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Archive for April, 2012

Canine Behavior – Aggression, the Fear

It’s funny, because those who are not “canine knowledgeable” tend to slap all canine aggression into one tidy box.  “That dog bites”.  Does it?  Years ago I was working at a veterinarian clinic volunteer.  For my first task, I was asked to put ointment in a dog’s ears.  The dog – a german shepherd who was obviously submissive and fearful, accepted me into her kennel, and up until that point had accepted my touch. I Hadn’t quite gotten the ointment to her ears, but dang, infected ears hurt, so I understood the sudden jerks away.  She was a sweet little GSD afraid of pain. I get that.  Don’t you?

Then another worker walked by and stopped, shock in her eyes.  “That dog bites!  Get out of there.”

Wait a second.  I’m seated on the floor, the dog standing beside me, my hand on her back.  Really?  Of course the instant I heard the words, I was suddenly afraid.  Until you’ve been bitten by a dog, the fear always remains and at this time I was “biteless”.  I moved with extreme care and left the cage, but I noticed at the same time a sudden change in the dog.  She was suddenly more skittish, more fearful.  Why?  Because I was skittish and fearful.  She was feeding off of my fear.

Fear aggression is one of the most dangerous of all aggression among dogs.  It’s pretty easy to identify, if you know what you’re looking for.  The dog crouches.  the dart toward you and back, their ears are back instead of forward, the tail is not only town, but slightly tucked inward.  Maybe ALOT tucked inward, depending on the fear level of the dog.  They make alot of noise!

They’re shouting at you to Go away! You’re scaring me” with every fiber of their being.

I got bitten about two years ago for the first time, in just such a scenario.  It was my own fault really. I’d been asked, in an emergency situation to watch someone’s dog, and didn’t realize until later that I didn’t remember the dog’s name.  We’d only met once before.  I walked into the house – the owner had left all lights out, and I couldn’t find the switch.  All the while this poor dog is terrified, barking and growling. I can’t see her (she’s black) and knew the only way to end this was find a light.  I turned my back, feeling for the switch as carefully as I could, and of course that’s when she struck.

Being the smart lady I am, I did not jerk away.  I didn’t move at all.  Therefore all I ended up with was a horrendous bruise covering my entire calf.  There was no blood, no nothing.  I got the light on, yelled at her to get in the kennel with my meanest alpha voice.  We stood there for a few minutes, both of us trying to decide what to do next.  The poor thing needed to go outside and she needed food.  So, I gave in to my first instinct.

“Wanna go outside?” in my happiest doggy voice.  In an instant she was out, wagging her tail and happy again.  Me, I was rather in pain.  We didn’t have any more instances like that, thank heaven!

So far, I haven’t added fear aggression to any of my characters, but it’s definitely something to consider. The hero’s sister is lost, and everywhere she turns there is only deeper forest.  She moves toward water.  A river.  Look, there’s a waterfall.  Relief.  As she’s taking a sip a man approaches.  Not just any man.  The villain.  He snarls at her, even in human form he knows what she is.  A shifter.  She looks left, and right.  There’s no where to go.  Just water the water fall behind, and the only way out is straight ahead.  Through him.  Evil permeates from him, and she knows she will die if he touches her.  What does she do?   Well, I shall leave that there for you. :)  Feel free to finish it, based off what you’ve learned so far.  What WOULD she do?

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Canine Behavior – Aggression, The Lesson

Hey guys!  Welcome back to my series on Canine Behavior.  Like I mentioned before, a lot of people comment on the amount of true canine behavior I use in my stories.  That’s because years ago, I learned something very important.  Dogs are really not much more than a domesticated wolf.  True, we’ve played with their bodies, and their hearts and minds, in order to mold them into the image we want.  No wolf was ever the size of a yorkie, and no yorkie will ever be the size of a wolf.  But that doesn’t mean they don’t share the most important  thing that keeps them together.  Their soul.  Basic Canine behavior is the same for both, just in differing intensity.

For example, wolves are often described as shy.  They are not.  They are just naturally wary of humans.  Wariness and shyness are not the same.  Dogs have predominately lost this trait.  It’s something we bred out of them.  And yet, now and again, you’ll see that same wariness show up in this breed or that.  Frequently the older breeds, described as “reserved” hold this trait.  Like the Akbash.  Beautiful dogs who are wary of any human not in their family.  So for the rest of this week and next we’ll talk about the one thing that stays with all of them…. with variances only in intensity, and that is Canine Aggression.

And today’s Lesson is….. you guessed it, The Lesson.

Of all the examples of canine aggression this is one of the most terrifying to watch.  It usually consists of one adult teaching a youngster a lesson.  It consists of terrifying growls and snarls, the frightening flashing of long, white fangs.  The youngster tends to cower, and if under about 8 months or so, typically they drop to their back.  If older, they drop and cower on their bellies.  Many trainers will tell you they must expose their bellies.  This isn’t true.  Yes, the most submissive in the dog world will, but the average dog merely drops to his belly and lays his head flat on the ground to the side, twisting their neck to offer a target.  Their eyes typically are tightly held close.  It’s much easier to give in if you don’t see those horrid teeth coming your way, isn’t it?

For a human watching, it’s one of the most shocking of scenes.  I remember the first time we brought our now 14 yr old dog home.  He charged straight to my female lab and bounced off her in pure joy.  She flattened him. With lips drawn back, her mouth open wide, exposing every tooth and fang in all it’s beauty.  Her voice was loud, aggressive, and downright terrifying as she snarled, barked and growled.  She slammed her head back and forth against him, laying those teeth ever so close to that sweet puppy throat.

Blackjack dropped like a rock, cowering beneath those beautiful and yet frightful teeth.  And yet…..

those teeth never once touched that pup.  Not once.  Oh yes, her head slammed against him, telling him she could rip him apart should he want to, just,,,, she didn’t want to.

She used only the amount of force necessary to teach this wild young pup a lesson.  “I’m boss.  You’re not.  I’ll eat you alive if I have to.”

For the rest of his life, Blackjack respected Lisa the way a child respects his mother.  She raised him as if he were her own, and was willing to protect him with her life, if need be.  And yet their first meeting, to the human eye looked as though she was about to destroy that sweet, brown eyed boy.  What to us looked like pure death in those eyes was the start of the most beautiful relationship I’d ever seen among dogs.

In my writing, when an Alpha is fighting a member of his pack, he uses the exact amount of force necessary.  He threatens, he growls, he attacks.  But he rarely injures.  For, unless the one receiving the lesson is truly challenging his authority, there is no need. For all he’s saying is “I’m boss, you’re not.  I’ll eat you alive if I have to.”




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Canine Behavior – Let’s have some fun!

Ok, so I’ve been a very bad girl, and I apologize.  I haven’t blogged for a month – and I”m not sure how that happened.  I think of things to blog about.  I do!  But the next thing I know it’s a week later and it still hasn’t been written.  Well phooey.  It’s probably because I lead such a dull life it’s hard to get excited over basic  blogs about my life and living.  But last nite I realized there’s something in my writing that everyone has commented about, so maybe I should talk about that – Canine behavior!  So I’m staring a little series about canine behavior, how I learned it, examples, and other fun stuff.  Alot of the scenarios I show here have been rewritten into more aggressive and exciting paranormal shifter scenes, so that should be fun for my regular readers.  Others like today’s, is just a simple observation of canine behavior which flies in the face of the supposed “Science” of canine behavior, and makes me laugh.

See, scientists believe that canines are pure creatures of instinct.  They don’t love.  They don’t enjoy life so much as they live it.  They exist only to continue their species.  I’m here to tell you – they are wrong.  Today’s little story will show you that.  Feel free to tell me if this behavior is a conditioned behavior (ie., we taught the dog to do it thru repetition and praise or positive response), an instinctive behavior (ie, the continuation of their species behavior) or something else – like an active feeling and intelligent brain.

So, last nite I was lying in bed next to my youngest dog (young is a matter of perspective here, as this dog is 9 years old.  He’s just younger than the almost 15 yr old). He’s snuggling with me, but is too far for me to do the ultimate sin, which is plant a kiss on the bridge of his nose (muzzle for you canine gurus).  So, I did what any good dog lover would do, I pretended to kiss him, loudly smacking my blown kiss so he’d notice it.  I did it three times.

He blew a kiss back.

No, really, he did.  His little tongue poked out and he gave an imaginary kiss!  How long he’s been doing this is beyond me, cuz I’m sure I’ve always took it to be coincidental, he licked his lips.  But no, I did this three more times.  He did it again.  I went downstairs and showed hubby, and every time I blew a noisy kiss, I got the same response.  A sweet, delicate, imaginary kiss from Ace.

I don’t what you think, but I can honestly say I have NEVER praised him for this behavior until last nite.  By the 100% response he gives, I seriously doubt it’s something he just started last nite.  His smile is not even 100% and I’ve been working on that for years with no change.  He still only smiles upon greeting, though because I like it, he tends to do that more, but I can’t initiate it like I do the blown kisses.

So what do you think? Conditioning?  Instinct?  Or Cognitive function here?

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