River stage: 8.66 ft. Rising
Friday, Dec. 6, 2013
TEACHING THEM HOW TO LIVEPosted Wednesday, November 14, 2012, at 11:56 AM
Tyson Kilmer...living proof that you get what you're willing to give!
Bea is the daughter of one of my favorite Pits, Butters. Butters is the Pit Trace Allen from Sikeston pulled from the euthanasia table, brought back to health, trained and now uses to delight many different groups of people. I fell in love with Bea when I first met her in the Sikeston Area Humane Society. To lose a dog like her would be a sin in itself.
This little girl is what I consider special needs. She lived in a less than desirable situation when she was a puppy, then spent months living in the shelter. While Trace is above average at caring for and socializing long term residents, for a dog like Bea intellectual stimulation is a must. We are now starting from scratch in her education.
I have mentioned more than once that I have an existing pack more than well equipped to address the needs of dogs just like Bea. This past week one of my favorite Pit Bull trainers, Tyson Kilmer, has been discussing the merits of using other dogs to teach new dogs how to live in our society. You see I am a firm believer that dogs can teach each other things we as humans cannot comprehend. In this case, an existing pack has already taught the new dog about pack order.
In my pack there are three very distinct personalities with me as their leader. I always begin introductions using Bristol, my only male. He is a happy little freak of a Pit Bull. Nothing bothers him except displeasing me. Having entered my little family at eight weeks, he has learned that living with three females is like walking through a mine field. He has Martin and Chris to reassure him there are other males in the world but for the most part, he lives in a world of females. He and Bea hit it off immediately and are the best of friends.
The next introduction was of Tori, my grand dame. Tori is another even tempered, solid personality that rolls with the flow. She came to me as a four year old breeder dog that had lived her whole life on a chain. It took a year of intensive work with my friend Kevin to get her to trust men. She had little experience with women, so her human socialization was a slow process. Other than basic pet behaviors, I do not expect much from Tori. She has earned the right to take it easy and I have no real issues with her behavior. She has only showed unwarranted dog aggression one time in the form of snarly face to Kevin's aging German Shepherd. She is unflappable until someone acts out within the pack....
Enter Emma; queen of the universe.....Emma is as close to a red zone dog as I have. She has the personality type that made me swear I would never have another female after my dog Sugar. She is strong willed, alpha by nature and demands respect. She does recognize my authority but it is more of an agreed upon deal, than actual acquiescence. She is always the final introduction I make. I want harmony with the majority before I bring her into the picture. She will bend to the pack mentality to some degree. The first introduction is always tense but she gets with the picture and this time was no exception. Until the evening meal....
Bea has some resource aggression issues. I knew this and it seemed our first exercise in respecting others' was a success. That was until she and Emma sniffed each other's breath and decided a little roll in the backyard was in order. My reaction was immediate but so was Tori's. In this case, Emma knew she was going to catch hell and attempted to disengage. Bristol understands females will eat him and he knew to remove himself from harm. Tori is a true peace maker and while she tolerates everything that comes her way, she does not tolerate fighting within the pack. My dog, with three teeth and a back end that is quickly deteriorating proceeded to teach both younger females that we do not behave that way. She does not call off as easily as Emma. Basically, it ain't over 'til it's over.
I am sharing this story with you not because I promote dog aggression but because I understand it. I do not advise anyone to attempt doing introductions if they are not accustomed to dog behavior but I am trying to make a point, that dog on dog aggression can be addressed and solved. All Terriers are hardwired for that gamey nature. But teaching these dogs to control that nature and adhere to acceptable behavior is no different than housebreaking them. They must learn what is and is not appropriate behavior. Training companion animals is the ultimate sign of a responsible owner. If you chose to have certain breeds of dogs, that training must include both human and animal socialization.
In the case of my pack, the day after our war in the backyard, they laid on the couch licking each others' wounds and watching TV together. I was still considering sizing them all for seat covers but for them, the crisis passed and the pack was established with a forth dog. This may not be an acceptable way for humans to welcome a stranger but it is not an unusual way for dogs to behave.
Do yourselves a favor and educate yourselves to what is hardwired instinct in a dog and what is learned behavior. In the end, you will save yourself a lot of headaches and heartache and you will find that adding another dog to an existing household can be as simple as letting them teach each other.
I am not sure what Bea's future holds but I can tell you, she will be a super star!
PS As of this writing Bea has learned the joys of "Zoomies". I do not have to tell anyone with a Pit Bull what this is....I also have to remember she is freshly spayed and undergoing Heartworm treatments. I have to ask any vet that has ever given me the talk about keeping dogs quiet "Have you ever met my dogs?"
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Melanie Coy has been a pit bull fancier for 29 years. She's also been involved in obedience and other training and showing animals. Coy became involved in animal legislative issues in the mid-80s to dispel myths about the pit bull breed and fight against breed-specific laws. She advocates responsible dog ownership through training and educational programs, and helps shelters make dogs more adoptable.