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  #1  
Old 04-03-2014, 02:38 AM
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Default Ponyo & Liaka

I don't know why the Rottweiler didn't attack Ponyo.

In my mind's eye I can still see the 100 lb Rottweiler bending to sniff Ponyo's outstretched groin at the gate, Ponyo following her and smelling her in turn.

I had no idea how close we were to tragedy.

But maybe, we weren't as close as we thought?

I bathe at an "open concept" grooming salon, in a place where "the pack mentality" helps nervous or new dogs acclimate more easily to the uncomfortable process. Therefore, the dogs all hang out with eachother on the floor (with owner consent.) If a dog is socialized enough, grooming at our salon becomes more like daycare... with a few hours of grooming in between. I believe it's a wonderful way to help dogs enjoy their stay with us. When a dog is among others that are calm and friendly, he will adjust and even learn new manners. That is our mission.

Sometimes owners still want our quality, but their dogs are not friendly, and in fact, are aggressive toward other dogs. We solve this problem by moving the pack, ALL of them... which is a fun exercise in itself, to another safe place or kennels while we maneuver the aggressive dog (always on leash) into a kennel (for arrival, for bathing, and finally for grooming; we repeat this process.) We do our best as professionals to understand dog phsycology and give our best to all our clients, working with "trouble" dogs and seperating and monitoring others who can't be in a "pack" without dominating or attacking. It is this way in boarding facilities and vets, and our business has run in this successful fashion for over 40 years. I am so proud to work in a place that understands "the pack" and most of our dogs respond magically to our methods. Except extremes. Except Liaka.

I arrived early this morning with Ponyo in tow, making sure to potty her first before we went in and set up the bathing room. Ponyo loves the mornings; She's free to frolic about the shop and most of our groomers will work with her one on one, feeding her treats and working on her obedience and socialization while I'm indisposed. A new groomer opened today, and in strolled Liaka and her owner.

Now, I love Rottweilers. Liaka knows this. I've worked with her many times and she is a total sweetheart... where people are concerned. That's the funny thing about dog aggressive dogs. They are exceedingly sweet to humans, but will attack another dog on site. Liaka is that dog. She will go for any dog she's near. I was back making shampoo, Ponyo frolicking accordingly, when I heard the doorbell and a man talking with Jenny (our new groomer.) I heard the man (who has payed VET BILLS to other dog owners for the attacks Liaka has done) say "HI LITTLE DOG!" to Ponyo as he shoved Liaka into our grooming room and left; No appointment, no warnings to this new girl that Liaka is dog aggressive... nothing. Without an appointment, Jenny had no time to look up this Rottweiler's card. So in she came.

All of a sudden here comes a Rottweiler and Ponyo, running to the back bathing room to see me! I looked down and saw a Rottweiler, NOT ATTACKING Ponyo, I thought, "Well, isn't that interesting! A new Rottweiler!" It couldn't have possibly been Liaka, the only Rottweiler we groom. She attacks dogs through the kennel when she's there. She's caused notable damage and her owner knows it. This happy, friendly Rottweiler couldn't be who I thought she was, especially if my 3.5 lb Chihuahua was in between her legs, smelling her and leading her about! "Hello, I'm Ponyo! Here's my mom, here's the back... Oh! Here comes people! Let's go see!"

Curious, and wanting to begin my bathing day, I walked up front as I eyed Ponyo and and this "new" dog commune, Ponyo submitting nicely to the Rottweiler's nose as they circled and wagged. By this time, there were other clients in the lobby letting their dogs into the shop to begin our day.
"I take it this Rottweiler is first for a bath?" I asked, walking up between the girls, "Who is this new girl?"
"Liaka," Jenny replied hurriedly as she opened the gate to let in the arriving clients, "but I don't think she's new."

My brain clicked.
Liaka.
Jenny let the new dogs in.
Liaka attacked.

Liaka immediately (and without provocation) threw herself onto the next dog to come through the gate with a throaty gurgle, sinking her teeth into the older Border Collie mix that had the misfortune of being first in. Snarling and lunging with all the serious intent I finally remembered, I frantically latched myself onto Liaka's collar as Ponyo made a bee line to her kennel.

I couldn't believe it.
It was Liaka. I should have known.
Why didn't she attack Ponyo? The most "prey" looking of any dog?

Jenny was frantic. After we managed to pull Liaka off of Sydney (the border mix,) I tried my best to show the other clients in the lobby that this was "no big deal" as I held Liaka by the collar and jiggled her around, calming her, saying "Alright, Big Girl, alright. Calm down. Alright." I just wanted the other clients to see we had things under control.

I put Liaka up.
By the time I looked down at my hands, they were shaking.

Why didn't Liaka attack my 3.5 lb Chihuahua?! They were getting along SO WELL I actually thought Liaka was a different dog.

When my boss and the other groomer arrived, they were in tears.
"I want to throw up," Val said as she squeezed Ponyo in her arms, "I want to throw up. Liaka could have killed her."

Needless to say, we banned Liaka (we found puncture wounds on Sydney and told her owners.) Liaka and her owner were long time clients, but something had changed along the way, and today... it was too much. Especially since he was so ignorant. He did NOT have an appointment and DID NOT tell Jenny that Liaka has had a very serious history (VET BILLS!!!) of dog aggression. That type of ignorance and stupidity doesn't deserve the quality and care we give our clients. Needless to say we were all EXTREMELY upset that Liaka's ignorant owner opened the gate and let Liaka into our open concept shop without informing the obviously new girl. Ponyo could have been killed.

But the question remains: If Liaka attacks every other dog, why not Ponyo?

As we sat around cuddling Ponyo and thanking our lucky stars that somehow she wasn't prey, it got me thinking: Why are dogs aggressive to one another? Is it "rudeness?" Is it fear? It obviously isn't size and looks! Ponyo is 3.5 lbs. She would be an easy target. But what makes a dog a target to another dog?

Ponyo lived today because of the tools I've instilled in her, and I'm so proud. Ponyo knows her dog manners in and out, and I try my best to train her in the situations I ask her to be in. And I think it saved her life. It is so important that, when you ask a dog to be a part of your human life, you prepare them for every situation that comes with it. Dogs, people, cars, trash, radios, doorbells, leashes and wildlife; If you give your dog the proper tools, they'll always be safe.
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  #2  
Old 04-25-2014, 01:42 AM
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Maybe Ponyo gave out calm non-threatening vibes? Guessing your training did save her. I see from your sig line pic that you have a big dog too. Ponyo knows how to handle them?
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Old 04-25-2014, 04:22 AM
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Wow! What a story!!! Glad of the outcome, and I agree with banning Laika. Stupid owner too! Who would do that with the history of this dog????
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  #4  
Old 04-25-2014, 12:27 PM
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Ponyo actually got attacked the next day by a new dog. But yes. The dog was banned.
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  #5  
Old 04-25-2014, 02:56 PM

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I would love to get more advice on socializing our chis for other dogs. Mickey is such a good boy in every way, EXCEPT meeting other dogs. I have no knowledge on this and would sure like to hear your ideas. Thanks!
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Old 04-25-2014, 11:33 PM
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Hey Zell,

The key is letting your Chi be around other VERY respectful dogs where you AND Mickey know for sure he has the room to make social mistakes and NOT be corrected. Some really nice easy going dogs that will either ignore him or smell non-invasively. It's hard to find a situation like that. That's why I'm sad I left the shop.

I've been looking more into "Little Dog Meet Ups" in my area, and going to an obedience class can help alleviate his concerns about dogs being around him. Most unsocialized dogs just feel pressure because they WANT to interact, but don't know how or have had a bad experience. Best advice I can give is a group of low energy respectful dogs who can give Mickey the room to explore and make mistakes... but you have to help him through it!

Some socialization rules:
-Just being around low energy, playful, distracted dogs (NOT a dog park) at first will help Mickey associate being around dogs as "no pressure." He doesn't HAVE to interact, he doesn't HAVE to assert himself. Try to be really happy that he's there. Politely tell owners (and shoo away over excited dogs) that he's in training and needs confidence. Mickey will feel much safer when he knows YOU will regulate for him first, giving him space to learn.

-If Mickey doesn't already know obedience, teach him. Teaching dogs things helps build confidence. In this way, you can ask the same thing of a group of dogs and they will know what you're asking, solidifying secure knowledge of expectations.

-Face to face is never a good way to meet. If Mickey is insecure, get down on the floor with him around the new dogs, and if a new dog is curious about Mickey (and it is a RESPECTFUL dog) turn his butt toward the new dog and just let that new dog sniff it for a few seconds. Then shoo the dog away. Show Mickey that "butt sniffs" is how you meet, but in the end you will protect him and he doesn't need to assert himself for his own space.

-If you can, try to engage the other dogs in training. That has helped my Ponyo by leaps and bounds. She's allowed to sit back, no pressure, while I ask the other dogs to sit, stay, ect. With Chihuahuas, instinct to show off and be loved will usually shine through once they see how happy the other dogs are making you by acting calm and responding to tricks! That way, he can see that, even though there's other dogs around, being social doesn't have to be the focus, and it will relieve pressure.
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  #7  
Old 04-25-2014, 11:54 PM

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Awesome info! Thanks. We got to be around a nice, respectful and gentle dog while visiting our grandkids last week. Their new dog was perfect. She just ignored Mickey's confrontational actions and the they started to really enjoy each other. I think they may have slept with each other, had we not had Mickey in our bed at night. I appreciate you taking the time to write you ideas.
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  #8  
Old 04-26-2014, 01:16 AM
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My theory is that maybe it was because she is small. Dogs are dog aggressive out of fear. A rottweiler is unlikely to see a 3 lb dog as a threat. I had a 50 lb mutt for 17 years and she was extremely aggressive to other dogs her size or bigger but totally placid with dogs smaller than her.
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