Saturday, September 5, 2009

It's Mine!

My last appointment of the day yesterday was with a 16-month old handsome yellow lab named Murphy.  When I arrived he proceeded to greet with me with a happy woof! and tail wags, and then spent the next 30 minutes molesting me with his nose because he knew there MUST be hot dogs on my body somewhere.  While his parents didn't appreciate his antics, I didn't mind as he was gentle with his nose nudges and kisses- and he did it all with a smile only a lab can give.  After having lost our chocolate lab last month, it was wonderful to have the lab 'heat' on me again.
Tara and Ben, Murphy's adoring owners, hired me to help with his escalating food aggression, also called 'Resource Guarding'.  They described 14 months of food and bone possession that would make other people shiver in their Mutt-lucks.  Since the age of 12 weeks, when around food, Murphy has growled, snarled, snarked, lunged, and bitten to the point of puncturing Ben's thumb- which was the final impetus for them getting some real help.  They described months and months of training they had tried to do.  Nothing helped and he was getting worse.  Murphy has also become the dreaded teenager, and although he can't take the car without permission or go out back and smoke a cigarette, I'm sure he would if he could- he is THAT much of an adolescent.  They didn't know what to do!  Tara and Ben are not alone.  So many people call me in desperation because their dog turns in to Cujo with food/bones/toys/owners/space/siblings/beds/air/a fly on the wall/a blade of grass etc and they have no idea what to do.  I assure you, there is always some sort of hope.  If your dog is growling, snarling, or biting you, please call on a professional.  Don't try anything you see on TV, or what your brother or the lady at Petsmart tells you to do.

I outlined the plan for Murphy and his parents, and set up an appointment to go back in a month to continue training.  I always leave a few weeks in between appointments so all the parties involved can get in a new routine and start training without pressure- this is extremely important to the success of the program.  Murphy's environment is also going to be managed very closely so he doesn't have the opportunity to guard anything anymore.  This is also essential for training, as you cannot let a dog keep practicing the behavior you are trying to eliminate.

Murphy is a very lucky boy to have such wonderful, patient, and persistent owners.  It is clear he is very well-loved, and I think the prognosis is excellent!

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