K9 Aggression
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By Karen Haller Lovelace

Abstract

According to the London Hanover University Week Four Supplemental handout (2014) timing is an important part of training an animal. Two types of timing are vital for the successful outcome in training an aggressive dog. Augmented Timing and Rote-Rehearsal Timing are important for the handler to utilize at the exact moment to achieve a positive behavioral change in the canine. Aspects of both Augmented Timing and Rote-Rehearsal Timing are important to understand. An effective way of understanding these strategies is through specific examples of how both are utilized. 

Reading and Managing Canine Aggression

When training a canine, the handler’s timing and body movements are very important to bring success to the training moment for canine and handler. The two categories of timing, Augmented and Rote-Rehearsal Timing are needed each time a handler works a dog in its development. According to the London Hanover University Week Four Supplemental handout (2014), individuals may create problem or correct them, depending on their use of Augmented and Rote-Rehearsal Timing. The aspects of both Augmented Timing and Rote-Rehearsal Timing will be discussed, and specific examples demonstrating how both are utilized will be presented.

Augmented Timing is the planning phase of training. Handlers need to have a strategy before they train a canine. If I am going to give my dogs a Search and Rescue practice trail, I plan ahead of time if I will work on the dog’s processing of an asphalt road, or if my dog will work on negotiating through or around a thick sage barrier in a wash for that particular session. As a teacher, I plan the work day for my students. We may work on writing an essay in the Social Studies content area. I plan how the students will read a prompt, then read the article presented, highlight important ideas, then free write before the composition process even begins. Augmented Timing therefore is very important.

            The handler and teacher must foresee any outcomes, like possible mistakes made by the dog. The successes achieved by the canine are also foretold so that the proper response by the handler is ready to be made in an instant. So basically, the overall picture must be seen in an instant by the handler, the good or the bad with hand-eye-brain coordination working in tandem. The handler, therefore, must be aware, awake, motivated with eyes everywhere, or as I say to my dogs and students, “Ready to Rock and Roll?”

            The handler does not only need to plan and be prepared to act on the plan, he or she has to review that plan’s outcome and be willing to self-evaluate the performance of the dog and the handler. Once reviewed, the handler must honestly decide what occurred successfully, what needs improved upon, and/or what did not work at all.  For example, if I take my dog out on a trail, and I approached the start, and my line was completely tangled, and I stepped on it and wrapped it around the line and completely rattled myself and the dog, I would say that was poor planning when I let the dog out of the truck. I would go back and upon mental review write in my log that the next time I train, before I take my dog out of the crate, my harness is not twisted and my line is straight, free from knots, ready to be placed on the harness and nicely laid out before we get to the start.

Rote-Rehearsal Timing is the second category of timing that is similar to interval training during a track practice. Henry Rono, a famous steeplechaser and world record holder once said that the body does not change during interval work, but the mind changes drastically to accept the pain. If an athlete trains to accept the pain, he or she will never be good, but if the athlete trains to break the pain, he or she will advance to a higher level. Rono refers to the mental pain, the changing of attitude when moving from one interval of training to the next over a certain time period. One coach had us run six 400m intervals between 65-68 second pace with a 100m jog rest between each before toeing the line. I was a 14 year old 800m runner trying to break 2:10 in 1979. I ran between these times for the first five 400m. When I thought my tank was low, I re-geared my mind before I stepped on the line for interval six. I ran a 64 second lap, under the required mark.

The point is when canine training for our topic of aggression management, Rote-Rehearsal Timing is training in time intervals. The handler is changing the dog’s mind set, letting the dog figure out that at each interval stage, the mental stress will disappear if the dog displays the correct physical activity with the proper attitude or mental state. Interval training builds the canine’s endurance, its mental endurance.

During rote-Rehearsal Timing, the handler must be able to read the canine’s signs and be able to react quickly to correct mistakes the dog makes, or to praise proper decisions made by the dog (London Hanover University, 2014, Week Four Supplemental handout). The handler expects a certain outcome or behavior from the dog. However, the timing at each stage or interval of the dog’s learning situation is what is important. To advance from one interval to the next, the handler reads the canine’s facial expressions and body movement instantly by responding with the slip lead, changing the walking pattern, speeding up the heeling, sitting or downing the dog in place. The handler’s quick timing and behavioral response interrupts the dog’s current behavior and gives the desired result for the exercise.

For the aggressive dog, the Rote-Rehearsal Timing should be at intervals because the physical action of the dog is a response to the mental thought of the canine (London Hanover University, 2014, Week Four Supplemental handout). The thought-response action occurs in intervals. So the handler mentally and physically must prepare the mind and body for changes in the dog’s mental processes and physical reactions intervals. At the interval times of 30seconds prior to the event, 10 seconds prior to the event, 10 seconds after the event and 30 seconds after the event, the canine will think about a particular situation (exercise) and will respond. If the handler thinks ahead before these intervals, during the Augmented Timing stage of planning before the exercise, he or she will be able to change the canine’s mindset and actions during these intervals and obtain the desired training outcome.

 

Timing Importance: Measures Involved in Rote-Rehearsal Actions

After the Augmentation Timing or plan is made, the training begins. At the 30 to 0 second interval, the dog will show a behavior sign, a facial expression or body movement, before the true and obvious physical movement (London Hanover University, 2014, Week Four Supplemental handout). At the 10 second interval before the event, there is a facial or body change. Body signs are quickly noticed. Here is where the handler makes a quick read and changes the handling method. At the 10 second after the event interval, the canine will adjust its behavior and create a new situation based on the prior situation (a cause and effect situation) which is based on the dog’s perception. The next interval, 30 seconds after the entire event has ended, the dog will process what has just occurred and react based on what it sees as the best way to resolve its situation (London Hanover University, 2014, Week Four Supplemental handout).

During the dog’s Rote-Rehearsal Timing exercise, its mind has changed very drastically to accept or reject mental pain. No physical pain is experienced during the training of the aggressive dog. Only slight lead pressure and non-verbal correction or praise is used. The praise is the completion of the activity successfully. As the handler and dog progress throughout each 30-10-10-30 second interval, the dog’s mental state can alter from frustration to anger to shutting down to bullying or from frustration to more energy to happiness and then to calmness ( London Hanover University, 2014, Week Four Supplemental handout).

I have documented two examples of canine aggression showing trainers from two different organizations reach a level of calm using Augmented and Rote-Rehearsal Timing strategies. Using these strategies in time intervals, watching for signals from the dog and reacting quickly to these signs, the handlers have obtained positive outcomes for the aggressive dog.

Implementation of Augmented and Rote-Rehearsal Timing

Jeff Gellman is a trainer for SolidK9 Training. He was called to an aggressive dog rehabilitation center to prevent a Pit Bull from being euthanized by attempting to train it. Prior to Gellman’s arrival (within the 30 to 0 second time frame with no Augmented Timing plan) the kennel worker had the dog out of the kennel on a choke chain with lead.  The dog was jumping up on the kennel worker, grasping her with its paws, twirling and then nipping. At the 10 second prior interval, noticing this behavior, the worker was trying to straight-arm the dog and push it away from her to no avail. After this event, during the next 10 seconds, the dog was literally dragging the worker through the kennel area and to the door. She opened it at the dog’s request and during the next 30 seconds, she was dragged out the door, dog directing her to the outdoor kennel. The dog was rewarded by being taken outside where it proceeded to pick up a ball and run around the kennel frantically carrying the ball. The dog’s energy was agitation not calm (Gellman, 2014).

Jeff Gellman from SolidK9 Training arrived and made an Augmented Timing plan. First, he wanted to create calm for the dog and entire kennel by not allowing the dog to leave its kennel until told to do so. Gellman planned to put a British slip lead on the dog and have on hand a pet convincer tool that blows air at the dog. He used this tool to prevent the jumping and control the energy of the canine. Next, Gellman planned to use non verbal communication with the dog. He wanted the dog to use its own energy to control its mind and behavior, not the handler’s energy (Gellman, 2014).

Gellman implemented his plan beginning with putting the slip lead on the dog without opening its kennel gate. The Rote-Rehearsal Timing began with the first interval of 30 seconds. The dog had to wait at the gate and not lunge at it to be let out. Gellman opened the gate, and shut it when the dog lunged. He did this three times, and the dog changed its behavior, looked up at the trainer waiting for direction. Within the 10 second interval, Gellman slightly opened the gate, when observing this change in behavior. The dog in response backed up, continued to look at the trainer and waited. At the next 10 second interval, after the wait, Gellman detecting the change, immediately opened the gate and said, “Let’s go.” Finally, at the 30 second interval after the initial event of opening and shutting the gate three times, Gellman put a little pressure on the slip lead. The dog was not allowed to pull as Gellman with his left hand had about 12 inches of lead between the dog and him. The right hand held the rest of the lead loosely. The Rote-Rehearsal Timing continued with the next 10 seconds. The dog behaved and did not pull, and Gellman released line pressure. Then in the next 10 second interval, the dog made a decision to relax and look up. Within the next interval of 30 seconds, Gellman escorted the dog back into its kennel with, “Let’s go” and proceeded to continue with the wait at the gate exercise calmly, until the door was wide open and the dog did not bolt but waited for the “Let’s go” command. Gellman was planning the entire time he worked the dog. He made the decision that if the dog jumped at any time, the dog received a quick burst of air. There were no words, no putting the dog back in its kennel and definitely not going to the play area (Gellman, 2014).

Once the dog was led back to his own kennel after successfully coming out, Gellman opened the door wider and thus began the Rote-rehearsal Timing again. During this 30 second interval, Gellman stepped back with loose lead as the door opening got wider and wider. After this event, during the 10 second interval, the dog thought about going out on its own and self-corrected. Quickly during the next 10 seconds seeing the self-correction from the dog, Gellman said, “Let’s go,” and the dog came out of its kennel calmly. At the 30 second after the initial event, the dog was out of the kennel, but tried jumping and biting the leash. Gellman at the right moment gave the dog a burst of air, and it stopped the behavior. Once calm, the 10 second interval began with Gellman guiding the dog to a sit by pulling up on the slip lead with a bit of pressure while pressing two left fingers on the dog’s behind to guide it as it sat. After this event, the next 30 seconds revealed a calm dog, sitting nicely next to the trainer.  The dog was escorted once again to the kennel with the command, “Let’s go.”
            Gellman explained that calm gets the dog outside. He never talked to the dog, except when using the command to move in or out of the kennel. No food or praise was given. The dog’s reward is completing the exercise properly with a calm attitude, no biting, grasping or pulling. Gellman stated that after an entire week of this same exercise, the dog learned that this calm behavior led him to his goal, going outside to play (Gellman, 2014).

Gellman illustrated the point he made above by then proceeding to take the dog on a calm walk outside. For the first interval of 30 seconds, he placed a prong collar on the dog with the slip lead still attached as well for safety. The dog objected and quickly received a burst of air. They walked outside and in the 10 second interval that followed, the dog was walking but tried to sniff. Gellman again quickly put pressure on the lead and the dog corrected its behavior with the prong collar. It learned fast not to pull. During the following 10 second interval, the dog was walking a bit behind the handler, realizing it is not allowed to lunge forward. There was zero pressure, according to Gellman (2014); the dog was in “follow-mode.” Finally, during the 30 second after the initiation of walking, the dog was walking calmly next to Gellman with loose lead, not sniffing or marking.

The dog’s state of mind drastically changed from aggression towards its handlers to calm. Its facial expressions ranged from frantic and agitation to relaxation. The physical behavior of the dog also changed from one of a tense face and body to a relaxed muscle phase of loose walking and gait.

The Dog Whisperer, Cesar Milan (2012) was called to the home of a woman who had a Maltese Poodle that bit everyone she knew as well as visitors to the home. The mother, husband and daughter all feared this tiny dog. The dog would growl and bare teeth at the owner when she just walked past the dog while it was eating. While attempting to brush her dog, the dog would look up and snap at her with bared teeth and a growl.

Milan arrived with an Augmented Timing plan. He wanted to change the dog’s idea that it was the leader of the pack and the house. The dog had no boundaries and thought it ruled its kingdom (Milan, 2012).  Milan’s goal was to teach the dog respect and trust and the idea that it needed to follow rules. He began to implement his plan with a structured walk on a slip lead. Milan believed the dog had a dominant position towards people and wanted to take that away from the dog with a walk (Milan, 2012).

During the first 30 seconds of Milan’s Rote-Rehearsal Timing interval, he placed the slip lead on the dog. Immediately when the trainer put a bit of pressure on the lead to go, the dog twirled upon him and tried to bite. Milan’s reaction within the 10 second interval was to pull the dog away with, “Come.” He applied pressure on the lead and walked with the dog along the sidewalk. Milan stated that the dog was insecure and nervous. So during the next 10 seconds, Milan took the dog away from its kingdom and asked him to follow (Milan, 2014). The dog at this 30 second interval threw five fits of jerking, but Milan without jerking the lead, applied a bit of pressure and kept the dog walking until it followed calmly.

Inside the house, Milan’s Augmented Timing included a plan for grooming. Now that the dog had walked, the dog was sitting on a table calmly. The Rote-Rehearsal Timing began. During the first interval of 30 seconds, as soon as the slip lead was put on, the dog twirled around and bit Milan.  Quickly, the trainer responded by pulling the slip lead at the neck with the left hand while keeping the right hand in a ball touching the dog’s face. Milan acted as if he had not been bit and did not draw away to let the dog think it won. Milan kept touching the sides of the dog’s face and top of its head until within the next 10 second interval, the dog calmed down.

For the next 30 seconds, Milan held the dog’s head in both his hands, just holding the dog steady not choking it while telling the dog to relax. Again the dog twirled around and tried to bite Milan. Quickly, the trainer responded by pulling up the lead with the left hand, while still holding the dog with his right. This 10 second period was important, because Milan stated he would not back away, as the dog wanted. Milan refers to the dog’s behavior as throwing punches and that is what it was doing (Milan, 2012). Within the next 30 second after the initiation of grooming, Milan began grooming the dog. The dog tried attacking the hand holding the scissors, baring its teeth, pawing with its right paw. In the next ten seconds, the dog pounced, screamed and bared teeth. Milan quickly decided he would not back away and kept moving with the scissors, clipping the dog’s head and around its eyes. The next 30 seconds showed a behavioral change that altered from the beginning. The dog was panting, but it was not being aggressive. Milan finished with the scissors and groomed the dog with the brush. This time, the dog remained calm, not exhibiting any aggressive behaviors.

            When a handler approaches an aggressive dog with an Augmented Timing and Rote-Rehearsal Timing plan, the outcome for the situation that is trying to be corrected is successful. The handler must time his or her mental and physical reaction quickly in response to the dog’s mental state and physical response. Both handlers in different ways followed a definite plan before attempting to change an aggressive dog’s mental attitude and implemented a successful interval workout in order to reach success for the dog.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

References

Gellman, J. (2014). Aggressive Dog Rehabilitation Shelter Dog, Brick. Solid K9 Training. Retrieved from http://www.solidk9 training.com/walk-doctor-program

London Hanover University. (2014). Week Four Supplemental Handout. Retrieved from London Hanover University, CANI/216 Canidology course website. 

Milan, C. (2012). Dog Whisperer. Retrieved from http:www.access.dogpproblems.com/sl.cfm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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