It is always disturbing when owners are attacked by their pets.
Posted July 13, 2009 2:08 pm
Unfortunately, there is usually a string of events that lead up to this. Let’s start at the beginning.
Mistake #1: The wrong breed of dog. In the vast majority of these cases, we see a well meaning owner that chooses a particular breed that should only be owned by an experienced dog owner. For some reason, Americans think that all dogs are Golden Retrievers. They expect that they can take a rottie, raise it the same way as a Maltese and get the same results. Breeds must be chosen firstly on temperament, secondly on experience level, and lastly for looks. A 150lb Presa Canario is a dog that needs to be worked up to and is not the proper breed of dog for the average pet home.
Mistake #2: Not using a reputable breeder / getting a dog too young. Once you have researched what breed of dog is appropriate for your family/living situation, the next step is to research an appropriate breeder if you are determined to purchase a puppy. Of course we always recommend adoption as opposed to purchasing a puppy. That being said, an experienced, reputable breeder has the knowledge to temperament test a puppy and choose a mild puppy for a first time bully/guardian owner. They should serve as the support system, offer training tips, medical advice and will spend unlimited time educating the owners about their new dog. They develop a lifetime relationship with the owner. More importantly, a reputable breeder WILL GLADLY TAKE THEIR DOG BACK AT ANY AGE, IN ANY CONDITION, FOR ANY REASON. They are NOT a burden on rescue. Sadly, to find an excellent breeder, a person needs to devote time and educate themselves so they can make an informed decision. Excellent breeders also do not make it easy for a buyer. There are extensive interviews and the breeder most often chooses the dog they think would be best and will not release the puppy until 9-12 weeks. This is so the puppies have time with their siblings and their mother. In this time, the mother teaches the puppy something very important- BITE INHIBITION and ACCEPTABLE BEHAVIOR WITHIN A FAMILY. During this time, the breeder will also socialize the puppies with humans- touching them, feeding them, grooming them, and getting to know their personalities. See the following link for more information:
This is the major problem with pet store puppies. Pet stores know that most people erroneously believe that the younger the puppy, the better it will bond with the family and the easier they will be to train the way they want. Therefore, they have their puppies shipped to them as young as 4 weeks. In doing so, the puppies lose precious socialization time, often spending many weeks in a cage. Statistics show that the less time puppies spend with the mother and littermates, the more likely the animal is to bite its family as they are unable to appropriately express themselves.
Mistake #3: Lack of socialization/obedience. All new owners, no matter how experienced they are, need to bring their dog to a puppy obedience class. This is an important bonding time and establishes the owner’s role as alpha. It always surprises me how little people know about proper dog training.
Mistake #4: Lack of exercise. Believe it or not, most people do not walk their dogs, especially if they have a yard. ALL DOGS NEED TO BE WALKED EVERY DAY! Dogs also should have some kind of fun activity that you can do together. Agility is very fun for dogs: fly ball, weight pulls, competition obedience, etc. This establishes team work between you and the dog, and stimulates his mind and body. Instead of laying around the house like a grumpy, bored lump, he is with his pack working. And yes, he thinks of you as his pack.
Ok, so now we have a string of mistakes, and we have a precious puppy who has been enabled to grow up into a demanding, entitled little monster, who is used to getting exactly what he wants and is not afraid to use is teeth to get it. Hello Buster!
So where do we go from here?
Once there is an incidence of aggression against a particular family member, the only person who can "fix" the problem is the victim. It is the victim who then needs to take over all care and training of the dog. Unfortunately, and rightly so, the victim is fearful of the animal, making that training close to impossible. Buster's only hope is a sporting dog trainer working in conjunction with the attack victim. The victim must have the physical and mental constitution to employ the extreme corrections required to regain control of a 70lb adult bulldog, who has learned that his teeth are a very effective tool to get his way. The victim needs to show Buster who the “bigger bulldog” is. The sporting dog trainer can help the victim get this done.
Here's the catch: after an attack, we have a person who is left with emotional scars and likely fearful of the animal. This is understandable. It is not fair to expect them to work and live with an animal they are fearful of. It is my opinion that Buster's owners lack the dog experience required to effectively deal with his problems. This is not their fault, as his issues are FAR beyond the realm of the average pet owner.
So sadly, with Buster laying on my feet, I must make the recommendation for humane euthanasia. This is a very difficult, but necessary decision. We will of course make his last days as comfortable and happy as possible.
Buster will be picked up tomorrow by owners.
Posted July 8, 2009 4:55 pm
Despite the seriousness of Buster's issues, we have developed a productive relationship and are getting attached to him. He was playing with his bones today and I came up by him.....the big boy dropped his bones and backed away from them. He has been following me around and sleeping at my feet. He came in the kitchen last night when I was cooking. I growled at him, (yes, I did, don't laugh) and he went running away to the other side of the room and sat down. His owners will be coming for him tomorrow they want to say goodbye and lay Buster to rest at their vet. We have lightened up a bit on the extensive training and are allowing him to enjoy his next 24 hours. Buster is a very, very sick dog, it's about time he gets the peace he deserves. The original shelter that Buster was turned in to did a great disservice to this dog by releasing him to a member of the general public. Most of this could have been prevented a lot earlier.
From the owner/husband: "I totally understand and am not taking any of this lightly. I know deep down what must be done - trust me."
From the owner/wife: "Thanks for all you have done for Buster. Even though Buster Bit me twice, and snapped at me several other times, I still loved him. I would never be able to work with Buster in his current condition, or the condition he left in. (My husband) is suffering, but I feel Buster needs to be euthanized soon as to not prolong the pain. I am so grateful for you and your organization. I truly feel that no one could have done a better job with Buster or any animal. I appreciate your skills with animals. Thank you, thank you. thank you."
A decision must be made....
Posted July 7, 2009 9:11 pm
Well, Buster did some damage with the attack launched on Auntie Andrea. She went to get further treatment today, doctors had to administer a series of shots to her infected arm :( Buster is very cute, no doubt, but he is also extremely dangerous and very unpredictable. If you think this fat squishy boy is cute in his pictures, you should see him in person. Despite his horrific behaviors at times, it is with extreme sadness we report the following...
Over the past few days Adopt-A-Bull has contacted several different trainers local to us here in South Florida, but also local to Buster's owners in Central Florida. One of the trainers we consulted with included a K-9 cop in Hollywood, FL with 7 years experience training Dutch, German and Czek Shepards and Belgin Malinois. Another included a sporting dog trainer up in Ocala. And for those that had suggested it, yes, we did reach out and contact a representative that works with the famous dog trainer we all see on T.V. Unfortunately, Buster is beyond classification in the "Red Zone" category. :( After speaking with several professionals in the dog world we all came to the same conclusion.
After a complete and thorough (live in) evaluation of Buster Brown, a brown, neutered male English Bulldog for ten (10) days, Adopt-A-Bull Rescue, Inc. finds the following:
1. Unfortunately Buster is suffering from dominance aggression and is a danger to humans in his current state. Even with training it is in our opinion that Buster will never be able to live as a "normal pet". Any contact with children should be strictly avoided.
2. Buster's dominance/aggression is beyond the scope and expertise of hobbyist/pet trainer and/or animal behaviorist.
3. Should Buster leave Adopt-A-Bull for any reason it would be only if Buster's owners, BOTH husband and wife, are ready, willing and financially able to immediately seek the help of a qualified sporting dog trainer and are able to commit to the extensive behavioral modification program recommended by said trainer. Such programs require a 24/7 commitment, mandate 100% effort by all parties involved and could only be successful with strict compliance with "program rules" around the clock by owners for the lifetime of the dog.
Adopt-A-Bull will provide owners with the names and numbers of trainers that we feel would be best equipped to deal with Buster's issues, however, since Adopt-A-Bull cannot guarantee that Buster will receive the proper training and follow up, nor can we guarantee that this training will be 100% effective, we unequivocally recommend the following: Immediate humane euthanasia.
Buster has taken a turn for the worst.
Posted July 6, 2009 9:38 am
After fabulous days, he has shown his dangerous side. Buster was leashed to my foot and resting at the end of his leash. A full blown attack was unleashed when my toe touched him. Buster jumped up, looked around, locked in on me, ran at me full force and launched himself at me and nailed me in the forearm. I jammed his bite, grabbed him by his scruff and put him on his side. He would calm down in this position, however, every time I loosened my grip, he would try to redeploy. We spent a good 10 minutes like this. When he was under control, he was returned to his crate so I could attend to my arm. I truly believe that if he was not in a "dog" home, the outcome could have been horrific. Buster did NOT just turn his head back and snap (as a "normal" dog may when being startled while sleeping) when contact was made between my toe and his body. He woke up, stood up with all four paws touching the ground, looked around for a second, took a few steps forward and charged! Sadly, we are coming to the realization that Buster may not be able to return to his original home, nor will he be able to be adopted out. We have no doubt the HE WILL ATTACK AGAIN - this is his 4th bite. We will attempt to have Buster evaluated within the next several days by a trainer that specializes in evaluating and training dogs for the police force. There are only 2 factors at this point that will determine his fate: another recommendation from OUR personal trainers and the amount of liability Adopt-A-Bull chooses to assume. We feel very badly for Buster, and can't imagine the sadness and fear of losing him that his owners must be feeling right now. Despite yet another revelation of Buster's dangerous side, WE ARE NOT GIVING UP ON HIM!!! We will still continue his training until his evaluation.
You'll never believe this...
Posted July 4, 2009 9:31 pm
OK, so I let Buster watch some TV today and he was very good. I let him have his toy and he played with it nicely and let me basically wipe my feet all over him. Then, he started play bowing with me, so we wrestled and played for a little bit. Then I fed him, he let me flip him over. No snapping, no evil eye... nothing. He has been wonderful so far today. He is back in his crate resting. We are working on how to stand and lay nicely for examinations too!
The game plan regarding crating vs. free roam should Buster return home.
Posted July 4, 2009 1:12 pm
The decision to allow your pet to have free roam of the house when you are not home, whether it be for a full 8 hours or just 30 minutes while you run out to the store, must be an carefully educated decision determined on a case by case basis depending on the specific dog. In Buster's case, there is no reason why he needs to have free roam. This would be rewarding him for no reason, giving him hours and hours to do what he wants so he gets into that habit. For dominant dogs with "issues," we suggest crating them during when not under direct supervision. There should be no "free" time, but rather, "earned" time. Everything must be earned, no freebies! From sleeping, to eating, to peeing, to playtime, everything must be earned. Even on walks with Buster, we tell him where we must walk, what tree he's allowed to pee on, when it's time to take a break from walking and have a drink, or when he's allowed to stop for a rest. As far as when/if Buster returns home, I would crate him BUT NOT IN YOUR BEDROOM! That is your den. Sleeping in the bedroom is a reward for dogs, they get to be in the special place that is filled with your smell - what a treat! Buster thinks he is entitled to sleep in the bedroom, he may even think it is HIS bedroom. I would even go as far as suggesting that he is in the crate ANYTIME you leave, anytime he is unsupervised, anytime you are not there to oversee his actions. He also needs to be in the crate whenever you are making something to eat or are eating. I can really see him trying to change. He is a great dog, he just has some interesting issues…. very dangerous ones at that. It is extremely important that the structure Adopt-A-Bull Rescue is establishing in Buster's life and the routine we have implemented is duplicated to every fine detail at home when he goes to his owners.
Almost a week in rescue....
Posted July 3, 2009 5:58 pm
...and Buster is doing great with his new training program. At times, he gets frustrated & angry when he is not getting his way, but overall he is responding very well. Here is Buster sulking in his crate, refusing to look at us. He's furious we made his crate pretty with a soft baby pink crate liner/bed. Apparently he does not thinks its his color!
Tiny, baby steps forward......
Posted July 2, 2009 5:49 pm
Buster had a great day today! Specifically, he spent 3 hours out of his crate today and took a 20 minute walk without incident. He let me wipe him down and wipe his butt after he pooped. I feel really sorry for him. He reminds us of Cartman from South Park. We had a female visitor and Buster was very well behaved. As our visitor entered the house, Buster took it upon himself to immediately roll on his side and back extending a very warm welcome. He greeted our visitor with such great behavior and he was generously rewarded with lots of praise and belly rubs! We really pushed him with lots of different gestures and physical manipulations and only managed to get two snaps from him, nothing too severe. He must learn that biting and snapping are not effective ways to communicate. Buster was allowed to spend 3 hours outside his crate attached to me. He was returned to his crate while I cooked and ate. He ate his dinner in his new position, resting gently on his side while eating from my hand.
Buster was so good that he earned 30 minutes of TV time with the "pack". He immediately tried to get on the bed, but accepted the floor with a very, very mild correction. I really do think that a key factor to Buster's rehabilitation is safe handling. Knowing what will cause him to react, and controlling the environment so these situations do not occur. Dangerous dog are unpredictable. Predictable dogs are not dangerous because you know exactly how they will react. If they bite, it is the handlers fault for not controlling the environment. We need to start treating Buster as a predictable, aggressive dog, for their safety and Busters'. I do believe that Buster can be returned to his family and be a loving, productive member of the household, however, his owners NEED to learn the tools necessary to safely deal with him. We are actively searching for a trainer/behaviorist that can support Buster's parents upon his return home.
Day 2 in Rescue
Posted July 1, 2009 10:23 am
Buster is adjusting well to doggie boot camp. Today we continued work on establishing pack order. Buster is taken out 3 times a day, with one of those times including an extended walk. It is very important that Buster have a 30 minute walk each day. He is overweight and definitely needs the exercise. Walks can be an enjoyable adventure if Buster accepts and trusts the leadership of his humans. Buster must sit and wait for a release command, (I have been using "OK") before he enters or exits the house. He must urinate before we begin our walk and again, he is given the command, "Go to the Bathroom" and praised when he completes his duty. We work on "Walk In" and "Walk Out". It is my recommendation that when Buster returns home, he not be just let into the yard to do his business, that is giving him unearned free time. Rather, he should be put on a leash and given his potty command. Unleashed free time in the yard should only be given as a reward.
I also introduced him to the dominate down. He almost nailed me in the elbow when I initially took him off his feet, but he did not struggle at all. He was quiet and accepting. He was rewarded with a massage and treats while he was down. He was rewarded with dinner when he was released.
(NOTE: THIS IS NOT AN ALPHA ROLL!!! ALPHA ROLLING A DOMINATE DOG CAN BE DANGEROUS AND SHOULD NOT BE DONE BY JUST ANYONE. IF EXECUTED, IT MUST BE UNDER WARRANTED CIRCUMSTANCES.) "Dominate Down" should be a calming exercise where the dog is gently placed on his side. The handler kneels on the floor with the dog standing sideways in front of him. The handler reaches their arms under the dog and grabs the front and back legs that are touching the handlers thighs. The dog is then gently slid down the knees and held in position by his back legs. He is held that way silently until he is compliant/does not struggle. When he is laying quietly on his side and not trying to get up, he is praised, given a belly rub and released. This is a great tool to use for vetting the dog. The aggressive dog can be controlled by the owner without the use of a muzzle and the vet can safely examine and treat the dog. This should be done daily with puppies until they consistently are accepting of it, then intermittently. IT IS NOT A PUNISHMENT!!! DO NOT USE THE DOMINATE DOWN ON OLDER DOGS OR AGGRESSIVE DOGS WITHOUT THE SUPERVISION OF A TRAINER. YOU WILL GET BIT!
Buster was allowed out of the crate for 3 hours today, time he spent attached to me via the umbilical cord, "his leash". It will be my recommendation that Buster spend his time out of his crate attached to the lady of his home for a minimum of two weeks.
Also, Buster has been learning to eat his food with my hands in his bowl, attached to me while being pet. He needs to learn that if hands come close to his bowl or he is touched when he is eating, it does not mean you are taking his food away. (Please don't take a dogs dinner away to establish leadership, you have given him his food because he EARNED it, if he thinks you are a threat to his food, he is more apt to bite you when you come close to him and is likely to become more possessive!)
Sit & Stay
Posted June 30, 2009 5:22 pm
Even basic obedience training, reinforcing commands such as "sit" and "stay", are an integral part of Buster's rehab.