Successful Integration of a Third Dog

Integration of the new dog needs some forward planning.

This is just Chapter One of a story that I’m sure will have a very happy ending, even if there are one or two challenges along the way.

Integration of Chocolate Labrador

Max

The gentleman is doing his best to foresee every possible eventuality.

A family member is no longer able to care for three-year-old Chocolate Labrador, Max, and in a week or so the young dog is moving in with his own two very elderly dogs, Oscar and Ellie.

The oldest, Oscar, is now fifteen years old, a Labrador Collie mix. He’s a gorgeous old boy but is now losing his sight and hearing and is on a high dose of pain meds for arthritis and other things. He walks slowly.

Ellie, thirteen, is more lively and still has a mind of her own – having overtaken Oscar in this respect.

Both dogs are understandably fixed in their ways. They have their favourite lying-down places and their established eating places. They have a routine for when they are left and a routine for night time – Oscar can no longer make it up the stairs.

There is something enchanting about an old dog.

Ellie historically has had a couple of fallings-out with other dogs so it’s not a foregone conclusion that she will take immediately to an energetic young interloper.

The integration will initially require Max to be safely separate when the dogs are left at home alone, at night time and when eating. This means the old dogs’ routines will necessarily be changing a bit.

Ellie and Oscar

It’s a lot better to do this in advance so that it reduces the upheavel when the time comes. It’s only fair to disrupt the old dogs’ to the minimum at this stage in their lives.

So, they will now have a week or so acclimatising to a few changes. They will now remain sitting room behind a gate when left alone and at night – they had freedom before. One dog will need to get used to eating in a different place so that Max can be fed by himself. Neither dog wears a collar indoors but Ellie may later need something to get hold of, so she can wear hers for a few days to get her used to that.

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We discussed ‘Integration Day’ in detail.

In addition to preparing the ground beforehand, we have planned that first meeting and then what happens after with the three dogs actually living together in the same house.

I am very fortunate to have friends in the ISCP who have spent years involved in fostering older dogs and I have drawn on their experience to get the initial introductions right.

Oscar

Oscar

Because Oscar can’t walk far, it presented problems regarding my usual method of dogs meeting in an open and neutral space. However, it can be done near home, outside the house. The meeting will be carefully choreographed, the dogs not only introduced in a certain order and in a rehearsed way, but also returning back into the house in a particular order also.

What happens then? It depends.

If all is well the dogs will go straight out into the garden together, calmly supervised, to continue getting to know one another.

It’s probable Max may be little too boisterous and need gentle restraining – we mustn’t forget it’s a big unpheavel for him as well. I suspect Oscar will be exhausted. We will see.

If all doesn’t go so well for some reason, then they have two gated rooms and the dogs can pass behind gates and get used to one another more gradually.

I will be back with Chapter Two to tell you how the introduction did go and how the three dogs are fitting in together.

  Six days later – the introduction  

 

 

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for these three dogs. I don’t go into detail. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly, making sure that we are dealing with the real causes of barking. I also provide moral support and they will probably need it for a while. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page)

When People Come to Front Door

Chocolate Labrador mixKiki, a Chocolate Labrador mixed with a small bit of something else – Doberman perhaps – has had several homes in her two-and-a-half years. At one she had been tied up most of the time and muzzled – most likely to prevent her from chewing anything including herself.

She is a lovely, gentle dog which is quite surprising in the circumstances and what a very different life she has now! Much of her unruliness has now been resolved due to the efforts of her new owners. They have had her for nine months, and in this time she has been to training classes, become very well socialised with other dogs and is taken for at least one long walk every day.

They have transformed Kiki to a happy dog from a frightened, fretful little thing, overweight by 10kg & with mange where she had tried to scratch the muzzle off.

It is just possible, in my mind, that she’s getting too much stimulation now because at times when you would think she should be tired, she relapses into attention-seeking behaviours where she can control and predict her humans’ reactions. Her favourite is to steal things from the kitchen. She then runs them a merry dance until they corner her and remove the item. This is where many dogs become defensive and a bit scared, leading to growling or biting but fortunately this just isn’t in Kiki’s nature at all.

What the lady is still struggling with the most is Kiki’s behaviour when someone comes to the front door. She gets very excited indeed, barking frantically, obviously fearful and she may pee. Her hackles go up. Her previous foster carers used a shaker bottle and then water spray, but Kiki’s new owners quickly abandoned that unkind approach, knowing that it simply made her more stressed. They have tried feeding her and more recently, unsuccessfully, to get her to sit and stay back from the door when they open it.

When I arrived they held onto her collar because she may also decide to run off down the road. She calmed down very quickly indeed as she became engrossed in sniffing me for the smell of my own dogs and I just stood still until she had relaxed. She was then a dream.

The problem with all the things that they have tried is they don’t take consideration of the emotions inside Kiki that are driving her to behave like this. The behaviour itself isn’t the real problem. If it’s fear, then punishing fear with a shaker bottle can only make it worse. If it’s fear or extreme arousal of any kind, then sitting quietly is an unreasonable ask.

I take a more psychological approach. People arriving at the door, particularly people a dog doesn’t know well, can be very stressful. A dog could be feeling that they should be ‘vetting’ the intruder. A lot of incidents happen in doorways from over-excited dogs jumping up at people to dogs controlling entrances so another dog may not dare walk through, to over-aroused dogs redirecting onto one another and fighting when someone walks through the door, and so on.

Kiki’s humans should, in my mind, to take full responsibility for comings and goings to their house. They are the ‘parents/protectors’ after all. We know that she gets very stressed if shut behind a door where she can’t see people, so I suggest a gate in the kitchen doorway where she can see who is arriving but not get to the front door.

First they can teach her, using family members, that when she hears the doorbell she goes into the kitchen where she’s rewarded and the gate is closed.

To start with there is no doubt that she will intensify her barking from behind the gate when she finds she’s unable to get to the person, but if they are steadfast they will overcome.

Now her fear and anxiety can be worked on properly. She can learn to associate callers with good stuff. Food can be  dropped over the gate. She can learn that she’s let out to join them in the hall when she has calmed down. People will be asked not to reach out to her while gets used to them. Once relaxed, she a wonderfully friendly dog.

Kiki is very scared of vehicles stopping outside her house and she used to be especially scared of the sound of the ice cream van. Every time she heard the jingle the family went out and bought her an ice cream. It wasn’t long before she began to LOVE the ice cream van jingle. This is the principal for Kiki’s family to use with people coming to the door – to associate them with good stuff and they have already experienced for themselves just how well this approach works.

If their eventual aim in the future is for Kiki to sit politely and calmly away from the door when someone arrives, that should be possible when she feels differently about it. This could be in several months’ time. It can be taken in very easy stages. First it will be sitting calmly behind the closed gate, then the open gate, then on a mat just in front of the gate and so on.

Whether or not they end up with a calm dog in the kitchen when someone arrives, or a calm dog standing or sitting back away from the front door, is not important in my opinion – what is important is that Kiki is happy and not scared or stressed, which will then be reflected in her behaviour.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Kiki.  Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

 

Runs at People Entering the Door

Young chocolate labrador on his bedThe work with young Chocolate Labrador Chester is a little different to most others I work with.  Although he sleeps in the house at night, the rest of his life is in and around a farm, with a large working barn and an office the far end. His lady owner works in the office. This gives ‘home visit’ a slightly different dimension.

Chester is now ten months old and his charging and aggressive-sounding barking at people entering the barn door is causing concern. They have another, very elderly dog, who has always barked at people though in a less threatening manner and it’s very likely Chester is now following suit.

The inside of the building is huge and stocked with produce. From the back where the office is, the door people enter by is quite a distance from where Chester is likely to be – with the lady in the office. All will be quite peaceful until suddenly the far door opens and someone appears. It could be a worker, a customer or family. Chester will then rush at the person, barking, only stopping if it’s someone he knows and is comfortable with.

It’s understandable how in a farm environment dogs run freely and guard the place, but it’s hard to teach them to be selective especially when we are dealing with fear.

‘Sudden’ is one of the problems. In a mainly quiet environment there is no warning that someone is about to open that door. If people were constantly coming in and out I’m sure Chester would be cool with it.

When I arrived, although Chester charged at me, barking and with hackles raised, he immediately took food from my hand – he is a Labrador after all – and apart from one more spooked bark when I gave him eye contact a little too soon, he was a real softy.

In every other respect Chester really is perfect and amazingly calm and well-behaved for an adolescent. He has reliable basic obedience. All the work needs to revolve around changing his fear of people.

To start with it would be helpful if Chester was given some warning when a person was about to enter, so I suggest a bell. That alone won’t be enough – it repeatedly needs to be paired with food so that, with a special training ritual, Chester is conditioned such that he hears the bell and runs away from the door and to the lady in the office – for food. She can then train him to stay on his bed, or she can make the decision to keep him beside her and release him to greet the person when and if she (not Chester) so chooses.

Callers will be instructed to throw a tennis ball from a box outside as they walk into his view. Chester adores balls and the lady is fairly convinced that once he’s holding a ball he will relax. When they leave he has to give up the ball so he only gets it in the presence of a caller, the idea being that he eventually will welcome callers when he realises they are his only access to the special balls. If that doesn’t work they can use food.

Callers will be instructed to avoid eye contact and not to put hands out to touch him unless, later, he decides he’s comfortable enough to make friends. If they are people who are just passing through or if they are not keen on dogs, Chester can stay behind the gate in the office, on his bed and out of harm’s way.

The new dog laws now are such that in an environment like theirs, if a dog is even deemed to be a threat though never having bitten, the owner can be prosecuted. Apart from that, a dog that scares customers isn’t good for business.

Chester has problems, too, with people he sees out on walks. In a rural area and mostly on their own farmland, if they see someone it’s very noticeable. Both dogs and humans can understandably feel more exposed when isolated and it’s understandable why he feels unsafe and runs and barks at people. He could feel very different if ‘merging into the crowd’,

Instead of throwing Chester’s ball for him throughout the walk, they can reserve it for if they see a person. Not only will the ball get his attention, it will help to pair the sight of a person with something he really loves and also, if thrown in the opposite direction, it introduces a behaviour the very opposite of running towards them.

They have found that in a busy environment Chester is only reactive to people who come right up to him and try to touch him. They will deal with that appropriately now whilst exposing him to the busier outside world more regularly – but only at a level he can handle.

I am sure that with help, patience and work Chester’s confidence will now grow.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’, but I choose an angle. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Chester. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Gun Dog Training or Force-Free?

Whilst harsh training methods may well Rufuswork in the moment, there is usually future fallout of some sort.

I may well get some people’s backs up, but here goes!

Dogs that are specifically trained and used as gun dogs are to my mind, a commodity. These dogs are trained specifically to do a job, they are often kept alone out in kennels and some have never seen the inside of a house. Usually they are very ‘obedient’ – possibly they dare not be otherwise.

(Please note that there are becoming more and more exceptions to this sweeping statement as gradually some gun dog breeders and schools are beginning to catch up with modern training methods).

There is no argument that many working dogs are a lot more fulfilled than those family pets who may be either left alone all day or over-spoilt. Many working dogs are trained positively and are treated as valued members of a family or at least have a close relationship with their handler. Assistance dogs and sniffer dogs come to mind in particular.

I have a gun dog breeding and training business near to me with probably around twenty dogs and in fact I got my cocker spaniel from there (that’s another story).  I saw first hand the dogs’ environment. Most of the dogs seemed submissive in general and a bit fearful of me when I stood by their caged areas. There were no bouncy, friendly welcomes that one might have expected from Labradors and Spaniels.

I was given a demo of the skills of three 4-6 month old dogs and they were certainly very obedient and were 100% focussed on the man even at that age. To be fair, they seemed to enjoy what they were doing but I guess their life didn’t hold a lot else by way of interaction with humans.

In saying their dogs are used as a commodity, I absolutely don’t include people who have family dogs that happen to take them to gun dog training classes because of their breed, like the owners of Rufus and of Bramble who I went to a few months ago. These conscientious dog owners do so because they believe it is the best for their dog on account of what he’s bred for.

A couple of years ago at Crufts there was a gun dog display of dogs trained to do gun dog things using positive reinforcement and it was a joy to watch these enthusiastic dogs – dogs that weren’t afraid of making mistakes. It proved it’s possible.

Rufus began with normal puppy classes. He met lots of people and lots of dogs – and became a happy and confident adolescent.  He then went to gun dog training for a year.

I don’t believe it’s purely coincidence that now, over a year since they stopped the classes, Rufus has become an increasingly nervous dog. The family members who attended the classes with him try to maintain the ‘firm’ approach and the other person lacks the same sort consistency and discipline, resulting in confusing mixed messages for the dog.

It’s like Rufus is waiting to be told what to do – external control. He doesn’t have much self-control.

Dogs that are trained to think for themselves using clicker or other positive reinforcement methods aren’t afraid to make mistakes. They become inventive and try different ways of getting their rewards and making us happy because they know they won’t be scolded or punished if they happen to get it wrong. The key to teaching a dog is not about making them do what we want, but making them WANT to do what we want.

It’s a big step for Rufus, now nearly four years old, to start thinking for himself. With clicker a ‘formally’ trained dog can take a long time to ‘get it’ before experiencing the fun of experimenting with what will bring results and what will not. If Rufus’ family persist they will eventually get a breakthrough. Then the possiblities of what he can learn for himself are boundless.

Gone now is the punishing and uncomfortable slip lead – like a choke chain, what can possibly be the purpose of this as opposed to a normal collar and lead, or a harness, apart from causing discomfort if a dog pulls?

We took turns to walk Rufus around outside on a harness with long lead clipped to the chest and he walked beside us like a different dog, round in circles, back and forth – a dream. If he wanted to stop for a sniff, why not?

In this comfortable state of mind, he is much more likely to be chilled when encountering unknown dogs or if a moped buzzes past.

Rufus is at the dawn of a new life, and his family will now work in unison to give him back his old confidence.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Rufus, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).

Boundaries and Out of Control

6-month old Chocolate Labrador Chocky is nervous and now copying the terriers' reactivity on walks

Chocky

The two Terriers have killed a couple of their free-range chickens and although they have boundary wire, the little monkeys can dig underneath.

The people really only want two things at the end of the day. One is for the their dogs to be able to run freely in the garden. How can they do this when the boundaries aren’t secure?

My new clients have three young dogs – two Lakelend/Jack Russell mixes of one year old (brother and sister) who we will call Mac and Mabel, and a 6-month old Chocolate Labrador – Chocky.

They are a very busy family with insufficient time to put in all the work really needed, so this is a challenge of breaking things down into essentials, choosing priorities and creating a plan whereby it’s less a question of spending extra time but more of doing different things in the time already allocated.

One of the Lakeland/Jack Russell Terriers

Mac or Mabel

Their other aim is for the dogs to come back reliably when called. The Terriers are highly reactive to any person or animal they meet and respond aggressively, becoming hard to control physically. Now Chocky, an unusually nervous dog for a 6-month-old Labrador, is joining in. They want their dogs running off lead but have to be able to get them back when another dog, a horse or a person appears.

Unfortunately these people simply don’t have the time to work properly on the root of the problem – under-socialisation and the fear and reactivity itself, though they agree they need to do something with Chocky’s walking before he gets much older and bigger. He is seldom walked on lead. They live in such a quiet area that they can often go out and meet nobody at all.

As they simply don’t have time for all the training work involved, the first issues would be best addressed by getting better fencing so the dogs simply can’t escape from the garden, along with a pen for the chickens.

The second issue – that of recall – is more difficult.  Firstly, they need to stop leaving food down all the time (Chocky is an unusual Labrador in that he doesn’t devour the whole lot as soon as it goes down) so that food has some value – why should a dog come for no reward when called if it’s not worthwhile, particularly if there is something more pressing to do? The children can do whistle recall games around the house and garden so that the dogs begin to become conditioned. Whistle = come quickly = high value reward.

I have tried to break things down into small tasks so that hopefully, at the end of the day, everything will start to come together and they will be able to see their lovely dogs running free without constantly worrying about who or what they might encounter next.

Three months later: ‘We are continuing with the programme. Bella does’nt get so hysterical when she sees me now and I see I was causing this. We are having quality time together which I love. She really responds now to “Yes!”. The “abort the walk” thing has helped so much, I used to get so stressed if she would’nt walk, carrying her to the garden etc, but if she’s not bothered, then I’m not. As you say, its for life, and we are really committed to making her life happy.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Mac, Mabel and Chocky, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).

Frail Lady with Large Labrador

LilyThe elderly lady isn’t strong enough to walk a pulling dog.

Six months ago she took on Lily, a strong and active four-year-old Chocolate Labrador.

So long as she’s not stirred up, Lily is remarkably calm seeing as she has little in the way of stimulation or interest.

The lady is however having some predictable problems when out. She is unable to walk Lily on lead at all – fortunately she has fields at the end of her garden so Lily can run off lead but she can go nowhere else. The second predictable problem is that Lily doesn’t come when called – or at least not until she is ready.

When I arrived the lady was trying to hang onto Lily at the front door, afraid she might run out. She is small and  unsteady, and Lily is quite big!

I shall be visiting her weekly for a while and we are starting off slowly, a bit at a time.  She will, I hope, remember to reward Lily for doing what she’s asked as that should make her more manageable. Being a Labrador, Lily fortunately is very food orientated. She will shut Lily away from the front door before opening it.  I showed the lady how to ‘charge’ a whistle for recall use and how to use it around the house and garden only for this week so that Lily comes to realise that the whistle means something special by way of food reward. I showed her how to walk the dog around her nice garden on a long loose lead – and although she was very slow she we managed, my arm through hers, before she did it by herself – and Lily was a star.

Apart from physical frailty, the lady is forgetful and a bit confused so grasping and remembering my instructions is a challenge. Fortunately she lives very near to me so I will do everything I can to help her to keep her beautiful, happy dog without which she would be very lonely. She has never been without a dog.

Next week, if she has mastered lead walking out in the garden we will take walking out the front of the house. We will also do more with whistle recall.  I feel she will soon need a dog walker if she can afford one.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Lily and this lady, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dogs (see my Get Help page).

Getting Used to the New Puppy

charliecocoJust twelve days ago I visited  10-year-old Chocolate Labrador Coco and new puppy Charlie http://www.dogidog.co.uk/?p=15651 . They knew things would be very difficult because Coco just doesn’t like other dogs full stop – they were expecting trouble. The initial introduction was a disaster but they have worked very hard since and here are the two dogs together.

The gentleman sent me this lovely photo today with these words:

“Coco is tolerating little Charlie much better than anticipated. He will sit with him now, he just doesn’t appreciate Charlie lunging into his face. Thank you Theo, we could not of done this without your help and recommendations…I am confident of that.”.

Coco looks reasonably relaxed but ‘tolerating’ is a good word to describe his body langage! I’m sure in another couple of weeks with owners who are careful we will see him angled more towards puppy Charlie and, as he gets used to puppy boisterousness he will actually invite interaction. I have asked for another photo when the time comes.

The Puppy Has Now Arrived!

Coco is becoming a bit more used to the puppy behind his barrier

Coco

I do love the variety in my job. I wrote about Coco (left) four weeks ago and about preparing him for the arrival of their new puppy: http://www.dogidog.co.uk/?p=15370.

Coco is a ten-year-old Chocolate Labrador who really isn’t good with other dogs. They even had to abandon a camping holiday a while ago because of Coco’s behaviour towards other dogs on the site! They called me out so that they could not only prepare him in the best way possible for a puppy, but also to make sure they start their new puppy off right and that he, unlike Coco, is well socialised with dogs and people from the start.

They have a chart and are ticking off Charlie’s encounters as they build up. They have now had him for about 6 days and he has met about twelve different people, so they are doing well.

Chocolate Labrador Puppy Charlie

Charlie

After a scary start on introducing Charlie – I had hoped to be there but it didn’t work out – although he avoids him, Coco is becoming a bit more used to him behind his barrier. He no longer growls and hackles. Each time they feed Charlie they also feed Coco – one each side of the gate. They have actually done very well in just six days.

The gentleman is very anxious and I’m sure Coco will be picking up on this.  There is just a little danger that they are overdoing the ‘being nice to Coco’ so that they are on his case all the time.  They both need to chill!

With the couple sitting on the sofa and Coco on a loose lead, I went and fetched the puppy and popped a lead on him also. I walked Charlie about at an acceptable distance for Coco (watching him) and every time Coco looked at Charlie I threw him a treat which he happily ate, something he wouldn’t have done had he been particularly worried. If it looked at all like there was any stillness or staring, I got his attention by calling his name before throwing the treat.  At one point they were within a couple of feet of one another. We then called it a day. Little and often will progress things fastest.

I’m sure if the people can relax and play safe by keeping both dogs on lead or separate sides of the gate, it will be no time at all before they will be freely together – under supervision. Coco is too old now to appreciate being jumped on and climbed over. He was very close to their older dog that died a short while ago, so I’m sure he will also be fine with Charlie if he’s not pushed or over-fussed.

Chocolate Labrador’s Dominant Behaviour

Don't be fooled by the lovely boy's innocent expression!Rufus was the largest in his litter, and had to be lifted out of the way so the other puppies could get to the food! The beautiful Chocolate Labrador is now a confident and fearless 14-month old now and he has kept his family on their toes since he arrived. Don’t be fooled by the lovely boy’s innocent expression!

Rufus got thrown out of puppy classes. All he wanted to do was to rough-house with the other dogs. He was simply determined to do what he himself wanted and that’s the story of his life so far.  His default reaction to being asked to do something is to refuse! Why should he anyway? He gets everything he wants whenever he wants it already.

He persistently drops toys for them to throw or tug and every time they will comply. He begs for the elderly mother’s biscuits and gets them. He jumps on the sofa and squashes them – he’s a big dog. He will mouth for attention – which he gets. They get up and down obeying his demands for them to open the garden door, and he may just sit down instead.  However, if they themselves choose to call him over to them he ignores them completely.

A very worrying trend is now developing, one that is getting worse and will probably end in his biting the elderly mother if not halted in its tracks, and this is the reason I was called out.

If Rufus is not getting exactly what he wants when he wants it he is getting cross. He started by putting his feet on the old lady – sometimes the younger lady also (not males). When this didn’t get the desired result (attention of some sort or food) he then added growling. Then he began barking, snarling and showing his teeth, The younger lady shouts at him and chases him out of the room when he does it to her – possibly just the sort of game he’s now looking for. The old lady can’t do this and she’s quite rightly scared. Not only does Rufus pick on her with his dominant behaviour, but if she walks out of her room to get away from him, when she returns he blocks her so she can’t get back to her chair.

Things need to be turned on their head. This dog for now should be getting nothing – neither food, attention nor play – unless it’s on the terms of his humans. They will offer to play when they choose and doubtless he will decline (he will get one chance). They will call him for attention – once only – and doubtless he will decline. Slowly, bit by bit, he will learn to value them. They will get him earning his food by doing their bidding. He will be silently rewarded for good behaviour. They will constantly look for the good in him and reinforce it.

For now the old lady will not be alone with the dog. She has her own flatlet and it will have a dog gate on the entrance. She loves him and this way they will still have some contact.  He will only be allowed in there accompanied and on lead, so that they can respond appropriately at the first signs of unwanted behaviour. We also have a couple of strategies the lady will be able to work with herself.

All the time Rufus is polite and calm he can be earning his food.

He has had operations on his elbows so can’t be walked too much, so more needs to be done to stimulate him mentally. Overall he will be getting more attention with activities offered very regularly, but when his people choose. They will need to stand firm and be consistent as no doubt things will get worse before they get better as he becomes frustrated by not getting his own way. They know how to react now.

It is quite unusual to go to a dog whose aggression is not associated with fear in some way or resource guarding. This is simply a very determined adolescent dog who has not been taught manners or respect having tantrums when he doesn’t get his own way – and generating his own entertainment!

Older Chocolate Labradors in their New Home

2choclabs1 2choclabs2.jpgLily, 9, and Jack age 12 do everything in tail-wagging tandem! It is such a good thing that these two older dogs were rehomed together and hopefully they both have quite a few years left in their wonderful new home of just three months.

They must have been well loved in their previous life as they are friendly with all people and adore children. They walk beautifully on lead and come back when called.

This job was a real delight for me. The people want to make sure that the rest of their new dogs’ lives are as good as they possibly can be whilst ironing out one or two problems.

They bark at 5am for the day to start and, until I suggested they were ignored, someone has come down to them so that inadvertently they were teaching them to keep barking early morning.

They also jump up at the lady in particular and she is bruised. Again, their reaction is reinforcing jumping up and not showing them what to do instead. So long as they are consistent and patient (which they are) jumping up will soon be a thing of the past. Excitement and jumping is also rewarded with meals and walks, so they will wait for calm and feet on the floor now.

There have been some problems with indoor toileting in certain strategic places – marking possibly – and I’m sure this is just due to their settling in to their new life after a time in kennels.  Jack is on some medication which is upsetting his tummy.

The retired couple are absolutely in love with their new dogs and their family and grandchildren adore them. They really are the perfect family pets.

By the way, the couple found their dogs through the The Oldies Club.  If you would like to give a dog a home for the latter part of his or her life, take a look.