Henry the stuffed stooge dog!
We have another new member of the Pet-Professionals team – well, sort of…. its Henry – the stuffed stooge dog!
It is well known that behaviourists occasionally have to use what we call a ’stooge’ dog when we are working with dog reactive dogs. Traditionally a well trained, very well rounded, non reactive live dog is used to assess the ‘threshold’ of the reactive dog we are working with. The downside of this though is that we always have to consider the emotional impact on the ‘stooge dog’ and that we cannot always assess the level of reactivity as it not be safe or fair to do so using a live dog.
We are very lucky to have India – my 9 year old collie x on our team and she is often used in our behavioural consults.
I recently attended a 3 day dog aggression course with renowned behaviourist Gwen Bailey. We used stuffed stooge dogs on the course so that the reactive dog could get close and show us exactly how far he was willing to take his aggression (it usually takes the dog a few seconds to realise its not a real dog as we make the stuffed dog move on the end of a lead etc).
So as soon as I got back from the course we invested in Henry – the stuffed Husky!
We have already used Henry successfully a few times in behaviour consultations so that we may find out the degree and level of aggression of the dog we are working with. We are then able to do some desensitisation work using India, our real life stooge, if it is safe and appropriate to do so.
We do get some rather odd looks ‘walking’ Henry around but it serves the purpose well!