In this world of behaviorism where dog rescues rely heavily on professionals claiming to be behavior experts, many times a dog’s life depends 100% on that person’s judgement.
This is where Spanky comes in. Spanky is a Labrador Retriever and Mastiff mix. Recently, I was sent a video of the canine’s evaluation by a “reputable behaviorist”. During this video, what I observed was a dog that was deemed aggressive and a danger because he was attacking a plush dog replica while not being corrected. I also observed a “behaviorist” that was scared the dog, and he refused to end the anxious reaction for “fear of being bitten”. I don’t know if there is enough storage space on the internet or me to actually write out what is wrong with this procedure, but I will gladly and certainly point out the obvious flaws in this “behavior assessment”. It is my duty to do so:
1. A behavior evaluation based upon a dog’s reaction to a plush toy is not an accurate assessment whatsoever. This rings especially true in this case as Spanky had come from two different homes. This means, certainly that at some point, this young lad had a plush toy to play with. If one observes the average domesticated dog living in households, one can normally find plush toys. Another factor that was not considered was that the shelter uses plush toys as an “experience enrichment” protocol. This means that the dogs there are given plush toys to play with. Now we fast forward to said “behaviorist” that assessed the dog aggressive because he want after a plush toy, how the fuck does this make sense when he is perfectly aware of the circumstance? Claiming that a dog does not know the difference between a plush dog and a real dog is incredibly absurd, and not reason enough to throw a dog onto the euthanasia table.
2. Claiming to be a telepathic animal communicator is not reason enough to give oneself enough credentials to deem an animal’s death a must. Holistic dog training based upon one’s self-imposed clairvoyant powers is not valid in deeming a being worthy of life or death. Period. Of course the canine will automatically gravitate towards a texture that has been associated with biting, biting is a primary way for dogs to let out their anxiety. Dogs have so much to tell with their mouths, and tearing a plush toy apart is not a reason for any dog to die, ever.
3. If one is scared of an animal, and believes that this animal will bite if disturbed, why would we go in without a bite suit? Why would one feel the need to psychologically deem this animal as an “assassin” and not take proper precaution when dealing with such an “aggressive” being? This has nothing to do with theory and which approach the trainer/behaviorist is subscribing to, this has to do with credibility. This man is taking money from city funding, he is being paid by your tax dollars, and he is failing these dogs.
Within twenty minutes, I was able to maintain the dog’s energy below threshold which allowed him to interact nicely with a pitbull named Hanna. In fact, Spanky play-bowed the first chance he got. The key to these two different evaluations was simple, when giving a behavioral evaluation trainers/behaviorists need to make sure that they aren’t just setting the canine loose to make decisions on their own after spending thirty plus days in a kennel-like room. We have to set proper and humane parameters, and let me be clear, giving treats or telling a dog to “drop it” without having trained that command is not giving the canine a fair chance to comply. Spanky complied with me almost instantaneously as my body language communicated clear cues: confident, calm, and loving.
After working with Spanky for a twenty minutes, I decided that it was time to pull him and save his life. I have offered to work for free with his foster family, and I will rehab him. This is a good dog. He would have been killed because of the faulty methods of one person. This guy will now have an amazing life due to the rescue efforts of Lucky Lab Rescue and my company K911!.
Good dogs are being killed every day because most “professionals” have watched one too many episodes of The Dog Whisperer, or they operate from a place of egoic stimulation. Dog behavior modification and training should come from a place of love only.