Right Start With Cocker Spaniel Puppy

Sleeping Cocker puppyHere is Archie, a thirteen-week-old Cocker Spaniel puppy. He was lying oh so still and peacefully!

Archie also lives with Duncan, a chocolate coloured Cocker Spaniel aged twenty months who had been badly treated in his previous home. When his horribly matted fur was cut back, it revealed scars of cigarette burns on his thin body. He has a beautiful mellow nature despite this, and his new owners have given him confidence in humans.

Archie however could well be a different matter. He was the most bossy and confident puppy in the pack. He growls when he is asked to move or when he doesn’t want to be touched, which is unusual for a puppy, particularly because his owners are gentle and fair. Where Duncan will come straight away if called, Archie stays put and just looks at them! He is challenging them already.

We have looked at non-confrontational ways to get Archie to cooperate willingly, and ways to start him off the right way walking on a loose lead. It is so much easier to start off right with a puppy with a willful and strong personality, than to sort out a seven month old adolescent later on. The journey can be fun – if you have patience and a sense of humour! I go to many pups of seven to eight months old who have already gone off the rails.

If you live in my area I can help you to start your puppy off right so he or she is able to fulfill his or her potential.

 

Shy German Shepherd

GSDSasha3-224x300Sasha is very similar to my Milly in temperament. Both are German Shepherds and neither had the best start in life. Sasha was found dumped in a park in London at about 5 months old, and Milly was in a puppy farm until she was three months old. Neither had been properly socialised at the most crucial times in their lives for encountering a variery of new experiences and people – between six and twelve weeks of age.

Like Milly, Sasha is excellent around other dogs which indicates that both lived their early weeks with dogs though lacked kind and gentle human contact.

Sasha is very wary of people, rushing up and barking at them when she is out and scared and barking if they come into her house.  She was quick to make friends with me because I put no pressure on her, and she could sense her owners weren’t anxious either. They knew I could look after myself!

Apart from when fear overtakes her, Sasha is biddable and well behaved both at home and when out on walks. Her recall is excellent and she walks off lead a treat – staying nearby. Because of her reactivity to people walking towards her, she now has to be walked on lead, so her walking nicely without pulling needs some work.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

Black Labrador Ozzy

Ozzy's eyes glowing greenI met Ozzy today, a beautiful one year old black labrador of gun dog pedigree.

I should not have used my flash because Ozzy looks like a ghost! Humans get “red-eye” from the reflection off of our blood vessels in the retina. Dogs have a special layer of cells at the back of the eye that reflect light back to the retina in order to help them see in low light, so that’s why Ozzy looks spooky.  This helps animals to hunt at dusk – and hunting is something that Ozzy loves! The problem is that when he is on a hunt, he totally ignores his owners calling him back, it is as though they don’t exist, and this could lead him into trouble. A farmer recently threatened to shoot him when he was creating havoc where pheasants were being reared.

At home Ozzy is a very well-behaved and calm dog for a year-old adolescent. He has been to dog training classes and excelled. However, once outside he pulls madly on lead and he has selective hearing when he is off lead. As well as hunting, he is over-boisterous and playful with other dogs he meets irrespective of whether they welcome it. He has been put in his place several times.

His lady owner is tense and worried on walks, holds him tight and no longer lets him off lead. His gentleman owner is the opposite and is prepared to take what comes. He allows himself to be pulled down the road, lets Ozzy off lead at the earliest opportunity and may well spend fifteen minutes trying to catch him when he wants to go home.

The more Ozzy is allowed to freelance, the better he gets at it, so for his own safety he needs to learn that freedom is something granted and not something that is his by right. His recall needs to be worked on for as long as it takes for him to be trusted to come back, even in the presence of other dogs – and pheasants!

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

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Gentle Giant

Great Dane Troy lying down amongst the baby toysToday I met Troy! What a treat. Look at that face! When I sat down he towered over me.

The Great Dane lives with a couple who have an eighteen week old baby and a toddler – people with their hands full at the moment. Troy at only fifteen months old himself may not have quite enough to keep his clever mind occupied, so he is finding things for himself to do. Things like wrecking beds when he is left alone and chewing the kitchen table and chairs.  Chewing the children’s toys hasn’t occured to him fortunately, and he’s very gentle around the baby and the little boy.

It’s great fun pretending to want to come in from the garden and then giving the run-around when they open the door – especially when after several circuits of the garden it means causing chaos by running in over the carpet with huge muddy feet! It’s great fun running off to play with other dogs and giving the run-around when they want to get him back. It’s great fun to cause chaos in the kitchen with little polystyrene beads from a destroyed bed all over the floor like snow. His owners’ response when they get home isn’t quite so much fun though – but at least it’s attention.

Giving Troy commands merely gives him the opportunity to refuse, so we are finding ways to outwit him. When your dog exasperates you, you perhaps don’t realise just how many times you are saying No, or Down, or Bed! As with a child, it’s good to think of ways to show him what you would like him to do instead. Rather than being cross when Troy doesn’t come in from the garden, they are going to teach him that it’s rewarding to come in straight away when called, and no fun at all if he doesn’t.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

 

Miniature Schnauzers

Miniature Schnauzer

Tom

Miniature Schnauzer

Sidney

Yesterday I visited two great characters, Tom and Sidney, two Miniature Schnauzers who have just come back from Singapore. They now have a very different lifestyle. In Singapore the doors to the garden were always open so the dogs were free to come and go, but dogs were not allowed off lead at all outside. The lady had a helper who did most things for the dogs – walking, feeding, grooming, playing and so on. I suspect the dogs may have thought she was their servant as well!

Tom

Now Tom and Sidney are in cold wet England! They may be a little unsettled because it is a big change, and their lady owner is learning what to do with them. Tom is easier because he fortunately will do anything for a food reward, but Sidney is very clever and food doesn’t do it! He only responds if he so chooses! He has no recall, either from the garden or when out. I found when I was there that outwitting Sidney worked well. He ran out when I arrived (the front was gated) and the lady went out to try to get him in. I suggested we went in and shut the door loudly. He was there in a trice!

Tom’s face looks as if he is wondering what restrictions my presence might impose on his future lifestyle!  There will be a few fair rules and boundaries that, once decided upon, must be consistently stuck to.

There dogs need to learn to walk nicely together on loose leads. Before Sidney can be let off lead again after a hare-chasing episode last week, there is a lot of work to be done on his recall. However, for him to want to come when called, he must see the point. Whilst he thinks dogs rule people, then why should he come? So, there is work to be done at home also!

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

Little Staffie

Sophie is a perfect example of how wrong is a Staffordshire Bull Terrier’s reputation for aggression. It is the owners, not the dogs.  I have been to a good number of Staffies, and in only a very few cases was aggession involved, mostly between siblings of the same sex.

Sophie was rescued by Wood Green Animal Shelter and went to live with her new family at the age of fourteen weeks – she’s now a year and a half old and still quite small. She is very restless indeed. She rarely settles. She flies all over people, leaps right over the chairs, she chases her tail, licks people compulsively and chews her feet. She spends a lot of time pacing about and whining. She also has a skin condition which I’m sure is made worse by her general stress levels.

When I was there she settled a lot sooner than usual when people come to the house because I insisted everyone, including the two children, took no notice of her until she had relaxed – which took a long time. Of course, one touch or word, or even eye contact and off she went again – patrolling, whining, pacing, licking, chewing.

Sophie is a mix of playful and submissive with other dogs on walks, though tends to get excited and jump up at people. She pulls so much she has to wear a Gentle Leader which she hates. After most of my recent cases, it is nice to go to a dog that has no aggression issues towards other dogs – and this a Staffordshire Bull Terrier!

Walks, given because they are meant to calm her down, are having the reverse effect. When she gets home it takes her a long time to unwind – she is even more manic than when she started out. This is a clear indication that walks, as they are now, are doing her no good at all. It’s a case of ‘less is more’ for the time being.

Sophie has a lovely home with a lady who is conscientious in trying to do the right thing, and two helpful children.  This family would like another Staffie puppy in the fulness of time, but agree they must get Sophie ‘fixed’ first, and then they will know how to get things right with a new puppy from day one.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

TwoStaff/Jack Russells a Cairn and Baby

Cairn and BabyI went to a very busy house yesterday, with three generations of family and three dogs. Two were Jack Russell/Staffie crosses called Lucy and Brandy, both quite small, and a beautiful Cairn called Maddie.

Maddie is the barker and they will be working on that, using a behavioural approach rather than the citronella collar they have understandably resorted to. I feel it is unacceptable to squirt citronella up a dog’s nose – it’s most sensitive and primary sense. This would be like someone shining a powerful light into our eyes until we were blinded. Lucy is the most needy, having been the only dog for a while and babied. Brandy is the newcomer. She joined the household a month ago and previously belonged to another family member.

There is now a six week old baby in the house, and all the dogs are very chilled about this. They are used to grandchildren and babies.

However, the three dogs, all bitches, aren’t chilled with one another. They were at each other most of the time. As soon as anybody came in or went out, which happened frequently, there was some sort of turmoil, ending in Brandy humping Cairn Maddie and then Lucy joining in to hump her also. then Maddie would get cross and turn on them. It has never actually deteriorated into full-blown fighting – yet.

Because the dogs redirected any sort of tension or frustration to one another, they are unable to walk the three dogs together without Brandy attacking one of the others. They have only had Brandy living with them for a month, so this needs to be worked on.

The atmosphere is going to be kept as calm as possible, the dogs won’t be stimulated unecessarily with exciting sort of rough and tumble or tugging play (they can manage to get excited without any outside help!), and each one walked separately for a while until they learn to walk calmly on loose leads. Then the two calmest will be paired up and the pairing will be mixed until all three can be walked together.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

Comical Boxers

Comical BoxersBoxers Ollie and Tess are real characters. Their dobs of black on white give them a comical expression, Ollie in particular.  Brother and sister, they were rescued together a couple of years ago. Tess is a much calmer character, more confident, while Ollie is more reactive, more attention seeking and inclined to bark and jump up.

Their owners are keen walkers who would love to enjoy walking with their dogs, but they are becoming increasingly unhappy about Ollie’s behaviour on walks. Where Tess is friendly towards dogs and people, Ollie is very defensive. He will bark, lunge, and if he can get to another dog he will jump on it and make a lot of threatening noise. He’s not yet actually done any damage. He also has a habit, when another dog is nearby, of lying down and refusing to budge until the dog is nearly on top of him – and then he will lunge. He is a heavy dog. A Gentle Leader head collar is used, but that does not give the control and Ollie’s face just isn’t really the right shape for it.

So, once again, it’s a question of a dog being uncomfortable, stressed, defensive and scared around other dogs. Like with most of the other dogs I go to, the owners have done what most people traditionally think is the right thing to do. It’s what some of the TV programmes say. To hold on tightly and to keep going. To correct with the lead. If this hasn’t worked for a couple of years, if things are actually getting worse, then something different needs to be done.  There is a quote I read somewhere, ‘if you do what you’ve always done, you will get what you’ve always gotten’.

A dog that is hyped up from the start of the walk, who is uncomfortable due to tight lead on a collar or head collar and whose owner is tense, isn’t going to be in any right state of mind to encounter another dog. So, what would a wise and kind leader do in the circumstances?

If you live within my area, would you like me to help you too?

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

Puzzling Jack Russell

My gentleman client has had Monty for just six days. Monty is a small and extremely cute Jack Russell. He has previously had two homes that probably had young children and Monty may have felt threatened and shown aggression to protect himself.  He then spent six weeks in Wood Green animal shelter.

Monty puzzled me. He barely moved from his bed. He  didn’t get up when I came in. He didn’t lift his head when either of us moved about or went out of the room. He may be exhausted from the trials of the past few weeks and noise of the kennels. Maybe he is recovering from some sort of trauma. It’s as though he has shut down. When he did get out of his bed it was to do multiple stretches and bows, accompanied by yawning and lifting his paw, calming signals and appeasement. When I tickled him gently with just one finger, he seemed to freeze. He has already bonded closely with his new owner and is very comfortable being touched by him, though he is not interested in any sort of play.

But, yes you can guess, Monty changes personaltiy completely out on walks! He is extremely reactive to other dogs, and taking his owner unawares he yesterday actually bit another small dog which badly shook the gentleman, as did the angry reaction of the other dog’s owner. When Monty sees another dog, even in the distance from the high window, he becomes very agitated. He shakes and salivates. I wonder what has happened in his past life.

Monty’s gentleman is very intuitive and Monty has fallen on his feet. The man is going to refrain from spoiling him or trying to compensate for what has happened in the past, and to behave as a calm, fair and strong leader would. Where other dogs are concerned he will work on building up Monty’s confidence in him, using advance/retreat techniques. A trustworthy leader or dad would not lead his pack or family into danger. Monty perceives other all dogs as a threat at the moment.

It’s certain his owner hasn’t yet seen the true Monty! He will gradually relax and come out of himself as his confidence grows. As he becomes more carefree he may even become playful.

I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.
 

Bearded Collie/GSD Crosses

Beardie GSD mix

poppy on the left with Jasper

Jasper and Poppy are Beardie/German Shepherd mixes. They look entirely different though, and their personalities are completely different too. Poppy is dark and largely Shepherd, and Jasper is pale and much more like a Beardie to look at. Poppy is just eight months old, and Jasper is eleven years old.

Jasper always was extremely laid back – or was until Poppy arrived. He takes most things in his stride – or did until recently. Poppy is much more highly strung and generally a bit skittish.  She is scared of new people coming to her house, and scared of people when out.

Walks are becoming a big problem because Jasper has developed aggression to other dogs. He used to be fine, but this started a couple of years  ago. It may be because he was attacked, or even perhaps because he’s a bit older now and may feel a little vulnerable. He has become very protective of Poppy, and trouble can start if she goes to see another dog.  Out on walks he tends to initiate the barking, and Poppy joins in. Her hackles rise and she is scared. Their lady owner is slight in build and the joint weight of the two dogs pulling and lunging is more than her own.

So, it’s the same old problem. Reactivity to other dogs out on walks and to some people also. So many dogs I go to are fine in the dog training class, but totally different out in the real world. Traditional training doesn’t always address the problems and it needs to be approached in a completely different way – without the use of correction or force, but calm leadership techniques.

Both dogs are very well trained in ‘obedience’ and Poppy still goes to classes. What they need is something a bit more basic. I describe obedience training as the icing on the cake. You need to get the cake right. Both Jasper and Poppy need a bit more faith in their owners who are already doing most of the right things, but need a few extra tricks up their sleeves, and for each member of the family to be behaving in the same way – drinking from the same water bowl!

Here is some typical early feedback from a client: I had my first “close encounter” with another dog last night.  But for the first time I didn’t panic or tense up.  Jake was on lead and two dogs were quite a distance away.  I kept walking towards them and as soon as he clocked them I stopped and turned to walk the other way, he just followed!!  In the past he would of stood his ground and not moved.  Then to top it all there was another one coming the other way, so did exactly the same.  I did put him in the car (didn’t feel quite ready to deal with 3 dogs off lead running around) told him to sit and I stood in front the window facing the dogs.  They came bounding up to me so I just turned my back on them, Jake didn’t move – normally he would have barked!!  Made of fuss of a couple of them, Jake just sat there.  I can’t believe how in control I felt.
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.