E342: Karen Deeds - When Behavior Goes Wrong

Behavior problems can wreak havoc on our lives with our dogs. So when issues occur what options are there? How do we decide which to pursue? Karen and I take a deep dive into what factors to consider when making those difficult decisions, including the choices no one ever wants to make: rehoming and behavioral euthanasia. 


Melissa Breau: Hey, it's Melissa. Before we start the episode, I just wanted to let you know that we talk about behavioral euthanasia in this episode. If you'd rather not listen to discussion, you might wanna skip this one. Okay. On with the show.

This is Melissa Breau, and you're listening to the Fenzi Dog Sports Podcast, brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy, an online school dedicated to providing high quality instruction for competitive dog sports, using only the most current and progressive training methods. Today I have Karen Deeds here with me to talk about what we really mean when it comes to behavior problems and all of that fun stuff. Hi Karen. Welcome to the podcast!

Karen Deeds: Hey, Melissa. Glad to be here.

Melissa Breau: So go ahead and start us out. Tell us a little bit about your crew. I know you kinda alluded that there's a story there.

Karen Deeds: Oh, there's always a story with my crew. And actually we're dwindling down in numbers now. We're down to eight and we most recently just rehomed one of our dogs. I know that sounds really weird, but we inherited him when he was 10 years old from an elderly woman who had been put into an assisted living facility and he wasn't a good fit for that. So we took him in after we tried to make him a good fit for that and it just didn't work. He was not a good fit for that environment. And so we said, well, we'll take him. And he's a little chihuahua, Italian Greyhound, just jerk of a dog.

Melissa Breau: Right, okay.

Karen Deeds: And we loved him dearly. And after we moved, he just started to develop major allergies and he was scratching himself and he's been on all sorts of stuff. Of course, my sister's a vet and that's why we're here. And we've tried all that kind of stuff.

Anyway, he was just, he just wasn't enjoying his senior years. And an older client of mine reached out and asked if we knew of any littler dogs, senior dogs that needed a home. 'cause she had just lost her previous senior dog that actually we helped her find. And, I said, well, I said, what about this little guy?

And I showed her a picture and she says, oh, he's perfect. So last week Bob did a nosework seminar in Texas and he took him down there and he is in heaven sitting on this little lady's lap, cuddled in her little, in her gown and in her her robe and her fleecy blankies. And she has an old senior Bassett Hound as well.

And they're BFFs anyway, so we're down to eight and we have our low key pet dogs. That's my lab and a little rescue shihtzu that we've had for about two years. And our little MinPin chihuahua, who's, we were his fourth home 10 years ago when we took him in. And he's still very busy, busy, busy, busy, even though he only has one eye.

And so those are kind of our little easy dogs. And then we have our higher drivey sporty working dogs. And they're not doing a whole lot since we're not doing a lot of sports stuff, we're just trying to keep them sane and keep us sane, keep them busy. And then we have two other dogs that were potentially working dogs that came to us.

And one of them actually did pass his assessment as a FEMA USAR dog. And he was placed with a handler. And the handler couldn't handle his toy play, but he was a little possessive over his toy play and there was a bite incident. So he came back and his job now is to be companions for all of our borders that come in, or our youngsters that need a good adult supervision. And then we have another neutral dog, that same thing. He's just, we think he might even be a wolf hybrid. Hell, I don't know what he is, but he's our favorite dog. His name is Ghost. And he has the biggest personality of any dog I've ever met. He's just, you never know what he's thinking, but he's the sweetest thing. But he acts kind of aloof and standoffish and he's just an easy, he's, he's wonderful. We love him. So those are our dogs that we are, we're down to now. So I think it'll stay that way for a while.

Melissa Breau: Fair enough. So I wanted to have you on today to talk about dogs with problematic behaviors. So even that term feels a little bit vague, right?

Karen Deeds: It is.

Melissa Breau: So can you talk a bit about what kind of behaviors we're including here? What do we mean when we use that term?

Karen Deeds: Well, you know, what's a problem to one person may not be a problem to another 'cause there are things that I'm gonna tolerate that another pet dog owner may not tolerate.

That's why we have eight dogs. Of those dogs that we have, I'm gonna say 1, 2, 3, 4. Well, right now, four of the eight were probably dogs that would not have done well in somebody else's home. And it used to be higher than that. And that's why they're with us is because we are willing to either put up with or can manage or have done enough modification to make it work for us.

You know, somebody can't put up with a counters surfer, I don't have kids. I can keep my counters clean. I don't have a problem with counter surfing dogs. Plus I also have a lazy Labrador that probably is too lazy to jump on the counters. And then I have the little dogs that don't jump on the counters. And if the Border Collie and the Malinois are out and had an opportunity and there's something on the counters, absolutely they'd be counter surfing. But I don't have stuff on the counter, so it's not a problem for me. And really, truly counter surfing or trash diving are typically not severe enough that would cause somebody to you know, do something drastic with their dog. But when I talk about a major or serious behavior problem, I'm usually talking about behaviors that put the safety or sanity of the people or other animals or dogs at risk.

So the major four that I tend to see that cause physical and or emotional harm are typically separation anxiety. I don't do separation anxiety. I find it to be one of the most emotional and personal behavior problems that dogs have that owners deal with. And I am thrilled to death that there are specialists that do separation anxiety training now. 'cause I don't wanna do it.

In fact, today, one of our colleagues, when we were back in Texas, she used to work for us. She adopted one of our project dogs and she has separation anxiety and it reared its head after she attended Bob's seminar, his nosework seminar last weekend. And she's like, Karen, she says this separation anxiety stuff is killing me. And she's working with a behavior vet and she's doing all the right stuff.

And I, you know, so we chat a little bit. But it's hard. So separation anxiety is really difficult, I think. And then dogs with excessive extreme fear issues. Dogs that are hiding under the beds 24 7, they won't go outside to potty. They're, they won't eat in front of people.

Those tend to be pretty extreme compulsive behaviors is another one that I find can be very frustrating, especially if the dog can't really function in its day-to-day life because it's doing stereotyping behaviors repetitively. You know, the dog sees a light reflection and it can't eat for days because it's looking for the light reflection. Those are problematic.

And of course, reactivity and aggression, that's what I deal with the most. But there's different types of reactivity or aggression. Of course, there's to people, whether it's in the home or outside of the home, other dogs, whether it's in the home or outside of the home resource guarding again to people or to other dogs. I think I actually have somebody who signed up in my class that her dog resource guards against the cat.

Melissa Breau: Ugh, that'll be fun, right?

Karen Deeds: 'Cause let's train a cat while we're at it. So resource guarding is a biggie. And when it gets out of control, and we'll talk about this a little bit more later, I think, but you know, it can, when it mutates to things that are abnormal, it can get really dicey.

And of course then conflict aggression, which I like working with what I would call conflict aggression. And that's typically aggression towards the owner per se. And it's normally handling issues like collar grabs, leashing, brushing, nail trims, or let's say you try to grab their collar and prevent them from going outside or grab their collar or prevent them from getting on the sofa or pulling them off the sofa.

Those are the dogs that you try to make them do something that they don't wanna do or prevent them from doing something they wanna do. And then of course there's frustration, which can oftentimes result in redirected aggression. So a lot of times this is fence fighting barrier frustration on leash. You know, if I can't chase the car, then I'm gonna go after my sister who's on the other side of mom. And so those, those are some of my, those are my fun things. Those are the things I like to work on. But those are the biggies that I look at that I work with.

Melissa Breau: Yeah. So as somebody who kind of works with these dogs fairly often, when a new behavior case lands in your lap, where are you starting? What are the first couple steps? What are the options?

Karen Deeds: You know, first thing I do is gather information, lots of information. But even with that being said, I don't have one of these, you know, 13 page intake forms like a lot of my colleagues do. I normally, if I happen to answer the phone, we start talking on the phone, I'll start making notes, but then I normally ask the person to email me. So I do have it in writing, but simple things like, what's your dog's name? You know, sometimes when I ask the people their dog's name and they're like, ugh, he's just, and they start giving me adjectives. I know they're already at a frustration level, so I'm already assessing the people part of this.

But typically, what's the dog's name? How old are they? How long have they had the dog? What kind of dog? How big is it? What are the family dynamics? This is a big deal too. You know, if it's just you and your dog, that might be a lot easier to deal with than you, the dog, three kids and a grandma.

And where do you live? Are you in an apartment? If you have separation anxiety, you live in an apartment that's gonna be bad, that's not gonna be fun. Or you have a sound reactive dog in your living apartment. That's not fun either. Are you in a suburb? Are you in the city or in the country? And then if the dog has aggression issues, what are the triggers or, and do they have a bite history? Have they actually done damage to anybody or another dog? And that's all information that I try to gather before I ever book an appointment. Sometimes it's just a case of simply educating them that yeah, maybe your dog doesn't have to go to the dog park. Right?

Your dog is, doesn't like to go to the cafe and be put under the table and have every little kid's stick a pencil up their nose. Yeah, I had that case. A little girl stuck a pencil, actually I think it was the spoon or a straw, up a mastiff's nose and mastiff growled. And she says, what do I do? And I said, I don't know, maybe don't take your dog to a place where there's gonna be kids on the floor sticking straws up your dog's nose. I said, because really and truly your dog was in the right. And she's like, really? I'm like, yes. And she says, I never thought of it that way. You know?

So yeah, you know, I just talked myself out of booking an appointment, which is fine. Yeah. But, so sometimes just educating them that, you know, dogs do communicate with growls and snarls and lip curls and sometimes that's not a bad thing. So sometimes that's, there's that. And then of course if I decide that they do need extra help or in-person help, we'll set up a consultation. And right now it's either a phone consultation or in person.

I do a lot of long distance stuff and sometimes I can do a lot of long distance, just, you know, watch a few videos, do a bunch of emails, that kind of stuff. But my in-person consultations, I like going to the client for a number of reasons. I get to see the client in their home, I get to see the setup.

And I normally spend two to three hours there. It's a lot of time. I don't do a lot of training in that. It depends. But a lot of times I go in and I'm having to still set some ground rules, some management to get to the point that the dog stops practicing the bad behavior that we don't want.

But on the phone, I normally spend an hour and a half to two hours for that initial consultation. And then after that, it's a matter of, okay, we're gonna come up with a management training and behavior mod plan and I can do repeat consults after that or follow ups after that, either on phone or in person. But again, during that entire time, it's not just about the dog. There's a lot of cases I walk into and the dog would probably be barking at me for three hours if we didn't put him in the back room. And that's not conducive to any kind of a conversation. But it's also a situation if that dog can't be managed and put into a back room and is barking for three hours, that's a clue. That tells me that this is not going to be an easy problem to work through. And I never say I can fix your dog's problem. I'll never forget one of my, Ken Ramirez was talking about, he says, you know, anytime we work with aggression, it's a reduction of severity and frequency.

And I use that term, those terms all the time. I said, I want to reduce the severity and the frequency of your problem. I'll never say it's fixed. Although I have some clients that say, you fixed my dog. I'm like, well that's great. But just like any kind of behavior problem or like marriage for that matter, or your relationship with your dog, you have to keep working at it.

It's not just, oh wow, I'm done. And you know, life goes on. Nope. You have to keep with it. So again, it's not just about the dog, you know, that's why we have as many dogs as we have is 'cause they do okay in our environment, but they wouldn't do well. One of eight dogs would probably do well in anybody's environment. And that's my Labrador. I mean, he'd walk away with anybody. It would, it wouldn't be, it wouldn't matter. He'd stay home with anybody, he'd be fine.

Melissa Breau: I hear that.

Karen Deeds: I know, right? But not all labs are like that. My other lab that we have, the ex FEMA dog. Yeah, no, no, no, no. You can't be throwing a toy for him and, and try to play fetch with him unless you know what you're doing. 'cause you will get bit. Yeah. So, so there's a lot of variables regarding the people in the household as well as the environment that I have to assess during that consultation.

And in all honesty, that's why I developed my list of things to consider when working with cases like that. It's not only is the success of training and behavior mod contingent upon those variables, but the best option of what we do going forward is based on them as well. So at what point do you start to maybe get a sense for prognosis, right? At what point, you know, during the eval, are you like, well this dog, we probably are gonna get really far, this product's probably gonna do pretty well, or this dog like we, you know, this is a really rough case, right?

And the word prognosis is something I don't use, I think I leave that for the medical profession but I can kind of go in and say, okay, I have a really good feeling about this. And sometimes, I don't know, maybe at this point in my life since I've been doing it so long, it might be a gut feeling. But there's, again, I have to look at all of those different variables. And sometimes I can do that on the first consultation because at this point I've got a family who's at their wit's end.

They have tried everything they've done, especially if they've done everything, what I would call, right? They've already worked with a trainer who's knows what they're doing. You know, maybe I could go in and tweak a few little things. But all in all, they've been working for a year, year and a half and things just have not improved to the point of safety.

And that's when I go in and go, okay, I don't think I have more to offer. So we may have to look at another option. And sometimes we need time to try to make changes. Sometimes just simple changes. Resource guarding, for example, my dog resource guards, guards this bowl. I said, okay, cool. Feed it in a tray, feed it in a slow bowl. The dog doesn't go, we have one of those, one of our mouths, you've put food in a bowl and he's going, rah, you put it in a slow bowl or a snuffle mat. And he's like, cool, you can take it. I don't care. It's more like my Labrador. So the context changed and the behavior changed.

So sometimes it might be that simple, but I often give people a timeline. Now let's say, let's give ourselves 30, 60, 90 days and let's, you know, apply this process and see how we do. And at some point in time, if you say it's getting worse, it's not getting better, or Oh my God, I can't do this. It's too time consuming. I can't commit to it. Life has changed. We have to make another decision. I tend to give people a timeline to then say, okay, this option of training and behavior modification isn't working. What other option can we have or can we do? And really, there's only four options.

There's management. I do a lot of management with a lot of cases. Like I said, manage it, feed your dog that growls in a, when you feed him, feed him in a crate. Sometimes it's that simple. Oh, I didn't know I should feed him in his crate. And I said, well, if it means your dog's not gonna bite you when you feed him and you walk by and try to take his bowl,

even if it's empty. And that's an easy solution. Management isn't for sissies. I mean, it is a very valid tool in my toolbox. So management may be all we can do. Then there's of course when I get heavily involved, what's management training, behavior mod, rehoming the dog. Maybe we just rehome the dog and we find a environment and a family life that's a better fit for that dog.

That's why we have eight. And then of course we have the worst, you know, result was we have to come to the decision of behavioral euthanasia. And it's a tough one for sure. And I have way too many of those conversations. Way too many. And That's why I, what's been 2016, so how many years ago has that been?

Eight years ago I presented this my, what I'm presenting the webinar, In Whose Best Interest? Because it's not just in whose best interest for the dog, but it's the family and the people in the community. What happens with that dog? And that's when I came up with this whole webinar concept. But it's tough.

Melissa Breau: So I know you mentioned kind of at the end there, what types of cases or information might kind of lead you down that path? What types of, you know, situations I guess, or you know, kind of inspire that conversation or severity? Put it on the table. Yeah, right.

Karen Deeds: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Severity, you know, is the dog so fearful and they've been hiding under the table or under a chair, or especially let's say dad comes home and the dog is under the bed until he leaves the next morning. And that's been going on for three months, four months, five months. And it hasn't gotten better. And they've been doing all the things that's going, that's when I walk in and go, yeah, you know, and you know, maybe there are some things that we can try.

And then we do that and we give ourselves a 30, 60, 90 days and then we still are at the same point. And we go, okay, something else has to give. So that gets put on the table, frequency of the problem. Let's say our dog has compulsive behavior and maybe we resolve the problem with fly snapping, but now the dog chases its tail or now it chases the fan blades, or now it chases a light reflection and it just, it's like playing whack-a-mole. And same thing with resource guarding. Oh, well great, you know, now I can take my dog's bowl away or I can take the chewy away or whatever. But now it's guarding the bed and now it's guarding the sofa and now it's guarding the husband and now it's guarding the cat. And I had one that guarded a purse and then I had one that guarded a piece of lint. And it just, I mean we worked with resource guarding two years and she says, I can't do this anymore. It was a spaniel. And there had been a serious incident at this point.

And we put that on the table and obviously it's hard to consider, but there are worse things than death. And I know that sounds horrible, but living in fear or constant anxiety. So the dog's hiding or terrified of being alone or acting out so defensively that it's gonna hurt somebody or another dog. That's not a good quality of life either.

And then of course I do have to think about the owner's quality of life. And this is where the shelters and rescue people really need to take heed. I had a phone call before I came, before I came to do the podcast. Somebody from Texas had adopted a little dog and hid for two days and then it now only likes two members of the household and there's five people in the household.

And now the dog is barking and lunging, thank goodness it's only a 20 pound dog. And I told her, I said, if this dog were 50 pounds, would you have called me? She says, no, I just would've taken it back. I said, okay. So that's one of my variables is size, right. Size matters.

And you know, it was one of those things she says, I just don't know that I can live with this. Because she adopted two at the same time. One of 'em is wonderful. And then there's this one who is now aggressively going after the other one who's wonderful and going after her kid, her son and his friend, who is now living with them.

So it's gotten worse. Like she said, it's gotten worse instead of better. And I said, and granted I gave her some option of, you know, people she could talk to in her area. But we did talk about taking the dog back to the shelter. And of course she says, well I just hate the thought of that, you know, somebody else is gonna end up with him and maybe do something, you know, to him or he's gonna have to be transferred to somebody else. He said, yes, but now at least we know that this is a limitation. And maybe he would do better as an only dog and quiet household. Maybe he'd be a great dog for a little old lady.

But what happens when that little old lady has her daughter or son come over to visit and the dog is aggressive to that. And I said, are you just passing on the problem? So she's like, oh my God, you make so much sense. And I said, Uhuh, sadly, I try to, but now she's stuck with what do I do?

So I'm guessing she's gonna probably call one of the behavior people that I recommended and she might set up a consult and they might try something for a little while. Maybe it will get better and or at least good enough that she can live with it and that nobody's gonna get hurt. Maybe it won't, maybe she'll have to return the dog. Maybe she'll have to re-home the dog to somebody else. I don't know. But that's, that's the conversation we have.

Melissa Breau: Yeah. So I wanna go a little deeper kind of on resource guarding in particular. I know you've got the class running this term on it. Yes. And I think a lot of people may struggle with knowing what's acceptable levels of communication from their dog and what's actually problematic and what actually kind of crosses that line. The dog's actually guarding food and chew and other resources. So talk to me about that line. Where is it?

Karen Deeds: And, and, and I think that line may be different for everybody. Like we have one of our malis, I mean, and he's been doing it since he was a baby, since he was a puppy. You put his bowl in the crate and you as he's eating, but I could probably open the door and pick up his bowl, he'd be fine. But even if he's in the room by himself, he's still doing that. And I'm like, dude, and this is, this is one of, this is the dog that Bob did bite sports with for a little while. He has a lovely temperament. He is not the brightest bulb in the box, but he is a 90 pound Belgian Malinois. And he looks and sounds horribly ferocious and he's not. So why is he grumbling? I don't know. I'd ask him, but he is not gonna answer. So for me, I just go, yeah, he grumbles when he eats and even if I'm not there, he's gonna grumble. So I'll just let him grumble.

Do I worry about fixing it? I don't. That to me was very, that's just who he is. Got it. No problem. My Border Collie mix, when I got him major resource guarder, lots of issues, conflict, aggression, frustration, redirection, Jesus, you name it, I had it with him and resource guarding.

And now, I mean, I think if I fed him and I feed in the crate, because I just don't, that's just something I manage. I feed the dog, I leave him alone. It's, you know, I wanna be left alone when I'm eating. I don't want somebody, even my husband coming up and stealing a french fry. If I want him to have a french fry,

I'll give him a french fry or whatever. But I think it's very normal for a dog, especially over food, to go, this is mine and I want you to stay away from it. So maybe it's the freeze, maybe it's the lip curl, maybe it's the, you know, the, the whale eye. The whale eye is typically one of the biggies.

And to me, if the dog gives me that warning and I heed that warning and I back off, the dog goes, oh thanks. And they keep on, to me that's perfectly normal communication. It's when the dog escalates and sometimes we don't know why the dog will escalate, will the dog actually take the resource? And I have seen dogs pick up a bowl and move it away and eat over there.

Or they move the bowl with their nose and eat out of the side so that that's closest to the person approaching, that's resource guarding. Or they eat faster or they eat slower. All of those are just little teeny tiny signs of some guarding behavior. And so to me, if that's as far as it goes and it's something I can easily manage, I'm cool with that. But when it becomes a problem, especially for me, is if I were to put a food bowl down and you know, let's say as I'm closing the crate door, for example, the dog comes at my hand. Now I've got that dog too. Now he's there for training. That's a little Pasta. You will see him in my class a lot.

He was in my little demo video and the only reason he's still alive, he has no owner. People keep asking me if he's mine. The answer still I think is no. But I I adore him. He reminds me so much of Dempsey, my Border Collie, he's got a lot more fear issues than Dempsey does.

But the cool thing about Pasta is, number one, he's cute and I love his name 'cause I gave it to him. But the other thing is his bite inhibition is amazing. He's never even put a dent on me. He's put his teeth on me barely. So he's a level two and I don't think it'll ever escalate. But it used to be, I used to have to throw his bowl to the back of a crate and close the crate door fast enough so that he wouldn't charge out at the crate to get me. I don't have to do that anymore, but I still feed him in his crate. So I mean, we've made progress, but I, you know, that would probably not be acceptable to the general public and rightly so.

So I did work on that. Now do I care that if I open the crate door and I reach in while he's eating and take the food bowl that he growls at me, I don't, I fed him, I gave him the bone for example, if I gave him something and he doesn't want me to take it, that's perfectly normal for me, obviously are times when I give them something and I'm just like, okay, you've had enough of that, like a raw bone. I don't want you to eat the whole knuckle bone 'cause you know, you might get diarrhea or whatever. So I'm gonna have to pull you away from that. Well I have to train that. So that is definitely something that I would work through.

You know, what is acceptable, what isn't goes back to your lifestyle. And in all honesty, with all of those situations that I described that I will tolerate, I'm not sure I would tolerate that with a dog if I had small children. So there goes back to the environment and the people in the family resource guarding dogs with small children, that's a toughie.

And then you have to look at bite inhibition. 'cause that's one of my variables. Severity of the aggression, Pasta's a level two on the Ian Dunbar scale. And I'm good with that. Yeah. 'cause it's just me and my husband. I honestly don't know if he guards against other dogs, haven't put him in that situation.

There's no point. There's no reason to. He'll play with toys with other dogs. So I don't, I think it's only going to be food objects that he would guard if he would guard there. But, 'cause that's what he does with, and he would guard toys when I first got him. So toy play has become very instrumental in resource guarding training to me.

Melissa Breau: I love that. Right. Yeah. So I know you kinda mentioned a couple of things in there and so I kind of wanna pull them out. You mentioned kind of feeding in the crate and you mentioned, you know, maybe trying some different situational setups. So talk to me just a little bit more about some of the options when it comes to management strategies. And sometimes it sounds like yes, sometimes that's enough, it just kind of depends on the case.

Karen Deeds: Yes. It does, it does. And and even during training, and that's probably one of the very first things we're gonna do in class is I have to get to know the dogs and then we have to make sure that we can assess the dog's threshold, safely, crates, exercise pens, back ties or tethers, muzzles, baby gates. All of those things will probably be put to use when I manage as well as when I try to assess the threshold. So, you know, those are the things that I'm gonna utilize the most. And muzzles are hard because, I mean, if the dog is trying to take something and run and it has a muzzle on, that's gonna create frustration. Right? And a lot of times, you know, in fact, I think somebody contacted me privately and asked if, you know, they've gotten their dog to the point that they can approach an empty bowl, but if there's even one kibble in the bowl, they can't. And part mainly because you can't work with just one kibble because by the time you have the threshold, the one kibble is already gone. Right? So I've used snuffle mats a lot to start the desensitization and counter conditioning process because the dog is, it's different context that helps, but it's also slowing down the dog so that it's not inhaling its food and it's giving you more times to approach, you know, condition leave approach, condition leave approach, condition leave approach, condition leave approach, just simple classical counter conditioning. And I try start with typically desensitization and counter conditioning. That's really the hallmark of working with resource guarding cases. However, that's what I start out with is simple desensitization, counter conditioning, but I also teach a classically conditioned drop. I just have never found trading a very great way to work through resource guarding.

Now dogs that steal stuff for fun or for attention or preventing dogs from becoming guarders, trading might be fine. I just find it builds in a lot of conflict. And then of course there's, we don't wanna trick the dog, you know, I'm gonna throw your toy over there and then I'm gonna steal this toy. Well, you can do that once or twice, but after a little while, the dog's gonna go, eh, eh, eh. And so that's a game I play a lot. In fact, one of the videos I have, I think in my, my little demo thing was, you know, I'm giving Pasta, a little raw hide, he's chewing on it and then I give him another one and I pick up the first one that he dropped.

And then, so I'm, I'm taking it, but I'm giving it and I'm taking it and I'm giving it back and I'm taking it and I'm giving it back and I'm take, he's like, oh wow, you can take it and you're gonna give it back. Maybe you're not such a, you know, an ogre after all.

Melissa Breau: A thief.

Karen Deeds: Exactly. You're not setting me up to fail. So I do that and then I also teach a remote positive interrupter. It's basically remote reinforcement. I say cookies and we all run to a specific point and get a cookie. And if that's taught well enough, it's going to interrupt. And this is really good for dog to dog stuff because if you, and learning body language is key, especially when if you have dog to dog resource guarding, 'cause you're gonna get that little look right? You're gonna get that, hey, I'm thinking about telling you to back off. And that's when most people go, ah, ah, don't do that. And of course the fight erupts because you yelled, they yelled back. So instead I go "Cookies!" and we run to the kitchen and we all get a cookie from the cookie jar.

And that has to be trained really well. Has to be very predictable. That look has to be there. And especially if I'm working two dogs, I want at least, you know, three o'clock and six o'clock, I want them opposite sides or at least four hours separating themselves so that they're not side by side. I might get to that point, but I never start that point. And I might even have to teach this concept with a barrier in between a coffee table, a baby gate, an exercise pen, the crate, whatever is gonna keep them safe to teach them that, you know, you're always on my left. You're always on my right. This is where we get our cookie. This is where you get your cookie dog A dog B dog a dog B dog A dog B. And that becomes predictable.

So when I say cookies, they run to their sides and they get their cookie and they go, oh this is, so I know exactly what we do in this situation. Same thing with sleeping on the sofa. This is your spot, there's that spot, you know, but that itself can create a problem, right? Oh, well that this is my spot. I don't want my dog walking by my spot. That's whack-a-mole. That is where, okay, we fixed one problem, but we've created another dog to dog resource guarding is not fun. And sometimes is it resource guarding or is it just, I don't want you close to me. Is it, I don't feel safe if I feel threatened. Is it just a label? I don't know. Could be. Yeah. Yeah.

Melissa Breau: So you mentioned in there counterconditioning and desensitization. Is that kind of the next step after management? Is that usually where we go?

Karen Deeds: Yes. Once you've kind of got that management in place. Yes. Yeah, I mean I kind of do a little bit of everything. I wanna start teaching the drop without, you know, I wanna condition the word drop or spit. That's one of my favorites too, is spit. One of my clients was already using drop for her toy and, and you know, I'm really big on clarity, thank you. Multiple marker cues.

And so I teach that I want, when I say spit, I'm only going to use spit or drop or whatever the cue is. I'm only gonna use that for a resource that they're gonna get something higher value. And there is, there's a lot of things that will never be higher value than a stolen sock. There's not anything that a dog steals, there's nothing higher value. So if we condition a word that means eat food and the dog hears that, they don't even think about, I must eat food. So they take what's ever in their mouth and they spit it and then they go to you because it meant we're gonna get a cookie at the counter. So you know, or we're gonna come to you and we've spit out whatever we've got, then we have to work on picking it up. Or maybe, and I've got some people that we use a remote positive interrupter as who wants to go outside and they'll go, oh God, I do. And they drop whatever conflict they were having and they all go to the door and we all go outside and we're done. So that's a remote positive interrupter there.

Yeah. So it just depends on the dogs, it depends on the situation. It totally, yes. And that's why class is gonna be whew, that's of variables. My God. And every working spot's gonna be different, I'm sure. And it's gonna be more of a handler's choice, which is what, which is what behavior classes are.

Yeah. Right. I mean, if I were teaching just a concept, you know, like my confidence class, that was more concept stuff. I wasn't there really doing behavior mod. This class is a behavior mod class. My reactive integration class was a behavior modification class. And granted they still have to have some foundation, but once we have some of these tools in place, it's gonna be, okay, well you need this tool in this situation and you need that tool in that situation. But first and foremost is management. We wanna try to identify the triggers or at what distance with what object does the dog guard.

And then I like to create a hierarchy. What is your dog's most valuable things? Normally it is whatever they steal, I don't care what it is. Underwear's big, shoes, socks, whatever. Normally it's a personal object. Dish towels tend to be very, very popular. Yes. They steal 'em off the counter. And I have to admit, golden retrievers are high on my list for resource guarders. Number one dog I work with for resource guarding is probably a golden, bloodhounds are typically pretty gnarly too.

If they have resource guarding, they'll do more damage. But I have worked with a golden who've sent their owners to the ER three times before we euthanized him. Yeah. And, one of the variables they had already tried training that I wouldn't recommend. And it got worse instead of better. And so when I got there, we already had so much mistrust and we couldn't manage this situation.

And there were, there ended up being a kid becoming involved again, which wasn't a factor when we first started working together. But then the kid moved home from college and he became a victim ER visit. And so we had to pull the plug, which I mean, it just is not fair. But I look at a dog like that and go, wow, you're not very comfortable in your skin. It must be hell living like that. It's not fun for you. And so when we can do things to ease a dog's suffering, I don't think that just has to be about physical suffering. Case in point, and I'm probably gonna cry. Last week, that's Thursday, 18 month old Chocolate Labrador. I held him in my arms.

He was severe separation anxiety. He did not have an owner. He was 75 pounds of way overaroused. He was already on 60 milligrams of fluoxetine and clonidine three times a day. He had an underbite he had was drooling constantly excessively severe separation anxiety over arousal. Every time I worked with him, it was like 51st dates. And he was disgusting.

He was drooling on himself. He had an underbite. We had ruled out gut issues. The rescue group had spent, I don't know, thousands on this dog. And the rescue group was, the owner was actually going through chemo. And I said, I just don't see how this dog is ever gonna be adoptable. And I said, and I can't send him back to you like he is.

I think we need to, we need to make another decision. And so I'm picking up his ashes today and he'll go home with me and he'll stay with me forever because I felt this dog was suffering emotionally. He was not a happy dog. There was nothing happy about him. He was ridden with anxiety. He was eating eight cups of food a day and I was still having problems and training food.

And it was just, it wasn't fair. It wasn't fair to him, wasn't fair to me, wasn't fair to the rescue group. And it certainly wasn't fair for me to try to look for an adopter and say, okay, here's this really great dog that's not, and you're gonna have to mop up after him every day four times a day. I cleaned his crate an inch thick of saliva.

It's just gross. Anyway, so yeah, it stinks. But sometimes I look at the dog and he had no home. He had no owner that was dedicated to him. And there's a reason for that. I know why it was hard to dedicate to that versus Pasta. The dog that wants to bite me, I'll dedicate to that.

He's cute, he's fun, he's biddable and I don't think he's a nervous wreck. He's fat, dumb and happy 90% of the time, unless he's guarding or unless there's a geese flying over our car. So most of the time, most of the time quality life is usually pretty good. Yeah. And he's fun and I really think he could probably do some sort of a sport. He's just not even a year yet. But anyway, so I just looked at him and went, okay, Trav, it's time buddy. Yeah. So yeah.

Melissa Breau: So you did mention in there a little bit about kind of keeping the people safe, right? So as part of the management, so just talk to us a little more about how, you know, working on all of this, how do you avoid getting bit, how do you avoid kind of this emergency room visit piece of things, right? And If you have that dog that you don't know what his triggers are, you're probably gonna get bit, and that's one of those variables is it a bite that the dog gives you a lovely little warning, he puts his teeth on you and you feel some spit? Or does he send you to the ER? Most people, if their dog is sending them to the ER, they're pretty much not ready to work through the problem. That's not everybody that's, I mean, I get that. And if I have that, we're probably gonna be doing a lot of protected contact a lot.

If we can identify the specific resource that triggers it, obviously that's, that's gone for a long time. And if we can try to create a hierarchy, you know, what can your dog have that they don't guard, let's start there and then let's do some training with approaching and counter conditioning and get him so that he's not already guarding, but he sees the picture of, oh wow, I'm eating food outta my snuffle mat. The lady walks up, she drops cheese, she walks away, oh, I'm eating snuffle mat lady walks up, drops cheese, walks away, eating outta my snuggle mat lady walks up, I lift my head and go, Hey lady got some cheese drop, cheese walk away. That's when I know I'm seeing a difference.

The dog is now giving me a behavior that I can actually, I don't have to condition that I can now actually train that. So that's where I would try to start. If I don't have that, I'm dealing with probably a lot of tie outs, a lot of tethers resource guarding with a muzzle is tough because the dog can't access the resource, right?

So then we create more frustration. So we do double X pens, which all can have a lot of fallout themselves because now the dog is restrained. Now it's frustrated, now can't communicate. Well, you know, we all know barrier frustration. I mean when you watch my webinar, one of my favorite videos is in there. It's of the dog's fence fighting. And as the gate opens, they stop because the fence isn't there anymore. It's just the stupidest thing, right? You go, dude. So you have to take in, in that into account, you know, like I said, my Malinois while he is eating, but I open the crate during he goes, Hey, hi Karen. He is fine. So is that a barrier frustration? Probably. Maybe. I don't know. I really, I really don't care. 'cause it's an easy management. He's 10, 11 years old, he's fine. He's not hurting anybody.

But you know, if I have dogs that are putting you, sending people to the ER, there are a lot of those people that will never get to the point of behavior mod if they can't safely manage things. And then it might be a situation where we don't even try. I'll be happy to, but again, I have to look at, okay, you have a open floor plan, you'd have no doorways. We can't put baby gates here, open floor plan, and we're gonna have to use exercise pens and oh wait a minute, that dog can jump a six foot exercise pen or a four foot exercise pen. I think that's the highest and come after you. That's gonna be hard to, to contain eye bolts in the baseboard. Is that something you're willing to do? And maybe it may be what we have to do.

And of course then, you know, if that's a situation, if I've got that kind of severity, I'm probably gonna suggest behavior vet ASAP period. Give me a chance, man. I mean, I gotta change something. I can't change something environmentally and with the people and the dog, I'm gonna have to try to change it. The dog and I might have to use drugs. And that's hard to find. That's, again, that's one of my variables. Is there a behavior vet in your area that you can see within something less than six months that's gonna help you? And the answer is oftentimes no. Yeah. All right.

Melissa Breau: So we've covered a whole lot of ground here.

Karen Deeds: Wow. Yes.

Melissa Breau: I know you're doing the webinar. So when this comes out, the webinar will have happened yesterday, but it'll still be up for sale. And you've got the class and they both kind of tie into what we've been talking about. So can you give people kind of a quick synopsis of what each is and maybe who might wanna join for each?

Karen Deeds: Sure, sure. So In Whose Best Interest? The webinar: shelter, shelter staff, rescue groups, veterinarians who have to, we work with clients who have dogs that bite them or that have severe separation anxiety or who terrified, or compulsive trainers, behavior consultants, dog owners. I honestly think the concept of options and behavior euthanasia is something everybody needs to be educated about.

And I am very happy to know that there is less stigma associated with it. When I first wrote this and the very first couple of times I recommended to a rescue group to euthanize a dog that had a bite history, my nickname became Killer Karen. Killer Karen. That's who I was. And it hurt. But I felt that it was what was best for the community, for the dog, and for any potential adopters obviously. And so I think the shelters and rescue groups really need to know that. But I'm also very thankful that there's not the stigma, but I also worry that, how do I say this? That maybe we're not trying hard enough on some dogs that it's an easy out. I don't want it to be that either.

I don't want behavior euthanasia to go, well, I don't wanna do it, so I'm just gonna put him to sleep. I really think I wanna try something first before I make that decision. I was in Korea in December and I was at a dog bite prevention symposium and one of the other presenters there was from Germany. And she says, we don't do behavior euthanasia there, we don't allow it. They also have certifications for everybody who trains a dog. You have to have some sort of certification that goes through the veterinary profession. Now granted, there's good and there's bad, but at least you have to show some sort of proof that you know what the heck you're doing.

And she says, so we require that they, if a dog is brought in for behavior euthanasia, that the owner has to prove that they are at risk, there's livelihood at risk in the household, other people or other pets, and that they have tried working through the problem and that they can no longer manage it anymore. She says, we barely do any behavior euthanasia. She was a veterinarian. And it made me stop and think that, okay, yes, we support behavior euthanasia when it's necessary, but is it too easy? So it's a fine line. We have to, we have to go, okay, is it too easy? And there's some wonderful support groups out there losing Lulu. I am gonna, I'm gonna mention it, it is an amazing Facebook support group out there for people who have been through behavior euthanasia.

Obviously I'm on it. Everybody that I have worked with who have gone that route, I recommend they be on it. If nothing else. It's nice to know you're not alone and you grieve, oh my God, do you grieve that you feel guilty, then you feel guilty because you feel relief? It's hard. And I never wanna to get calloused about it.

No, I'm gonna cry. And I think sometimes, gosh, of the dogs that I've been there for, did I do enough, most of the dogs, I think I have over 30 boxes of ashes. A lot of them, probably 40. A lot of them were not, were dogs that did not have an owner. And I was their last hope and did I fail them?

That's something that sometimes keeps me awake at night. And I think it's good that you have that emotion, that it's not an easy out and that I do have empathy and sympathy for the situation and that I can grieve and that I still am grieving. I never go, oh, thank God he's gone. Woo. I mean I, you know, I'll quit the day I do that the day I go, thank God that dog is gone. He was such a pain in the butt. That's when I need to hang up my credentials. I just, it's, that's not right. So anyway, so for the webinar, I think everybody needs to think about it or to watch it because even if you don't have to go through that, you probably will know somebody at some point in time who is going to have to make a tough decision. And you need to probably know what it took for them to get to that decision. So In Whose Best Interest I think is amazing for shelters, rescue groups, dog owners in general, veterinarians, especially trainers, behavior consultants. I have given my list out my variables to many, many, many, many colleagues over the years. And it has helped them to counsel one of their clients when they're having to make a decision. And it's just, it's just something you can go, okay, well I've thought about this or I've never thought about that. Oh my god, I had no idea that maybe because I live in Texas and we have all these thunderstorms and my dog is thunder phobic, that is contributing to my dog's generalized anxiety and his aggression.

Yeah. So the area of the country is actually one of the variables that I analyze. So that's a good one for everybody. The class itself: Resource Guarding. Oh my god, I have to admit, I'm, I'm scared to death of what I'm gonna have in my class. Jesus.

Because it's gonna be very customized. It has to be. But, so if you have a dog that has resource guarding, absolutely. I think it's sold out now. The gold is sold out, so yay. But if you have a dog that you know, you worry that might become a resource guarder or is already a resource guarder, obviously it's a good one for you. If you have a multiple dog household, I think it's, there's a lot of really good information that will help you maintain sanity in a multi dog household. Or if you're adding a puppy, somebody emailed me, oh my God, I just added a puppy and you know, my dog is resource guarding against the puppy.

And I'm like, yeah, you had the puppy three weeks. Most adult dogs don't want new puppies. So maybe this isn't just resource guarding, maybe this is just, you don't, they just don't like each other well enough yet. And it will just take time. But some of the things that I'll teach in that will certainly help that process. And of course if you're a trainer and you work with people that have resource guarding, I think there's some things in there that you might see. And of course if you're in the, if you have a bronze or a silver or gold, whatever the Facebook group, I have a feeling it's gonna be pretty active. I hope so I don't have a TA because I'm a newbie, so I'll be doing all of that and it keeps me busy.

So I'm looking forward to that. So I think there's a resource guarding class, when Teri asked me if I would would teach it, she says, you know, we've never had anybody teach a class. And I went, well, okay, challenge accepted.

Melissa Breau: Yeah, Fair enough. Any maybe final thoughts or key points you just kinda wanna leave folks with?

Karen Deeds: You know, behavior is not training, but what I love so much about Fenzi is that when I first started working with God, I went, I think the first time I saw Denise Fenzi, Jesus, I wanna say 2014, 2012, heck, I don't remember long time ago. I think it was 2012. I'd have to go back and look. It was my little golden, and she was dog reactive. And I went to a seminar and she called her a Ferrari. She says, you're a Ferrari. I said, she's got a, she's a little Ferrari. And I went, God, I needed a Chevy and or a Ford. And because she's, she was pretty hot. I was not, I mean, I, you know, I mean, I spent more time walking with Denise than I did training my damn dog. But what I loved about all of that is we addressed emotions in training skills, especially for the ring as much as we did the skills, because obviously the better the emotion, the better the skill. A lot of times I don't care about skill because I'm working with behavior.

I'm actually quite interested. There's some things I wanna try that Alex Lato presented, and I think there's some things I wanna do with that. So, I hate to say this, but there might be some Guinea pig going on, Guinea pigging going on in my class as well. But I could see some really cool stuff happening using some of that, that process.

But he did some really cool stuff. They're not great for every resource guarding issue, but I think there's definitely some that it would apply. I like it. And I, and I do use negative reinforcement. You know, obviously it's not my first choice, but sometimes we have to use some negative reinforcement. But again, I just love that FDSA is not just, well make 'em do it, you know?

You know, they have to be precise. Well, we want 'em to be happy and precise. And that is one of the things that I love so much about FDSA and all the instructors here, is we want to, the good emotions to go with the good training. And I'm very happy to be here.

Melissa Breau: Awesome. Well, thank you so much for coming on the podcast, Karen, this has been fabulous. Thank you, Melissa. It was great to be here. Awesome. All right. And thanks to all of our listeners for tuning in. We'll be back next week. Don't miss it. If you haven't already, subscribe to our podcast in iTunes, or the podcast app of your choice to have our next episode automatically downloaded to your phone as soon as it becomes available. Today's show is brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Special thanks to Denise Fenzi for supporting this podcast, music provided royalty free by bensound.com. The track featured here is called Body Audio Editing provided by Chris Lang. Thanks again for tuning in and happy training.


Today's show is brought to you by the Fenzi Dog Sports Academy. Special thanks to Denise Fenzi for supporting this podcast. Music provided royalty-free by BenSound.com; the track featured here is called "Buddy." Audio editing provided by Chris Lang.

Thanks again for tuning in -- and happy training!

Precise Position Changes: Foundations
What Now? My Dog has behavior problems and I don’t...

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