Defensive. Unfortunate Incidents. Reactive to Certain Dogs

Poor little Teddy is now on the defensive. He is very small, weighing only about 5kg. The three-year-old is a cross between a Shih Tsu and, surprisingly, a Border Collie – they saw his mother.

The friendly and confident little dog has had two setbacks recently.

Other dogs had never before bothered him.

Two unfortunate incidents

A while ago, the large, friendly and boisterous dog next door had jumped over the fence into Teddy’s garden. He jumped on him, terrifying Teddy. Now Teddy races up and down the fence, boundary barking.

Then, a couple of weeks ago, about to jump into the car, he had an altercation with two larger passing dogs. They jumped on him. They pinned him down and he was bitten on the neck. Teddy screamed and screamed. The young lady says it was one of the most awful experiences of her life.

Since then Teddy has been on the defensive.

They are really worried this may have scarred him for life. Their well-behaved little dog is now tense and reactive. To quote the lady, ‘I’m so upset about it I just done know what to do’.

on the defensive with other dogsWhere before he would walk past a house down the road with barking dogs at the gate, he now barks before he even gets there. He is on the defensive irrespective of whether the dogs are out or not.

Teddy’s defensive behaviour towards certain other dogs is totally understandable as it is all about basic survival and feeling safe. Bad experiences have fallout – a sort of PTSD.  Although the ‘disaster’ itself can be very brief, the effect can take considerable time to recover from. Sometimes it will be permanent unless the dog, like a human, gets specialist help.

Teddy lives in a family of three generations and they all totally adore him! Although they spoil him rotten – he doesn’t actually behave spoilt. They have taken time and trouble training him. He’s beautiful.

Sadly, he has become increasingly territorial and nervous since these incidents.

There is more involved than just dealing with defensive behaviour towards certain other dogs itself. I have broken the work down into about four areas.

A calmer dog

Firstly, if they can keep Teddy as calm as possible it will give him a greater tolerance and he will be less jumpy. This means moderating some of the things they currently do with him that make him wildly excited.

Food

Secondly, key to the whole thing is being able to use food. Food is available all the time to Teddy. His humans share their food with him. He gets chews that are, relative to his size, huge. Food simply has no value as rewards.

This will be a big challenge for one family member in particular!

They will now save the very best food for working with. For instance, if they already add cooked chicken to his meals, what good will cooked chicken be for making him feel better about something he’s scared of? If he’s already full of food and snacks, if he can also help himself to dry food whenever he wants, why would he take any notice of the food they need to use?

Protective

Thirdly, he needs help with his territorial and guarding behaviour which, because the incidents happened so near home, has intensified. They will show him that it’s not his job to protect the garden. This means he shouldn’t for now have free access unless someone is around to help him out.

His humans, the young lady in particular who witnessed the second incident, are themselves nervous. She is not acting like the ‘protector’ that Teddy needs. He will sense everything that she is feeling. She needs to work on acting strong and cool.

Finally, what can they actually do?

What do they do about the big dog next door that jumped over the fence into his garden and terrified him? About the house with the barking dogs that send him into a frenzy of defensive barking when they walk past? What do they do about those dogs and situations they may meet when out?

The work is done using desensitisation and counter-conditioning. This involves keeping within Teddy’s comfort zone – and I would say the young lady’s also. When they near another dog or the garden with barkers, they need to watch him carefully. At the first sign of unease they will increase distance from what is troubling him, before he becomes defensive and starts to bark. It could involve turning around and changing their plans.

This is when food having value becomes vital. Pairing something he should love (food) with something he is uneasy or defensive towards (certain other dogs too close) is the way to go.

Together with the neighbour, they can work on their dogs each side of the now raised fence, using leads, distance and food (or play).

I hope it’s not too long before little Teddy becomes less defensive and can all feel safe on walks and in his own garden again.

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 dog it can do more harm than good. Click here for help.

 

Irresponsible Dog Owners and Off-Leash Dogs

I feel exasperated.

Yet again I have been to a dog that has been attacked not once, but three times in as many weeks, by off lead dogs that are not under control. 

Once again, it is irresponsible dog owners at fault.

irresponsible dog owners spoil life for herTheir dogs, as always, are just being dogs.

Dear Little Jack Russell Annie, now nine, was re-homed with my young lady client about ten weeks ago. There was no history of trouble with other dogs.

The lady walked her without incident for a week and she interacted fine with other dogs.

Then everything changed.

Annie was being walked on lead in the nearby field as usual – the lady didn’t trust her to come back yet. There were several off-lead dogs about.

A dog went for her.

Two weeks later, in the same field, another dog attacked her. The injuries to her face required a visit to the vet. As if that wasn’t enough, a third went for her a few days later causing another injury.

The young lady was now very anxious.

They were walking down the street, approaching a dog. She tightened the lead. This time Annie had a pop at the dog on the way past.

The lady was now given advice, ‘let her off lead and she will be fine’. This demonstrates the danger of giving advice with insufficient research.

In the same field, there were several dogs running around. The girl removed Annie’s lead.

Annie straight away went for another dog, presumably on the defensive, getting it before it could get her. With no lead, she couldn’t be caught.

Those three irresponsible dog owners’ dogs that have ‘infected’ Annie with reactivity, themselves may well have had similar things happening to them in the past. Other dogs may well have scared them or injured them.

Responsible owners only let their dogs off lead if their recall is good. They don’t to let them off at all if they can’t be trusted with other dogs.

There has been recent uproar where my local council has ruled that all dogs must be kept on lead in a large popular country park. I think it’s a good thing. There must be somewhere that dogs like Annie can be walked, on lead, in safety. 

Little Annie now needs to be rehabilitated and this could take a long time.

The young lady is distraught. She feels guilty for letting it happen although there was no way a novice dog owner could have prevented it.

She homed Annie dreaming of long walks and cottage holidays with her rescue dog. Instead she has work to do.

She will have to be very selective where she walks while she works on it. I wrote this blog on the subject.

Of course, in my local park with the off-lead ban, there are still those irresponsible dog owners who ignore it.

They love to see their dog running free. Isn’t it his right?

I’m Alright Jack

It is also the right of other dogs to enjoy the countryside unmolested and not intimidated or, worse still, injured.

What is wrong with a long line on a harness? It may be inconvenient, but managing a long line is an art. People can learn to be a sort of human flexilead and not get into a tangle.

Not contaminating another generation of dogs with dog to dog reactivity is a moral duty.

I no doubt will continue to bang on about this and nothing will change.

Four weeks have gone by: “… wanted to send you this as this is the first time since I have had her that she seems so happy at mine. ….. It really cheered me up last night that she was like this. 
From an email two months later: … As soon as (the dog) passed I immediately continued on our way. She calmed very quickly and accepted a treat. …. It also made me realise how far she had come as previously see would have reacted the first time she saw it and been howling when it got close to us. She had never previously let a dog get that close without reacting.
This progress has continued on walks since. She seems happier on walks, pulls a lot less, and regularly wears a ‘smile’ on her face. We approach dogs fairly regularly and only turning around when they are close. The other day we were able to follow a dog within 2 metres of us although we were on the other side of the road. This continued for a good minute before she decided to show any reaction. She was aware of it and the dog had turned on a couple of occasions to us.
I really appreciate all your help and finally am starting to see light at the end of the tunnel…. I am aware this is a long process and a journey we will be on for a while. I am realistic about how much we will achieve with her but am optimistic about the future even if it means she is always on a lead on walks. I am feeling positive enough to start looking for holiday cottages for the two of us in the summer again.
NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approaches I have worked out for Annie. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important,particularly where any form of aggression is concerned. Everything depends upon context. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies tailored to your own dog (see my Help page)

Freedom and Who Pays the Price

They love to see their dog running free, charging about and having fun.

Freedom may come at a price.

They adopted Boxer Bella sixteen months ago and she is having a wonderful life. Being with her for three hours it was hard to imagine her to be anything other than a sweet, soft and gentle dog.

For me she showed none of her usual over-excitement when people visit.

I tend to get back what I give. Calm confidence attracts calm confidence (just as excitement attracts excitement).

There is a price to be paid for all Bella’s freedom however

She has too much freedomAnd it’s not always Bella who pays it.

She lives with a family where, again, the men like to get her excited. When the man gets up in the morning she immediately bounces about. She rushes downstairs to get a toy. Man and dog, they chase around the house and then around the garden.

She loves it, but are the adrenalin highs that good a way to start the day?

Their perceived problem is out on walks where Bella is becoming increasingly aggressive to other dogs. This is both when off lead as well as on lead.

The gentleman, who is the main walker, needs to be able to have her under better control, so their own relationship needs to be a bit more regulated in general.

He can slowly tone down the manic mornings a bit at a time so it’s that not too much of a shock to either of them. He can introduce brain games and things that require some self-control. Stirring her up from the beginning isn’t the best way to start a day, particularly if you want a dog to react to things calmly later on.

They live just a few minutes’ walk from where she’s let off lead. She pulls madly to get there.

Then, off lead, she’s away.

Freedom!

She may run around madly, carry huge logs or disappear, sometimes for several minutes at a time. It’s all high activity stuff where learning to sniff and ‘shoot the breeze’ on a long line may do her just as much good if not more.

She’s stone deaf to being called when on a mission.

Once a dog is used to freelancing, there is little one can do to get her back until she’s finished what she’s doing.

Bella herself paid a price for her freedom a while ago.

The man heard screaming and ran over to find some young girls with a couple of Staffordshire Bull Terriers both on top of Bella. Bella will have been the instigator, she ran over to them after all and they were on leads minding their own business. It was a bad experience for the girls, the Staffies and for Bella who had injuries.

Things have gone downhill since then but still her freedoms haven’t been curbed. They feel their fit and lean Boxer needs the exercise and understandably they love the joy freedom gives her

Anything could happen. The price paid so far is bad, but it could become a lot worse. According to the recent change in the dog law, someone may only need to feel threatened by a dog now for the owner to be prosecuted. This could end up with Bella permanently on lead and wearing a muzzle.

The catalyst for calling me was recently, again out of sight of the man, Bella went for a small dog. The owner was extremely upset and scared as was the little dog.

Dog-to-dog reactivity is like a disease that spreads.

Now it’s likely the little dog may cause trouble with other dogs, particularly larger dogs, due to its own fear.

With each thing that happens, it simply gets worse, but still Bella is being given her freedom. She freelances.

It’s sometimes hard to convince people who want the very best for their dog, as they certainly do, that the only answer is for her to lose her freedom.

For now I strongly advise Bella to be kept on a long line, dropped perhaps so she can play with familiar dogs. Recall needs to be blitzed for several months at least.

When encountering other dogs the gentleman will himself take responsibility for what happens next. When, on the long line, they see a dog, he will call her and reward her. Maybe this would be a good opportunity for one of his fun chasing games, keeping it short?  She may now associate the other dog with fun times.

Whether on walking lead or long line, he will maintain a comfortable distance between Bella and other dogs and work on her. He will no longer keep walking on towards the other dog, holding her tight as she tries to lunge, hackles up and barking,

Bella’s ideal default over time should be to check in with the man every time she sees another dog. She must learn to keep within a certain distance from him and never go out of sight.

Dog walks would be better for everyone if all owners restricted their dogs’ freedom, if all dogs automatically checked in when they saw another dog and if recall really did mean ‘come’. See this nice little video about recall from Steve Mann.

It is so much harder to reverse a situation like this than not to have let it happen in the first place. I would say a new dog or puppy has no freedom initially and is granted it gradually in a controlled fashion when ready.

Recall is as much about the kind of relationship the dog has with the owner as anything else. This needs working on in all areas of the Bella’s life.

We get what we give.

If we want calm and attentiveness, we act calm and give our full attention.  Encouraging calm and attentiveness, we have better control.

In curbing freedom the dog doesn’t have to feel trapped like a prisoner. We make ourselves relevant so that being near us is just where our dog wants to be. It can take a lot of effort.

 

NB. For the sake of the story and for confidentiality also, this isn’t a complete ‘report’ with every detail, but I choose an angle with maybe a bit of poetic licence. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Bella and I’ve not gone into exact precise details for that reason. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dog can do more harm than good as the case needs to be assessed correctly. One size does not fit all so accurate assessment is important, particularly where aggression of any kind is concerned. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Help page)

 

 

 

She Was Attacked by Another Dog

Attacked by another dog Staffie back viewNothing is more important on a walk than for a dog than to feel safe.

A few months ago the young Staffie Boxer mix was attacked by another dog. She was sitting beside the gentleman minding her own business, and off-lead dogs ran up to them. It ended in a fight, followed by angry shouting from the owner of the off lead dogs – which is so often the case!

Attacked by another dog

Shortly afterwards, Roxy was attacked by another dog and she was ready this time – she fought back.

People with uncontrolled, off-lead dogs have so much to answer for. What can conscientious dog owners do to protect their dogs? They have to avoid certain places and times, which is unfair.

The couple have only had Roxy for nine months. She had been picked up as a stray. To start with she mixed well with dogs and there were no problems on walks apart from the pulling on lead.

No longer feels safe

Roxy no longer feels safe, though it may not be as bad as her owners think because they now keep their distance. Although she has several doggie friends that she plays with, they very understandably feel wary themselves now. As soon as they see a dog, even if Roxy isn’t reacting at all, the lead tightens on the Halti as they make their escape. What message is this giving her? That all dogs she doesn’t know are potential trouble.

Along with her humans, Roxy needs to learn that just because two dogs have been bad news, both with a reputation locally, most dogs are fine.

They had been advised to food reward Roxy when she’s stopped barking. Fair enough, but I prefer to feed before she gets to the barking stage, when she is aware of the other dog but at a ‘safe’ distance. This then eases the emotion of anxiety and associates other dogs with good stuff. If food-motivated Roxy won’t take chicken, then they are too close. She is ‘over threshold’.

Whilst avoiding other dogs altogether gets them nowhere, pushing her too close too soon will only make things worse. By ‘reading’ Roxy’s signals and reacting in response to how she is feeling and not preempting, they may even now possibly pass near many dogs with no reaction at all.

Accumulated stress

The tricky thing is that Roxy may react differently at different times. One day she could get quite near to a dog before reacting and the next day she may bark when she sees the same dog at a distance. The main variable will be the level of her accumulated stress levels at the time and all sorts of things can contribute to this.

So – the groundwork is to reduce stress in all areas of Roxy’s life, to make sure the equipment they use causes her no discomfort and the lead should be loose – change the Halti for a comfortable harness with two contact points. This can take time.

The end aim is for Roxy to clock in with her human when she sees another dog and then trust him/her to make the best decision. Even if sometimes ‘life happens’ and things go wrong, both dog and humans should have sufficient bounce-back to dust themselves off so to speak and carry on. Being attacked by another dog can have a devastating effect, but even in times of war a good leader keeps going, is trusted and keeps calm.

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 dog, you can do more harm than good. Click here for help

Fear Aggression to Other Dogs

Perfect dog at home but Llasa Alspo Elsie goes wild when she sees another dogLhasa Apso Elsie may lose it when she sees another dog.

She is such a friendly, confident and to my mind faultless little dog at home, living with the perfect family for her. She’s wonderful with the little boy and friendly with everyone, so this other side to her comes as a big surprise.

All was fine until about a year ago. It’s often hard to work out why something has changed, so we look at just what the dog does now and deal with that.

Tracing back it was probably a chain of events as things so often are, each one pushing her a little further down the road to where she is now. She was attacked by another dog whilst still in the vet immediately after having been spayed and before she had fully come round (how awful), then they moved house to find there was an aggressive barker next door, then she went for another dog outside the house, then she came back from a new groomer an unhappy dog. Each thing will have gradually sensitised her to other dogs and she now displays fear aggression big time.LlasaElsie2

However, we do know what we have now: a little dog who believes that many other dogs, particularly those bigger than herself, are bad news. She is fearless! If she doesn’t like the look of one she goes for it! No dog is too big for her to take on.

She has doggy friends. There’s not a pattern. Some new dogs that she meets she doesn’t react to at all, which suggests her state of mind at the time and the input from her humans both play a part.

Owner reaction is so important. Tightening the lead and forcing her forward even if at the same time talking to her in an ‘encouraging’ way, won’t help at all – particularly if this begins before she herself has even seen the dog. It’s like an announcement ‘uh-oh…a dog. Time to get worried’.

Until this change in her about a year ago, Elsie was never walked on lead (not something I would actually advocate for safety reasons), but it shows how reliable she was.

Now she has a collar with retractable lead attached which by definition never hangs loose.  She will feel trapped.  When she is held tight or lunges there will be discomfort to her neck. More and more she will be associating other dogs with bad stuff.

This is an issue of trust as much as anything else. When someone is holding the lead, the dog has to trust them. Trust will be worked on in other areas of her life also. They have exercises to teach her to give them full attention when they ask for it and to make food as valuable a reinforcer as possible.

They also have a trump card – golf balls!

She accompanies her gentleman to the golf course where she always stays close, and she also plays with the balls which she particularly loves. (I personally don’t recommend golf balls for safety reasons but she’s been okay).

If, in addition to using food, they now reserve golf balls solely for when they approach another dog, she should eventually be thinking ‘ah-ha, a dog, good, where’s my golf ball’!

It’s all about timing and working out what strategies are best for that particular dog.  Never does ‘one plan fit all’.

This will take time but with patience and consistency they will get there. Elsie is not only very clever dog, she is normally very biddable. A dream.

NB. The precise protocols to best use for your own dog may be different to the approach I have worked out for Elsie, which is why I don’t go into all exact details here of our plan. Finding instructions on the internet or TV that are not tailored to your own dogs can do more harm than good. One size does not fit all. If you live in my own area I would be very pleased to help with strategies specific to your own dog (see my Get Help page).

Little Floyd Has Lost his ‘Joie de Vivre’.

Floyd is a worried dogFloyd used to have such enthusiasm for life, but this has slowly changed over the past few months.

He also started to toilet in the house and it’s gradually becoming more frequent, particular when his owners have come home from another trip. Something seems to have traumatised him and a bit of detective work may have unearthed what that is.

The couple have had the eight-year-old Jack Russell cross (there must be Daschund or Beagle in there somewhere!) since he was a puppy, and he has always gone everywhere with them. They have geared holidays around places where he can be taken. This year they have been away four times. They leave him at home with their son and daughter (aged 22 and 18) so you would think that would be no problem. A couple of months ago immediately before they left him behind, the gentleman took him for his usual walk. He rounded a corner ahead of the man (something I advise shouldn’t happen) and was attacked by another dog. Then, as soon as they got home, the couple left him. The suitcases were in the hallway and they were ready to go.

Each time they have returned from being away they have found him increasingly nervous and skittish, and the toileting has increased. When they come home from work he no longer greets them but stays in his bed. Even a pending walk is no longer anything special. He regularly displays signs that he is trying to keep calm – he lifts his paw a lot, he licks his lips and he yawns.

The dear little dog has always been the easiest dog you could wish for with a wonderful temperament, so they have got away with more than they might otherwise in terms of running around after his every wish and over-exciting him. The gentleman in particular jumps to his every wish. Floyd only has to bark and the man is on his hands and knees! The son winds him up with rough play until he can hardly cope. The lady is firmer. Floyd lacks the security that comes from consistent rules and boundaries.

We owe it to our dogs to provide them with ‘leadership’ in terms of guidance and decision-making.

All his family want is for him to be back to his old self, and they are willing to do whatever it takes. They have had him thoroughly checked over by the vet, because in cases where a dog’s behaviour changes a physical reason must be ruled out.

Jumping Golden Labrador

A typical young Labrador, friendly and bouncyThirty-five years ago, long before I had even heard of dog training let alone behaviour work, I had a large and boisterous Golden Labrador called Paddy. He was wonderful with my children but a devil for jumping up. 18-month old Dotty, the dog I went to see last night, reminded me so much of him!

The owners – the gentleman in particular – had taught her to jump up at people by exciting her, catching her feet and dancing about and allowing her to jump on them when sitting down. She is wildly excited and jumping on them when they come home – and rewarded with fuss. Even when people didn’t want her to be jumping up, their way of trying to stop her was merely reinforcing it.

This behaviour is especially difficult around guests who may not like being jumped up on by a large dog – and she is just the same when she meets people out on walks.

About four months ago Dotty was attacked out of the blue by another dog.  She had always been great with dogs. But, from that time, she has decided to get it in first and has lept on dogs she doesn’t know, grabbing them and pinning them down, looking and sounding aggressive. As one might expect, she is highly excited before leaving for a walk, grabs the lead and pulls, so this has to change before she can be expected to be relaxed around other dogs – or people.

All this bouncing about isn’t through pure joy. I read in it a certain amount of frantic anxiety. If a human was so unable to control herself she may well need some sort of counselling! Her owners need to earn her trust and respect by giving her better leadership and behaving more calmly around her. She needs rules and boundaries. She is a bit like a loose canon with little self control or inhibition apart from, fortunately, when she’s around the little three year old daughter. Dotty is a dream with her. She is gentle. She never jumps at her. She follows her and her friends about and even jumps on the trampoline with them. They have a wonderful relationship.

Doitty is a highly trainable dog. I managed, with rewards, to teach her to lie down in about two minutes. She has not had training. She has been lavished with food from the table but never had to earn anything. Seeing her focused on me was a joy – both for me and for Dotty.

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

Two Beautiful Blond German Shepherds

Two beautiful white German ShepherdsYesterday I visited another pair of large dogs that are wonderful in the house but who are giving the lady owner problems out on walks.

Kaiser and Boodie are most unusal and stunning to look at. They are young cream-coloured German Shepherds, both in their third year. Their experienced German Shepherd owners have given their dogs a perfect mixture of love, discipline and socialisation. Unfortunately, the man is now no longer fit enough to walk the dogs, so it is his wife’s job.

It is such a shame when a dog that used to absolutely fine with other dogs is attacked by one. Sometimes ‘life happens’. An off-lead Staffie went for Kaiser back in January and since then he has become very wary and reactive to any dog he feels might be aggressive, especially if they bark or make a noise.  The lady was naturally very shaken after this attack and came home in tears. So, in addition to coping with being attacked, Kaiser also had his owner’s weakness to deal with. It is so often the case that when the dog most needs our calm strong moral support, we go to pieces.

The same thing happened to my own Shepherd Milly a while ago. A Staffie leapt over a wall and went for her. Because due to my experience I wasn’t fazed I reacted calmly and knew what to do. I stood talking to the gentleman owner for a few minutes. On our way back past that wall Milly was unconcerned. Fortunately, thanks to her long coat she was more or less unharmed.

Sadly, it is often Staffies who are the culprits, and this is nothing to do with the fact they are Staffordshire Bull Terriers. It is to do with the type of owners who choose them. This I know is a gross generalisation so I humbly apologise to the kind of SBT owners who would be reading this, but too often they are owned by people who don’t use leads and whose way of disciplining their dogs is very harsh, and too often they are not bred carefully for temperament. I have met many wonderful Staffies.

Anyway, my client is a lady who last weekend was pulled over and dragged along the ground by her two dogs when Kaiser lunged towards a dog he didn’t like the look of, backed up by Boodie. The lady has a cut face and injuries to her arm and legs. She needs help. Previous walking has depended upon the man or the son being strong and the use of choke chains. The lady needs these dogs to walk beside her through choice and for Kaiser not to be on the defensive, so she needs different equipment and to learn a completely different walking technique.

Home life with these two dogs is harmonious in every other respect, but now that they have this problem the lady will need to gain stronger leadership so that Kaiser doesn’t feel he is in charge, needing to protect her and himself from other dogs, looking to her instead.

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

Nightmare Walks

Lurcher and brindled cross breed on their bedI had a relaxing Sunday afternoon with two friendly dogs. Sitting there with Noodles the lurcher asleep much of the time and Tofu a brindled cross breed a bit more active but happy, it was hard to imagine that these same two dogs could be so fear aggressive to other dogs when out on walks.

I briefly walked in the garden with Noodles. She was so tall it was like leading a pony!

Noodles had been attacked several times by off lead dogs so was very much on the defensive.  They had recently acquired Tofu from Wood Green for company for Noodles. In many ways this has helped Noodles enormously, she is much more relaxed in the house and when the owners go out. However, Tofu isn’t an altogether good influence on her! Egged on by Tofu, the two together are a menace when out on walks. They pull and lunge at dogs and would attack if they could get to them. It is a dangerous situation for the owner who may also be pushing a buggy, and the chaos upsets their little girl.

At home there are excessive bouts of barking, with the slightest noise setting them both off, rushing from the front of the house and out through the dog flap into the garden.  I only witnessed this once in the three hours or so that I was there. This is because we had created a calm atmopshere so the dogs chilled. Both dogs, incidentally, are wonderful with the two-year-old daughter. They love her and she loves them.

The people have worked very hard with both dogs from the start, and have made great progress already.  We are now filling in a few of the basics which are less to do with training the dogs, more to do with changing their own behaviour, so that the dogs see them as the protectors, providers and decision-makers. We have worked out a strategy for making walks enjoyable – basically by going back to square one and starting all over again in a totallyl different way than ‘dog training’ and ‘correction’,  a step at a time, with the dogs understanding that the only way to get anywhere will be on a loose lead. The work has to start before they even step out of the door. It will take time!

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.