Dogcharmer: Zdog

Even little dogs get ‘in the zone.’

Zdog. Courtesy Tom Shelby.

Dear Dogcharmer readers,

My last column was my response to the owner of an 80-pound dog that went “berserk” with dog-to-dog aggression at the sight of another dog. I described this “over the top” belligerence as being “in the zone.” After 40 years, with half of my appointments consisting of dealing with serious behavior problems, I’ve dealt with countless dogs that hit the “zone” when just seeing another dog, never mind encountering it. Trying to redirect and garner cooperation from a dog that’s “in the zone” is like trying to swim up Niagara Falls. And for this behavior, size is irrelevant. Tiny dogs get just as nuts. Coincidentally, the day after I sent in that column, I received a letter from a client with a tiny 8-year-old dog (10 to 12 pounds) that hit the “zone” at the sight of anything on four legs. For eight years this dog owner struggled with the extreme embarrassment of this cute little dog (let’s call him Zdog) screaming in full attack mode practically every time she took it out. For years, Zdog’s owner’s walks were about as relaxing as going on a patrol in a war zone. For the parts that are relevant to this column, I’m directly quoting from the letter.

Dear Tom,

Our time in Boston before our travels began gave us a chance to really try out the stim remote, as there are so many dogs on the Commonwealth Mall in Boston. SUCCESS is all I have to say, besides a sincere thank you for helping us find a way to get Zdog “out of the zone!” Zdog and I were fine with the method, and he was a good guy on our walks there, and basically got the point rapidly that he was to quit being aggressive and nuts! And I actually enjoyed our walk together. We even met a pug at our elevator in our building (usually a disaster …) and I just used the stim and ended up having a conversation with the pug’s owner while Zdog sat by my side.

FYI — I am completely relaxed now with using the remote in my pocket, and will try the vibe-stim when next I have an opportunity, as well as lowering the stim number. I put on the collar (he does not mind my putting it on, but I do treat each time, as you suggested) each time we are out here in our neighborhood on Martha’s Vineyard. Now we will head downtown to Edgartown for a walk, and do not have to look for a dog nearby, just handle it if we come across any.

So a million thanks, and my husband and I both feel we are OK. Hooray!

Most sincerely

…… & …… & Zdog

Have a question for the Dogcharmer? Write him at Find him on Instagram at DogTrainer Diaries. Tom Shelby will be at Bunch of Grapes on Dec. 7 at 7 pm, with his dog Paula Jean, for a book signing for his just-released “Dog Training Diaries.”