Ask Ashley – September 2023

Ask Ashley

Animal expert, Ashley Flores, CPDT-KA, is the Senior Director of Animal Behavior, Foster & Rescue. Ashley studied under the Council of Certified Professional Pet Dog Trainers (CCPDT), is CPDT-KA certified and American Kennel Club Canine Good Citizen (CGC) certified. She also earned certification for Behavior Pharmacology and Separation Anxiety through Heartland Positive Dog Training Alliance (HPDTA) Training. Email for a chance to have your pet question answered in KC Parent Magazine.

Australian Shepherd/mix Reactive To Delivery Trucks

My Australian/German Shepherd mutt mix (and GPSPCA alum), Moose, is overly reactive to large delivery trucks to the point that he’s destroyed the windowsill that looks out of the front of our house. He redirects away from the window when I call him, but obviously doesn’t when I’m at work. A few months back, he forced his way out of an unlatched door to chase a delivery truck up the street. Luckily, when the unaware driver got out of the truck, Moose just stood there wagging his tail wanting to be petted. So, he just hates…trucks? Any help would be appreciated. – Matt E.

It is common for dogs to feel excited, frustrated, or have the urge to chase vehicles. They are loud, quickly, and scary to animals that don’t understand them. Gradual and repeated exposure in a controlled environment is needed to get over any fear or frustration they have towards them. Start walking your dog by parked trucks a few blocks away, then slowly get closer and reward him for appropriate behaviors. If he’s not reactive towards parked vehicles, then you can start with redirecting him away from slow-moving ones. You can ask a friend to drive slowly around and work on redirecting with treats from the sidewalk. I recommend removing him from any place where he can see moving vehicles when he is alone to avoid damage to your home, like a crate or bedroom, or block any windows with a street view until he becomes less reactive. – Ashley Flores, CPDT-KA

Rescue Chihuahua Begins To Bite Strangers

My dog, Sophie, a 13-year-old rescue Chihuahua, has recently bitten two people on their calves. Sophie previously was a reserved barker but had never shown aggression. We recently moved into an apartment and she has been confined to a leash. Prior to that she had a yard to run in. Sophie lives with another Chihuahua and two cats. She has not shown any aggressive behavior toward them. I have had them all for approximately four years. What can I do to help her? – Dana P.

It sounds like Sophie has fear-induced aggression. This is when animals display aggression because they are uncomfortable with people or animals near them in hopes of keeping them away or from harming them. Animals with fear-induced aggression usually display more aggression when they are on leash because they are unable to flee the situation. Animals go through fight or flight response when they become startled and when they are leashed, they can’t run away, so they choose to fight, which results in biting behaviors. This behavior frequently appears with animals lacking confidence in themselves and can be worse near their home. I recommend slow introductions and rewarding with appropriate behaviors when meeting new people and letting her go at her own speed. I would absolutely avoid any forced interactions as that can exacerbate these behaviors and make them more challenging to train in the future. If she continues to bite people, a behavior consultation with a certified trainer is a good next step. – Ashley Flores, CPDT-KA

Email for a chance to have your pet question answered in KC Parent Magazine! For anyone interested in a Behavior Class or Consulations, our expert Behavior Team can work with you to help resolve any behavioral challenges you are experiencing with your pet. CLICK HERE for more information and registration.

Residents of the municipalities we are partnered with (Overland Park, Leawood, Lenexa, Prairie Village, Shawnee, Bonner Springs, and Lake Quivira) can receive 20% off of their first Behavior Class. Great Plains SPCA alumni also receive $50 off of new class sign up! Email for your discount code.

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