no way to know your method of training and your responses to your dog's reactions, it will be difficult for anyone to know why your dog is growling.

I suggest you eliminate the tricks and feed your dog without any hoopla. I'm sure you didn't mean for it to go in this direction, but since he's now sent to bed and made to wait an hour, he now associates feeding time with punishment.
For now, he probably thinks the new routine is first he growls, he's sent to his bed and THEN he gets his food.

Oh, one other thing......others may disagree, but I think teaching a dog to bark is not a good idea. Most owners spends hours trying to get their dogs NOT to bark.

Enjoy your pooch and try to do exercises with him that help burn off energy.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

To me it sounds like you poor doggie is confused. He is doing what he thinks is his trick to get his food and you are punishing him for it. To him bark and growl is the same thing...stop doing that. Let the poor dog eat his food without having to beg for it. Simply, your dog is just confused as to what he's supposed to do and is being punished.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

I agree you don't teach your dog at meal times
Its for feeding your dog and letting him eat and enjoy it.

how would you like someone to give you your food and then say you must do this and that and if you do a disagreement as you just want to eat your meal, then get removed and fed later.

That isn't good at all.

I agree too, too much is spent is getting dogs not to bark at all, bark collars, training and all kinds of things.

Barking can become a huge problem.

Just feed your dog and leave him in peace to eat his meal and enjoy it.

Teach him new things while out and about. or other times.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

I think you caused this. My dogs want their dinner and would not be happy to have to do tricks. I make them sit and shake for treats but not dinner.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

I also agree the dog needs to just be fed and not taught tricks to be able to receive food. how would you like to have to learn new tricks just to be able to eat?


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

Definitely stop trying to train your dog at meal time. Using treats as a positive reinforcement while training is one thing, but witholding his dinner IMO is teasing, and teasing is a close cousin of cruelty. More children are probably bitten when trying to take food from a dog than any other time, and children should be taught to never bother an animal while he is eating. (Adults should know better.)

Also sending a dog to bed for an hour is not appropriate discipline. Dogs have short attention spans and they connect immediate rewards or negative consequences. Also it is far better to show a dog to do something the right way than to punish him for doing it the wrong way. Try to make training sessions fun with frequent rewards everytime he gets something even partially right, and help him to succeed.

I agree with everyone else that mealtime is not the time for training your dog, and he shouldn't be tormented by being shown a full food dish that he is prohibited from touching.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

I don't get the point behind this training at all. Let him eat his meal without jumping through hoops for it, a dog should not have to perform to get his dinner, in his mind he just wants to eat but you are making it confusing and frustrating for him. Good grief, I don't even make my dogs sit patiently and "wait" for the ok, they are excited and ready to tuck in at meal times, and this is probably the worst time to expect them to concentrate on doing something else.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

Do you require other members of your family to do tricks for their dinner?


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

This was my first time posting in the pet forum looking for advice and all I got was criticism. You can rest assured it wont happen again. And by the way did I mention I was talking about my dog!


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me


nikmik,

You asked "Any idea why and how to handle this". I think the majority of the answers explained why your dog is growling and how best to handle it.
Advice doesn't always come in the form of positive criticism so I hope you're able to take the info you were given and use it to improve your dog's life.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

We all explained why your dog was doing this. It was your fault, and you can correct it by not making your dog do tricks for his nourishment. Treats yes, food no.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

nikmik....I know you weren't doing this to be cruel to him. It can get very confusing when so many signals come at you about using food (treats) for training. Many trainers do it, and if you watch them you can see the hand go down and the dog get their reward. So, that sends mixed signals. Many dogs do just as well with positive reinforcement in the way of praise or attention. However, some dogs are more food driven. This being said, there is a difference between manipulating a dog who is not hungry with a treat and using his sustinence, of which is expecting as has been his usual routine for years.

You have heard of food guarding and it's a nasty habit nobody wants in a dog. It sets the stage for getting bitten by an otherwise wonderful pet. It's a habit I've had to deal with often with rescued dogs and it's a hard one to break. What has happened is you have unintentionally caused your dog to food guard. It's the one time you really shouldn't interupt. Now, I do make our dog sit and wait until I get his food ready because he had bad habits with not being patient as it was being prepared. I do command him to sit until the bowl is placed but I immediately let him 'have at it' and don't bother him until he's done. I have also had to take food away from him on occasion and have had to train him to allow me to do it and not bite. But I don't do it for a trick. Only in an emergency.

I myself have trained dogs to bark for a treat, but found out the hard way it's also not a desireable thing to do when they took it to the next level and barked as we ate our own meals with every bite we took. That poor dog has long passed on, but I created a monster. LOL.

I'm sure you love your doggy. Please try not to be offended. I suspect the response you got was more concern than snarking. Food guarding is serious and a lot of good dogs end up being euthanised for it and it's something they test dogs for at shelters and can cause them not to be adoptable. If you have kids or grandkids who innocently go toward a pet when it's eating you'll understand. Don't put your doggie in that situation needlessly.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

Jeez.

Sorry you got jumped on.

Without seeing this and knowing what's going on, it's hard to say what's going on. I can't tell you if this is resource guarding or if he digressed in his barking to a teeth show and growl. Kind of like a half hearted attempt at a bark in his hurry to get the food. Or if he feels threatened by your training methods or what. No one can know over the internet.

If you took a video and posted it, that would be helpful.

Many people reserve their dog's food for training and enrichment. It doesn't automatically cause resource guarding.

Here's an idea for a win-win situation. I assume you feed one meal in the morning and one meal later for dinner. Reserve one part of each meal for training. I don't advocate using corrections. Simply withhold the reward if your dog doesn't comply and review to see why what you asked wasn't worth complying with. Were you not clear? Were you consistent? Did your dog really understand? Were you boring? Etc. If you can't figure it out, try asking for something else. You can also toss treats or slide them on slick floors for your dog to run after and get them also. Break up the routine. Make it fun.

The other portion of the meals, put in a food dispensing toy. It's fun for the dog, it exercises their brain and their body, and it slows their eating down.

It sounds like you want to make meal time extra special by enriching the eating experience. I don't see anything wrong with that. Zoos around the world use feeding time as opportunities to enrich the animal's lives. I, myself, have bought a huge collection of food dispensing toys for my dogs. I also do puzzles and games with food. Nose work, agility, etc.

I did a Google search for you to see more ideas for you to use feeding time as an opportunity to enrich your dog's life. See the link.

If your dog truly does have resource guarding issues, then training and playing with food will mean that your dog will associate food coming directly from you. You're the bringer of delicious food. Kind of hard to guard when you're directly giving the food, not a bowl. Don't take food away once he has it. If you accidentally drop a handful, just leave it. Don't try to take them back or you'll confirm that your dog has a reason to guard his food.

Here is a link that might be useful: enriching dog feeding time


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

Oh, and yeah. An hour doesn't make sense. If you find that you really need to put your dog in a time out, up to a minute makes sense. Time outs should really be used as an opportunity to calm down and reset, not punishment.

If you want more ideas or want to send a video for review, feel free to message me.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

i agree with the op. She won't be back and i don't blame her -

having your dog "work" for his food is a very common practice to those of us who know about dog training.

VERY FEW people understand aggression in dogs. Read Brenda Alouf (sp?) book on it and you'll learn a lot. But few people deal with aggression in dogs.

I suggest that this is a dog forum with people that know little, if any, about REAL dog training. I have a dog that has been chasing me and biting me - HARD! I have been reading a lot about aggression in dogs and have made progress with this dog. MOST people would have pts this dog as he is 65 pounds and will growl, charge and bite.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

one of the names that this idea of "working" for your food" goes by is "Nothing in Life is Free".

Google it: it states that your dog (particularly an aggressive dog) should always know that he doesn't get anything with no "cost" to him. I can't explain it totally but it is about creating a dogs' understanding that
the person is "relevant." Interesting stuff.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

That's not quite true that few people deal with aggression in dogs. Many people push dogs to aggression via bad advice or ignoring or not being able to read their body language. Just about every dog trainer deals with aggression. Every behaviorist (I mean, real behaviorists, the ones with the behavioral science degrees to justify their title) does.

I prefer Plenty In Life Is Free (Kathy Sdao) but for dogs who require micromanaging until they can handle more independence, I like Learn To Earn (Dr. Sophia Yin).

I don't like Nothing In Life Is Free. It's rather militant and harsh. Having a dog work for their food (play includes work) enriches meal time.

Resource guarding, if that's what this dog is doing, is easily fixed by counter conditioning. The dog fears that they will lose their food so they guard it against intruders. You counter this by showing them that they only stand to gain, not lose, with you being near their food. Toss food of higher value than their meal towards them and walk away. Each few times, get closer and walk away. Work your way up to sitting near them and offering food. Then you work your way up to gentle touching and finally, being able to handle their food without the dog perceiving it as a threat of loss.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

nikmik got the advice she sought---however, she decided the advice was criticism. That is sad.

Training dogs can be a seriously difficult and sometimes dangerous thing to do.

Dogs were domesticated centuries ago---there are now domesticated foxes in Russia. Some people claim to have domesticated wolves, but I have never seen a program designed to do that like the Russian fox program.

The problems in dog training start when people address dogs using human training tactics. Or expect training to be relatively quick. Or fail to take into consideration an individual dogs personality or heritage.

Like training a Lab to point, or a whippet to fetch.

Treating a dog like it is a human means trouble of some kind. Having a single dog often takes away the bred in pack instinct---and most single dogs 'adopt' their people as pack members.

With small dogs, the result is often ankle biters, extreme protection defense, or odd (OCD type) behavior. With large dogs, that same aggression becomes dangerous.
Like training a Lab to point, or a whippet to fetch.

Training when being fed is important. In wild pack conditions, the dominant dogs get to eat first because they are the boss. Since food is provided by the human, the dog should be trained the human is the boss at feeding time.

The other part of feeding is it is done when I say. They often come and try to convince me to feed when they want. No way. Why? Because that makes them more dominant. They are telling me when to act. The male has even trained the female to start the convincing activity sometimes(he's the dominant one of the two).

They have a comical routine. The male comes meandering in, sits(very militarily) and stares at me. He will do that for up to 5 minutes. The female comes in, puts her chin on my leg, or her cold nose in my side and 'tells' me she wants me to go into the kitchen---which as also her Go Outside action.

I will sometimes just tell them to go lay down and other times ask "What?" That causes then to 'talk' or jump around playfully. I can no longer use the words 'food', 'feed' 'eat', or 'fed' around them because they now know what those words mean. But, I never feed them immediately after those episodes. They have to be shown they get fed when I say so. And I never feed at the same time daily. The time varies from 4PM to 9PM. That allows for those variations to be 'normal' and they accept that without protest. That accomplishes several things. First, in the wild pack, feeding is never regimented, They eat when food becomes available. Second, it reinforces the fact I am boss. Third, it allows us a life, we are not tied to a schedule. And fourth, it makes it much easier for someone else to do the feeding if we are gone.

Notice the excitement comes before I feed. I either say "Ok!" or simply start collecting the bowls to indicate the funny stuff is over and the serious feeding begins.

The actual feeding is completely serious, they need do no 'tricks', they must be calm, quiet, and wait to start eating.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

Your statements are so ethologically incorrect that it's laughable. Everyone, apparently, is an expert. The different between what I go by and what Handymac goes by is everything I write can be sourced and backed up by up-to-date research and is covered in ethological journals and other publications, while Handymac has either watched a television show or two, or has been reading some very outdated information. Think the 80's or by similarly uniformed self proclaimed experts.

I don't see what foxes, or wolves, have to do with this woman's dog.

I don't see anyone telling this woman to treat her dog like a human, nor did I see this woman indicate that that was what she was doing. So where's the relevance of this statement??

Domestic dogs do NOT form packs. They do have social structure but not packs. Ethologists have studied feral populations of domestic dogs around the world and have found that they form loose, shifting groups of small numbers, usually 2-3 individuals and they only come together in large numbers over communal resources, such as garbage heaps and sources of water, then they disperse again. They were not found to hunt, rear young and protect a communal territory as a stable group. Boitani, Francisci, Ciucci, and Andreoli, (1995) Which is the ethological definition of a pack. Domestic dogs do not participate in organized hunting, where each takes up a different job. At best, they hunt individually or in chaotic en-mass but not in different roles comprising an organized hunt like wolves, lions, painted dogs, and other social undomesticated predators do. It is VERY rare for males and previous offspring to participate in rearing young. And females are found to mate with several males during a single heat cycle. As stated before, loose, shifting groups of few members don't compose a stable group, nor do they protect territories when they congregate in large numbers to utilize a resource and then disperse again.

Forcing dogs to live together in our homes or backyards does not constitute a stable group or pack.

Nor are dogs such dumb beasts that they perceive us to be dogs. No. Even if they did form packs, they don't think that we're fellow dogs, or vise versa. They are well aware that were are different animals.

How in the world is training a lab to point or a whippet to fetch dangerous??? Gads! My poodle is my service dog when that job has traditionally been filled by labs. She must be some kind of dangerous monster!

There are no wild pack conditions for DOMESTIC dogs. There are FERAL conditions and as stated, they do not form packs.

The human is obviously the boss at feeding time since the human buys the food and has the opposable thumbs to dish it out. Do you have some kind of ego issues? You seem very concerned that we're all very aware how much in charge you are and that you're the boss! Good for you? Being that dogs were domesticated and almost every breed was developed to serve mankind, is that supposed to be some kind of rare feat or come as a surprise that dogs look to us for direction?

The dominant dog? The submissive dog? Dominant and submissive in regards to what resource?? Dominant and submissive are NOT personalities traits! How are you allowing your dog to become "too dominant" and how are you dominant over your dog?? You clearly don't understand the concept of social dominance. An animal can only be dominant in regards to a valued resource. Food, mates, safe and comfortable resting places, etc. And even this changes from resource to resource, day to day, and from method to method. Fluffy dominates Spot by shoving Spot out of the way when it comes to treat time. While later in the day, Spot snarls at Fluffy and wins the preferred resting spot. Tomorrow they switch as each resource changes in importance. Next week, the new puppy wins the rawhide by licking at Fluffy's mouth to get her to give it up.

Regarding packs:
http://www.associationofanimalbehaviorprofessionals.com/glossary.html
http://www.4pawsu.com/dogpsychology.htm
http://www.kathysdao.com/articles/Forget_About_Being_Alpha_in_Your_Pack.html
http://4pawsu.com/pmdominance.htm
http://www.jeandonaldson.com/jeans-blog-mainmenu-51/64-are-dogs-pack-animals
The links go on and on, you can find many more by Googling.

Find out what social dominance is and what it isn't:
http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/animal-emotions/201202/social-dominance-is-not-myth-wolves-dogs-and
http://drsophiayin.com/philosophy/dominance/?/dominance.php

Again, there are just too many articles and other material addressing these two topics for me to list everyone here. They are all easily found on your own. No REAL behaviorist will insist that dogs form packs and that dominance or submission are personality traits. REAL behaviorists are those with the behavioral science degree to BACK UP the title Behaviorist. There are Veterinary Behaviorists, Clinical Applied Animal Behaviorists, Associate Clinical Applied Animal Behaviorists, and that's it. A person CAN up and hang a shingle calling them self a behaviorist but unless they have that degree, they're not a behaviorist.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

I've been training/rehabilitating dogs for over 50 years. As I said before, I don't train tricks, I train acceptable behavior.

Many of the things I do predate Milan, and I do not agree with many of his techniques. I did learn training techniques 50 years ago. But, I am not tire to any of them, aif there are better methods. I've never rolled a dog since I found that technique to be more detrimental that useful. I've never hit or leash jerked a dog since I discovered better methods. The other gotcha is humans want rapid results. They pay money and want improvements in weeks, when the real changes take months. That single reason is the cause of many failed training methods---just because people are impatient.

People are pack animals. The entire reason it was possible to domesticate dogs is because they are pack animals. Anyone who denies that is just plain brainwashed by 'modern' ideas.

I have a very dominant dog and have never hit/punished him in the 8 years he has been a part of our family---which IS a social pack.

I observed a distinct behavioral difference when the dominant dog was the only dog---a difference I did not want. He became less dominant and more puppy like. Those traits are optimum for a pet, but not for a guard/protection dog. We got a second dog(one HE picked) and his behavior is back to the level I wanted.

He is still playful, strangers can come into our house, meet the dogs, and play with them to their hearts content. My nephew, who is mentally slower than normal comes over and Max never leaves his side. And will play whatever game Austin wants---to include those games with no structure.

But, if a person tries to enter without following the procedure---he is a guard dog. And that could be a person who was just welcome, but left and tried to return in the wrong way.

That is the reason I got this particular dog. And secondarily because he was scheduled to be euthanized because no one could control him. It took 3 months before I was confident in the methods I was using. And another 3 before I felt I could trust the changes I saw. After 6 years, the dog is rock solid. I can guarantee his behavior in every normal situation. All done using behavioral corrections done by body language and voice commands.

Techniques I could NOT use to rehabilitate the completely submissive dog he picked as a companion. In fact, I let the dominant dog show me how to start rehabilitating her---when she froze/locked up, he ignored her. Until she unfroze, at which time he again included her in the activities. I actually learned from his instinctive behavior.

Many people automatically respect another person just because that person has a college degree or extensive training.

Just remember, fully half of all graduates were in the bottom half of their class. And just because a class is taught in college or even trade school does not mean the information is valid or applicable.

A great many people feel a certain technique is the do-all/be-all way of training/working.

And another large number of people are so blinded by their ideas/beliefs they cannot change or adapt to differences and find ways of justifying their dogma.

I agree domesticated dogs who become feral do not act like truly wild dogs. Several reasons why they do not. Food is relatively plentiful, they do not have to hunt, they scavenge. They have few enemies, so protection is not as necessary. Shelter is more available. That eliminates most of the reason for true pack behavior. But---it is obvious they still congregate in groups. Loosely connected groups because the core reasons for structured packs are no longer present. The inborn triggers for the behavior are still present in larger breeds or breeds with hunting/working instincts.

Smaller dogs that have been bred for human companionship as their only use(and the cross breeds) have less of the pack instinct.

And, just like humans, groups of dogs develop a pack structure---or pecking order(as illustrated in the last article listed). Groups form, leaders are chosen, and so on.

The behavior of urban packs of dogs are seldom like their wild ancestors simply because the living conditions are so dissimilar.

What I know/do comes from years of trial and error and more successes than failures. Something no classroom or clinical study can provide.

One last caution. No process/method/procedure works for all dogs all the time. Every dog is different, every situation is unique. In order to be successful, a trainer/rehabilitator has to be able to adapt and change.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

ms_minnamouse......please notice the difference in tone between your post and handymac. Lecturing someone rarely gets a point across.

I have to agree with handymac's last sentence: No process/method/procedure works for all dogs all the time. Every dog is different, every situation is unique. In order to be successful, a trainer/rehabilitator has to be able to adapt and change.

Also have to comment on the technique of 'enriching a dog's life' during feeding time. To say every dog benefits from this is as senseless as this statement (taken from a site about training during feeding time): "many zoos feed captive wild animals in ways that allow them to express natural behaviors of hunting or foraging".
Any activity a Zoos encourages during feeding time is an effort to try and break the monotony of being caged......nothing else. There is no way a zoo could ever duplicate what is natural to a wild creature.
But that's my opinion...........


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

Lecturing was not my intent but Handymac was quite abrupt and lecturing is his own posts. His fallacies had to be pointed out because they're so at odds with the scientific field of behavior. At odds because his claims are outdated and proven untrue.

Enriching feeding time is universally beneficial. To claim otherwise doesn't signify that you have an understanding of the domestic dog or any other captive animals. Dogs require on average, 14 hours of sleep a day. While we're at work or out and about contending to our own lives, they're sitting around the house or backyard. It blows the mind that you don't consider giving them something to do during this time beneficial.

I'm not really interested in arguing with the unenlightened so carry on with your talk of dominance and being the only one to be able to reach "red zone" dogs. The fact is that aggressive dogs are a dime a dozen and trainers and behaviorists and a lot of other people work with them day in and day out. Some are euthanized due to individual principals and money and time constraints. That doesn't mean that only Handymac is able to reach any particular dog, only that he was the only one willing to step up into the role and be devoted enough to it. His ego seems to know no bounds, nor does his "I know everything I need to know through years of experience and no education" attitude. A lack of education is never a good thing. One should always strive to learn more and more. Turning your back on the scientific community because you know you know best is just egotistical and detrimental to the animals that you work with.

The vast majority of people with this view have universally suppressed dogs and they think that this is a good thing. Not so.

Think it over. You probably won't. I'm through here. Off to train some dogs rather than argue back and forth on the internet.


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RE: My dog growls and shows his teeth at me

My my. I am egotistical because I have been successful?

I happen to be an experienced educator, and agree education is essential.

ms_minnamouse, you are a dedicated animal lover, but you do not read and understand what I say. Maybe I write it badly. Where did I ever say I was the only one who could reach dominant dogs---and I NEVER used the term 'Red Zone'.

It is too bad you cannot come meet my dogs, and see what they used to be and how well adjusted they are now. If my ways were so wrong and outdated, that would not be so.

I have the approval of all the vets with whom I have done business---about seven locally, for how I worked with and maintained dogs, cats, and horses. I also have the support and approval of neighbors and police officers for the way I have rehabilitated problem dogs.

I have an unneutered male dog that is welcome at a boarding facility any time. He is so well behaved, the staff argues about who gets to walk him for exercise. But, they recognize his dominant personality and make sure they stay on top of dealing with him.

I brag---probably too much. But, the rehabilitation of this and one other dog were successes no one thought would happen---to include two of those vets, the neighbors and the police officers involved in dealing with those two dogs. Plus, I have successfully rehabilitated a dog so submissive she was scared of literally everything---which is much more difficult than dealing with a dominant dog. Ask those folks you like so well about that. That would not be possible without some education and experience.


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