Australian Shepherd Dog: Behavioral Evaluation – Phoenix Dog Training – Dog Trainer – Behaviorist

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Sam Basso
PHOENIX , AZ AREA: (602) 708-4531
OR, if you are out of this area, inquire about a telephone or e-Lesson
Email: [email protected]

I received a call yesterday from a man who lives out of state. They are moving to Arizona soon, and wanted help regarding their Australian Shepherd Dog.

When he first called, I wasn’t available to pick up the call, so it went into voicemail. About 5 minutes later, I retrieved his message and called him back.

He is planning on moving to the Phoenix area in the next couple of weeks, and was concerned about how he was going to be able to integrate his dog into the move.

The problem is that his dog is aggressive, very aggressive, towards strangers and other dogs, which isn’t characteristic of this breed. So, I spent about 40 minutes on the phone, gathering a pretty complete background history of this dog, from the date they adopted him until today. They adopted the dog at 6 weeks of age, and did the normal things you do with a dog. They hired a professional dog trainer to help them set up a house training program. They socialized the dog pretty heavily, and have been good to the dog. The dog only started acting aggressively at about a year old, and prior to that was a friendly dog. On the other hand, they never did any kind of formal obedience with the dog.

Today, the dog is very good with him and his wife, but dangerous to most other people and other dogs. They have a veterinarian that the dog likes back home. They have a doggie daycare that they use where the dog is fine. But, when they go for walks with the dog, it will alert on strangers and strange dogs, even at a distance. A friendly stranger can’t approach them without the dog trying to attack. They also can’t let strangers into the home without putting the dog away. He will definitely attack. In addition, some people he likes, and others he doesn’t like.

All of that becomes an even bigger problem once they move here. They need a new veterinarian. They need a new doggie daycare. And they want to try and solve what is going on so that the dog is more manageable in public, and so that guests can enter the home without having to isolate the dog. This dog will, apparently, attack guests in the home.

After a long discussion, I had a pretty good idea of what was going on, and I gave the owner some suggestions on some initial homework. He said that he had spoken to two other trainers, and neither one had suggested some of the things I had come up with. So, he agreed to collect the requested information. He also wants, once they move here, for me to do an in-person evaluation of their dog, and then give them ideas on what could be done.

This kind of case is often pretty complicated. There is more to the story than what I’ve told you here. At this point, I have some theories on what might be going on with the dog, but I can’t tell any more now without seeing the dog, and then testing my hypotheses. I also want to see what comes back from the homework I assigned. Usually these situations need some serious untangling, and they have to be looked at from all sides. It isn’t appropriate for any trainer, with a phone call, to just offer a fixed training program and then promise that they can guarantee the dog will turn out like Lassie when it is all over. That would be like a doctor giving you a diagnosis over the phone without ever meeting the patient… a great way for the doctor to lose their license to practice medicine. The same kind of negligence in a dog trainer would be bad for their reputation. It is greedy to take money for a fixed training program from someone like this, and promise guaranteed results, without ever seeing or working with their dog. There is no way to know at this point. Someone has to work with this dog and figure out why the dog is doing all of this, and suggest a sound program to try and make this situation turn around.

In a couple of weeks we’ll see what is going on.

I didn’t charge for my time. I haven’t met the dog yet, nor have I done any lessons. I wanted to get to know what the problem was, and once I can complete an in-person evaluation, then the normal rates will apply. But, first things first. They need to do their homework, they need to move here, and we need to set up a time for the evaluation.