Teacher’s pets

Expert in dog rehabilitation Ted Efthymiadis offers insight on K9 behavioural issues, and how to deal with them.

Unleashed Potential’s Ted Efthymiadis and two furry friends.
Unleashed Potential’s Ted Efthymiadis and two furry friends.

Do you think the challenge of rehabilitation deters people from adopting rescue dogs?

The time and financial investment that is needed to reach a full rehabilitation is extensive. That can absolutely be a deterrent for some dog owners as a full rehabilitation will take no less than month and often can take years. Unfortunately a quick fix does not exist. 

Say my dog has issues with dominance that make it really hard to be around other animals or humans, what should I do?

Many people assume that aggression is based in dominance, when I believe the opposite to be the case. Fear is almost always at the core of aggression. If a dog owner believes they own a dog with fear or aggression issues they should contact a professional specializing in rehabilitation. In the meantime, they should prevent the injury of other dogs, humans or animals by setting up an extensive management protocol for safety.

What are some potentially agressive behaviours that dog owners should be wary of?

It's massively important for dog owners to see the signs of aggression before the biting develops because if such communication is found early it can ultimately be avoided with proper training via a qualified trainer or behaviourist. The main signs one might look for would be: reactivity like barking excessively while on walks, lunging, growling, hair standing up on the back. Fear and defensiveness are always at the heart of a dogs desire to bite so learning how to prevent those states is critical. Learning to read a dog's body language is paramount.

Is forcing a dog to socialize with other dogs a mistake?

If fear is at the heart of your dog's aggression issues then forcing your dog to socialize will only make the issue worse. This is not to be done. Ever.

Can every dog can have a fresh start?

Every specialist will have a different success rate which depends on the level of training they have, experience and the tools/techniques they use. My success in rehabilitation is over 90 percent. Unfortunately dogs with neurological issues can never be rehabilitated. Luckily this is very rare. 

Do you think training dogs is as much about the owner as it is about the pet?

Many know that dog training is about training the owner to train the dog. Aggression is rather easy to manage, however rehabilitation is the process of changing a dog's mind to make better choices without using force. Rehabilitation is always a long process but a very rewarding one, that is why we always start in private lessons and then transition into adding dogs, humans or other animals as the dog is progressing. As well we offer a ongoing group classes that are available for the entirety of the dog's life!

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