• Michael D’Abruzzo

    February 4, 2022 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Pablo,

    Thank you for being so gracious. I encourage everyone to be super sensitive on the forums since it is an educational site and I never want anyone to discourage anyone from helping or asking for help. I especially do not want YOU to be discouraged since your case is gold for learning and can help anyone who reads. Every trainer will eventually meet a dog like that case if they are in the trenches long enough. Fortunately, it doesn’t happen that often, and you certainly didn’t fail any dogs or people.

    The good thing about the site is that it is specifically focused on learning how to do things “foundation style” for those that are here to learn the standards so it is generally easy to stay on the same page when that is the focus.

    Here are some things to answer some questions and also address other points that I hope are helpful, but first I want to thank you for making this post, because all of the discussion is super helpful for everyone that gets to also learn from your difficult case. And just to put you at ease, in my opinion there is no trainer, that does not turn their back on certain aggression cases that will not lose dogs occasionally. Our number one responsibility as a professional is to keep the clients safe, and we do our best to save every dog. But whether or not it is possible with the individual dog, owner, and situation is complicated. We are trusted to help with those difficult decisions and put “success rate” second. Any trainer that has a 100% success rate either turns away jobs or just hasnt done it long enough yet.

    I was devastated the first time I lost a dog. But, you will see that when you are trying your best, and being honest about the things we can control vs not control, you will eventually feel best about yourself by keeping the most amount of people safe, while saving the most dogs lives possible through good triage. Then, you will see you will ultimately have a very very very high “save” percentage versus the trainers that dont even bother trying to consult with difficult cases or put the dogs and people in dangerous situations.

    Here are some points to address:

    • “I was just trying to point the fact that usually no one can tell what’s wrong with a dog without having the chance to at least look some footage of it.”

    We can relate this to a veterinarian that didn’t see what happened, nor did a brain scan, nor likely reference any research. The vet likely did the best they could based off of their own experience with dogs of similar histories. Since veterinary science is such a broad area of study, it is safe to assume that the majority of veterinarians did not specialize in behavior or stay current on the fine details of aggression, although there are vets out there that do.

    It is rarely advisable or even necessary for a veterinarian or trainer to recreate a dangerous situation to see it with our own eyes, so taking a GOOD DETAILED history of the events leading up to the incident is super important for us to do the best that we can to make an educated diagnosis and in my opinion is pretty accurate most of the time.

    A couple of the posters (Allie and Judy) are certified Foundation Style Dog Trainers, and were working their way up the triangle in the way they were trained and evaluating the dog profile and history leading up the incident and showing the most likely diagnosis based off of what we can verify through reference. So, that was just a standard way of helping with a case.

    For instance, even though, I have known a lot of veterinarians refer to aggression issues as neurologic, in vast majority of the cases you wil see definbitely triggers and similar profiles that lead to “dominance aggression with skipping steps in the aggression cycle”.

    If there is research out there, that can explain the neurologic side to it and can help with a treatment plan I will definitely post it. It is good for us to DIG and always search for more. Did you know we now have a veterinarian on the team to specifically help with finding anything up to date? I will talk about soon probably on Saturday.

    • “What I don’t understand is why the same dog presented a submissive behavior several times when I corrected him before in very similar scenarios with other dogs or even with people.”

    The “Schenkel on Submission” stream is great for this. It is definitely possible to win a physical contest (with submissive postures included) without achieving a long term “formal dominance” relationship, especially if we are talking about a short time period.

    Did you ever hear of anyone talk about the “Honeymoon period” with a new dog? This is the period where the dogs are in a new environment and there is much for the dog to figure out and observe. The “dominance aggression blue print stream” goes more into this, although I am not sure if specifically i use the term “honey moon” period in the stream.

    • “from my experience but most of the dogs I worked with, when they tried to attack me because of a dominance issue, they never went to kill.”

    What you experienced with this last case is not that common but these dogs are definitely out there.

    Some of your experienced MAY have been “fear aggression” if it was occurring mainly soon after you obtained the dog. For instance when I was doing lots of in-kennel aggression cases, id usually where a bite suit and/or have the dog dropped off already wearing a muzzle so if the dog wanted to attack me simply because i was new and it was fear based i used to just calmly use leash ninja and keep walking and hanging out with the dog all day until they saw i wasnt looking for a fight.

    Or could have been “dominance aggression” without skipping steps in the aggression cycle. You will also get dogs that give fair warning (no skipping steps) but when they do attack it is relentless if they have very high fight drive an/or genetically show a propensity for high levels of dominance. I have lots of good stories too much to write here, but can talk on the Q&A about it.

    Other things are the nature of any correction. For instance prong collars in particular can add gasoline to the fire if a dog is already in “fight mode”, especially if the dog is not very “hard” to corrections and has high fight drive. It works to some dogs benefit in manwork.

    • “One thing that I didn’t mention but it also caught my attention is that when the dog was attacking me and I was struggling to control him another person got into my yard (my wife whom didn’t have contact with the dog yet) and she didn’t even approach but as soon as the dog saw her he tried to charged at her and then continued charging at me. So I’m guessing the dog wasn’t on predatory mode neither.”

    My guess is that the dog also wasn’t genetically very “clear headed” and once in fight mode had difficulty focusing. You see this a lot (i definitely experienced this with at dobie) with some dogs that are bred to get excited in sport work easily and not calm down easily so they will bark and get intense during long bark and holds, etc..

    What it comes down to is unfortunately some dogs are bred by breeders, either haphazzahrdly or with good intentions for a specific purpose that may work for a breeder, but when certain traits are too extreme you can get a dog that “unusable” and unsafe in most situations.

    For example you obviously couldnt have a police dog that turns on the handler and goes into bar room brawl mentality toward everything once it is triggered and also you cant have that tendency with the average pet owner who will never be able to avoid all triggers (as seems to be evident ny history with the past owner).

    I have a good friend that definitely owns and breeds guard dogs that I feel are unusable for most purposes and are more of a danger to the average owner then an animal that makes their life safer. But for him, and his specific situation, it fills his use and preference.

    I know this a long reply and not everything I am writing may apply to you, but my point is that aggression cases can be very complicated and there are many factors out of the control of the trainer that determines whether we can have a successful plan.

    You handled this case like a professional and are seeking to learn like all of us from the experience for the right reasons.