Too much training and fun? Hyper-vigilant and jumpy

gun dog Labrador Cocker mixTen months of age, Gonzo goes to gun dog training classes. His lady owners work hard on his training every day. They are very diligent.

Before work, the day begins with some fun play and then a training session. When they take him out for a walk, they treat it as a training opportunity.

They have done such a brilliant job with their Labrador-Cocker Spaniel’s training. They did all the right things when he was a puppy to make him bomb-proof and socialised. They do their very best by him in every way they know.

The couple work all day but wouldn’t have taken him on without making excellent provision for him. Even so, they feel guilty at leaving him. A dog walker picks him up for two hour-long walks each day where he gets to run with a couple of other dogs.

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Pees and poops indoors. Adult dog toilets in the house

Maggie is a beautiful, friendly ten-month-old Mastiff Staffie mix. Unfortunately, Maggie pees and poops in the house.

Pees and poops in the house

Family members are at their wits’ end. The man gets home first and is often met by puddles, sometimes both pees and poops. His understandable reaction is to be very cross.

Maggie is impervious to scolding. Zeus, their other Staffie mix, creeps off to his bed. He immediately  picks up that the man isn’t pleased though I’m sure he won’t know why.

Impulse control

Maggie lacks general impulse control in many ways – particularly where pees and poops are concerned. She wants to jump up? Maggie jumps up. She wants to pee? Maggie pees. She wants to move in on Zeus’, food? She does it. Continue reading…

Obedient? No, not disobedient. Unmotivated.


I always ask what people want of their dog when I first arrive. The gentleman said ‘an obedient dog’ and the lady said a dog that she could walk.

The two are part of the same thing. In my own words what they want is a fulfilled, happy and motivated dog.

The less compliant and obedient a dog is, the more a frustrated owner may intensify his or her approach. They repeat commands with a crescendo until they are shouting. This may intimidate some dogs into being obedient.

With adolescence came attitude

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Won’t walk on shiny floor. Slippery floor phobia.

What a joy to meet these three dogs.

Ten-week-old Jack Russell Ozzy was asleep in his crate. Milo, 7 – a Patterdale Border Terrier mix – greeted me politely at the door.

Labrador Scooby was in the open kitchen doorway, tail wagging in a friendly fashion.

An invisible barrier?

won't walk on shiny floorWhy wouldn’t he come out to greet me? One might think there was an invisible gate or electric fence, but no.

Outside the kitchen was the shiny floor leading to the front door and the sitting room. He won’t step on it.

Scooby is scared of shiny floors of all kinds.

To get him down the passage with its shiny floor to the sitting room,  he sits on a sheet and pull him!

They don’t know all Scooby’s past history, but he has been like this for the while they have had him. Now six, he had two previous homes. Possibly in the past he has injured himself on a shiny floor.  Apparently when younger he had hip problems – the vet says he’s okay now.

It’s not just the shiny floor in their own hallway. Scooby’s phobia of a shiny floor restricts what they can do. They have to carry the big dog through the vet waiting room and put him on the table. They like to take their well-behaved dogs out with them, but cafes and pubs may have a shiny floors.

So, the friendly dog is by himself in the kitchen much of the time.

How are we going to get him over his shiny floor phobia?

Like most Labradors, Scooby is very food-motivated.

They will begin with getting a new, rubber-backed runner (it’s strange how when one is living in a situation we don’t see obvious solutions). They will put this down in the passage for a few days so that he becomes accustomed to being able to walk freely from kitchen to sitting room with the other dogs.

Then then will make a small gap between the kitchen and the new mat and work with him. When they stop working, they will close the gap again.

At a distance where he has to reach forward but not so great he has to move his feet, they will wipe peanut butter on the floor. He will have to stretch his neck a bit to lick it up.

Bit by bit, over several days, they will slowly increase the gap between kitchen and new mat. The peanut butter will be just a bit too far to reach without one of his front feet going on the shiny floor.

They should go no further for a while until he looks very comfortable with this.

Bit by bit, an inch at a time

Bit by bit, they will put the peanut butter on the shiny floor, inching a bit further away from the kitchen doorway, increasing the gap between rug and kitchen.

All the time they will close the gap when not working on it. They must at all costs avoid going too far so Scooby gives up and goes back into the kitchen.

While they are working on his phobia and even when he has got over it, they should leave the new rug in place. Just in case. If Scooby slips or slides and suffers any hip pain, that could be disastrous.

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’. If you listen to ‘other people’ or find instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs it can do more harm than good. Click here for help

Dominance fallout – aggression, fear or both.

dominance not workingI’m starting Johnny’s story with a little rant on dominance from my soap box.

As a force-free, modern trainer/behaviourist I don’t need to dominate a dog to get compliance.

I won’t say that dominance – being very firm and overpowering – doesn’t work. It can and it does. Sometimes.

In the old days I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know better and that is what I did until I learnt how inefficient it was. I have been there. I know what I’m talking about. Being kind and allowing the dog choices does not mean being permissive. I apply rules also. I don’t use force.

Many people still believe that being what they erroneously think is ‘being the Alpha’ is the right way to train and control their dog. It’s not helped by certain TV trainers who make a lot of money using old-fashioned techniques that look like quick fixes.

Unsuitable for ‘Alphadom’

Few dog owners psychologically would make effective ‘Alphas’ anyway. Continue reading…

A big dog attacked him. Psychological fallout.

a big dog attacked him

coat to protect his wound

Poor little Marley.  The other day a dog attacked him.

The young gentleman was walking him at the time.

Instead of enjoying his walks with the little dog, he’s now anxious and constantly on the lookout for larger dogs. He had been unable to save his little Chihuahua.

He had been walking with Marley in a field near home where the little dog regularly plays off-lead with his doggy friends.

The big dog attacked him

Without warning, an off-lead Weimaraner appeared from nowhere and had Marley in his mouth. Continue reading…

Redirecting Onto His Brother

Redirecting onto Lincoln is how Lucas deals with arousal.

Lucas and Lincoln. Calm.

When someone new comes to the door, the two Dalmatians are shut away behind a gate and will be barking loudly as the person enters the house.

Lincoln is barking with excitement. Lucas’ excitement quickly spills over into redirecting onto poor Lincoln, attacking him.

I witnessed this for myself.

Fortunately Lincoln is very easygoing and has not retaliated – yet.

They settled quickly and were both fine when let out to greet me.

Things weren’t so good a few days ago when someone they didn’t know came to the house. While the dogs were still barking she put her hand over the gate. A mistake.


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