The Case of the Fearful Dog
(The kind of dog you DON’T want to adopt)
– Phoenix Scottsdale AZ 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]

Here is an example of the kind of dog you DON’T want to adopt. There are many good lessons to be learned from bad situations like this. This is just tragic, and it makes me very sad for everyone involved. Kandra could be made to work in a handful of homes, but she’s not the kind of dog that rescue groups or animal shelters will accept. My comments are in the asterisks ****

Kandra will be the perfect dog in the right home.

**As you will see, this is NOT true. Kandra needs to be with an adults only home, willing to work with her issues.**

Kandra is about 3½ years old. We rescued her about 1½ years ago. As a puppy, she apparently received little or no attention, and spent all of her time in a backyard with a dominant older female Rottweiller, with whom she had to battle for food. As a result, by the time we got her she was extremely neglected and malnourished, and while she had a very sweet disposition she knew nothing about training, treats, or affection!

**Neglected puppies grow up to be fearful of those types of people, animals and situations that they weren’t exposed to. This kind of neglect wrecks a puppy. Imagine what would happen to a child if you put it in a closet for the first 14 years of its life? It would be permanently wrecked. It is also very harmful for a pup to be beaten up by another dog.**

In spite of her puppyhood, Kandra is the perfect dog 99.9% of the time! She is super affectionate, and loves gentle petting. She prefers to be near people at all times, and especially loves gentle ear scratching, tummy rubs, and snuggling right before bedtime. She sleeps on a dog bed on the floor in our bedroom.

**This dog, obviously, had some kind of human contact as a pup¦**

But while she has been best buddies with our Lab, about once every 2 weeks she will snap at or attack him in a dangerous manner. She is very dog aggressive, and any strange dog is potentially in danger. She is generally just fine with people (for example, a stranger can pet her while out on a walk). But she (very rarely) can snap momentarily at strange adults, which can be very frightening. In her limited exposure to children, she has been excellent. (There was a small child at Kandra’s puppy home.) Nonetheless, we think it might be best if she had a home with no other pets or small children. (We are expecting our first child. While we trust Kandra, and think that “ if anything “ she would be protective of a small child in the home, we feel it would be irresponsible to take even the smallest chance with a baby. A hard decision!)

**This pup had to compete with a Rottweiler bully, so it has learned to fight. Oftentimes these fighting situations can be fixed… I’ve done it many times. This dog is also fearful of strange dogs, because of a lack of proper early socialization experiences with other dogs. Dogs can become permanently fearful and/or aggressive towards other dogs if they lack early socialization to other dogs when they are under 16 weeks of age. This also applies to dogs that weren’t sufficiently socialized with a wide variety of people at an early age. This can make the dog extremely dangerous around children. These people are getting rid of the dog because they fear that it would attack their baby; and I would be concerned about this as well. I don’t know the dog, so I have to assume worst case scenario. On the other hand, the dog has just “snapped”, meaning the bites have been warning bites, not actual attacks. This might be a hopeful sign, but without working the dog, it is impossible to give a prediction.**

Early in our relationship, Kandra snapped (just once) at each of us when we happened to be leaning over her, and looking down into her eyes. (This in fact is always the circumstance when she snaps; “again, rare “ at a person). She must have been testing our dominance, but now that that is established, she is always super-snuggly with both of us. She will also bark at new visitors to the home. If you keep these things in mind when introducing strangers, she will soon warm up to anyone.

**The dog snapped, not out of dominance, but out of worry. It was just a warning, no skin or bones broken. The snapping went away when the dog habituated to living with these people. The dog got to know them, and that makes the dog lose fear of them. I’d expect a repeat incidence if the dog was truly dominant.**

While as a puppy she spent virtually all her time outdoors, Kandra has become a very good indoor dog.

**Dogs belong with people. They are domesticated animals.**

Commands Kandra knows include Sit, Stay, lie Down, and Shake hands. She enjoys training. She has become accustomed to wearing her full-cage muzzle. For everyone’s relaxation and peace of mind, we recommend her wearing the muzzle and the pinch collar every time she is on a leash. In exchange for the inconvenience, she appreciates receiving frequent treats through the muzzle.

**Note: this dog needs to wear a muzzle, and the owners are recommending the dog wear a muzzle. That isn’t a good sign!! If you were being offered this dog, you’d be getting into this problem in your home. It is just as easy to love a good dog as it is one that has issues. The best place for this dog would be where it is… except we have to be concerned about the new baby.**

We feed Kandra twice a day: 3 cups of grocery-store premium dry dog food each time, with a glob of cottage cheese. By far, her favorite treat is tuna fish.

**This is an imbalanced diet, which isn’t good for the dogs health.**

At certain times of the year, Kandra develops an occasional wheeze due to allergies. We give her 1 Benadryl tablet every day with breakfast, and this problem has gone away.

**Medical problems need to be taken into account before you adopt a dog.  They can be very expensive. **

While Kandra loves to wrestle daily with our Lab, she seems to need only a moderate amount of exercise. She absolutely loves to play by herself with a ball. She also really enjoys chewing on large Nylabones.

**Nylabones are great toys.**

Thank you for loving Kandra as much as we do! She is absolutely full of love. Give and you shall receive!

**These people will  probably put this dog down, finding it impossible to locate a new home. Kandra is untrustworthy with children, strangers, and strange dogs. She needs to wear a muzzle for the safety of others. Rescue dogs don’t always work out. Sometimes things get worse over time. And there are many things that can’t be observed, in terms of behavior, until the dog has bonded with its family and starts to defend its territory. This situation is tragic for everyone involved, including the dog. It is especially hard when you love your dog, and the situation turns out to be this bad. The trigger seems pretty touchy, and it is mostly likely not going to get better. I don’t think the dog is going to bite anyone seriously, but one snap at the new baby and you can bet they will find a way to get rid of Kandra, one way or another.

I HIGHLY recommend that you hire a trainer/ behaviorist to help you evaluate a dog before you adopt it from a shelter or rescue organization.**

Sam Basso is a professional dog trainer and behaviorist, in the Phoenix/ Scottsdale metropolitan area. He’s known for being fun, kind, intelligent, and humane. Sam Basso has a unique personal touch. He has appeared on his own TV show, been a guest radio expert, gives seminars, publishes a dog related blog, does rescue volunteering, and is active in promoting animal welfare and fair dog laws.


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