My first cattle dog was named Megan. When I met her, she was four months old and on “death row” at my shelter. She was about to be killed because of the heinous offense of chasing livestock—a task she was genetically designed for. Go figure.
Barking is a problem for just about everyone other than New Zealand shepherds. They use “Huntaway” dogs to drive sheep with incessant barking. I don’t blame the sheep. For most people, incessant barking is a problem. People can be driven from their apartments or condos because their dogs bark incessantly. Shelters have trouble featuring adoptable animals because they cannot hear amid barking dogs in a kennel.
Adding training services specifically for the grooming experience is an extremely easy and profitable addition to grooming salons. Simple training services offer benefits for the dogs, their owners, and the grooming staff. Dog trainers and veterinarians are consistently looking to refer clients to salons that are able to offer dogs the benefit of a low-stress experience. Becoming such a salon is easier than it sounds.
About ten years ago I worked on an artificial intelligence project at MIT. One of my first experiences there was to stand in a small room full of all kinds of devices. The professor that invited me to participate handed me a music conductor’s baton and asked me to move it in any repetitive way – side to side, up and down or circles.
One of the blessings of dog behavior is that you can change it. One of the curses of dog behavior is that it can change.
For instance, I was working with a dog yesterday who gets violent if you try to groom his rear end. He is remarkably like Bear, the Mini Schnauzer I recalled in a previous column. If you try to touch this dog’s rear end, he’ll bite you. We have made great progress with this little guy and decided it was time to go to the groomer to test our progress.
Most people think that Darwin created the phrase “Survival of the Fittest.” He didn’t. Darwin himself attributed the phrase to Herbert Spencer. Darwin’s encapsulation of evolution is slightly different:
“In the struggle for survival, the fittest win out at the expense of their rivals because they succeed in adapting themselves best to their environment.”
If you look in veterinary literature, you will find reports of Bull Terriers who destructively bite their own tails. These dogs are so persistent that they often do enough damage to require removal of the tail. The odd thing about this disorder is that removing the tail may not stop the behavior. Some dogs continue to bite at the place where a tail should be.