We met with the behaviourist on Saturday. I feel like finally I know someone locally who knows what she's talking about in terms of understanding dogs and teaching us how to manage Kobe. Before, in Singapore, the trainers were very limited in their skills, those who dealt with aggressive dogs were CM followers, and the others generally taught puppy class/agility/obedience. Even the one whom we worked with had no idea what was BAT, although she was APDT trained.
I think I know most of these concepts which she has told us, it is just good to have a coach - someone who can guide us and show us where we should tweak our routine/methods. AND I think it was good for the husband to hear it from a professional, and not just "the wife just found something else on the internet that we need to do"
1. After hearing the behaviours which Kobe displays, she said that his behaviour is classic of a fearful dog - not really a surprise to me, but it does give me some relief to know that Kobe is not extraordinarily bad, just regular bad.
2. Kobe might have learned his aggressive behaviours in his puppyhood (although we couldn't pin point exactly whether there was an incident which started it), and learned that the barking/lunging/snapping was the fastest way of getting rid of whatever was bothering him rather than going through the other avoidance behaviours.
3. I realised that in my trying to do BAT with Kobe, I was going much too quickly. The behaviourist spent just 10 min throwing hotdogs, just moving from 2metres (not looking directly at him) away from the baby gate where Kobe was to coming up to the gate, where he then actually did a sit and down for her. She didn't meet him directly at all. She said just getting him to accept her moving very slowly towards Kobe was sufficient.
In the past, I have gotten friends to throw treats at Kobe from behind the gate. But I didn't realise that the looking directly at Kobe made such a difference! And I always tried to get them closer to him faster. This is our homework before meeting her again. We have to invite a couple of friends over just to do this.
4. She taught us a good technique to use the long lead when we go to the park so that he can have a little more freedom to explore, so that we can release and pick up the slack in the lead better.
5. She showed us how to use the lead so that if Kobe tries to make a break for it, we do not jerk Kobe to a sudden stop, rather try to let him come to a slow steady stop instead - not sure about this one in real life...
6. She talked about food and nutrition, and how some colourants and preservatives might exacerbate aggressive tendencies - we were ok on this one...
7. She talked about not letting Kobe practice the bad behaviours e.g. barking at bicycles from inside the car (we got a soft crate just a couple of weeks ago so that he wouldn't do that
8. She talked about muzzle training, which I had started back in SG but need to pick up again here - I just need to find the muzzle in the boxes which we shipped over...
I am looking forward to practicing these techniques... and looking forward to updating you with some positive changes in Kobe's behaviour!