"Bark 'n' Scratch"

Volume II - Issue 22:  June 18, 2004
Published by:
Christopher Aust, Master Trainer

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In Today's Issue ...

=>  Just Visiting? Please Subscribe Here.  ->
=>  Christopher's Drool
=>  Target Aggression
=>  Mail Bag
=>  Recommended Stuff
=>  Top 10 Reasons a Dog's Haircut Costs More Than Yours

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Christopher's Drool

Hi Folks!

Last week I mentioned Bear, the Sheltie I featured back at Christmas, had gone to his new home. Well, I was very pleased to hear from his new owner who let me know how well he is doing. She sent some photos too but I didn't have time to size them in time for the newsletter.

This dog epitomizes not only the spirit of the breed but also rescue dogs in general. Often people tell me they are a little concerned about getting a rescue or even a special needs dog. I always refer them to the story of this incredible dog. He has brought joy to so many people and is a credit to all who were instrumental in his rehabilitation.

Well, the Paws for Change web site is up and running with new additions coming almost daily. We have some new Founding Members who will have their profiles up shortly. My thanks to them for their dedication to the organization. Stop by in a few days and check them out.

We have been receiving some good support from many of the members here and have had some say they wish they could do more. Don't sweat it. I know you are doing all you can and it is so dearly appreciated. Now, with only 191 days until Christmas, we have another way you can help support the foundation and fulfill the Christmas dreams of your loved ones. (My goodness, I am shameless.)

Stop by the PFC store when you check out the site. We have doggie shirts, t-shirts, golf shirts, hats you name it. Everything to get the perfect gift for those discriminating individuals on your Christmas list. Go check it out.


Okay, that's it for today. I'm outta here!


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We got a male Sheltie back in January we plan to breed with our female. He was owned by a friend of mine who has teenaged children before we got him.

At first he seemed perfect with my five-year old daughter but he has started to give her this “look” and now is showing his teeth and growling. She is very loving towards him and we don't want to give him up. What should I do?

Name Withheld

Target Aggression

Aggression of any kind is a serious issue but one that can be usually over come with time and patience. We have to decide whether we are willing to put in the time to work out the behavior vs. the potential risk. While I have worked aggression out of many dogs, if you feel your daughter is in imminent danger, the best thing you can do is place the dog somewhere.

There are several types of aggression. Some dogs are aggressive to everyone other than their owners. Some are aggressive only towards men/women. Occasionally, they will pick one individual or thing that triggers their aggression. When this happens, we are observing Target Aggression.

If you decide to work with the dog, there are a couple of things you can do. Please keep in mind your daughter will be playing a big part in the process and will need to be able to understand what's going on.

I have a five-year old daughter who has been raised around many dogs and understands not to exhibit fear, etc. Not all five year olds are the same so we have to be realistic when we about think about this. If you are not reasonably confident, error on the side of caution and place the dog somewhere. When it comes to aggression, people always come first.

Crash Socialization

One option I utilize is Crash Socialization. In fact, this could be the safest option to consider. It is a little time inclusive but will usually produce good results.

Crash Socialization isn't quite what it sounds. "Crash" doesn't mean fast. Crash means we completely break down and reform the dog's idea of social structure, capitalizing on and manipulating a dog's instinct/need to be social. While it isn't an overnight process it is quick when we consider the dog has developed his idea of social structure and dominance over a 2 year period.

You would start by finding someplace close by where the dog can stay on a temporary basis. It should be close enough to drive to at least once daily. It will also be important for the people there to be knowledgeable of the plan and be willing to adhere to the process. If they deviate, even with the best of intentions, the process will crumble.

The location should be a place where the dog can either be placed in a kennel, and/or be isolated from other dogs and people except for the purposes of sanitation. If you have a kennel at your home you could do it there. The dog should be able to have plenty of sunlight.

The dog should not be acknowledged by anyone except your daughter with the exception of general commands for clean-up etc. and only when absolutely necessary. No "Hi baby," or sweet talk from the adults. Commands, when given should be monotone, with no eye contact, no praise and again only if absolutely necessary.

Day 1

The dog should be isolated for 24 hours before he sees your daughter again.

Days 2-3

Have her go and sit where the dog can see her, but can't actually reach her. If the dog is in a kennel, have her sit right outside the gate. The dog should not be able to see you but you should be where you can control the situation.

Have her sing a little nursery rhyme or tell her favorite story to the dog making no direct eye contact. If she has started to read she can read a favorite story. She should do so softly and calmly. If the dog shows no aggressive behavior after five minutes she should give him a little treat, lots of praise and walk out of his field of vision.

If the dog shows ANY aggression, barking with direct eye contact, baring of teeth or growling, she should tell the dog, “No,” and walk away. She can then return after about 15 minutes and repeat the process. This should be repeated until you have three successful trials in a row. Once you have the three in a row, have her feed the dog and leave for the day. Remember, you aren't to acknowledge the dog for any reason.

Days 4-5

This is basically a repeat of days two and three only we are going to double the time spent with the dog and have her introduce a command or two.

As she prepares to leave the dog after a successful trial, she should show the treat and tell the dog to "sit." If the dog doesn't sit, she should say, "No," firmly and walk away. This should continue until you achieve three successful trials, with the proper response to the command. After three, she should leave for at least several hours or the rest of the day. Feed the dog after the last session of the day.

Establishing Proper Pack Protocol and Position. (PPPP)

No matter what process you use, establishing proper pack protocol and position is critical whenever we own a dog, whether other dogs are present or not. I'll give you the Readers Digest version of why and how it applies to Targeted Aggression.

First, there is a huge difference between instinct, learned behavior and predisposed behavior. All affect PPPP. There are also several misconceptions out there about what an Alpha is and the way an Alpha should act. Lets look at instinct and behavior types first.


Often we use the word "instinct" to describe what are actually, learned behavior or predisposed behaviors. For instance, communication is an instinct in dogs and humans regardless of breed, race, sex, etc. However, the method/language used to communicate is a learned behavior. All dogs, regardless of their breed have the same instincts. Some instincts have different degrees of relevance in different breeds, but they are present in all dogs regardless.

Predisposed Behavior

Predisposed behavior is behavior that develops as a result of breeding and has little to do with instinct. For instance, children of alcoholics are said to be predisposed to become alcoholics. This doesn't mean they will become alcoholics, it just means there is a greater degree of probability they will, as opposed to the child of a non-alcoholic.

On the dog side, the Bloodhound is said to be one of the finest tracking dogs in the world. However, I have seen more than one Bloodhound that couldn't find its own handler at the end of the leash. The same applies to herding dogs. Most believe a good herding dog needs to be a barker. Therefore when they breed their dogs to be herders they tend to breed the noisier ones. This increases the chance the pups will exhibit the desired behaviors the breeder was looking for, but doesn't guarantee every pup WILL be a barker. This is where Learned Behavior can play a hand.

Learned Behavior

Lets use barking again as an example. If my pup is predisposed to be a barker but isn't, they can be taught to bark relatively easily by the parents or owners. On the flip side, we can teach a dog that is not predisposed to bark to bark if we put the effort into it. It was the instinct of my children to communicate. However they were taught English therefore, the fact they speak English is a Learned Behavior. See what I mean?

PPPP and the Alpha Role

Okay, so what the heck does all this have to do with PPPP and the Alpha role? Everything!

The Alpha, in wild dog packs, is generally the strongest male. This is not always true as I have seen some packs where a female ruled supreme. While this is rare, what made the difference is the pack operates for the whole, and if a female is best suited to rule the roost, then so be it as long as the needs of the pack are met. It is a cooperative effort where the whole is more important than the individual. Something we as humans seem to have lost.

When problems erupt in a wild dog pack, it is not the Alpha who generally handles it. The lower ranking members do. If they are unable, then the Alpha will move in and keep the peace. Beyond that, the Alpha generally has a "lieutenant" or "protégé" who will step in first.

In wild dog packs, any dog can make his way to the top. In the family pack, this is simply not an option. We can't have dogs taking positions over the human members of the pack. It's just not acceptable. Basically, we have one pack with a subculture. The dogs.

Now you have more than one dog, which means there are technically two Alphas. The Alpha of the entire family pack (you, your husband etc) and an Alpha of the dogs pack. What you have to establish is that the Alpha of the dog pack is inferior to the lowest member of the human portion of the pack.

Okay, how do we do that?

First, the two-legged members of the family must all be on the same page. There must be established rules that are never, for any reason, deviated from. If any member sees an unwanted behavior, it must be corrected. In your daughters' case, she should be supervised but give the corrective command herself even if you are the one to enforce.

Next, your male should be made to feel he has an exalted role in the family pack. This means he must be made first in all things.

Feed him before the others. This is consistent with proper pack protocol and as it should be in the eyes of the dogs. In fact, your male should go first in all things, from putting on the leash, to getting in the car. He should have treats first, be loved on first, you name it. In everything you do for your dogs, he should come first.

This is consistent with proper pack protocol and positioning.

As he realizes he has this position and the family enforces the "division" of the pack, he will most likely settle in to his personal role and be happy with it, providing everything is consistent.

Now the disclaimer ... I haven't seen your dog or been allowed to view the pack. If, for any reason you feel your daughter is in imminent danger, find him a new home. Do not take chances. I am very confident with my abilities and the belief I can turn any healthy dog around. However, if I thought there was an immediate danger to my child, that dog would be out of here, and fast.

This is a basic outline and one that can be tweaked. Keep careful notes and remember, no detail is too small.

Next week we'll take the process to the next level.

This article may be republished using the following attribution box:
Copyright ©2004 Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies
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If you think dogs can't count, try putting three dog biscuits in our pocket and then giving Fido only two of them.

~ Phil Pastoret ~

Mail Bag


Good job on this month's newletter. The joke was hilarious! The article on puppy-raising and Dobermans was supurb. Thanks for preparing this newsletter. It is much appreciated.

Hope you get a printer that works for you and doesn't screw up your computer!!



I am so glad that I have this. (Barking Article) I have two shelties. My little female has had some medical problems but is doing fine. We hope to keep her clear of stones and she is starting to get over her shyness. Because she was sick, it has taken a little longer than expected. Thank you for your site!


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Joke of the Week

Top 10 Reasons Your Dog's Haircut Costs More Than Yours

10. Your hairdresser doesn't wash and clean your rear-end

9. You don't go for weeks at a time without washing your hair

8. Your hairdresser doesn't give you a sanitary cut

7. Your hairdresser doesn't have to clean your ears

6. Your hairdresser doesn't have to remove the boogies from your eyes

5. You sit still for your hairdresser

4. Your haircut doesn't include a manicure or pedicure

3. Your hairdresser only washes the hair on your head

2. You don't try to bite or scratch your hairdresser

And the #1 reason your dog's haircut cost more than yours ...

The likelihood of you pooping or peeing while your hair is being cut is slim

* To submit your joke to us: Joke@Master-Dog-Training.com

Thank You For Reading!  Have a Terrific Week!

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The Legal Mumbo-Jumbo

The BARK 'n' SCRATCH Newsletter is published by Christopher Aust Copyright © 2004 All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted without the express written consent of the publisher or contributors.

We accept no responsibility for your use of any contributed information contained herein. All of the information presented in BARK 'n' SCRATCH is published in good faith. Any comments stated in this newsletter are strictly the opinion of the writer or publisher.

We reserve the right to edit and make suitable for publication, if necessary, any articles published in this newsletter. We reserve the right to publish all reader comments, including the name of the writer.

Christopher Aust, Master Dog Trainer & Creator:
The Natural Cooperative Training System (NCTS) for Dogs
The Instinctual Development System (IDS) for Puppies

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