In The Blink of An Eye, Everything Can Change with Dogs
Posted at 02:50PM - Comments: (26)
In the past week, I’ve heard about the following life-changing events experienced by people (and dogs) I know:
A couple goes out for a walk with their year-old Border collie-mix. Suddenly, two dogs of an indeterminate bully-breed description launch themselves off a front porch and (since the house had no fence) attack their dog. Their screams summon the owner, who is able to grab his dogs and pull them off, but their dog is badly hurt and required immediate medical care (stitches, drains, antibiotics) and they are bruised. Now, their formerly friendly, confident dog starts trembling, raises her hair, and growls whenever she sees another dog when they are walking.
A young man takes his young dog to a dog park, and the dog enjoys running and playing with other dogs. As he is running at one point, though, another dog smashes into him at high speed – T-bone style – and he goes down screaming, and gets up on three legs. His owner has to lift him above a pack of other dogs who are drawn and aroused by the yelping and screaming. Even after he is carried out of the park and put into his car, he shrieks in pain and fear. Now he, too, starts growling, raises his hackles, and tries to hide or flee when he sees other dogs running toward him.
A mom takes the family dog to a Little League game to watch from the edge of the field in a large park. She has the dog on a leash – well, not exactly, a retractable lead. Not far away, there is a large group celebrating an event with a barbecue, music . . . and firecrackers. The family dog panics at the crackling, popping sounds, pulls the plastic handle out of the mom’s hands, and starts to run away. The dog is further frightened by being “chased” by the plastic handle of the leash, which scrapes and drags on concrete behind him, and crashes into his back legs. He runs blindly across a busy four-lane road, almost getting hit by one car and causing another one to nearly crash to avoid him. When the mom (and half the Little League team) manages to catch him, he’s shaking and terrified. And now, he starts shaking any time the family goes to that park, or he hears the “crack” of baseball bats (present at the time of that traumatic event), or when he hears anything like a firecracker.
A couple and their two-year-old son are visiting friends, who are expecting a baby of their own. The friends have a small friendly dog, a Maltese-mix. At one point during the visit, the dog approaches the two-year-old as he is playing on the floor with some plastic Lego-type toys, and without warning, the two-year-old smacks the dog on the face, HARD, with one of the toys. Now the dog growls at small children.
In every instance, there were things the owner could have done differently to avoid the incident that happened. But each of these events also could have gone perfectly well, and in fact, had gone well many times prior. And in each case, the owners are going to need to alter their “usual” routines to avoid triggering their dog’s new fearful behavior while they embark on a new training and behavior modification program that involves counter-conditioning, in an effort to help the dog get over his or her fear.
Has something like this ever happened to your dog? How long did it take for your dog to recover from the trauma?