Large dog behavior


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Presented at the American Pets Alive No-Kill Conference 2014.

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Large dog behavior

  1. 1. APA’s Dog Behavior Team A Behavior Modification & Training Department featuring Play Groups Presented By: Mike Kaviani, Dog Behavior Program Manager Austin Pets Alive! In Cooperation with: Aimee Sadler, Director of Behavior and Training Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation Safe Humane Chicago play group photo
  2. 2. What is our role? (as animal welfare organizations) • To function as a safe haven for lost and surrendered companion animals • To provide any and all available resources to maintain the medical and behavioral health of our sheltered animals • To save as many animal lives as possible (not at the expense of the community) • To educate the public about responsible pet ownership Copyright 2011© by Aimee Sadler, All rights reserved
  3. 3. Behavior Department Vision Statement We will provide the animals in our care all available resources to enhance their quality of life while sheltered and to save as many lives as possible. We will recognize, respect, and treat each animal as an individual. We will utilize all tools and techniques in our training and behavior programs to teach and support healthy and appropriate behavior for companion animals within our communities. We will continue to learn and develop our skill sets as handlers and trainers so that we may meet the needs of as many sheltered animals as possible. We will support our adopters in strengthening and nourishing their fundamental bond with their companion animals. We will share our program successes with other animal welfare organizations to support life-saving efforts beyond our own shelter and community. Copyright 2011© by Aimee Sadler, All rights reserved
  4. 4. Benefits of Play Groups • Determining sociability & providing unique resource to the community ― Dog Parks, etc., are a way of life for many adopters ― Where can people go to resolve dog- dog issues??? • Physical outlet, exercise & mental stimulation ― A 30 minute romp can be equivalent to a 2 hour walk! ― Mental energy is burned through intensive social interaction. • Natural environment for pack animals ― Pack-like bonding vs. social isolation can minimize behavioral deterioration. ― Rapid behavior modification can be accomplished. ― Best NOT to create mini-packs within one common territory • Resources maximized ― Two people can attend to many more dogs in group then handling dogs individually = more outlet provided to the animals. ― Time is always of the essence in rescue work! We average 70-100 dogs in 3.5 hours every morning (with the dogs getting an average of 20 minutes of play time each!) • Reduction of Barrier Reactivity (BR) and On Leash Reactivity (OLR) ― Healthy contact can reduce perception of threat. • Better room-mate matches ― after time to play together dogs generally cohabitate in kennels more smoothly • Better adoption matches ― from all of their social experience while sheltered, most of our dog meets go more smoothly and we have comprehensive information about our shelter dogs’ interactions with numerous other dogs. *** NOT a guarantee that territorial or resource guarding issues will not surface in the home! *** Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All rights reserved
  5. 5. Best Bang for the Buck Enrichment, Assessment, Training, Behavior Modification • For dog-dog issues, socially healthy dogs can be much more effective trainers than humans (providing a unique service). • The mental and physical outlet of play groups can create higher receptivity to training. • What may be considered inappropriate play with a person can be natural between dogs. • Play groups can provide an enhanced quality of life for many sheltered dogs. • Play groups can create the most natural environment for overcoming fear, anxiety and aggression. Copyright 2011© by Aimee Sadler, All rights reserved HCAS play group photo by Debbie Malott
  6. 6. Candidates for Play Groups All ages, breeds, temperaments… It depends upon the dogs… MOST IMPORTANTLY… the comfort level of the handler!!! Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved Photo by Brian George
  7. 7. Creating Healthy Behavior • Puppies: – learn best from appropriate adult dogs about bite inhibition and responsive play behavior – must be socialized with playful and/or tolerant dogs only…no un-socialized, fearful, defensive or offensive adults – can socialize with other puppies but must be monitored against developing bad habits Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved
  8. 8. Understanding Play Styles Gentle and Dainty: • Very Mutual • Relatively quiet • Frequently starts & stops • Easily becomes nervous with rough play Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved
  9. 9. Rough and Rowdy: • Mainly mutual • Usually noisy • Very physical • Grabbing & Holding Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved • Chasing and tumbling • Escalates & de- escalates • Can trigger conflict Photo by Annalie Martini
  10. 10. Push & Pull: • Sometimes mutual • Chasing, driving, heeling • Can get noisy • Can escalate & often ends in conflict • Antagonistic to others Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved
  11. 11. Seek and Destroy: • Usually not mutual • Rooted in prey drive • Often noisy (growling and squealing) • Can escalate • Tends to need handler intervention • Provocative to others Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved Photo by Brian George
  12. 12. Compatible & Incompatible Play Styles = • Generally, same play styles do well together. • Push & Pull’s and Seek & Destroy’s tend to do well together. • Rough & Rowdy’s LOVE to play together…if the handler is brave enough  ≠ • Rough & Rowdy’s and Push & Pull’s can be combustible. • Gentle & Dainty’s don’t prefer to play with the other play styles. Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved Photo by Hany Hosny
  13. 13. Interruption • The goal of interruption is to momentarily influence interaction. • Behavior is inappropriate rather than concerning. • Dog needs to develop different play habits. • Only necessary if dogs are not responding to one another. • REMEMBER – the goal is for the dogs to learn how to communicate with each other! Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved
  14. 14. Correction • The goal of correction is to extinguish behavior. • Behavior is concerning and must not escalate. • Dog needs to show increased responsiveness to handler while decreasing drive in play. Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved Dog Correction Handler Correction
  15. 15. Capone • Pulled from AAC euth list due to redirected bite on an employee while being put away in his kennel • Found out to be dog social in PG • Extremely gentle with people • Placed in a home with 3 children and 1 grumpy little dog • Sheltered for ~3.5 months • In home for 5 months Photos by Sandi Sandman
  16. 16. Jake • Pulled off AAC euth-list on Dec. 13th (“very low impulse control and guards resources, making him a relatively high risk for biting”) with other notes about high arousal issues in kennel and on leash, and notes about being inexperienced with dogs • No resource guarding observed in shelter • Immediately put Jake into PG, discovered him to be highly dog social • Arousal/impulse issues completely dissipated, no b-mod needed • Available for adoption!
  17. 17. Louise • Euth-list pull from AAC on Jan. 4th “there is no doubt in my mind that she would attack any dog she could if she were to get loose” – AAC Employee • “With any animals, she…has true intent to do harm. She…has exhibited a “kill shake” during a testing with a stuffed dog who she thought was real. She never realized the dog was not real and continued the aggression….She is nervous with children and shows high arousal and reactive behavior and is considered dangerous around children of any age.” - Evaluation from Professional Trainer • After the formation of the Behavior Department, assessed in PG, found to be stable, reliable, and a combination of social/selective with dogs. Goes to PG every day. • Has become one of APA!’s best trained dogs, has strong but appropriate drive and is given daily outlets, has been put through the paces with people of all ages and is routinely safe and friendly with children that she meets when walking the local trails. • Available for adoption!
  18. 18. Olive • Jumped fences on numerous occasions while in APA’s care to fight with other dogs • Professionally assessed by a private trainer: “She may not live with other animals since the behavior is well practiced. She will be able to be managed in environments with other dogs in proximity but will take intensive training and handling for her to be reliable under most circumstances.” • Labeled dog aggressive and a “no dog household”, but behavior of jumping fences to fight with dogs persisted, questions regarding safety arose • Upon formation of Behavior Department, was assessed in PG and found to be social/tolerant (huh!?) • Became PG regular, fence jumping stopped, ran to PG instead! • Adopted to home with another dog (dogs are getting along very well, no fence jumping observed whatsoever, sheltered for 11 months
  19. 19. Play Group Handling Techniques • Tone of Voice – Less is more use verbal when necessary…no jabbering! – Low, not loud Use tones that exude confidence and control rather than reactivity – Consistent negative marker Such as “eh-eh” or “enough” • Body Blocking – Legs, not hands! Communicate with the part of your body that is being affected • Collar Leads – Guide rather than Drag! No pressure on their collar if they are following – Remain calm!……even when there is camper chaos  Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved Photo by Brian George
  20. 20. Work That Gate! • Understand taking space…use your legs • Open in or out…yield or invite? • Balance between taking a moment to observe?...or, building frustration? • Goal is to reinforce correct energy upon entrance  Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved
  21. 21. Tools and Applications Table Interruption Correction Single Dog Multiple Dog Spray Bottle    Shake Can    Direct Stop™ or Pet Corrector™    Air Horn   Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved Be creative!…no limitations in tools...
  22. 22. Potential Side Effects of Tools • Shake Can (audible) – ‘innocent dog’ is effected in addition to ‘offending’ dog – Fear of handler • Direct Stop™ or Pet Corrector™ (audible) – ‘innocent dog’ is effected in addition to ‘offending’ dog – Physical reaction to citronella – Fear of handler • Air Horn (SUPER audible) – Effects all dogs – Physical reaction to extreme volume – Generalized fear of handler and/or play yard
  23. 23. Safety Tools Table Un-socialized Fearful Defensive Offensive Leash   *   Gentle Leader brand   Muzzle  * When fearful of the handler.  For the potential suppression effect. Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved
  24. 24. Better Safe than Sorry • Be a neutral hall monitor • Keep your yard free of toys, treats = potential trigger • Check collars are fit properly (loose ones can be a hazard) • Remove dragging leashes once comfortable • Remove certain equipment (Halti’s, metal pinch collars, any slip collars) • Take your time, don’t panic…stuff happens! Copyright 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All rights reserved Photo by Greg Davidson
  25. 25. When all else fails… Keep your cool and focus on safety • Always try startling tools first • If startling fails, be quiet and calm • If leashes are attached USE THEM! • Be prepared for redirection • Grab hind ends before collars • DO NOT PULL DOGS APART if latched on • Immobilize the latched on dog and “feed the bite” • Use any object to get between the dogs • Only pull dogs apart once they have let go of each other • Remember…!&*$%! happens despite best efforts • Whenever possible allow them to stay and play and recover! Photo by Hany HosnyCopyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved
  26. 26. What is vicious? Vicious: given or readily disposed to evil; grossly immoral; depraved Aggression: An unprovoked attack. Aggressive action or practices. • Can be legitimate communication • Disproportionate response = aberrant behavior Threat: A declaration of an intention to inflict injury or pain. Warning: Admonition, advice, recommendation. *Defense: The act of defending or guarding. *Offense: The act of offending; a fault, sin or crime. *Defense vs. Offense* The behavior can look the same but is motivated differently, therefore, it should be handled differently!!! Copyright 2011© by Aimee Sadler, All rights reserved Photo by Hany Hosny
  27. 27. Photo by Hany Hosny Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved
  28. 28. Definitions of Social Status Un-socialized: overly aroused and/or reactive despite appropriate social gestures from others. Fearful: generally overwhelmed by environment, handlers and other dogs (with or without defense). Prey-like: fearful with immediate flight response, usually accompanied by high pitched vocalization. Defensive: doesn’t initiate aggression but responds to challenge or bullying with aggression. Offensive: seeks out opportunities to aggress. Playful: consistent gestures to initiate play. Quick to avoid and/or diffuse defensive or offensive aggression. Tolerant: passively avoids overt playful and/or antagonistic gestures. Dominant: confident with calm leadership qualities. Might appropriately correct obnoxious behavior. Might appropriately submit antagonistic behavior. Will effectively diffuse aggression. Will most likely ignore indifferent dogs and will play with appropriate dogs of either sex. Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved Photo by Hany Hosny
  29. 29. Social Status Table Best combinations for introductions: Opposite sex Playful Tolerant Dominant Un-socialized     Fearful    Prey-like    Defensive     Offensive   Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved
  30. 30. Precursors for a fight??? • Pinned Ears • Erect Tail • Hackles – Shoulders (offense) – Full body (defense) • Mounting – Assertive – Sexual • Necking • Growling • Showing Teeth NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved Photo by Brian George
  31. 31. Dog Social Categories (adapted from BAD RAP) • Dog Social = appropriate and playful with other dogs on and off leash • Dog Tolerant = usually more tolerant than playful or shows no interest • Dog Selective = plays with some dogs while intolerant of others • Dog Defensive = playful with some dogs but reactive to dogs that challenge or dominate • Dog Aggressive = not able to play with or tolerate other dogs Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved Photo by Annalie Martini
  32. 32. Risks Chart “What good are we doing if we preserve their physical health at the expense of their mental health?” De Fowler, Director of Operations From 9/05 - 12/12 Monday-Sunday 15 dogs/group average 0 50 100 150 200 fatalities emergencies sutures minor injuries dogs handlers Minor Injuries: 1 concussion 1 scratch to the face 22 displaced bites while interrupting a fight 1 cheap shot to the butt! Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All rights reserved Photo by Annalie Martini
  33. 33. A Day in the Life… • PG from 8-1130 (Between 60-100 dogs rotated through, average of about 25 mins per dog) • B-mod cases, AFU from 12-4 • PG from 4-6 (Between 30-50 dogs, avg. of about 15 mins per dog) • Volunteer Training Classes from 530-7/8 (avg. of 8 handlers and 8 dogs per class) • Last Behavior Dog outings/EOD from 6-730 (avg. 4-5 dogs)
  34. 34. Rewards & Corrections Rewards Corrections Time-outs Aversives Leash corrections Pressure & Release Verbalpraise Petting Food/Toys squirt bottle shake can Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved The dog decides!!!
  35. 35. Sensitivity to Aggression To save more lives our industry needs to address our understanding and response to animal aggression: Sheltering Field (can’t win) • “…too many good dogs destroyed to expend resources on dogs with issues…” VS. • “You don’t understand!...they just need to be loved…” Professional Training Field • the only thing two trainers can agree upon is what the third trainer is doing wrong! Human Nature (defense mechanism) • my diagnosis is “right”…but…what if you’re wrong??? • litigious society…how many shelters have shut their doors??? Copyright 2011© by Aimee Sadler, All rights reserved
  36. 36. Things to Consider (Resources pertain) • Triggers – are they predictable? – are there too many? – can they be controlled • Thresholds – how much to blow them? – push (rather than provoke)…then TEACH/TRAIN to develop coping skills • Risks – Skill level and compliance of adopters sufficient? (handling and management) Copyright © 2011 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved
  37. 37. Our Lines in the Sand • Offensive Aggression to PEOPLE – it’s rare…usually defensive no matter how ugly – when being aggressive is a self-rewarding behavior – when flight is an option but fight is the chosen response ● Uninterruptible Drive - when the handler can not influence behavior - when is an animal allowed to be an animal? ● Unpredictable Aggression – how can we work on a behavior if we can’t identify the triggers? Copyright 2011© by Aimee Sadler, All rights reserved
  38. 38. Milo • Pulled off euth-list from AAC for arousal issues on Oct. 25 • Displayed obsessive behaviors with plastic containers, leashes, toys, etc., and would redirect onto handler during obsessive destruction behaviors • Evaluated in PG and found to be extremely dog social • Used to evaluate new dogs in PG • Combination of PG and behavior modification on remote collar has resulted in a safe and successful adoption candidate
  39. 39. Method to the Madness Green: Easy Pink: Pulls on leash Orange: Shy/fearful Silver: Reactivity issues, mouthy Red: Specific training program, Behavior Team approval needed
  40. 40. Volunteers B.O.O! (Basic Orange Orientation) – This is a one hour class that focuses on dealing with shy/fearful dogs. You’ll learn a little about body language, interacting with a fearful dog and then meet a few of our shy guys. Level 1 Handling – This class meets once a week for 5 weeks. Covers basic leash handling skills that will not only teach you how to deal with common on-leash situations, but also give a strong foundation to help improve the “walkability” of our adoptable pups. You will also be approved to handle Green/Pink dogs off-site. Level 2 Handling – This class follows Level 1 and upon completion, you will be approved to work with Silver dogs. It builds upon the foundation from Level 1 and deals more with on-leash reactivity.
  41. 41. Volunteer Behavior Team • Have gone through Level 1 and Level 2 classes (10 1- hour classes) and continuously attend weekly training classes with Silver or Red dogs • Continuously expanding in members and in talent! • Goal is to reach as many dogs as possible to enhance their adoptability • Many members are entrusted with dogs that many of the staff do not handle • Couldn’t do it without them!
  42. 42. Why Adoption Follow-Up? • Learning from our adoptions – What can our community bear? – What trends do we see in behavior problems in the home compared to those we saw in the shelter (or in past history) – AFU (in addition to life-saving mission) guides our behavior depts. • Positive outcomes from AFU – Able to place behavior dogs if we can offer the support – Helps to keep more animals out of our shelters! – Learning more about behavior and context – Long-term collaborative relationships with adopters • Revisiting Our Mission Statements to save more lives! – Hopeful trend for more resources supporting them on the way out rather than screening them on their way in! …better aligned. Copyright © 2011 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved
  43. 43. What We Provide • All Complimentary – Phone consultations – Private sessions at the shelter or home – Group classes • No time limit for AFU support – Can’t provide ongoing training, but we do provide support for issues or behavior concerns ***Support surrendering when deemed more appropriate*** Copyright 2011© by Aimee Sadler, All rights reserved
  44. 44. Can we really predict? • BR and OLR behaviors – are not necessarily indicators of dog aggression!!! • Successful Play Sessions – are not a guarantee that a dog will be social with other dogs in the home – dogs have personality conflicts, too • Shelter vs. Home – is not necessarily contextual • Relationship – can profoundly affect behavior and can not be scientifically measured • Resource Guarding (dog-dog) – can escalate once home…or disappear • Territorial behaviors – can emerge once home Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved
  45. 45. Copyright 2011© by Aimee Sadler, All rights reserved June 2012 - YTD Canine Stats SASF (1,000 animals annually) APA! (~3,500 dogs for 2012) Canine Live Release Rate 97% 96% (91% City of Austin) ***City of Austin LRR w/o Beh. Euth Pulls = 88% (Under “No-Kill” Criteria) Average Length of Stay 27 days 45 days (excludes dogs < 42 days of age) Returned Adoption rate 11.5% (6 months) 14% % of Returns for Behavior (adopter’s version) 37.5% 35% % for Returns for Pertinent Behavior (shelter’s version) 1% 2%
  46. 46. Industry Obstacles to Saving Lives • Industry Standards: – Behavior Evaluations as culling tools – Categories of adoptable…how? – Breed labeling dogs of unknown origin (visit NCRC) – Emotional issues over training tools and techniques – Misguided “Do No Harm”…but death doesn’t count?!? – Once transferred no questions = false omnipotence – Aggression and Dominance oversimplified and misunderstood • Resource Deficits: (different per organization) – Qualified volunteer coordinators…#1 priority!!! – Staff time/Facility space – Monetary Limitations – Training & Behavior skill set – Brave Leadership in the face of societal challenges… Copyright 2011© by Aimee Sadler, All rights reserved
  47. 47. • The longer we are in sheltering the less confident we are in predicting! • You never know until you try  …and we’ve learned a ton about behavior from trying! • Once an animal is gone there is no way of knowing what they could have been in another context…or with relationship. • We’d rather support our adoptions than euthanize just in case… because we love being wrong! What we have learned from them… Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved
  48. 48. • Revisit your mission statements  • Employ full-time, well qualified volunteer coordinators • Revisit behavior evaluations and how to use the information to allocate resources rather than to cull • Avoid breed specific policies…strive to treat them as individuals • Measure behavior department success with raw statistics rather than categorized statistics • Embrace comprehensive approaches to training and behavior issues and allow community pros to help! • Network and create relationships to support animals based upon your shelter’s resources • Develop adoption follow-up programs!!! Getting to the next level: Copyright 2011© by Aimee Sadler, All rights reserved
  49. 49. • Not just our opinion! – Participation in Cortisol Study in August 2009 revealed significantly that play groups reduce stress in shelter dogs! – Play groups have been introduced to 38 shelters around the country and they are all reporting positive results – Internships at SASF (Aimee’s shelter…we’re getting there!) • Take what you can… – Be comfortable and confident in your application – For us, the benefits far outweigh the risks – Utilizing canine play groups reduces stress while enhancing quality of life and training programs that save shelter dogs lives!!! Belpedio, C., Buffington, L., Clusman, S., Prete, F., Sadler, A., Whittemore, L., & Mungre, S. (2010). Effect of multidog play-groups on cortisol levels and behavior of dogs (Canis lupus familiaris) housed in a humane society. Journal of Applied Companion Animal Behavior, 4(1), 15-27 Conclusion Copyright © 2009 by Aimee Sadler, All Rights Reserved Photo by Brian George
  50. 50. Southampton Animal Shelter Foundation Southampton, NY Point of View Training & Consulting, LLC 303-775-5491 Professional IACP Member #1449 Copyright 2011© by Aimee Sadler, All rights reserved In Cooperation With: Aimee Sadler Director of Training & Behavior Mike Kaviani Dog Behavior Program Manager Austin Pets Alive! Austin, TX 949-697-8451