Pip is a dear little scruffy-haired Jack Russell, one year of age, who has been in his new home for one month. Home is a Mongolian Yurt – a round tent. It was minus 5 degrees last night and I went expecting to be cold, but with a log burner in the middle it was snug and warm and surprisingly spacious.
After a rather excitable start, Pip settled down in front of the fire.
When he arrived a month ago Pip was totally hyper. He leapt and flew all over the place, grabbing and mouthing. Patience and hard work has really calmed him down at home although there is still a way to go, but he is after all little more than a puppy.
It is out on walks that the problems really start.
He behaves almost like he has never been on a lead before. He pulls frantically. At the sight of another dog he is very unpredictable and I believe he feels insecure – as well he might, held tightly by an anxious human with no freedom to escape. At other dogs he tends to bark, rear up and go frantic. He has nipped two or three times. The final straw was when he got himself so worked up that he wound his lead around the lady’s legs, and when she accidentally trod on him he bit her – totally out of character but indicating just how fired up and stressed he was.
Certain TV programmes promote extreme exercise as the way to deal with problems such as this – long hikes, treadmills and the like. Apart from anything else, this is not what a terrier has been bred for. I have found time and time again that long walks, unless calm and happy, can over-stimulate a dog. It is no surprise that so many incidents happen at the end of a walk when he the dog is supposed to be tired out.
When I can get people to trust me and to see this, to go back to basics with several very short expeditions whilst teaching loose-lead walking and the joy of stress-free walking with a ‘leader’, dogs like Pip eventually are a dream to take out. It can take a lot of time. Unfortunately too many people give up too soon – or are persuaded by well meaning ‘experts’ and ‘dog-loving friends’ that they should be taking their dogs for long walks to to tire them out. Would you put a disturbed or hyperactive child on a treadmnill to tire it into compliance? No! I rest my case.
Pip’s owner was already very switched on before I visited, so it will be interesting to chart Pip’s progress.
She has worked very hard for the past six or seven weeks, two steps forward and one back. The yurt is not soundproofed which means that Pip hears all the night time noises. Here is the latest email: “Things here are ticking along ok and I am realising that my mood effects Pip. Had a family dinner at my uncles and ended up taking pip home….. Definitely only pip with the family at small calm gatherings for now. On a positive note Pip is really good in the yurt and garden i love him in these situations he’s so good and often just sits and sun bathes!! he’s learning lots of new tricks has plenty to entertain himself with and at least now when I hear him barking I call him and he comes back in the yurt. We had no nighttime barking since we spoke, fingers crossed for tonight!”
I can help you, too, with these problems or any other that you may be having with your dog.