Yesterday I visited the largest Wolfhound I have ever seen, and a nearly as large Great Dane X. Monty, the Great Dane, was rescued from a life of neglect and possibly abuse just a year ago, and you can see from the photos what state he was in – and how good he looks now, a year later. (To get a sense of scale, the two big dogs are sitting in the photo with their other dog Tess who is the size of a Springer Spaniel). Not only does Monty now look good, but his owners have worked so well with him that he is a chilled, well-mannered, cooperative giant in all aspects bar one – his very occasional unpredictability towards other dogs and a couple of times with Freddie, their Wolfie. When the dog the size of Monty wants to attack, it is serious!
These people have had many large dogs, but mostly from puppies. They have always felt proud walking out with their well-behaved, well-socialised giants. Starting with an attack on Freddie over a toy resource, the incidents have now escalated to two or three dogs out on walks. Monty had been mixing beautifully with a great many dogs, and the three that have been on the receiving end were all dog-reactive themselves. His very power makes this dangerous, and the lady owner who does most of the walking is shaken and nervous which obviously transfers to Monty, so the situation is slowly gathering momentum.
Monty now is walked on lead only, and because word has got about, previously friendly dog walkers are avoiding them and this is very upsetting.
It is quite hard to find what these very switched-on people could be doing differently, but what is certain is that if they carry on as they are, so will Monty. He obeys coming back when called when he is ready so he freelances. He is a big hunter in every sense of the word. He won’t have other dogs dominating him – which seems to be the trigger for his aggressive spats – which end as quickly as they begin. The lady in particular will need to work at her leadership skills and calm confidence, whilst carefully managing Monty so that the situations simply can’t arise.
I hope by walking him calmly by dogs he shows no reaction to (on a loose lead), letting him mingle with his doggy friends, and most importantly walking away from dogs as and when they choose, over and over, the owners can condition Monty to look to them for guidance and to walk away from trouble when called, so that eventually he can once more be trusted off lead.