I was in Naples last Friday installing a Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® System for a new client and his Beagle, Oliver. I finished the installation and my client was amazed at how everything seemed invisible and his yard appeared to be untouched. When we worked in training Oliver to stay away from the perimeter, he understood exactly where the “hidden boundary” was located. Everything went very quickly because Oliver was leaving the property more because he was inquisitive than drawn by large distractions. As we were finishing up, my client mentioned that he had rescued Oliver from the local Beagle Rescue Group and was afraid that he might have been abused. We wondered if I had any suggestions regarding how to play with Oliver so the he feels safe and happy.
I am always excited to hear that my clients have gotten their dogs through rescue groups and other dog safety organizations. All of our seven dogs are rescue dogs and they always make the best companions. Since we rarely know the background of dogs that have been rescued, we can’t ascertain if they were abused, neglected, abandoned, etc. All we can do is to give them the benefit of the doubt and move ahead with our relationship in a slow and secure manner.
Playing with our dogs is one of the main reasons that we got them. This provides both us and our dogs with the exercise we all need and lets us release a little of that “built up steam” that we all have in today’s crazy world. It also helps to create the needed bond and cements the lasting relationship that makes having a dog such a special experience. Most playing involves active movements, heightened energy, and sometimes aggressive posturing.
If Oliver had been abused in the past, some of the playful activities in which we may harmlessly engage with him could scare him and even make him reactive. Our problem is that we have no idea what his past entailed, so we have to make assumptions.
The best assumption that we should initially make is that he could have been abused and that he could have been hit by his prior owner on a regular basis. The good news is that he is now with us and this will never happen again. We need to make sure that our playful time does not rekindle these memories inside Oliver.
Here are some simple tips regarding how we should play with Oliver:
- Never run directly towards Oliver. This can be construed as an aggressive act on our part. If Oliver wants to chase after us, that is fine.
- Allow Oliver to approach us when we want to pet him. Never pet him by taking our hand over his head. This is the same thing he would have experienced if he was about to be hit.
- We should first show Oliver the back of our hand and let him smell us. He probably was never abused by the back of someone’s hand, so this is a neutral body part. Allowing him to smell us simply gives him the opportunity to become familiar and acquainted. It also lets us start out the entire “petting experience” in a neutral, calm manner.
- We should slowly move the back of our hand towards Oliver’s check, under his head. This allows us to watch his body language and to determine if he is become afraid or tense. If we see him start to become afraid, we can easily move our hand away. We can’t observe this if our hand is going over his head.
- Next, we should slowly rub Oliver’s chest. Many people, especially small children (and stupid adults) pet dogs like they are slapping them. I always like to ask the question, “When does a pet turn into a hit?”. The answer is that we don’t know. Oliver might be overly sensitive to touching or we may be petting him where these is a sore or bug bite. So, we need to pet Oliver by stroking and rubbing; not slapping.
- After Oliver is OK with our hands petting him on his chest, we slowly move our hands above the back of his neck and rub the top of his head.
- It is fine to play games that adrenaline Oliver such as fetch. This game allows Oliver to become adrenalized while we stay relatively calm. Initially, we should try to play more “one on one”. This simply lets us control the situation. When we have the entire family in the back yard, things could inappropriately escalate before we have the ability to regain control and maintain a calm and safe environment.
- As time goes by and Oliver gains a feeling of safety and protection with us and our home, we can begin to ramp things up and play “run and chase me” and other more adrenalized games. We can also add more people to the mix.
Taking it slow and erring on the side of caution is always best when dealing with beaten, abused, and abandoned dogs. Providing our friends and neighbors with some great dog training suggestions and help on containing their pets with our underground dog fence is something we always love to do. Go to Dog Fence Training Help Naples South Florida or give us a ring at (954) 472-4724. There are more great dog training and pet containment articles at Best Out of Sight Dog Fence Trainers Naples South Florida.
We have effectively trained over 3,500 dogs in the Naples area and most other parts of South Florida to be great dogs through behavior training and invisible boundary training. Our Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® System needs a great installation process and a proven dog training program. Our Perimeter Dog Training Method is imperative to the Dog Guard Out of Sight Fencing® System. If your dog doesn’t run out of the yard, but likes to counter surf and never come when told, please read about our services at Home Dog Training Naples South Florida.