The Dog Liberator™

The Dog Liberator rescues abandoned dogs throughout the Southeast. Based in Central Florida, this non-profit organization fosters all of their dogs in a home environment. Founded in 2009, all dogs are fully vetted, spayed or neutered prior to adoption. The Dog Liberator focuses in rescuing the herding breed, which consists of Border Collies, Shepherds, Sheepdogs, Aussies, Collies, and Deaf/Blind Dogs.

Who’s The Leader Of Your Pack?

The Bryant family is very special to The Dog Liberator. They adopted one of our very first rescues, Augustus, now Charlie. A few months later they adopted the beautiful Sundrop, now Lola. And at our first Annual Reunion in October, they adopted our precious Durango, now Molly. Dog-savvy people, we love them!

Imagine how our hearts sank when we received an e-mail from them on January 22nd:

“A situation has developed with the dogs that Kevin and I do not know how to handle…. Molly and Charlie have been playing quite well until one day, they ended up with Charlie growling and barking and Molly snapping and yelping. It has happened several times since then. Last night she and Charlie were at it full throttle. I jumped out of the way and Kevin jumped out of his chair and literally had to “grab” Molly with his legs and push her back off of Charlie. Unless we are to resolve the issue, we will have to see if we can place her in another home, perhaps one without any other dogs.”

Independently of each other, Gisele and I both e-mailed back the same response: Paul Pipitone!

Paul is the founder of Dog’s Best Friend of Central Florida and a wonderful trainer. The Bryant’s quickly made an appointment for him to come over and evaluate their situation.

Since the problem they experienced is a common one and was resolved so well and so fast, I asked both the Bryants and Paul to share what happened. Please keep reading….


Over the past two years, our family has been blessed to adopt 3 dogs from The Dog Liberator. Charlie was the first to come home in September of 2009, after barely making it out of the shelter. He was the recipient of our attention and affection. When Gisele posted the blog about Sundrop (now Lola), the blonde border collie, I was immediately smitten with her. She came to our home in May of 2010 and quickly made friends with Charlie, who was very patient with her insistent puppy play. Durango (now Molly) became a member of the pack in October after we met her at The Dog Liberator’s First Annual Reunion at Jesse’s place. She took her place as the youngest of the pack and life settled down to a household of 5 children, 3 dogs and a cat. 

As the dogs became older though, an interesting thing began to develop. Many people, myself included, have adopted multiple dogs and just assumed that they will all get along forever or that situations will not arise between them. Well, Molly and Charlie had been playing without any problems until one day, they ended up with Charlie growling and barking and Molly snapping and yelping. I had to get between them to break them up, which was pretty difficult to do. I do not know what provoked it and there was no toy involved. It began happening more frequently. Then one night, I was sitting on the floor of the office going over some paperwork and the 3 dogs were all lying around me. Molly leaned over and did her little what I thought was a playful “snap” at Charlie. I told her to stop, which she did for a few minutes. Then she did it again. I scooted her a little bit away and then she did it again and in a split second, she and Charlie were at it full throttle. I jumped out of the way and Kevin jumped out of his chair and literally had to “grab” Molly with his legs and push her back off of Charlie. What concerned us both is that we never knew when it was going to happen and we were not really sure what was provoking it. And what would happen if we couldn’t separate them? With a very busy household, it is hard to watch them every second even if I tried to keep Molly in the same room with me. It was hard for us to understand, especially since they have been together for over 2 months and each of the dogs, on their own, are very good.

Knowing that we had to find a solution, Kevin and I turned to the expertise of Giselle, Holly and Jesse. Their response proved to us once more that they are more than an agency who is just in the business of rescuing dogs and finding them homes. They immediately responded and put us in contact with a dog trainer, Paul Pipitone, at Dog’s Best Friend of Central Florida. They assured us that yes, we do have three great dogs, but sometimes issues arise that need correction. We met with Paul and we found his explanations of dog behavior, pack interaction and human/dog behavior fascinating. First he spoke with us as he observed the dogs in our backyard and then he went outside with them. We watched from the window at how he was able to deter bad behavior, such as jumping, with simple techniques and reinforced their good behavior, without over-exciting the dogs. We were aware prior to the session that there were most likely things that we were unknowingly teaching the dogs or allowing them to do that was adding to the dynamics between the dogs. But, as we watched Paul with the dogs, and then listened to his evaluations of what were likely the causes of some of the problems, we gained a tremendous insight into what defines a lot of a dog’s behavior and what generally makes for a well-adjusted dog who knows his or her place in their pack. Paul was able to give us the guidance and instruction on the measures we could take to resolve some of the problems, as well as the assurance that we could call on him in the future with questions or concerns (without any pressure to sign up for multiple lessons!). Now we not only understand a lot better the dynamics between the 3 dogs and where we were not being the strong pack leaders we need to be, but we have the tools and skills to set the tone for the house.

It has been very fascinating to learn how they communicate and certainly interesting to see the reactions in the dogs. As we have implemented changes, I think the dogs are a bit confused on our change of behavior. One night when I got home from church, we let the dogs out of their crates and it was not too long before Molly and Lola were getting into each other’s space. It also did not take long after I started getting in between them and pushing back whoever was instigating the “playful” nipping or bumping, for them to give it up and just chill. We have decided not to allow any play in the house – if they can’t begin it, it won’t escalate to the rough-housing, altercation stuff we were seeing in our “den”. Both Kevin and I have noticed a lot more of the subtle things Lola has been doing to assert her place. Sometimes when she snuggles up to Charlie, she sits on him, a sign of dominance. Both the dogs get into Charlie’s space quite a bit, Lola a lot more than we realized. A couple of corrections now, and they give up. And, they have not had one “fight” since Paul has been here.

Kevin and I both can now truly appreciate the value of seeking professional advice, taking the time to be better educated and putting forth the effort to correct behavior. We are now beginning to experience a much more well-balanced pack. Unfortunately, in the beginning, we thought that we would have to find another home for Molly, thinking she was the instigator of most of the issues. What we thought were “cute” behaviors by Lola, were in actuality signs of dominance. We were basing our possible decisions on our unprofessional opinions, which clearly were in error. It makes me stop and think how many dogs are turned over to shelters and rescue agencies by owners who were beginning to get frustrated like we were? And, more importantly, how many of them could have stayed in their “forever home” if they had spent one hour with a reputable dog trainer?

~ Lynette

Written by Paul Pipitone:

After all the years of correcting doggie behavior, and seeing the success stories after my sessions, I never get tired of hearing them. It gives me such joy when doggie parents have that light go on in their heads and they see the situation clearly for the first time. When I arrived at the Bryants home, I could see right away that these were good, well-meaning people. A wonderful family with terrific kids and a love and passion for dogs. Obviously intelligent and well educated, they had legitimate concerns about the dogs fighting and creating chaos in the house, especially with young children possibly in the middle getting hurt. 

As always, I took 15 – 20 minutes to just sit, chat and observe the dynamics in the house between the people and the dogs, and between the dogs themselves. The Bryants expressed that they believed the issue was with Molly, the newest addition to the pack. It didn’t take long for me to see that the trouble maker was the sneaky little miss Lola instead. Cleverly disguised as an innocent bystander, she was secretly trying very hard to be the house pack leader above all dogs and humans. When I corrected a bad behavior she would snarl and bark, challenging my authority. After all, who did I think I was coming in HER house and thinking I could control her and HER pack.

After I explained this to the Bryants, they began to see things a little differently. The big picture revealed itself. So, I began to teach the Bryants the communication skills they needed to “talk” with their dogs in a language the dogs could understand. After all, English is not a dog’s first language. We discussed several situations where they were unhappy with their dogs’ behavior and found it unacceptable. Some of these included rushing the front door when the bell rang or someone knocked, charging and barking at the dreaded squirrel in the front yard through the dining room window. All of the issues they were having were because the dogs entered an over excited state of mind, causing them to do what comes instinctively to them, which is barking, growling or charging the target. I taught the family several techniques to create a calm relaxed dog. Each instance resulted in immediate results. It becomes very clear to folks when they see the transformation occur right before their eyes.

The Bryant family are well on their way to having a peaceful happy home where their furry friends know their place in the pack and understand who the pack leaders are in their home. As time goes on, the Bryant family will become better and better with their communication skills and become better and better pack leaders. I look forward to hearing more about their continued progress.

Thanks Bryant family for being such good students and caring enough about your dogs to seek professional help.

Dog’s Best Friend of Central Florida

And the moral of the story is, don’t give up on your dog and don’t live with undesirable behavior. A good dog trainer can make a world of difference!

January 31st Update: 

Paul, thanks for your kind comments and such a great summary of your visit. I especially love your description of Lola! But you know, it just makes me love her even more. Maybe I empathize a little with her grouchy, “want-to-be-in-control” female attitude! She’s learning quickly and Kevin and I can’t believe how many things all the dogs were doing to assert themselves. Charlie has seemed a lot more relaxed and happier now that we are keeping the 2 girls out of his space. I’ll send all of you an update in another week or two.
~ Lynnette 

February 8th Update:

I was surprised to read the following comment on our facebook page from Jocelyn, who adopted our wonderful Whoa Nellie. I had no idea she had gotten in touch with Paul.

Gisele, just wanted to drop you a quick note and THANK YOU for putting me in touch with Paul. He is truly amazing! My husband asked me “…is he a Dog Whisperer?” My response was, I am not sure but let’s see what he has to say! Amazing that someone 3 hours away could help me with WHOA Nellie via a 1/2 hour phone call! I spoke with him last evening, and his affirmation that I was taking the right approach (with a few human tweaks) has already worked! Sometimes we just need the reassurance that we are doing the right thing, and a reminder that we humans need to be the Alpha! Thank you, thank you, thank you! Paul, you are amazing and I see a ‘meet’ in our future!
~ Jocelyn Pedler-Vanik”


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