A new start in lifeThe young couple rescued their stray dog about six years ago. When they moved to the UK last year they had to leave him behind in Portugal with relatives. A few days ago they went to fetch him.

Despite only being over here for a couple of days, mixed breed Tagus is adjusting surprisingly well.

My job is to help them make his new life get off to the very best start.

My immediate advice was to simply give him time to settle in. There is no hurry.

Go slowly and let him explore.

Behaviour MOT

We did a ‘behaviour MOT’ and found just a few areas where they could make things a little easier for both themselves and for Tagus.

They could improve their walks and Tegus’ recall. I will show them how to walk him near to them because he wants to and not because they give him no choice. The lead will be loose.

When on lead he may react when he sees some dogs and certain kinds of people. His reaction triggers negative consequences. They may scold him and tighten his lead. This, in turn, creates neck discomfort.

They will now make a new start with walks. Comfortable equipment is vital. Dogs and people he’s uneasy of should, instead, trigger good things.  He should feel safe. He needs to be able to trust the person holding his lead.

Back at their home in Portugal Tegus would alarm bark on hearing noises or passing people.  In his new home they will make a new start by how they deal with people walking past the house and mail coming through the door. It will involves blocking his access to certain areas as well as helping him out.

They will also give him activities that enrich his life and keep him in a stable mental state. He will work for some of his food. Everything works together.

It’s a new start for them too.

They can establish some new habits with this new start. In the past he has peed indoors from time to time. They had no garden so had to rely upon walks. He will learn ask to go out and to toilet in the garden.

As part of his new start, we will do some clicker training, beginning with a hand touch. To quote www.brilliantfamilydog.com, ‘Teaching a dog a simple hand-touch can develop a new understanding between you…

So, eight-year-old Tegus is at a new phase in his life. A new start. He will lose a bit of weight and learn to walk nicely. By how his humans behave, he will soon feel more confident on lead. He will reliably come back when called so that he can run free. He will be given enriching activities to exercise his jaw and his brain.

He’s a lucky boy.

Three weeks later: ‘…..everything is going well……your input is really making a difference in our relationship with Tagus. It is changing in the way we see him, how we attend his needs, we communicate with him and have fun together. Tagus was never a problematic dog but we can now enjoy the gift of having him in our life more fully. Even if something doesn’t go as planned, and we know it takes time, it’s great to know what we can do to ease the stress of a situation or to teach him a new behaviour.
I’m really happy when I see Tagus chewing his Yak bone knowing that he’s being a dog, doing dog’s things and releasing energy. I wish I had known so many of these things sooner.’
NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out here. Finding instructions on the internet or TV can do more harm than good sometimes. Every dog is different and every situation is different. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Help page)