Bonnie (2) is mostly Border Collie, and Bruce (1) probably a Boxer mix. They have had Bonnie from a puppy. After at least two previous homes, Bruce was rehomed with them four months ago. He is a bit fearful of new things, probably not having previously encountered much of the outside world.[divider type=”white”]
Lunging at other dogs
The main problem they want to resolve is Bonnie’s ‘aggression’ to other dogs when they are out and Bruce’s over-excitement (anxiety perhaps also) causing him to lunge at them barking. The couple would also like the dogs to walk nicely on lead, and for Bruce to take notice of them when they call him.
There are many areas where things are going well and the two dogs get on very well, but one other problem is persistent jumping up.
I believe that we need to get things right at home in order to properly succees when we are out – house built on sand and all that. The dogs both should be taking more notice of their owners at home before they can be expected to do so with distractions like other dogs and people when outside.
The jumping up needs to be tackled immediately. At present they actually actively encourage it at times, whilst not wanting them to jump up at other people. Telling them to get down just doesn’t work. They were quite persistent when I was there, even though I was sitting at the dining table. To cure this there really has to be nothing in it for them. Everyone as well as the couple must comply, the son, friends and family. Attention happens when the dogs feet are on the floor only – or if they are sitting.[divider type=”white”]
Walking the dogs separately
In order to teach the dogs to walk nicely they need to be separated initially. Several five-minute session a day each will do the trick. If the person jerks the lead or holds the dog tight when they see a dog approaching, what message is that giving to the dog? Whether it is excitement or fear, it’s is the humans who should be taking charge of the situation. If they relax, use encouragement and rewards, turn away and put a bit more distance between them, ideally before Bruce or Bonnie can start lunging at other dogs or barking, things will start to improve. The required distance will lessen over time until the dogs can walk past each other. Each time the dogs rehearse this reactive behaviour they get better at it.
How quickly they see an end result on walks will depend upon how frequently they take each dog out. The more relevant the owners are at home and the more the dogs take notice of them there, the more relevant they will be to them when out; the more confidence jumpy Bruce will have in them.
Professionals like myself can often see how important relevance and respect is when we demonstrate with a dog. Because of our own behaviour (and we have no past history) the dog may behave completely differently for us to how he or she behaves with the owners.
We often can walk a dog on a loose lead or in the vicinity of another dog where the owner can’t. This is a relationship thing that needs working on at home too.