The Bitey End of the Dog

How Severe is Your Aggression Case? A Bonus Episode With Michael Shikashio!

December 12, 2022 Michael Shikashio CDBC Season 3 Episode 35
The Bitey End of the Dog
How Severe is Your Aggression Case? A Bonus Episode With Michael Shikashio!
Show Notes Transcript

Whether you are a behavior pro, part of a shelter or rescue team, or a pet guardian, the decisions to navigate in an aggression case can be overwhelming! 

It's a "solo show" where I discuss the prognostic factors in aggression cases to help clients understand the severity of their situation, and determine potential outcomes. 

It's also a special bonus, bonus episode all about setting expectations and determining potential outcomes in aggression cases as Season 4 doesn't officially launch until June of 2023!

Other topics in the subscription series focus on specific types of aggression cases such as territorial aggression, stranger danger, dog to dog aggression, and more!

Subscribe to more bonus content by hitting the "subscribe" button in your Apple Podcast player OR sign-up here and add the subscription to most podcast players, such as Spotify:

Learn more about dog aggression here:

Support the show

Hey guys, welcome back to the by the end of the dog, this is a special bonus bonus episode, it's a little bit of a preview a little different than what I usually do, because I usually have a guest on with me, but this is a solo show. And it's gonna give you a preview of the bonus episodes that I've been doing for the help for dogs with aggression subscription series, you can find that by going on Apple podcasts, and you can hit the subscribe button right from your podcast player. Or you can go to Super Cast, which is where I have my site, I'll list that in the show notes for this, you can subscribe there as well, and get a link to the bonus episodes on any of your podcast players. I want to jump into this topic of what to do with a dog that someone is having a difficult decision with. It's a question I get a lot, you know, Hey, Mike, what should I do with my dog? What's the potential outcome here? Do you think my dog is sort of a redzone dog or not? Is my dog Cujo? You know, there's so many questions. And I find that a lot of pet guardians can get confused, because they're getting all this information from all these different sources, right. So they're getting information from online and from their friends and family, from their co workers. Everybody's telling them different things to do. And, as you might know, a lot of people sort of fancy themselves as a dog expert, and they want to give you what they're trying to do is helpful advice. But it can sometimes create more of a confusing picture as far as what to do with your dog, if they have a history of aggression, especially if they've been somebody. So let's jump into the options here. You know, what do we do? What are the typical options or outcomes in aggression cases, so a dog that's showing aggression or has bitten somebody before? Well, the most rosy plan, especially for us, as trainers, and behavior consultants, is called management with behavior change, meaning we manage the dog to prevent any further aggression. And then we also work on changing the behavior. That's what our goal is, in most of our cases as trainers, and we hope for a positive outcome. But unfortunately, that's not always realistic. And I'm going to go through all those variables that help us decide that you might also look at just management alone, that can work in some cases, I've had cases where I go into home, somebody calls me like, I can't believe my dogs growling and snapping at me when I when I go near his food bowl while he's eating. And so I'll go to the home. And I'll say, Okay, first thing we need to do is manage this. So we can't practice that behavior, we don't want them getting more stressed, you don't want to get more stressed. So let's, let's feed your dog in a separate room, or maybe you're in their crate, or somewhere away. So that way, nobody walks by them. And they turned to me and save sometimes look at me and say, Hmm, that's such a great idea. I never thought of that, I could do that. And that solves the issue. So here's your check in See you later. That's straight management. Of course, that's not always the case. But that can be management alone. Some cases of aggression can just be straight management with no behavior change strategy involved, as long as the dogs living a good quality of life, right. The next option, the third option might be re homing the dog. And of course that has some considerations as well, it can be dangerous to do so in some cases, it can be unethical, you might have to consider the risk of the general public, other animals, children, other people, of course, when considering re homing, so it's not always an option. It of course, can be a very realistic option. In some cases, maybe a dog has dog to cat and aggression issues. And so it's easily to rehome that dog to another home without any cats or no free roaming cats in the area, hopefully. And sometimes it's very reasonable to do that. The fourth option, which is of course, a difficult topic is behavioral euthanasia. So when the dog is not living a good quality of life, or the quality of life is diminishing so much because of management or we've tried many different behavior change strategies, or the dog is inherently dangerous behavior. Euthanasia can be a realistic consideration. And it's something we need to talk about more because the whole concept of saving them all, as unfortunately unrealistic, because there's some dogs that are truly dangerous to society. And it's just not ethical to keep those dogs living with us as humans or other dogs. A good question to ask yourself is, you know, would I be okay with this dog living right next door to me, and my family and maybe my kids and maybe my dog or animals? And if the answer is no, it should give you pause for thoughts about hey, maybe I need to consider this a little bit more. So I'm gonna give a shout out to losing a lulu. So it's losing Liu Liu, which is a wonderful Facebook group run by my colleagues, Trish McMillan and Sue Alexander. It's a support group for the folks that have had to opt for behavior euthanasia, they have 1000s of members, all very supportive, all very well run. So I highly recommend checking out losing Lulu on Facebook. If you are either considering this decision, or you have made this decision in you acquiring support. And then the fifth decision you can make in these cases is doing nothing and just living With it, sometimes you might realize it's actually not as severe problem, are you able to kind of manage it and combine it. But doing nothing can sometimes be what happens in these cases. Of course, again, as trainers and behavior consultants, we try to opt for that first option, which is management with behavior change, somebody calls us out, and we get to start the case start to finish and everybody lives happily ever after, right? But again, unfortunately, that's not always the case. So I'm going to go through this, all of the components of the prognosis, I call it, prognosis is simply, what do we expect the potential outcome to be based on similar cases in the past that we've taken on and considering the variables in that case? So I'm actually gonna go through 18 different variables through in this podcast episode. But hopefully, it'll give you a more robust picture of how we assess severity and potential outcomes. So let's talk a little bit more about that severity. How do we know if it's something severe, you know, whether you're a trainer or your pet Guardian, and you're kind of trying to decide, you know, how severe is my case, just how bad is it. And sometimes we might focus just on just the damage, right, so the dogs bitten somebody very severely, that person has gone to the hospital, and at face value that might seem very severe. But there's many other variables we need to consider as to what precipitated that bite, how old the dog is, what kind of dog it is all so many different things. And I'm going to jump into those. So you're going to find out that it's not just about the damage. Now, of course, that matters. But what's not the only thing we want to consider when we're looking at potential outcomes in these cases. So, you know, why do we have this prognosis? Why do we have this, you know, overall outlook, and I do this with every one of my clients, I try to help them understand. If you're a trainer consultant listening in, this is going to be a very helpful tool for communicating with your clients to help them really understand to get on the same page, as far as what are we going to do here? What are our realistic goals? What are we going to set for a realistic goal and is it realistic, and are both of us on the same page, because if you're on separate pages, and your client is looking at a really lofty goal, and you have something else in mind, that's one of the fastest roads to compassion, fatigue and burnout. So, it's good to have this prognosis talk, it doesn't take long, you don't have to go through all of the components, you might focus on the most important variables. But it is important to have this consideration. If your pet Guardian listening into the podcast, then this is a very useful conversation to have or considerations. Even if you're not meeting with a behavior consultant, you'll kind of factor these things in as you listen to the rest of the episode, that's gonna give you more of an objective outlook. It helps to remove some of the emotions, it's of course, it's impossible to remove all the emotions when we have a dog with aggression issues, but it does help us look at things more objectively to help us understand what can be realistic in your case, and what you should consider for potential options. And I will say that I never tell any client what to do, it's their dog. It's totally up to them. But I help to steer them towards making objective decisions based on the variables because again, it can be so confusing at first with all of the information they're getting. So let's jump right in here. And the first thing we're going to look at is the bite history. This is probably one of the most important things to consider. And when I talk about bite history, I'm mainly focusing on the level of damage it's done. There's several different bites scales, and in fact, I'm going to record an episode on the bonus series just talking about bite scales and how to assess bites. So stay tuned for that one. But bite history there's a few different scales I use E and Dunbar's bite scale is one Cara Shannon so ca ra Shannon, who is an attorney Cara came up with a great bite scale as well. I use carers dog to dog bite scale because Ian's actually is more for dog to human bites. Both scales go on a rating of carers goes from zero to six for dog to dog bites, and Ian's goes from one to six. One being just an air snap or zero on Kara's shin and scale is just an air snap no teeth to skin contact. So they still consider that a bite because sometimes it's an attempted bite, but there's no contact all the way up to level six, which is Death to the victim. Of course with level six bytes to humans, we wouldn't be taking on that kind of cases just I find it would be unethical and very dangerous to do so. But you might consider in some cases even taking a level five bite which is a very deep puncturing broken bones, deep lacerations and things like that. So it can be very damaging bites, but sometimes it might all of the other variables might be something you'd still consider. A good example might be a dog that's, you know, been living happily with everybody for seven years, no history of aggression, but got injured or maybe even hit by a car or something tragic happens. And the dogs just in a lot of pain. Somebody goes to pick up the dog and the dog responds because they're in pain, but then they have No potential for biting after we've resolved that issue, and that maybe they've bitten at a level four or five, that would be a case that I would say, prognosis is good, because the bites very discernible in terms of why it happens. So, the reason why we look at Bite damage is that you might look at the potential for future bites. So when you have a dog biting at a lower level, and you have let's say, a dog, that's been 20 times, you might be like, Oh my gosh, 20 bites, that's a lot. But if it's 20 bites at a level one or two on the Dunbar by skill, that's a much better prognosis than one bite at, let's say, level four or five, potentially much more dangerous and risky to work with the higher level bites, whether it's dog to human or dog to dog bites. So very important to keep that in mind. And you also have to consider the how it's perceived. Right? So a dog that bites a child, for instance, in the face. That's very, very, you know, damaging in the sense of our how we might picture that right, oh, dog biting a child in the face, but maybe it's at a level two, so minor skin scrape, nothing damaging or deep functioning, versus maybe a dog that bites an adult male on the calf, same level of bite, but the perception might be different. So keep that in mind, you want to consider those factors, obviously, a bite to child's face is going to be much more probably much more emotionally damaging for that child. So that's something to consider as well. Okay, so after considering the bite history, the number of bites, I'm going to look at the size, the breed and the age of the dog. So why do these matter? Well, of course, the size is going to make difference in terms of how much damage the dog can do. A great dane will probably do more damage than a chihuahua if biting at the same level. So level three bite from a Great Dane will be more damaging than a level three bite from a chihuahua simply because of the size of the dog's teeth and jaw, and head structure. So keep that in mind, we want to look at the size and of course with dog to dog directed aggression. We want to be careful of size differences between let's say a Great Dane and Chihuahua are fighting in the home, it could be very risky for the Chihuahua. Even if the jaw was doing the biting. The Great Dane could eventually say You know what, I've had enough of you. And I'm going to retaliate. And it could be very damaging, of course disastrous. So keep in mind when you're when you're assessing, and kind of looking at the big picture, the size of the dog. Next thing you look at is the breed of course. Now, it's important to remember that a certain breed, not all of the dogs in that breed are going to display the same behavior. But it is something to consider when you're looking at breed characteristics and what humans have selected for when they've bred these dogs for many generations, in many cases, for certain characteristics. So if you have a livestock Guardian dog, for instance, or a dog that's bred for protection purposes, or a particular breed that's bred for working or protection, consider that stuff not to say that all for instance, Belgian Malinois laws are going to bite and protect their person. But there's a higher likelihood in that breed. And so in looking at the overall picture, and you don't want your bells and well Malinois, biting ever again, that might be more difficult or needs more management than let's say, your Cavalier King Charles Spaniel that may be bitten once a long time ago. So, breed does matter and your considerations. And finally, in this category is the age. So the age of dog, I'm going to be looking at social maturity and adolescence playing a role in my overall prognosis. So if I've got a young dog at one year old, for instance, or eight months or something like that, and they've already been in at a level three or four, somewhere in that mid range, there's a likelihood that they could stay at that level, but there's often a likelihood that they're going to increase the intensity of the biting as they go towards social maturity, which is generally around two to three years of age, depending on the breed, sometimes a little older, but think of it like a 21 year old adult person, they're off to the bars and drinking, they go to college, and they've got to figure out how to sort of behave in society. But they're more likely to do things than they would have in junior high school or elementary school in a lot of cases. So same thing for dogs, you might see a higher propensity for more intense behaviors and more likelihood for the aggression. So I tend to just educate my clients on that it's, it's not that it's going to skew the prognosis in any negative way, per se. It's just something to watch for when you're setting your goals. You may need to spend more time you may need to monitor things more as the dog goes through adolescence and social maturity as you move forward. Okay, next up is sociability so social, their social history we want to look at. I'll give you an example. Let's say we have a golden retriever from a good breeder and raised with the breeder got in as a puppy, well socialized, but then the dog starts to maybe bites people when It's being pet because it had surgery. And it's got this association with pain or something, they resolved the pain but the dog still biting once in a while. So that's a learned kind of behavior and due to the pain, previous association with pain, and but it's the dogs very social. It's a very different treatment plan as well as a different type of case. And let's say you have a dog from a puppy mill, that was not socialized well, and is brought into the environment. And they're very fearful of people. They have a tough time acclimating to anybody new coming to the home. Very different case, because oftentimes, this might take much longer to change that because of the prior experiences in the lack of socialization. So keep that in mind. It depends a lot on the previous experiences in terms of how much we can change that. Now, of course, genetics can also play a role, as well as the environment. So those are all considerations. But all of those can impact just how much we can change a particular dog's behavior. And if you're a pet Guardian listening in, and a good trainer behavior consultant will help to kind of guide you in that. And here's the thing, nobody knows for sure just how much could be genetics, or how much could be in the environment or learning, we can make reasonable guesses, but nobody can put an exact percentage on it. However, that'll give us informed information about how to move forward, and how much we might be able to change behavior and how much the dog can adapt using our behavior change plan. Alright. Okay, next up on the list is predictability. How predictable is it for the owner or the handler. And this matters, because I have clients or my people, when you do any kind of activity that requires observation and timing and skills, that some people do things? Well, you know, I'm, I'm terrible at some sports, when it comes to catching a football, I'm terrible at it. So I not predictable at catching a football all the time. And same thing with dog training and dog handling, some of us can do it better than others. And that's just a fact of mechanical skills and our ability to do things like reading body language, all of the factors that come into play when training. So for clients that have a tough time predicting or not being able to see when their dog might react, it can be more difficult to manage. Now, if we use an example, if you have a client that has a difficult time seeing when something's about to happen, and then they live in a city environment with lots of people around lots of triggers, potential triggers, that can be very difficult. And that kind of skews it more towards a negative outcome, because it's going to be difficult to make long term change and have it stick if there's handling and predictability issues. So we can all of course, learn things. But again, it's something to consider is that person going to be good at carrying through on the management, as we go through the behavior change process as we continue to manage this? All right, next on the list is what we call the range of antecedents. So it's just a fancy way of saying, how many triggers does the dog have what gets this dog displaying aggression? And is it just the one person in the home sticking their hand in the food bowl that triggers the dog to bite them? That's a single antecedent, it's a very narrow range, which means it's much more manageable, it's much more predictable, it's generally easier to change in terms of behavior modification or behavior change strategies. So that for me is a much easier case than a dog that has multiple antecedents or multiple triggers. Let's say I have a dog that is fearful of men, women, children, bike strollers, cars, and we start to add into this list of antecedents that can make it more difficult. And usually you have to work on one at a time. So as you're going along, you might have to say, Okay, let's work with this dog around the food ball, then we have to work around kids, then we have to work around adults and bikes and strollers. So consider that that just means that it's going to take more time in the behavior plan. That's another consideration. Next up is the intensity. So what do I mean by intensity? That is the level of what that we're seeing the behavior in terms of how much speed and force the dog is putting behind that behavior. So let's say we have a dog that barks and lunges on leash and intense dog will be barking, pulling their handler really hard with lots of force on leash, foaming at the mouth, hard staring, you know, just very explosive behavior versus maybe a dog that's standing and barking but not pulling on the leash. So that's kind of how I would divine intensity sort of more arousal and more energy behind it than the average dog. And that can be difficult for a lot of clients because it can be dif more difficult to manage. It can be embarrassing as well. So I found that some clients may be less likely to actually work with your dog. If they have really intense behaviors happening. And certain environments, especially the dogs out on leash, I find that's very difficult because they get embarrassed they get worried about handling their dog or maybe even they've been redirected on being the the dogs bitten them while they're on about because they're just so frustrated, they just start biting the leash and biting the handler. So it's something to consider. That's not to say we can't work with those dogs, it's just another variable that might make it more difficult in these cases. Next up is manageability. What's that? So managing the dog's behavior? Let's use another example. Let's say we have a dog that has issues with children, a dog that's manageable, may not live with children, and maybe nobody ever visits that's would be considered a child to the home. And so it's very manageable for that particular client. Now, if we take that same dog, and they happen to live in a home with five children, and all these kids are leaving baby gates open or not shutting doors, and then they have lots of visiting children, and maybe they live next to a school and a playground, it's going to be much more difficult to manage that. So that's another very significant factor I discuss with my clients, how well can they manage their dog's behavior while we're working on the behavior change strategy, because if they can't manage it, the dog is going to practice it. And you've heard me say before that aggression is highly reinforcing for the animal because it makes a threatening or scary thing go away in most of the cases. And so they're going to remember that and if it's, if it's a dog's barking, or lunging, or even biting a child that makes them go away, while they were just sleeping, or resting, or the child's trying to ride them, like a pony around the house, they're going to remember that that works. And next thing you know, they're practicing and undesirable behavior, that it's going to be very strongly ingrained, which makes it much more difficult. So managing of aggressive behavior is very, very important in our cases. All right, next up on the list is the training history, how much has your dog experienced from training, and what kind of training as well, you know, for me, it's often easier if the dog has been trained to do basic things like sit down, they recognize their name, maybe they've had some marker training or some other behavior change strategies, that's gonna be easier, which means less sessions with me, it means less money the client has to spend, usually the dog understands training. And usually the client understands a little bit about training. So that can be very helpful for the prognosis. The one caveat to that, though, is when a dog has had negative associations to training, for instance, they've had some very punitive or aversive training with certain training tools. And maybe they've even experienced those training aversive tools around a particular stimulus that they have issues with such as you know, scary Uncle Bob coming over, and they've been corrected for barking at Uncle Bob. If you do that enough times, sometimes that negative association can be paired where, okay, uncle Bob comes over, I'm about to be corrected. So I really don't like Uncle Bob now. And that's the problem sometimes with negative associations that can be formed through using certain training tools. Not saying that that happens all the time, by any means. But it's something to be aware of, in our cases. And unfortunately, if that's the case, and that association has occurred, that's one more thing I have to work on with the client. So it actually can take us back a step. So keep that in mind as you're going through how much you know, does the dog have good foundational skills taught through positive reinforcement? Or is it more negative associations? All right, next up is the ability of the client. So one of the things I focus on too, when I'm looking at abilities, I'll ask, you know, how do you like to learn things? And some people like to read things, some people like to practice things themselves? Some people like to watch me do it, and then they practice it. So their learning style is very important. Why does this matter through the overall prognosis and the outcome in the cases? Well, it can impact how long it takes. And if a client has a certain learning style, we might need to adapt as trainers to help them and adapt to making sure we're meeting their needs is the client, as well as the dog, of course, very important part of this, because when it comes to communication, to following through to the person actually doing all the things we're teaching them, it's important, they understand why it's working. And they have to know what to do as well. So the mechanical skills, and maybe even any accommodations we need to make, there are also considerations to think about. So if you have somebody with a disability, we have to adapt to that and accommodate that, of course, and we have to think about how many more sessions or adaptations we need to make to our behavior change strategy. So it's something to consider, especially in half conversation with a client so we can set realistic expectations on the length of time it might take and the changes in the environment as well as the changes in training we might need to make. Okay, next up is the response to the behavior modification or the behavior change strategy. So sometimes, as many of you know, that are listening, some dogs take to training very quickly, they get it they figure out you know, okay, I'll go Bob coming over is actually a good thing, not a bad thing. And you see quick behavior change. But of course, sometimes that isn't the case. And I'm sure some of you listening have been struggling and been going through issues for maybe even years in some cases, and you've tried a bunch of things. So the response to all of your training and behavior change is not going as quickly as you'd like it to. So a couple things to consider there is, do we need to adapt and tweak the training plan? What What can we change in the training plan to perhaps speed things up, but are there other things we might do such as referral to a veterinarian or veterinary behaviorist, to help with medication, or even rule out any potential underlying medical issues that we might not have caught earlier on. So all things to consider when we're looking at the response to our protocols and our behavior change strategies, obviously, dogs that are taking longer are going to stretch out the prognosis and terms of an in a negative way, because some people are going to end up giving up, some people get kind of frustrated. And the other part that can happen that I see is that the quick fix reach happens. So people will start to kind of look for the next quick fix. And so they're kind of jumping around from behavior change planning to behavior change plan, without sticking to one for enough time to see if it works. That's very normal response. You know, that's humans, we want things to happen quickly. And we sometimes will reach for that next thing and not give the other plan enough patience. So keep that in mind. If you're a trainer, sometimes we have to help be more motivating and kind of explain why we need to stick with a particular behavior strategy. And if you're a client, sometimes we have to realize that let's stick with this a little longer, or maybe just tweak it a little to see if there's what we've been doing just needs a little bit of fine tuning. Or consider those meds or other ancillary factors, or even bringing in a second opinion for your case. All right, next up is the legal history. So this is going to be dependent on your location. Since we have listeners all over the world, it really is going to be dependent on where you are located. But sometimes in some locations, you have quarantine the dog has bitten somebody and the dog has been quarantined and involved with authorities or animal control. Some places have dangerous or vicious dog designations, some places, there's a lot of lawsuits around dog bites. So these are all considerations. Why because clearly a dog that has had past run ins with the law is going to be more risky. And I find that many clients are less, they're kind of more risk averse when a dog has already been. Maybe they're having issues with their homeowners insurance, or they've been they have some legal processes pending against them. So things to consider if you do have that it's going to require more management's more consideration, and of course, a consideration of the risk. And it's also kind of something you want to think about from an ethical standpoint, if it's dangerous to the public, then it's something to sort of weigh into your decision making process. From an ethics standpoint, do I feel equipped enough to keep this dog and everybody else safe? While I'm working through all this process, and the behavior change strategy, am I going to keep this dog for the remainder of its life and be able to keep everybody safe, and especially, of course, is if the dog has a history of being dangerous. Okay, next is the medical history. So dogs that are healthy, of course, and there's they've been screened, and there's no underlying medical issues contributing to the behavior are often much more of a straightforward case, and I'm putting that in air quotes is straightforward. It's not always straightforward, by any means. But when there's a lot of underlying medical issues fueling the aggressive behavior, we of course, need to address those first, before we really jump into any kind of behavior change strategy, you can incorporate behavior change in most of your cases when there is an underlying medical issue. But we do want to have that addressed, first and foremost, so that we can start resolving what's causing the behavior problem. So in that case, of course, that requires more time or money, because you're spending it at the vets more resources. And so, overall, the overall picture, weigh that in like, can I afford this? Can I spend the time the answer for most people is yes, but sometimes it can get complicated if there's a vast number of medical issues. And then, of course, the quality of life conversation comes into play here. We do have to consider, you know, is it reasonable to keep a dog that's biting everybody? Because they have so many medical issues? And what's the ethical choice? What's the best choice for the quality of life for both the dog and the person in that case? Fortunately, those cases are rare. Most of the time, it's a medical issue that can be resolved, or can be treated or managed so that way the aggressive behavior can be addressed. All right, next up on the list is the risk skin assessment. So how risky is it for that particular client? So that pet guardian to continue keeping the dog? And it's similar to the question with the legal history or the component of the legal history, it's that, you know, we have to consider our family members as well as the community, the liability aspect, the criminal aspect, in some rare cases as well, it can be very risky to some of your clients as well as other people in the public. I'll give you another quick story about this. You know, I have had clients, they are trying to move in together. So one person has a dog, maybe the other person has a dog, too, but one person is like, Okay, I've got a dog, I'm trying to move in with my fiance or my partner or something like that. But that dog is not great with a certain aspect of that family. So children or females, or males, or whatever it is. And they asked me, you know, what's, can you help us get this blend this family together, really. And so I had this family that from a Navy, I live near a Navy base. And so there's a lot of naval families, and their dog has a history had a history of biting children. And the dog was in a crates in the kitchen, with a baby gate, also separating them. And it was the very first day the dog had just been brought to this new home. And it was very, very kind of like the ways you're the hairs on the back of your neck once I went into the home, because the dog was just hard staring. So that's when a dog is really focused on something about in a very intense way, and just scanning as the children are walking by. And it just sent chills down my spine, because I knew this was a very dangerous situation. Very risky, very, very risky, especially of course, when children are involved. So I recommended that the dog be rehomes. Immediately. In that case, not even after I left, I said this dog needs to go right now, because it's just very, very dangerous. Your dog already has a history of biting children at a higher level, the dog is most likely going to bite your children if even we let the dog out of the crate. So fortunately, that dog was able to go to that person's family in a different location. And without any visiting children or children in the home in a very remote area. That doesn't always happen. But in this particular case, we were able to make that happen. Okay, next situation is the family dynamic. Now, this is, of course, members of the family that are living with a dog that might be arguing or not in agreement about what to do. And this really matters because everybody kind of needs to be on the same page when it comes to management's right. So even if now everybody's not agreeing with a behavior change strategy. As long as everybody's agreeing with a management, one person's kind of focusing on the behavior change, a lot of times that can work out. Now, if it's aggression directed at one of the people that is not involved, then you still need that person involved. But a lot of cases can actually work out just fine. If somebody is doing the behavior change and training, and then everybody else is following through on management. However, if that person is not doing it, it's of course going to derail the program because of management failures that dogs end up biting somebody or another animal or whoever's in the home, which then of course, causes further tensions and the fingerpointing of See I told you, so kind of arguments that can happen. So if there's those conflicts within the family, it can make it more difficult for the overall prognosis. And I find it mostly because of the blame game, you know, it's your fault, your stupid dog, it's your this and those accusations start flying back and forth. So remember that when you're, if you're a trainer consultant, we do have to remind this client delicately and empathetically, that we can't work with them. If there's this continued disagreement, everybody has to be somewhat on the same page with the goals and at least the management's right. Another situation to to kind of think about is going back to couples moving in together, imagine a couple moving in together. And they both bring their own dogs. And let's say the couples they met on, or something like that a couple of years ago, they're getting together, everything's going great between the couple, and then they say let's move in together. But their dogs haven't met yet. And they've each had their dog maybe seven years or eight years. So they've had their dogs longer than they've actually known each other. And then suddenly, the dogs are fighting in the home when they get together. That can be very tricky, because they've had their dogs longer than they've actually been with each other. So what are the options there? That can be very difficult situation, very stressful for the couple. Of course, they're just trying to move in together but their dogs are fighting. So another thing to consider in the overall family dynamic when you're looking at objective prognosis goals. All right, next up on the list is the resources. The resource commitment, really, when you think about resources, you're thinking about money, you're thinking about time availability, but you're also thinking about the eligibility of ancillary services. So one of those could be veterinary behaviors or a veterinarian that has a specialty or interest in behavior. That can be difficult to find in some areas. There are veterinary behaviors that do remote vet to vet consults, but can be a very scarce resource, sometimes dog daycare for a dog that needs to get out of the home, maybe if the dog is having issues with somebody in the home, relatives, family, friends that can help with, let's say, Stranger Danger kind of case, we have to assess this. And if there's limited resources, we have to adjust accordingly. I had a client that one time this person hired me to because the stranger danger issues, people coming over the dog had a real tough time with strangers coming over. So I said, well, we need to we can we can definitely work on this. You know, it was kind of a lower level case, the dog hadn't beaten anybody, it wasn't very severe in the sense of low level bites dog was, you know, amicable to behavior change. But there was no helpers because I asked this person, you know, okay, so how do we have any people that can come over? Or how often do you have people come over? And this person was like, once a year on Thanksgiving, and so I won't be able to be able to do that on Thanksgiving. I said, Okay, so you have people coming over? What's your thinking? Do you have any other people coming over? And the person is like, no, no, I don't really have any other friends or family coming over? Do you have any friends? Or anybody that can help you practice? No, no, I kind of just moved there. I'm new. And I don't have any of those people come over? Is it okay, here's the solution, we're going to have you bored your dog, or stay at somewhere else during Thanksgiving, because it's unrealistic to actually try to work on this issue if we can't practice so. So resources are important in this overall consideration. And again, finances are the amount of money that can be put towards sessions. That doesn't include just the trainer consultant, right, that can include tools like muscles or training equipment that we might need medication for the dog, it might require veterinary visits, it might require those ancillary services like the dog daycare if you end up using that. So lots of other considerations when you're looking at resources. And it's a very important part of the conversation, because that can change as time goes along as well. All right, next up is clients participation. So this is probably the number one factor that dictates the potential outcome for an aggression case, or really any case but especially in aggression cases, this is the number one factor, if a client or pet Guardian is not following through on the recommendations, they're not going to see any change just like anything else in life, right? If somebody's hiring a personal trainer, or nutritionist to help them with their weight loss, if they don't follow through on it, they're not going to be see the change. And it's the same thing. I think that the dog training community in terms of how people perceive the service is changing. It used to be kind of like, Alright, I have a broken dishwasher, come over and fix it, and then you leave. And then it's fixed when they were looking at dog training years ago. But now I think it's much more realization that, hey, the client actually needs to do the work to train their own dog and to manage the environment and all the things we can help them sometimes. And we can do some of the training sometimes like in a day training, or board and train scenario. But really, in aggression cases, it boils down to the client participating in the program, as a team with the trainer consultant to help their dog. So for your trainers listening in, this is the part of the prognosis, I actually turn and look at my client, I'll say to them, the number one factor for success in aggression cases is how much the client participates. And so you're kind of explaining to them at the same time as really hammering the point home that if you want to see success here, you got to do the work, you've got to participate, and actually do the management and the behavior change that I'm going to show you to really make impactful change. So by far the most important aspect, of course, for aggression cases to see any kind of success. Okay, so next up availability of helpers, I talked a little bit about this with the Thanksgiving example. But sometimes it's difficult to find people to help because usually dogs direct their aggression at humans, other dogs, cats or something else in the environment. It's not generally towards a chair or a bike, it can be sometimes, but it's most of the time directed at humans, dogs or other animals. And so we need to present those stimuli to work on the issue, right? We need to teach the dog Hey, people coming over, it's actually a good thing. We can teach you to do other things. And we can teach you that when people come over, it predicts good outcomes for you. But we can't do that without actual helpers to do that, because you as the trainer, or you might even as the client have one or two people that come over, the dog ends up liking those people. But if you have a limited number of helpers, it doesn't quite generalize. Well. It's hard to get the dog to start liking as many people as you might have in mind, so what are some solutions to that to finding helpers? For humans dog to human aggression or dog to stranger issues, I recommend hiring pet sitters or dog walkers. So you have somebody that kind of likes animals to begin with. And they're usually more than happy to get paid to just come over to your house for an hour or so just to be the decoy for that session. Now, of course, you want to do this safely, you want to make sure you're setting things up so that pet sitter or dog walker does not get bitten or injured. And especially if you're the trainer, you got to make sure you're giving all the guidance to do so it can actually be very helpful way of getting additional helpers that can really follow the directions in most cases to to set the dog up for success and go through the behavior change strategy. If your trainer your colleagues or even your mentees, anybody you're mentoring can help. So definitely reach out to your your support network in terms of the training community to be additional decoys. For Dr. Dog aggression issues of his dogs outside the home. Same thing, you can go look for dogs in certain areas where they are contained. So let's say you have a dog that barks and lunges at other dogs on leash. And doesn't necessarily your goal may not necessarily be to be right up next to the dog at that point, because they're barking and lunging at other dogs from 50 feet away. You can go find dogs, even if you can't get helpers, like generally speaking, I tried to find dogs that I know can be well controlled and they're under the direction of another handler that can take direction of Okay, move further away, then come back, move further away, follow those kinds of directions, right. But sometimes we don't have that aspect. So I will actually go find dogs that are contained dog parks that are fenced in, for instance, great place to find dogs, provided you have an area where there's plenty of distance between where those dogs are and the dog you're working with. And there's not a lot of off leash dogs, even then you can work right next to your car with the door open. dog sees other dogs, if another dog off leash happens to come up, you just put the dog in the car and shut the door to prevent any risks, veterinary offices groomers, pet stores, places where dogs are coming and going, of course get permission from that business to use that area. But most of them are going to be perfectly fine with that. And you can use to set yourself up so that way you have that distance, but the dog is contained. One of my favorite places is pet stores on a busy street. Very busy traffic area, because most likely the dogs are all going to be on leash and not off leash in those scenarios. But even then do it right next to your car so you can get right into the car. So you can find helpers. It's just sometimes difficult, but it's in the overall prognosis and looking at the objective variables for success. assessing how much help we can get is very, very crucial. All right, last but not least, so you see Ojai got went through all these variables. And I do this with all my clients. Now I don't talk to my clients about every single one of these, but I will pick out what's most important like might have a dog that's bitten at a high level. So I will talk about the level of bites, maybe the dogs from puppy mills, I will talk about sociability, maybe the dog lives in a home with lots of children. So I will talk about management. But I don't necessarily cover all of these with every single client. That's important to know, because that could take a long time if you did that if you're a trainer, consultant, but pick out the most important aspects as you're taking your notes so that we can discuss the overall objective, realistic goals for this client, and what the potential outcome could be. Because a lot of questions again, are going to be floating around before you do this. Usually, when I go through all these factors, though, it becomes a much more clear picture about just how severe the case is, how difficult the case is, what kind of direction can they go? And what are their options, it answers all of those questions in an objective way, while also tempering some of the emotions that can come in there. But speaking of emotions, we can never quite truly avoid them in aggression cases, of course. So the last one is called the emotional bank account. I'm borrowing this term from Dr. Susan Friedman, who talks about the emotional bank account, how much does somebody have left in their tech to continue working with their dog, because sometimes they're running on empty. Sometimes they're running on fumes, there's like nothing left in that account because the maybe their dogs just bitten them. Or maybe the dogs bitten their child or somebody else they love. And so what can happen is that they're very, very upset at their dog. And they actually don't want to move forward with what's going on or they're very feeling very lousy. They're, they're, they're holding a lot of animosity towards the dog. That's a problem because sometimes it can make it very difficult to move forward in that situation. That account can be recharged or we can put some small deposits back in there. If we have things we can go back to saying I used to love Doing this with my dog or going on hikes or being able to snuggle with my dog. Those are the things I love. So sometimes we can remind ourselves what is actually why we got the dog in the first place and what we can look forward to in the future, if we can decrease the likelihood of any kind of aggression. So assessing where that emotional bank account is, how full it is, or how empty it is, is very, very important because that human animal bond and that relationship is so crucial for potential outcomes and the potential success in a case. So, always assess that kind of think about it if you're a pet Guardian listening in. And that can of course change as well over time, you know, it can get more full and you might get some big withdrawals out of that bank account if the dog barks and lunges at somebody again, or bites again. But always try to keep some equity in that account, as best you can, because that'll help you to continue moving forward. So that's my overall talk here on prognosis and setting goals and looking at expectations and outcomes and aggression cases. Again, this has been sort of a bonus bonus episode, I wanted to give you a little taste of what the bonus episodes are like in the Help for dogs with aggression bonus series. I've done other episodes on specific topics, things like dogs or dog resource guarding owner directed aggression, dogs that bite when being handled or pet aggression on leash, what to do when you can't get enough distance territorial aggression. So I've done a bunch of other episodes in the subscription series. So if you're interested in those head on over to the Apple podcast player, you can hit subscribe right at the top. And then also at Super Cast, I'll again drop a link in the show notes. That's if you don't use Apple podcasts, you can subscribe that way and then get all the episodes on whatever podcast player you're using. So thanks for joining me and I hope to see you in the Help for dogs with aggression series and I look forward to seeing you at the next season of the by the end of the dock.