Canine Agression Problems: Working Towards Peace in the Pack

| 6/11/2010 7:32:33 AM

Tags: Dogs, Pets,

A photo of Shannon SaiaThe first rule of leadership, Princess: Everything is your fault. – Hopper, Pixar’s A Bug’s Life

I love this quote. It would be funny if it wasn’t both painful, and so doggone true.

Whew. Where to begin?

Let me just say, first of all, that I am a big fan of Cesar Millan. I love his show. I love to watch the man work. I love the absolute power and control and zen that he brings to difficult dog situations again and again. That said, my appreciation of The Dog Whisperer has always been kind of along the same lines as my appreciation of the program What Not to Wear. I like it; occasionally I watch it; and then I wear sweats or pajamas pretty much every place I go. I suppose I could say that watching the programs is all that I do. Because much like my wardrobe, the dog behavior around here has always left much to be desired.

I take full responsibility for the fact that for about four years now we have had little control over the dogs. I was pregnant when our female dog had a litter of puppies, and I would like to believe that if I hadn't been coursing with motherhood hormones that I never would have kept those two male pups in the first place. But keep them we did, and we brought our newborn daughter home to four dogs – our female English Cocker (now spayed), an intact male Cocka-poo mix, and two of their intact male four-month-old pups.

Of course I was too busy being pregnant and working full time to properly train those puppies (she says, as if that's an excuse!). I mean, it didn't really occur to me to do it. I’d never really had to train the two I started with. They were more or less well-behaved, by which I mean that they did not bark incessantly in the house, or fight, or destroy things, or otherwise drive me crazy. But with four dogs ... well ... needless to say, the dynamic around here changed. The puppies – being puppies – were often energetic and overexcited, and I was constantly shoving cookies and bones into their mouths to shut them up. At any moment when they got to be unbearable, I would put them out into the back yard. Don’t get me wrong. I love those dogs. And we have plenty of quiet time around here, as long as the doorbell doesn’t ring, or a truck doesn’t drive by, or my husband doesn’t open a door somewhere else in the house ...

S.M.R. Saia
6/16/2010 1:11:41 PM

Rodeo and N. Dave, thanks so much for stopping by and for your encouraging comments! Shannon

Rodeo Princess
6/16/2010 6:29:48 AM

I LOVED THIS HONEST STORY OF ANIMAL LOVE! I am proud of you, Shannon. Reading this made my day. But, Jackie, what ails you? That fact that you don't understand how she can share this story with such honesty and information is a clue. Shame on you for not reading the whole story before you formed your judgment. I am more impressed always by honest stories of how a struggle was over come, than I am by people who assume they are perfect because they haven't experienced a trial such as dog aggression. We are not WRONG for having problems. We are only to blame if we don't take action. I am not always impressed by people who like to talk about their 'rescues.'When they do, I get the impression their efforts are more about appearing to be a hero, then about animals.Your pets are referred to by their past experience when you call them rescues. Haven't they and you moved on from that? All of us got our pets one way or another. I don't call mine "Born in Bathroom" or "Chained to neighbor's garage". I have lived next door to a "Rescuer" for ten years. She's got thirty cats locked up in her house that she is saving. She can't wait to tell me, the other neighbors and the authorities how SHE is the only one who can do her important work of 'saving animals". And she's got tips and pointers for all of us, all the time. Her animals are miserable outward expressions of her own need.

Nebraska Dave
6/16/2010 5:29:00 AM

Shannon, wow what a journey you have had with dogs. My dearly departed wife was the best with animals. First she would take hours finding just the right one for the family. Our dogs and cat came from either the pound or friends with puppies. We even had one love affair like your Romeo and the Lhasa-poo. The dog bootsie would come and sleep on the door step to see our dittsie Poodle mix dog named Bridget. After taking Bootsie home several times the owners finally gave it up and came one day with the dog dish and food. True love won out. Casey the cat was added to the mix from a free cat ad in the newspaper. She, of course, ruled the house but was a benevolent ruler and actually would roll around on the floor with the dogs in a playful act of keeping the pack happy. Our second round with dogs came with a dog given to us for my youngest daughter and was named Gretchen. She was a mix of poodle and Shih Tzu. When a young homeless mother lived with us she brought a Pekingese named Mr. Russell into the household. These two got lovey and John Jon was born. He got the best features and personality from all the breeds. He was the greatest of all the pets I’ve had through out the years. He was well mannered, hardly ever barked, almost instantly was house trained, and sadly had to put down at 15 because of arthritis, deafness, and sight problems. I guess I was truly fortunate to have a wife that could pick the right animals to fit the pack. I wish you more success.

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