Local News

'Bad Dog' Challenge III takes on arsonist

Posted May 20, 2009 5:36 p.m. EDT
Updated May 20, 2009 7:23 p.m. EDT

— Perhaps no dog wears the 'Bad Dog' title better than Austin. The 16-month-old hound-mix set his house on fire.

Austin problems stem from his jumping and need for obedience.

“I can be working on the computer and all of a sudden – wallop – upside the head with a big foot,” said Gloria Schultz, Austin's owner.

His jumping is not just annoying, it is destructive.

“It never occurred to me to take the knobs off the stove. So on Dec. 4, I came home and this is what I found,” Schultz said while pointing to a photo of her burned kitchen.

Schultz saw smoke billowing out of her house. Austin had jumped up and turned the knobs on the stove, which started the fire.

“Austin is always busy. He has to have something to do all the time,” Schultz said.

“When you're doing this, or some folks will kind of knee the dog, all it is is a big game to the dog,” trainer Shawn Murace said while demonstrating a technique.

Murace, with Best Friends Pet Care wants to help correct Austin's jumping, but he has to start from scratch. Austin doesn't even know how to sit.

“Yeah, we haven't worked on the basics very much. We haven't worked on anything but survival,” Schultz said.

Austin was just a few hours away from being euthanized when he was rescued. When he came home with Schultz, he was skin and bones.

Between getting him healthy and living in a hotel while her home was being repaired, Schultz hasn't had much time to focus on training.

“I have no control over this animal at all,” Schultz said.

Murace's advice starts with combining some obedience training with a little fun. Austin loves a plastic container, so he uses it to teach the dog to come when called, and to sit before getting the toy thrown again.

Austin enjoys it, and doesn't even realize he is learning.

“So just relax your hand a little bit, there you go,” Murace said.

Schultz tries her hand at walking Austin, keeping him by her side, and then at practicing a sit. 

“Just keep trying and trying and trying and eventually he will get it.,” Murace said.

Eventually the jumping will also become easier to control, Murace told Schultz.

“I want him to have a good home here. I want him to be happy. I don't want him to be anxious. I want him not to be in trouble because he hates it when he's in trouble. I also want my house not to catch on fire again,” Schultz said.

Murace suggests focusing on one problem at a time to help build Austin's confidence.

Thursday on WRAL's 5:30 p.m. News, meet Zoey, the escape artist.  Whenever she gets the chance to get outside, she is gone.