A big dog attacked him. Psychological fallout.

a big dog attacked him

coat to protect his wound

Poor little Marley.  The other day a big dog attacked him.

The young gentleman was walking him at the time.

Instead of enjoying his walks with the little dog, he’s now anxious and constantly on the lookout for larger dogs. He had been unable to save his little Chihuahua.

He had been walking with Marley in a field near home where the little dog regularly plays off-lead with his doggy friends.

The big dog attacked him

Without warning, an off-lead Weimaraner appeared from nowhere and had Marley in his mouth.

Little Marley screamed. The man did his best to get the big dog off him. Marley collapsed flat on the ground, still screaming.

The vet stitched the wound to his side.

It seems that Marley is slowly bouncing back from his ordeal. They have been avoiding encounters with unknown dogs for now, but he’s still fine with his friends – particularly a neighbour’s Jack Russell called Pete who I also saw a while ago.

The young couple must shake themselves off now and carry on – and this will help Marley to do the same. Life throws us random curve balls from time to time.

Fallout

Here is a quote I like from psychologist Rick Hanson. “The brain is like Velcro for negative experiences but Teflon for positive ones.”

Unfortunately and understandably, the field itself where the attack happened is now ‘contaminated’.

Marley had been on lead at the time. It’s possible that being ‘trapped’ on lead or even being walked by the gentleman is also contaminated. As before, he’s fine when off lead.

Little Marley has had nightmares since the big dog attacked him. He wakes in the night barking or screaming.

The physical fallout from the attack is healing but the psychological fallout will take longer.

Psychological fallout may have affected the young man as much as Marley himself. He is now wary of all bigger dogs and of letting Marley off lead. This spoils the enjoyment he used to get out of their walks.

The young couple has always allowed their little dog to be a ‘proper’ dog. He runs around off lead where it’s safe to do so and they have been diligent in introducing to doggy friends. This set-back is such a shame.

Trust Account

Whoever Marley is with when anything happens he will associate them with it – good or bad, adding or subtracting from their ‘Trust Account’. Each  scary experience is a debit – a  large debit when the big dog attacked him. Each time he feels protected or they turn a bad experience into a good experience, it’s a credit.

They will now ‘counter-condition‘ Marley to the ‘danger zone’ and build up credit once more.

Since the big dog attacked him he has refused to walk over the bridge leading over the river to the field. He has only happily been there since when off-lead and playing with his dog friends.

Exorcising the bridge and the field.

Starting with stepping onto the bridge, they will play Marley’s favourite game of ball a few times. Then the will stop. What does he want to do? Go on towards the field or go home?

They may play another game in the middle of the bridge. Then at the end of the bridge and so on.

When he chooses to go to the field, they will make the ‘contaminated’ area fun.

A good idea is for one of them to go in advance and ‘lace the environment’ with food before they get there. He will arrive at the field where the big dog attacked him and, lo and behold, he will find cheese!!

(We must sincerely hope the Weimeraner’s owner now keeps his dog under control on lead and walks somewhere else).

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs it can do more harm than good. Click here for help

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