Monday, March 28, 2016

How One Dog's Life Improved With A New Family

I recently read an interesting blog post by my friend Mary Haight, author of Dancing Dog Blog about dog behavior studies.  She discussed how studies have shown that peoples' state of mind and how they interact with their dog can impact their dog's state of mind and behavior.


Mary's blog post reminded me of our neighbors Bob and Terry and their Boxers.  They love the Boxer breed and in the 15 years I've known them they've had 3.  All their dogs were incredibly well behaved and well trained.  I'll admit I was always a little jealous of that.  My dogs are well trained and well behaved but Bob and Terry's dogs surpass mine in terms of exemplary behavior.

2 years ago an interesting thing happened on our street.  Two women live in a cute little house 3 doors down from ours and directly across the street from Bob and Terry.  They had 3 dogs; two Boston Terrier mixes and a Boxer/Bulldog mix.  Their dogs were extremely unruly and unpredictable.  Like many people, I avoided walking my dogs past their house.

Can a dog's environment bring out the crazy in him?

We'd sit in our yard peacefully having coffee when suddenly we'd hear a ruckus break out!  Their dogs would start fighting with each other, both women would start yelling at them, and it sounded like world war three was happening in their yard. 

And then there was the inevitable dog bite incident.

Bob had been out walking his incredibly well behaved Boxer, with a friend of his tagging along for the walk.  As they walked by the unruly dog house, the dogs of course started going crazy like they always do.  Their front door was open with only the screen door closed.  Shockingly, the larger of the 3 dogs jumped right through the screen and went after Bob and his dog!  As Bob's friend tried to help break up the fight he was bitten by the unruly dog. 

Neighbors were up in arms and told the women they needed to do something to get their dogs under control!  It was clear they couldn't handle their 3 dogs.  They were out of control.  While walking Phoebe one day, I saw one of the women attempting to walk the two smaller dogs together and it was a total fiasco!  She had no control whatsoever.  I snatched Phoebe up in my arms and quickly scurried past them.

Having to avoid reactive dogs in the neighborhood really stinks
I hate having to avoid certain houses or streets because of scary dogs!
Our wonderful neighbors Bob and Terry offered to adopt the Boxer mix from them to help the situation.  We thought they were nuts to take on one of those dogs!  But they liked the dog and wanted to help so they took him in. 

I worried about Bob, Terry, and their own Boxer, but I shouldn't have.  Within just a few weeks I started seeing them calmly walking both dogs together two to three times a day!  The dogs calmly hang out with Bob (on leash) in front of their house too.  I'm so amazed, not only have they gotten this dog totally under control, but he looks so happy and relaxed with them! 

I'm really lucky that Icy & Phoebe get along so well
Bob and Terry's two dogs have been living calmly and happily together as siblings ever since.  The women unfortunately continued to be unable to keep their remaining 2 dogs under control.  Thankfully, they have recently moved out of the neighborhood!

I agree that a dog's environment and owner's personality can have an impact on a dog's behavior.  Sometimes a dog and owner or home environment just aren't the right fit.  Of course, that's not to say that every dog with behavior issues probably lives in the wrong home environment.  Dogs can develop behavior issues for so many different reasons, but it was amazing to see the change in this dog's behavior and life once he moved to a different home environment.  Lucky dog, huh?

Have you seen examples of a home environment creating negative behaviors in a dog or cat?  Leave us a comment and share, we always love hearing from you!

31 comments:

  1. That was nice that Bob took one of the dogs and the the dog is doing so much better.

    The home environment can definitely influence a dog. It doesn't even have to be the owner, just the environment! Phoenix is a great example of this. In our last apartment complex that was much quieter or life was a lot easier. Our new apartment complex has been very challenging. There are a lot of dogs, dogs are constantly barking at us and jumping on the glass as we pass and lots of potential for scary incidents, which make the dogs more fearful and likely to react. I'm hoping we can move soon!

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    1. You're right, Lauren, it may not be owners but the surrounding environment. I know your current living environment has some challenges that add to Phoenix's fear, some of the people nearby are clueless!

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  2. We have a couple of bad dog neighbors in our area. They think it is okay to have them off-leash in their front yard. When we are walking the boys, it is definitely not okay. They always run towards us causing a problem. I'm glad your bad ones moved. ☺

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    1. That's one of my pet peeves, off leash dogs in the front yard! I don't get why some people think it's ok for their dogs to charge passersby to "greet" them. Very dangerous and foolish, you never know what someone else might do to an off-leash dog if it scares or annoys them.

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  3. That is so cool. I see some dogs that are out of control and they people do not spend any time with them. The dogs that attacked Cocoa and I get no human interaction so I do not blame the dogs but people need to take care of their dogs. But I am sure some dogs do best with certain people.

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    1. I'm so sorry that you and Cocoa were victims of an attack! That's awful! Lack of social interaction is not a good thing for dogs, it sparks all kinds of negative behavior

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  4. I fully believe that the home environment and the owner's emotions impact the animal. My life was incredibly tense and stressful when I first got Nola until she was around 16 months old, and it showed in her with serious separation anxiety, reactivity, ect. As soon as I was out of the situation, everything stopped and she became confident and comfortable. Some may have been age, but I have no doubt it was primarily external circumstances.

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    1. Wow, that is such a great story! I'm sorry you had to go through such a rough period but I'm so happy you & Nola got out of that situation and it brought out her true wonderful self! She is so sweet.

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  5. Well, your neighbor Bob is obviously a Boxer whisperer. BOL I am so glad that he took the one dog and was able to make it into a confident and well-behaved dog.

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    1. LOL! Yes, Bob is a total Boxer Whisperer! He is amazing to have taken in that beautiful dog and turned his whole life around.

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  6. What a great save for the boxer mix! I confess, I love it when I'm reading a post and it relates to something in my life. That's why when I saw the study I got excited because I've seen dogs who live in a yell zone kind of home be overly vocal and anxious -- what a great study to finally wrap it up and put a bow on it, so to speak!

    Thanks for the shout out, Cathy =)

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    1. I really believe it was a life saver for that sweet dog. Thanks for inspiring me to write this post Mary! Your post on dog studies got me thinking and reminded me of this incident - I'm sure the environment is what made that poor dog so reactive, it totally fits!

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  7. That's a great story and isn't that dog lucky to have great understanding owners it's amazing the impact the environment/owners can have on a dog.

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  8. YES!!!! I totally believe they react to their environment and to their owners mentality. Dogs are smart and social creatures. When owners yell, scream and there is total chaos - the dogs just think ok - they are barking, we are barking, let's roll! Some owners just don't get it. We live in a rural area, so no problems with neighboring dogs, but I can honestly say that with my own there have been times LOL. If I remain calm and give commands, they listen. If I lose control and start yelling and chaos, then that is what I receive :) Makes me wonder did I train them or did they train me LOL!

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  9. I believe a dog can be a reflection of the owner. What Bob did was so kind to take this dog in and give it a different view of life and make it the confident dog it deserves to be.

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  10. It's a shame when people can't - or won't - control their pets. It has great affects on the rest of the world and they are so oblivious to it. Glad to hear they now have a calm home!

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  11. Great story and thank you for sharing! :)

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  12. Oh I've seen this plenty in our neighborhood and actually feel sad for the dogs that re-direct on each other when we walk by every day. They shouldn't be out on their deck together and I still cannot figure out why they're not separated or just inside!!

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  13. We used to run a trail near our home that we can no longer run because there are people who think having their dogs off leash is okay. We were charged twice. . . so now we can no longer use the trail. :(

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  14. It is so lucky for that dog that someone who could handle him took him in. Sometimes dogs just need a change in environment. Good for the family that took him!

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  15. We once had a dog break through a screen door to charge at us once too - scary!

    I totally believe that an owner's personality can impact their dog's behavior. I suffer from very bad anxiety and also have a reactive dog. When I'm out training him it's often hard for me to put my own anxiety aside so I can work with my dog in a 100% positive manner. Sometimes I end up stopping early or taking breaks just to calm myself down, because I know that when my stress levels are high it impacts my dog.

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  16. It's sad when you have to adjust the route you take on your walk because you know where the out of control dogs live. You never know what someone's personal situation is and why things might be chaotic at any given time. I am in awe of your neighbor, Bob who could have chosen a very different response but instead chose kindness.

    One of my dogs is leash reactive with other dogs and I know both his and my own limitations. I prepare for walks and training sessions with me trying to center myself so that he doesn't have my anxiety or negative energy to contend with. It's a constant ongoing journey.

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  17. What a fabulous outcome - it's so hard when 'out of control' doggies aren't able to receive the proper training or environment to thrive and revive! Yeah for everyone!

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  18. Even though the women weren't competent dog owners, at least they had the sense to let the dog go to Bob and Terry. Hopefully they saw the change in their dog and will be able to learn from it in the future.

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  19. How lucky at least one dog found the right home. All dogs need training. Some are more challenging, especially if they did not get a good start. Our rescue Kilo is terrifying to many on our street as he is certain passersby are out to get him and defends us all. So hard to change. He is always on leash and I hate it when other people do not obey rules.

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  20. We agree that at least one dog found the right home. It's sad when people don't know how to handle their dogs because one too many bites and the dogs will be the ones to suffer.

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  21. I love that you called attention to this, Cathy. Sometimes pets are in households where there is turmoil and then those poor innocent animals suffer. TY for shining the spotlight

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  22. Your friends taking in the boxer mix and totally changing its behavior I think really shows what training can do. How sad for the dogs living in an environment where they are so insecure they are fighting with each other!

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  23. It's great that one Boxer at least found a good home. There's a Border Collie by us that is kept in a yard most of the time and she goes crazy whenever people walk by.

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  24. Great story! There are several houses that we avoid on our walks because of the unruly dogs. I am glad the boxer mix found a good home. Environment can really have a huge effect on how a dog acts and feels!

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