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October, 2016

 

OSCAR THERAPY Turns Dangerous-Scared Dogs into Safe-Happy Dogs


By Casey Sugarman, Behaviorist

 

Without Warning, She Turns into a Vicious Dog:


"I'm calling Willing Results today because I heard about you at my dogs' vet office.  Right after she lunged at one of them again, they said...

  "...there's a person who can fix this, it's hard to explain what it is, but it works. It worked on my dangerous horse. "

"My name is Jack and, don't laugh, but my wife's name is Jill, and it's a long story about our not storybook puppy, but I rescued her off the streets of New Haven. And maybe because she was a scary looking Pitbull, we named her Daisy... we had hope for her.  We don't know how long she had been on the street, but long story short she's been with us for 10 months now.   And I think she was happy to be rescued because she is sweet with us and with our other rescue dog too."

"But with all strangers to the house or even our friends and relatives, without warning, she turns into a vicious dog; I don't know what's wrong with her.  She has scared so many people, neighbors have even called the police, and now the vet... she even bit me when I got in between her and a man at the dog park.  My wife is having near panic attacks from the stress of protecting the world from our dog."  Daisy also loses her mind when it comes to any loud noises and anything new in her environment, so it's hard to even walk her down the street.  We want to help her, but we are afraid that we're going to have to put her down... and if we do have to do that our hearts will be broken completely."

This was my response: "Jack, even though I've never even seen her yet, I guarantee you that I know what's wrong with your dog, and it can be repaired.  All dogs like this have a not-commonly-recognized problem that most vets don't even know about, and it's reversible.  Do you remember the bionic man? We can rebuild her!  And by we, I mean me.  Owner participation comes later, in the day to day of the re-acclimation phase.  You don't have to become a trainer at all, but there may be mild homework later.  However, I will need an owner to be present at every session, to witness the brain progression and be part of the team."

 


Welcome to the World of the Oscar Dog:

OSCAR is the therapy that originated from coupling my professional backgrounds in exotic fishes, marine mammals, and dangerous horses.  And without those three layers of dangerous animal observation and behavioral manipulation, I never would have stumbled onto OSCAR.  And yet, having my background is not necessary to duplicating my results.  Even kids can learn this treatment therapy just as well as any animal guardian.

O S C A R is just the accurate acronym for a new brain re-wiring therapy. The letters in OSCAR stand for "Operant Spatial Cognitive Angle Reach," which is the clinical / technical descriptor for this work, but the specific problem OSCAR addresses is quite easy to understand: Just like Oscar the Grouch lives in and carries around an old dented trashcan, the brains of dangerously grouchy animals of any species are carrying around a "body map" that is similarly dented from their individualized traumatic experiences. 

A post traumatic stress (PTSD) "fingerprint" or "dent" is imprinted on the brain, and it show itself as "acute irrational," out-of-nowhere, and seemingly inconsistent behavior, and yet, it's not irrational at all when you see the vectors of each brain's map. Animals that push too hard on you, "bop" you, smear themselves on you, push you into furniture or walls, or spin in tight circles, in "favorite directions," these are all clues that s/he's living with an OSCAR-affected brain.

So let's examine how Daisy's case progressed:
Session 1: By using tiny chopped steak and chicken as reward, it was all about urging daisy to stop barking at me and take food through the holes of a baby gate with me sitting on the floor on the other side.  No equipment is used in any OSCAR session; every dog is fully at liberty and is free to leave the session at any time.  On day 1, Daisy was only aware of having a left front shoulder but all other portions of her body were off limits to (had been locked away from) her thinking brain; her reaction to all other zones was a knee-jerk reflex to attack or flee. 

As a senior biologist on an aquatic medical team for wild species in captivity, I realized that aquatic behavior observers see what most people don't see: 3-D choice mapping.  Observable fine angles of movement, centers of balance, rotational gravity, these are the "intention road signs" which OSCAR therapists see; where most people see randomness, we see clear cause and effect vectors in the "interaction bubble" the animal perceives around him/her.   In fact, Sherlock Holmes would be jealous of the amount of recoverable evidence that any body reflects in it's own 3D behavior fingerprint.  This evidence can often tell the whole history about what specifically happened to the animal, and even at what age it happened.  For instance, if toe contact makes the neighboring knee go weak, you can bet there was a history of a traumatic entanglement of that leg.  In Daisy's case, she behaves as if she had been crushed under something.
 
Sessions 2-10 were all needed to build Daisy's own cognitive map of her entire body. "Think about reaching out with your right shoulder, think about touching me with your left hip."  Body parts are re-wired into the thinking brain with a simple touch game, but I NEVER touch the dog.  The dog must reach out with said body part to purposefully touch me or an object. This courage to "reach toward where this dog has not reached before" means that OSCAR sessions are emotionally and mentally draining for any animal going through this process, evidenced by the roughly a dozen "big sigh" exhales these dogs let out per session.  When they have no more learning energy left, I turn off the clock, the animal crashes into tuckered-out sleep, and that's the end of the session; so every session is as efficient as possible. Daisy used roughly 90 minutes of brainpower per session which is a little less than typical, because she's still a puppy at less than 2 years.

Even if our good intentions can't change an animal's past, they certainly can re-write the future, by merely re-wiring the present. The way out of the problem of ANY dangerous animal, is to merely teach the animal to push out their own dents of subconscious memory, from the inside out.  But you can't do it for them; you must teach THEM to do it to themselves.  And that's where whale teaching technique saves the day.  Operant (dog-driven) positive (reward based) concept development brings incredibly fast and complete behavior change because it rewrites both the subconscious and the CONSCIOUS choices made by the animal himself or herself.  When Daisy first started presenting her body parts to strangers of her own accord, Jill couldn't believe her eyes.

Amazingly, physiologic memories will also crop up alongside the psychological ones.  Still-unresolved physio-neural echos of previous physical injury can resurface and make itself known in the process of rebuilding the awareness--body connection.  A few days after building a new anatomical zone, Daisy broke out with irritated toenails and then nerve twitching inner thighs, and then even evidence of some mild early hip dysplasia, but each one mysteriously disappeared just days after they made themselves obvious. 

Session 11: was about giving Daisy a mental catchers mitt for all audio stressors (loud or novel sounds) and every day after this day, no noises have obviously bothered her. Not wind storms nor thunderstorms nor sirens nor the slamming of doors.


Session 12: began the introduction of strangers (colleagues of mine) around whom Daisy was encouraged to initiate an OSCAR game in order to feel "in control of herself" in response to the novelty of strangers.


Session 14: It's time to bring in Jill and Jack: how to introduce strangers and Daisy to each other.  This step involved use of a temporary isolation fence, "the doggie cell," in the yard. 



Results: Today's Daisy ...


A quote from Jill, "I can totally introduce Daisy to new people now!  With the help of our round intro-space, Daisy has a new best friend in about 3 minutes, every time.  Even before I decide it's ok, Daisy is totally ready to play and show me how cool she thinks they are! She wants EVERYONE to play the OSCAR game with her, but if they don't she's ok with that too.  Jack of course still loves his princess..."

I met Daisy the New Haven street dog in mid July, and by mid November the case was just about finished.  No medications or herbs or oils or energy therapies are ever used in the process of OSCAR therapy.  Body-Brain map rebuilding is all that is needed.

Oscar therapy is an essential and necessary approach that every canine rescue organization and every branch office should learn, because many if not the majority of rescue dogs come with PTSD of some variety or another.  Whether it be audio, visual, social, physical, or you-name -it-phobia or learned aggression, rescued animals have usually been through a lot. OSCAR therapy is the baseline tap root that reverses and permanently repairs them all.

 

O.S.C.A.R. Therapy was first described (as CSR) in New England in 2009 by Casey Sugarman, Behavior Specialist of Willing Results.com. http://www.willingresults.com/  Sugarman has been reversing phobias in animals and in people for over 20 years.  O.S.C.A.R. Therapy is in no way affiliated with Sesame Workshop.org, or its predecessor, Children’s Television Workshop (CTW).

 

Casey Sugarman, Phobia Specialist/ Behaviorist
Sugarman has been reversing phobias in animals and in people for 19 years.

 

WARNING: This article is not instructional. Emotional recovery in phobic and/or dangerous individuals should be directed by a professional behaviorist to reduce risk of injury to people and to animals.