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Ms_Sunshine

NDTR and DELTA Methods for People Aggressive Dogs

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Hi Everyone, I have been spending some time looking around the website while researching training methods and I have question about training with People Aggressive Dogs or Dogs at Risk of being Declared. After yet another recent incident of a People Aggressive Dog trained by DELTA attacking its handler and having to be euthanized, I am looking for some opinions on this method of training with at risk dogs. My dog was originally trained by his first owners by putting him on his side, but he hated it and thought it was a game that he was winning, it had no effect for whatever reason. He was then trained with DELTA methods and bit 3 people including a child, which was initially hidden from me. DELTA made him very badly behaved and quite a risky animal to own. My trainer explained that this method actually reinforces negative behaviors like biting people. He was working with a number of dogs from the same org with the same problems as mine when I contacted him for help and described DELTA as a dangerous method for people aggressive dogs. Now yet another dog trained with DELTA has attacked and needed to be euthanized.

I am also interested if NDTR collect data on these issues. The most recent case may end up in court, which may not be such a bad thing as it would legally demonstrate this method as risky for these dogs with specialized needs. I understand the RSPCA is also a big fan of this method and depend heavily on multiple high doses of psychiatric medications (not indicated for use for training issues, anywhere in the world) and multiple sedatives to be able to use DELTA with people aggressive dogs. The multiple sedatives used for these dogs to be able to train with DELTA are a major overdose risk & I seriously question the training method if it requires heavy sedation to be used and frequently fails with regular dog attacks and bites.

Any information is greatly appreciated, thanks

 

Edited by Ms_Sunshine

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RuralPug   

I only have anecdotal information about DELTA training - in my opinion it is fine when training well socialised and/or placid dogs, but falls down when certain behavioural problems are present. The most successful DELTA trained behaviourists are the ones with experience outside DELTA, in my opinion.

For instance, there is the recent case of a DELTA trainer in SA who, when asked by the owner of an Austalian Cattle Dog pup why the pup was nipping/biting at people's heels, couldn't come up with any suggestions - showing a sad lack of knowledge of this common breed.  

There are experienced trainers under the DELTA banner to whom I would not hesitate to refer a client with an aggressive dog. These tend to be those with a lot of experience with dogs before they took the DELTA training or those who have been training for many years since their DELTA course. But I would say that the DELTA course alone does not give correct or sufficient knowledge to deal with certain behaviour problems, including some forms of aggression.

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Great material RuralPug. After my experiences I feel that in certain situations, philosophical and ideological differences need to be put aside in the interest of preserving human or animal life, and evidence based training needs to be employed. The evidence for DELTA is very worrisome & appear to rely on alot of pseudoscience, like psychiatric drugs for training which is not indicated, ie evidence based, researched & legal, for use in this manner. If I prescribed psychiatric drugs for an anger management problem I would be in court for malpractice.

I have been able to rehabilitate my dog with 99% positive reinforcement and relaxation techniques, its the 1% of the time when he tries to bite someone that he gets a correction. Because I trained him out of his bad habits using a check chain, now I only need to rattle the lead clasp on the D-Ring on his collar as a correction and it works reliably.
I agree with what you said about using a variety of methodologies dependent on the situation, rather than being firmly in a respective camp. Although I am concerned about the 'cult' like aspect of DELTA when it comes to dogs at risk.

Also when I read an RSPCA article about 'Dominance' they contradicted themselves by saying dominance theory is redundant and cruel, and that dogs actually use aggression to control their environment. Yet this is exactly what dominance theory is about and its the same with humans who use intimidating behaviors to dominate others, or speak over them to dominate a conversation or a meeting. The DELTA Cult appear to be very confused about what their philosophy actually is.

Thanks again

Edited by Ms_Sunshine

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corvus   

It is SO MUCH MORE complicated than "methods". A method could mean a broad approach of first do no harm, or it could be a specific training technique. Delta trains their students not to take on aggression cases at all. They are supposed to refer to a vet behaviourist. So first off, there is no "Delta method" for dealing with human-aggressive dogs. Whatever Delta-trained trainers are doing with them, they were not taught to do that by Delta. 

 

Secondly, dogs bite people sometimes, and sometimes that is a direct response to the training method and sometimes it's in spite of the training method.

However, once a dog has bitten someone, no trainer can truly claim to be able to fix that dog so it will never do that again. That's just not how behaviour works. It is rare for an animal to try a strategy once and never ever try it again. This is particularly the case with aggressive behaviour, because usually animals that are expressing it are in a state of extremely high arousal, and/or other options do not appear available to them. That may be just their perception or it may be reality. Whatever the case, aggression is often effective - it makes people and other dogs back off. And you are playing with fire if you don't back off. If they really want to hurt you and feel like they need to, you will end up in hospital. Any trainer that claims they can fix this so that it never occurs again are either ignorant or dishonest. We have no business making those promises. It just depends so much on so many other factors.

 

Thirdly, people with dogs that display problem behaviours like this are usually chasing that last 1%. Or the last 5%. Or the last 0.05%. It doesn't matter what methods they use, unless they can either successfully counter-condition or desensitise the dog to every single potential trigger in every single combination with every single potentially contributing factor (pain, a run of perceived failures, frustration, stress... I could go on all day) or they can control the environment sufficiently that the perfect storm will never arise, there is a risk the behaviour will occur again. As our training takes hold, it gets harder to train for those last triggering scenarios. Sometimes you manage it and a new triggering scenario arises. Sometimes you have a dog that is just that kind of dog and there is always going to be something. I've known dogs that went years and years without showing the problem behaviour and then one day, the planets aligned and there it was again. 

 

Lastly, behavioural medication can be a critical part of treatment. The goal is not usually sedation. I don't know where you are getting your information about dosage, but it would be extremely irresponsible for a vet to prescribe medication at a dose that is high enough to risk the health of the dog. In fact, it could result in them losing their licence to practice if it is not justifiable. I have a dog on long-term behavioural medication, because he is a happier dog on it. It sure made training him easier. In fact, these drugs absolutely are indicated for aggression. What is contraindicated is punitive training approaches. The reason why is the risk involved. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't and sometimes it makes the dog worse. Trainers that use these methods always argue about the risk, because they judge it to be very low. Personally, I would rather not take that risk if I don't have to, and I very rarely feel that it's necessary. 

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JacAbik9   

Training outcomes have little to do with certifications, and everything to do with individual skill and experience. Dogs that attack their owners that severely are very unusual, and I doubt very much that it had anything to do with training methods. If anything, someone using force free methods are less likely to have aggression directed at them because they manage the dog's environment and triggers so carefully. I know many people in the bitework industry that routinely get attacked by their dogs, and they lean heavily into the aversive end of the spectrum. Their dogs are genetically prone to aggression, and some have a predisposition towards handler aggression (like many Dutch Shepherds).   

 

Regarding psych drugs; they're a valuable management aid and can be very beneficial when part of a holistic training program.

 

I also assume you mean NDTF not NDTR? I've done the NDTF course some years ago and they don't really endorse any particular 'method'. They try to teach students about them all and then let them decide.    

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Nekhbet   

You will not legally prove the method is failing when it is something put forward by so many organisations including the RSPCA. It's training that doesn't look like it's causing stress to the dog hence the blame is thrown onto the animal as 'defective' or requiring euthanasia.

 

If you need help with your dog without medication feel free to contact me, we have many years experience in aggression and aggressive responses.

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corvus   

I'm not sure you can assert that it is something put forward by so many organisations when it hasn't even been stipulated what exactly this training looks like. As I said, Delta wants trainers to refer aggression cases. So, what training method are we talking about, exactly? The OP has vanished, so my guess is it was a pot stirring post and that's it.

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