In the previous blog post, it was announced that you could see Noa in the new tv-show of Cesar Millan: Leader of the Pack in the episode ‘Once bitten’. After shooting all day Cesar took the extra time and effort to explain to us how he handles Noa’s aggression towards dogs. He gave us the chance and permission to film it so we could examine and learn from it.
Noa is already easier to handle as Cesar worked with her earlier that day. The same principals apply nonetheless. One of the cues to look for with Noa is her ears he told us. It’s best when her ears are pointing back, when they are up we have to pay attention.
To sum up the tools he gives us in this video:
- She has to move back on her own
- Don’t pull/push back
- You could use a touch
- You want her to look around and experience her surroundings
- Breath continuously
- Don’t hold your breath
- Hold the leash without tension
- Use different ways to correct the behavior
- The touch
- Snapping your fingers
- ‘Tsss’ or a different sound
- Tug the leash at the highest part of the neck
- Remove eye contact
- Preventing escalation is better than intervention
Cesar’s method obviously works perfectly for him. Noa responds quickly to his cues and loves him for the clear direction he gives; She wags her tail when she sees him. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to do it. I am sure I am doing something wrong (reacting too late) or miss some feeling for his method.
When I correct Noa using the touch with my hand she starts grabbing my hand. Something she did not do to Cesar. She doesn’t bite me and I am not afraid of her but I don’t want to wait for it to escalate into serious biting. I actually still use the touch with my hand to correct her but not around other dogs because then she is more aggravated and by the manner I correct her I only make it worse. The footwork I skipped as I prefer to stand on my both my feet when she gets wound up.
This doesn’t mean I discard everything Cesar’s suggesting; Not at all! As with many other methods of known (dog)trainers I use what works for me and my dog. Thereby, it won’t hurt to know the possibilities and ideas that are out there even if you don’t agree with everything. It could ignite other ideas by adjusting the original.
What I do agree with for example are the basic principles of: Exercise, discipline and affection; and rules, boundaries and limitations. The second principal relates to the policy I have always used for my dogs: ‘The better they listen the more freedom they get.’ Hence, Noa is leashed outside and indoors she gets to do about anything she wants because she is very easy at home.
The principal of the ‘tsss’ sound I use. The ‘tsss’ sound itself makes me feel stupid so it wouldn’t be convincing and therefore it would not work. Instead I use a different sound. Not sure what it is actually. I believe something similar to ‘hey’ in a hard and low voice. Snapping my fingers I use too but sometimes I replace it by clapping in my hands twice. All the other tools he gives are being used as well: Trying to stay relaxed, no tension etc. It’s not all that new most of it I already did.
One of the techniques Cesar is using is called flooding. The dog gets exposed to a stimulus which triggers a flight or fight response. By preventing those two options the dog will eventually notice nothing bad happens and doesn’t need to go into a fight or flight modus. In Noa’s case he surrounds her with dogs.
It’s not a method you should or can use for everything (like any other method basically). It can be very useful however. I have applied it to myself. Sometimes it’s just better to get it over with: don’t think, just do. Probably many people have used it to get their dogs showered. If treats or toys don’t work and your dog is dirty I am sure he just has to suck it up.
This is one of the principals I use when I can’t keep or get Noa her attention when another dog approaches us. Although, it’s not really flooding because the dog comes and goes instead of staying near us until she calms down but in real everyday life you don’t have your environment in control. I do ensure some distance with the other dog(s) to prevent accidents.
It was a wonderful experience Cesar and the Leader of the Pack team was great! Good people all around. This experience gave us new material to work with and was very inspiring.