I am just back from an enjoyable visit. Sally has two entire male Rhodesian Ridgebacks – big dogs and a lot of testosterone! They are well behaved and friendly in the house on the whole, though because of their size visitors may find them intimidating. In company Sally is keen that her lovely dogs don’t let her down, so she is constantly on edge.
Sally had Weston as a puppy three years ago, and then a year later she got another puppy – Sidney. Where Weston was a cooperative, gentle natured giant, Sidney has been the opposite from the start. He is highly strung and restless, and cries when Sally is out of sight. It just shows how two dogs of the same breed can be so very different. The trouble is that now he is mature he is leading Weston astray too.
Outside in the garden there is a lot of barking – initiated by Sidney. Weston seldom used to bark before.
Sally’s problems are mainly out on walks, and especially when they see another dog. Then there is pulling and barking. Sally is slight in build and no match for the two dogs who have to be physically restrained by their collars and could so easily pull her over. Sidney’s hackles go up, and if he off lead he would dominate and maybe bite other dogs.
So, it’s the same story as with many of my clients of going back to basics and showing the owners how to teach their dogs that if they want to progress forward, it will only happen on a loose lead. There is a direct correlation between dogs, tense on tight leads and being constantly corrected, being reactive to other dogs, and dogs walking calmly on a loose lead being chilled on seeing another dog. Sally’s work will take time and patience, but will be well worth it in the end. My clients that succeed are those who are consistent, where everyone who walks the dog is using the same approach, and who are prepared for it to take as long as it takes.
Sally has previously taken the view, which is opposite to my own, that exercising a dog for a sufficient number of hours will eventually calm him down; with Sidney the excessive exercise is proving to have the opposite effect, that of over-stimulating him.