Now I have a clearer understanding of what you want me to realize about the causes of and change in his behavior. All of his life, up until boot camp, Sosa acted with no manners and reckless abandon. He pulled us along on walks, jumped up on people, picked fights with other dogs, demanded attention and seemed to believe that he was in charge of the household. His aggression escalated over time causing stress levels to raise among all three of us. Soon enough, we feared taking him on walks knowing that he would have an unfriendly encounter with another dog or person or both. His behavior propelled our anxiety and frustration taking a major toll on our relationship with him and each other.
Now that he’s at the end of training, I’ve witnessed an unbelievable transformation in his behavior. His state of being is much more calm than I’ve ever seen, usually Sosa is hyper alert and easily affected by stressful situations, noises, etc. The fact that he can remain calm while in ‘place’ until he is released is incredible. Now that he can interact with other dogs and humans without feeling threatened was one of our main goals in sending him to boot camp.
Around you, he doesn’t feel the need to assert his dominance because he knows whose boss. This leads to another major goal of ours which is demanding as much respect as he gives to you. We must take on the role of the leader in the house and not the other way around. Before, by showing him constant affection, not finishing out a command and letting him pull us on walks made him believe we were pushovers and that he could get away with anything.
For the first two to three weeks, we need to make everyday feel like boot camp by doing training sessions and teaching him that this is our world not his. If we fail to keep up the training or give up too easily, Sosa will start resorting back to his aggressive behavior. He reacts aggressively when he thinks we’ll allow it. However, if he’s never in a situation where we aren’t in control than he doesn’t have the option to misbehave.
Before, Sosa was in control of us and we weren’t even aware of it, allowing him the opportunity to show dominance over and claim us. This opened the door to several behavioral issues that it’s now taken seven weeks to break.
I hope I’ve shown a deeper comprehension of the psychology of his actions and I vow to never let up on practicing these principles.
We just finished watching the videos we took today and I think it helped reinforce what we learned. Here’s a summary of our take always from today:
Sosa has the potential to be a very well behaved dog, it is up to us to keep up all the little things you’ve engrained in him over these last seven weeks. When we take him home, above all else we need to make certain that we do not put him in a situation in which we don’t have control over him. For the first two to three weeks, it is our job to demonstrate to Sosa that we have the upper hand. This means that we will not tolerate any bullying, dominance or attempt to take advantage of us. We need to make an effort to show him that he’s not coming home to the parents we used to be.
Despite his overwhelming cuteness, the both of us must refrain from showing too much affection as it will send the wrong message and lead him to believe he can get whatever he wants. Down the line, he’ll end up resorting back to aggression towards not only us but other people and dogs.
Today, we ran into an issue when playing ‘keep away’ with Sosa. He seemed to begin showing signs of ownership over us, the ball and the situation. Given that we weren’t in control, he saw an opportunity to behave carelessly and without regard for our authority. He deliberately harbored the ball and as a result, lost his right to keep playing. To fix this, we need to guarantee our control ahead of time, buy attaching a retractable leash to him, for example.
Other than this, we remember to correct him when he strays from our side on an off leash walk, to remain actively engaged with him when giving instruction, to finish out any command we begin, to not introduce him to anyone until he fully comprehends that we are in control of him, and to maintain a trusting relationship that will last for many years to come.
We truly cannot thank you enough for helping Sosa transform from being constantly stressed and unhappy to a state of peace and relaxation. This will affect all of our lives so profoundly.
Alysha and Isiah