The Dog Charmer
I have a situation you might be able to help me with.
My dog was attacked by a large pit bull. I’m wondering if he’ll ever get over it.
Dear Mary Ann,
I was sorry to hear about how your dog was ambushed. Unfortunately, I’ve lost count of all the dogs I have been asked to help that were traumatized by an unprovoked attack from another dog. Having spoken with you I was further dismayed to hear how the attacking dog’s owner just took off with his dog and disappeared. I’m glad you took him to the vet and he wasn’t seriously injured. As for your dog, Coco, what you don’t want to do is drown him in pity. The last thing you want is for Coco to feel sorry for himself. Pity weakens!
You want your attitude with Coco to be upbeat and positive, with the goal of getting Coco’s attention redirected into having fun earning treats. First things first, it’s hard to have fun if you’re in pain, so if the vet suggested pain meds, use them. A great game is “Go Find” the treat. Start with strong-smelling treats, like Pill Pockets as opposed to milk bones. Let him smell the treat in your hand and tell him to “Stay”, as you back up acting a little silly (keeping his attention on you), and let him see you place the treat on the floor behind something so it’s not visible. Then tell him to “Go Find” the treat. If he won’t initially stay when told, have someone hold him back or leash him to a doorknob or something. Initially, it’s important that he finds the treat quickly, then slowly make it harder and harder to find, with success building on success. Also, there are also lots of games available where the dog has to move blocks of wood to garner the treats hidden underneath. He’ll love the games.
Next comes the outdoor socializing. If he has any dog friends I’d suggest you set up play dates often. When walking through the neighborhood and you see another person walking a dog you don’t know, call out and ask if their dog is friendly. If you get a real positive response, immediately start talking happily to Coco telling him how he may make a new great friend as you’re giving him treats. If the response has hesitancy in it or is something like, “He’s friendly most of the time”, cross the street talking happily and upbeat to Coco and avoid the meeting. The great majority of attack-traumatized dogs I’ve encountered recovered fully with some time and positivity. Some needed CBD or something similar for a short period of time to get over the PTSD. I’ve also worked with quite a few dogs who were absolutely unfriendly and aggressive to any dog they met, and yet they lived long happy lives without being social butterflies.
Good luck and stay positive
(Been called all three
over the years)