cody bear's friends

“reactive” dogs can be friends, too…very good friends
May 26, 2008, 4:43 pm
Filed under: animals, chow chow, dogs, friends, mutts, pets | Tags: , , , , , ,

my dog has a boy crush and i think it’s so sweet.  he loves bravo…

bravo belongs to one of my best friends who happens to be a dog trainer.  she specializes in “reactive dogs”; dogs that are fearful, aggressive, …reactive.  some are reactive to people, bikes, kids specifically, other dogs, or cats, etc.  she adopted bravo from a shelter after he had already been passed around from home to home. you see, he was a fighter. big time.  and he had a scary style, he would literally hold the dog’s head between his front paws and bite.  years later, he is mellow and reliable and tolerant.  even irritating puppies don’t get him riled up.

she got him this far without yelling, hitting, choke chains, electric colors.  she got him here with one clicker and a bottomless treat bag of cheese.

enter cody bear.  when i first got him he was such a baby bear.  all fluff and shy. so mellow.  but that soon ended.  he was great with dogs at home: he loved all of our foster dogs….even the psychotic one.  he liked my friend’s dogs.  but, when we were out on walks or at a park he was very tense and if the dogs got too close he would freak out.  especially if they were off leash and he was on leash.  (in the past year sinnnnce his training, he has been attacked 3 times by a dog off leash while we were on a walk and he was on a leash. on one of those he was hurt badly and on another i was hurt.)

SIDE NOTE: it has been hard for me dealing with some of cody bear’s behaviors because so many people have said about various breeds, “it’s not the dog, it’s the owner.”  how else would you explain how such a sweet puppy could turn into such an angry and hyper dog.   he still is sweet.  my previous dog loved all dogs. not until she got sick the last year of her life did her behavior change.  she snapped at a lab and at a friend’s dog’s nose:  that was the first sign she was in pain she never recovered from, and that was enough for folks at the dog park to say loki was mean.  it hurt.

but, some of cody’s breed traits were starting to pop out, despite the fact that i was trying to raise him with love and with confidence.  after a few bad attacks while he was a puppy, one of them having his head raped by a bull dog (good god!) , one having the skin of his nose sheered off by a golden retriever…well,….let’s just say he became very fearful of dogs and his fight or flight characteristics were strong.  compound this with a serious health problem that was effecting his behavior and not diagnosed yet.  it was a bad mix.  poor guy.

so, i took him to my friend.  and to sum it up, while i will always have to work with him, and he may have momentary regressions, most people don’t even know his past.  the past where i couldn’t walk him one block without him going berserk and not even knowing i was attached to him.  we took the reactive dog class.  it was a bunch of work, but you could see it making a difference.  it was clicker training and changing their associations with dogs from negative to positive.  it was teaching them to focus on you no matter how scary the stuff around you was.  i was so proud of him. i could see him gaining confidence!  when dogs would bark at him, he would not only not bark, he would look at me! i could see him DECIDING not to bark!

i also worked on a huge stress reduction plan with him:  i identified locations where he seemed scared and others where he felt safe.  what made him happiest? i read books on canine stress and had him on this crazy stress reduction regime (which included me monitoring my stress so he wouldn’t feed off it)….it worked!

on a side note, i believe the focus cody bear gained in this very important class has actually helped him become an amazing dog to do trick training with and agility training.  not only is he having to be confident on new equipment, he is having to do it with confidence in me that the other 5 or 6 dogs running around off leash aren’t going to kill him.  but he stays focused.

here he is with his friend hannah…

i would take him to my friend’s house, where there are always at least her 3 dogs and a few more.  everyone but bravo would crowd him.  they would sniff him and follow him, but he just wanted to be left alone at first.  once he was allowed to run around, sniff, learn the territory, then it was ok to play with everyone.  bravo gave him his space.

sometimes play would get really loud between a couple of the dogs and that would scare cody bear.  he seemed to find comfort standing next to bravo.  bravo only played with his kong.  bravo doesn’t fight, but when someone is irritating to him, he communicates and they listen.  cody bear is the only dog he doesn’t “communicate” this to.  the minute cb sees bravo he is like a puppy ….in love.  to him, bravo is the circus, the world’s most amazing squeaky toy, and the biggest hollywood celebrity all rolled into one.  he makes a complete fool of himself pouncing and circling and kissing.  and bravo just soaks it in.  “yes cody bear, i know you love me.”

i do get scared every now and then that cody might push him too far.  it makes no sense: in a room full of ten dogs, these too are the least likely to be friends.  maybe they understand each other.  or maybe bravo knows cody is scared and wants to show him it’s safe.  maybe they’re in a secret support group for recovering barky dogs.  or, maybe….cody bear has a little boy crush….


4 Comments so far
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I can’t remember exactly what Cody Bear and I were talking about, but from our expressions it must have been something we didn’t want Mom to hear.

Comment by Hannah

[…] a mentioned a few posts ago…cody bear has trust issues with dogs. […]

Pingback by cody bear walks the “mean streets” « cody bear’s friends

[…] favorite dogs.  if you would like to learn about why he’s so special you can click here for details.  but to some it up…he is the ying to my cody bears yang.  we both love this […]

Pingback by bravo! - daily photo « Blog Archive « DOG DAILY PHOTO

Great pictures of the dogs. I love animals

Comment by cheater321

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